Fantasy Baseball: Grading Albert Pujols, First 20 Players off the Draft Board


By Kevin Jackman, Join us on Twitter- @kjackmansports or

We are approximately 50 games in, and while last season’s theme of “the year of the pitcher” continues from 2010 in to 2011, the fantasy baseball landscape has seen some major changes among the top of the rankings. So far, we have seen Albert Pujols have the worst start to a season of his career while Jose Bautista has looked like a right handed Barry Bonds. On top of that, injuries have claimed promising season for many owners by plaguing several top picks in this year’s draft.  

Since the school year is coming to a close for high schoolers and college students alike, now is a good time to assign grades to the top- 10 picks from the 2011 fantasy baseball draft.

10. SP Roy Halladay– 6-3  2.35 ERA  1.04 WHIP  9.18 K/9

Analysis: Halladay was expected to be the best fantasy pitcher in this year’s draft, and boy has he lived up to the expectations. He may not be the absolute best pitcher to this point, but he is certainly the most consistent, and can carry a pitching staff in a particular week. Grade to this point: A-

9. 2B Robinson Cano– 27 R  9 HR  32 RBI  .273 AVG

Analysis: In a year where second base is as thin as a piece of paper, Cano was expected to be the crown jewel. While the power numbers have been there, as well as an occasional surge in RBI’s, Cano has disappointed his owners. He is a notorious slow starter, so better production is ahead. Grade to this point: B-

8. OF Carlos Gonzalez– 31 R  8 HR  32 RBI  .253 AVG  6 SB

Analysis: There was a split of opinions when it came to Car-Go after his huge 2010 season- one side was eager to see his encore, anticipating even better numbers, while the other side saw the cracks in the foundation and foresaw a letdown on the horizon. Let’s just say the second half was correct. Grade to this point: C

7. OF Ryan Braun– 36 R  12 HR  37 RBI  .307 AVG  11 SB

Analysis: Since the day he broke in to the league, Braun has been an absolute monster. Even if he isn’t hitting for power, he supplies an owner a great source of average. He even is only one of two players with double digit homers and stolen bases to this point. This year he has put everything together and could very well end up in the top five when the season comes to a close. Grade to this point: A+

6. 1B Joey Votto– 36 R  6 HR  29 RBI  .328 AVG  4 SB

Analysis: The defending MVP is putting up a very solid season thus far. While his power numbers are fairly average, he is contributing across the board, which is something every fantasy owner loves to see. Votto is a great source of runs and RBI’s and should continue to be so. Grade to this point: B+

5. 3B Evan Longoria– 12 R  2 HR  9 RBI  .209 AVG  1 SB

Analysis: While much of his season has been spent on the DL, Longoria hasn’t even been effective when he is in the lineup. Though that shouldn’t be the case for long, Longo owners have been suffering heavily all year. This isn’t what anyone expected when they took Longoria with a top-five, therefore his grade will reflect it. Grade to this point: F

4. 1B Miguel Cabrera– 36 R  9 HR  35 RBI  .310 AVG

Analysis: Cabrera very well could have been number two had he not endured a terrible off-season, so whoever drafted him at a discount is very lucky. Miggy is having a great season across the board, which is no big surprise. Grade to this point: A-

3. SS Troy Tulowitzki– 25 R  11 HR  30 RBI  .246 AVG  3 SB

Analysis: Boy did he start off hot, but his incredible start can only be matched by his sharp decline. While the power numbers have been very nice, his overall production has been severely lacking the fast few weeks. The shortstop position has been terrible so far, so Tulo’s bad numbers are a little more bearable. Grade to this point: C-

2. SS Hanley Ramirez– 29 R  4 HR  17 RBI  .210 AVG  11 SB

Analysis: Who saw this coming? I for sure didn’t. Han-Ram has had a terrible start to 2011 that has seen him struggle with the bat, and simply staying on the field. One of the few bright spots for him are the runs and stolen bases, but they don’t come even close to making up for the production an owner should be getting from the first round pick. Grade to this point: F

1. 1B Albert Pujols– 31 R  8 HR  28 RBI  .265 AVG  3 SB

Analysis: We are witnessing one of the all-time greatest players struggle through the worst stretch of his career. If I was an owner of Pujols, I would worry to much, but if I were you I would be slightly ticked off because Pujols was the only person you could pick with that first selection, and this is what you’re getting. It’ll get better, but at this point, Pujols isn’t worth a third or fourth round pick. Grade to this point: C

How Often Will the ‘W’ flag Soar in 2011

W flag

Question 1: What is worse, the Cubs 103 year championship drought, or the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 18 straight years of losing seasons?

Answer: Cubs.

Question 2: Which team has a better chance of breaking their respective streaks?

Answer: Cubs.

Question 3: Can the Cubs win the division?

Answer: Maybe?

This year the Cubs have an interesting blend of youthful talent, veteran presence, and big contract busts. To take a closer look, let’s break down the roster.

The infield appears to be… very solid with third baseman Aramis Ramirez healthy and primed for a big contract season. Behind the dish, Geovany Soto surprisingly led all catchers in OPS last year, coming in at .890 and looks to play more than the 103 games he played last year under Lou Piniella. Shortstop Starlin Castro has all the talent in the world, has already had a full season batting .300 and is only 20 years old. Look for huge things out of this guy if he can add some consistent power to his game at the plate. Carlos Pena hit under the Mendoza line last year, but is a sure bet to bounce back in the hitter happy environment of the friendly confines. Look for 30-35 homers from him. Second base is where it gets interesting. Blake Dewitt was the consolation prize we acquired in the Ted Lilly deal last summer. Somehow, he is now looking at being the third string second baseman behind Jeff Baker and Darwin Barney. Baker has had the best spring, but I like Barney, he very well may be the leadoff hitter that we haven’t had in Chicago in a very long time.

The biggest question in the outfield is… How soon can we rid ourselves of the Soriano-ic plague. Every time I watch him play I feel embarrassed about being excited when we initially signed him. This is a guy who came in after an incredible 40-40-40 (doubles-homers-steals) season and not once has he stolen more than 20 bases in a season, and only slugging 30+ homers once, his first season. Once we find a suitor to take Soriano, and possibly even Fukudome, will finally purge the team of disappointing, big contract busts.

The best pitcher in the rotation is… dependent on which Carlos Zambrano shows up. If we get the bat cracking, teammate fighting, infuriating Carlos, than it will be Ryan Dempster. If we get the guy who went 8-0 with a 1.58 ERA in the second half of last year, it will be Big Z. Ryan Dempster is as consistent as they come but you can’t look past the numbers and innings Zambrano has given the Cubs over his career. At the same time, don’t look past Matt Garza. We knew he had good enough stuff to be very competetive in the tough AL East, so a trip to the NL Central may make him look like an ace. Even though he has posted a 10+ ERA this spring.

The year the Cubs will win the world series will… not be this year. They will compete. They will will be fighting until the end. But wait until Castro and Colvin develop and Soriano and Fukudome are wearing different jerseys to start calling it the year.