These rankings are based on a scoring system of either 4x4, 5x5, or an H2H scoring system that uses roto categories. On Friday (Feb. 18, '11), BTTN will release our fantasy strategy and draft guide, which in tandem with these rankings make up the 2011 BTTN Fantasy Baseball Preview.
Players in italics are our super-sleepers for 2011 (meaning they have big breakout potential), while underlined names are players we feel have a big enough bust factor that we discourage you from drafting them.
1. Albert Pujols, 1B (St. Louis Cardinals)
Yes, First base is incredibly deep, but it’s hard to argue for anyone else at No. 1. Expect him to have a huge year in an attempt to land his proposed $300MM contract.
2. Hanley Ramirez, SS (Florida Marlins)
Had a down year in 2010, but is still the best shortstop in the game and position scarcity at the position warrants him this ranking.
3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (Detroit Tigers)
Four category superstar, there’s no reason to expect him not to continue raking in 2011.
4. Evan Longoria, 3B (Tampa Bay Rays)
Longoria’s regression in 2010 has been largely overlooked, but I sense a rebound… who wouldn’t when that kind of talent is on the table?
5. Troy Tulowitzki, SS (Colorado Rockies)
Yes, there’s the injury-risk, but if Tulowitzki plays 150 games, watch out for a .310/30/100 season, with 100 runs and 20 stolen base potential. Scary.
6. David Wright, 3B (New York Mets)
After hitting 10 homers in 2009, Wright rebounded with 29 in 2010. Now that he solved the Citi conundrum, he’s a fairly safe pick at a shallow position.
7. Robinson Cano, 2B (New York Yankees)
Cano is easily the top second basemen in this draft class. Yet the position is so deep this year, you’ll be absolutely fine if you don’t draft him, it’s not like shortstop as it was a few years back.
8. Ryan Braun, OF (Milwaukee Brewers)
Don’t be concerned that Ryan Braun failed to hit 30 dingers for the first time in his career, minor injuries are thought to have plagued him for much of 2010; he’s fully healthy now. Therefore, expect his usual .310/35/110 production in 2011.
9. Carl Crawford, OF (Boston Red Sox)
Many people think of Carl Crawford as just an average/speed guy, but he provides a good boost of power too, hitting 19 homers in 2010. This cements his status as a 5-category fantasy player, warranting a first-round selection.
10. Joey Votto, 1B (Cincinnati Reds)
Yes, he’s the NL MVP, but he does play a very deep position and there’s the risk of regression; he’s not going to improve upon his 2010 numbers.
11. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B (Boston Red Sox)
Should have a big year playing in the cozy confines of Fenway Park, the stadium downgrade probably overweighs the competition upgrade.
12. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B (Washington Nationals)
Underrated by most of the fantasy community, Zimmerman is a sure thing to hit 30 homers and drive in 100 runs, with a .300+ average. If defense counted in fantasy, he’d rank top five for sure. Zimmerman is the last of the elite, sure-thing fantasy third basemen.
13. Roy Halladay, SP (Philadelphia Phillies)
High-end pitching is so deep this year, it pushes Halladay out of the first round in my opinion. That’s no knock on Halladay though, expect much of the same from 2010.
14. Matt Holliday, OF (St. Louis Cardinals)
Holliday is an elite perfomer and one of the most consistent hitters around, having maintained a wRC+ above 144 in every season from 2007 to the present.
15. Carlos Gonzalez, OF (Colorado Rockies)
Expect a fairly significant drop-off. Although Gonzalez’s career BABIP is .355, his .384 from 2010 is beyond reasonable to continue expecting. Still, CarGo is an elite power/speed threat.
16. Josh Hamilton, OF (Texas Rangers)
Be cautioned, Hamilton’s not going to hit .359 again, best-case scenario perhaps .325, and without injury, probably 30+ homers to go along with it.
17. Felix Hernandez, SP (Seattle Mariners)
It’s ridiculous to believe that King Felix will continue shutting down opponents to his degree without piling up the wins as well. However, Hernandez was a bit lucky last year, as evidenced by his BABIP against of .263 (career average of .295)… yet you can still expect a five-category performance from the 2010 AL Cy Young winner.
