- Henry Abbott, TrueHoop, NBA
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Imagine, if you will, that you're a caveman, and for the past three months you've been stuck in some remote area, out of touch with the world.
Now reintroduced into society, you're making up for lost time, buying "so-easy" auto insurance, getting your own sitcom -- seriously, we hear it's coming -- and, most importantly, getting yourself a 2007 fantasy baseball team.
Wouldn't it be great to get a second shot like that? We know so much more today than we did back in March -- you know, that old "hindsight" thing -- and surely, the lot of us would approach the draft a whole lot differently now.
Fortunately, our own Nate Ravitz and Tristan H. Cockcroft teamed up to show us what might happen if a fantasy team redrafted today. The rules were simple: No roster requirements, simply a serpentine, two-man draft in which each owner picked the player he felt was best on the board for Rotisserie 5x5 scoring. Statistics to date don't matter; only numbers from June 1 forward count. With only two draftees, it's not exactly what you'd expect from a traditional draft today, but it highlights in a sense the top-60 players looking forward, and an interesting discussion piece for your in-season trade talks.
So get cracking, Mr. Caveman. With our help, your late draft should be so easy well, you know
1. Ravitz: Jose Reyes, SS, Mets. OK, so he's not going to steal 100 bases, and the power is off a bit this season. Still, Reyes is going to hit .300 and steal 50-plus bases just from this point on, and you simply can't get that from anyone else.
2. Cockcroft: Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees. Disappointing as his Yankees may be, A-Rod still finds himself easily on track for a 50-homer, 125-RBI, 20-steal season. In short, vintage A-Rod numbers, easily first-round material and a potential fantasy MVP.
3. Cockcroft: Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals. The lineup around him is awful and he's on track for about 30 homers and 90 RBIs, but this is still Albert Pujols we're talking about. He has averaged .332-42-126 numbers in six previous big league seasons.
4. Ravitz: Johan Santana, P, Twins. If you've been disappointed so far, you shouldn't be. Santana is right on track for his usual midsummer onslaught on the American League, and there's simply no other pitcher as dominant or as reliable.
5. Ravitz: Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians. He's pretty much the player Carlos Beltran was supposed to be before Beltran cut back on his stolen bases. Sizemore actually could be better from here on out than he has been, since he's likely to bat .290 or better the rest of the way. Did I mention he's on pace for 143 runs?
6. Cockcroft: Vladimir Guerrero, OF, Angels. He continues to average .320-35-115-15 numbers year in and year out and is on track for better than that so far in 2007. Could it be that Vlad doesn't get enough credit as a perennial first-round pick?
7. Cockcroft: Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies. Second base remains a weak position, and Utley finds himself on track for a .300-30-130 season. That production is in spite of Utley playing without Ryan Howard providing him lineup protection for much of the year.
8. Ravitz: Carl Crawford, OF, Devil Rays. Why has Crawford stolen only 12 bases so far this season? I'm not sure, but I do know that he stole at least 12 in three different months in 2006, so I'm not worried about his ability to make up ground in that category. Meanwhile, his .495 slugging percentage continues a career-long trend of improvement in the power department.
9. Ravitz: Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Marlins. In a year when so many third basemen have been disappointments (that's you Garret Atkins!), Cabrera has been a rock. He's on track for his third straight season hitting at least .320, and he's on pace for 30-plus homers after hitting only 26 last season.
10. Cockcroft: Matt Holliday, OF, Rockies. Go ahead and say Coors fuels his ridiculous numbers, but Holliday is a .330 hitter with a .908 OPS on the road. He's 27 years old and well on track for the best year of his brief but productive big league career.
11. Cockcroft: Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies. No quadriceps problem can keep him down; Howard charged back with three homers in his first five games fresh off the DL. There might not be a better pure-power source in baseball, not one so young.
12. Ravitz: David Wright, 3B, Mets. Folks, he's turned his entire season around. In May, Wright hit .294 with eight home runs, 22 RBIs, 17 runs and seven stolen bases. He's going 20-20 for the second straight season, and he'll hit .300 or better the rest of the way.
