Albert Pujols is the best player in baseball. He has been an absolute machine since he entered the league in 2001. Have you never realized how good he is? Let me blow your mind with a couple of stats...
- He has never hit below 30 HRs
- He has never drove in less than 100 RBI
- He scored below 100 runs once. How many? 99...
- His lowest career batting average was .317
Oh and he stole 16 bases last year too. If you want a sure thing than you've got it in this guy. They do not come any more guaranteed than Albert Pujols.
So why the heck would I be spending my time telling you to take Hanley Ramirez when I just made a great case for Pujols?
It all falls under my simple philosophy for fantasy baseball.
Balance and bargains
Fantasy baseball is not about who has the best player in baseball. Fantasy baseball is about having the most productive team possible. To do that you want to maximize your output from each position. It just so happens that Albert Pujols is a 1B which is one of the deeper positions, and Hanley Ramirez is a SS which is arguably the weakest.
Lets look at it this way.
Hanley stands alone at SS as it is. He is one of the few five-tool players left in the big leagues. Other than his rookie year he has hit above .300 including a career high .342 last year. He has proven that he can steal bases at an elite level when batting lead off and he has shown he can drive in a 100 RBI when in the three-hole.
Scary part? He is getting better.
He was hampered by injuries all last year that really hurt his production (I know I had him). The guy still produced 1st round numbers. This year, he could easily be projected to be a 30-30 (HR & SB) guy that hits about .300 and drives in a 100 RBIs. All of that at the weakest position in the draft.
Your alternatives to Han-Ram?
- Derek Jeter - Coming off a great year in a great line up, but another year older.
- Jimmy Rollins - Rough year last year, could be a bounce back, but no guarantees.
- Troy Tulowitzki - Great 2009 campaign, but should be gone in the second/third round
With Jose Reyes now a question mark to start the season, I am leaving him off this list. The next highest rated option? Jason Bartlett. Hey, I know he hit .320, but he is nowhere close the production of those four.
Based on ADPs from several fantasy sites, those four guys will be gone by round three. So if you plan on being secure at your SS position you better do it early. If not you are looking at a lot of unproven guys and throwbacks like Miguel Tejada and Rafael Furcal.
Now lets look at the alternatives to Pujols.
I am going to be fair and assume that Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Mark Teixeria, and Miguel Cabrera are first round candidates. It would not be too surprising if one of these guys fell into the early second round, but in a snake draft and you picking at No. 1 this does not help much.
So here are the realistic alternatives...
- Mark Reynolds (1B/3B eligible)
- Victor Martinez (C/1B eligible)
- Justin Morneau
- Adrian Gonzalez
- Kevin Youkilis
- Pablo Sandoval (1B/3B eligible)
- Joey Votto
- Kendry Morales
All of these guys had fantastic years last year. They will be available, again based on ADPs, from the late second round to the fifth round. Clearly there are many more options available to you at the 1B position.
Now, doesn't your roster look great with Hanley and one of those above names along with maybe a SP and a nice OF by round five? The amount of flexibility it opens up is great for any roster. Most importantly, it accomplishes the sometimes difficult task of maximizing the productivity of your roster.
Miss out on one of those above names? Don't worry, 1B goes even deeper. There are great sleepers and bounce back guys in the later rounds. Here are a few...
- Lance Berkman
- Derrek Lee
- Carlos Pena
- Billy Butler
- James Loney
- Garret Jones
- Adam Dunn
- Chris Davis
While those guys are not what I would classify as early MVP candidates, they are some great late power options and all-around bats. I would at least feel more comfortable taking a shot on one of those names than someone like Everth Cabrera, Ryan Theriot, or Erick Aybar.
Do not get me wrong, you can't really go wrong with either Pujols or Hanley. However, remember that the first round is the easiest round you will have.
If you are lucky enough to land the number one spot in any of your drafts, just remember that before you shout out "Albert Pujols!" or click that draft button, remember my simple philosophy.
Balance and bargains.