We have been waiting since last October for the fun of the MLB season to start anew. On Mar. 31, 2011 we will get our wish. By that day, all clubs are required to reduce rosters to 25 players and play ball! We have seen changes occurs this offseason as we typically do each year but one thing seems to remain consistent. The same powerhouse teams appear to be set to make a run at the postseason and the World Series.
The Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies highlighted the offseason free-agent frenzy. The Red Sox's biggest moves were signing both Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to long-term deals. They simultaneously managed to re-sign their tenured slugger David Ortiz to a one-year contract.
Meanwhile, the Phillies signed Cliff Lee to bolster their already stellar starting rotation and make them favorites in the NL to make a trip to the World Series.
Many other teams have made significant moves as well. Rather than go into further detail about which teams have made what moves, let us go over who the best players are from each of the 30 MLB teams' rosters as they stand today. This analysis will help determine which players to draft for your fantasy squads heading into the 2011 fantasy baseball season.
Jason Heyward was a rookie last year. In his short time in the MLB, he has already accomplished so much. Here is a list of his 2010 rookie season accomplishments. We expect there to be many more added to this list as Jason matures as a ballplayer in the major leagues.
Vladimir Guerrero had a resurgent 2010 season but it's not like his statistics were ever really bad to begin with. Here is a list of his accomplishments throughout his tenured career. Once you observe them, I think you will agree he is hands down the best player the Orioles have present day.
- Nine-time All-Star selection (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002,2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010)
- Most Valuable Player (AL) (2004)
- Eight-time Silver Slugger (1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010)
- Three-time Gene Autry Trophy winner (2004, 2006, 2007)
- 2007 Home Run Derby winner
- Six-time Player of the Month Award winner
- Hit for the cycle on Sept. 14, 2003
Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez battled it out here for the top player on the Boston Red Sox. Crawford's overall agility and his speed give him the edge over Gonzalez. If you are a fan of the Red Sox then you have to feel pretty good about the direction your team is heading considering both of these players were signed as free agents this past offseason. Combine the talents of these two with David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkillis and the rest of the team and you have a team that can definitely compete for a championship in 11'. Here are Crawford's accomplishments thus far in his career.
- Four-time All-Star selection (2004, 2007, 2009, 2010)
- Gold Glove Award (2010)
- Silver Slugger Award (2010)
- 2009 MLB All-Star Game MVP
- Four-time AL Stolen Base Champion (2003, 2004, 2006,2007)
- Tied a MLB record with six stolen bases in a game (May 3, 2009 vs. Boston Red Sox)
Alfonso Soriano's age seems to be getting to him. Aramis Ramirez is dealing with the same. Things aren't as easy as they used to be. All the years of wear and tear are finally catching up to this superstar. If he can manage to stay healthy all year and work through his problems with inconsistency, then the sky would be the limit for Soriano. Here is a list of his accomplishments throughout the years.
Joey Votto, a first baseman who helped the Reds reach the postseason for the first time in 15 years, received 31 out of 32 first-place votes and 443 points in the 2010 NL MVP voting announced by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He dethroned Albert Pujols from his two-year reign on top of the National League. Votto is young and could improve on his MVP season. That is precisely what the rest of the teams in the National League fear.
Shin-Soo Choo will be rivaled by Grady Sizemore assuming Sizemore can stay healthy. Nevertheless, there is no denying what Shin-Soo Choo accomplished in 2010 while Grady Sizemore was absent via injury from the lineup.
- Silver medal World Baseball Classic (2009)
- Bob Feller Man of the Year Award (2010)
Carlos Gonzalez is a rising star. This was a tough choice here though as his teammates Troy Tulowitzki and Ubaldo Jimenez are also rising stars and will rival Carlos for best player on the Colorado Rockies. However, based on the season Gonzalez had last year it is hard to not give credit where it is due. Just take a look at what Carlos Gonzalez has already accomplished in his three-year major league career. 2010 was clearly his breakout season.
- NL batting champion (2010)
- One-time NL Gold Glove Award (2010)
- One-time NL Silver Slugger Award (2010)
- MLB Players Choice Award for Player of the Year (2010)
- NL Players Choice Award for Outstanding Player (2010)
- Two-time NL Player of the Week (2010)
- Luis Aparicio Award (2010)
- Hit for the cycle (Jul. 31, 2010)
Miguel Cabrera has had some offseason off-field troubles but that is nothing new for one of the AL's best hitters. Yes, he is an alcoholic, but at the end of the day that is his business. It has obviously not affected his game on the field. If he chooses to stop acting irresponsibly and straighten out his life then that would be ideal, but if he does not we will still be seeing about 35 home runs, over 100 RBI and a .300-plus batting average this year.
With that being said he does look a bit heftier this year in comparison to other years. Let's hope he can burn off all that alcohol by the playoffs. Here are some of Cabrera's accomplishments YTD.
Hanley Ramirez is arguably the most important player in fantasy sports. This guy steals bases, hits for power, scores runs...he does it all and he is only 27 years old. You would think for being so young that he may have not accomplished all that much thus far in his career but not Hanley Ramirez. His hard work and dedication have paid off and will continue to barring any health issues that could arise. Take a look at the list of achievements for Ramirez to this point.
