2012 Fantasy Baseball Rankings
Draft Day Companion
Who is going to come out of no-where and be this year's 2010 version of Jose Bautista. Which player is going to pull a Carl Crawford? At the end of the day its a probability game, a celebrity stock market, but when you're at your wits end I'm here to provide a friendly ranking system to break the tie breaker in your head. Enjoy!
If you don't get one of the top first basemen, which is hard because there are about nine top-tier guys, you're screwed. Everybody past the top nine has concerns of some kind, from Ryan Howard's ACL to the inconsistency of Adam Lind and Ike Davis. Lance Berkman is old, Gaby Sanchez might reach his potential, Carlos Pena needs to stop swinging and missing and Justin Morneau needs to become John Olerud. There are other issues too, like post-hype prospects Justin Smoak and Brandon Belt, the over-the-hill group of Derrek Lee, Todd Helton and Carlos Lee and injury-riddled Adam LaRoche and Kendrys Morales. That said, just make sure you have one of the top nine and you don't have to worry about anything.
Shortstop is very shallow. Tulo is only sure thing. Then pick between Hanley and Reyes for high risk / high reward. Starlin Castro might be better than both of them. Asdrubal was great last year, can't bank on that this year. Andrus has a high ceiling and has more potential for RBI and HR than people think.
Catcher is a lot deeper than in the past few years. I think Wieters ends up as the best hitting catcher by the end of the year. Napoli, Santana and McCann are also top candidates. There is depth too. The Monteros (Miguel and Jesus), J.P. Arencibia, Yadier Molina and Russell Martin can all be capable starters.
NOTE: 'Sleepers', this doesn’t include every off-the-radar player or prospect imaginable. Obviously, there are going to be more examples of last year’s Asdrubal Cabrera in terms of bums who suddenly turn it on. But these are my picks for guys who can put up numbers significantly higher than where they are drafted and provide great value.
‘Don’t draft’ players: These go along the same lines as sleepers, in the opposite direction. I’ve sorted the players into this category who I think are going to be busts. The criteria is also that they are highly-enough touted that there is guaranteed to be at least one moron or auto-draft team in your draft who will draft them for market value they won’t come close to matching. Obviously, if Joe Mauer is available in the 15th round, draft him. But most semi-respectable leagues will allow these players to fall, and you should do the same.
- Mike Napoli: Best hitting catcher, by far. Will also have 1B eligibility.
- Carlos Santana: Only hit .239 last season, but he should bounce back and put up big numbers.
- Matt Wieters: Is already the best defensive catcher in the league, and now can focus on improving his offensive game.
- Brian McCann: Ranked No. 1 by one magazine and No. 8 by another, and everything in between. He's an old 28, but he's been consistent. Other point is that he'll be heavily relied upon for production in a weak Braves lineup.
- Alex Avila: Will benefit from the injury to Victor Martinez, as well as hitting in a lineup with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Proved to be more than capable of being an offensive threat last year, and that growth continues this year
- Miguel Montero: One of many young and talented players in a D-backs lineup, Montero burst onto the scene last year. There’s no reason that doesn’t continue.
- J.P. Arencibia: Keep an eye on Travis D’Arnaud, a studly prospect who could take playing time away from Arencibia. But for now, this is Arencibia’s job and he’s still the guy who hit 23 HRs and had 78 RBIs last year.
- Jesus Montero: Traded to Seattle, where he'll suffer from a terrible hitters park for 81 games of the year. But he's going to be a beast, and will be eligible at catcher after about 2-3 weeks of the season.
- Yadier Molina: Signed a huge contract extension, but don’t be fooled – the primary reason for that is Molina’s defense. He’s a somewhat average catcher offensively.
- Russell Martin: Hard to imagine a career-revival was needed for a guy who was only 27, but Martin needed and got a fresh start in New York. After being hurt in 2010, he put up .237/18/65 last season. Without Posada and Jesus Montero, Martin has no threat for playing time other than staying healthy.
- Geovany Soto
- WIlson Ramos: Sleeper.
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Devin Mesoraco: Sleeper.
