1. Grady Sizemore - I've been trying to get this guy for weeks in my keeper league. Would BJ Upton and Brandon Webb do it for you? Restivo said no. I was worried about his average continuing to slide in '09 but, it turns out he was generally a bit unlucky last year with a 29% hit rate. Expect him to get back into the .280's. If he were to ever hit .290 then his 100 rbi season might come along with it. Oh La and La. He'll be the 6th pick in your draft.
2. Josh Hamilton - I've recently heard a lot of analysts talk about Hamilton dropping off this year. They see his RBIs as both fluky and his only truly redeeming category quality. They also point to his '08 2nd half slide. Let's look at that "slide" a little closer by cutting out his "lucky" first half and doubling his 2nd half stats. Doing that that we get .296-92-26-100-12. So that is his 600 AB floor. What does that make his 650 AB ceiling? He loses Milton Bradley around him but, gains Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis. I would take him as early as 10th overall.
3. Carlos Quentin - Pause for a moment to consider his '08 numbers (.288-96-36-100-7) and then remember that he missed 32 games (1/5th of the season). He, like Hamilton, may have been playing at the very top of his game and may find it difficult to duplicate that type of production but, he's only 26 and plays 81 games a year at the Cell. At the time of his injury he was top 5 in 5x5 value. The injury keeps him out of the first 2 rounds but, he could be a monster.
4. Matt Holliday - The Ballpark Effect will affect Holliday. Many players play better at home for a myriad of factors but, Holliday's home and road splits are Grand Canyon wide. As BP '09 puts it, "In his career, Holliday hit .357/.423/.645 (roughly Albert Belle) and .280/.348/.455 on the road (roughly Shane Victorino)." Now, he's better than Shane Victorino but, we shouldn't expect him to come close to past numbers. I'm thinking .295-90-25-95-15. This doesn't look too much unlike Josh Hamilton's floor.
5. B.J. Upton - My love/hate relationship continues with B.J. Upton. I own him in a keeper league and was hoping for a huge year out of ol' Bossman Junior. His HR went from 24 to 9, his RBIs went from 82 to 67, his average went from .300 to .273 but, his steals went from 22 to 44. Then in the playoffs (when I could care less) he slugged over .800 in the ALDS and ALCS. Thus, the love/hate relationship. It appears the Rays have similar feelings about Upton given his supreme talent combined with his youth-based lapses. For Upton, the Rays, and for my fantasy team's sake I hope they are youth based and that he'll mature. If he can't put it all together on the field and in his head we may well be shaking ours. With all this said he still has the talent to put up huge numbers in an improving lineup. His speed is for real and when he combines it with the HRs we're talking about Sizemore-like production.
6. Nick Markakis - There's a lot to love here. He's raised his average, OBP, and OPS each of the last three years. He dipped in HR and RBIs last year but, he's learned to take walks (99 up from 61) and his 48 doubles might turn into 30-35 HRs soon. He may not have the raw power of Carlos Lee but, we might be looking at a Lee stats clone over the next 5 years. He'll be a .300-100-32-105-10 guy for years to come. For what it's worth, he also led the majors in OF assists.
7. Jason Bay - He's no Manny but, no one is. He appeared to be sliding in '07 but rebounded nicely in '08 while endearing himself to The Nation. His lineup protection is ridiculous and he seems content to bang balls off/over the monster this year in hopes of a big extension. If he stays healthy he'll pad your counting stats and more than likely hit in the .280's. I'd have no problem taking him in the middle/end of the 3rd round.
8. Ichiro Suzuki - Remember me? I'm still in Seattle. I still get 200 hits, 100 runs, and 30-50 steals. I don't hit HR but that's not why you're picking me in the 3rd round. You're picking me because you went slugger-sluggler in the first 2 rounds. You won't be disappointed. Stone cold lock .300-.320 hitters are hard to find.
9. Carl Crawford - This list is full of talented players. Some are reaching their potential (Sizemore, Hamilton, Quentin, Holliday, Bay, and Suzuki) and others have flirted with it (Upton, Markakis). Crawford, in my book, falls into the latter. He's still got the wheels but, needs to bounce back from a draft killing 25 steals in '08. That's not what I paid for in the '08 Rusty League. I'm not sure I'll ever let him make it up to me by picking him again.
10. Bobby Abreu, Jacoby Ellsbury, Vlad Guererro, Alex Rios, or Jermaine Dye