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Fantasy Baseball: Projecting The 2011 First Round

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Previously, I have written a couple articles looking at the Top 10 Hitters for 2011 and Top 10 Starting Pitchers for 2011, so today, I am going to give you my projected first round picks for 2011. 

Round 1.1- Albert Pujols, STL-last year I made the mistake of buying the Matt Kemp hype and made him my #1 pick for 2011. You live and you learn. Anyway, everyone knows what Pujols can deliver year in and year out. He hit .312-.414-.596 with 42 HRs, 118 RBIs, 115 runs scored and stole 14 bases in 2010. You can expect him to go 40-115-15-.300 in 2011.

Round 1.2-Miguel Cabrera, DET-Miggy bounced back from his off-field troubles in 2009 to challenge Albert Pujols for the #1 pick in fantasy drafts in 2011. Some may choose Miggy over Albert, but Albert's SBs put him over the top for me. Miggy hit .328-.420-.622 with 38 HRs, 126 RBIs, 111 runs scored and 3 SBs in 2010. He is on the verge of a 40-130-.330 season in the near future.

Round 1.3-Hanley Ramirez, FLA-shortstop is usually a thin position, but it is especially thin in 2011. Hanley hit .300-.378-.475 with "just" 21 HRs, 76 RBIs, 92 runs scored and 32 SBs in 2010. I, for one, am worried about his power production despite putting on more muscle at the beginning of the 2009 season. His power has dropped in each of the last two years-33-24-21-but he is entering his age 27 season, and SS is thin, so he keeps his Top 3 ranking. Should the SB totals drop for some reason in 2011, he could see a drop to the second half of the first round in 2012.

Round 1.4- Robinson Cano, NYY-Cano has passed Chase Utley as the best hitting second baseman in fantasy baseball in 2010. He hit .319-.384-.531 with 29 HRs, 109 RBIs, 103 runs scored and 3 SBs in 2010. He has solid plate discipline as he strikes out only 12% of his ABs, and has a solid 8% BB rate. As a left-handed hitter, he benefits from the short RF fence in Yankee Stadium.

Round 1.5-Joey Votto, CIN-Votto had a breakout season in 2010. He is another hitter who overcame off-field issues to have a very good season in 2010. He hit .324-.424-.600 with 37 HRs, 113 RBIs, 106 runs scored and 16 SBs in 2010. I could easily rank him ahead of Cano at #4, and may change my mind come spring training, as the SB total make him a 5 category hitter, and a 6 category hitter in 6 x 6 leagues that track OBP.

Round 1.6-Ryan Braun, MIL-A  case can be made that Braun should be ranked lower, maybe behind Chase Utley or David Wright or Evan Longoria....heck, some people may rank him behind Carlos Gonzalez. But, I think Braun has established a track record than Gonzalez and is not injury prone like Chase Utley. Braun hit .304-.365-.501 with just 25 HRs, 103 RBIs, 101 runs scored and 14 SBs. Don't get me wrong, CarGo had the better 2010 season, but Braun still has the skills to put up a 35+ HR season.

Round 1.7-Carlos Gonzalez, COL-I may rank him ahead of Braun by spring training, as he hit .336-.376-.598 with 34 HRs, 117 RBIs, 111 runs scored and 26 SBs. What worries me is the fact that he hit .380-.425-.737 with 26 HRs, 76 RBIs and 10 SBs at home in 2010. Sure, Coors Field is a hitters haven, but I don't see him duplicating that in 2011. I do expect a 25-20 season from him in 2011.

Round 1.8-Evan Longoria, TB-Longoria had a drop in his HR total dropped by a third, from 33 to 22 in 2010, but he also lowered his K rate from 24% to 22%, while maintaining a solid BB rate at around 11%. He hit .294-.372-.507 with 22 HRs, 104 RBIs, 96 runs scored and 16 SBs in 2010. Bill James projects him to hit 31 HRs in 2011.

Round 1.9- Troy Tulowitzki, COL-the lack of depth at the SS position puts Tulo in the first round in 2011 for me. He hit .315-.381-.568 with 27 HRs, 95 RBIs, 89 runs scored and stole 11 bases, despite playing only 122 games. In fact, I may rank him ahead of Hanley Ramirez come spring training, as he almost duplicated his 2009 breakout season in 2010 in 29 less games. Of course, it took a tremendous roll in September to reach these numbers.

Round 1.10-Carl Crawford, TB-Crawford hit .307-.356-.495 with 19 HRs, 90 RBIs, 110 runs scored and 46 SBs in 2010. Discounting his injury riddled 2008 season, Crawford has averaged 50+ SBs every year. Could he go 20-50 in 2011?

Round 1.11-Chase Utley, PHI-this ranking assumes Utley is healthy in 2011. Utley has proven to be injury prone the last two seasons, but when healthy, he is the top 1-2 second baseman in fantasy baseball. Utley is the type of guy who will play through injuries. He hit .275-.387-.445 with 16 HRs, 65 RBIs, 75 runs scord and 13 SBs in 2010, despite playing in just 115 games. He could return to the 25-90-.290 hitter in 2011 should he stay healthy.

Round 1.12-David Wright, NYM-Wright proved me wrong in 2010, as he had a bounceback season after hitting just 10 HRs in 2009. Wright hit .283-.354-.503 with 27 HRs, 103 RBIs, 87 runs scored and 19 SBs in 2010, and I could see him duplicating that effort in 2011.