We talked a lot about draft strategy and positional value this preseason and hopefully we all learned a bit and had a good time. But, underneath all of that, I had guys that I've been really excited about without overly announcing it. So, as we head into the season, these are guys who I think will be super special people in the 2010 fantasy baseball season. We'll revisit this at the end of the year for a good chuckle (hello future self, hope all is well).
The BattersJulio Borbon, OF, TEX - His name has been sprinkled throughout this site consistently. Projections systems like him, I like him, your mom probably likes him. He's just a likable guy. See my sleeper post for a full profile on him.
Chris Davis, 1B/3B; Elvis Andrus, SS; Nelson Cruz, OF, TEX - I like a lot of players on the Rangers this year. Chris Davis is a bounceback candidate to the max. Elvis Andrus is the SS you want on your roto team. Nelson Cruz is still being overlooked but is a masher. That whole lineup is filled with sleepers. I'd take that whole roster as my AL-Only team and be fine with it.
Carlos Gonzalez, OF, COL - He didn't get a full profile but he probably should have. Big things are in store for this young man. He's no longer a highly regarded prospect; he's a real baseball player now. Next year, he'll be a top-tier OF so invest in him now while the price tag is low.
Chris Iannetta, C, COL - The news that Iannetta is sharing time with Miguel Olivio only makes me like him more. The thing with catchers is that they're all going to hurt you in the standings of roto leagues except for McCann and Mauer. Even though I think Iannetta will be one of the better catchers this year, he'll still represent negative value over an average fantasy starter when all is said and done. So, with him getting less at-bats, that lessens the damage. So, if I'm drafting a catcher later in the draft, I'm drafting this guy. A full profile is right here.Garrett Jones, 1B, PIT - He's also been profiled. I also like that he's a man with a first name that could be a last name.
Dustin Pedroia, 2B, BOS - Second base is deeeeeep but I do like Pedroia this season if you're going to draft a 2B early on. He's ignored by many but provides your team with consistently solid stats. Unfortunately, he went too early for me in all drafts but I do like him.Placido Polanco, 2B/3B, PHI - As far as Middle Infielders go or backup 2B, I like Polanco. Using him at 3B isn't quite as fun but he's a steady producer in an even better lineup than in the past.
Nick Swisher/Nick Johnson, NYY - These are the forgotten Yankees who will flat-out produce for you. If you're in an OBP league, then you must snatch up these sneaky sources of production.
David Ortiz, DH, BOS - Nobody wants to like David Ortiz this year but I certainly do. He's not as old as it seems he is. His career is still on a decline but it's very plausible that he'll still hit .260 with 30 HRs and 100 RBIs. At the point where he's being drafted, I'm investing in him in many leagues.
B.J. Upton, OF, TB - You hear about this young Upton kid who went 20/20 in his first full major leagues season while batting exactly .300? And, I'm not talking about Justin. If you look at their first seasons though, they're eerily similar. Yet, after some up-and-down years, people are dissing B.J. I still think he has just as much promise than Justin and he's being drafted much later. I'm investing on many teams.
The PitchersOctavio Dotel, RP, PIT - If you're taking a dive into the bottom tier of closers, there's few better options than Dotel. The dude is in his late 30's but he has had a K/9 rate above 10 every year of his career. Sure, he'll walk a few guys too but no worries. Closers on bad teams still get saves too and why not get a closer who has the potential to get you over 80 strikeouts too?
Tim Hudson, SP, ATL - I think people forget how good he used to be. Either that or they don't trust his health. Well, this isn't a guy who is just starting to get healthy, he got healthy last year and dominated when he returned. And, now we're getting ready for a full year of domination. The Chris Carpenter of 2010, in other words.
Hiroki Kuroda, SP, LA - He was named the fourth starter on the Dodgers this year but probably deserved better. Regardless, for fantasy purposes, he excels in all categories except strikeouts. Yet, because of his phenomenally low walk rate, he still has one of the best K/BB rates in the league.
Carl Pavano/Kevin Slowey/Scott Baker, MIN - Earlier I mentioned that I'd like to take the Rangers entire lineup for an AL-Only team. Well, I'd probably take the entire Twins pitching staff for my starters. Pavano is going to sneak up on people this year. He's an afterthought in drafts but definitely worth having on your bench. Slowey and Baker are two great pitchers to have in the middle of your pitching staff. They're not fantasy aces but they're closer to it than people think.
Chad Qualls, RP, ARI - If you're taking a dive into the middle tier of closers then this is the guy I like. People say he had an off year last year, which is true to an extent, but his xFIP was the lowest of career at 2.86 which indicates he got somewhat unlucky. He's a nice value option at closer.
James Shields, SP, TB - I've talked about him on a few places on this site. I like his ability to work deep into games for point-based or quality start leagues. I like his K/BB rate on top of that. He's often overlooked and always productive.
The InjuredCarlos Beltran/Ted Lilly - There's always that long fall in drafts when guys open the year on the DL. Neither of these guys were ones I particularly coveted until their draft stock fell to bargain bin prices. I drafted Beltran as a backup OF in one league where he fell to extreme depths and Lilly is filling a bench spot on a couple teams of mine as well. Wait it out and you should get solid production from both of them for very little cost.