For more than 20 years now I have compiled a list of the “must haves” that I would like to have on my fantasy baseball team for the upcoming season. I usually start this list at the end of the previous year and tweak it right up until mid March when draft time comes along. These players are not necessarily all slam dunk picks but players my intuition tells me will help me win my league. Here is my list for the 2011 season.
JEREMY HELLICKSON: Kid can down right pitch and will get plenty of opportunity for the Rays. Had a 4-0 record in the bigs last year and with Matt Garza now in playing for the Cubs, Hellickson gets his chance. Career minor league stats include 9.8 K’s per game and a 1.06 whip. He’s a great pitcher not many know about.
SHAUN MARCUM: All signs point upward for Marcum. He is 12-2 with a 2.72 against teams not named the Yankees, Redsox and Rays. Moving to the N.L. will boost his stats considerably. The possibility now of Zack Greinke being hurt could boost Shaun up to the number two spot. I think Marcum becomes a huge option in mixed leagues.
*Marcum was removed from a spring training game on March 17th for shoulder tightness. Keep an eye for updates.
BRANDON MORROW: Wow...take the reigns off this guy and let him pitch. I want Morrow and I’m willing to take him early. He averaged 10.9 K’s per inning last year. I like him over any other Blue Jay pitcher.
JOHAN SANTANA: A forgotten man... He probably won't pitch until after the all star break so he will be a forgotten man. I'm taking him in the last three rounds and be willing to sit on him. *Keep an eye on the news daily with Santana and make sure he is actually playing this season.
CLAYTON KERSHAW: With some more run support Kershaw will turn into a 18+ game winner this year. All the pitching categories are there for the 23-year-old who is still improving. I love to watch him pitch.
JOHN AXFORD: Better starters make for more save chances. He averaged over a K an inning. He is not a household name on the draft board.
BRAD LIDGE: Lidge is a good guy who is easy to root for. If he can stay healthy he will push 40-45 saves. Phillies starting rotation projects as the best in both leagues.
CARLOS MARMOL: He single handedly won me a league last year with his high strikeout totals. Also had 38 saves. The Cubs have to get better, don’t they?
AROLDIS CHAPMAN: Pretty cool to have a guy on your roster throwing 100+ mph. He's fun to watch and I have to believe the Reds will find a way to use him more.
SHIN-SOO CHOO: This guy is crazy good in all five categories. He has two year averages of .300/20/85/80/20. The good thing is that he still goes much later in drafts than he should. He will be on my teams again this year.
DREW STUBBS: He puts up Choo-like numbers without the batting average. He also strikes out a ton but I love to watch him hit atop the Reds' lineup. His plate discipline will improve with experience which means a better BA .
JOSE TABATA: Get him late and watch him go. He has huge potential for steals and runs atop Pirates lineup. He also has a decent batting average. Manager Clint Hurdle’s style is to run run run.
GRADY SIZEMORE: I had Grady during his glory years and it seems I just can't let go. Tough call because of the micro fracture surgery but he is a gamble I'm willing to take.
MIKE STANTON: I want to be the guy in my league that has Stanton when he truly breaks out. 22 HR in just 359 AB in 2010 is just the beginning. He is only 21 but the signs are there for a star in the making. He will get plenty of chances to prove that in Florida.
DAVID WRIGHT: He is one of my home town favorites as I watched Wright play AA in Binghamton where he was great with the kids and fans. He has been on my fantasy teams ever since. He's a class act and a top-three fantasy third basemen.
Written by John Marino exclusively for www.thefantasyfix.com
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