Welcome back, fantasy baseball owners!
It's 2010. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in a mere 40 days, and I'm ready to go, needless to say. I'm counting the days. Nothing against the fun offseason, but I'd rather see Johnny Damon and Jose Valverde actually in some team's uniform, even if they're only half-running sprints in a Lakeland, Fla., outfield, rather than speculating which one they'll be in.
As such, look for a fantasy baseball blog from me each weekday in January. If you have thoughts on the blogs or topics you'd like to see discussed, send them in via this link or post them in the Conversation below. I'm ready. Are you?
Let's start with my top-10 overall rankings for 2010. I figure that should generate plenty of feedback:
1. Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals: I really don't see how you could pick anyone else.
2. Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins: Still a monster, but 24 home runs, not Pujols' 47.
3. Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers: The stolen bases aren't a fluke.
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees: No concerns about him. In fact, might even switch him and Braun down the road.
5. Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies: 31 homers, 23 steals and second base eligibility. What's not to like?
7. Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees: Power, power and more power, and he's reliable.
8. Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers: No reason to fear a power drop-off any time soon.
9. David Wright, 3B, Mets: Obviously, I take the over on his hitting 20 home runs in 2010.
10. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers: Bad season (in 2009)? He had 34 homers and a .324 average!
Three things you're probably wondering about this list:
Where's Joe Mauer? He's where he belongs, outside the top 10. Look, he doesn't miss my list by much, but I cannot draft him over any of the above hitters. Catchers scare me, even the best catcher, and no matter what he did in 2009, remember that you're not drafting those statistics. I could see 20-25 homers, and I never project anyone to hit better than .330. I'd take Mauer in Round 2. Better yet, I'd let someone else go that route. In a 10-team league, there are more than enough catchers in the later rounds.
Why so heavy on first basemen? Yes, this is the deepest position in fantasy baseball, but I've never understood why that means you must avoid it in the first round. This isn't about whether Mauer is worlds better than the No. 10 catcher; say Carlos Pena is the No. 10 first baseman. He'll be drafted in every league, but he's still not Teixeira, Fielder, Cabrera or Ryan Howard. Look for safe, consistent, dominant numbers in Round 1, regardless of position scarcity.
Yes, I do value stolen bases: The absence of Carl Crawford on this list hardly means I don't care about his steals. I just can't justify spending a first-round pick on someone who doesn't hit home runs. Crawford doesn't project much better to me than Jacoby Ellsbury or Jose Reyes. I'd take Crawford in the middle of Round 2 if I had to, but I need more pop this early. And yes, I expect Wright to get his power back. That's a blog for another day, but he still hits for average and steals bases, and he was top-5 heading into the season. We have lots of days until March to discuss.
Got thoughts? This blog is for you, so share them. I answered plenty of fantasy baseball questions in my chat session Wednesday, and will be doing the same this week. Baseball is back!