Billy Butler hasn't quite matured as a player as rapidly as the Royals may have hoped. Neither has his closest Royals rival for best player, Alex Gordon. However, Butler has matured and 2010 showed signs of what his true potential is as a major leaguer.
He is a career .299 hitter. The Royals are hoping their 24-year-old young buck can carry them to the playoffs in 2011, but with little help surrounding him, I'm not so sure that those aspirations will come to pass.
Torii Hunter is getting older in baseball terms. Don't you dare say that to him because he doesn't want to hear it. It is hard to argue with him when his statistics haven't seem to fall off much, if at all, in recent years. Yes, he didn't win a Gold Glove in 2010 something that he had done each of the previous nine years. But he was selected to the 2010 All-Star team. He had only been an All-Star three other years in his career prior to last year's selection. Other notable considerations for best Angel were Dan Haren, Vernon Wells and Bobby Abreu.
- Four-time All-Star selection (2002, 2007, 2009, 2010)
- Nine-time Gold Glove Award winner (2001–09)
- Silver Slugger Award winner (2009)
- 2009 Branch Rickey Award
- 2007 Players Choice Award Marvin Miller Man of the Year
Matt Kemp is a very talented player. It is a common belief around baseball that we haven't seen the best of this 26-year-old either. His career .285 average is respectable but is a statistical category that many scouts feel he can improve upon and will in the coming years. If he manages to slightly improve his game, then he will go from being a Silver Slugger to an MVP of the National League. Here is a list of the triumphs of his career.
Ryan Braun over Prince Fielder? This would disturb some but Prince had a bit of an off year last year and until he proves he can rebound, Ryan Braun is the team's best player. At 27, Braun has accomplished so much. However, he has never won a World Series, something many Brewers fans feel would have to happen this year or it never will.
- Three-time NL All-Star starter, OF (2008-10)
- Three-time Silver Slugger Award, OF (2008-10)
- Two-time NL Rookie of the Month (Jun. and Jul. 2007)
- Two-time NL Player of the Month (Jul. 2007 and Jul. 2008)
- Two-time NL Player of the Week (May 4-10, 2009 and Aug. 1-8, 2010)
- NL Rookie of the Year (2007)
- Sporting News NL Rookie of the Year (2007)
- Baseball America Rookie of the Year (2007)
- Players Choice NL Most Outstanding Rookie (2007)
- Baseball Prospectus Internet Baseball NL Rookie of the Year (2007)
- Topps Rookie All Star Third Baseman(2007)
- Three-time Sporting News NL All Star, OF (2008–10)
- Ranked 22nd (2010) and 32nd (2009) on the Sporting News' list of the 50 greatest current players in baseball (2009)
- Major league rookie slugging percentage record (.634, 2007)
- Led NL in slugging percentage (.634, 2007)
- Led NL in extra-base hits (83, 2008)
- Led NL in hits (203, 2009)
- Led major league outfielders in fielding percentage (1.000, 2008)
- Led NL left fielders in putouts (275, 2008; 304, 2009)
- Led NL left fielders in fielding percentage (.994, 2009)
- Led NL left fielders in range factor (2.06, 2009)
Yes, Joe Mauer is good, but not Justin Morneau good. Both players are a vital part of the Twins organization but Justin Morneau's statistics speak for themselves. He clearly is the best overall, established player the Twins have assuming he stays healthy in 2011.
There are many great players on the New York Mets including Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes but the one thing they all share is that they are injury prone and at times too inconsistent.
David Wright on the other hand is consistent and is the best the New York Mets have to offer.
- Five-time All-Star selection (2006, 2007, 2008,2009, 2010)
- Two-time Gold Glove Award winner (2007, 2008)
- Two-time Silver Slugger Award winner (2007, 2008)
- Two-time NL Player of the Month (2006, 2010)
- TYIB Awards Rookie of the Year (2004)
- Record for most doubles as a Met
- 30-30 club
- MLB Home Run Derby participant (2006)
Alex Rodriguez; many don't like him because of his arrogance and steroid use. Others think he is the greatest thing to happen to baseball since...well, Barry Bonds.
No matter how you feel about him, he is one of the most talented baseball players we have seen in years. His natural ability has shown that even post-steroid usage he can put up numbers. He doesn't do too well on the last years of a decades, as he has never been elected to the All-Star game on those years. But this isn't one of those years and now that he is healthy, look for him to have a monster year like he has in the past.
- Thirteen-time All-Star selection (1996–1998, 2000–2008, 2010)
- Ten-time Silver Slugger Award winner (1996, 1998–2003, 2005, 2007, 2008)
- Four-time AL Hank Aaron Award winner (2001–2003, 2007)
- Three-time AL MVP (2003, 2005, 2007)
- Two-time Gold Glove Award winner (2002, 2003)
- World Series champion (2009)
It doesn't say much for your team when your best player is 36 years of age (if that is Hideki Matsui's real age) but that is the dilemma that the Oakland Athletics are facing. This is not to discredit Hideki Matsui, but on most major league squads he simply would not be the best player. He is aging, not as mobile and fights injuries on a regular basis. It seems that the Oakland Athletics could be in for a long year in 2011.
