Fantasy Baseball 2011 Mock Draft, Round 1

As promised, the Yahoo! fantasy team will be mocking all week, offering a preview of your 2011 baseball draft. We'll get through at least one round per day, possibly more. Please use this mock responsibly. Comment early and often…

1. Hanley Ramirez(notes), SS, Florida Marlins – OK, before you launch into a pro-Pujols lecture in comments, try to understand the logic behind this pick: In a 12-team mixed league, absolutely every roster will feature an outstanding first baseman, guaranteed. In fact, first base is the deepest position in any fantasy game. Pujols is sensational, but the first basemen who rank 10-15 are awfully good, too (as are 16-20). At shortstop, the guys who rank 10-15 are clear liabilities in multiple stats. Hanley is an elite asset entering his age-27 season, and he already has a 30/30 campaign and a batting title on the resumé. –Andy Behrens

2. Albert Pujols(notes), 1B, St. Louis Cardinals – No, Pujols can't slip too far. Ridiculously enough, the average season from this guy has yielded 119 runs scored, 41 homers, 123 RBIs, eight steals, and a .331/.426/.624 batting line. Again: Those are merely his typical stats over his 10-year career. No doubt his position is an easy fill, but he rarely finishes outside the top-five in the year-end ranks. His floor is 100-35-100-.310, and his ceiling is Triple Crown. –Behrens

3. Miguel Cabrera(notes), 1B, Detroit Tigers – Six of his first seven full seasons have been of the 30 home run variety, and he's never had less than 103 RBI during that time, making this a no-brainer. Miggy posted career bests in walk (13.7%) and strikeout (17.3%) rates in '10, showing he's still got room to grow, which seems silly since he's already been so good for so long. Adding V-Mart to the mix only increases his value, and I have no problem depositing .320/40/125 in the bank. –Rob Steingall

4. Troy Tulowitzki(notes), SS, Colorado Rockies – Teammate CarGo may post slightly better numbers (and I strongly considered him), but position scarcity wins out here. The Coors Field effect is a beautiful thing, with a .300/35/110 line certainly attainable, provided Tulo avoids injury. He's no slouch on the bases either (20 steals in '09, 11 steals in '10), making this honey pot even sweeter. The sky is the limit as he enters his prime — and I'm going along for the ride. –Steingall

5. Carlos Gonzalez(notes), OF, Colorado Rockies – Naysayers strongly emphasize to never pay for a career year, but the axiom simply doesn’t apply to CarGo. Yes, his sub-80 contact percentage suggests his .336 BA from ’10 is unrepeatable, but, even if his totals sag slightly, last year’s No. 1 commodity in Y! leagues will be one of virtual baseball’s most reliable multi-cat bats. An uptick in power is also possible. Keep in mind he’s still just 25. –Brad Evans

6. Joey Votto(notes), 1B, Cincinnati Reds – During last year’s breakout campaign, the Canadian Soprano knocked off one fastball after another, en route to the fourth-most valuable statistical contribution of the fantasy season. Because he would have difficulty outracing an octogenarian on a Rascal, his chances of stealing 16 bases again are very slim. However, considering his prime age (27), friendly surroundings and strong baseline profile, another HR growth spurt isn’t out of the question. Reduce groundballs (1.30 GB/FB in ’10) and he flirts with 50 bombs. In numbers speak he’s the Miguel Cabrera of the NL. –Evans

7. Evan Longoria(notes), 3B, Tampa Bay Rays – I think we’ve already started to take Longoria for granted. To post an average line of .283/27/101/88/10 over the first three years of a career, all before the age of 25, is nothing short of remarkable. He plays a premium position and has only started to reach the early stages of his prime. At pick No. 7, you could live with the numbers he produced last season. But he’s got three years left on a ridiculously sub-market value contract and he needs to seriously pad his numbers in the next three years if he wants to make up for some of the money he lost when it’s time to sign a new deal. If he doesn’t get his home run total back over the 30 mark, I’ll be very surprised. –Brandon Funston

8. Robinson Cano(notes), 2B, New York Yankees – I go back and forth between Chase Utley(notes) and Cano at the No. 8 spot, but this time I went with Cano. He’s not the injury risk that Utley is, he’s right in the heart of his prime, and in the heart of one of the best offenses in the league. If Utley does manage 150-plus games this season, I lose out on the 15-20 SBs. But I certainly won’t lose out on the hitting numbers. Cano has established himself as a solid .300/30/100/100 candidate. –Funston

9. Adrian Gonzalez(notes), 1B, Boston Red Sox – For years we've all imagined what Gonzalez might do if released from the jaws of Petco Park. In 2011, those dreams become reality. Gonzalez was a .315/.402/.578 stick on the road last year and he posted a 1.045 OPS away from Petco in 2009. Now he gets to play half of his games at Fenway Park, surrounded by an outstanding group of run-producers; crooked numbers are on the way. Gonzalez is in the prime of his career (he turns 29 in May) and he's got excellent power to all fields; drop a quarter into the slot and let's play some pinball. –Scott Pianowski

10. Ryan Braun(notes), OF, Milwaukee Brewers – I don't like filling up on outfielders early in a 2011 mock — the outfield is a deep area while the infield isn't — but the appealing floor of Braun ultimately wins me over. Braun played through nagging elbow and wrist problems last year and nonetheless produced in all five roto-relevant categories; it says a lot about a player when you can look at a .304/.366/.501 line and consider it an off-year. If Braun stays healthy in his age 27 season we could see an MVP run. The downside? We get similar stats to what he posted in 2010. Braun might be the No. 1 outfielder on my board when the real draft season begins.–Pianowski

11. David Wright(notes), 3B, New York Mets – Very tough player to project. But he's a 25-15 guy, you have to figure, with upside from there. Given that he had 29 homers in '10 and 27 steals in '09, 30/30 is somewhere in that void between possible and probable. The K-rate was alarming last year, but the isolated slugging was back to career norms. And .300 is a good bet considering his career mark is .305. Oddly, third base is a position-scarcity pick. –Michael Salfino

12. Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies – This is a solid value. Utley is reasonable here for his offensive production regardless of where he plays on the diamond, so the fact that he mans the keystone is a huge boost. The thumb injury sapped his power, but he's at his power peak, age-wise, and should again knock 30-or-so homers — especially given park factors. He's such an efficient base stealer and smart player that 20 steals are a reasonable projection. It's only a matter of will, not skill. And the key with Utley on the bases is that you do not need much more than 20 attempts. –Salfino


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