Who is really the best baseball team in the majors? I honestly don't know but I try to figure that out by using basic and advanced statistics. I live for talking about baseball, it's my biggest drive in my life and I will jump on the opportunity to talk baseball with anyone, even with people who I don't really like. For me, Baseball is a piece of art that sits in my mind all day, ready to be painted on at any point of the day.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fantasy: 2011 Keeper Fantasy Baseball Hitter Rankings 1-5

By Simon Stracher
Edited By Jack E. Cody

Keeper Rankings are much more difficult to create than regular rankings, for the reason that you have to incorporate age, past performance, future performance, position scarcity, and how position scarcity may change in upcoming years. With these things in mind, I have made (in my opinion) the best Baseball Keeper League Rankings possible. Remember, depth of position and future and past performance are facets that play the greatest role in my rankings.
My Top-5 Draft Day Fantasy Keeper Rankings
1. Albert Pujols-A popular choice for the number one position on many keeper league rankings is Hanley Ramirez, but I just can't put him here considering all Pujols has done since his incredible debut in 2001. The lowest WAR he's ever had in his career is 5.7, which he posted in his sophomore season. If you are having the worst season of your career and you still produce a 5.7 WAR, I'd say you are probably one of the top ten players of all time. Pujols is the number one pick because he is the most consistent player in baseball. His lowest batting average ever is .312, and the lowest number of homeruns he's had is 32. He's never played under 143 games, and he's played over 150 games eight times in his 10-year career. The only problem with him is his age (he turned 30 on January 16th). While he may maintain his dominance for another ten years, expect him to be one of the top five players for another three or four years. If you want to take Ramirez or someone else with this pick, I wouldn't blame you; But remember, the point of Keeper Leagues (and all leagues for that matter) is to win championships, not to be a third-place finisher five years in a row. With Pujols, you have a good chance of winning your championship in the next three years. After that, it may take you three-four years to rebuild for another championship run. But really, winning once in six years is better than never winning in six years, but finishing in the top half of your league every year. If you want to take the second path, be my guest, but if you want to win, take the first path.

2. Hanley Ramirez- Hanley is one of two shortstops, the other being Troy Tulowitzki, who can be the foundation of your team and who can be counted on for exceptional production year in and year out. While he may never become an automatic 30-30 guy, you can still lock him down for 23-30 homers and 25-35 stolen bases. Another reason for this high ranking is the dearth of offensive talent at the shortstop position. The lists of relevant fantasy shortstops goes as follows; Hanley and Tulo, followed by, in no particular order: Derek Jeter, Elvis Andrus, Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins, Starlin Castro, Alexei Ramirez, Rafael Furcal, Stephen Drew, Ian Desmond, Asdrubal Cabrera, Alcides Escobar, and Cliff Pennington. Besides Rollins and Reyes, who were great, but have had their career derailed by injuries, and in Rollins case, old age, the rest of these shortstops are not ideal fantasy players. In fact, the rest of them are either former top prospects or former stars, who are now all future scrubs (besides maybe Castro). None of these players will give you the stability and consistency of Hanley and that is why he is ranked here.

3. Evan Longoria- Some may disagree with this rank, but Longo is 25 years old, and in his first three seasons he has put up WARs of 5.4, 7.3, and 6.9, respectively. His walk rate has been increasing while his strikeout rate has been decreasing, perhaps hinting its time for a breakout season. While some people may point at his decreasing home-run numbers, it is mostly a product of bad luck, as his FB% has stayed relatively the same since his debut. The only dilemma with Longoria is that he has barely any lineup protection, following the losses of Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford. I think Longoria can overcome these odds and barring an injury or an out-of-the-blue colossal decline, Longoria can become a top five player in 2011, and in 2012, has the potential to usurp King Pujols’ crown as best (fantasy) baseball player alive.

4. Ryan Braun- In 2007, at the mere age of 24, Ryan Braun shocked the world by having 34 homeruns, a .324 average, and posting a ludicrous 1.004 OPS in just 113 games. He has not yet been able to replicate this performance, but he has a good shot to do so or even better. Ever since his debut, just like Longoria, his walk rate has augmented while his strikeout rate has diminished. But, unlike Longoria, his peripheral stats have not held. His GB% has been increased severely, while his FB% has decreased notably, down 10% from his '08 and '09 seasons. Braun is still 27, and he has the chance to be a 40 home-run guy, but I'm expecting him to have an average of 35 homeruns for the next five or six years. He has also shown not to be injury prone, so that’s another plus. He doesn't have the upside of Longoria, but he could have the consistency of Pujols.

5. Miguel Cabrera- You could make a case for Cabrera being ahead of Pujols in the Keeper Rankings, he is 4 years younger and has a similar track record. He hasn't had less than 30 home-runs in a season since 2006 and has hit over .320 in 5 of his 7 full seasons. Last year he had a 172 wRC+, which was higher than Pujols, who had a wRC+ of 169. The only concern with Cabrera was his maturity (after his infamous .26 BAC the night before a one-game playoff with the White Sox). Cabrera responded with his best year yet, hitting 38 home-runs and having a .429 wOBA, both career highs. Most importantly, however, Cabrera was treated for alcoholism and has not drank any alcohol since the weekend of that pivotal game. My point is, Cabrera is really one of the only players who is comparable to Pujols (the other possibly being Evan Longoria). If he is still available at five, I would suggest to try to snatch him up.

So that's my 1-5, bing-bang-boom, I hope you enjoyed it. 6-10 will be be posted either late Saturday or early Sunday.

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