The 2012 fantasy baseball season is upon us. This is the time of the year when all fantasy managers scour the Internet in search of advice to help their team reach championship glory.
I am here to help.
Nothing is more crucial in a fantasy draft than ensuring you pick up at least one absolute stud to build your team around in the first two rounds of the draft. Do not be fooled into thinking EVERY player ranked in the top 25 can be a centerpiece for your team.
Heed my advice and take note of the following players whom I have dubbed “the five riskiest players ranked in the top 25."
Team: Toronto Blue Jays
Obviously Bautista’s 2010 season was no fluke since he lead the majors in home runs for the second consecutive year in 2011. Many fantasy managers have enjoyed the uncanny power production “Joey Bats” has given their team over the last two years, but I am still going to be cautious in 2012.
For starters he has no real protection in the lineup, so look for Bautista to be walked at least 130 more times this year. True, that can be a helpful statistic, but not when you draft him for his power.
I also cannot completely trust a man who only had 59 home runs in the first 1,754 at-bats of his career only to have 97 in the next 1,082 at-bats. Maybe I just need to see the 31-year-old be consistent one more year before I take a chance on him in the first round.
Team: Colorado Rockies
I had high hopes for Gonzalez last year, but he was unable to reproduce the numbers from his remarkable 2010 season.
Multiple injuries plagued “CarGo” last year and he was held to 127 games played. I need to see another complete season in which he is mostly injury free before I use a high draft pick on him. It may also help if he becomes a better player away from Coors Field.
The other reason I am afraid of Gonzalez this year is because I have only seen one complete season in which he was a dominant force. He had a decent season despite his injuries last year, but does that warrant me spending such a high pick on him this year?
Team: Miami Marlins
Jose Reyes jumped ship from New York and landed in Miami. The oft-injured shortstop has a lot to prove to fantasy managers after another injury-riddled season.
In 2011 Reyes competed in just 126 games. This is the third consecutive season that he has played in fewer than 140 games. It is hard for me to use one of my top picks on someone who may not even play for a quarter of the season.
It has also been three years since Reyes had 50-plus steals. For the last three seasons, Reyes has stolen 11, 30 and 39 bases, respectively. If Reyes played at any other position he may not even be ranked in the top 25. There is no way I can justify centering my team around him.
Team: New York Mets
The New York Mets may as well rename themselves the “New York Wrights,” because David Wright is the entire lineup at this point.
Once Reyes left New York, Mets fans had to realize their offense was basically down to one man. That man is Wright, and considering how much he seems to get injured that is not welcomed news. Last year Wright was sidelined for two months due to a stress fracture.
Statistically, Wright had one of his worst seasons ever last year. Citi Field will be moving in the fences this year, and that can only help Wright. He may have the ability to bounce back from last year, but he will not put up numbers that warrant a top-25 pick.
Team: Miami Marlins
Remember a few years ago when Ramirez was considered to be the default No. 1 pick in fantasy drafts everywhere?
That seems so long ago. Now Ramirez’s name can be found in articles about how risky he is to draft.
The major question this year will be how Ramirez handles the transition to third base. Since Miami signed Reyes, Ramirez had to shift over to the hot corner. No one can be sure how he will handle this adjustment mentally and if it will affect him throughout the season.
Speaking of being “mental,” Ramirez owners will still have to contend with Hanley dealing with the continued accusations that he is “lazy.” Suspensions do not help him put up stats for your team.
Injuries are another item to consider when drafting Ramirez. Do not forget that he had to endure offseason surgery on his left shoulder.
Lastly, Ramirez’s power and steals are both down. What made him such an incredible option was you had a shortstop who could hit 25-plus homers, steal over 30 bases and hit over .300! If his power, steals or both continue to decline, so does Ramirez’s status as a top-25 pick.
When he was a shortstop, I was willing to overlook some of this, but the day he loses eligibility at SS is the day Ramirez falls off my top 25 list. That is unless he starts having 30-30 seasons again.