- Three-time Japan Series champion (1994, 2000,2002)
- 2000 Japan Series Most Valuable Player Award
- Three-time Central League MVP (1996, 2000, 2002)
- Two-time Japan Professional Sports Grand Prize (2000, 2003)
- Two-time MLB All-Star selection (2003, 2004)
- 2009 Major League Baseball Clutch Performer of the Month of August
- World Series champion (2009)
- 2009 World Series MVP
Roy Halladay is one of the most talented pitchers in the game today. He jumped on with the Phillies last season to try and win a World Series, something that has eluded him over his illustrious career. Check out the success that he has seen over his years in the MLB.
- Seven-time All-Star selection (2002, 2003, 2005,2006, 2008, 2009, 2010)
- AL Cy Young Award (2003)
- NL Cy Young Award (2010)
- MLB "This Year in Baseball Awards" Starting Pitcher of the Year (2010)
- MLB Clutch Performer of the Year (2010)
- American League wins champion (2003)
- National League wins champion (2010)
- Pitched a perfect game on May 29, 2010
- Pitched a postseason no-hitter on Oct. 6, 2010
In 2009, Mat Latos became the first pitcher in Padres history to win four of his first five career starts.
Latos finished the 2010 season with a 14-10 record, 2.92 ERA (13th in the majors), 189 strikeouts (18th) and a WHIP of 1.09 (tied for seventh). Latos is only 23 and shows much promise and hopes to push the Padres back into playoff contention in 2011.
Tim Lincecum and Buster Posey should provide quite the offensive/defensive punch for the defending world champions. Look for Lincecum to have a bounce-back year statistically and return to his 2009 form. Also, watch for this team's confidence to grow and—if you can imagine it—for them to get even better in 2011.
Felix "The Cat" Hernandez was not chosen not because of his talent but because of his statistics. Ichiro Suzuki is aging and not the player he once was but we are going to have to see the win-loss record improve for Hernandez before he can overtake Ichiro as the team's best overall threat.
Ichiro Suzuki's accomplishments are far too many to list on one slide. He is an international sensation. He has won countless awards in Japan and in the United States of America as part of the MLB. Unfortunately, Ichiro has bigger concerns right now than baseball as a result of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on Mar. 11, 2011.
Our thoughts, hearts and prayers go out to Ichiro and everyone in or of Japan. Look for Ichiro to continue his MLB dominance when things are all squared away with his homeland and family.
- Nine-time All-Star selection (2001, 2003–2010)
- World Series champion (2006)
- Three-time NL MVP (2005, 2008, 2009)
- Two-time NL Hank Aaron Award (2003, 2009)
- Six-time Silver Slugger Award (2001, 2003–2004, 2008–2010)
- Two-time Gold Glove Award (2006, 2010)
- 2001 NL Rookie of the Year
- Six-time NL Player of the Month Award
- 2004 NLCS MVP
- 2008 Roberto Clemente Award
- 2003 NL batting champion
- 2009–2010 NL home run champion
- 2010 NL RBI champion
Need I say more?
Evan Longoria had a bit of a power outage in 2010. However, his statistics were still phenomenal. If Manny Ramirez can turn back the clocks this year and stay healthy, then Longoria and Ramirez could make arguably the best No. 3/No. 4 hitter combination in all of baseball.
Josh Hamilton has been through so much to overcome his struggles with drugs in recent years but he has overcome them. Last year's MVP is among the best of the best, but don't be mistaken in thinking there are not many other great players on the American League champion Texas Rangers squad. Some of those players include Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre, Michael Young and Elvis Andrus. With the pitching staff somewhat depleted due to losing Cliff Lee this offseason, the Texas bats will have to stay healthy, consistent and strong to get back to the World Series in 2011.
- 2010 American League MVP
- Three-time All-Star selection (2008, 2009, 2010)
- AL Players Choice Award for Outstanding Player (2010)
- USA Today American League MVP (2010)
- Two-time Silver Slugger Award winner (2008, 2010)
- 2008 American League RBI champion
- 2010 American League batting champion
- 2010 American League Championship Series MVP
Based on what we saw from Jose Bautista last year, he is far and away the best player on the Toronto Blue Jays. However, one can't help but question where his sudden power surge came from in 2010. Furthermore, one can't be sure he will repeat the year he had in 2010 in 2011. If he can and is putting up these gaudy numbers again in 2011 without the use of steroids or HGH, then more power to him. Regardless, Jose Bautista is the best player for fantasy squads if you want to own a player from the current Toronto Blue Jays.
Jayson Werth was selected over teammate Ryan Zimmerman because of his base-stealing ability. Both are quality players and will be big contributors in the Nationals 2011 lineup. Let's see how the year plays out so we can truly determine which player is best. For now Jayson Worth is the best player in Washington, especially with Stephen Strasburg out recovering from elbow surgery.