Athlon presents the first release of its consensus fantasy rankings.
While we still have over a month until voluntary report dates (Feb. 14th can’t get here quickly enough), it is never too early for fantasy owners to start digesting mock drafts, big boards and keeper options.
With that in mind, Athlon Sports has perused the World Wide Web for the latest and greatest positional rankings and brought them together for a one-stop shop. Big media names like ESPN, CBS, Athlon Sports and Yahoo! were incorporated as well as a variety of smaller, yet no less insightful, sites like FantasyPhenoms.com, DeepLeagues.com, RotoChamp.com, HardballTimes.com and RotoProfessor.com.
Each site’s rankings — including Athlon’s own rankings, which will be released early in February — were compiled and averaged into one “consensus” ranking. (Age on Opening Day 2011)
1. Evan Longoria, TB (25)
Three seasons as a professional, three All-Star game appearances. Toss in a trip to the Fall Classic and there aren’t too many 25-year-old third baseman who can match Longoria’s resume. The Rays’ star has topped 660 at-bats two years in a row and sports a career .283 average, .881 career OPS, and 162-game averages of 99 runs, 31 homers, 114 RBI and 12 stolen bases. Youth, consistency and production make Longo the top choice at the hot corner.
2010 Stats: 96 R, 22 HR, 104 RBI, 15 SB, .294/.879
2. David Wright, NYM (28)
Wright did what most fantasy owners believed would happen after only 10 HR in 2009. He hit 29 round trippers – two more than his career 162-game average. His power inconsistency should be far behind him. With a healthy Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Jason Bay and developing Ike Davis, there should be plenty of ducks on the pond for Wright – who is shooting for his sixth 100-RBI season in seven years. The only concern would be his career-high 161 whiffs last fall. His walk rate dropped too. Plate discipline will be huge for DW in 2011.
2010 Stats: 87 R, 29 HR, 103 RBI, 19 SB, .283/.857
3. Alex Rodriguez, NYY (35)
From 2000 to 2009, A-Rod averaged 677 at-bats, 119 runs, 44 homers, 124 RBIs, 18 swipes and an absurd .304/.401/.587 line. However, the Bronx Bomber hasn’t topped 600 ABs since ‘07, finishing with a career low 74 runs and .270 average last year. His 30 homers the last two years are his worst total since 1997. There is no way A-Rod will ever return to his 2001-2002 glory days, but a 90-35-120 line is certainly attainable at a position of serious scarcity.
2010 Stats: 74 R, 30 HR, 125 RBI, 4 SB, .270/.847
4. Ryan Zimmerman, WAS (26)
A case could be made for Zimm to top this list. This will be his sixth full season, and he will play the entire year at 26 years of age. He set career highs in BA last season, and his on-base percentage has risen four straight season resulting in a career high .388 OBP. If he returns his counting stats to 2009 form (110-33-106), the Nats could have the top fantasy 3B in baseball.
2010 Stats: 85 R, 25 HR, 85 RBI, 4 SB, .307/.898
5. Kevin Youkilis, BOS (32)
Obviously he is ideal at third base, but his numbers are good enough to play at first if your league allows. The injury bug struck many of the top first basemen last year, and Youkilis was no exception. He put up his usual solid numbers in 102 games before season-ending thumb surgery in August. After three seasons of playing 145+ games from 2006-08, the Greek God of Walks has played 136 and 102 the last two seasons. While a thumb injury is a concern, Youk should be healthy this season and in the middle of a loaded lineup. You won’t get a 35-45 homer season, but the numbers across the board will be more than solid - especially at a position as scarce as 3B.
2010 Stats: 77 R, 19 HR, 62 RBI, 4 SB, .307/.975
6. Jose Bautista, TOR (30)
This fantasy story is well-documented and might be the single most intriguing in all of fantasy-dom. Which one does not belong: 16, 15, 15, 15, 13, 54? Hmm, that is an easy one. Those are Bautista’s home run totals for the last six seasons. Can he hit 20-25 dingers in 2011? Certainly, but how does a career .238 hitter (prior to 2010) maintain his stellar percentages (.260/.378/.671) from last year?
2010 Stats: 109 R, 54 HR, 124 RBI, 9 SB, .260/.995
7. Adrian Beltre, TEX (32*)
What do Beltre’s 2004 and 2010 have in common? They were massive fantasy seasons – and contract years. The five seasons in between his two walk years? He posted averages of 74 R, 21 HR, 79 RBI, 10 SB with .266 BA and .759 OPS. Beltre has topped .280 in only three seasons in his career. You guessed right: 2004, 2010 and way back in 2000. The .334 and .321 marks of ’04 and ’10 are so absurdly out of place that it is tough to see him even coming close to .300. This all being said, Beltre is hitting in the middle of a high-powered attack in a hitter's park. If he struggles this season, Beltre’s legacy will be his lack of effort when money wasn’t on the line.