18. Adam Wainwright, SP (St. Louis Cardinals)
Some experts are banging the injury drum pretty hard regarding Wainwright, but I think he has a great chance of another 200-inning season, and that would certainly come with a sub-3.00 ERA.
19. Cliff Lee, SP (Philadelphia Phillies)
Back in Philadelphia, expect a sub-3.00 ERA from Cliff Lee in 2010, buoyed by a WHIP around 1.00. While random, wins should come along too, making him an unquestionable top five option at starting pitcher.
20. Prince Fielder, 1B (Milwaukee Brewers)
Fielder is a good player to draft in an attempt to capitalize on the deep first base class, if he played third base, he’d be a top five draftee.
21. Jon Lester, SP (Boston Red Sox)
Lester has morphed into a great workhorse, the perfect pitcher to anchor your staff given his low injury risk.
22. Jose Bautista, 3B/OF (Toronto Blue Jays)
Even if he only hits 30 home runs with a .270 average and other stats are solid, this ranking position would be well warranted.
23. Nelson Cruz, OF (Texas Rangers)
Despite many minor injuries, Nelson Cruz destroyed major-league pitching in 2010, batting to an outstanding 153 wRC+. If he stays completely injury-free in 2011, Cruz could easily become the best outfielder in baseball.
24. Ian Kinsler, 2B (Texas Rangers)
Kinsler is flying under-the-radar this year, and for no good reason. You should easily be able to get him in the 22-30 range, and he’ll probably be well worth it.
25. Alex Rodriguez, 3B (New York Yankees)
Yes, A-Rod isn’t the MVP-caliber superduperstar he was just a few short years ago, but there’s no question he’s still a top five third baseman, and that earns him this ranking.
26. Matt Kemp, OF (Los Angeles Dodgers)
27. Dustin Pedroia, 2B (Boston Red Sox)
Not quite the elite player people are making him out to be, Pedroia is clearly a better real-life player than fantasy player. However, he should still go 18-18 or better, and provide good other numbers.
28. Joe Mauer, C (Minnesota Twins)
Catcher is quite deep this year, which pushes Mauer down. But, given his regression in power, he’s really only a batting average booster.
29. Mark Teixeira, 1B (New York Yankees)
30. CC Sabathia, SP (New York Yankees)
31. Andrew McCutchen, OF (Pittsburgh Pirates)
32. Brandon Phillips, 2B (Cincinnati Reds)
Has never been an elite player, but Brandon Phillips has always hid in the shadows and produced top-five second base statistics. Expect .270 and a very good shot at 20/20.
33. Ryan Howard, 1B (Philadelphia Phillies)
34. Justin Verlander, SP (Detroit Tigers)
No, he’s not an great ERA or WHIP guy, but he’s always been an elite option as far as strikeouts and wins go.
35. Adrian Beltre, 3B (Texas Rangers)
36. Dan Uggla, 2B (Atlanta Braves)
Perhaps fantasy’s most consistent middle infielder since 2006, Dan Uggla is finally being recognized as an elite option for the first time, after hitting a career high .287 in 2010. Sure, he’s unlikely to hit above .270 this year (his .330 BABIP last year was unreasonably high), but expect good power numbers without killing your average.
37. Adam Dunn, 1B (Chicago White Sox)
It’s incredible how consistent Adam Dunn has been for more than a half-decade. After hitting exactly 40 homers in each year from 2005-2008, Dunn smashed exactly 38 dingers in each of his Nationals years. If you play in an OBP league, Dunn is a first-round draftee, and even if average leagues, he’s doesn’t force you to tank the category, hitting .264 the past two years.
38. Andre Ethier, OF (Los Angeles Dodgers)
39. Jayson Werth, OF (Washington Nationals)
40. Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B (Boston Red Sox)
Youkilis will likely gain third base eligibility a couple weeks into the season, just have a backup player until that happens.
41. Shin-Soo Choo, OF (Cleveland Indians)
A criminally underrated player that’s almost a sure thing at 20-20 with a .300 average, Choo isn’t a game-changer, but he’s a solid piece for any fantasy outfielder.
