As we all know, there's a certain status or aura surrounding the first pick in a fantasy baseball draft. Next season will be no different.
There are the first round constants. Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez, David Wright, and then there are the break out first time first rounders. Guys like Joey Votto, Carlos Gonzalez, and Robinson Cano, have had monster seasons thus far and are poised to be amongst the first 5-6 players drafted in 2011 drafts.
But as the blog title asks, what does it take, and just who is next years number draft pick.
There is a differing of opinions on what kind of player/what position you should target with your first pick/picks. In the first round, I don't bother with targeting positions. If Miguel Cabrera is there with my first pick, doesn't matter to me that I can grab Adrian Gonzalez or Prince Fielder in the second round, I'm taking Miggy Cab, regardless, because he's just that damn good.
For many managers who follow this draft strategy it's all about the numbers. With my first pick, I'm looking to stack as many categories as I can.
I NEED 100 R, 30+ HR, 100+ RBI, .300+ AVG. I could care less about stolen bases with the first round, I'm of the thought process that I can find stolen bases later on in the draft, after all guys like Nyjer Morgan, Rajai Davis, Juan Pierre, Cliff Pennington, Chone Figgins, etc are all cheap enough that I don't need to use up a first round pick on Carl Crawford- no slight to Crawford who is a legit stud, and I'd never pass up the opportunity of the value is there.
So let's check the stats and see the guys who fit my requirements thus far.
Well no one, just yet.
Mark Teixeira is the only player with 100 R so far this season, but there are 11 players just shy of the mark (90+), to date.
Jose Bautista leads the bigs with 43 big flys, and there are 11 total guys with 30+ HR, and another 14 players within striking distance (24+).
Miggy Cab, and Jose Bautista sit 1-2 in RBI with 110 and 103 respectably. Yet another 14 players are within 10 or the century mark.
22 players are hitting .300 plus but we all know that the difference between a .300 hitter and a .280 hitter is roughly one hit per week.
So now that we've seemingly "narrowed" down the field, just who are the leading candidates. Or simply who ranks in the top ten in one or more categories. (For the sake of argument I've included ties)
Those few players- Mark Teixeira 3/4, Miguel Cabrera 4/4, Josh Hamilton 4/4, Robinson Cano 2/4, Joey Votto 4/4 , Jose Bautista 3/4, Albert Pujols 3/4, Carlos Gonzalez 4/4
According to that strategy, the first four picks of the 2011 draft would see Miggy Cab, Hamilton , Joey Votto and Carlos Gonzalez! selected.
While I don't see it playing out exactly like that, it should be close. I don't think that Albert Pujols will slip to the 5th pick in any drafts, thanks in large part to concerns about Josh Hamiltons injury history and major concerns of a repeat performance from Carlos Gonzalez. I'm not one of those guys with production concerns as far as Cargo is concerned. I own Hamilton in a keeper league and he'll be kept no doubt.
But just who is next years number one pick?
Drum roll please............
1a- Miguel Cabrera- Yes you're seeing a changing of the guard. Miggy Cab is the ultimate player. Sure he may not steal as many bases as Albert Pujols, but the ability to generate runs, and score them at a proficient rate is the swing factor for me oh did I mention that he's 28? Yeah I'll take it.
2011 Projection- 115 R, 35 HR, 120 RBI, 3 SB, .325 AVG
1b (or 2 if you're keeping track)- Albert Pujols- Damn thats a terrible consulation prize now isn't it. I don't see a dramatic drop off in production any time soon. Pujols still has Matt Holliday "protecting" him in the lineup. He swipes the occasional bag and the best player that this generation has ever seen. There's still plenty left in the tank and another monster season is 99% bankable.
2011 Projection- 110 R, 35 HR, 120 RBI, 12 SB, .305 AVG
3- Joey Votto- Way to go kiddo, Putting Canada on the baseball map! Talk about a tremendous jump in value. Those in keeper leagues that own him, have to be excited at the prospect of owning 2 1st round players. See there are still positive cases of gambling on upside. Votto is just entering his power prime, is in a loaded lineup- Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, Johnny Gomes, Drew Stubbs anyone? and the guy can swipe a bunch of bags. Yes you're seeing this right, he's a top 5 pick.