13. Ravitz: Jake Peavy, SP, Padres. An under-reported story (credit: the San Diego Union-Tribune) was that Peavy pitched most of last season with an out-dated prescription for his contrat lenses. Once he received the new lenses in August, he was dominant, and that has carried over to 2007. A great bullpen and a pitchers' ballpark are two more reasons to love Peavy the rest of the way.
14. Cockcroft: David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox. He's like an older Ryan Howard, except he's in a deeper lineup. It sure doesn't look like the Red Sox will suffer a midsummer decline this year, and once Ortiz hits his stride, he'll be back around 50 homers.
15. Cockcroft: Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies. Homerless May or not, Rollins nevertheless finds himself on track for a 30/30 campaign, quite a useful commodity in fantasy. It's a good time to buy on Rollins as his value has temporarily come down a tad.
16. Ravitz: Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins. Last year's American League MVP just finished up a month when he hit 10 home runs and drove in 29. Apparently, he's not resting on his laurels. While most of the other top first basemen have struggled, Morneau can be penciled in for .300-35-120.
17. Ravitz: Carlos Beltran, OF, Mets. Although he's off the pace of last year's monster season, Beltran has picked things up in the stolen base department, and he still has tremendous upside. (Ed note: this draft was completed before Thursday's game, in which Beltran suffered a knee injury.)
18. Cockcroft: Alfonso Soriano, OF, Cubs. Wasn't he an early-first rounder in the preseason? Sure, but to date, Soriano has maintained a 15-homer, 45-RBI, 30-steal kind of pace. He's better than this, but not quite the franchise pick we once expected.
19. Cockcroft: Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins. If you think Rollins' 30/30 potential season is a valuable one, Ramirez's 25/50 potential year is every bit as appealing. So much for a sophomore slump; he looks like the real deal at the bat.
20. Ravitz: Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers. On pace for 57 homers, Fielder is at least an even-money bet to join his father in the exclusive 50-homer club. We might not get the seven stolen bases of 2006, but when the rest of his numbers are logged, it won't matter.
21. Ravitz: Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees. Where are the home runs (3) and steals (5) Captain Derek? We have to assume they'll come around. Meanwhile, Jeter is hitting .343 and is the favorite to win the batting title.
22. Cockcroft: Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Mariners. As he has done in the past, Ichiro has ridden a fabulous May to turnaround his season. He's in a contract year and already right on track for a .330 batting average, 120 runs scored and 40 stolen bases.
23. Cockcroft: Manny Ramirez, OF, Red Sox. Doesn't it always seem like Manny takes a month or two to truly be Manny? Encouraging thought: He had similar numbers to these through May 2005 and finished at .292-45-144 totals.
24. Ravitz: Carlos Lee, OF, Astros. Has any star player had as good a season as Lee with less publicity? He's hitting .317 and is on pace for 147 RBIs! Things should only get better once Lance Berkman remembers that he's you know, Lance Berkman.
25. Ravitz: Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Cubs. Speaking of unheralded stars, A-Ram is right on track for another 30-homer, 100-RBI season. Although he's streaky from month to month, his final season numbers always end up about the same.
26. Cockcroft: Mark Teixeira, 1B, Rangers. Maybe he's turning into a bit of an overrated player, but keep in mind he's a .350 hitter with nine homers since Apr. 27. Teixeira is turning around his slow start a lot quicker than he did a year ago.
27. Cockcroft: Travis Hafner, DH, Indians. I can't pass up a prime hitter who plays for one of the game's better offenses. Despite his slow start, Hafner is one of the smartest batsmen in the game, a player capable of 30 more homers, 90 more RBIs and a .300 average.
28. Ravitz: Magglio Ordonez, OF, Tigers. You're free to question whether Ordonez can keep hitting .345, but the 12 homers and 26 doubles say that his power stroke is back. Plus, with so much offensive talent around him, Ordonez should continue to score runs and drive them in even if he falls into a slump.
