It's that time of year again. If you haven't already, you'll soon assemble your team for the upcoming fantasy baseball season.
How you fare has a lot to do with your in-season strategy, but a strong draft will put you in position to sit back, relax and watch your team stay atop the standings without having to spend your day trying to figure out how to get back in the race.
Here are 150 players you should know before you draft and a few words on what you should know about them.
1. Mike Trout, OF, LAA: He might not be as good as his rookie season in 2012. He might even have a sophomore slump. But even a 50 percent drop in production—which isn’t going to happen—gives you a pretty good fantasy player.
2. Ryan Braun, OF, MIL: Concerns eased over his previous numbers being inflated due to suspected PED use or a lack of lineup protection when Braun had his typical MVP-caliber season in 2012. No reason to expect much less in his age-29 season.
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B, DET: The American League Triple Crown winner had career highs in homers (44) and runs batted in (139), and the lineup around him could be getting stronger with the return of Victor Martinez and the addition of free agent Torii Hunter.
4. Matt Kemp, OF, LAD: Shoulder and hamstring injuries slowed him in 2012, but he’s more than capable of returning to his 2011 form, when he was just one homer away from a 40-40 season.
5. Andrew McCutchen, OF, PIT: Moved into elite status in fantasy baseball after his home run total climbed a second consecutive season, from 23 to 31.
6. Robinson Cano, 2B, NYY: Not much help around him to start the season with Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira on the disabled list, but don’t expect a huge drop-off, if any at all.
7. Joey Votto, 1B, CIN: With his knees rested up after a long offseason, Votto should be ready to dominate once again in 2013. He hit .342 with 14 homers and 49 runs batted in before arthroscopic knee surgery in July, and while he was still productive upon returning in September, he failed to homer the rest of the season.
8. Prince Fielder, 1B, DET: One of the more consistent and durable sluggers in the game, Fielder is pretty much a lock for at least 30 homers, 100 runs batted in and a .280 batting average.
9. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, MIA: Already one of the premier power hitters in the game at age 23, a 50-homer season isn’t out of the question even though he plays his home games in spacious Marlins Park.
10. Josh Hamilton, OF, LAA: Expect a drop in production as he moves from a hitter’s park in Arlington, but the talent surrounding him in the top half of the lineup is as good as any Rangers team he’s been on. He should hit with runners on base very often and cross home plate at least 100 times for a second consecutive season.
11. Justin Verlander, SP, DET: The 30 year-old is just about as good a bet for 220-plus innings, 220-plus strikeouts and at least 16 wins as any starting pitcher in baseball.
12. Albert Pujols, LAA: Currently dealing with a bum knee that could force him to the designated hitter spot early in the season, Pujols and his back-to-back early-season slumps in 2011 and 2012 have to be a concern for 2013. But even if he starts slow, the 33-year-old should have another season or two of greatness in him.
13. Carlos Gonzalez, OF, COL: For 81 games of the season in Coors Field, CarGo is one of the best hitters in baseball. For the other half, he’s very mediocre. Just make sure you have a solid backup option when he’s on the road.
14. Stephen Strasburg, SP, WAS: Ready to take on a full workload in 2013, Strasburg has a pretty good shot at 250 strikeouts and 20 wins if he stays healthy for 33 to 35 starts.
15. Jose Bautista, OF, TOR: Big things are expected from the Jays in 2013, and Bautista’s 50-homer potential is a big reason why, along with the offseason acquisitions of Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera, who are likely to hit ahead of him at the top of the lineup.
16. Adrian Beltre, 3B, TEX: Coming off his best offensive season since 2004, Beltre is not slowing down as he approaches his mid-30s. A less intimidating lineup around him could hinder his production, however.
17. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, COL: You have to wonder if Tulo will lose some of his aggressiveness on the field after missing most of 2012 with a groin injury. He’s likely to fall lower in fantasy drafts than he ever has, though, so you could end up with a terrific value.
18. Clayton Kershaw, SP, LAD: A potential 20-game winner if the Dodgers can live up to expectations, Kershaw has led the National League in ERA the past two seasons while averaging 238 strikeouts.
19. Evan Longoria, 3B, TB: Injuries are always a major concern with Longoria, but the 27-year-old is as consistently good as any hitter in the game when he’s on the field.
20. Ian Kinsler, 2B, TEX: When your production drops and you still knock out 19 homers, hit 42 doubles and steal 21 bases, you’re in pretty good shape. Even without Josh Hamilton in the middle of the lineup, Kinsler should get his 100 runs in 2013.
21. Jose Reyes, SS, TOR: In his lone season with the Marlins, Reyes had 60 extra-base hits and 40 stolen bases but only 86 runs at the top of a mediocre lineup. Toronto’s loaded, though, so 115 runs is not out of reach in 2013.
22. David Wright, 3B, NYM: If you’re looking for at least a .280 batting average, 20 homers, 40 doubles, 90 runs batted in, 80 runs and 15 stolen bases, then Wright is your man.