- Ryan Doumit
Devin Mesoraco, Reds: The best catching prospect in the game, he should be the Reds' opening-day starter. From there, who knows how good he can be.
Wilson Ramos, Nats: He's now known more for being kidnapped for a few days in Venezuela, but he can rake. Mentored by Ivan Rodriguez for the last few years, he's 24 and ready to lead the upstart Nats.
Victor Martinez: Maybe next year. He tore his ACL and will likely miss the season, with the only possibility being a possible September return.
Buster Posey: Just too much risk coming off the broken leg from last year. There were already questions about his durability before that injury, questions that he would be moved to first base, and Scott Cousins accelerated that timetable.
Joe Mauer: The ultimate high risk / high reward player. He could hit anywhere between .230 and .330 and wouldn't surprise anybody.
- Miguel Cabrera: Triple crown potential, the Tigers have just acquired Prince Fielder which should bolster Cabrera's numbers and, best of all, with the acquisition of Fielder Caberera gains 3rd base eligibility; in my eyes putting Cabrera's value through the roof. Cabrera, not Pujols, is the best hitter in the league when he isn't drinking himself into oblivion. Draft him first, if possible. With Fielder in that lineup, he's going to put up monster numbers.
- Joey Votto: A down-year for the 2010 NL MVP was a .309/29/103 season. I'll take my chances that Votto rebounds and puts up a performance closer to his MVP season.)
- Albert Pujols: His walk rate declined, average declined and he's 32. Don't get me wrong, he's going to thrive with the Angels. Just don't expect the numbers he's put up over the past decade.
- Adrian Gonzalez: Faded a bit down the stretch last season, but that's not a concern because his whole team did. Chances are, that collapse doesn't happen this year, with Gonzalez batting in the middle of another loaded lineup.
- Prince Fielder: His move from a hitter's park to a pitcher's park is the only reason Fielder is fifth. It'll be interesting to see how he adjusts to having Miguel Cabrera in front of him instead of Ryan Bruan.
- Mark Teixeira: He'll kill your average, something that has been a trend since he came to NY. But where he helps is 100+ runs, 30+ HRs and 100+ RBIs. Exactly what you want from the position, without having to draft him as high as the five above him.
- Eric Hosmer: Here's your bold prediction for the season: Hosmer becomes the best first baseman other than Cabrera by the end of 2012. He's that good.
- Freddie Freeman: Last year NL 'Rookie of the Year' runner up, he's somewhat of a poor man's Hosmer, but Freeman did enough to establish himself last season. The important thing to remember is that he's 22. There will be more growing pains, but this is a guy who should be in the top-5 at this position in the coming years.
- Paul Konerko: Mr. Steady on the North side of Chicago, Konerko keeps producing into his mid-30's. Now 36, he still hit .300 with 31 HRs and 105 RBIs last year. If you miss out on the eight guys above him, he's not a bad mid-round value pick.
- Gaby Sanchez: I might be in the minority here, but I think Sanchez clicks in 2012. He's put up back-to-back 19 HR seasons, and the tendency is to think at 28, that's the type of player he is. But in Ozzie I believe, especially with Hispanic players.
- Ike Davis: Injuries cost Davis a possible breakout season last year, and made Mets fans miserable again. But that doesn't mean at 25 years old he can't take last year as a medical redshirt and bust out in 2012.
- Lance Berkman: He's 36 but had a rejuvenation last year. And that was while playing left field. With a move to first base, he'll have less wear and tear from defense, which will hopefully lead to more offensive production.
- Brandon Belt: Sleeper
- Paul Goldschmidt: Sleeper
- Carlos Pena: You know the drill: Expect 30 HRs, close to 100 RBIs, good run production and a .210 average that will give you headaches.
- Michael Cuddyer: Has 1st/OF eligibility and is about to find himself in a very hitter friendly ball park at Coors Field.
- Adam Dunn a.k.a 'Big Donkey': At 6'6, 300 lbs, and 32 years of age this big man might not be built for the long haul. Once one of the most prolific power hitters in all of baseball, he recorded a meager 11 home runs last year with a batting average of .159. Of course, if he does bounce back he could be one of the biggest draft-day steals; but beware.
