Roto Arcade - Fantasy

That's right, mock season is finally upon us. We've assembled six accredited fantasy experts for a 12-team draft. This thing won't end until all of our demands are met. We'll get through one round each day. RotoWire's Chris Liss is up first, because he's our guest...

Hanley Ramirez, Marlins SS -- Round 1, Pick 1. Age, position scarcity and speed give him the slight nod over Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez. The worries here are the increased strikeout rate (Ramirez's average could dip below .300), and, because he's evolved into more of a power/on-base player, he might run less. But his floor is 30/25/.290 as a shortstop, and his ceiling is 40/40/.330. (Chris Liss)

Alex Rodriguez, Yankees 3B -- Round 1, Pick 2. It's a close call between A-Rod and Albert Pujols, but I'll take the third-base eligibility and the 15 extra bags in exchange for 30-40 points of batting average. The Yankees also have a better lineup (more runs and RBI), and A-Rod, with 12-straight seasons of 35 homers and 100 RBI, might be the most reliable player in league history. (CL)

Albert Pujols, Cardinals 1B -- Round 1, Pick 3. Despite being slightly limited by a tender right elbow, Pujols still managed to hit over .325, blast 30-plus homers and drive in over 100 runs for the eighth straight season. Now 100 percent healthy after October surgery, he could prove even more lethal. Sure, first is an overloaded position, but the reigning NL MVP’s consistency is something to cherish. Unbelievably only 29, arguably this century’s greatest hitter is destined to finish in range of: .330 BA, 40 HR, 120 RBI, 110 R, 5 SB. Hey, hey, hey, Phat Albert will make your opponents pay. (Brad Evans)

Jose Reyes, Mets SS -- Round 1, Pick 4. After a down power year in '07, the fleet-footed megastar's numbers rebounded nicely back to his '06 breakout level. If Reyes can continue to maintain a GB/FB ratio near 1.30 and draw an appreciable amount of walks (8.8 BB% in ’08), a 20-60 campaign is very attainable. Although the 25-year-old's stolen base numbers dipped sharply, it's important to note he was the only member of the 100-15-40 club in '08. (BE)

David Wright, Mets 3B -- Round 1, Pick 5. It's not too difficult to build a case for Wright as the top overall fantasy pick. If you can get him with the fifth selection, consider yourself lucky. If he falls to pick No. 6, then maybe you should find a more competitive league. Wright has been a five-category asset in each of the past four seasons, and he's only 26 years old. Durability is clearly not an issue here, either. Wright outproduced Reyes in four of the five standard hitting categories last year, and the difference in HR and RBI was massive. (Andy Behrens)

Ryan Braun, Brewers OF -- Round 1, Pick 6. Things get tricky here. There are solid arguments for Grady Sizemore, Miguel Cabrera and perhaps six other players. But whenever possible, I prefer to spend first round picks on players who will be better than league-average in every fantasy category. Braun fits that description. He was a five-stat contributor in his age-23 and age-24 seasons, so it's not like he needs to improve in order to justify this pick. If Braun somehow manages to get better -- check out the projections over at Fangraphs -- then he'll be a top-three selection in 2010 drafts. (AB)

Grady Sizemore, Indians OF -- Round 1, Pick 7. I can tell right now I'll prefer to sit in the top half of the first round come draft day, but if I can't address position scarcity here (see picks 1, 2, 4, 5), I can still go low-risk. Take Sizemore's worst season per category over the past three seasons and you still have 101 runs, 76 RBIs, 24 homers, 22 steals, and a .268 average. In the power, speed and run production areas those totals are on a steady escalator up – and he's only 26. Add to the mix the fact that he's taken only five days off since 2005 and, well … where do I sign? (Matt Romig)

Josh Hamilton, Rangers OF -- Round 1, Pick 8. This pick isn't made without hesitation. There's baggage here, obviously, and if you look at Hamilton's 2008 splits there was a post-All-Star dip in several categories: homer ever 18 at-bats before the break, one per 22.5 at-bats after; 14 points sawed off the batting average; seven of his nine steals were pre-break, etc. I blame the home-run derby. But the total package here is too enticing: the power, the pedigree, the ballpark. He could run a bit more after swiping nine bags in 10 tries and word is he went after it with a strong winter training regimen. Also: age-27 alert! I'm a believer. (Mig)

Miguel Cabrera, Tigers 1B/3B – Round 1, Pick 9. This is a no-brainer selection at this point, as Cabrera could easily have been justified at pick No. 6. After a slow start (by his standards) for Detroit last season, Miggy drove in 83 runs in his final 83 games – no player had more RBI (70) or HR (21) post-break. He’ll be just 25 on opening day, he’s eligible at first or third in Yahoo! leagues, he’s never hit worse than .292 for a full season, he’s played at least 157 games in each of the past five seasons. Obviously, there’s a lot to love here. (Brandon Funston)

Ian Kinsler, Rangers 2B – Round 1, Pick 10. To answer the question preemptively, I definitely gave Ryan Howard strong consideration here. But there’ll be an elite first base-eligible power hitter (Mark Teixeira, Lance Berkman, Prince Fielder) available for this team in the next round. I’m opting for the premium player at a more depth-thin spot. Take a look at Kinsler’s production for his past 158 games: .317, 23 HR, 89 RBI, 136 R, 33 SB. I’d take that line over the ’08 line from Grady Sizemore, off the board in this mock three picks earlier. Of course, the rub on Kinsler is that his past 158 games were spread out over the past two seasons due to injury, and he’s never played more than 130 games in his three seasons in the league because of health problems. That said, last season’s ailment was a hernia. There’s nothing chronic to worry about. At 26, he’s entering his prime. I’m willing to take my chances. And if the end result is that I get 130 games from Kinsler and 30 games from some lesser fill-in second baseman, I’m still not going to be that disappointed. (BFun)

Jimmy Rollins, Phillies SS – Round 1, Pick 11. No one from the NL East shortstop trio is going to come cheaply, but as per usual the best price lands with Rollins. I'm happy to secure a four-category player at a scarce position, and it's possible Rollins could also be a plus factor in batting average, given where he spends half of his schedule (last year's BB/K improvement also suggests an average bump). Generally you worry about 30-something players continuing to steal aggressively, but Rollins keeps getting better with age on the basepaths; he's been successful 88-of-97 times over the past two seasons. Sign me up. (Scott Pianowski) 

Mark Teixeira, Yankees 1B – Round 1, Pick 12. Wasn't it more fun back in the day when the Yankees went all-in on guys like Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright? Teixeira is a no-downside player, a durable, smart, patient, powerful offensive weapon who's going to do everything but run for fantasy owners. Don't discount the shift back to the American League full-time, where the lineups cycle faster and the pitching isn't quite as good. Teix is still a year away from his 30th birthday and we probably haven't see his best season yet; I'll take a stab at it here. (Pianow) 


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