In a lot of my fantasy pieces I talk about the importance of planning. Well, it's really hard to plan if you don't have a good set of rankings for players; and, even then you need an idea of when those players are being drafted.
This provides you with both.
The following slides rank the top 25 hitters in fantasy for 2012. Each player is accompanied by their average draft position for 2012.
You may notice a disparity between the ranking of a player and their average draft position. The rankings are based on my own inputs and assumptions of 2012 production.
Enjoy, and happy drafting!
2011 Stats: .293/.373/.580, 26 R, 9 HR, 25 RBI, 7 SB
Average Draft Position: 47.87
Young prospect with a huge ceiling. Sophomore slump risk, but can you resist that temptation of the rewards?
2011 Stats: .248/.341/.494, 90 R, 39 HR, 111 RBI, 4 SB
Average Draft Position: 24.28
Teixeira's average continues to spiral downwards, but the power isn't going anywhere. As Long as he's in Yankee Stadium, he's a safe pick.
2011 Stats: .289/.355/.443, 52 R, 12 HR, 49 RBI, 3 SB
Average Draft Position: 37.39
Zimmerman could be a top 15 hitter if he could stay healthy. 12 home runs in 2011 is a far cry from his 30-homer potential.
2011 Stats: .296/.331/.561, 82 R, 32 HR, 105 RBI, 1 SB
Average Draft Position: 29.58
Beltre has revived his career, making him a devastating force at third. At just 32, there's still a lot of game here.
2011 Stats: .259/.364/.456, 87 R, 23 HR, 89 RBI, 23 SB
Average Draft Position: 29.16
McCutchen has 25-40 potential, and even that might be selling him short. He's one of the best—and most underrated—picks of any draft.
2011 Stats: .262/.356/.537, 79 R, 34 HR, 87 RBI, 5 SB
Average Draft Position: 28.63
Stanton has ridiculous power, and he enters 2012 at just 22. If Ryan Howard played outfield, even he might not be able to touch Stanton's ceiling.
2011 Stats: .243/.333/.379, 55 R, 10 HR, 45 RBI, 20 SB
Average Draft Position: 20.05
A great low-risk, high-reward pick. Han-Ram used to be one of the best hitters in the game; with that revamped Miami lineup he deserves our trust once more.
2011 Stats: .337/.384/.493, 101 R, 7 HR, 44 RBI, 39 SB
Average Draft Position: 21.33
A great talent with blistering speed. Constant leg injuries have kept Reyes down from the 70-steal pedestal, but he's still a fantasy stud.
2011 Stats: .332/.397/.597, 109 R, 33 HR, 111 RBI, 33 SB
Average Draft Position: 17.05
Braun is a huge talent, but he enters 2012 with question marks. A Prince Fielder-less .235 average and .648 OPS, paired with unwanted media attention, make Braun a risky pick for 2012.
2011 Stats: .255/.355/.477, 121 R, 32 HR, 77 RBI, 30 SB
Average Draft Position: 21.91
Kinsler is coming off his second career 30-30 season, and he remains one of the most dynamic second baseman in baseball. If that average gets up to .280-.290 he could be a top-five talent.
2011 Stats: .295/.363/.526, 92 R, 26 HR, 92 RBI, 20 SB
Average Draft Position: 14.45
Surprisingly enough, 2011 was a down season for Car-Go. He's a fantastic hitter, but nagging injuries and DL trips are holding him back.
2011 Stats: .307/.387/.474, 102 R, 21 HR, 91 RBI, 26 SB
Average Draft Position: 16.67
Pedroia is constantly improving, and breaking 20-home runs rolled him over into the fantasy elite—and labeled him the best five-category option at second. You'd be hard pressed to find a more reliable batter in baseball.
2011 Stats: .244/.355/.495, 78 R, 31 HR, 99 RBI, 3 SB
Average Draft Position: 15.63
Longo's power continues to shine, but the rest of his game took a big hit in 2011. The ceiling is there, and Longoria has the potential to become the best player in baseball in 2012.
