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The RotoWire 200: Pujols on Top

Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson is a co-founder of RotoWire and the only two-time winner of Baseball Writer of the Year from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He's also in the FSWA Hall of Fame. He roots for the Reds, Bengals, Red Wings, Pacers and Northwestern University (the real NU).

The following list is for mixed leagues and assumes that your league is a 12-team, 5x5 league that starts two catchers per team. There is a positional scarcity component added for catchers and a lesser one added for shortstops, but not for second basemen. So your mileage may vary among the elite second basemen, particularly Robinson Cano. I have a slight bias in favor of hitters ahead of pitchers, and starters ahead of closers. Middle-tier first basemen get a slight discount.

1. Albert Pujols, 1B - Pujols should have more counting stats this year with the additions of Berkman and Theriot.
2. Troy Tulowitzki, SS - Most of Tulo's injuries have been of a fluky nature, so we're giving him a full projection.
3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B - Gonzalez benefits both from the ballpark and a better lineup surrounding him.
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B - The only negative about Miggy's season was the ankle injury that kept him out the final week.
5. Hanley Ramirez, SS - Ramirez's power has dropped disturbingly the last two years.
6. Roy Halladay, P - The sheer number of innings Halladay throws makes his rate stats all that more valuable.
7. Carlos Gonzalez, OF - CarGo signed a contract extension in January, ensuring plenty of Coors-induced home stats.
8. Ryan Braun, OF - Braun might run more this year with Ken Macha gone.
9. Joey Votto, 1B - Votto probably won't swipe 16 bags again, if you're nit-picking.
10. Carl Crawford, OF - Crawford might not hit for as much power in Fenway.
11. Robinson Cano, 2B - The only negative about Cano this early is the lack of stolen bases.
12. David Wright, 3B - Wright regained his power, at the expense of striking out more.
13. Evan Longoria, 3B - What happened to his power? Does he merely recover to or develop beyond 2009?
14. Ryan Howard, 1B - A sprained ankle really limited Howard's power towards the end of the 2010 season.
15. Matt Holliday, OF - Holliday is a stable investment at a volatile position.
16. Josh Hamilton, OF - Speaking of volatility, Hamilton is the poster child.
17. Prince Fielder, 1B - For those of you who believe in contract-year effects, this is Fielder's walk year.
18. Alex Rodriguez, 3B - The safe projection gives A-Rod 30 homers, but 40 is certainly possible.
19. Jose Reyes, SS - Reyes will stick in the leadoff spot after dabbling in the third spot some last year.
20. Mark Teixeira, 1B - One of these years, Teixeira will actually start well.
21. Jon Lester, P - Projecting wins is always dicey, but we're giving Lester 21 in our projection.
22. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B - Below the top three third basemen because of his lack of steals.