23. David Price, SP, TB: The left-hander will have to carry more of the load in 2013 without James Shields around, and he should be up to the task. He’s only 27 and appeared to get stronger down the stretch of the 2012 season, as he won his last four decisions and wrapped up the AL Cy Young award.
24. Felix Hernandez, SP, SEA: “King Felix” is now the 175-million-dollar man after signing a contract extension this offseason. He’s on an improved Mariners squad with plenty of reinforcements added to the lineup. If they can score some more runs and the bullpen can continue to be very good, Hernandez could bump his win total closer to the 17-20 range.
25. Adam Jones, OF, BAL: He reached his star potential last season with 32 homers, 39 doubles and 82 runs batted in. Expect the 26-year-old to be a perennial fantasy stud over the next several years.
26. Starlin Castro, SS, CHC: While he won’t be 23 until later this month, it’s easy to be excited about Castro’s potential upside. In 2012, he hit .283 with 55 extra-base hits and 25 stolen bases, and he will probably be better in 2013.
27. Buster Posey, C, SF: The NL MVP will hit for average and give you enough power to be one of the top catching options available. Posey will likely qualify as a first baseman too, giving you some lineup options if you happen to pick up one of the other good-hitting catchers.
28. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, TOR: Whoever said Encarnacion’s impressive second-half performance in 2011 was a fluke couldn’t have been more wrong. The 30-year-old continued to crush the ball early in 2012 and never slowed down. Considering his largely mediocre career numbers, though, you should draft without caution.
29. Hanley Ramirez, SS, LAD: Not the same player he was a few years back, but who cares? He’s one of the top producing shortstops in baseball and a good bet to improve on his 2012 numbers (.257 BA, 24 HR, 92 RBI, 21 SB).
30. Chase Headley, 3B, SD: That monster second half (.308 BA, 23 HR, 73 RBI in 289 at-bats) seemed to come out of nowhere, so he’s being ranked cautiously. Still, the third-base class isn’t very deep, so even if he ended up somewhere in the middle of his career numbers and the last three months of 2012, he’s a solid value.
31. Ian Desmond, SS, WAS: In a breakout season for the 27-year-old shortstop, Desmond hit 25 homers after in 2012 after hitting just eight in 584. He also chipped in with 33 doubles and 21 stolen bases. He should also have plenty of RBI opportunities in a very good Nationals lineup.
32. Justin Upton, OF, ATL: The Braves are hoping a change of scenery will help the 25-year-old bounce back to his 2011 form (.289 BA, 31 HR, 88 RBI, 39 2B) after a so-so year in 2012 by Upton’s standards.
33. Dustin Pedroia, 2B, BOS: Lots of uncertainty in the Boston lineup in 2013, but Pedroia should be a rock in the No. 2 spot of the order. Expect a typical Dustin Pedroia season, with a batting average in the .290 range, 15 homers, 20 stolen bases and 90 runs.
34. Matt Cain, SP, SF: Not quite in the top echelon of fantasy starters, but this 28-year-old is as consistent as they come and is a very safe bet to give your pitching staff solid production week in and week out.
35. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, WAS: Played through a shoulder injury last season and finally heated up in July once the cortisone shots started working. The 28-year-old is a bit of an injury concern but will give you consistent production when in the lineup and healthy.
36. Matt Holliday, OF, STL: With no Albert Pujols in the Cardinals lineup for the first time in Holliday’s career, he picked up the slack with a .295 batting average, 27 homers, 36 doubles, 102 runs batted in and 75 walks in 157 games.
37. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, LAD: Not sure what to make of his power decline with the Red Sox, but the sweet swing is still there, and I predict a bounce-back season for the 30-year-old.
38. Jason Heyward, OF, ATL: The “J-Hey Kid” bounced back from an injury-plagued 2011 season with 27 homers, 82 runs batted in and 93 runs in 2012. With the arrival of the Upton brothers, the 23-year-old Heyward will remain relatively under the radar as he continues to take steps toward reaching his massive potential.
39. Jered Weaver, SP, LAA: His strikeouts were down in 2012 (6.8 K/9), but he still limited baserunners (1.018 WHIP) and runs (2.81 ERA) and won 20 games on a team that might be even better in 2013.
40. Yoenis Cespedes, OF, OAK: No longer an unknown after a strong rookie season with the A’s, Cespedes’ big second half gives fantasy owners a reason to expect great value from a guy that probably won’t be any higher than the 10th outfielder off the board in drafts.
41. Brett Lawrie, 3B, TOR: Although he wasn’t the fantasy beast many expected in 2012, the 23-year-old still has 20-20 potential. He’s also building up a history of injuries and is now questionable for Opening Day with a rib cage injury.
42. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, BOS: The 29-year-old will be available much later than normal in fantasy drafts, so take the risk if you think he can come anywhere close to his 2011 production (.321 BA, 32 HR, 105 RBI, 46 2B, 119 R, 52 BB, 39 SB).
