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Draft day approaches and you think you have everything planned out. But let’s face it, the only round you have a definitive plan for is round one. Every round after that is made on the fly or every decision is made out of pure panic. So you may be asking yourself:
“Pete, you’re a reliable source of information in the field of fantasy baseball, and if I may add, you are also very handsome. However, I was just wondering, who were you targeting on your draft day?”
That is an excellent question that I am more than happy to field. Now of course, this list is excluding players like Alex Rodriguez because he is obviously targeted by everyone. No, this list I have compiled tells us about the players who may undervalued, overlooked, forgotten about, or anything else you may think of. Without further delay, here are the players I targeted.
Corey Hart (OF), Milwaukee Brewers: He might not wear his sunglasses at night, but he sure can hit. Hitting 24 home runs and stealing 23 bases at the ripe age of 25 just means that his best days are yet to come. In that Brewers offense with Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun protecting him, expect plenty of RBI opportunities. He is a potential 30/30 candidate one day, but not just yet.
Pete’s Prediction: 90 R, .301 AVG, 26 HR, 87 RBI, 29 SB
Adam Dunn (OF), Cincinnati Reds: One word comes to mind: consistency. You know what you are getting each year from Dunn. The 40 homers, 100 RBI, 100 BB, 100 R, they all come together. The one complaint you may have is the average. Well fine, be picky. As long as you have hitters that can reach the .300 mark to balance it out, then you will be fine. Any other reasons to make Adam Dunn a priority? Two words: contract year. Will Dunn have a better than normal year due to his last year on his contract? Absolutely yes.
Pete’s Prediction: 110 R, .273 AVG, 44 HR, 112 RBI, 7 SB
Alex Rios (OF), Toronto Blue Jays: As I mentioned before in my AL East Preview of the Blue Jays, I believe that 2008 is THE year for Rios. His numbers have gradually rising from year to year and now he is turning the magic age of 27. If you want an all around contributor, then look no further. 20/20 is a lock.
Pete’s Prediction: 112 R, .303 AVG, 29 HR, 97 RBI, 20 SB
Mark Teixeira (1B), Atlanta Braves: Depending on your draft position, TEX MEX may be a stretch to get. Tex is coming into 2008 on a contract year (my favorite). Moving to Atlanta’s Turner Field did not zap his power at all as seen by his 17 HR and 56 RBI after he was traded to the Braves. Tex has raw power and is playing for free agency. 40+ homers is a guarantee, the only question is if he can make a run at 50.
Pete’s Prediction: 101 R, .292 AVG, 46 HR, 130 RBI, 2 SB
Nick Swisher (OF, 1B), Chicago White Sox: Why I love Nick Swisher, let me count the ways; power, on base, RBI. Swisher had an off year in 2007 by posting just 22 HR and 78 RBI. Your average will take a hit, but just like Adam Dunn, just draft some .300 players to even your team out. Swisher moves from Oakland, a poor hitters park to Chicago, a great hitters park. Bank on 30 homers, and when it comes to the SportsofBoston League, the OBP is going to near .390-.400.
Pete’s Prediction: 98 R, .266 AVG, 33 HR, 99 RBI, 1 SB
Francisco Liriano (SP), Minnesota Twins: I was hoping he would fall a bit more under the radar, but as soon as spring training began, the cat was out of the bag. Liriano’s 2006 season was cut short due to Tommy John surgery and it kept him our for all of the 2007 season. Now he is back to help all fantasy managers. He will begin the year in the minors just to be on the safe side, but when he return I am am confident he can become what he was two years ago. The numbers won’t be exactly the same because of the obvious recovery from surgery. He is still better than a lot of other options. Don’t be afraid to go after him.
Pete’s Prediction: 13 W, 3.01 ERA, 160K
Pat Burrell (OF), Philadelphia Phillies: I targeted Burrell in every league I am in and I was successful in my acquisitions. Complain about the average all you want, it is serviceable. So get over it. Burrell has power and the ability to get on base. I drafted for his 30+ home runs and 100 BB. He hits behind Utley and Howard, so the RBI’s will be plentiful. Also, it is his contract year. Did I mention I love players on contract years? This is an inside joke to the people at SportsofBoston: B. Walk!!!
Pete’s Prediction: 80 R, .280 AVG, 32 HR, 102 RBI, 0 SB
Geovany Soto (C), Chicago Cubs: Taking a chance on rookies is dangerous. However, I am notorious for taking these kinds of risks (Ryan Zimmerman in 2006 anybody?). Soto made a splash in 18 games last season by hitting 3 home runs while batting .389. I know, I know, it was very limited time. Well in 110 games in AAA in 2007, Soto batted .353 with 26 HR and 109 RBI. Still not convinced? He was also named the Pacific Coast League MVP. Say what you want, but Soto is major league ready.
Pete’s Prediction: 65 R, .290 AVG, 19 HR, 71 RBI, 0 SB
Josh Hamilton (OF), Texas Rangers: If you didn’t draft him, trade for him, NOW! In only 90 games last season, Hamilton had 19 home runs while hitting .292. Hamilton has power and he is playing his home games in Texas. He is also hitting third in the Rangers line up. How many more factors have to go his way before you are convinced? This past spring he hit .435 and had 19 RBI. If you aren’t sure now, then you never will be.
Pete’s Prediction: 94 R, .291 AVG, 33 HR, 101 RBI, 4 SB
Evan Longoria (3B), Tampa Bay Rays: Like I said before, I loooooooooove rookies. Longoria was sent to AAA to start the season, but that won’t last long. Expect him in the majors by mid-May. When he does get here, you can expect production. Between AA and AAA last season, Longoria had 26 home runs and 95 RBI. Depending on where he will be placed in the Rays line up, you can expect a solid contribution from this rising star.
Pete’s Prediction: 70 R, .270 AVG, 18 HR, 60 RBI, 4 SB
Jack Cust (OF), Oakland Athletics: Hey, stop booing me! No, I’m not crazy or have a mental condition, I did say Jack Cust. When it was announced last season that Jack Cust was going to be an everyday player for the A’s, I didn’t really know who he was. Then I heard that all he did was hit home runs and walk. So I was sold. Cust is a journeyman who has been all over the majors. What can he do for you? Well, he gets on base a lot and has power. In 2007, he had 26 HR and 82 RBI in 124 games. The power is real and the walks are plentiful.
Pete’s Prediction: 60 R, .250 AVG, 31 HR, 89 RBI, 0 SB (and just for fun, 130 BB)
Rick Ankiel (OF), St. Louis Cardinals: Wasn’t his feel good story last season so touching? Well, too bad. Reports of use of illegal substances surfaced and everyone turned on him. Before the truth was revealed, Ankiel 11 home runs and 39 RBI in 47 games. He batted 2nd in the order and saw good pitches hitting in front of Albert Pujols. He is resuming his #2 spot and will continue to see pitches to hit. His home run potential is good, with or without performance enhancers. He can be the steal of any draft.
Pete’s Prediction: 87 R, .276 AVG, 29 HR, 84 RBI, 0 SB
Yes of course there were players that I did not mention. These are players I specifically searched for and made it a point to get. Is there anybody you speciically had eyes for? Then sound off and let your voice be heard. Maybe there is a diamond in the rough that I may have missed.