23. Chase Utley, 2B - Even before his injury, Utley showed some decline last year.
24. Zack Greinke, P - Greinke will benefit considerably from the league change and greater run support.
25. Nelson Cruz, OF - Cruz could be a 30-20 guy if he can just stay on the field for 140+ games.
26. Matt Kemp, OF - The lack of Joe Torre in Matt Kemp's life can only be a good thing.
27. Kevin Youkilis, 1B - Youkilis should regain 3B-eligibility early in the season.
28. Felix Hernandez, P - King Felix would rate higher if he pitched for nearly any other team.
29. Joe Mauer, C - Target Field and a number of nagging injuries hurt Mauer's power last year.
30. Shin-Soo Choo, OF - Choo's keeper league value improved, now that he no longer has a military commitment.
31. Jose Bautista, 3B/OF - We're projecting 38 homers for Bautista this year.
32. Justin Upton, OF - Last year was disappointing, but Upton's ceiling remains quite high.
33. Dustin Pedroia, 2B - Pedroia has been recovering nicely from his foot injury this offseason.
34. Buster Posey, C - This is a conservative ranking - his ceiling is much higher.
35. Tim Lincecum, P - Lincecum had 231 strikeouts in a "down" year.
36. Andrew McCutchen, OF - McCutchen might run more with Clint Hurdle as his manager.
37. Brian McCann, C - McCann should get more RBI this year with a better lineup around him.
38. Victor Martinez, C - Martinez will get most of his at-bats as the Tigers' DH.
39. Clayton Kershaw, P - Kershaw might strike out 250 in a season someday.
40. Adrian Beltre, 3B - Beltre should thrive in Texas, even if he doesn't hit .330 again.
41. Adam Dunn, 1B - Dunn should get helped a little bit by the change in ballparks.
42. Ian Kinsler, 2B - The Rangers plan to have Kinsler bat leadoff to begin the year.
43. Adam Wainwright, P - A sore elbow in September cost Wainwright the NL Cy Young.
44. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF - Ellsbury will bat leadoff even with Crawford joining the Red Sox.
