NOTE: Every year, fantasy experts, enthusiasts, and rookies alike trot out their opinions for each position. Explaining that Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes are top shortstops or that Carlos Lee falls somewhere in the top tier of outfielders does/is not ground breaking advice.
As I preview each position leading up to the regular season, I will list my rankings and focus on several players who I believe are under or over-valued.
1) David Wright
2) Evan Longoria
3) Aramis Ramirez
4) Alex Rodriguez
5) Kevin Youkilis
6) Chipper Jones
7) Chris Davis
8) Adrian Beltre
9) Alex Gordon
10) Aubrey Huff
11) Joe Crede
12) Ryan Zimmerman
13) Chone Figgans
14) Garrett Atkins
15) Edwin Encarnacion
Aramis Ramirez (CHC): With the injury to Alex Rodriguez, Aramis Ramirez moves into the No. 3 third base spot in my rankings. How can a top three player be undervalued? Because in many drafts, he's being taken fifth or sixth amongst third basemen.
Ramirez will be 31 years old this summer. Over the past eight years, he's averaged 80 runs, 29 home runs and 101 RBI with a .290 batting average. Only once in that eight year period has he struck out 100 times in a season (2001). Playing in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, and in the prime of his career, all signs point to an even bigger year for Ramirez.
In 2008, his 44 doubles and 74 walks were career highs. He accomplished those totals while hitting 29 home runs. His OBP was a career best .380. The addition of the switch-hitting Milton Bradley and a full year of a healthy Alfonso Soriano hitting in front of Ramirez results in top three fantasy 3B production from a player you'll be able to draft in the fourth or fifth round.
Adrian Beltre (SEA): The last time Adrian Beltre was in a contract year (2004), his season line looked like this: 104 runs, 200 hits, 48 home runs, 121 RBI with a .334 average. While Beltre has been a solid fantasy third baseman his entire career, his 2004 numbers were clearly fueled by the dreams of a big payday.
During his four seasons in Seattle, Beltre has averaged 79 runs, 23 home runs, and 88 RBI each season. If Beltre is so motivated again and can produce somewhere in between his Seattle averages and his numbers in 2004, he will turn out to be the steal of your 2009 draft (ADP 112 on ESPN, 10th 3B taken).
Joe Crede (MIN): We all know Crede can hit. But like so many other promising athletes, his potential has been limited by injury. Minnesota signed Crede to a contract laden with incentives tied to playing time, hoping a change of scenery (and the always powerful dollar) would cure his injury woes.
The Twins' brass has been outspoken this spring, insisting they will limit Crede's innings before the regular season begins. Crede should hit fifth or sixth, behind on-base machines Denard Span, Justin Morneau, and Joe Mauer.
The last time he was healthy for a full season (2006), Crede launched 30 home runs, drove in 94 RBI, and made the All Star team. You'll get him at the end of your draft or off the free agent wire, an excellent value for his upside.