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With the end of the 2009 season, it is never too early to look ahead to 2010. To me, baseball season never ends and I am already thinking about my strategy for next season (most notably because I finished 9th in one league). Believe it or not, before the year is out, some fantasy guru’s will have their projections and rankings out. While I usually wait until the start of the new year to start cranking out numbers, I still love the desire that people have for this game.
I did a similar mock-up of the 2009 draft at the end of last year, and people seemed to like it (nobody told me they hated it). So, why not bring it back? I won’t be doing a FULL mock draft fore next season because seriously, that’s just not practical. However, I will give my opinion on what the first round should look like.
It’s never easy predicting these things, especially when players get injured or switch teams in the offseason. But hey, this is all in the name of fun. It is a game after all.
Is there even any doubt? Once again finishing as the #1 player in Yahoo! Fantasy, Albert Pujols is the force to be reckoned with in fantasy baseball. He led the majors with 47 home runs and was second in the league with 135 RBI. Pujols now has at least 30 home runs in every season of his career with five of those seasons eclipsing 40 home runs. With 124 runs scored, he led the majors and he tied a career-high with 16 stolen bases.
What is the best thing about all of these numbers? With the exception of walks (115), none of the numbers he put up were career-highs. That’s right, the average (.327), home runs, RBI, doubles, runs scored, OBP, and SLG, were not the best of his career. Yet, he was still the most dominating player in this game by far. Take him #1 next season, and you never have to worry about him.
Ever since his minor league days here in Boston, I have loved Hanley. My heart shattered into pieces when he was traded to Florida. So I have had to watch from afar as my boy grew up.
Hanley has just won his first batting title after hitting a career-high .342. This was the first season where he played primarily out of the #3 spot and he delivered with a career-high in RBI with 106. Flashing power and speed, Hanley turned in 24 home runs and 27 stolen bases. In addition, he recorded over 100 runs scored for the fourth straight season.
There is no reason to think that he won’t be the#3 hitter next season, and seeing as SS is one of the most shallow positions in this game, it can be argued that Hanley should be taken #1.
Even after injuries and steroid controversies, A-Rod still managed to put together another 30 home run and 100 RBI season in just 124 games. What can I say about the guy that hasn’t already been said? Assuming he won’t have surgery in the offseason for anything and plays a full season, A-Rod will be going for another 40 homers and 20 stolen bases.
A-Rod may have fallen in ’09 drafts because of hip surgery, but make no mistake about it, he is a top-3 pick in 2010 once again.
After his third straight 30+ home run season, it is time to raise his value. Braun capped off the 2009 season with his first 200-hit season and a .320 average with 32 home runs and 114 RBI. Thanks to his buddy Prince Fielder behind him, Braun reached a career-high in runs scored with 113. The 20 stolen bases may seem surprising for a power hitter, but Braun had swiped at least 14 bags in each of his two previous years.
At this point, after showing this much consistency, it is time to bet on .300/30/100/15 from Braun next season. Another stat to look at are his increasing walk totals (29, 42, 57). This just means he is becoming a more patient hitter, and that just makes everything good about Braun even better.
Personal, off-field troubles aside, Cabrera turned in another 30-100 season in 2009. He now has at least 30 home runs in five of the last six seasons and six straight 100+ RBI seasons. M-Cab is till one of the best pure hitters in baseball with at least a .320 batting average in five of the last six years.
He is one of the few N.L. players whose move to the American League didn’t zap his power numbers. Playing for the Tigers will ensure plenty of RBI chances next season. M-Cab is as consistent as they come in this game, don’t let him drop out of the first six picks.
It is really, really hard for me to endorse David Wright here. But I can’t help myself. I don’t know where his home run power went this season, but I just want to call a mulligan on this year.
It is strange though, even without his power, Wright still put up typical numbers. He hit .307 with 39 doubles and 27 stolen bases. Wright even had the same great eye at the plate with a .390 OBP. A concussion sidelined him for a little bit and he only played in 144 games. Everything was the same for Wright except for home runs and RBI, so he obviously still has the skills.
Due to the countless number of injuries to the Mets’ offense, Wright found himself as the only big name on offense who started for the full season. Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and Carlos Delgado all missed significant time and that left Wright to fend for himself in the lineup. Opposing pitchers just pitched around him and never gave him anything to hit. It also could have been the slightly larger dimensions of Citi Field (only deeper on the right side).