42. Clayton Kershaw, SP (Los Angeles Dodgers)
43. Ubaldo Jimenez, SP (Colorado Rockies)
44. Josh Johnson, SP (Florida Marlins)
Had Josh Johnson made five more starts in 2010, he would have been a front-runner for Cy Young, as he carried a 2.30 ERA in the first week of September until getting hurt for the rest of the season. And he didn’t get too lucky either, with a 2.41 FIP. Meanwhile, JJ has morphed into an elite strikeout source, and can bring ace-like numbers in 2011 without you needing to sacrifice a second-round pick.
45. Victor Martinez, C/1B (Detroit Tigers)
46. Jose Reyes, SS (New York Mets)
47. David Price, SP (Tampa Bay Rays)
People have pushed Price deep into their rankings, as a 3.42 FIP shows that he got quite lucky in 2010. But he’ll surely improve, and I see an ERA in the 2.80-3.20 in the 2011, well worth this ranking spot.
48. Alex Rios, OF (Chicago White Sox)
49. Buster Posey, C/1B (San Francisco Giants)
Posey is surely a top three or four option at catcher, but catcher is deeper than in years past, you won’t suffer too much by taking a late-round play-caller.
50. Jered Weaver, SP (Los Angeles Angels)
Weaver is pretty much a Justin Verlander-clone, an elite strikeout pitcher that’s a solid producer in all other categories. If you don’t have a starter yet, you need to take Weaver.
51. Tim Lincecum, SP (San Francisco Giants)
Don’t expect a big bounce-back from Lincecum in 2011, his declining fastball velocity suggest he’s exiting his prime just as most players his age would enter theirs. One of these days, his game will completely fall off the table so be forewarned.
52. Cole Hamels, SP (Philadelphia Phillies)
53. Jay Bruce, OF (Cincinnati Reds)
A player I’m drafting in all of my leagues, expect Jay Bruce to have a humongous 2011. Somehow, after earning much hyperbole after his 2008 call-up, he’s flown under-the-radar lately and isn’t being seen as a second-tier outfielder despite already being at that level with a good chance at a giant breakout in 2011. Take him as your second OF and you won’t be disappointed.
54. Brian McCann, C (Atlanta Braves)
55. Ichiro Suzuki, OF (Seattle Mariners)
At 37, Ichiro is still a great speed option and a sure-thing to bat above .310. Just don’t expect anything more than 45 steals, and the Mariners offense is still so putrid that he’d be lucky to score 90 runs despite batting leadoff.
56. Matt Cain, SP (San Francisco Giants)
57. Jason Heyward, OF (Atlanta Braves)
Expect Jason Heyward to keep getting better. His .335 BABIP shows that he may have a tad gotten lucky in 2010, but of course without years of experience it’s impossible to know what his usual BABIP would be. I’m projected 25+ home runs in 2011, and maybe 20 SB if his new manager gives him the green light more often – he certainly has the speed to match.
58. Tommy Hanson, SP (Atlanta Braves)
59. Corey Hart, OF (Milwaukee Brewers)
60. Roy Oswalt, SP (Philadelphia Phillies)
61. Zack Greinke, SP (Milwaukee Brewers)
62. Alexei Ramirez, SS (Chicago White Sox)
Alexei Ramirez isn’t getting enough national media hype, partly due to his lack of plate discipline – make sure your league doesn’t count on-base percentage. He’s a solid backup plan if you can’t land Hanley or Troy in the first couple of rounds.
63. Ricky Weeks, 2B (Milwaukee Brewers)
64. Dan Haren, SP (Los Angeles Angels)
65. Francisco Liriano, SP (Minnesota Twins)
66. Yovani Gallardo, SP (Milwaukee Brewers)
67. Hunter Pence, OF (Houston Astros)
68. Casey McGehee, 3B (Milwaukee Brewers)
There’s no reason to expect McGehee to regress after his great 2010 campaign, all his peripherals were acceptable and he could even improve upon it in 2011.
69. Elvis Andrus, SS (Texas Rangers)
70. Colby Rasmus, OF (St. Louis Cardinals)
Rasmus has a breakout of sorts in 2010, and while his increase in K% is alarming, I expect him to hit 30 homers this year while maintaining a .270 average.
