I was mocked by a kind reader a while back about my Top 5: Guys I'd Wanna Be list. He made some mention about my sexual preference, and although I found it to be out of nowhere and said more about his sexual preference than mine. Well this article won't help me at all, but I don't care. It's baseball season, I just had my keeper league draft, and it's time to rundown some of my favorite fantasy baseball guys (both known and sleeper) for the year. Plus this article is sponsored by the Paul Rudd-Jason Segal movie, "I Love You, Man" in theaters now. Ok, maybe not. Onwards!
CATCHER: PABLO SANDOVAL
The key with a catcher is really playing time and runs scored. Both are the hardest things to fill because due to the physically taxing nature of the position, you'll only get a guy out there for 130-140 games max. In fantasy you need players to play. So with Sandoval qualifying for the C in Yahoo! fantasy leagues, people should take advantage. Sandoval will most likely play in the field most of the year, making up for those lost games. Plus with the Giants offense being so weak, Sandoval is easily one of the most productive players on that team, and someone has to drive in runs.
FIRST BASE: ALBERT PUJOLS
I'm certainly not breaking the mold here, but Pujols is just such a dominant force. He was nursing an injured elbow last year, in a miserable line-up. Now he's back, healthy, and has an improved line-up (whether that's him making guys like Ryan Ludwick better or not). He'll put up his typical MVP numbers as he continues to be one of the best players in baseball.
SECOND BASE: CHASE UTLEY
For the defending World Series Champs, Chase Utley. After an MVP type start, Chase was hindered by a bum hip, which he played through for the second half and the playoffs. He had surgery in the offseason, and rumor was he could be out up to a month into the season. Phils fans had no doubt though, Chase is a gamer. Wouldn't you know it, he's back already, diving after grounders and just cracked his first homer of the spring. He'll round into form nicely. Plus he also had the highlight of the Phils World Series celebration.
THIRD BASE: ALEX GORDON
Fantasy players have been waiting for a couple years now for Gordon to fulfill his hype coming out of the draft. Gordon, thought to be the next George Brett, has struggled in his first couple of years in the league. He still has trouble with lefties, and his average and power numbers are expected more out of Eric Bruntlett than the #2 pick of the MLB draft. The heart still lingers to see if this natural talent can finally pull through. Just the mere mention by one fantasy guru hinting at the possibility of a 40 HR 120 RBI still makes mouths water. He's starting to have a line-up built around him. A little protection and a little more experience might bring about the Gordon everyone has been waiting for.
SHORTSTOP: HANLEY RAMIREZ
Hanley Ramirez! #1 on the fantasy board and #1 in my heart. I've had this guy on my keeper team for 3 years now, and at 25 he is becoming an outright monster. Han-Ram went 30/30 last year with 125 runs scored, his RBI's suffered because he batted lead off, but he'll be third in the line-up now. His steals may drop, but if 30/30 is on the table, I have to think Hanley will go for it. Expect 100+RBI with 110 runs, and pretty much A-Rod numbers minus some RBI and plus steals. He'll only get better and I can't wait.
RIGHTFIELD: ANDRE ETHIER
Ethier came into his own last year when Manny Ramirez arrived. Whether it was the protection in the line-up or the mental boost of having one of the best right handed hitters ever on deck, Andre settled in and had a monster second half. He finished with 20 HR and 77 RBI, but his ceiling is much higher than that.
CENTERFIELD: JOSH HAMILTON
One of the more miraculous comebacks in sports history, the former and, well, current can't miss prospect has had a coming of age over the past two years. This year will be the culmination of that return from drug abuse that nearly wiped away his career and life. He is the most potent player in an absolutely stacked offensive line-up. If Hamilton's health can keep up then 40+HR and a possible triple crown run is in his future.
LEFTFIELD: JAY BRUCE
Every year there is a super prospect that comes to the bigs. There was Ryan Braun, Evan Longoria, Matt Wieters this year, and Jay Bruce last year. Bruce did have some struggles on his way to his 21 bombs. He was in and out of the line-up, being shuffled in the order, but now his position is set, and he'll have the people around him to allow him to produce. He'll hit for a higher average, and his power numbers will go up as he matures.
STARTING PITCHER: CLAYTON KERSHAW
Kershaw is another big upside guy. He had his first full year last year, and his stats are eerily similar to the break out pitcher of last year, Tim Lincecum. Kershaw has control issues that he needs to overcome, but with a better team behind him, he could put up slightly less dominant numbers than Lincecum did last year.
CLOSING PITCHER: JASON MOTTE
I didn't know who Jason Motte was before spring training, but in the hunt for the next Cardinals closer, Motte and his 100 mph fastball has rocketed him to the top of that list. With Chris Perez injured and Ryan Franklin useless, the job is probably going to be Motte's to start the year and his to lose as the season moves along. The Cards closers always puts up big numbers, and as long as La Russa sticks with Motte, it should be man-crush city.