29. Ravitz: Jason Bay, OF, Pirates. We have to accept that he's not going to run like we once hoped, but Bay did have knee surgery in the offseason, so it's possible he'll run more as the season progresses. Meanwhile, you'll take the .310 average and outstanding overall production.
30. Cockcroft: Derrek Lee, 1B, Cubs. Though he's on track for only about 15 homers and 10 stolen bases, Lee's career track record says he's capable of better, numbers in those departments (around 30/15). Plus, he's now a legitimate batting-title contender.
31. Cockcroft: Gary Sheffield, OF, Tigers. He was among the hottest hitters in May, batting .321 with 10 home runs in 26 games. Now that's the Sheffield we've come to know over the years. Think the Yankees miss his bat now?
32. Ravitz: Torii Hunter, OF, Twins. If Hunter keeps up this pace, he'll be one of the five best players in all of fantasy baseball. You have to expect him to tail off at some point, but you also can't let him slide past this point.
33. Ravitz: Dan Haren, SP, A's. Everyone thought Rich Harden would be one of the best pitchers in the league. Well, they should have dropped the "d" and they would have been correct. Haren has excellent control, gets a decent number of strikeouts and is an absolute horse. If Johan Santana doesn't win the Cy Young Award, Haren is the next logical choice.
34. Cockcroft: Brian Roberts, 2B, Orioles. His elbow doesn't seem like an issue at all this year, as he's a .300-plus hitter on a 60-steal pace, great numbers from a second baseman. The only worry: He usually slips a bit in the steals category after the All-Star break.
35. Cockcroft: John Lackey, SP, Angels. He sure doesn't feel like a fantasy ace, but his numbers are right there with the best to date. At this point he's a pretty safe bet for a sub-3 ERA, sub-1.25 WHIP and 200 K's, which are ace-like stats.
36. Ravitz: Victor Martinez, C, Indians. What's this? A catcher? Well, when said catcher is on pace for 32 homers and 154 RBIs, he's absolutely worth it. Martinez probably won't get to 30 homers or 140 RBIs, but his track record indicates he won't fall off much.
37. Ravitz: Alex Rios, OF, Blue Jays. When Rios got hurt last season, the debate was whether the injury prevented him from having a monster season or saved him from the scrutiny of an inevitable decline. He's now hitting .300 with 12 homers and five steals, so it's obvious who won that argument.
38. Cockcroft: Lance Berkman, 1B, Astros. It's hard to imagine him finishing with fewer than 20 homers and 80 RBIs despite those being the stats he is currently on pace to produce. Remember, Berkman is still in his prime, at age 31, and still capable of rebounding to .300-30-100 numbers.
39. Cockcroft: Miguel Tejada, SS, Orioles. He's no longer the contributor in home runs and RBIs that he was in his prime, but as he has slipped in those categories, he has improved in batting average. A .320-20-95 season should be within his reach.
40. Ravitz: Joe Nathan, RP, Twins. You can't rank closers based on what they've done so far. Nathan struggled a bit early but has been dominant of late. With the Twins shoring up their rotation, Nathan could get 30 saves from here on out.
41. Ravitz: Jeremy Bonderman, SP, Tigers. Unbeaten so far this year, Bonderman will continue to benefit from the terrific Detroit offense, and despite the blister of a few weeks ago, he's as durable as they come.
42. Cockcroft: C.C. Sabathia, SP, Indians. He has always been a reliable fantasy option, but look at his strikeout rate, 8.92 per nine innings, surpassing his 8.53 rate as a rookie. Sabathia is right on track for 200 K's, and he gets plenty of run support.
43. Cockcroft: Francisco Rodriguez, RP, Angels. With K-Rod you know exactly what you're getting: 45 saves, an ERA around two and 100 K's. Not surprisingly, he's right on track for 50 saves, a low-twos ERA and 100 K's. Boy is he dependable!