- Anthony Rizzo: Just remember the name.
- Adam Lind
- Justin Morneau: Sleeper
Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs: He could be a 35-40 HR guy eventually, but probably not this year. More like a development year, but with a lot of upside for a very underrated team.
Brandon Belt, Giants: For all that is good and holy in baseball, pray that the menace that is Brian Sabean didn't ruin this uber-talented prospect last season. He was shipped back and forth between SF and triple-A, moved throughout the lineup and moved between LF and first. He can be good, just depends on mental fortitude.
Justin Morneau, Twins: Not as much of a sleeper pick as he is a "Don't forget about this guy, he won the AL MVP six years ago." The concussion of 2010 is still probably a factor, but if you're looking for extra ceiling in the mid-late rounds, this is your guy.
Ryan Howard: By far the most difficult player to gauge at this position, perhaps in baseball. He's supposed to return from a torn ACL in May, who knows if that happens early or late. His numbers were slightly slipping before the injury also.
The Lees (Derrek and Carlos, FA and Astros, respectively): They're both old, the one with a team is fat. Derrek has a near-empty tank, Carlos might be worth a late-round gamble.
Kendrys Morales: Hasn't played in a year and a half. But put up 34 HRs and 104 RBIs in 2009, so take a chance if you feel lucky.
Mark Trumbo: He had a superb rookie campaign, but with the Angel's recently acquiring Pujols we might see the AL 'Rookie of the Year' runner up and Morales battling for playing time. They are both great players, but there is some risk inherent to drafting players in situations like this.
Todd Helton: This ain't 2002. He's 38, declining, been hurt in each of the past 2 seasons. Avoid at all costs.
- Robinson Cano: Meet the 2012 AL MVP, especially if the rumored move to the third spot in the lineup actually takes form. It would be realistic to expect 130 RBIs.
- Dustin Pedroia: Boston is a team to look out for after last season's collapse. They'll want to win, and by a lot. Pedroia is the heart and soul of the team. Do the math, and you'll have one pissed off 5-foot-7 Laser Show who puts up huge numbers.
- Ian Kinsler: For the first time in three years, we saw what Kinsler could do when healthy. 32 HRs, 30 steals and 121 runs. But there's the issue of a .255 average. Don't expect that number to climb above .300.
- Rickie Weeks: If healthy, Weeks plays at an elite level; but that's a big IF.
- Dan Uggla: Whether you draft Uggla is completely dependent on the version you believe in from last year. He was hitting .170 before a 33-game hit streak gave him .233/36/82 numbers. I'm not saying he piles up the double-digit hit streaks, but I do think he repeats the power numbers and hits for a more consistent average.
- Ben Zobrist
- Chase Utley: He's very close to being on the 'Don't Draft' part of this position. Yes, he was very good. But in the past two years, he's combined for 27 HRs and 109 RBIs because of injuries. And in the past five seasons, his average has gone from .332 - .292 - .282 - .275 - .259. 'Nuff said.
- Howard Kendrick: Don't hate him because the projections of him winning batting titles were off when he was a prospect. He'll hit for a consistent average, have a little pop with 10-15 HRs and swipe double-digit bases.
- Jemile Weeks: The younger brother of my man in the number four spot, Rickie, Jemile is a solid young player. He is never going to post-overwhelming numbers, but could be a solid average/steals play at a rather weak position. Nice value pick if he's around in the late rounds, and his value would rise if Oakland's lineup wasn't so putrid.
- Dustin Ackley: Jemile Weeks and Ackley might as well be tied here at 9. Both hit at the top of horrible lineups, but still will be able to score enough runs and steal enough bases to be relevant in the speed categories. Ackley at least will have Ichiro hitting behind him.
- Brandon Phillips: You can take a chance on 'Dat Dude' if you want, but he was inches away from making the 'Don't draft' category. Second basemen don't get better in their 30's, and Phillips is 31.
- Neil Walker: Here's your cheap, last-ditch effort for a guy who could actually produce for you. He's only 26 and hit 12 HRs in each of the past two seasons.