71. Aramis Ramirez, 3B (Chicago Cubs)
72. Derek Jeter, SS (New York Yankees)
Derek Jeter may not be ‘Derek Jeter’ anymore, but he can still go 15/15 and bat above .285 – just make sure your league doesn’t count defense.
73. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF (Boston Red Sox)
74. Billy Butler, 1B (Kansas City)
Billy Butler isn’t an exciting performer and shouldn’t be your No. 1 first baseman by any means, but I like him a lot as a guy to slot into a utility position and haul in .320/20/85 stats without the huge price.
75. Michael Young, 3B (Texas Rangers)
76. Chris Young, OF (Arizona Diamondbacks)
Chris Young broke out in 2007, going 32/27 and earning praise as a future fantasy superstar. Meanwhile, in 2010, he showed the same promise, going 27/28… but with much better peripherals, notably his much-improved 11.1 BB%. He’s still a risky pick, but it’s clear that Young has started to understand the full picture and is now getting enough contact to be a solid – and consistent, fantasy performer.
77. Kendry Morales, 1B (Los Angeles Angels)
78. Justin Morneau, 1B (Minnesota Twins)
79. Stephen Drew, SS (Arizona Diamondbacks)
80. Paul Konerko, 1B (Chicago White Sox)
81. Delmon Young, OF (Minnesota Twins)
82. Mat Latos, SP (San Diego Padres)
I wouldn’t touch Latos with a ten-foot pole in 2011 due to the outrageous jump in his innings pitched from 2009-2010, but he could certainly overcome this. Save the injury concern, there really aren’t any red flags in his statistics, just know that wherever you draft Latos, it’ll be a risky selection.
83. Mike Stanton, OF (Florida Marlins)
Mike Stanton has prodigious power, and is likely a future annual 50-home run hitter, but this won’t happen without growing pains. Expect his batting average to drop into the .230s, his strong 2010 was in part due to a lucky .330 BABIP, plus his 34.3 K% is too high to expect sustainable success.
84. Shane Victorino, OF (Philadelphia Phillies)
85. Carlos Santana, C (Cleveland Indians)
86. Chris Carpenter, SP (St. Louis Cardinals)
Draft Carpenter with caution. Understand that he’ll be turning 36 during the season, and that his 3.69 FIP show that he isn’t quite the pitcher everyone thinks he is.
87. Drew Stubbs, OF (Cincinnati Reds)
88. Chad Billingsley, SP (Los Angeles Dodgers)
89. Kelly Johnson, 2B (Arizona Diamondbacks)
90. Joakim Soria, RP (Kansas City Royals)
Had he played on a better team, Soria would be the consensus No. 1 closer in all of baseball. Though he’s still an elite option, as the Royals have somehow provided him with loads of save opportunities that may or may not continue.
91. Brett Anderson, SP (Oakland Athletics)
92. Brian Wilson, RP (San Francisco Giants)
93. Martin Prado, 2B (Atlanta Braves)
94. Mariano Rivera, RP (New York Yankees)
95. Chone Figgins, 2B (Seattle Mariners)
After signing a big free agent contract with the Mariners, Figgins didn’t produce in 2010. Yet, I believe he’ll pull a 180 in 2011, and hit above .280 with his usual 40 steals (and good OBP for leagues that count it). Draft him to inhabit your middle infield utility and I believe you’ll be happy with the results.
96. Wandy Rodriguez, SP (Houston Astros)
97. Clay Buchholz, SP (Boston Red Sox)
98. Andrew Bailey, RP (Oakland Athletics)
Andrew Bailey is the 2009 AL Rookie of the Year, and after coming back from injury pitched even better in 2010. Yet many still don’t see him as a first-tier closer due to the lack of gaudy saves totals in his two years as Athletics closer. Have no fear, this year Bailey should break out for good, and get a full six months in closing for Oakland which has never happened in his short career.
99. Curtis Granderson, OF (New York Yankees)
100. Heath Bell, RP (San Diego Padres)
101. Rafael Furcal, SS (Los Angeles Dodgers)
102. Neftali Felix, RP (Texas Rangers)
103. Ben Zobrist, 2B/OF (Tampa Bay Rays)
104. Torii Hunter, OF (Los Angeles Angels)
105. Brandon Morrow, SP (Toronto Blue Jays)
Brandon Morrow is a very trendy sleeper, and for good reason. Before being shut down by the Blue Jays, Morrow lit up radar guns and opposing batters down the stretch, leading the majors in K/9 while pitching to a 3.16 FIP. Morrow has the stuff to be a fantasy ace and has the makeup; draft him as your third or fourth starter and know there’s major potential involved.
