This year's consensus number one fantasy pick, Albert Pujols
This year, like every other, will provide us with season-ruining busts and the championship making prospects. To help you out, the following are the top five players you should, and still can target to ensure success in your fantasy league. For a more complete ranking of fantasy players go to Jackman Sports' Rankings found here. Note: the following rankings and stats are based off of Yahoo! Fantasy Sports Leagues.
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Cincinnati Red's Drew Stubbs
Stubbs is not a household name by any means. Nor is he even considered a top-three player on his team. But he certainly should be. While Joey Votto continues to rake like he is playing at the double-A level, Jay Bruce has struggled mightily thus far and Brandon Phillips is reaping the benefits of Votto (14 runs scored), the Reds need someone to produce big numbers aside from their MVP.
In comes Drew Stubbs, the outfielder with 210 games under his belt and a 20 homer-30 steal season to his credit. The knock on him last year was his average: a meager .255, but this is a guy with 47 extra base hits and 30 stolen bases, a .250 average should not come close to scaring you away from that kind of production. He is off to another great start this year with four home runs and five stolen bases in only 18 games. Try and piece together a trade for this guy now before he becomes elite.
Former Dodger, Current Yankee Russel Martin
He fell off the map to the point where the Dodgers decided to go with Rod Barajas over him...Rod Barajas...Ouch. But he is back to producing in his new pinstripes, benefiting from not being the centerpiece of the team. Martin has always had the very unique ability to post up beautiful numbers in every category, which is extremely hard to find in a catcher nowadays. In his best season with Los Angeles he posted 19 homers and 21 stolen bases to go along with a nice .293 average.
Now some critics will point out that Martin has been hitting in the nine slot for Joe Girardi, and that is true. But he has started all but one game and his hitting in the Yankees lineup. Everyone can get some in the Yankees lineup! The time has passed to pick up Martin (he is now 84 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues) but I am guessing that the owner that picked him up probably has two catchers at this point. My advice, go get Martin.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim's Howie Kendrick
People have been waiting for Howie Kendrick to explode on to the scene for the last two years. Shuttle to tower...we have lift off. Kendrick's ability to drive the ball with astonishing consistence is finally turning into home runs and big numbers in the production department. He already has six home runs to go along with nine runs batted in and 12 runs scored.
In addition, second base is severely lacking position when it comes to talent. After Cano, Kinsler, Uggla, Pedroia, and the second tier of Brandon Phillips and Rickie Weeks, there is a drastic drop in productive players. Well, Kendrick is your man. I am going to predict that the proud owner of Kendrick is going to freak at the first sign of a decline and try to sell. At that point, buy. He is a career .290 hitter and generally chips in 10-15 stolen bases so his floor is solid, but his ceiling is sky high.
Pittsburgh Pirates Jose Tabata
Jose Tabata's average draft position is 186. If that isn't screaming steal, I would advise you to stop reading and go to a hearing doctor. Tabata has produced at a blistering rate since being called up to the Majors last year. He hit .299 last year with no significant decline this season and has gone from a .400 slug to .470 this year.
His elite speed is unquestionable and allows him to wreak havoc on the base paths. Now that the Pirate's lineup is somewhat formidable, at least from 1-5, Tabata will have large sums of opportunities to score in front of fellow prospects Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez. Tabata looks to put up big numbers in the stolen base and run departments so you should be looking to add him to your outfield ASAP.
Chicago Cubs Starlin Castro
They call someone a phenom when they hit .300 in their rookie season as a 20-year-old. So what do they call a player that hits .400 the next year? Starlin Castro. He is incredibly talented and the interesting thing about Castro is that he hasn't even come close to taping into his power supply. He is an elite shortstop right now.
Derek Jeter, Jimmy Rollins and Jose Reyes all cannot be trusted so if you are stuck with one of them or someone worse, go get Castro, even if you have to pay a tall price. His upside in the summer winds at Wrigley are crazy. He is going to be hitting any where from leadoff to the three spot in the order this season under new manager Mike Quade. Like Kendrick, his floor is very solid and his ceiling is a potential savior for a smart fantasy owner. Question is, are you that owner...let's make that a yes.