- Danny Espinosa: Very nice rookie campaign last year. Good pop for a second basemen.
- Jason Kipnis: Sleeper
- Aaron Hill: Sleeper.
- Kelly Johnson
- Gordon Beckham: Sleeper
- Brian Roberts: Caveat emptor
- Omar Infante
- Johnny Giavotella
Jason Kipnis, Indians: In a small-sample 136 ABs last season, hit 7 HRs and stole 5 bases. With a full season, easy to see him approaching 20 / 20 numbers and moving into a Kinsler-type mold.
Gordon Beckham: Another guy who is more of the "Don't forget about me" category. For how abrasive Ozzie could be, you can't underestimate how different White Sox players will be, and there is not a player on that team who is a better example of falling under that category than Beckham.
Aaron Hill: I'm thinking the move from Toronto to his new home with the D-backs will be good for him and for fantasy ownners; his once very legitimate power shouldn't be forgotten.
Brian Roberts (see concussion, soft head, can't stay healthy): Had 393 ABs combined in the last two years. He will never be the same player he once was, and will be a small shadow of the 40-steal player he was.
- Adrian Beltre: The 5 years in Seattle are officially a fluke. The real Beltre is the one who hit 48 HRs in his last year with the Dodgers, put up huge numbers in Fenway and then had a great year in Arlington last year. Draft him and watch the HRs/RBIs/AVG/runs pile up.
- Evan Longoria: Poised for a big year; don't hesitate.
- Ryan Zimmerman: Big contract extension, yes he's overpaid, but don't hate the guy in fantasy for stupid front-office moves. A full season, if healthy, could reward owners with big numbers in HRs, RBIs and runs.
- Alex Rodriguez: Yes, I realize he's 36. Yes, I realize he's struggled with injuries in recent years. But there's this: A-Rod traveled to Germany for treatment, which was suggested by Kobe Bryant. By the way, Kobe leads the NBA with 28.4 points per game this year. I'm thinking since treatment worked, the same will ring true for A-Rod.
- Brett Lawrie: This Jay is super-hyped up, might just be the best thing since canned bread.
- Pablo Sandoval: Kung-Fu Panda is arguably the best hitter this position has to offers, boasting a position high .315 batting average last season. He has the power to back this ranking too.
- David Wright
- Aramis Ramirez: The move from Chicago to Milwaukee will give Ramirez a boost, moving from the deathly winds of Wrigley to the launching pad of Miller Park.
- Mark Reynolds: Just like Carlos Pena, you know what you’re getting: huge HR totals, diminished RBIs and runs because he’s in Baltimore and an average that will make you wonder how he’s a major league hitter.
- Kevin Youkilis
- David Freese: While you should always be wary of postseason heroes, see 'Cody Ross,' Freese will be asked to do more along with the rest of the Cardinals' lineup in life after Pujols. I think the guy who hit 10 HRs and drove in 55 runs in 333 ABs last year will thrive, if healthy.
- Mike Moustakas: Sleeper.
- Danny Valencia
- Chase Headley
- Ryan Roberts: Am I the only one as unimpressed by this 31 year olds mediocre debut? Nice surprise, but too little too late.
- Pedro Alvarez: The unforunate reality is that this 25 year old king kong can't hit sh#t. Hopefully he can turn it around this year after being demoted to the minors last year, after a strong rookie season, and when he does it will make for some nice high-light reels, but for the time being you can't rely on him. Throw him on your watch list or take him late (I can't stress that enough) and keep him on your bench to see what happens.
- Lonnie Chisenhall: Zzzzzz....
- Scott Sizemore
- Brent Morel
- Edwin Encarnacion
Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians: Seriously, Cleveland is chocked full of sleepers because of its infusion of young players. Chisenhall struggled to adjust early last year, but seemed to figure it out and came on strong.
Mike Moustakas, Royals: He’s probably remembered right now for struggling to adjust last season. Those people most likely don’t remember that he hit .352 with four HRs in September. A full offseason and knowing what to expect in the majors will put the balance in Moustakas’ favor. In a situation very similar to that of Chisenhall and being overshadowed by Eric Hosmer, he might be a steal come draft-day.
