It's never to early for fantasy junkies to think about projecting next year's draft. So based on this season's first 4 months, who's in and out of next year's 1st round. Order indicates 2008 Average Draft Position from Yahoo:
1. Álex Rodríguez - Most likely sticking at the top spot. With Madge as his muse he'll be unstoppable.
2. Hanley Ramírez - HR's up, RBI's down, average down, steals down, runs up - 2 up's, 3 down's - Still sticking at #2
3. David Wright - Numbers down all around but, capable of putting up another 30-30 season any time. Sticking in the 1st round - probably around 6-10
4. Chase Utley - Showing what he can do when he stays healthy for a full year. Coming off a healthy year he'll go in the top 2-4 despite other great options at 2nd base.
5. Albert Pujols - Will his elbow concerns arise again in the offseason? He's proving preseason doubters wrong with another great campaign. 5-8 in '09
6. Matt Holliday - If he's not traded this trade deadline season there will surely be scared owners on draft day '09. Any trade could bounce him from the 1st round.
7. José Reyes - Steals are down and power is up a tic. He's been around for awhile so we forget he just turned 25! When he puts up his career season (he hasn't had it yet) it'll be one of the great fantasy seasons of all time. Think Rickey Henderson circa 1985. May not be next year but, it's coming sometime in the next 3.
8. Jimmy Rollins - His average is back to his career marks. Power is WAY down and steals per game are up. Sounds like BJ Upton and Alex Rios (don't even get me started). Possible 2nd round steal if he rebounds.
9. Johan Santana - I just got offered Cano/Johan for Morneau. I give Morneau. Am I insane for questioning this deal? Johan used to be the only sure thing in fantasy pitching. Not anymore. Another first round slipper. 2nd, maybe even 3rd round next year.
10. Ryan Braun - Just traded him away and I know I'll regret it. Even if I will this year because of it. His average is down to where the peripherals say they should be in his career. Even without the high average he'll be a premium slugger for the next decade. Should stay in the back of the first round. If he slips the rest of this year he could slip to the top of the 2nd
11. Miguel Cabrera - Another slipper but, July could be a sign of a turnaround. 6 HR's, 19 RBI's with 9 games left in the month. He'll slip but, not too much given his age, track record and perceived lineup protection. Someone in one of your leagues may believe in the bounce back year and take him in the late 1st.
12. Carl Crawford - Ugh, steals and average are way down. The improved lineup around him is willing him towards 100 runs this year. For the first time in his career it won't be because of him. He could fall to the 3rd round.
So Holliday, Rollins, Santana, Cabrera, and Crawford appear to be falling out of the 1st round for one reason or another. That means others will step up to take their place. Based on this season's first 4 months here are some candidates:
- Ian Kinsler - having an '07 Rollins year. Incredible park and lineup protection. Was thought of as a possible 25-25 guy with iffy average. It's turned into 25-40 with high average and 130-140 runs scored. Wawawewa
- Josh Hamilton - Hard to know where his "age 27 season" is. This is technically it but, with all those lost seasons we could be looking at a player who could continue to improve. Injuries may be all that hold him back.
- Lance Berkman - WIll surely get back in the 1st round. The addition of speed to his game means he's a true 5 category player. By 5 category player I mean someone who puts up above-average numbers in all 5 categories. I'm talking 100-30-100-20-300. Lance is doing that this year . . . . easily. Still in his prime for another 2-3 years.
- Grady Sizemore - The average may scare people off but, 40-40 will tempt some to take him in the 8-14 range. His lineup may keep him from a 4 category dominator.
- Ryan Howard - Do you turn down a 50 HR player on the 1st/2nd round wheel? He's a player who you can match up with an opposite player (think Kinsler) to set your offense up across the board.
Sorry no pitchers. Cliff Lee hasn't done it more than one year and Peavy hasn't backed up his ridiculous '07 with a healthy '08. We've mentioned Johan already and barring a dominating August and September I don't see him sticking in the 1st round.