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 Jan. 24, 2010
11. Matt Kemp, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
In his second full season playing center field for the Dodgers, Kemp earned his first Golden Glove Award and also received the National League Silver Slugger Award. His mix of power, speed, and the ability to hit for average make him a valuable asset for any fantasy team.
Last season, Kemp finished with 26 HR, 101 RBI, 97 R, 34 SB, and a .297 BA on his way to finishing in the top 10 in National League MVP voting. If his maturity continues, don’t be surprised to see him atop the fantasy rankings once again in 2010.
12. Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays
Longoria has his coming out party last season with 33 HR, 113 RBI, and 100 R proving why he was a first round draft pick. He finished in the top 10 in the American League in SLG (eighth), TB (seventh), DBL (seventh), HR (seventh), XBH (fourth), and RBI (fourth) on his way to the American League Silver Slugger Award at third base.
Longoria's lack of speed (nine stolen bases in 2009) and his high strikeout total (140 in 2009) kept him out of my top 10, and he should be monitored as the season begins. If you can’t get either Alex Rodriguez or David Wright, you should be pretty happy if you can land Longoria come draft day.
13. Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota Twins
Mauer started the 2009 season on the disabled list and didn’t play in his first game until May 1, but that didn’t stop him from having one of the best seasons of all time as a catcher. He finished the season with 28 HR, 96 RBI, 94 R, and a .365 BA on his way to receiving the American League MVP Award. Mauer finished first in the American League in 10 offensive categories including BA, SLG, OBP, and OPS, which made him one of the best fantasy players a season ago.
Mauer's most staggering stat from the 2009 season was his AB/HR rate. In 2008, Mauer’s AB/HR rate was 59.6, followed by 18.7 in the 2009 season. It will be interesting to see if Mauer will be able to repeat his power hitting from his 2009 campaign since his old career-high in home runs is 13, which he hit back in 2006.
14. Troy Tulowitski, SS, Colorado Rockies
In his third full season with the Rockies, Tulowitski proved why he was taken in the first round of the 2005 amateur draft. He finished the season with 32 HR, 92 RBI, 101 R, and a .297 BA on his way to his best season of his young career. To go along with those great numbers, Tulowitski finished in the top 10 in four offensive categories (R, OPS, SLG, and 3B) in the National League.
The one statistic that should be a cause of concern was that he was caught stealing 11 times in 2009, leading to a .57 SB percentage. He finished with 20 steals on the season, but don’t expect to see him reach 20 steals again in 2010 as the Rockies will likely be more hesitant to let him run in close games. Overall, he should have solid production in the Rockies lineup in 2010.
15. Carl Crawford, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
With blazing speed on the base path, Crawford had his best season of his career in 2009. He finished the season with 15 HR, 68 RBI, 96 R, 60 SB, and a .305 BA on his way to an All-Star selection and earning the MVP Award for the All-Star Game. Crawford set a career-high in OBP (.364) that led him to finishing second in the American League in stolen bases, finishing 10 shy of Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox.
Crawford's BB/PA in 2009 was also a career-high (.076), which shows he is maturing as a hitter and really being selective at the plate. To back up that statement, Crawford’s #P/PA jumped to 3.76 from 3.42 from the 2008 season. Expect a good season form Crawford in 2010 as long as he can stay healthy.
16. Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies
Howard had himself a great season in 2009 with 45 HR, 141 RBI, 105 R, and an impressive .279 BA. Though I don’t expect his batting average to be that high in 2010, Howard is still worth a top 20 selection. He finished in the top 10 in eight offensive categories (SLG, OPS, AB, R, TB, HR, RBI, and XBH) in 2009, finishing first in RBI in the National League.
With Howard there is always bad with the good, and the bad was his strikeout total last season. He finished second in the National League with 186 strikeouts, but to his credit it was a four-year low for him. His HR/AB increased to 13.7 in ’09, but that shouldn’t be anything to worry about for the future as that percentage has increased each of the last four seasons and he still managed to hit at least 45 HR in each of those seasons.
17. Justin Upton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
The 2009 season was a coming out party for this rising star. Upton provides a nice mix of power and speed while still being able to hit for average. Last season he finished with 26 HR, 86 RBI, 84R, 20 SB, and a .300 BA.
What keeps Upton from becoming an elite player is his lack of discipline at the plate. He managed to strike out 137 times in ’09, finishing the season with a 0.40 BB/K rate leading him to striking-out 26 percent of his at-bats. If he can find a way to be more patient at the plate and draw more walks, it will only lead to more runs, stolen bases and a better batting average putting him into the elite class of outfielders. But at the least he should out up similar numbers to what he produced last season.
18. Roy Halladay, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
Halladay finished last season with 17 W, 208 K, 2.79 ERA, and a 1.13 WHIP on his way to another great season. He also finished first in four pitching categories (BB per 9 IP, CG, shutouts, and K/BB) in the American League which really shows how great of a season he had in ’09. Halladay set a career-high in K/9 IP (7.83), which should climb even higher with his crossover to the National League.
Now that he will be pitching for the Phillies, expect Halladay to dominate even more in 2010, with the likes of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard providing him plenty of run support in their potent offense.
19. Matt Holliday, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
In 2009, Holliday started off the season slow playing for the Oakland Athletics. Before the trade deadline, the Athletics shipped him to the Cardinals, where he resurrected his season and finished around his average statistics. He finished the season with 24 HR, 109 RBI, 94 R, and a .313 BA on his way to another solid season. Playing in 63 games for the Cardinals, Holliday had 13 HR, 55 RBI, and a .353 BA, which was extremely better than what he put up playing for the Athletics (11 HR, 54 RBI, and .286 BA in 93 games).
Looking forward to the 2010 season, Holliday should be able to produce numbers like he did when he played for the Rockies since Busch Stadium is a hitter-friendly ballpark.
20. Felix Hernandez, SP, Seattle Mariners
Hernandez finished the 2009 season with 19 W, 217 K, 2.49 ERA, and a 1.14 WHIP on his way to finishing second in the American League Cy Young Voting. He finished in the top 10 in every major pitching category (W, K, ERA, W percentage, BB, WHIP, CG, IP) in the American League. Hernandez has shown increased durability over the last four seasons, increasing his P/GS from 98.7 P/GS in 2006 to 1.06.7 P/GS in 2009, which is a good sign for the upcoming season.
Hernandez also tied a career-low in P/PA in 2009 with an astounding 3.71 P/PA, leading him to more innings pitched each game. His opponents’ batting average also dropped to .227 in 2009, falling .034 from the previous season. If his progression continues next season, he should have another great year for the Mariners and your fantasy team.
Be sure to check back for the rest of the 2010 Big Board in the upcoming weeks!
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