by Derek of The Sportmeisters
1. Ryan Braun—Milwaukee Brewers—Projection: .295 BA 95 R 40 HR 110 RBI 15 SB
The move from 3B to LF looks to have been a big help to Braun last year. He followed up his 2007 numbers of .324 BA, 34 HR’s, and 15 SB’s with a .285 BA, 37 HR’s, 106 RBI, and 14 SB’s. Braun is a sure-fire first rounder and will be a beast for years to come.
2. Grady Sizemore—Cleveland Indians—Projection: .275 BA 110 R 30 HR 85 RBI 35 SB
Sizemore had a 30-30 season last year and is almost assured another one this year as long as he hits leadoff for the Indians. If you let him slide past the second round, you will miss out.
3. Josh Hamilton—Texas Rangers—Projection: .300 BA 100 R 35 HR 120 RBI 10 SB
Hamilton has finally made it to where he was supposed to be all those years ago when he was drafted No. 1 overall by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He led the AL with 130 RBI and hit .304 with 32 HR’s. This is another guy that you won’t get after the second round.
4. Matt Holliday—Oakland Athletics—Projection: .310 BA 102 R 26 HR 100 RBI 16 SB
Holliday is making the switch from the NL to the AL after being traded from Colorado this offseason. He might take a few weeks to get adjusted, but he will still be the same dominant player that we have come to see these past few years.
Expect another .300+ 25+ HR season and a second or third round pick.
5. Carlos Beltran—New York Mets—Projection: .280 BA 108 R 27 HR 108 RBI 22 SB
Beltran plays in such a stacked lineup that you almost expect good numbers. However, he is a damn good player in his own right. He is a consistent .275 hitter who hits 20+ HR’s, 20+ SB’s, and 100+ RBI. Look out for him in the third or fourth round.
6. Ichiro Suzuki—Seattle Mariners—Projection: .315 BA 102 R 6 HR 50 RBI 40 SB
Ichiro had a down year, but only by his standards. He hit .310 with 43 SB’s, which would be good for anybody else, but is only average for him. He usually hits .320+.
He is getting older, which explains his tired legs at the end of last year, but he will be moving back to RF this year, which should ease his workload a bit. Ichiro is still a No. 1 fantasy OF and should not slide past the fifth or sixth round.
7. Manny Ramirez—Los Angeles Dodgers—Projection: .315 BA 95 R 34 HR 110 RBI 2 SB
Manny is being Manny again in LA. He was a monster after coming over from Boston last year, hitting .396 with 17 HR’s and 53 RBI in just 53 games. Put those numbers into a full season and a third-round pick looks about right.
8. Carlos Lee—Houston Astros—Projection: .305 BA 88 R 32 HR 115 RBI 7 SB
Lee was on pace for a monster year before getting hurt in August. He hit .314 with 28 HR’s and 100 RBI in 436 AB’s. He has a decent lineup around him and should put up similar numbers this year. I could see using a fourth round pick on him.
9. Nick Markakis—Baltimore Orioles—Projection: .305 BA 100 R 24 HR 102 RBI 10 SB
Markakis dropped his RBI total last year from 112 in 2007 to 87, but raised his BA to .306. He is still young and could develop into a 30 HR player, but not this season. Expect 20+ HR and 95+ RBI and a fourth or fifth round pick.
10. Alfonso Soriano—Chicago Cubs—Projection: .280 BA 100 R 32 HR 88 RBI 25 SB
Caution: injury risk! Soriano is a top five OF when he is healthy, but the reason I have him at 10 is his recent trend of injuries. He hasn’t played more than 135 games since 2006. However, even when he gets hurt, he still manages 20+ HR’s and 18+ SB’s.
If he can stay healthy this year he could be a steal in the sixth to eighth rounds.
11. Carl Crawford—Tampa Bay Rays—Projection: .295 BA 92 R 10 HR 80 RBI 40 SB
Crawford has been through some injuries recently as well, but he is younger and faster than Soriano. Crawford should bounce back, and at age 27 he is in the prime of his career. Expect a .290+ BA with 40+ SB’s. The fourth or fifth round sounds about right for him.
12. Carlos Quentin—Chicago White Sox—Projection: .282 BA 95 R 34 HR 105 RBI 10 SB
Quentin was on his way to an MVP year when a wrist injury derailed him in September. He still hit .288 with 36 HR’s and 100 RBI in just 480 AB’s. He has a history of injury, dating back to his days with Arizona. However, 36 HR’s and 100 RBI are a bit hard to pass up and I expect him to be gone by the fifth round.
13. B.J. Upton—Tampa Bay Rays—Projection: .282 BA 90 R 20 HR 82 RBI 40 SB
Upton’s power numbers dipped last year from 24 HR’s in 2007 to just nine last year. However, that was mostly due to a torn labrum in his left shoulder. He still hit .273 and stole 44 bases. He had shoulder surgery this offseason and will miss the first week or two, but should still be drafted as early as the sixth round due to his potential of a 20-30 season.
14. Jason Bay—Boston Red Sox—Projection: .285 BA 106 R 30 HR 110 RBI 10 SB
Bay came on strong after being acquired by Boston from Pittsburgh last year. He hit .293 with nine HR’s and 37 RBI in 49 games. In a lineup with Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, and Mike Lowell, expect a big year from Bay and a sixth-round pick seems reasonable.
15. Vladimir Guerrero—Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim—Projection: .315 BA 85 R 26 HR 100 RBI 4 SB
Big Bad Vlad or Vlad The Impaler has been hampered by injuries the past two seasons, but still tears the cover off the ball. He has hit over .300 every year of his career and has never hit fewer that 25 homers in a full season.
Even when he’s hurt, he still plays in 143 games. He will see more time at DH this year, so he will be a bit more rested and I wouldn’t hesitate to take him if he falls into the sixth round.
