2012 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Top 10 Players at Every Position

Matt TruebloodSenior Analyst IFebruary 6, 2012

2012 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Top 10 Players at Every Position

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    With the Super Bowl (finally) out of the way, it feels official: it's baseball season. Spring is nigh. Some pitchers and catchers will report to camp in mere days, though Roy Oswalt, Ivan Rodriguez and Jason Varitek still don't know whether they will report at all, or to where.

    With spring workouts set to begin, though, it's not merely baseball season. It's fantasy baseball season, too. It's time to start shuffling cheat sheets, cross-checking injury reports with ADP lists and scouring your website of choice for prospect nuggets. The next Michael Pineda or Alex Gordon might be out there for the finding.

    Rest assured that lots and lots of fantasy goodness will come your way on Bleacher Report during the weeks to come. It's a bit early to dive in whole-hog, but for now, consider this the first sign of a nerdy spring. Here are the top 10 players at each position for the 2012 season in fantasy baseball. Groundhog be damned, spring begins now.

Catcher

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    The List:

    1. Carlos Santana, Indians
    2. Mike Napoli, Rangers
    3. Brian McCann, Braves
    4. Buster Posey, Giants
    5. Matt Wieters, Orioles
    6. Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks
    7. Alex Avila, Tigers
    8. Joe Mauer, Twins
    9. Yadier Molina, Cardinals
    10. Wilson Ramos, Nationals

    Just Missed

    • Geovany Soto, Cubs
    • Devin Mesoraco, Reds
    • Chris Iannetta, Angels
    • Jesus Montero, Mariners
    • J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays

    A Few Words

    Carlos Santana is not better than you think: He's way, way better than you think. He swatted 27 home runs in 2011, second-most among catchers, at age 25. ... Brian McCann is absurdly, almost impossibly consistent. ... Matt Wieters hit .281 with 12 home runs, 31 RBI and solid skill indicators from August 3 onward in 2011. ... For Mauer, Posey and Avila, health will be as big a question as ability.

First Base

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    The List:

    1. Joey Votto, Reds
    2. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
    3. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
    4. Prince Fielder, Tigers
    5. Albert Pujols, Angels
    6. Mark Teixeira, Yankees
    7. Eric Hosmer, Royals
    8. Paul Konerko, White Sox
    9. Freddie Freeman, Braves
    10. Mike Morse, Nationals

    Just Missed:

    • Ryan Howard, Phillies
    • Ike Davis, Mets
    • Lance Berkman, Cardinals
    • Gaby Sanchez, Marlins
    • Carlos Pena, Rays

    A Few Words:

    Ryan Howard's injury creates opportunity, as well as risk. ... Yes, those are the real rankings. Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols lovers, fire away. Pujols is 32, though, and had by far his worst year in 2011. Votto is the premier athlete at the position, and has the skills to back it up. He came up just one homer and two RBI shy of Cabrera last year. Do not buy batting average. ... Berkman played 21 games at first last season, barely qualifying at the position prior to the season. Not that it matters, as he would qualify within two weeks, anyway.

Second Base

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    The List:

    1. Robinson Cano, Yankees
    2. Ian Kinsler, Rangers
    3. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
    4. Rickie Weeks, Brewers
    5. Jemile Weeks, A's
    6. Ben Zobrist, Rays
    7. Brandon Phillips, Reds
    8. Dan Uggla, Braves
    9. Chase Utley, Phillies
    10. Dustin Ackley, Mariners

    Just Missed:

    • Howie Kendrick, Angels
    • Danny Espinosa, Nationals
    • Neil Walker, Pirates
    • Kelly Johnson, Blue Jays
    • Brian Roberts, Orioles

    A Few Words:

    Pedroia embodies being better in real life than in fantasy. ... Uggla is a very durable option, but more likely to repeat his .233 average than his 36 homers. ... Brandon Phillips views 2012 very much as a contract year, so watch out. ... Jose Altuve is the super-sleeper, but unlikely to be an impact player.

