This list will take into account past, present and future values based on standard 5×5 H2H settings. This is strictly a projection and may be changed throughout the baseball offseason and regular season. Be sure to check back periodically for updated versions prior to your fantasy drafts.
*As of January 15, 2010
1. Albert Pujols-1B-St. Louis Cardinals
This one is a no-brainer. Pujols is the most dominant player in all of baseball and will be the first guy going off draft boards in 2010. His MVP season of 2009 was brilliant, ranking no lower than third in all offensive categories of interest (BA, RBI, BB, HR, SLG, R, OPS, OBP) in the National League. He will be coming off of elbow surgery to remove bone chips in his arm this offseason so be sure to keep check his progression before draft day.
2. Hanley Ramirez-SS-Florida Marlins
Ramirez put up another great fantasy season in 2009 finishing the season with 24 home runs, 106 RBI, 101 runs scored, 27 stolen bases and posted a .342 BA. He also set career-highs in OPS, OBS and SLG while decreasing his strikeouts. Major League Baseball is forcing the Marlins to increase payroll this season, which will only benefit Ramirez, making him even more valuable heading into the 2010 season.
3. Alex Rodriguez-3B-New York Yankees
After missing a little over a month at the beginning of the season, Rodriguez was set up to have a down year. He proved all his critics wrong hitting 30 home runs, 100 RBI and posting a .286 BA. I expect A-Rod to be back to his 2007 form next season, plus the additions of Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson to the lineup will only add more base runners when he is up to bat, making him potentially the luckiest hitter in baseball.
4. Ryan Braun-OF-Milwaukee Brewers
In 2009 Braun continued to build on a great start to his career hitting 32 home runs, driving in 113 RBI, scoring 113 runs and stealing 20 bases. His 20 stolen bases were a career-high, and he shouldn’t be expected to reach that plateau again in 2010. He showed more plate discipline last year, racking up 57 BB, which were 15 more than he totaled in 2008. Braun posted a .324 BA, which was also a career-high and proved he is maturing into one of the elite players in MLB. If his trends continue you may see him even higher on this list by the end of the season, but at the very least he should be in the top-five all year.
5. Chase Utley-2B-Philadelphia Phillies
Utley continued to shine in ’09 as arguably the best second basemen in all of MLB. His power mixed with speed is a lethal combination for both the Phillies and fantasy baseball. He finished the season with 31 HR, 93 RBI, 112 R and a .282 BA, which ranked among the best at his position. His OBP ranked 10th in the NL (.397) which shows a sign of patience at the plate, which is what you want to see out of your top draft picks. Due to the scarcity of elite second basemen, Utley should go early in the first round to solidify the middle infield of fantasy lineups.
6. Miguel Cabrera-1B-Detroit Tigers
After another position move in 2009 for Cabrera, he was still able to perform at a high level putting up another MVP-type season. He ranked in the top ten in every major offensive category (BA, RBI, BB, HR, SLG, R, OPS, OBP) in the American League, tied his career-high hits total with 198, and finished third in the league in total bases. His BB/SO ratio jumped in 2009 going from 0.49 in 2008 to 0.69 last season, which is something to keep an eye on in the future but shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Don't let that hold you back on draft day, as Cabrera is still deceptively young (just 26 years old) and entering his prime.
7. Prince Fielder-1B-Milwaukee Brewers
In his fourth year of service Fielder had himself a great season, smashing 46 home runs, driving in 146 RBI and setting a career-high in batting average with a .299 BA. Fielder also set career-highs in OBP (.412) and OPS (1.014) along with ranking in the top ten in all major offensive categories (BA, RBI, BB, HR, SLG, R, OPS, OBP). The stat that was really astonishing was his BB/PA, which skyrocketed from .121 in ’08 to .153 in ’09. This proves he has really worked on being selective at the plate, making him a more reliable hitter. If you can’t get your hands on Pujols or Cabrera in your draft this year, Fielder is definitely your next safest bet at first base.
8. Tim Lincecum-SP-San Francisco Giants
The 2009 season for Lincecum wasn’t too far off of his 2008 season, winning his second straight Cy Young Award, ranking in the top five in all major pitching categories (W, SO, WHIP, CG, IP, ERA and W percentage) for starting pitchers. He recorded a career-low 2.48 ERA, and held his opponents to a .206 BA for the season. If this is any indication of what’s to come, he should be in contention for his third straight Cy Young Award this season. The Giants have been dedicated to bettering their offense this offseason, so his win totals should hopefully improve as long as he can stay healthy.
9. Mark Teixeira-1B-New York Yankees
Teixeira finished the ’09 season with a .292 BA, 39 HR, 122 RBI and 103 R in his first season with the Yankees. He led the league in home runs, RBI and total bases (344) as he finished second in the MVP voting last year. He is an ideal fantasy player that will fill out the stat sheet and would probably be ranked higher if he played a different position. Like A-Rod, he will get plenty of opportunities with runners in scoring position to make big plays for the Yankees and your fantasy team.
10. David Wright-3B-New York Mets
Wright had a decent year in ’09, but it wasn’t a year that he will want to duplicate this season. His power numbers (HR, RBI, SLG, OPS) were all down, but that may have had to do with the new ballpark he was playing in. His lack of production at the plate may have been affected by the constant injury problems that the Mets faced last season, headlined by Jose Reyes. Wright set a career-high in strikeouts (140) and set a three-year low in walks (74) which is something to keep an eye on for next season. I feel a healthy Mets lineup should be able to bring Wright's power numbers back to his pre-2009 level, making him worth a top-ten selection in 2010 fantasy drafts.
Be sure to check back for the rest of the 2010 Big Board in the upcoming weeks!
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org .