1. Albert Pujols, 1B, STL—Where else can you start than with Albert “Don’t Call Me ‘El Hombre’” Pujols? He is simply the best player in fantasy baseball. His elbow is giving him some trouble that will one day have to be fixed with surgery, but until then, he is still the best. There should be NO reason that you skip over him with the number one pick in your fantasy draft.
2. Ryan Howard, 1B, PHI—Howard is a stud. He is well worth a first round pick but strikes out a lot. He is 30 years old this season, so he still has at least 5 years at the elite level, so bid confidently.
3. Prince Fielder, 1B, MIL—Fielder is younger version of Howard, he just doesn’t strike out as much. He’ll get you nearly 50 bombs and drive in around 125 while hitting around .290. What’s not to like?
4. David Wright, 3B, NYM—Wright struggled all through the 2009 season. First his power seemed sapped by the new CitiField and then he got beaned in the head and never got back on track. Look for a good comeback, but just temper the homer expectation as the power alleys in the new stadium play very deep. Look for numbers in the .308/25/104/26 range.
5. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, DET—Cabrera had issues with alcohol over the offseason, but don’t expect that to bother him too much during the 2010 season. He’ll still give you the typical .310/35/114 line were used to seeing from the big fellow, but don’t expect this to be any kind of leap forward in the age 27 season like the old fantasy myth goes.
6. Kendry Morales, 1B, LAA—Morales finally came into his own last season and looks to keep that going in 2010. He’ll likely put up stats on the good side of .300 average, 35 dingers, and 110 ribbies. These are some pretty nice numbers for a guy you can probably get in the 4th round of your draft.
7. Pablo Sandoval, 1B/3B, SF—He’s young, he’s versatile, and he’s a hitter. What more do you need? This 23-year old is likely to hit around .322/24/114 all while qualifying at both infield corners. Unfortunately, it looks like his days as a catcher are behind him, but this is a good looking ball player who is still a long way from his ceiling.
8. Mark Reynolds, 1B/3B, ARZ—Despite the heat in Phoenix, there is little reason to turn on the air conditioning at Chase Field because of Reynold’s big swings. He misses an awful lot of the time, but he’ll also make some contact with a lot of long flies. If you can stomach a batting average south of .260 and about 200 Ks, his power is a nice touch in your infield.
9. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, SD—How good could this guy be in a better ballpark and in a better lineup? We’ll likely find out in July when the Padres will probably unload him for a ton of prospects. If he stays in San Diego, look for almost 40 bombs and more than 100 ribbies. If he gets traded, those numbers could go up.
10. Justin Morneau, 1B, MIN—Morneau has battled a number of injuries in the last few years and is starting to get a reputation for being a guy that is good in the first half and bad in the second. He’ll still belt more than 30 homers and 115 RBI, so take him in your draft and plan to trade him at the first sign of that back acting up again.
11. Adam LaRoche, 1B, ARZ—LaRoche is the anti-Morneau. He typically has an average first half followed by a big second half. He’s the guy you want to pick up after you’ve traded away Morneau during the All-Star break. Playing on a one-year deal in Arizona will give him an opportunity to put up some big numbers on his way to a big payday after the 2010 season.
12. Evan Longoria, 3B, TB—The young phenom from Tampa Bay is going to light it up for the Rays. The only question is whether anyone will show up to see him do it at Tropicana Field. A .273/34/105 line is a good expectation.
13. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, WAS—A lot like Longoria with a little less power, Zimmerman is still quite a player for Washington. The 25-year old will likely post numbers around .285/30/99.
14. Joey Votto, 1B, CIN—Votto is a very good player who has likely reached his ceiling at .321/26/99/9. He’s a valuable player for many fantasy teams, but he’s not a guy to reach for in the third round of your fantasy draft.
15. Mark Teixeira, 1B, NYY—Teixeira found his power stroke at the new Yankee Stadium last season and will continue to thrive with the Bronx Bombers. A line of .279/32/123 is something I’d want in my fantasy lineup, but not for a first round pick. Let him slide a bit or find another player in a later round.
16. Alex Rodriguez, 3B, NYY—A-Rod finally got his World Series ring, but is constantly surrounded by controversy. Since he’s used to it, don’t look for his numbers to drag in 2010. But don’t look for anything sensational like his 2007 season when he was playing for a new contract. A line of .281/30/93/15 is great, but there are a handful of third basemen out there who will post similar numbers that you can draft in a later round. Skip A-Rod’s reputation and find a better value a few rounds later.
The Next 15
17. Adam Dunn, 1B/OF, CIN
18. Carlos Pena, 1B, TB
19. Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, BOS
20. Billy Butler, 1B, KC
21. Derrek Lee, 1B, CHC
22. Aramis Ramirez, 3B, CHC
23. Ian Stewart, 2B/3B, COL
24. Chipper Jones, 3B, ATL
25. Chone Figgins, 3B, SEA
26. Michael Young, 3B, TEX
27. Troy Glaus, 3B, ATL
28. Gordon Beckham, 3B, CWS
29. Garrett Jones, 1B/OF, PIT
30. James Loney, 1B, LAD
31. Chris Davis, 1B, TEX