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As usual, there's a glut of fantasy talent at 1B this year, with much of the top 10 close enough you can put them in almost any order. Maybe that's what has inspired me to take a big gamble with my rankings and put an up-and-comer ahead of a couple of established stars.
At 2B, there is such a huge fall-off in value after the first two spots, you might just want to skip to No. 9, and figure out how many rounds you want to let pass before to take a chance on him.
Here we go:
1. Paul Goldschmidt, ARI: Despite a power fade last year (21 HRs, 77 RBI pre-All Star Break, 15 HRs, 48 RBI post-break, it's clear he's the closest thing the National League has to Miguel Cabrera. A line of 40/140/.320 would not be out of the question this season.
2. Chris Davis, BAL: I don't want to buy into his story, but to risk losing out on 45-50 HRs is too much.
3. Freddie Freeman, ATL: Possibly the biggest gamble in my entire draft guide, and I won't blame you if you disregard it. A 24-year-old with 23 HRs, 109 RBI and .309 AVG last year seems more desirable to me than the potent but aging and increasingly inconsistent talents that follow.
4. Prince Fielder, TEX: He landed in the right place this off-season for a power recharge after a career-low 25 HRs last year, but his hidden value as a .300 hitter also is fading. I think he could hit 40 HRs this season, but I'll take Freeman's high AVG and potentially more RBI.
5. Joey Votto, CIN: A career-best 135 walks last year makes him more valuable in leagues with deeper stat list, and he does consistently hit above .300, but his 73 RBI last year lagged the rest of the top five by a wide margin.
6.Edwin Encarnacion, TOR: Has now turned in two straight years of 35+ HRs, 100+ RBI, and though I do think he'll slip a little, I'm done being a doubter.
7. Allen Craig, STL: A slow start and unexpectedly low HR total last year made for a disappointing season in the eyes of some, but his .315 AVG and 92 RBI both were improvements from 2012.
8. Buster Posey, SF: He won't get the ranking love here that he gets at catcher, but his ability to hit .300+ automatically puts him in the top 10 at 1B.
9. Albert Pujols, LAA: The shrinking giant, who I'm ranking this high more as a curiosity. I find it hard to believe he doesn't have at least a 25/90/.300 season left in him.
10. Eric Hosmer, KC: Finally started to fulfill his promise with 17 HRs, 79 RBI and a .302 AVG last year, and I'd be extremely tempted to draft him ahead of Posey and Pujols if the chance arose.
11. Adrian Gonzalez, LAD: No longer someone who can turn in MVP-type numbers in lousy lineups, but the good news is he's in one of the best lineups and probably can still drive in 100 runs.
12. David Ortiz, BOS: A living definition of the term "clutch." His ridiculous 2013 post-season performance has to be the capper on his late-career revival, but he still has great value of deep stat leagues, particularly those that count OPS.
13. Carlos Santana, CLE: Another C/1B combo whose ranking fades a bit at 1B, but wouldn't be surprised if his 2014 numbers end up making him a top 10 1B for next season.
14. Joe Mauer, MIN: He is not supposed to play catcher at all this year, and his 47 RBI last year don't rate well with this group. However, a likely .300+ AVG makes him at least a great back-up.
15. Mark Trumbo, ARI: Move from LAA to ARI is almost universally being viewed as bad for his fantasy numbers. His 34 HRs, 100 RBI last year suggest a much higher ranking, but his .234 AVG and the post-trade unknowns are not making me comfortable.
16. Billy Butler, KC: After a breakthrough 2012 season, Butler looked like a top-tier 1B going into last year, but the result was 14 fewer HRs, 25 fewer RBIs, and his lowest AVG in five seasons. penchant for doubles.
17. Matt Adams, STL: The next great STL 1B discovery. 17 HRs in 74 games was just a start last year. He could prove to be a huge bargain this low if he gets enough starts and ABs.
18. Brandon Moss, OAK: Exploded for career-high 30 HRs and 87 RBI last year. I don't really expect that again, but 30 HRs one year certainly makes you worth consideration the next year.
19. Mike Napoli, BOS: Started hot and faded later, but 92 RBI were still a career-high, and there's reason to believe he still has a 30 HR, 100 RBI season left in him.
20. Michael Cuddyer, COL: A .331/20/84 line in 2013 should buy a better spot than this, but that career-high AVG was so far above his norm that something more like .270 should be expected.
Just missed: Victor Martinez, DET: After missing 2012, he came back with .301/14/83 last year, and is still a doubles machine at age 35.