45. Jay Bruce, OF - Bruce really closed strongly last year and has 35-homer upside.
46. Rickie Weeks, 2B - We finally saw a healthy season from Weeks. Now will he run again?
47. Jason Heyward, OF - Heyward's batting eye at that age is so rare.
48. Michael Stanton, OF - Stanton might have a 40-homer, 170-strikeout season in him.
49. Carlos Santana, C - Santana (knee) should be ready by Opening Day.
50. Cole Hamels, P - Hamels regained his strikeout rate and then some in 2010.
51. Derek Jeter, SS - Jeter had an anti-contract push season last year.
52. Justin Morneau, 1B - Even Morneau was hurt by Target Field last year, hitting four homers there.
53. Cliff Lee, P - Lee's incredible run include a 47:2 K:BB in 35.2 playoff innings.
54. Hunter Pence, OF - Pence has had exactly 25 homers each of the last three seasons.
55. Dan Uggla, 2B - Uggla gets a very marginal upgrade in ballparks in Atlanta in terms of power.
56. Justin Verlander, P - Verlander traded some strikeouts for grounders in 2010.
57. Josh Johnson, P - Johnson's back injury ended a superb 2010 campaign.
58. Ubaldo Jimenez, P - Jimenez faded over the second half, but that was inevitable.
59. Jimmy Rollins, SS - Rollins has had two straight .250 BABIP seasons - a BA recovery is likely.
60. Drew Stubbs, OF - Stubbs went 22-30 despite a .67 CT rate last year. Think about the ceiling.
61. Chris Young, OF - Young and Stubbs belong together, as low-average guys with high counting stats.
62. B.J. Upton, OF - For all of Upton's faults, 40 steals seem like a lock.
63. David Price, P - Price is the latest reminder that many stars first struggle before emerging.
64. Jayson Werth, OF - Werth's OPS in Philly was .160 points higher than on the road last year.
65. Kendry Morales, 1B - Insert holier-than-thou comment on home plate celebrations here.
66. Alexei Ramirez, SS - Ramirez provides power and speed despite a declining walk rate.
67. Billy Butler, 1B - Will anyone besides Butler be around when the Royals' prospects are ready?
68. Dan Haren, P - Getting out of Arizona did wonders for Haren.
69. Jason Bay, OF - Can Bay recover from his nightmare season?
70. CC Sabathia, P - Sabathia is coming back from a minor knee surgery.
71. Alexis Rios, OF - Rios might not fulfill his original expectations, but his 20-30 season was pretty sweet.
72. Brandon Phillips, 2B - Phillips might hit leadoff again in 2011.
73. Andre Ethier, OF - Ethier provides remarkably stable rate stats - expect another .285/.360/.500 season.
74. Shaun Marcum, P - Marcum could strike out 200 batters with the move to the NL.
75. Nick Markakis, OF - Markakis' batting eye remained solid through struggles last year.
76. Shane Victorino, OF - Victorino sacrificed average for power in 2010.
77. Matt Cain, P - Will Cain's playoff heroics (one unearned run allowed in 21.1 innings) bump up his price?
78. Colby Rasmus, OF - For some reason not a favorite of manager Tony La Russa.
79. Mat Latos, P - Will the Padres still try to limit Latos' workload?
80. Carlos Marmol, P - A great option if you wait on starting pitchers, due to his strikeouts.
81. Pablo Sandoval, 3B - Sandoval went through a tough divorce last season.
82. Ichiro Suzuki, OF - Ichiro's speed is still intact - he led major league baseball with 59 infield hits.
83. Stephen Drew, SS - Drew hit 11 of his 15 homers after the All-Star break.
84. Neftali Feliz, P - The Rangers are talking about converting him back to starting this spring.
85. Joakim Soria, P - Soria had 43 saves despite the lack of a set-up man in 2010.
86. Jered Weaver, P - Weaver's 233 strikeouts led the majors last season.
87. Elvis Andrus, SS - Be careful about reaching too high just because of scarcity.
88. Heath Bell, P - Bell almost certainly will be traded midseason this year.
89. Michael Young, 3B - With the Rangers signing Beltre, Young could end up as a DH this year.
90. Carlos Pena, 1B - Getting out of the AL East could help Pena.
91. Pedro Alvarez, 3B - Alvarez's low contact rate makes him a batting average risk.
92. Max Scherzer, P - A quick mechanical fix in Triple-A turned Scherzer's season around.
93. Francisco Liriano, P - Liriano gave up just nine homers all year, three in his final start.
94. Delmon Young, OF - Lost in Young's breakout season is that he still is a free-swinger.
95. Corey Hart, OF - Hart finally had the year that many were hoping for two-to-three years ago.
96. Brian Wilson, P - Wilson had a relatively big workload for a closer last year, but skills improved across the board.
97. Paul Konerko, 1B - Konerko is back for more on the South Side.
98. Ben Zobrist, 2B/OF - Zobrist lost his power, added more speed last year.
