When you participate in way too many leagues, you tend to have a lot of familiar faces across your various teams. Everyone's got their personal cheeseballs and guys they won't go near, but for the most part there's always those guys who you seem to have different valuations on than the masses. Last year, a few of my choice guys that I ended up with in a bunch of leagues were Lance Berkman, Curtis Granderson and Dan Haren. Of course, there were also Jonny Venters and Rick Porcello.
What I wanted to put together for this year was a guide to "my guys" for 2012. A few disclaimers first. This is not meant to say that all of the players on this list will be awesome or better than Comparable Player X that you're thinking of. It's just meant to point out a player at each position that will be high enough on my rankings (compared to current ADPs) that many of them will end up on my teams. They'll run the gamut from the 2nd round guy I like in the first (like Hanley Ramirez) to the catcher often going undrafted who I think should be a starter in 10-team leagues (suspense!)
Of course, like any good list of this sort, I'm going to follow soon with my 2012 "Ole" Team -- the guys who I will gladly watch become someone else's problem at their current values. So chime into the comments section with your own guys you feel strongly about for the upcoming season, or about how you'd love to play in a league with me where I'm grabbing the players in this post because "hey, free money".
The fun starts after the jump..Catcher - Ryan Doumit (Honorable Mention: Mike Napoli, Ramon Hernandez)
The 20th catcher in ADP, Doumit has fallen off fantasy radars a bit following a down season in 2011. He's been injury-prone, but fortunately for him, he'll take most of his at bats in 2012 at DH. Which brings us to the #1 rule of fantasy catchers -- if they're going to DH, draft them.
Pena's value took a nice tick up when he signed back with Tampa Bay as their lineup projects to be better than the one he left in Chicago. Power is very difficult to come by late in drafts, especially after the first 200 player are off the board (Pena's ADP is 224). A .230 average and he's well worth his draft position, anything above that is gravy.
This should come as no big surprise to some of you who have read many of the glowing words I've written on Kinsler. LIke here. This isn't so much about his ranking among 2B, but his overall ranking. His ADP is 23 overall, but I think he's an early 2nd rounder. A 30/30 2B with a K rate under 10%? Yes, please.
I will be drafting Hanley as a top-10 player this year, anyone else with me on this one? All reports this spring indicate that his #want will not be an issue, and while I don't think he'll hit 30 HR this year, he won't need to in order to reclaim his proper place in the first round next year. More here.
Again, it's all about the power. How quickly we forget that Reynolds hit 37 HR last year -- and he even stole a few bases. So while his averages of .198 and .221 the last two years have been pretty ugly, he's still a career .238 hitter. Just balance him out with a high average hitter and reap the benefits (a.k.a. don't draft him and Reynolds on the same team).
Sensing a trend here? We know that people love to overreact to one year, and this is where you can find the most value at your draft. Heyward struggled with his shoulder and mechanics, but he was well on his way to being a top-20 outfielder before this detour. Alex Rios looked more dead than alive last season, but a very depressed BABIP to go along with a line drive rate which actually increased from his strong 2010 campaign are positive signs for a rebound. Lorenzo Cain may sit on top of a very underrated Royals offense and provide 5-category contribution.
No one needs to see me write more words on Jaime Garcia - just go here if you still wish to be convinced. Bumgarner pitched with the underlying stats of a top-10 starter last year, and he's still only 22 years old -- don't be surprised if his raw stats correct themselves, but he also improves skill-wise on top of that. For all the real-life hype Yu Darvish is getting, I'm mildly surprised that he hasn't gotten more hype of the fantasy variety. The best stat about Darvish which sets him apart from other recent Japanese imports was his 57% ground ball rate in the NPB last season. For more on Darvish, read this piece i wrote a month back. Matt Harrison and Edwin Jackson are two guys who are largely available at the end of drafts and could rather easily be top-50 starters. There's room in each of their skill sets for improvement and they will be playing on winning teams (though Harrison will have a much better defense behind him in Texas). For more on E-Jax, read this (it's from last week).
I have no idea why Sergio Santos is going outside the top-15 closers. His 13.1 K/9 from last season was extraordinary and he will have no competition for his job. Madson ended up landing in a perfect situation for his fantasy value by signing a 1 year deal with the Reds. They'll be a competitive team and he'll still be pitching for his final long-term contract. Addison Reed's ADP has been dropping ever since the news broke that Matt Thornton would likely start the season as the closer in Chicago. This sounds a lot like the Fernando Rodney/Jordan Walden situation from last season -- except Reed is a better pitcher than Walden. How'd that work out for all you 2011 Fernando Rodney owners?
So now with that all out of the way, my team from the Fake Teams mock draft should make a lot of sense. I had the #9 overall pick and it was a 12-team draft. In fact, here are links to Ray's post describing his team, Craig's post describing his team and the full first 5 rounds. Here's the full team (with lots of familiar names and rounds picked in parentheses):
C - Mike Napoli (4), Ryan Doumit (18)
1B - Mark Reynolds (10)
2B - Ben Zobrist (7)
SS - Hanley Ramirez (2)
3B - Kevin Youkilis (9)
CI - Mitch Moreland (21)
MI - Derek Jeter (11)
DH - Alcides Escobar (22)
RP - Ryan Madson (12), Sergio Santos (14), Addison Reed (19)