43. Bryce Harper, OF, WAS: Harper's rookie season numbers were unbelievable for a 19-year-old. Year two should be much better for the projected No. 3 hitter in a loaded Nationals lineup.
44. Gio Gonzalez, SP, WAS: On this team, with a strong lineup and shutdown bullpen, a quality start (at least six innings pitched and three earned runs or less allowed) is virtually as good as a win. Gonzalez had 22 quality starts and 21 wins in 2012. No reason to expect a drop-off here.
45. Jay Bruce, OF, CIN: His production has increased each season since his rookie campaign in 2008, peaking at 34 homers, 99 runs batted in and 89 runs last year. And he’s only 25, so don’t think he’s reached his peak just yet. Bruce is capable of approaching 40 homers and surpassing the 100-RBI mark in 2013.
46. Cole Hamels, SP, PHI: Ready to step in as the Phillies’ ace in 2013, Hamels has a 3.24 ERA and 67 wins over his last five seasons. The 29-year-old has also averaged 212.2 innings and 197 strikeouts per season over that span.
47. Madison Bumgarner, SP, SF: His age-21 and age-22 seasons were nearly identical. Even if that’s just who he is (around a 3.30 ERA, 205 IP, 190 strikeouts) and he doesn’t get any better, Bumgarner is still a very solid pickup for your fantasy team.
48. Billy Butler, 1B, KC: Some of the 45-50 doubles he’d been hitting the past few seasons finally started leaving the yard in 2012. He went from 19 homers to 29 and from 44 doubles to 32. The Royals have a talented young lineup, and Butler will be right in the middle of the action.
49. Cliff Lee, SP, PHI: While not quite as dominant as his 2011 season, Lee proved that he’s still up there with the top starting pitchers in baseball with his 2012 output and doesn’t appear to be slowing down at age 34. It’s not hard seeing him double his win total from last season, although that’s not saying much since he only won six games.
50. Pablo Sandoval, 3B, SF: “Kung Fu Panda” saved his best work for the postseason, although I doubt fantasy owners felt any better about the regular-season numbers he posted. The 26-year-old is an injury risk that comes with a high-reward potential.
51. Brandon Phillips, 2B, CIN: Projected to hit second in the lineup for the first time since the 2011 season, Phillips could cross the plate 100 times while also hitting his typical 15-20 homers and picking up 15 stolen bases.
52. Zack Greinke, SP, LAD: Already shut down with elbow discomfort that is not believed to be serious, draft at your own risk considering his elbow is such an important part of his success. If healthy, he’s good for a mid-3.00s ERA, 200 innings and 200 strikeouts.
53. Yu Darvish, SP, TEX: As a 25-year-old rookie coming over from Japan, Darvish lived up to the hype with 16 wins and 221 strikeouts in 191.1 innings. He has the tools to develop into a true ace starter that could lead fantasy rotations for years to come.
54. Carlos Beltran, OF, STL: After a couple of injury-plagued seasons, the 36-year-old Beltran averaged 146 games per season in 2011 and 2012 and continued to be the productive player he has always been.
55. R.A. Dickey, SP, TOR: The 38-year-old knuckleballer won 20 games last season with the Mets, who only won 74 games overall. On a Blue Jays team that should be much better, Dickey could win over 20 games in his likely 225-plus innings.
56. Austin Jackson, OF, DET: His stolen bases (22 in 2011; 12 in 2012) and stolen base efficiency (81 percent in 2011; 57 percent in 2012) were down in 2012. That's OK though, since his homers jumped from 10 to 16 and his batting average jumped from .249 to .300, while his strikeouts went way down from 181 to 134.
57. Jason Kipnis, 2B, CLE: A second-half slump overshadowed a first half that appeared to have him on pace to become one of the top fantasy second basemen in the game. He’s expected to hit third behind Asdrubal Cabrera in 2013, so an increase in his 76 runs batted in is a strong possibility.
58. B.J. Upton, OF, ATL: We know Upton is probably capable of a 30-homer season, making him a rare player with the potential to reach the 30-30 plateau. We also know he’s more likely to hit closer to 20 and strike out a ton, although he could easily score 80 times and knock in 80 runs in a revamped Braves lineup.
59. Ben Zobrist, IF/OF, TB: Between his multi-position eligibility (OF, SS, 2B), runs scored (88), extra-base power (39 2B, 7 3B, 20 HR), runs batted in (74), stolen bases (14) and walks (97), Zobrist should make you a very happy fantasy manager.
60. Johnny Cueto, SP, CIN: Unaffected by hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park, Cueto should continue to be among the ERA leaders in baseball and has 17- to 22-win potential on a Reds team that is as good as it’s been in years.
61. Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF, LAA: His eight games at third base in 2012 probably aren't enough to make him eligible there in most leagues, but he offers legitimate power from the first base and outfield spots. The 27-year-old has 61 homers in his two full seasons and an everyday spot in the lineup behind Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton in 2013.
