January 12, 2011
37. Joe Mauer(notes), C, Minnesota Twins - When you pick at the end of the round, you have to sometimes pick first at a position. I suspect the top catchers will not make it back. So I went with arguably the best pure hitter in the AL. He's a groundball hitter, so the 28 homers of 2009 are unlikely. But last year's total is not projectable either. I'll bank 15-to-20 with a .330 average. If Jim Thome(notes) was back with the Twins, I'd have gone probably Victor Martinez(notes) here, but Martinez has issues, too (even though he'll DH most days). Mauer owners really need about 60 games at DH so he can pile up at-bats to really leverage that elite average. (This team so far: C. Utley, C. Crawford, C. Lee, J. Mauer). -Salfino
38. Clayton Kershaw(notes), SP, Los Angeles Dodgers - The K-rate was off the charts. He’s cracked through the 200-inning mark so workload is not a near-term concern. He walked 10 less guys in 33 more innings. Yes, he’s basically a two-pitch guy, but who cares when both pitches (fastball and slider) are plus-plus. He has the perfect size to maintain his top-tier velocity. And he plays in the National League, in one of the top-five pitcher's parks in baseball. (D. Wright, M. Teixeira, R. Weeks, C. Kershaw). -Salfino
39. Adam Wainwright(notes), SP, St. Louis Cardinals - I'm a little worried about the way the Cardinals are viewing defense these days — they've downgraded from Brendan Ryan(notes) to Ryan Theriot(notes) at shortstop, and Lance Berkman(notes) is going to be a lawn chair in the outfield — but nonetheless I feel great about Wainwright here. He's a 230-innings horse, a legitimate No. 1 for fantasy and real-life purposes. Wainwright's also a fun watch, a pitching clinic every time he's on the mound — spot your fastball early in the count, then put people away with your slider or curve. He'll always have a spot on my fake teams. (A. Rodriguez, R. Braun, J. Rollins, A. Wainwright). -Pianowski
40. CC Sabathia(notes), SP, New York Yankees - The AL East is a very difficult place for a pitcher to make his mark, but Sabathia has handled the rigors quite well, thank you, collecting 40 wins, 394 strikeouts and 467.2 innings over the last two years, along with a tidy ERA (3.26) and WHIP (1.17).
And yes, I'm citing the wins here — while there's a lot of flukiness to that stat, I'm always going to feel good about a pitcher who works deep into games for a stacked team like the Yankees. Sabathia has never had a major injury through his 10-year career, which makes the selection a little easier. (A. Gonzalez, J. Hamilton, B. Phillips, CC Sabathia). -Pianowski
41. Buster Posey(notes), C/1B, San Francisco Giants - Even if you think Posey’s 18 HRs (in 108 games) as a rookie were somewhat fluky, as I’ve seen some claim, I’d still expect him to reach at least that total again given an extra two months of playing time in his sophomore campaign. After all, he hit 24 HRs in his minor league career (605 ABs) and he flashed plenty of power for Florida St. prior to his professional start. The catcher position has seen a player top 24 home runs just three times in the past seven years; if you are pushing 20 home runs, it’s fair to say you are among the elite power players at the backstop position. And there’s much less of a debate about Posey’s ability to hit for average. He has a fantastic eye and an advanced feel for the game. He’s been a low-K, .300-plus hitter at every level. I’m penciling him in for .300/20/90/80 as the Giants’ everyday clean-up hitter. Which would give Joe Mauer a run for his money. (R. Cano, R. Howard, J. Heyward, B. Posey). -Funston
42. Dan Uggla(notes), 2B, Atlanta Braves - There’s not much to explain about Uggla. He’s the rare second baseman that hits 30 HRs, drives in 90 runs and crosses the plate 100 times year over year. He also rarely misses a game. And now he’s calling Turner Field home — a park where he has produced a 1.051 OPS in 181 career at bats. Get over your concerns here about batting average. Batting clean up for a potentially explosive offense, Uggla could deliver his best season yet. (E. Longoria, M. Kemp, J. Upton, D. Uggla). -Funston
43. Andrew McCutchen(notes), OF, Pittsburgh Pirates - In his first full season, the toolsy commodity showed exactly why he was the 11th player taken in the 2005 draft. Featured primarily as a leadoff man, he batted .286 with 16 homers, 56 RBIs, 94 runs and 33 steals. He also hit an impressive .315 with runners in scoring position. Only a mere tot at 24, the sharp-eyed outfielder (0.79 BB/K in ’10) could be even better in the encore, particularly in AVG. Keep in mind his BABIP (.311) a year ago was considerably low. Don’t be afraid to dip into the treasure chest. (J. Votto, R. Zimmerman, N. Cruz, A. McCutchen). -Evans
44. Jose Bautista(notes), 3B/OF, Toronto Blue Jays - There is no more controversial figure in fantasy drafts this season than Bautista. The consensus: after a 54-homer campaign, the waiver superstar has very strong odds of becoming the next Brady Anderson.