99. Brian Roberts, 2B - Will Roberts' back problems linger in 2011?
100. Matt Wieters, C - This might be the first year you can get Wieters for a good price.
101. Aaron Hill, 2B - Hill had a .197 BABIP in 2010 and thus is a good rebound candidate.
102. Michael Napoli, C - Napoli still is underappreciated, perhaps because of his defense.
103. Roy Oswalt, P - Oswalt had a 1.74 ERA after the trade to Philly.
104. Bobby Abreu, OF - Abreu is declining, but still has 20-20 capability.
105. John Danks, P - Danks has had four consecutive years with sub-4.00 ERAs.
106. Tommy Hanson, P - 2010 was a solid consolidation year for Hanson - there's another level in him.
107. Kelly Johnson, 2B - This was one instance where a strong spring training meant something.
108. Mariano Rivera, P - Rivera remains a freak of nature.
109. Adam Jones, OF - Jones, like his Orioles teammates, took a step back in 2010.
110. Aramis Ramirez, 3B - It's hard to believe Ramirez eked out 25 homers given what went wrong.
111. Vladimir Guerrero, DH - Guerrero fell two games short of qualifying in the OF in many leagues.
112. Huston Street, P - The only concern about Street is his durability. The skills are there.
113. Nick Swisher, OF - Swisher no longer is first-base eligible.
114. Curtis Granderson, OF - A major leg injury robbed Granderson of his stolen bases.
115. Aubrey Huff, 1B - While Huff overachieved in 2010, he's not going to collapse entirely this year.
116. Grady Sizemore, OF - Sizemore is trying to recover from microfracture surgery.
117. Ricky Romero, P - Romero improved his strikeout, walk, HR and groundball rates in 2010.
118. Vernon Wells, OF - Wells quietly had a 31-homer season, but his speed is declining.
119. David Ortiz, DH - Ortiz once again rebounded furiously after a slow start.
120. Chris Carpenter, P - Will the Cardinals' defensive changes hurt Carpenter?
121. Carlos Lee, 1B/OF - Lee should provide a good "Last Year's Bum" discount.
122. Dan Hudson, P - Hudson quietly dominated after the trade to Arizona.
123. Clay Buchholz, P - A high strand rate and low BABIP against suggest that Buchholz will regress some in 2011.
124. Carlos Quentin, OF - The White Sox indicated some willingness to trade Quentin this offseason.
125. Derrek Lee, 1B - Lee had surgery in November to repair a torn ligament in his thumb.
126. Mark Reynolds, 3B - If you draft Reynolds, you have to account for his low batting average.
127. Adam Lind, DH - Lind fell just short at qualifying at 1B and OF in many leagues.
128. Tim Hudson, P - Hudson succeeded despite a strikeout rate below 6.0/9IP.
129. Yovani Gallardo, P - The one negative is that Gallardo occasionally nibbles too much, racking up high pitch counts.
130. Austin Jackson, OF - Jackson's 170 strikeouts have to be a concern for BA collapse.
131. Torii Hunter, OF - Hunter was just 9-for-21 on the basepaths in 2010.
132. Geovany Soto, C - Soto had great rate stats - can he stay on the field more this year?
133. Carlos Beltran, OF - Beltran is a speculative pick again this year, but expect some improvement.
134. Ted Lilly, P - Lilly had a 77:15 K:BB in 76.2 innings after the trade to LA.
135. Chad Billingsley, P - Billingsley had a nice comeback season, and finished 2010 strong.
136. Adam LaRoche, 1B - LaRoche struck out more than ever while with the Diamondbacks.
137. Colby Lewis, P - Bet on a repeat from Lewis - he's no Scott Feldman.
138. Jorge Posada, C - Posada is going to spend most of the season as the DH.
139. Brett Anderson, P - Anderson was everyone's trendy pick last year, perhaps not as much this year.
140. Trevor Cahill, P - Cahill was the AL version of Tim Hudson last year; expect some decline.
141. Jason Kubel, OF - Kubel was yet another Twins hitter hurt by Target Field.
142. Kurt Suzuki, C - Suzuki's power really collapsed in the second half of 2010.
143. Denard Span, OF - The one positive from a dreadful season for Span: 26-for-30 in SB attempts.
144. Michael Bourn, OF - This where a handful of the one-trick ponies will get drafted.
145. Rafael Furcal, SS - Furcal would go higher if we had any confidence in him playing 150 games.
146. Gaby Sanchez, 1B - Sanchez was good enough for the Marlins to move Logan Morrison to the outfield.
147. Juan Pierre, OF - Pierre still ran even when he wasn't hitting, with at least nine steals every month.
148. Martin Prado, 2B/3B - It looks like Prado will be playing left field this year, assuming Chipper can return.
149. Ryan Dempster, P - Very quietly has turned into a consistent, reliable starter.
150. Angel Pagan, OF - Pagan finally enters a season with a full-time job locked down.