62. Chris Sale, SP, CWS: There was plenty of concern after the White Sox moved Sale to the bullpen because of a tender elbow last May, but he talked his way back into the rotation and finished the season as one of the premier lefties in baseball. The Sox must have been convinced that he was healthy, since they recently gave him a $32.5 million contract extension.
63. Paul Konerko, 1B, CWS: He’s been a model of consistency throughout his career, so don’t expect a huge drop in production, if any at all, at age 37. Unless Adam Dunn and Alex Rios completely tank, as they did in 2011, Konerko will have solid lineup protection.
64. Joe Mauer, C, MIN: The Twins did a good job of keeping Mauer healthy by having him play first base or serve as the designated hitter for half of his at-bats last season. The 29-year-old still hasn’t shown any signs of returning to his power-hitting form of 2009 (28 HR), but he’ll give you production just about anywhere else.
65. Roy Halladay, SP, PHI: It’s finally time to say that the 35-year-old (36 in May), who has 199 wins and has pitched 2,687.1 regular-season innings in his career, is no longer the ace he once was in the early 2000s. If you can settle for a solid No. 2 starter, then he’s still a quality pickup.
66. CC Sabathia, SP, NYY: With the Yankees' aging lineup already dealing with injuries to top performers Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira, CC might have a tough time getting enough run support to win 15 games again in 2013.
67. Aramis Ramirez, 3B, MIL: If you like doubles, Ramirez is your guy. He had a National League-leading 50 of them in 2012 to go along with 27 homers and 105 runs batted in. He’ll be 35 later in the season, but he’s had back-to-back 149-game seasons after struggling with injuries in 2009 and 2010.
68. Aaron Hill, 2B, ARI: The trade that sent Hill to the Diamondbacks appears to have resurrected his career and pushed him back into the top tier of second basemen. He’ll likely hit third in this year’s D-Backs lineup, giving him a chance to improve on his 85 runs batted in from 2012.
69. Yadier Molina, C, STL: Considered one of the best all-around players in the game, Molina now gives fantasy geeks a reason to care about him since he’s no longer just an unbelievably good defender with average skills at the plate. The 30-year-old hit .315 with 22 homers, 76 runs batted and even stole 12 bases in 2012.
70. Jimmy Rollins, SS, PHI: He’s now six seasons removed from his MVP season of 2007, and his on-base skills have been on the decline, but “J-Roll” still gives you a ton of fantasy production, as he displayed in 2012 with 102 runs, 23 homers, 68 runs batted in, 33 doubles, 30 stolen bases and 62 walks.
71. Jordan Zimmermann, SP, WAS: He's a bit underrated on a staff with Gonzalez and Strasburg, but Zimmermann is talented enough to lead your fantasy squad to a championship if you choose to pass on starting pitchers in the early rounds.
72. Shin-Soo Choo, OF, CIN: The Reds’ new center fielder and leadoff hitter should easily surpass his career high of 88 runs scored from last season and could also get back in the 20-plus homer range with the move to Great American Ball Park.
73. Mat Latos, SP, CIN: Moving from the very pitcher-friendly Petco Park to the very hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park had little effect on Latos, who went 14-4 with a 3.48 ERA and 185 strikeouts in 209.1 innings in 2012.
74. James Shields, SP, KC: The new Kansas City ace is joining the Royals at a good time. The bullpen won’t blow many leads for him, and the up-and-coming offense should score enough runs that his win total from 2012 (15) shouldn’t drop much, if any.
75. Craig Kimbrel, RP, ATL: The top closer in these rankings, and there shouldn’t be much argument. Here’s the proof of how dominant he was in 2012: 1.01 ERA, 42 saves, 62.2 innings pitched, 27 hits, 14 walks, 116 strikeouts.
76. Brandon Morrow, SP, TOR: On the verge of a breakout season, he’ll now get a chance to do it relatively under the radar with R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle in town.
77. Allen Craig, 1B/OF, STL: He didn’t need a regular position to have value last season, as we knew he would get at least four to five starts per week at some position. Now he’s the Cardinals' regular first baseman with a chance to improve upon his 22 homers and 92 runs batted in that he produced in just 119 games in 2012.
78. Melky Cabrera, OF, TOR: It’s a safe bet to think that Cabrera’s production will drop in 2013. It might have dropped even if he hadn't been using performance-enhancing drugs, though no one has any idea how much that helped him. The 28-year-old switch-hitter was also very good with the Royals in 2011 (.305 BA, 18 HR, 87 RBI, 44 2B, 102 R, 20 SB) and didn’t test positive for PEDs back then.
79. Yovani Gallardo, SP, MIL: Milwaukee has a lot of uncertainty in its 2013 rotation, but Gallardo is the one staple of consistency, boasting a 3.68 ERA over the past four seasons while averaging 15 wins, 196 innings and 204 strikeouts.
