Fantasy baseball draft season is well underway. Whether a league is hold its draft before the Dodgers-Diamondbacks series in Australia on March 22, Opening Night between the Dodgers and Padres on March 30 or Opening day on March 31, preparation can be key in setting up a fantasy team to succeed throughout the season.
Here’s a look at amNY’s picks for the top player, top sleeper and top player to avoid at each position.
C: Buster Posey (Giants)
He’ll be 27 by Opening Day and has proved durable since a freak injury in 2011. Don’t draft him too soon, but he’s the best backstop around.
1B: Prince Fielder
With even more impressive lineup around him than he had in Detroit, the durable Fielder should bounce back a from a so-so 2013.
2B: Robinson Cano
Even with less support while playing in a less-friendly hitters park, the former Yankee is still the best in the bigs at second.
3B: Miguel Cabrera (Tigers)
The reigning two-time AL MVP keeps getting better. Plus, he’s due to gain eligibility at 1B again, which is a nice bonus.
SS: Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies)
When he’s healthy, he’s one of the best out there. Consider Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramirez (Dodgers) to be ranked 1A and 1B, though.
OF: Mike Trout (Angels)
Expect the 22-year-old wunderkind to be the first name off the board. If not, pray for the No. 2 overall pick.
SP: Clayton Kershaw
Despite amazing stats and a loaded lineup, the wins haven’t been there. That will change in 2014 for the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner.
RP: Craig Kimbrel (Braves)
Don’t draft him too early — someone else surely will — but this is the game’s dominant closer in the post-Rivera era.
C: Miguel Montero
His 2013 campaign was borderline disastrous, but he’s got the skills to be a cheap solution at a deep position.
1B: Jose Abreu (White Sox)
Chicago gave this Cuban defector big bucks for a reason: He’s legit. He’s capable of becoming a top 10 player at his position.
2B: Martin Prado
His versatility (also 3B/OF) drives up his value, but he can hit, too. His 2013 post-All-Star break batting average of .324 is for real.
3B: Pablo Sandoval (Giants)
Reports say the “Kung Fu Panda” lost 30-40 pounds, which should lead to a return to his All-Star caliber production of years past.
SS: Asdrubal Cabrera
At 28, Cabrera is fully capable of putting a mediocre 2013 behind him. Double-digit steals, 18 homers and a .270 average would be solid.
OF: Leonys Martin (Rangers)
If this speedster improves on his .260 average from last season, he’ll be an effective option for boosting stolen base totals.
SP: Zack Wheeler (Mets)
Noah Syndergaard made him old news, but figure on him carrying the Mets staff this year. He’ll make a fine No. 3 SP on fantasy rosters.
RP: Bobby Parnell (Mets)
Healthy once again, Parnell likely can be had late and might be one of the best bang-for-your-buck players who will get drafted.
C: Jonathan Lucroy (Brewers)
He was terrific in 2013, but a poor finish (.226, 1 HR in 93 Sept. ABs) doesn’t bode well. There are better, similarly-ranked options.
1B: Chris Davis (Orioles)
Davis was a sleeper last year, but expect his amazing 2013 numbers (53 HRs, 138 RBIs) to dip this year. Let someone else dare him to repeat.
2B: Brandon Phillips (Reds)
He turns 33 in June, and his average has dipped about 20 points each of the past two years. Plus, he won’t drive in 100 runs again in 2014.
3B: Ryan Zimmerman
There are plenty of capable 3Bs, so don’t waste too high a pick on a player whose power stats were buoyed by 11 September HRs in 2013.
SS: Everth Cabrera (Padres)
After missing the end of 2013 due to a Biogenesis-related ban, let someone else see if PEDs boosted his lofty stolen base totals.
OF: Matt Kemp (Dodgers)
His monstrous 2011 season seems like ages ago. Injuries in recent years make the two-time All-Star a risky bet as a top-15 outfielder.
SP: Masahiro Tanaka
An ERA around 4.00 is a reasonable expectation for the rookie as he adjusts to playing in America. That doesn’t scream top-end starter.
RP: Rafael Soriano
His post-All-Star break ERA of 4.39 should give pause to those who only noticed his back-to-back 40-plus save seasons.