We are still months away from the 2010 major league season, shoot, we aren’t even to the World Series yet, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not knee deep in baseball data right now as we are beginning to put together out first 2010 Baseball Magazine (it should be out in time to stuff your holiday stocking). Given that, combined with our recent purchase of the National Fantasy Baseball Championship which uses 15 team leagues, I thought I would run through my ideal first round for 2010. It won’t be the last time I do this leading up to the actual draft weekend, but sitting here today this is how I see things playing out.
1- Hanley Ramirez
How is this for a three year average from a shortstop: .325-29-85-117-38. His steal total is dipping (51, 35 and 27), but the average has been over .330 two of the past three years and he knocked in 106 runs batting third this season.
2- Albert Pujols
I know, I know. How could he not be #1? At this point I’m putting him #2 because of his most recent elbow operation and the slight concern I have about that. You can read my thoughts on the matter at Is Perception Reality?
3- Alex Rodriguez
Showing, once again, what he can do when the stars align. If we add in the eight playoff games he has played this year he has produced a .293-35-111-88-15 line in just 132 games this season.
4- Ryan Braun
Strikes out too much without drawing walks (his 0.35 BB/K mark for his career is well below the 0.50 major league average), but he has managed to hit .308 in his three seasons. Doesn’t have the speed of Kemp (though he had 20 steals in ’09), but of the two this is the guy would could hit 40 homers with 120 RBI and a .330 batting average.
5- Matt Kemp
I don’t like the large K totals (153 and 139 the past two years), but how can I argue with a guy who in his second full season hit .297-26-101-97-34? 30/30 is the next step.
6- Miguel Cabrera
The best right handed power hitter in the AL who hasn’t been linked to performance enhancing drugs, Cabrera has hit at least .320 in four of five seasons while also knocked in at least 112 runs five times in six years.
7- Chase Utley
Shrugged off the hip surgery to produce spectacularly. He went 20/20 for the first time (31 homers, 23 steals), scored 100-runs for the fourth straight year and has now gone at least .280-22-93-93 in each of the past five seasons.
8- Ian Kinsler
How many players went 30/30 this past season? One, and he plays second base for the Rangers (he had 31 homers and 31 steals). Even though he hit only .253 he still scored 101 runs with 86 RBI.
9- Tim Lincecum
The best pitcher in the game. Period.
10- Ryan Howard
Wildly deficient in steals (10 career) and average (only once over .280 the past four years), but with 4-straight 45 homer, 135 RBI seasons who cares?
11- Jacoby Ellsbury
Major league steals leader (70) doesn’t have the power of Crawford, but he has more steal upside, has scored at least 94 runs each of the past two years, and upped his average .021 points in just his second full season (.301).
12- Carl Crawford
Even with a late season fade he still set a career best with 60 steals, his fifth 50+ steal season in seven years, while scoring 96 runs, hitting 15 bombs, and batting .305.
13- Mark Teixeira
I don’t think he takes the next step to outright greatness, but in that park, and with that lineup around him, he is as close as a guy can be to a completely lock to hit 30 homers with 100 RBI and a batting average of .280+ (6-straight years).
14- Roy Halladay
Yes Zack Greinke was better last season, but at the same time Halladay has been the most consistently excellent pitcher in the game the past four years. There is also the growing specter of Halladay being dealt, and that would likely help him in the “W” category much more than Greinke will be aided pitching for the Royals.
15- Mark Reynolds
Reynolds was the only man who hit 40 homers while knocking in 100 runs and stealing 20 bases. Reynolds set a major league record with 223 Ks, so I still worry about his ability to match his .260 mark from last season, and honestly, I would never take him this high, though some might even put him higher on the list so I added him, grudgingly, to the list.
By Ray Flowers