80. Michael Bourn, OF, CLE: One of the top base stealers in baseball also showed some power in 2012 with nine homers. He had 13 in 2,391 career at-bats coming into the season. An improved Indians lineup, featuring newcomer Nick Swisher, should be enough to ensure Bourn cracks the 100-run mark in 2013.
81. Alex Gordon, OF, KC: Gordon has become a force at the plate the past two seasons, averaging 18 homers, 48 doubles, 80 runs batted in, 97 runs and 14 stolen bases over that span. He’ll be the leadoff man for a much-improved Royals squad.
82. Desmond Jennings, OF, TB: There were a few negatives in Jennings’ sophomore big league season (.314 OBP, 120 K), but the 13 homers and 31 stolen bases—with plenty of upside to do more—are what make the 26-year-old so intriguing.
83. Matt Wieters, C, BAL: The 26-year-old has settled in as one of the top all-around catchers in the game, providing Gold Glove defense to go along with 20-plus homers and the potential to knock in 100 runs hitting in the middle of the Orioles lineup.
84. Kris Medlen, SP, ATL: If you believe that Medlen's late-season run as one of the best pitchers in baseball wasn’t a fluke, then you have a tremendous value here. Of course, it only takes one league-mate who is also a big believer to miss out on him this late.
85. Martin Prado, 3B/OF, ARI: Not huge power numbers for a corner infielder, but he does give you 40-plus doubles, and his on-base ability should translate to a lot of runs hitting near the top of Arizona’s lineup.
86. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, ARI: A must-start versus left-handed starters (1.068 OPS vs. LHP in 2012), and he won’t hurt you terribly against right-handers either. The 25-year-old is also capable of challenging Eric Hosmer to be the next first baseman to join the 20-20 club, as he had 20 homers and 18 stolen bases last season.
87. Matt Moore, SP, TB: He was supposed to be “the next great starting pitcher” after an impressive 2011 season between Double-A, Triple-A and a short big league stint, but he struggled with consistency out of the gate before pitching well in the second half. The 23-year-old lefty has the ability to rise higher on this list than anyone by next offseason.
88. Freddie Freeman, 1B, ATL: The 23-year-old may not get that much better than he already is, but he’s a solid pickup who can get you 25 homers and 100 runs batted in if you miss out on the top tier of first basemen.
89. Brett Anderson, SP, OAK: An injury-prone pitcher who has already been sidelined this spring with a strained trapezius, he can be a great value if he avoids the disabled list and give you 30 starts. The current injury isn’t considered serious, so don’t worry too much about that one.
90. Jonathan Papelbon, RP, PHI: Not quite as dominant as Kimbrel, who had an unbelievable 2012 season, but Papelbon was very good in his first season with the Phillies (2.44 ERA, 38 saves, 70 IP, 56 H, 18 BB, 92 K).
91. Carlos Santana, C, CLE: If walks and on-base percentage are worth something in your league, Santana is a guy you’ll want to slot in at catcher regularly. The 26-year-old will also give you 20-plus homers, and the Indians will keep his legs fresh by giving him at-bats as a designated hitter and first baseman.
92. Aroldis Chapman, RP, CIN: Potential top-of-the-rotation starter or shutdown closer on a great team? Either one would have him ranked higher, but the uncertainty of his role and knowing he won't be able to spend the entire season in the rotation because he’ll have an innings limit (only 71.2 IP in 2012; won’t risk jumping past 140 IP in 2013) makes me less likely to draft him early.
93. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, CLE: Couldn’t come close to repeating his breakout performance of 2011 (25 HR, 92 RBI, 17 SB), but realistic expectations for Cabrera (15 HR, 75 RBI, 80 R, 10 SB) still make him a valuable player on your fantasy team.
94. Alex Rios, OF, CWS: If you believe the trend of alternating good and bad seasons for Rios, then you should probably stay away from him until the 2014 season. His OPS over the past five seasons: .798, .691, .791, .613, .850. But who believes in that kind of stuff anyway?
95. Max Scherzer, SP, DET: After winning 16 games and striking out 231 batters in 187.2 innings, Scherzer is no longer in the shadow of Justin Verlander in Detroit. If he can start pitching deeper into games on a consistent basis (5.2 IP/start in 2012), he has 200-inning, 20-win capability.
96. Carlos Gomez, OF, MIL: Parts of his game are frustratingly inconsistent, but Gomez will hit at least 15 homers and steal at least 30 bases as long as he can keep the regular center-field gig. That’s the plan moving forward after he began 2012 in a platoon with Nyjer Morgan.
97. Adam Wainwright, SP, STL: Pitched better as the season went on and he regained his form after returning from Tommy John surgery. Expect overall improvement on his 14-win, 3.94 ERA season.
98. Dexter Fowler, OF, COL: He loses most of his value outside of Coors Field, where he hit 10 of his 13 homers in 2012, although his .300 batting average and .389 on-base percentage ensure he isn't completely vulnerable on the road. If he could take advantage by stealing some more bases, his on-base ability would flourish.
