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Fantasy baseball fan: Top 20 position players
The 2011 Major League Baseball fantasy drafts will begin taking place over the next few weeks. The first 20 picks of a fantasy baseball draft are critical to winning and losing a season.
The following 20 position players will help any fantasy baseball owner through the tough summer months and to the top of any fantasy baseball league.
Albert Pujols, of the St. Louis Cardinals, is the obvious first pick of all fantasy baseball drafts. For those owners lucky enough to have the first pick, the strategy is to find a second pick that balances Pujols. For the second round a speed player or the best starting pitcher on the board is the best follow-up pick.
Hanley Ramirez hits for power, speed and is capable of scoring 100 runs for the Florida Marlins. Ramirez hit 20 home runs last year and stole 32 bases. When drafting Ramirez first it is a good idea to draft a power hitter in the second round and a pitcher in the third round.
A true power hitting shortstop is tough to find and this is why Troy Tulowitzki is so valuable. The Colorado Rockies start is capable of clobbering 30 home runs and stealing 20 bases but count on 25 home runs and 10-15 stolen bases. Balance a pick of Tulowitzki with a good starting pitcher in the second round.
The Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez is the highest ranked outfielder on many fantasy baseball draft boards. Gonzalez will hit for average, power and he has speed to boot. Definitely draft a pitcher in the second round when drafting Gonzalez.
The best power hitting third baseman on the fantasy baseball draft board is Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays. A bonus with Longoria is runs scored and last year he stole 15 bases. Don't expect stolen bases to increase but he should maintain a .300 average and hit for power. It is a good idea to draft a power hitting outfielder in the second round to balance Longoria.
Adrian Gonzalez power numbers dropped last season and there will be an adjustment period with his new team, the Boston Red Sox. If someone else drafts Gonzalez look to make a trade for him in May if he struggles.
The New York Yankees' Robinson Cano is the best available second baseman. He hits for power and scores runs but Cano is lacking in the speed department for a second baseman. A good second round draft choice after Cano could go several ways. A pitcher or a power hitting first baseman is a good second round choice.
An injury to the Philadelphia Phillies' Chase Utley may help him fall to a better draft position. If he is available past the eighth spot on the board jump at the opportunity. Utley is capable of stealing 20 bases and slamming 30 home runs. If Utley is picked in the first round, look towards a solid pitcher in the second round.
Matt Kemp has the potential to become a legitimate 30-30 man for the Los Angeles Dodgers. His speed numbers dropped off last season but if he remains healthy, Kemp can do some damage. Kemp will be available in the late first round or early second round. He is a huge pick in the early second round and cannot be passed on.
A power hitting third baseman that has speed as well? David Wright is a legitimate first round fantasy baseball pick and for leagues that use a snake draft, he can make up a potent one-two draft combination pick. Wright may only steal 20 bases but the New York Mets star is always a legitimate 30 home run hitter.
Realistic expectations for Mark Teixiera are 35-40 home runs and 120 RBIs. With the Yankees, Teixiera is in the middle of one of the most potent lineups in Major League Baseball and will produce consistently every year.
Jose Reyes is a gamble in this spot because of his potential for injury. He is at the top of the order for the New York Mets and in fantasy baseball leagues emphasizing run scoring he is a key player. Shortstop is a key position and the drop off is swift for quality players. Keep an eye on Reyes in spring training.
Off the field issues forced a drop of Miguel Cabrera. One more mistake by Cabrera will lead to a possible stint out of baseball. Looking at straight offensive numbers, Cabrera is the second highest ranking first baseman. He will knock 35-40 home runs and 130 RBIs for the Detroit Tigers. If he falls this far it is tough to let him slide any further.
Prince Fielder is a tough nut to crack. Will he hit 30 home runs or return to his 2009 form and hit 46? Drafting Fielder is a power play but he will score in the 100 run vicinity for the Milwaukee Brewers this year as well. A big man is also prone to injury so keep this in mind.
Ryan Howard has the potential to move up this list if he shows well in spring training for the Phillies. Howard may be a tremendous bargain in the middle of the second round. As a first baseman he is much more valuable if he can hit more than 40 home runs.
Ryan Braun is a well-rounded outfielder that can steal, hit for average and knock out 35 home runs per game. The Brewers' Braun is a value pick in the middle of the second round and if he falls to the third round snatch him up fast.
Josh Hamilton has not played a full season since 2008. This must be taken into consideration when taking him early in any fantasy baseball draft. For the Texas Rangers, he can post big numbers and hit for a high average but durability is a drawback.
His best years are behind him but he can still help a fantasy baseball team with power numbers. His average has slipped in the last few seasons but the Yankees star is still a nice pick in the second round.
Look for Carl Crawford to adjust to his new team in the first few months but he will come around. Crawford is another player that can be available for trade if he struggles early with the Boston Red Sox.
The position of catcher is always thin and picking up a catcher that will lock up 500 at bats and hit for a high average is a deal breaker. Taking the Minnesota Twins' Mauer at the end of the second round is a key strategy move that will disrupt a fantasy baseball draft and send groans throughout the room.
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