2010 Stats: 84 R, 28 HR, 102 RBI, 2 SB, .321/.918
* - turns 32 on April 7.
8. Michael Young, TEX (34)
Young has played in at least 155 games in eight of the last nine season. He has topped 170 hits in all of those as well. The move to DH should extend his career a bit, but don't expect the big power numbers that come from most DH's. However, something just below his career averages of 96 R, 16 HR, 85 RBI, 9 SB, .304/.802 is likely. Get Young this season while eligible still at 3B, beacuse at 34, there are not too many usuable years left for the former batting champ.
2010 Stats: 99 R, 21 HR, 91 RBI, 4 SB, .284/.774
9. Aramis Ramirez, CHC (32)
Last season was a tale of two halves for Ramirez — which has been the story his whole career. However, 2010 was argubaly his worst split. Ramirez hit .207 with 10 homers and 32 ribbies in the first half. In the second half (in nine fewer at-bats), he posted a more than adequate .276 BA with 15 dingers and 51 RBI. If he can stay healthy, and if he can produce before July, Ramirez owners should be in for good things seeing as how this is his walk year. This will be the 32-year-old's final chance at a big contract.
2010 Stats: 61 R, 25 HR, 83 RBI, 0 SB, .241/.746
10. Mark Reynolds, BAL (27)
Not too many players have ever had a higher strikeout total (211) than batting average (.198). Of course, not too many players have struck out 200 times three straight years. Wait, he is the only player to ever top 200 Ks in any season. Certainly, playing through the hurt hand could have affected his totals, and Camden Yards should help the average slightly. The change in parks should have little effect on his power totals. You know what you are getting from Reynolds.
2010 Stats: 79 R, 32 HR, 85 RBI, 7 SB, .198/.753
11. Martin Prado, ATL (27)
Not much power to offer from hot corner, but career .307/.810 is tasty.
2010 Stats: 100 R, 15 HR, 66 RBI, 5 SB, .307/.809
12. Casey McGehee, MIL (87)
First full year featured excellent highs (April, May, Aug., Sept.) and terrible lows (June, July).
2010 Stats: 70 R, 23 HR, 104 RBI, 1 SB, .285/.801
13. Pablo Sandoval, SF (24)
Lovable Panda lost 62 points (.330 to .268) on the BA in sophomore season. Now, if he could just drop 62 pounds.
2010 Stats: 61 R, 13 HR, 63 RBI, 3 SB, .268/.732
14. Pedro Alvarez, PIT (24)
Impressive second half — 13 HR, 53 RBI, .270 BA, .830 OPS in 294 ABs — for stud up-and-comer.
2010 Stats: 42 R, 16 HR, 64 RBI, 0 SB, .256/.788
15. Ian Stewart, COL (26*)
Improved BA last season (.228 to .256), but power dipped. Sky could be the limit if he could play a full year.
2010 Stats: 54 R, 18 HR, 61 RBI, 5 SB, .256/.781
* - turns 26 on April 5.
16. Scott Rolen, CIN (36*)
2005-2008 averages: 59-12-58-4 .271/.794. 2009-2010 averages: 71-16-75-3 .295/.839. How much longer can he do it?
2010 Stats: 66 R, 20 HR, 83 RBI, 1 SB, .285/.855
* - turns 36 on April 4.
17. Chase Headley, SD (27*)
The good: He set career highs in AB, R, H, SB. The bad: He set career highs in K, offers little power and plays in PETCO.
2010 Stats: 77 R, 11 HR, 58 RBI, 17 SB, .264/.702
* - turns 27 on May 9.
18. Chris Johnson, HOU (26)
Was a pleasant surprise in the second half, but high K rate (91 Ks in 341 ABs) is concerning.
2010 Stats: 40 R, 11 HR, 52 RBI, 3 SB, .308/.818
19. Placido Polanco, PHI (36)
You know what you are getting: 13-year, 162-game career averages of 91 R, 10 HR, 64 RBI, 8 SB and .303/.758.
2010 Stats: 76 R, 6 HR, 52 RBI, 5 SB, .298/.725
20. Chipper Jones, ATL (39*)
If he is on the field, the value should be good. However, he has been doing his best Brett Favre imitation lately.
2010 Stats: 47 R, 10 HR, 46 RBI, 5 SB, .265/.807
* - turns 39 on April 24.
21. Danny Valencia, MIN
22. Miguel Tejada, SF
23. Chone Figgins, SEA
24. Jhonny Peralta, DET
25. David Freese, STL