151. Starlin Castro, SS - Castro held his own at the plate despite getting rushed by the Cubs.
152. Josh Beckett, P - Beckett's walk and home run rates both exploded on him last year.
153. Philip Hughes, P - Hughes wore down some over the stretch.
154. J.J. Putz, P - Putz is now the Diamondbacks' closer and could be a solid second-tier closer.
155. Brett Gardner, OF - Gardner underwent wrist surgery after the season, but should be ready for spring training.
156. Michael Cuddyer, OF/1B - Cuddyer played 14 games at third base last year.
157. Ike Davis, 1B - Davis had a reverse platoon split in his rookie year, which might bode well for improvement.
158. Javier Vazquez, P - What caused Vazquez's drop in velocity?
159. John Axford, P - Axford won't get treated like an elite closer, but he's close.
160. Casey McGehee, 3B - McGehee is coming back from minor offseason knee surgery.
161. Matt Garza, P - Garza's declining strikeout rate might get hidden with the trade to the NL.
162. Jonathan Broxton, P - Broxton wasn't the same after a 48-pitch outing in June.
163. Jose Tabata, OF - Tabata could potentially steal 50 bases someday.
164. Wandy Rodriguez, P - Rodriguez overcame a poor start to put up decent numbers last year.
165. Ricky Nolasco, P - Will Nolasco's results ever catch up to his component numbers?
166. Alfonso Soriano, OF - Often players with bad real life contracts become fantasy bargains.
167. Howie Kendrick, 2B - Kendrick is coming off of yet another disappointing season.
168. John Buck, C - Buck should continue to hit for power but not average in Florida.
169. Ian Desmond, SS - Desmond needs to improve his defense and his plate discipline.
170. Miguel Montero, C - Montero is another player we'd rank higher if he were more durable.
171. Chris Perez, P - Sometimes closers on bad teams can still rack up a lot of saves.
172. Chris Coghlan, OF - Will the Marlins really use Coghlan in center field?
173. Jonathan Sanchez, P - Sanchez remains a high-risk, high-reward pitcher.
174. Raul Ibanez, OF - Could Ibanez lose playing time to Ben Francisco and/or Domonic Brown this year?
175. Luke Scott, DH - Be careful, in many leagues he'll be DH-only this year.
176. Neil Walker, 2B - Walker often gets overlooked among the second base pool.
177. Mitch Moreland, 1B - The Beltre signing could potentially squeeze Moreland if the Rangers add one more bat.
178. J.J. Hardy, SS - Hardy should benefit from the trade to Baltimore out of Minnesota.
179. Andres Torres, OF - I'm a believer that 2010 was no fluke for Torres.
180. Gio Gonzalez, P - Watch out if the A's ever trade him.
181. Gordon Beckham, 2B - Beckham had a good second half before getting hurt.
182. A.J. Pierzynski, C - Pierzynski is steady but has no tangible upside.
183. Coco Crisp, OF - Crisp was incredible when healthy, but was rarely healthy.
184. Chone Figgins, 2B - Figgins is another excellent "Last Year's Bums" candidate.
185. Francisco Rodriguez, P - K-Rod's K's were coming back before the incident.
186. Marco Scutaro, SS - Scutaro has to hold off Jed Lowrie for playing time.
187. James Loney, 1B - It's getting late to still hope for a power spike from Loney.
188. Miguel Tejada, SS - Tejada is a perfect type of signing for Brian Sabean and the Giants.
189. Ryan Franklin, P - Franklin started to decline last year - back him up with Jason Motte.
190. Anibal Sanchez, P - Sanchez finally started to show glimpses of his pre-injury potential.
191. Jonathan Papelbon, P - The market might overreact to Papelbon's late struggles.
192. Ervin Santana, P - He's not the dominant pitcher he was in 2008, but he's still pretty good.
193. Brandon Lyon, P - Lyon is a nice target if you're waiting on closers.
194. Jeremy Hellickson, P - The Rays cleared the way for Hellickson with the Garza trade.
195. Ian Stewart, 3B - Stewart lost second base eligibility, plus the Rockies now have platoon options.
196. Alcides Escobar, SS - Getting out from under Ken Macha will help Escobar.
197. Cliff Pennington, SS - Pennington quietly had 29 swipes last year.
198. Ryan Raburn, OF - Raburn finally is projected to have a full-time job.
199. Travis Snider, OF - Hope springs eternal for Snider's fantasy owners.
200. Jacob McGee, P - We're speculating that McGee will be the Rays' closer.

First cuts from the list: Brandon Morrow, Jose Valverde, Madison Bumgarner, Jorge De La Rosa, Drew Storen, Brian Matusz, C.J. Wilson, Domonic Brown, Jordan Zimmermann, James Shields, Hiroki Kuroda, Aroldis Chapman, Tim Stauffer, Erick Aybar, Ian Kennedy, Rajai Davis, Jhonny Peralta, Dexter Fowler, Danny Valencia, Bud Norris.