I ranted on ESPN's Top 10 picks for 2012 on Sunday, so here are my Top 12 for 2012 for comparison and further discusssion. I am lower on Albert Pujols than most, and I ranked Rays third baseman Evan Longoria higher than Jose Baustista and I will tell you why after the jump.
1. Matt Kemp, LAD
2. MIguel Cabrera, DET
3. Troy Tulowitzki
4. Adrian Gonzalez, BOS
5. Justin Upton, ARI
6. Evan Longoria, TB
7. Jose Bautista, TOR
8. Prince Fielder, TBD
9. Albert Pujols, LAA
10. Robinson Cano, NYY
11. Curtis Granderson, NYY
12. Roy Halladay, PHI
Just missed: Joey Votto, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clayton Kershaw
More on my Top 12 for 2012 after the jump:
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I am sure you are not surprised with Matt Kemp at 1 here. The question for fantasy owners on draft day is not if he can duplicate his 2011 season. I don't see that happening. But, how much does he regress from 2011. I am predicting a 30-30-.290 season from him, and he very well could repeat his 2011 season. After coming in second in the NL MVP voting behind Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, he predicted a 50-50 season in 2012. The chances of that happening are less than 1%, but it's certainly something to dream about.
Speaking of Braun, if he somehow is not suspended, and I think he will be, I would rank him at #2 in my rankings. Even if he gets suspended, I think he is a 3rd or 4th round pick in mixed league drafts, and a 2nd round pick in NL-Only leagues. He could put up a 20-20-.310 season in 110 games this season.
If Prince Fielder decides to sign with the Rangers, I would rank him at #2 overall here. He could put up huge numbers hitting in that lineup and in that ballpark for the next 7-8 seasons. I think the weight issues everyone talks about are overblown. The guy continues to put up excellent power numbers, he can take a walk and hit for a solid average year in and year out. I guess the critics and team GMs have to think of something to press the total contract value down a bit.
Miguel Cabrera is my 2nd ranked player for 2012, as he is walking more and making more contact over the last few years, and I think he has a 40 HR season in him. Could it be this season? He is 29 years old, so he will have to pull it off in the next 3-4 years before he hits the decline phase of his career.
I ranked Evan Longoria ahead of Blue Jays third baseman/outfielder Jose Bautista, because I think Longoria will have the better season at the plate in 2012. Consider the fact that he hit just .244 last season with 31 HRs and 99 RBI, but his BABIP was a career low at .239. He's a .280-.290 hitter for me, and I can see him hitting between 35-40 HRs in 2012 with 100+ RBI.
You are probably saying to yourself, well Jose Bautista hit .302 with 43 HRs and 103 RBI and tossed in 9 steals to boot last season, how do you rank Longoria ahead of him? I say, I don't see Bautista as a .300 hitter at all, as his .309 BABIP was a career high. I also can see his HR output dropping below 40 this season. Certainly not a popular thought, but I have confidence that Longoria can outperform him this season. Another reason is that from May through September, Bautista's monthly BA's were: .258, .316, .261, and .259. It appears pitchers were making adjustments against him. And, after hitting 20 HRs in the first two months of the season, he hit just 23 over the remaining 4 months, averaging just under 6 per month. If he averages 6 HRs per month in 2012, that gets him to 36.
I ranked Phillies ace Roy Halladay at 12, which is the first time I have ever ranked a pitcher in my Top 12, but his consistency is what convinced me to rank him there. There are probably only about 10-12 starters who can provide you an ERA under 3.00 and a WHIP right around 1.00 every year, but Halladay has accomplished that for the last 4 seasons. To have a starter like Halladay, Clayton Kershaw or Cliff Lee on your roster provides 4 categories of elite level stats (for those in 5 x 5 leagues), and there are not many hitters you can say can do that for you every year.