2011 Stats: .289/.369/.529, 105 R, 31 HR, 88 RBI, 21 SB
Average Draft Position: 13.89
Upton is a rising superstar, with unlimited power and very good speed. Does a 40-30 season that far fetched for this 24-year old?
2011 Stats: .262/.364/.552, 136 R, 41 HR, 119 RBI, 25 SB
Average Draft Position: 19.84
Power and speed remain the staple of Granderson's game, while average is an afterthought. He's one of the best four-category players in the game, and a great anchor for any fantasy team.
2011 Stats: .302/.349/.533, 104 R, 28 HR, 118 RBI, 8 SB
Average Draft Position: 9.56
Cano continues to tease fantasy owners. We know he can hit for average, and we know he can hit for a lot of power, now he just has to put it all together. Nonetheless, the potential makes him a top-10 talent.
2011 Stats: .302/.372/.544, 81 R, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 9 SB
Average Draft Position: 5.19
Tulo isn't the best hitter in baseball, but he's by far the best at his position. If he runs a bit more, a 30-20 season could propel him into the top five—some more RBIs wouldn't hurt either.
2011 Stats: .321/.376/.552, 119 R, 32 HR, 105 RBI, 39 SB
Average Draft Position: 10.82
Jacoby Ellsbury's fantasy value is reliant on how much power is there in 2012. If he can touch 30 bombs again he instantly becomes the best five-category player in fantasy baseball.
2011 Stats: .299/.415/.566, 95 R, 38 HR, 120 RBI, 1 SB
Average Draft Position: 14.45
Fielder is a phenomenal hitter, but because first is such a deep position he's getting overlooked in fantasy. The move to the weaker hitting American League will only propel his game further.
2011 Stats: .309/.416/.531, 101 R, 29 HR, 103 RBI, 8 SB
Average Draft Position: 9.00
Votto has the ability to become the best player in baseball, something we saw in 2010. To achieve the goal he must turn up the power and speed. But, even if he stays where he was in 2011 we're looking at a fantasy stud.
2011 Stats: .338/.410/.548, 108 R, 27 HR, 117 RBI, 1 SB
Average Draft Position: 9.24
A-Gon had a great first season in Boston, and there's no reason he can't keep that rolling into 2012. His 2011 slash line—combined with his San Diego power numbers—in 2012 would make him a unanimous No.1 fantasy option at first.
2011 Stats: .302/.447/.608, 105 R, 43 HR, 103 RBI, 9 SB
Average Draft Position: 5.16
Bautista's proven that the power is for real and that he's the premier home run hitter in baseball. 2011's second-half slide raises some eyebrows, but consistent power numbers over the season keeps him in the top five.
2011 Stats: .299/.366/.541, 105 R, 37 HR, 99 RBI, 9 SB
Average Draft Position: 2.97
A lot was made of Pujols' 2011 struggles, but come on! Ooh, he didn't hit .300, and he didn't have 100 RBI—because a .299 average and 99 RBI is something to be ashamed of. Pujols remains one of the best, most consistent and dangerous hitters in baseball.
Do yourself a favor, and get him on your fantasy team.
2011 Stats: .324/.399/.586, 115 R, 39 HR, 126 RBI, 40 SB
Average Draft Position: 2.87
Matt Kemp had a phenomenal 2011, and even though he didn't get the MVP there's nothing to be ashamed about. Anybody who comes that close to a Triple Crown should be proud.
Entering 2012, Kemp remains the top fantasy outfielder. A 40-40 season with those peripherals might make him the top fantasy option. You can do no wrong with this guy on your team.
2011 Stats: .344/.448/.586, 111 R, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 2 SB
Average Draft Position: 1.56
Miggy was good before, and now he has Prince Fielder as protection in the lineup. The production this kid could put up in 2012 could be unlimited.
There's a lot to think about with the No.1 pick in a fantasy draft, and if you're looking for a five-category player Cabrera isn't the best option. But, if you just want the best possible player, he's your man.