44. Ravitz: Cole Hamels, SP, Phillies. Hamels easily could have gone 10 picks sooner, but his track record, his home ballpark and his awful bullpen gave us enough reasons to pass until this point.
45. Ravitz: Carlos Guillen, SS, Tigers. Guillen is always underrated because most fantasy owners don't properly value batting average. This guy has hit .318 or better the past three seasons and is right at .317 so far this year.
46. Cockcroft: B.J. Upton, 2B, Devil Rays. If I were a believer in him maintaining a .325 batting average and 30-homer, 100-RBI and 35-steal paces, I'd have picked him sooner. Still, he's a 25/25 candidate easy, with 90 apiece in runs and RBIs.
47. Cockcroft: Roy Oswalt, SP, Astros. I worry about whether the Astros will hold up as a contender all year, but if they do, Oswalt will be a huge reason why. He's another ol' reliable, usually netting 18 wins and an ERA around three.
48. Ravitz: John Smoltz, SP, Braves. At age 40, Smoltz just keeps getting it done. While everyone looks for the next big thing, Smoltz is still one of the 10 best pitchers in all of baseball.
49. Ravitz: Francisco Cordero, RP, Brewers. Saves can come and go, but Cordero has been so dominant this season that he can't be ignored: 32 strikeouts in 22 innings and a perfect 19-for-19 on save chances.
50. Cockcroft: Andruw Jones, OF, Braves. Back problems could be the cause of his slow start, but Jones has started other years slowly, like 2005. He hit 48 of his 51 homers from May 4 forward that year, and remember, this is a contract year for him.
51. Cockcroft: Rafael Furcal, SS, Dodgers. He might no longer be a 40-steal candidate, instead settling closer to 25, but Furcal is easily a .300 hitter with 15-homer, 100-run potential. That's not a bad player to have at shortstop.
52. Ravitz: Jermaine Dye, OF, White Sox. Dye won't end up with last year's numbers, but his power is still there, and he should eventually get his average up to the .270 range. Plus, the White Sox have to start hitting better as a team, don't they?
53. Ravitz: Erik Bedard, SP, Orioles. Guess who leads the major leagues in strikeouts? This guy. Bedard may have only four wins, but he should get eight to 10 more, and the rest of his numbers should be among the best in the game.
54. Cockcroft: J.J. Hardy, SS, Brewers. Like Alex Rios last year, Hardy's fly-ball rate and extra-base hit rate have soared to levels that back up his power surge. I'd be more worried he could get hurt than his numbers will decline significantly.
55. Cockcroft: Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Padres. He hasn't done nearly as much in May as he did the first month of the season, but there's still a .300-average, 30-homer capable batsman here. It shouldn't be long before he enters his next power hot streak.
56. Ravitz: Adam Dunn, OF, Reds. We can't imagine that Dunn will continue to steal bases, but he's done it before, so it's at least possible. Meanwhile, he's well on his way to his fourth 40-homer season.
57. Ravitz: Billy Wagner, RP, Mets. Wagner quietly has a 1.50 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP while averaging over a strikeout per inning and going a perfect 13-for-13 on save chances. Basically, he's been Billy Wagner.
58. Cockcroft: Josh Beckett, SP, Red Sox. I have my concerns about his health, but Beckett does have a heck of a lineup backing him up, he's a potential 200-K pitcher, and he's pitching better now than at any stage in his career. Risky or not, he's an elite arm.
59. Cockcroft: Jonathan Papelbon, RP, Red Sox. Though the Red Sox are treating him with kid gloves, Papelbon is on pace for 40 saves, a sub-two ERA and 80 K's. Perhaps he'll stay healthy deeper into the year being used a tad more sparingly.
60. Ravitz: Roy Halladay, SP, Blue Jays. You could make a strong case for taking him much earlier, but his injury history -- even though some were fluky -- can't be ignored. For as long as he's healthy, Halladay will be among the elite pitchers in the game.
Nate Ravitz and Tristan H. Cockcroft examine what a draft might look like today.