Third Base

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    The List:

    1. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
    2. Evan Longoria, Rays
    3. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
    4. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins
    5. Adrian Beltre, Rangers
    6. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
    7. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
    8. David Wright, Mets
    9. Pablo Sandoval, Giants
    10. Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays

    Just Missed:

    • Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox
    • Michael Young, Rangers
    • Aramis Ramirez, Brewers
    • David Freese, Cardinals
    • Chase Headley, Padres

    A Few Words:

    Draft Cabrera for the hot corner at your peril, but the reward potential there is obviously huge. ... Durability is a massive issue at the position. In fast, of these 15 guys, only Bautista and Cabrera have been consistently healthy—and Cabrera, again, still has to prove he can play the position. ... Youkilis would gain the most by proving he can stay on the field.

Shortstop

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    The List:

    1. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
    2. Jose Reyes, Marlins
    3. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins
    4. Starlin Castro, Cubs
    5. Elvis Andrus, Rangers
    6. Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
    7. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
    8. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox
    9. Erick Aybar, Angels
    10. J.J. Hardy, Orioles

    Just Missed:

    • Jhonny Peralta, Tigers
    • Marco Scutaro, Rockies
    • Derek Jeter, Yankees
    • Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks
    • Yunel Escobar, Blue Jays

    A Few Words:

    If I have the first overall pick in any draft this spring, I will spend it on Troy Tulowitzki. ... Depending one your outlook on life, shortstop is either as deep as it has been in years, or a very thin crop. ... Scutaro will bat near the top of the order for the Rockies, which is an automatic bump.

Outfield

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    The List:

    1. Matt Kemp, Dodgers
    2. Justin Upton, Diamondbacks
    3. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
    4. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
    5. Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
    6. Mike Stanton, Marlins
    7. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
    8. Curtis Granderson, Yankees
    9. Josh Hamilton, Rangers
    10. Jay Bruce, Reds

    Just Missed:

    • Ryan Braun, Brewers
    • Carl Crawford, Red Sox
    • Matt Holliday, Cardinals
    • Hunter Pence, Phillies
    • Alex Gordon, Royals

    A Few Words:

    Braun's situation remains unresolved; his absence from the list obviously presumes his 50-game suspension will be upheld. ... Ellsbury is great, but 2011 was more power than anyone thought we would ever see from him. That should scare prospective owners. ... Justin Upton is only 24. Good Lord.

Starting Pitcher

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    The List:

    1. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
    2. Roy Halladay, Phillies
    3. Cliff Lee, Phillies
    4. Felix Hernandez, Mariners
    5. Justin Verlander, Tigers
    6. Tim Lincecum, Giants
    7. CC Sabathia, Yankees
    8. Zack Greinke, Brewers
    9. Dan Haren, Angels
    10. Stephen Strasburg, Nationals

    Just Missed:

    • Cole Hamels, Phillies
    • Jered Weaver, Angels
    • Madison Bumgarner, Giants
    • Jon Lester, Red Sox
    • David Price, Rays

    A Few Words:

    Ninety percent of all fantasy leagues employ innings limits. The folks who want to wait a year on Stephen Strasburg worry too much. ... Tigers fans, I'm dearly sorry. It doesn't come from a place of hatred. It comes from here. ... Dan Haren remains grossly underrated. He's a WHIP monster, strikes batters out and plays in front of a great defense.

Closer

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    The List: 

    1. Craig Kimbrel, Braves
    2. Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies
    3. Mariano Rivera, Yankees
    4. Drew Storen, Nationals
    5. Ryan Madson, Reds
    6. Andrew Bailey, Red Sox
    7. John Axford, Brewers
    8. Sergio Santos, Blue Jays
    9. Brian Wilson, Giants
    10. Heath Bell, Marlins

    Just Missed:

    • Jordan Walden, Angels
    • Carlos Marmol, Cubs
    • Brandon League, Mariners
    • Joel Hanrahan, Pirates
    • Huston Street, Padres

    A Few Words:

    You always want strikeouts from closers, and sacrificing them is a bad idea. Still, if you adhere to the maxim, "Don't pay for saves," you might find the best values as the draft winds down, in the persons of Hanrahan and League. They have skills other than missing bats that nonetheless make them very effective. ... The quality of setup support for Madson, Axford, Santos and Storen should make prospective buyers a bit nervous. ... With Street, League, Hanrahan and Marmol, draft with the possibility they will be traded to contenders to set up.