106. B.J. Upton, OF (Tampa Bay Rays)
107. Gordon Beckham, 2B (Chicago White Sox)
Draft Beckham as a sleeper that could step into your starting role if he breaks out, and I believe there’s a good chance he will. His lack of minor league experience (only 259 PA across all levels) means he has to fix his problems in the majors, so be patient.
108. Shaun Marcum, SP (Milwaukee Brewers)
109. Francisco Rodriguez, RP (New York Mets)
After his much-publicized incident last summer, many K-Rod haters came out of the woodwork and bashed his on-field performance – despite him enjoying one of his best seasons in 2010, save the five blown saves in 30 chances. Heck, his .294 BABIP even points to him being unlucky and while his fastball velocity is in fast decline, he’s still an elite strikeout reliever. Draft K-Rod as your ‘ace’ closer, and you should get corresponding numbers in 2011.
110. Geovany Soto, C (Chicago Cubs)
111. Vernon Wells, OF (Los Angeles Angels)
112. Nick Swisher, OF (New York Yankees)
Overshadowed by the other high-profile players on his team, Nick Swisher had a breakout year in 2010, hitting a career-high .288… yet much of that is due to a .335 BABIP (career BABIP is .286). Regardless, Swisher is a cheap source of power that can produce solid counting stats as the third outfielder on your team.
113. Ricky Romero, SP (Toronto Blue Jays)
114. Neil Walker, 2B (Pittsburgh Pirates)
115. Brian Roberts, 2B (Baltimore Orioles)
116. Michael Bourn, OF (Houston Astros)
117. John Danks, SP (Chicago White Sox)
118. Matt Garza, SP (Chicago Cubs)
119. Aaron Hill, 2B (Toronto Blue Jays)
120. Miguel Montero, C (Arizona Diamondbacks)
121. Daniel Hudson, SP (Arizona Diamondbacks)
After transitioning to the National League mid-season, Daniel Hudson destroyed NL batters as he pitched to a 1.69 ERA and 0.84 WHIP with Arizona. Sure, this was buoyed by an extreme .241 BABIP (3.94 xFIP supports his luckiness), but many still see Daniel Hudson as a sleeper going into 2011.
122. Brett Myers, SP (Houston Astros)
123. Jaime Garcia, SP (St. Louis Cardinals)
124. Juan Pierre, OF (Chicago White Sox)
125. Mark Reynolds, 3B (Baltimore Orioles)
126. Pablo Sandoval, 3B (San Francisco Giants)
127. Tim Hudson, SP (Atlanta Braves)
128. Howard Kendrick, 2B (Los Angeles Angels)
129. Jimmy Rollins, SS (Philadelphia Phillies)
130. Brett Gardner, OF (New York Yankees)
131. Pedro Alvarez, 3B (Pittsburgh Pirates)
132. Max Scherzer, SP (Detroit Tigers)
133. Grady Sizemore, OF (Cleveland Indians)
Grady Sizemore is nothing but a lottery pick, you’re betting that he’ll return to his 2006/07 levels. He certainly could, just understand you’re not getting any guarantees. Sizemore has a lot of work to do.
134. Nick Markakis, OF (Baltimore Orioles)
135. Carlos Beltran, OF (New York Mets)
136. Carlos Quentin, OF (Chicago White Sox)
137. Colby Lewis, SP (Texas Rangers)
138. Brian Matusz, SP (Baltimore Orioles)
After being praised by scouts prior to 2010 for his elite-prospect status, Brian Matusz is being largely overlooked by other fantasy analysts this offseason. Yet there are signs of a potential breakout in 2011, notably his 2.18 ERA during August and September. He’s a solid sleeper, and you can probably get him in the 160s range.