16. Alex Rios—Toronto Blue Jays—Projection: .292 BA 95 R 20 HR 88 RBI 26 SB
Rios is such a streaky player that it’s not even funny. He stole 23 bases the first half of last year, but only hit four homers, then came back in the second half and hit 11 homers, but only stole nine bases. He hit for average also, hitting .291. He is a top 20 OF and should be drafted in the middle rounds.
17. Matt Kemp—Los Angeles Dodgers—Projection: .288 BA 95 R 20 HR 80 RBI 30 SB
Kemp had 606 AB’s last year, hitting everywhere from leadoff to sixth in the order. He ended up hitting .290 with 18 HR’s and 35 SB’s. With a full year behind or in front of Manny Ramirez, expect those numbers to rise. Kemp is someone you can wait for until the middle rounds.
18. Nate McLouth—Pittsburgh Pirates—Projection: .265 BA 108 R 24 HR 85 RBI 25 SB
McLouth had a 20-20 season last year and will probably hit third or fifth this year in the Pittsburgh lineup. He has upside, but I wouldn’t waste a pick on him before the seventh round.
19. Magglio Ordonez—Detroit Tigers—Projection: .315 BA 85 R 25 HR 105 RBI 1 SB
Ordonez is now entering the twilight of his career at the age of 35, but still has upside. He plays in a great lineup and can still swing the bat. He should hit .300+ with 20+ HR’s and 100+ RBI, which is still worth a sixth or seventh round pick.
20. Curtis Granderson—Detroit Tigers—Projection: .282 BA 110 R 24 HR 70 RBI 15 SB
Granderson was expected to do much better than his .280 BA and 12 SB’s. However, he still hit 22 HR’s and is only 28, so we could see 2007 numbers (.302 BA 23 HR 26 SB) this year. A seventh or eighth round pick sounds about right for Granderson.
21. Bobby Abreu—Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim—Projection: .290 BA 96 R 18 HR 100 RBI 22 SB
Abreu showed last year that he is anything but finished. He hit .296 with 20 HR, 100 RBI, and 22 SB’s for the Yankees and then signed with the Angels. With Vlad Guerrero and Torii Hunter around him, expect another good year from Abreu, but don’t reach for him before the middle rounds.
22. Adam Dunn—Washington Nationals—Projection: .245 BA 90 R 40 HR 100 RBI 4 SB
Adam Dunn is a poor man’s Ryan Howard. He may strikeout 175+ times, but he will hit 40+ HR’s and drive in 100+ RBI. Dunn may also end up with 1B eligibility, only giving him more value. Use a middle round pick on him and say thanks for the 40 HR’s.
23. Shane Victorino—Philadelphia Phillies—Projection: .285 BA 95 R 12 HR 60 RBI 35 SB
Victorino was originally sharing time in the OF, until Philadelphia realized he was the best OF they had. He hit .293 with 36 SB’s. If his health stays intact, he could do the same this year. If you need some SB’s in the middle rounds, go ahead and draft him with confidence.
24. Jacoby Ellsbury—Boston Red Sox—Projection: .282 BA 100 R 10 HR 50 RBI 45 SB
You may as well call this guy Speedy Gonzalez. Ellsbury stole 50 bases in his first full season in the majors as well as hitting .280. With the lineup he has behind him, I wouldn’t hesitate to grab him in the middle rounds and feel confident that he will steal 45+ bases and score 95+ runs.
25. Vernon Wells—Toronto Blue Jays—Projection: .285 BA 85 R 24 HR 95 RBI 8 SB
Even with missing 54 games last year, Wells still hit .300 with 20 HR’s and 78 RBI. Imagine what he could do with a full season. Expect a .280+ BA with 20+ HR and 90+ RBI from Wells and go ahead and use a middle round pick on him or wait and see if he falls to the late rounds and steal him.
26. Hunter Pence—Houston Astros—Projection: .275 BA 80 R 26 HR 85 RBI 10 SB
Will the real Hunter Pence please stand up? He had a great rookie year in 2007, hitting .322 with 17 HR’s and 11 SB’s, but then fell to .269 last year, but hit 25 HR’s. He has a lot of upside with the lineup around him and could hit 20+ HR’s with 10+ SB’s. He could be worth a late round pick with middle round upside.
27. Corey Hart—Milwaukee Brewers—Projection: .270 BA 77 R 20 HR 85 RBI 21 SB
Hart came back to earth last year after a 2007 where he hit .295 with 24 HR’s and 23 SB’s. In 2008, he hit .268 with 20 HR’s, but had more RBI and the same amount of SB’s. Hart could be worth a late round pick due to his 20-20 potential.
28. Torii Hunter—Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim—Projection: .275 BA 86 R 22 HR 86 RBI 16 SB
Hunter had a solid year, hitting .278 with 21 HR’s and 19 SB’s. He consistently plays in 145+ games and could still reach the 20-20 plateau. Middle to late round pick could be used on him.
29. Raul Ibanez—Philadelphia Phillies—Projection: .288 BA 86 R 25 HR 100 RBI 1 SB
Even though Ibanez is 36, he can still hit. He drove in 100 RBI for the third consecutive season last year and is now in a loaded Philadelphia lineup and a hitter friendly park. Expect another 100 RBI year that is worth middle to late round pick.
30. Jeff Francouer—Atlanta Braves—Projection: .280 BA 80 R 20 HR 95 RBI 1 SB
Here’s my sleeper. Francouer had a dismal in 2008, even getting demoted to Double-A. However, he has been spending his offseason in the cages with Chipper Jones and I expect him to return to 2007 form (.293 BA 19 HR 105 RBI).
He will likely fall to the late rounds so go ahead and wait and then snatch him and enjoy the rewards.