Casey McGehee, Pirates: When's the last time you heard of anybody reviving their career in Pittsburgh?
- Troy Tulowitzki: Tulo has the top spot for this position, and will have it for awhile. At 27, he's just coming into his prime and put up .302/30/105 numbers last year. If that's not the recipe for a top-10 pick, I don't know what is.
- Jose Reyes: Tricky play with this one. On one hand, he is going to be receiving better run support batting in front of the likes of Mike Stanton and Hanley Ramirez than he ever got form the Mets. On the other, he doesn't always play up to his potential, is somewhat of an injury risk and is no longer playing in a contract year. The facts are that Reyes hasn't played more than 135 games since 2008 and had not hit over .300 until last season's .337 average. I'm still expecting good things, but will have to be a sporting a pretty good poker face when I make this bet on draft day.
- Hanley Ramirez: As much as I like Hanley, you can't help but notice that his numbers have been tapering off over the past few years. He gains 3rd base eligibility, allowing Reyes to take over at short, but unlike the situation in Detroit with Cabrera/Fielder I don't consider this a boost to Hanley's value; shortstop is too weak a position to consider playing him anywhere else. Best case scenario: his cadillac of an ego doesn't get hurt by Ozzie.
- Starlin Castro: Don't love him; should be off the board pretty early and wont offer much in the way of power/speed numbers, just average. Nonetheless, he's a more surefire thing than the two above him and might be the best shortstop in the league other than Tulo by the end of the year. The only factor that will hold him back is the Cubs' lineup; it's like something from Double-A.)
- Elvis Andrus: Don't make the mistake of assuming Andrus has reached his ceiling after his first three seasons. The 23 year-old is just getting started, and while he'll never have the HR pop of the guys above him, he will hit for a higher average and steal more bases than he has in his first three seasons.
- Asdrubal Cabrera: If you don't know "Cinderella" Cabrera's story from last year, he hit 25 HRs. Going in to the season, he had 18 in the previous four years. So which Cabrera can you expect this year? I'd say the one who used a swing change to have a career year in 2011.
- J.J. Hardy: Imagine that: a player went to Baltimore and actually had a career year there, instead of going to Camden Yards to die. This ranking might even be a bit low, since Hardy hit 30 HRs and drove in 80 runs in just 527 ABs last season because of a knee injury.
- Jhonny Peralta
- Alexei Ramirez: I'm intrigued by him, how he'll do without Ozzie in Chicago. He's got much more talent than he's shown in the past 4-5 years, when he's put up .270/15/70 numbers.
- Dee Gordon: This is more like your traditional shortstop of the 70s. Gordon has no power but has the ability to steal 60 bases and score upwards of 100 runs. All this depends on whether he can get on base in front of Matt Kemp and Co.
- Erick Aybar: If he wins the 'hitting in front of Pujols' lottery, he becomes a top-10 play for shortstops. While that remains undecided, Aybar can give a healthy dose of steals and average, for a shortstop.
- Stephen Drew: He might never reach the billing that made him a super-hyped prospect, but Drew is a better-than-average major league player. He provides power at a position where there is little, something to be cherished.
- Ian Desmond: Drafted him too early last year and it didn't pay off. Nonetheless, I still think he's got something in the tank and I like what the Nationals are putting together over in Washington.
- Jed Lowrie
- Cliff Pennington
- Alcides Escobar: Sleeper
- Yunel Escobar: see Jimmy Rollins
- Emilio Bonifacio
- Derek Jeter: see DO NOT DRAFT
- Jimmy Rollins: see Derek Jeter
Alcides Escobar, Royals
Derek Jeter: Don’t, I repeat DON’T, draft sentimental over-the-hill players. Jeter is the prime example of that and is 38 years old. OLD.
Jimmy Rollins: Another old shortstop who can only get worse. When a guy hits .238 at home, as Rollins did last season, it’s a concern that can’t be ignored. Old and broken.
Yunel Escobar: No me gusta.
Most Amazing Catch Ever!
- Ryan Braun: His speech after he won his appeal was frightening. I mean scary to the point that he's going to be forced to take out his anger against the NL Central, and the rest of the league.
