Here are my top 10 batters to draft for the 2011 MLB fantasy season. Make sure to check out my other 2011 fantasy baseball articles; Top 10 2011 MLB fantasy sleepers, top 10 MLB fantasy starting pitchers, top 10 MLB fantasy relief pitchers/closers.
#10. Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees
A-Rod is still a fantasy freak despite the constant bashing he takes from fans and in the media. Rodriguez had his worst batting average since 1995 with a ,270, but still hit 30 home runs, had 125 RBI, and scored 74 runs. Even if those numbers don’t increase, Rodriguez should be a top ten pick or at least taken in the second round, and the second 3rd baseman taken in your draft after Longoria.
#9. Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies
Howard is still in the top ten although he seemed to hit a wall in 2010. At 31, he still has plenty of life left in his swing and should increase his numbers from last season. Howard had his lowest numbers in five years in home runs, RBI, and walks. Howard did only play 143 games last season compared to his usual 160, so talk of him being past his prime is not justified quite yet.
#8. Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
Braun had a great year, but almost all of his numbers fell slightly in 2010. Braun was able to limit strikeouts, but his batting average fell from .320 to .304. Braun should have a very similar year in 2011, expect 25 home runs, 100+ RBI, 100+ runs, and 15 steals. If the Brewers had a better lineup his value would increase.
#7. Robinson Cano, 2B, New York Yankees
Cano is taking over as the most productive Yankee not named Alex Rodriguez. Cano has a lot of fantasy value due to the overall lack of power hitting second basemen. Batting .319, he also had 109 RBI, 103 runs, and 29 home runs. Yankees have a great lineup and Cano is only getting better, look for similar or slightly increased numbers. Make Cano your first option for your second base position.
#6. Hanley Ramirez, SS, Florida Marlins
Ramirez came back to earth after an unbelievable 2009 season, but remains one of the premier infield hitters and stolen base threats in the league. Ramirez hit .300 while scoring 92 runs and swiping 32 bases. Ramirez’ power numbers are slightly under Tulowitzki’s with 21 home runs and 76 RBI. The Marlins are not a very good offensive team, so don’t expect Ramirez to significantly increase his stats.
#5. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies
Tulowitzki played 29 games less in 2010 than he did in 2009 but had more RBI (95), and more doubles (32). The hard hitting shortstop had a .315 batting average, 27 home runs, 95 RBI, 89 runs, and 11 stolen bases. I place Tulowitzki first among shortstops, even ahead of Hanley Ramirez.
#4. Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays
Although his power numbers decreased slightly from his second year, Longoria increased his batting average (.294) and stolen bases (15). In 151 games Longoria hit 22 home runs, 104 RBI, and scored 96 runs. Longoria will be the featured hitter in a much less powerful lineup, but he is still a fantasy beast and worthy of the #4 overall spot.
#3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers
Being considered a poor man’s Pujols is not a bad thing. Cabrera actually had more RBI (126) and higher batting average (.328) than Pujols. Even with Cabrera’s strong numbers in 2010, just remember that the Tigers have a much stronger lineup this season with added protection from the healthy return of Magglio Ordonez and the addition of power hitter Victor Martinez. Cabrera should win the AL MVP award in 2011.
#2. Albert Pujols, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals
Although I have insulted Pujols by placing him second on any sort of list, he remains the league’s top power hitter and even at 31 going into the 2011 season, he has a lot of solid years ahead of him. Pujols numbers in 2010 did show some decline in certain categories that should be taken into consideration. Pujols hit his career low in batting average (.312), most strikeouts since his rookie year (76), and third lowest slugging percentage of his 10 year career (.596). Pujols is still one of the greatest hitters of all time, but when looking at fantasy production it is important to consider declines in performance.
#1. Carlos Gonzalez, CF/LF, Colorado Rockies
This may come as a surprise to many, but it shouldn’t. Not only did Gonzalez finish first overall last year in Yahoo! fantasy league’s, he is primed to do it again with a solid roster around him in Colorado. The stat line is flat out ridiculous: .336 batting average, 34 home runs, 117 RBI, 111 runs, 26 stolen bases. Gonzalez puts up amazing numbers in every single category. The stolen bases and higher batting average get the slight nod over Pujols. You may take Pujols because of his consistency year after year, but this season I would go with Gonzalez as your overall #1 fantasy baseball draft pick. Gonzalez also played 14 less games than Pujols did.