Sleeper: Jose Abreu, WHITE SOX/Anthony Rizzo, CUBS: Playing to the hometown crowd here a bit. Abreu is the real name to watch. Everything really depends on how committed the Sox are to playing him every day. No one wants to guess numbers on this guy, but I think 25 HRs is plenty doable. Rizzo, believe it or not, is getting top 20 attention from many experts, perhaps on the assumption he can hit 30 HRs even if he doesn't play when a southpaw is pitching.
Sleeper who's not really a sleeper: Justin Morneau, COL: Very modest comeback last year with 17 HRs and 77 RBI, and I'm putting him here purely based on the potential for his new home to help further rejuvenate his numbers.
1. Robinson Cano, SEA: You know you're good when 27 HRs, 107 RBI and 41 doubles is seen by some as an off year. At 32, he still has potential for 30/110/.320.
2. Jason Kipnis, CLE: With his SB potential (30 last year), this Northbrook product offers an extra dimension Cano doesn't have, and is still improving in all categories as a hitter after 17/84/.284 last year.
3. Matt Carpenter, STL: Two startling 2013 numbers: 126 runs, 55 doubles. The rest of his line is .318/11/78, but grab him here based on those two numbers alone.
4. Dustin Pedroia, BOS: An aging bulldog. I'm not sure he will ever hit more than 10 HRs again, but his RBI punch and .300+ consistency still make him one of the best at a thin position.
5. Jose Altuve, HOU: Draft him for his potential to steal 40 bases and hit close to .300. His paltry HR and RBI figures are not worth mentioning, but SBs can make him a fantasy must-start.
6. Ben Zobrist, TAM: His days as a 20-HR candidate might be over, but he still can deliver 70+ RBI and maybe even double-digit SBs.
7. Ian Kinsler, DET: Just three years ago, he had 32 HRs and 30 SBs, joining an elite club. But his numbers deflated big-time last year, and in Detroit that will continue. Best hope is for a rebound in SBs and extra-base hits.
8. Brandon Phillips, CIN: Consistency? How about 18 HRs four years in a row? Last year, he broke through the 100 RBI threshold for the first time, though his best HR and SB years are behind him.
9. Jedd Gyorko, SD: Intriguing rookie season with 23 HRs and 63 RBI suggests the potential for 30/80 if he can hit a little better than last year's .249.
10. Chase Utley, PHI: Finally healthy enough last year to play 131 games, and 18 HRs, 69 RBI suggest he's still got some life in him.
11. Martin Prado, ARI: Very slow start last year, but ultimately reached career-high 82 RBI.
12. Brett Lawrie, TOR: Still haven't seen the best he can do. He could be ready for a 20 HR, 70 RBI season, and has potential for 15-20 SBs as well.
13. Aaron Hill, ARI: He's flashed big numbers in every offensive category at times, though hasn't had overall year-to-year consistency. Best bet is his potential to hit more than 20 HRs when healthy.
14. Daniel Murphy, NYM: Turned out to be a valuable in-season pick-up last year, with notable numbers being 41 doubles, 78 RBI and 23 SBs.
15. Howie Kendrick, LAA: Before last year, you could consistently get an AVG near .300, with around 60 RBI and 10-15 SBs, but he dropped off a bit last year.
16. Brian Dozier, MIN: Another waiver wire success last year, with 18 HRs, 66 RBI and 14 SBs. A .244 AVG doesn't help his case though.
17. Brad Miller: A sleeper of sorts, but at a stat-poor position he makes the top 20. Flashed some great extra-bases potential in a brief run last season (25 XBH, including six triples, in 81 Abs). He would play SS with Cano now in town.
18. Jed Lowrie, OAK: His 15 HRs, 75 RBI, .320 AVG and 45 doubles were by far a career year in 2013. Just don't see that happening, with 15/65/.260/35 being more likely.
19. Jurickson Profar, TEX: Former top prospect was not at all impressive in a half-season sample last year, but he only turns 21 next week and TEX is committed to playing him every day.
20. Omar Infante, KC: Cagey veteran hit .318 last year, and still makes a solid fantasy back-up with multi-position eligibility.
Just missed: Neil Walker, PIT: His numbers dipped a little last year, but on a good, young team, this former hot prospect could finally go for 20/75/.280.
Sleeper: Kolten Wong, STL: Brief taste of the majors last year showed a glimpse of his 30 SB speed. The Cardinals tend to find gems, so I like his potential h=if he gets in enough games.
Sleeper who's not really a sleeper: Dan Uggla, ATL: He hit 36 HRs as recently as 2011, so I just can't give up on him even though he hit only .179 last year. If he hits anywhere north of .220, he should have a shot at least 25 HRs.
Previously In The Draft Guide: Pitchers & Catchers.
Next week: 3B & SS.
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.
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