139. Jeremy Hellickson, SP (Tampa Bay Rays)
140. Jonathan Sanchez, SP (San Francisco Giants)
141. Carlos Lee, OF (Houston Astros)
Carlos Lee was atrocious in 2010, yet his .238 BABIP (.286 career) suggests that he was better than most of his stats suggest. Expect a good bounce-back, but Lee’s days of going .300/30/100 are probably over.
142. Gaby Sanchez, 1B (Florida Marlins)
143. Starlin Castro, SS (Chicago Cubs)
144. Aubrey Huff, 1B (San Francisco Giants)
145. Ted Lilly, SP (Los Angeles Dodgers)
146. Josh Beckett, SP (Boston Red Sox)
147. Jhoulys Chacin, SP (Colorado Rockies)
148. Craig Kimbrel, RP (Atlanta Braves)
Craig Kimbrel is a strange case. In 20.2 IP with the Braves in 2010, he struck out an otherworldly 40 batters. Sure, he walks a ton of batters too, but Kimbrel could set K/9 records as Atlanta’s closer in 2011 while having a good chance at 40 saves.
149. Adam Lind, 1B/DH (Toronto Blue Jays)
150. Manny Ramirez, DH (Tampa Bay Rays)
151. Adam LaRoche, 1B (Washington Nationals)
152. Freddie Freeman, 1B (Atlanta Braves)
153. Derrek Lee, 1B (Baltimore Orioles)
154. Huston Street, RP (Colorado Rockies)
155. Carlos Marmol, RP (Chicago Cubs)
156. Erick Aybar, SS (Los Angeles Angels)
157. Carlos Pena, 1B (Chicago Cubs)
158. Ian Stewart, 3B (Colorado Rockies)
159. Trevor Cahill, SP (Oakland Athletics)
160. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B/3B (Toronto Blue Jays)
161. Jonathan Broxton, RP (Los Angeles Dodgers)
162. Ike Davis, 1B (New York Mets)
Davis had a solid rookie campaign, yet doesn’t have much room for growth – he’s not much more than a dependable third first baseman for your team.
163. Adam Jones, OF (Baltimore Orioles)
164. Johnny Cueto, SP (Cincinnati Reds)
165. Rajai Davis, OF (Toronto Blue Jays)
166. Jose Valverde, RP (Detroit Tigers)
167. Hiroki Kuroda, SP (Los Angeles Dodgers)
168. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, 2B (Minnesota Twins)
169. Ryan Dempster, SP (Chicago Cubs)
170. Phil Hughes, SP (New York Yankees)
171. J.J. Putz, RP (Arizona Diamondbacks)
172. John Axford, RP (Milwaukee Brewers)
173. Ricky Nolasco, SP (Florida Marlins)
174. Jason Bay, OF (New York Mets)
175. Matt Wieters, C (Baltimore Orioles)
176. Michael Cuddyer, Minnesota Twins)
177. Travis Snider, OF (Toronto Blue Jays)
178. Jonathan Papelbon, RP (Boston Red Sox)
179. Mike Napoli, C/1B (Texas Rangers)
180. Denard Span, OF (Minnesota Twins)
181. Scott Rolen, 3B (Cincinnati Reds)
182. Madison Bumgarner, SP (San Francisco Giants)
183. David Ortiz, DH (Boston Red Sox)
184. Alcides Escobar, SS (Kansas City Royals)
185. Bobby Abreu, OF (Los Angeles Angels)
186. Vladimir Guerrero, DH (Baltimore Orioles)
187. Ian Desmond, SS (Washington Nationals)
188. Andres Torres, OF (San Francisco Giants)
189. Angel Pagan, OF (New York Mets)
190. Chris Perez, RP (Cleveland Indians)
191. Drew Storen, RP (Washington Nationals)
192. Mitch Moreland, 1B (Texas Rangers)
193. David Freese, 3B (St. Louis Cardinals)
194. Francisco Cordero, RP (Cincinnati Reds)
195. Placido Polanco, 3B (Philadelphia Phillies)
196. Kevin Gregg, RP (Baltimore Orioles)
197. Wade Davis, SP (Tampa Bay Rays)
198. Matt Thornton, RP (Chicago White Sox)
199. Chris Coghlan, OF (Florida Marlins)
200. Johan Santana, SP (New York Mets)