- Matt Kemp: Finally, hallelujah, it’s about damn time. The top three ways to describe Kemp’s 2011 season, when he hit .324, scored 115 runs, clubbed 39 HRs, drove in 126 runs and stole 40 bases. In case you missed math class, that’s a five-category player who, by the way, is only 27 years old.
- Justin Upton: This 24 year old made his MLB debut when he was 19 years of age. Also, not many players draw Ken Griffey Jr. comparisons.
- Mike Stanton: If I had to pick one player who could hit 60 home runs in a season, here's my guy. He's 22 and only beginning his rise. Not bad for a guy who had 34 HRs and 87 RBIs last year, and that was before he had Ramirez and Reyes batting in front of him.
- Jose Bautista: Most would rank Joser here above Stanton but, having only become relevant at 29 years of age, now 31 years old, he's got a full decade on Stanton. This isn't a huge focus unless you're in a keeper league, but I'm just waiting for that drug-test to come back positive. Some things are just too good to be true.
- Jacoby Ellsbury: Ellsbury has... power? I'm a Red Sox fan and I'm not even sold on this, hitting 32 homers last year but only 10 throughout his previous two full seasons. He's great, but I'd expect a downgrade in the home run department.
- Curtis Granderson
- Hunter Pence: Going to have a nice year with the Phillies, especially if Dominique Brown can make an impact this year and give the offense the spark its been lacking as of recent.
- Andrew McCutchen: At only 25 years old, this kid has all the potential in the world to be a five category star. After a 'down year' last year, batting only.259, I'd expect him to go later on draft day than he probably should. Good value pick.
- Carlos Gonzalez
- Josh Hamilton: He could be in the top-5 by the end of the season. It's a contract year, and he has to prove that, at age 31, he deserves one more big long-term deal. He has to stay healthy, but he obviously could win the MVP.
- Jay Bruce: Once more highly touted than his 2010 MVP teammate, Joey Votto, Bruce is as talented as he is inconsistent. Incredible upside if he can keep it together upstairs and, as Bruce reported to camp 15 pounds lighter, dropping from 225 to 210 lbs, I think this might loosen up his swing and be just what we're looking for.
- Nelson Cruz: The epitome of a "What-if" player. If Cruz stays healthy for a full season, his numbers will reach that of Stanton or Bautista. Seriously, he hit 29 HRs last season and missed Â¼ of the year.
- Mike Morse
- Matt Holliday
- Alex Gordon
- Desmond Jennings
- Adam Jones
- Michael Bourn: Speed. Speed. Speed.
- Shin-Soo Choo
- Cameron Maybin: Finally, Maybin breaks into stardom. As someone who drafted him for 3 years in a row while he was in Florida and was disappointed each time. Now, I'm pissed I didn't make it 4 years.
- Jason Heyward: 2010 NL 'Rookie of the Year' runner-up.
- Michael Cuddyer
- Carl Crawford: The talent is there, but Boston is not where Crawford belongs. A preview I read summed it up perfectly by a using the "square peg into a round hole" comparison.
- Jayson Werth: SHOW ME THE MONEY! One of the most overpaid players in baseball.
- Brett Gardner
- Logan Morrison
- Drew Stubbs: He's young he has speed and a good bat.
- B.J. Upton: The older brother of my man in the number 3 spot. He will shoot up the rankings if he is traded, because I'm convinced he only needs a change of scenery. The talent is clearly there, he just needs to be re-motivated.
- Nick Swisher
- Jeff Francoeur
- Andre Ethier
- Corey Hart
- Chris Young
- Austin Jackson
- Nick Markakis
- Brennan Boesch
- John Mayberry
- Alex Rios
- Carlos Quentin
- Angel Pagan
- Coco Crisp
- Martin Prado
- Delmon Young
- Alfonso Soriano
- Vernon Wells
- Travis Snider
- Domonic Brown
- Jose Tabata
- Will Venable
- Ben Revere
- Jason Kubel
- Colby Rasmus
- Torii Hunter
- Carlos Beltran
- Matt Joyce
- Melky Cabrera
- Jason Bay
- Jason Bourgeois
Bryce Harper: He's so talented that I have no idea where to put him on the rankings. There is so much that depends on whether he makes the team out of camp. If he does, and spends a full season in the majors, he could be the best player in the league by the end of 2013.
