When we all sat down at our computers or draft tables this fantasy baseball preseason we were all geniuses.
Our sleepers were still ready to wake, and our bouncebackers still had bounce. We waited until the perfect moment to call out that prospect we just knew would get an early call-up.
Now it’s May 21. At least one of your predictions has bombed and one of your reluctant picks has made you look more genius-like than your super-sleeper.
The current fantasy baseball landscape is dramatically different than the consensus we expected on draft day, but then again, this is why we love baseball.
We love that Jose Bautista and Brett Gardner are top-25 players almost as much as we love being the owner to snag Bautista and Gardner at the first sign of streak and riding the good fortune to the top of the league.
However, as has been said many times before, baseball is a game of averages and eventually, some of these players are going to float back to Earth. No doubt, some will plummet. Other players will ascend, some on rockets.
For now, let’s take a look at our fantasy baseball landscape on this day, May 21, 2010:
The top 50 players in fantasy baseball
- Ubaldo Jimenez — Here’s what I said about Jimenez in the preseason: “I like Ubaldo more than a couple pitchers in the top 20. He’s an ace and, like Hamels, will be 26 this season. Projections: 15/0/3.70/1.35/190.” I considered Jimenez a huge value in drafts and snagged him in a couple leagues. Hopefully, you ninjas drank our Kool-Aid and picked him as a top-20 pitcher.
- Evan Longoria — The exact opposite. Longoria ignorance on my part. He’s been lucky, but not so lucky that he’ll regress out of MVP contention.
- Ryan Braun — No surprise here. The best offensive outfielder in baseball.
- Andre Ethier — “He needs to hit lefties better. If he does that, he might jump 10 spots. Projections: 85/20/90/5/.285.” That was me back in March. He’s on the DL now, but was the best player in fantasy baseball when he got shelved. Ethier is hitting .375 with a homer and a 1.007 OPS against lefties.
- Roy Halladay — The only surprise is that he’s not at the top of the list after the way he started the season.
- Miguel Cabrera — Made him a preseason target for a reason.
- Vladimir Guerrero — Like you, I dislike drafting DHs. They’re always hogging the UTIL slot. But Vlad has been worth it. IF he can stay healthy, he’ll do this all season. Even all caps cannot represent how big that “if” is.
- Tim Lincecum — Like Halladay, the biggest surprise is that he’s only 8th.
- Justin Mourneau — Ahead of Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez. Bet fantasy teams with a Mourneau are doing pretty well.
- Robinson Cano — Much has been said in our baseball updates about how good Cano has been.
- Adam Wainwright — Continues his mastery of the pitching craft.
- Joey Votto — You know him as a longtime ninja favorite. Dude’s a first-round pick in 2010.
- Vernon Wells — Biggest surprise on the list so far for me. He can’t keep this up.
- Brett Gardner — I expect a regression this season, but Gardner obviously has talent.
- Casey McGehee — If you were reading us in the preseason, you know we were higher on McGehee than everybody else.
- Kevin Youkilis — As reg’lar as the sunrise and sunset.
- David Price — Drafted Price late in one league and dropped him before the season-opener. Der, me.
- Matt Kemp — Fulfilling his top-5 outfielder draft slot.
- Jayson Werth — I made an awful Werth-his-draft-slot joke here. That was my one. Alright, I can’t promise I won’t do it again. Yep, a double negative to give your squishy brain some work.
- Dan Uggla — He’s my 2B in a couple leagues. He’s not just built for power so far in 2010.
- Chase Utley — So, what was the +/- between Uggla and Utley in your draft/auction?
- Josh Johnson — Nearly tried to trade him away before he pitched a game for me. Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t offer.
- Shane Victorino — Only seven steals and a .262 average, but 8 homers and 32 RBI. Interesting. He’s always had some pop, but not like this.
- Andrew McCutchen — He’s good enough to be a first- or second-round pick in 2011… As long as his team doesn’t hold him back.
- Jose Bautista — On pace for 45 homers in a surprisingly stacked Blue Jays lineup. He can’t keep this up.
- Carl Crawford — Puttin’ up Carl Crawford numbers. Move along.
- Phil Hughes — In case you missed it: As soon as Hughes went rotation in March, the ninjas started pushing him hard.
- Marlon Byrd — Honesty in quotes: “He’s starting in center field for the Cubs, but why he’s being picked ahead of Kyle Blanks or Conor Jackson is a question I have no answer for. Projections: 65/15/70/5/.280.” That was foolish preseason me. If Jackson and Blanks were forced to fight each other — ninja-style, of course — with baseball bats they’d both die of exhaustion. Swing and a miss. Swing and a miss. Swing and a miss.
- Chris Carpenter — As long as he’s healthy…
- Matt Garza — Ace. We’ve been calling him an ace for a couple years.
- Alex Rios — Another surprise. He’s loving life wearing White Sox.
- Kelly Johnson — Out of nowhere. Johnson has cooled down recently and will continue to slide down this list, but is better than the preseason credit he was given.
- Barry Zito — Found the fountain of youth. Some pitchers call it a slider.
- Jaime Garcia — After a couple starts, we were all, “go get Garcia” because we like alliteration and because Garcia is good.
- Albert Pujols — Wait. Aren’t you supposed to be at the top with Prince Fiel…? I mean Mark Teix…? Never mind, Pujols, you’re doing fine.
- Nelson Cruz — One of my favorite picks of the year, jzak gave him his own preview post in March.
- Ricky Romero — Has 64Ks in 63 innings and a .207 BAA. Those Jays hitters mentioned a few players ago? They got some arms who can make their leads stand up. Oh, he’s “EMERGING!”
- Mark Reynolds — It hasn’t felt like he’s been that good — I have him on a couple teams — because he’s hitting only .221. Yes, his other numbers are that good.
- Alex Rodriguez — Unwritten rulebreaker maybe, but he’s also consistently one of the superstar fantasy players in this game.
- Elvis Andrus — How’d he get here? 15 steals, 29 runs and a .327 average.
- Shaun Marcum — Somebody call the PED police. They’ve gotta be pumping gallons of something into the clubhouse water at Rogers Centre.
- Ty Wigginton — Every year he does this. He’ll cool down and heat up again, all the while switching like a Swiss Army Knife across your fantasy team’s starting infield.
- James Loney — He’s a good hitter, but he can’t stay in the top 50. Not enough power.
- Doug Fister — He’ll be a decent fantasy spot start throughout the season, but can’t stay up here with the aces.
- Carlos Gonzalez — Just had a streak of hitting in 18 of 19 games broken. Top 50’s no stretch for Gonzalez.
- Paul Konerko — This slugger caught me by surprise. Konerko’s destroying the ball in 2010 despite being one of the 10 unluckiest hitters in baseball.
- Josh Hamilton — This ranking made me cock my head like your dog does when it hears a weird noise on the TV. Hamilton has surged back from a craptaculous start.
- Ryan Howard — In the preseason, I told you to pick him in the first round ahead of his draft slot. I’m sorry, but in my defense he has been better than Mark Teixeira, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez.
- Jason Heyward — Ridiculed some folks for an end-game bidding war over Jason Heyward (he doesn’t do pushups, he pushes the Earth down). He’s for real, man. For real.
- Alex Gonzalez — I’m not certain, but I’m beginning to believe there may be a good source of “stuff” in Canada. Gonzalez has 10 homers and 30 RBI, and those are only the third-best totals in each category on his team.
So those are your 50 best players in fantasy baseball right now. As you may have noticed, there are quite a few interesting omissions. Come back tomorrow when we talk expensive overachievers.