99. C.J. Wilson, SP, LAA: Wilson struggled in the second half of the 2012 season, as he pitched with bone spurs in his elbow. The Angels, and whoever takes him in their fantasy draft, hope that offseason surgery was effective and he’s back to the first-half version (9-5, 2.43 ERA in 18 starts).
100. Jake Peavy, SP, CWS: Finally healthy in 2012 after dealing with injuries for three consecutive seasons, Peavy had a 3.37 ERA in 219 innings to go along with 194 strikeouts. That still doesn’t remove the injury-prone label, though, so draft with caution.
101. Jonathon Niese, SP, NYM: The likely Opening Day starter for the Mets, Niese improved his numbers across the board in 2012 and became fantasy relevant in the process. The 26-year-old had a 2.57 ERA over his last 10 starts.
102. Jason Motte, RP, STL: The Cardinals could have their potential “closer of the future,” Trevor Rosenthal, in their bullpen, so a few blown saves for Motte could cause a “closer controversy” in St. Louis. For the record, the 30-year-old Motte blew seven saves in 2012, but he also saved 42 with 86 strikeouts in 72 innings.
103. Nelson Cruz, OF, TEX: The 32-year-old was finally able to stay healthy for an entire season in 2012, and his production actually dropped from the previous three seasons as a regular. He did set career highs with 45 doubles and 90 runs knocked in, so he’s still productive enough, especially at Rangers Ballpark at Arlington, where he did most of his damage (.873 OPS at home; .689 OPS on the road).
104. David Ortiz, DH, BOS: "Big Papi" will likely start the season on the disabled list as he deals with inflammation in both heels. While he’s expected to be ready to return early in the season, the fact that his 2012 season was interrupted by a strained Achilles tendon has to be of concern. He’ll drop in fantasy drafts, so take the risk if you’re not overly concerned. Ortiz can put up huge numbers when healthy enough.
105. David Freese, 3B, STL: The first healthy season of his career resulted in a .293 batting average, 20 homers, 79 runs batted in, 70 runs and 25 doubles in 144 games.
106. Derek Jeter, SS, NYY: On track to be ready for the start of the season after ankle surgery, Jeter should get more at-bats than usual at the designated hitter spot as the Yankees try to keep his legs rested. In 159 games last season, the 38-year-old hit .316 with 15 homers, 58 runs batted in and 32 doubles. He had a .963 OPS in 103 at-bats as the designated hitter.
107. Doug Fister, SP, DET: After dealing with a strained side for most of the first half, Fister turned it on and was one of the better starters in baseball over the second half (8-4, 2.67 ERA, 101 IP, 83 H, 22 BB, 89 K in 15 starts).
108. Josh Johnson, SP, TOR: Although he didn’t return to his dominant form of 2010 (2.30 ERA, 183.2 IP, 155 H, 48 BB, 186 K in 28 starts), he eased concerns about the shoulder injury that cut short his 2011 season by pitching 191.1 innings last year. He could take another step in the right direction and potentially surpass his career-high win total of 15 on a very good Blue Jays squad.
109. Curtis Granderson, OF, NYY: He’ll miss about a month recovering from a fractured forearm, but he’ll still get to play 66 games in the left-handed hitter-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium if he makes it back by May 1. If so, he shouldn’t have a problem getting to 30 homers and 90 runs batted in.
110. Josh Willingham, OF, MIN: One of the few bright spots for Minnesota in 2012 (35 HR, 110 RBI, 85 R, 76 BB), Willingham will continue to hit between Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau in the middle of Minnesota’s lineup. The 34-year-old is proving to be a great value for the Twins at just $7 million per season, and he should continue to be a great fantasy value if you can pick him up in the middle rounds.
111. Ryan Vogelsong, SP, SF: The 35-year-old continues to impress after reviving his career with San Francisco in 2011. He pitches consistently into the seventh inning, which could be a key to winning at least 13 games again with a lineup that might not score a ton of runs.
112. Ian Kennedy, SP, ARI: While he was much more hittable in 2012 (4.02 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 28 HR) than in 2011 (2.88 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 19 HR), the 28-year-old still maintained solid BB/K and K/9 ratios and won 15 games.
113. Jarrod Parker, SP, OAK: The rookie did a good job of keeping the ball in the yard (11 HR allowed in 181.1 IP), although his home numbers were much better overall than on the road. He won six of his last seven decisions and had seven consecutive quality starts, including his playoff debut against the Tigers.
114. Mike Moustakas, 3B, KC: He faded after a fast start (15 HR, 47 RBI in first half) in his first full season in the big leagues. If the 24-year-old can stay in the zone for at least another month or two, he could reach 30 homers and 100 runs batted in and become one of the more popular third basemen in the fantasy baseball world.