But, realistically, how massive will the drop-off be? Based on his passive-aggressive plate demeanor (0.86 BB/K in ’10), absurdly low .233 BABIP and skyward 0.57 GB/FB, Bautista may not be the Soft Cell of fantasy after all. Underlying skills like his typically don’t vanish overnight, especially for a player in his prime. Yes, a decline is inevitable, but a Dunn-like follow-up is very possible (.265-40-100-90). Considering the lack of depth at 3B this year, he’s a bargain in Round 4. Believe. (C. Gonzalez, P. Fielder, S. Choo, J. Bautista). -Evans
45. Victor Martinez, C/1B, Detroit Tigers - He'll serve as the Tigers primary DH in '11, which should mean less wear on his body and more production. If V-Mart does his usual thing (.300/20/90), he'll be right there in the mix as one of the top fantasy backstops in the league. He represents huge value at pick 45 (ADP 29), and I just couldn't pass up the chance to grab one of the best pure hitters on the board at a position where that's premium value. My first three offensive players allow me to take some lower batting-average types with big power upside later in the draft. (T. Tulowitzki, M. Holliday, T. Lincecum, V. Martinez). -Steingall
46. Adam Dunn(notes), 1B, Chicago White Sox - I've always been a big Dunn fan. After missing him in some previous mocks and auctions, I reached a bit here to secure his services. He's annually a lock to challenge the 40-homer mark (seven straight seasons of 38-plus taters) and that number could rise in the offensive paradise that is US Cellular Field. I'm making this pick expecting a .265/40/110 campaign, plus 100 runs. Draft him anywhere near this slot with confidence. (M. Cabrera, J. Reyes, F. Hernandez, A. Dunn). -Steingall
47. Ichiro(notes), OF, Seattle Mariners - If the draft ended right now, this team's roster would probably hit .340 for the season. Ichiro gives this squad a needed dose of speed (42 steals in 2010), plus his typical high average over 670-plus at-bats. This is simply one of the most reliable names in the player pool, both in terms of statistics and health. With Pujols and Ichiro already rostered, this owner is now free to take a few chances on Pena/Reynolds/Stanton-types, guys who can deliver elite power totals, but dreadful AVGs. (A. Pujols, R. Halladay, D. Pedroia, Ichiro). -Behrens
48. Josh Johnson(notes), SP, Florida Marlins - The hope was that V-Mart would continue his mysterious fall for just a few more picks, but Steingall eventually snagged him. Minor disappointment. For me, after the top-tier catchers are off the board, it's not really worth reaching for anyone in the next group. Same stats, different names.
So Johnson was a best-available selection here. While I don't necessarily believe he's significantly better than, say, Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) or Jon Lester(notes) or David Price(notes), I also don't think any of those guys will be available next time this team picks. Johnson gives you brilliant fantasy ratios and a terrific K-rate (9.11 K/9 last year), plus he's pitching in the right league. A clear fantasy ace. (H. Ramirez, K. Youkilis, I. Kinsler, J. Johnson). -Behrens
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