Whatever the reason, I want to believe that when New York’s offense is all back and healthy, and with one full season to adjust to the new ballpark, David Wright will regain his power stroke.
There is no doubt about it. If you want the best home run and RBI man in baseball, then Howard is the man. This past season marked Howard’s fourth straight season with at least 45+ home runs and 135+ RBI. He also bounced back with a .279 batting average after hitting just .251 in 2008. This season marked a career-high in doubles as he hit 37 and he tied a career-high with 105 runs scored.
The bounce-back in batting average is very encouraging. It just means he is making more contact. The 37 doubles also points to Howard becoming an even better all-around hitter. You always draft for the huge amount of power and RBI, but now it seems as if he can push his yearly average up to around .280.
Don’t forget though, even if he starts off sluggish (usually does), remember that Howard is a career .303/.407/.633 player after the break.
Another Met who missed the season with an injury, Reyes only played in 36 games until a calf injury landed him on the DL. During a rehab assignment, Reyes snapped a tendon in his knee that cost him another 4-6 weeks. Finally, in August, Reyes tore his hamstring, officially ending any hope of playing this season.
Assuming he makes a full recovery, we can expect more of the same from Reyes, which is 190 hits, 30 doubles, 10 triples, and 15 home runs. Batting leadoff for the (hopefully healthy) Mets will get you another 100+ runs scored and of course, 50 stolen bases.
Reyes is a huge asset in larger format leagues due to his all-around contributions. Playing the valuable SS position boosts his ranking. I can’t rank him as high as I normally would due to the numerous injuries he is recovering from, but he is still definitely a first rounder.
After hitting 34 home runs last season after a 50-home run season in ’07, Fielder bounced back with 47 longballs in 2009. The 25-year-old slugger reached career-highs in hits, RBI (141-tied 1st in majors), walks, and OBP.
The power will always be there and it is crazy not to think that Fielder won’t make another bid for 40 homers. Expect a lot of RBI because, the Brewers’ offense will remain relatively unchanged. The .299 average won’t drop too much and Fielder is becoming a more selective hitter. All signs point to another great season in 2010.
When it comes to 2B, there is no other man like him. Although Utley was not the #1 2B in fantasy this season (that goes to Aaron Hill), Utley is still the most consistent one in the game.
The Phillies 2B just turned in his third 30-home run season in the past four years and drove in 93 runs. The .282 average was the lowest he has achieved since 2004 when he hit .266, but that really isn’t that bad. Plus, Utley made up for his (very small) shortcomings with a career-high 23 stolen bases. To round out his season, Utley scored 112 runs and even reached a new personal high in walks with 88.
A lot of second baseman will have great years here and there, but Utley is the only one that sticks around. He is a guarantee for the 30 home runs and close to 100 RBI. Now that he is stealing bases more, you can reasonably expect around 15 swipes in addition to his power.
Johan Santana’s reign as best starting pitcher/only starting pitcher to go in round one is over. If you take a pitcher within the first 12 picks, it better be Tiny Tim.
Lincecum improved almost all of his numbers this season with a 15-7 record, 2.48 ERA, and 1.05 WHIP. He would have had more wins, but the Giants were known more for their pitching and not their run support. Lincecum turned in his second straight season of 260+ strikeouts and he allowed just 10 home runs. The four complete games and two shutouts were both personal highs.
It is very hard to find a pitcher who can give you 15 wins, 260 K’s, and an ERA under 3.00, but Lincecum is the real deal. Everyone wondered whether or not he would be able to repeat his amazing ’08 campaign, and now there is no doubt left in our minds.
Oh, a controversial pick at #12. I have elaborated on Mauer’s first round credentials, but I don’t mind endorsing him once more.
Joe Mauer is the King of the Catchers. Nobody else comes close. Mauer has just wrapped up 2009 with his third batting title of the past four seasons, hitting a robust .365. In addition, Mauer led the league in OBP and SLG. The 2009 season saw Mauer’s first foray into power-hitting territory as he launched a career-high 28 home runs and 96 RBI. What makes his numbers all the more impressive is the fact that he missed all of April.
While other catchers may hit 20 home runs, they won’t be able to duplicate Mauer’s batting average. He is on a planet of his own at the position. Catchers usually fall to at least round three of drafts, but if you want the absolute best, then you better act quick on Mauer. He is always in contention for the batting title and now he has added home run power to his arsenal.