115. Will Middlebrooks, 3B, BOS: Middlebrooks had 15 homers and 54 runs batted in just 75 games as a rookie before a fractured wrist ended his season. His production dropped each month after he was called up in May, so he’ll need to show that he can make adjustments to big league pitching if he’s going to become a consistent 25-plus home run hitter.
116. Wilin Rosario, C, COL: He’ll give you 25-30 home runs as long as he can stay in the lineup on a consistent basis. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, his mediocre defense could keep him from playing as much as you’d like. If the Rockies start slow and fall out of contention, they are much more likely to allow the 24-year-old to learn on the job.
117. Jon Lester, SP, BOS: Hoping to rebound from a disappointing 2012 season, Lester has allowed just two earned runs and six hits in 14 innings this spring.
118. Elvis Andrus, SS, TEX: His nine triples and 31 doubles in 2012 helped to offset a lack of home run power, but his stolen base total dropped from 37 to 21. He won’t have Josh Hamilton hitting behind him in the lineup anymore, so a drop in runs scored is also a possibility.
119. Tim Lincecum, SP, SF: His two spring starts (6 ER in 3.2 IP) have done little to ease concerns from last season’s struggles. Draft him at your own risk, as there are major concerns whether he can bounce back anywhere near his pre-2013 form.
120. Jeff Samardzija, SP, CHC: He might not have won many games on a bad team, but Samardzija had a breakout season in his first year as a starter. The 28-year-old really found his stride in the second half, when he posted a 2.58 ERA with 19 walks and 80 strikeouts in 73.1 innings.
121. Miguel Montero, C, ARI: One of the top run-producing catchers in the game, Montero has averaged 16 homers and 87 runs batted in over the past two seasons. With Justin Upton gone, he’ll be expected to pick up some of the slack in the middle of the lineup.
122. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, CHC: After struggling as a rookie with the Padres in 2011, Rizzo was ready when the Cubs called him up last June (.285 BA, 15 HR, 48 RBI in 87 games). He’ll continue to hit in the No. 3 spot in the lineup, with David DeJesus and Starlin Castro likely hitting ahead of him.
123. Hiroki Kuroda, SP, NYY: Still going strong at age 38, Kuroda set career highs in starts, innings pitched, wins and strikeouts in his first season with the Yankees in 2012. He was very effective at Yankee Stadium with a 2.72 ERA in 19 starts.
124. Andre Ethier, OF, LAD: His walks dropped and strikeouts increased in 2012, but he’s still a terrific hitter against right-handed pitching (.325 BA, 16 HR, 60 RBI, 26 2B). Against lefties? Not so much (.222 BA, 4 HR, 63 K in 221 at-bats).
125. Hunter Pence, OF, SF: His numbers were already down when he was traded to San Francisco, where his production took a further nosedive (.219 BA, 7 HR, 60 K in 59 games). Pence might not hit 25 homers again, as he did in each of the 2008-10 seasons with Houston, but he’s definitely capable of doing a lot more than he did last season.
126. Joe Nathan, RP, TEX: Back to his pre-Tommy John surgery form in his age-37 season, Nathan proved that he was still one of the best closers in baseball with 37 saves in 40 chances.
127. Homer Bailey, SP, CIN: He always seems to be on the verge of a breakout season, but he was never closer than his last eight starts of 2012 (1.79 ERA, 55.2 IP, 28 H, 10 BB, 58 K, no-hitter). Unlike Cueto and Latos, though, Bailey usually struggles at Great American Ball Park (5.16 ERA in 17 starts).
128. Fernando Rodney, RP, TB: How does a 34-year-old reliever, who has been inconsistent and unreliable throughout his career, turn into one of the best closers in baseball? I have no idea! He made a few adjustments, but this kind of turnaround was ridiculous. His first three spring outings (3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 4 K) suggest he’s not about to revert to his old form.
129. Chase Utley, 2B, PHI: The knee didn’t appear to be a problem once he finally returned to the lineup in late June, hitting .256 with 11 homers, 45 runs batted in and 11 stolen bases in 83 games. If you trust that his 34-year-old knees will hold up all season, take a chance and pick up a guy who could be one of the top second-base performers if he stays on the field for 135-plus games.
130. Rafael Soriano, RP, WAS: After saving 42 games in 46 chances for a Yankees team that won 95 games in 2012, Soriano should get at least than many for a Nationals team that is the favorite in the NL East and maybe the entire National League.
131. Jonathan Lucroy, C, MIL: His 2012 season was interrupted by a stint on the disabled list with a broken hand. Before the injury, the 26-year-old was hitting .345 with five homers, 10 doubles and four triples in 139 at-bats. When he returned, he hit .299 with seven homers, 28 runs batted in and 15 walks. I’d call that a breakout season, even if he did miss two months.
132. Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU: The poor plate discipline he displayed as a rookie (five walks, 29 strikeouts) was all but gone in 2012, when he got on base at a .340 clip and struck out just 74 times in 576 at-bats. Altuve is expected to move out of the leadoff spot and hit in the No. 2 spot in the lineup, at least to start the season.