2011 Projection- 100 R, 35 HR, 115 RBI, 15 SB, .320 AVG
4- Josh Hamilton This is the one player that could be drafted in the top 5 or fall all the way to the second round based on his health in April. That question always will exsist. But no one, and I repeat NO ONE doubts this kids talent. If it weren't for the injury concerns he'd be the run away number 1 pick, and it's not even close.
2011 Projection- 110 R, 30 HR, 110 RBI, 10 SB, .315 AVG
5- Carlos Gonzalez- THIS is the player that the Athletics, and the Diamondbacks saw when they traded for and drafted him. I'm not going to lie, I've been a big fan of the guy since his minor league days, each year I've bought into the hype during the draft, attempting to grab him in as many drafts, as late as possible. Next year will be no exception. The pedgiree of a stud is there, and so is the production. Power, speed, everything is there. He could very well be the 2012 first round pick, if he repeats. I think he will.
2011 Projection- 100 R, 30 HR, 110 RBI, 20 SB, .290 AVG
6- Mark Teixeira- What can you say about the guy? Sure the batting average leaves something to be desired, but really if that's all you're worried about, draft Joe Mauer and you're all set. The guy is like clock work, he struggles, managers and the media write him, you trade peanuts to get him, and win your league. The guy puts up his numbers- and they're always good.
2011 Projection- 115 R, 35 HR, 120 RBI, 1 SB, .270 AVG
7- Robinson Cano- Well it's a damn shame you don't be able to pair the two Yankees together. Long thought of as a table setter with a bit of power, Cano has emerged as a legit power threat. He's the top 2b in the game now- move over Chase Utley- he's got power, hits for a great average, and will score runs, no matter where he is in the lineup.
2011 Projection- 115 R, 30 HR, 100 RBI, 5 SB, .320 AVG
8- Hanley Ramirez- He hasn't fallen that much, but his stock has faded. His final numbers will still be strong and he gets a minor push up thanks to his position, and stolen base prowess. He's still the top dog at short stop and you've got to expect more of the same from "Han-Ram" as the Marlins mature as a team- Gaby Sanchez, Logan Morrison, Cameron Maybin, Dan Uggla etc
2011 Projection- 95 R, 20 HR, 85 RBI, 35 SB, 310 AVG
9- Carl Crawford- I'm a big time fan of the guy, decent pop, great speed, great lineup- Carlos Pena, Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton, Ben Zobrist, Jason Bartlett anyone? If I get a pick in the last half of the first round I would take Carl Crawford. There's nothing wrong with this kid at all. But alot depends on where he signs, if he ends up in a hitters park like Texas, Chicago, etc he could be a top 5 pick.
2011 Projection- 100 R, 15 HR, 85 RBI, 45 SB, .300 AVG
10- Ryan Braun- This pick and the rest from the 10-20 range is a little bunched up. Guys like Prince Fielder, David Wright, Matt Holliday, Joe Mauer, Evan Longoria, Adrian Gonzalez, Alex Rios, Chris B. Young, Kevin Youkilis, Ryan Zimmerman, Alex Rodriguez etc are all relatively close in value, but Braun sits just a bit ahead of them in 2011. He's a legit power threat who's having a down year. This call for me is a bit of a gut call.
2011 Projection- 90 R, 25 HR, 100 RBI, 15 SB, .300 AVG
You'll notice the absence of Blue Jays slugger, Jose Bautista from the first round. That's because I don't think he can repeat- to the same level. He's got power, but I would never bank on 40+ HR next season. I could see 30 with another .260 AVG, solid and definately draftable but not first round worthy. Odds are though, that you can get him at a relative value. Managers will be fearful of drafting him next season out of fear of him being a flop. I'll be one of those brave managers that will be willing to spend a mid-round pick on the Bautista Bomb in 2011.
That's my take on the first 10 picks of the 2011 draft, though note they're subject to change at any point in time. Let me hear your feed back.