Mike Trout (Slightly less talented than Harper, but he's going to be close to that level. He'll steal more bases than Harper but will hit less HRs and have less RBI opportunities.
Colby Rasmus, Jays: Call me crazy, but I'm shaking off his malaise in the second half last season when he was traded. A fresh start was necessary, especially away from Tony LaRussa. He's going to prove that you can go from a sleeper to overrated to complete bust to sleeper to breakout in the course of 3 years.
Lorenzo Cain, Royals
Shane Victorino: The most overrated outfielder in the league. The Phillies lineup is eroding, and it starts at the top with fluttering Victorino and Jimmy Rollins.
Torii Hunter: An old outfielder on a team trying to get younger, Hunter is a rapidly-declining player. Sad to say, he's one of my favorites, but 36 year olds who play aggressively in the outfield don't start getting better.
Carlos Beltran: Moving to San Francisco will do him no favors, where hitters go to die.
Biggest sleepers? Biggest chokes? Some piece of insight my antennae didn't pick up? Your predictions are just as good as mine, state what you will and prepare to be debated.
- Justin Verlander
- Clayton Kershaw
- Roy Hallady
- Zack Greinke
- Jared Weaver
- Cliff Lee
- Cole Hamels
- C.C. Sabathia
- Tim Lincecum
- Matt Cain
- Dan Haren
- Felix Herndandez
- Madison Bumgarner
- David Price
- Ian Kennedy
- Jon Lester: At 22 years old, this big lefty was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma. He overcame cancer and went on to be a 2x all-star, world series champ, and even through a no-hitter in 2008. He's got great stuff and his mental fortitude is uncomprable.
- Stephen Strasburg
- Michael Pineda
- Yovani Gallardo
- James Shields
- Daniel Hudson
- C.J. Wilson
- Jordan Zimmerman
- Matt Garza
- Chris Carpenter
- Adam Wainwright
- Matt Latos
- Josh Beckett
- Jeremy Hellickson: 2010 AL 'Rookie of the Year'. Not particularly explosive, but very mature for a pitcher of his age and will be an ace for years to come.
- Gio Gonzalez
- Shaun Marcum
- Matt Moore
- Yu Darvish: Supposedly the best Japaneese pitcher to come to the US since Hideo Nomo. The Texans dropped $120 million on him, but as a Red Sox fan and from the Dice-K Saga I've learned to temper my expectations about these guys.
- Rickey Romero
- Tim Hudson
- Doug Fister
- Ubaldo Jimenez
- Neftali Feliz: The Texans are going to be working the 2010 AL 'Rookie of the Year' into the rotation. He's got great stuff, but how well he'll make the transition from closer to starter is anyone's guess.
- Matt Moore: Top pitching prospect in Baseball, might work his way into the Ray's rotation this year. Keep an eye out.
This is the hardest category to rank and, by hardest, I mean almost impossible; only slightly more accurate than the 10-day weather forecast, there is simply too much uncertainty amongst the position. Only a couple of weeks into the season some of the top dogs will be riding the bench and the no-names will become household; anyone who has the opportunity to get a few saves is valuable, so really keep an eye on the waiver wire early in the season for these guys.
- Craig Kimbrel: Say hello to this generation's version of Mariano Rivera, without the early-career postseason success. He's that good, this young and will be dominant for years to come. The 2011 NL Rookie of the Year set the record for the most saves ever recorded by a rookie, 46, while posting a blistering 14.8 K/9.
- John Axford
- Brian Wilson
- Mariano Rivera
- Joel Hanrahan
- J.J. Putz
- Drew Storen
- Heath Bell
- Jonathan Papelbon
- Sergio Santos
- Joakim Soria
- Jason Motte
- Jordan Walden
- Carlos Marmol
- Andrew Bailey
- Jose Valverde
- Joe Nathan