133. Joel Hanrahan, RP, BOS: The Red Sox expect to win a lot more than 69 games this season, and Hanrahan will be the man closing out those wins. He’s 76-for-84 in save opportunities the past two seasons.
134. Eric Hosmer, 1B, KC: Poor sophomore season aside, Hosmer is a talented hitter with the potential to hit .300 with 25 homers and 100 runs batted in. He’ll also chip in with 10-20 stolen bases. Now, if 2013 isn’t the year he’s ready for greatness, someone better tell Royals manager Ned Yost, who plans on hitting the 23-year-old third in his lineup.
135. A.J. Burnett, SP, PIT: The move out of New York turned out to be a great one for Burnett, who won 16 games and posted his lowest ERA (3.51) since the 2005 season.
136. Danny Espinosa, 2B, WAS: If he wasn’t going to try to play with a torn rotator cuff, he’d be ranked higher after he hit 17 homers with 37 doubles and 20 stolen bases in 2012. Sounds like a tough task, but Espinosa thinks he’ll be OK.
137. Anibal Sanchez, SP, DET: The fourth Tigers starter to make the Top 150, Sanchez can also pitch into the seventh inning regularly and has 15-win potential as long as the Tigers find a reliable closer.
138. Salvador Perez, C, KC: He’s as good as advertised behind the plate. It’s his offensive skills that appear to be much better than anyone expected. In his first 115 big league games, the 22-year-old has hit .311 with 14 homers and 60 runs batted in.
139. Dan Haren, SP, WAS: If Haren’s down season in 2012 was due to a back injury he was pitching through and he returns to form with the Nationals, he will be a great value for where he’s being drafted. From 2005 to 2011, Haren averaged 226 innings per season with 45 walks and 195 strikeouts.
140. Howard Kendrick, 2B, LAA: Hitting in the No. 2 spot in front of Albert Pujols in 2012 was supposed to do great things for Kendrick, but Pujols started slow and Kendrick wasn’t particularly great. He finally found his groove later in the season from lower in the lineup. Who hits in the No. 2 spot in 2013 is still up in the air.
141. Ryan Howard, 1B, PHI: In real life, Howard is an overpaid 33-year-old who wasn’t very good in 2012 once he returned from an Achilles tendon injury. He’ll be a great fantasy value, though, if he can return to his pre-injury form from 2011 (.253 BA, 33 HR, 116 RBI, 75 BB, 81 R).
142. Matt Harvey, SP, NYM: His 10-start audition in 2012 (2.73 ERA, 59.1 IP, 42 H, 26 BB, 70 K) was impressive enough to make him the least experienced major league starter in these rankings. The 23-year-old was nearly unhittable at Citi Field (1.88 ERA, 24 IP, 11 H, 13 BB, 29 K).
143. Pedro Alvarez, 3B, PIT: The 26-year-old bounced back from an awful 2011 season to show why he was the second overall pick in the 2008 draft. He struggled against left-handed pitching, but he hit .257 with 24 homers and knocked in 62 runs in 385 at-bats against right-handed pitching.
144. Shane Victorino, OF, BOS: His numbers were down across the board in 2012, dropping from .355 to .321 in on-base percentage and from 60 extra-base hits to 47 in 2011. That’s still pretty good, though, especially coupled with the 30-plus bases he’ll normally steal.
145. Angel Pagan, OF, SF: His debut season with the Giants couldn’t have gone any better, as Pagan now owns a World Series ring and was rewarded with a huge contract this offseason. His fantasy owners also likely had a good year, drafting him after a down season and seeing him rebound to hit .288 with 61 extra-base hits, 95 runs and 29 stolen bases.
146. Kyle Seager, 3B, SEA: He did most of his damage away from Safeco Field (.293 BA, 15 HR, 60 RBI on the road), so the fences being moved in could push him into the 23-27 home run range.
147. Rickie Weeks, 2B, MIL: It was a tale of two seasons for Weeks, who hit just .199 with eight homers in the first half before finally catching fire and hitting .261 with 13 homers and 34 runs batted in after the All-Star break. His track record shows that he’s typically not a slow starter, and a more consistent season should put the 30-year-old back near the top of the second-base rankings.
148. Alejandro De Aza, OF, CWS: The 28-year-old held his own during his first full season as a starter, hitting .281 with 44 extra-base hits, 50 runs batted in, 81 runs and 26 stolen bases as the White Sox's leadoff man.
149. Josh Reddick, OF, OAK: No one expected 32 homers and 85 runs batted in from Reddick in his debut season with Oakland. You probably shouldn’t expect it next season either, but if he gives you 25 and 75 to go along with 80-plus runs and 30 doubles, he’s worth a lineup spot.
150. Todd Frazier, 3B, CIN: He hit 19 homers and knocked in 67 runs in 2012 while accumulating 422 at-bats between both corner infield and outfield spots. In 2013, he’ll spend most of his time at third base and should surpass 500 at-bats.