2011 Draft First Round Breakdown: A First Look

Let’s take a preliminary look at the first round of 2011 fantasy baseball drafts.  This is going to be an extremely fluid list, so don’t take the order as anything set in stone.  As I work on my progressions and really dig into my research things are going to move, possibly quite dramatically.

With that said, let’s get to the list:

1) Albert Pujols – St. Louis Cardinals – First Baseman
Any player who has a “down” year, yet hits .312, 42 HR, 118 RBI, 115 R and 14 SB is one scary individual.  There is no doubting who the best player in the game is.  For his 10-year career, he’s never had fewer then 32 HR.  He’s only once been below 115 RBI.  Only one year has he scored fewer then 100 runs.  He’s never hit below .310 and he even chips in a few stolen bases.  He’s certainly a special player.

2) Miguel Cabrera – Detroit Tigers – First Baseman
If it wasn’t for Pujols, he’d be the clear-cut best hitter in baseball.  Coming off a year where he hit .329 with 38 HR, 128 RBI and 111 R, he has been almost as consistent as Pujols.  Where the two differ, however, is Pujols ability to chip in some stolen bases and the runs scored.  While Cabrera scored plenty of runs in 2010, his prior three seasons had been 96, 85 and 91.  He’s no lock to pass the century mark, which certainly puts him a cut below.

3) Hanley Ramirez – Florida Marlins – Shortstop
Honestly, his position in the first round is a real unknown for me at this point.  A year ago people were considering taking him first overall, but a disappointing 2010 campaign clearly takes him out of the top spot debate.  He hit .300 with 21 HR, 76 RBI, 92 R and 32 SB.  I know, it doesn’t seem bad, but it really doesn’t hold the clout of a top pick, either.  Then again, the Marlins struggled overall, especially at the top of the order, and had to utilize Ramirez in the leadoff spot for 97 AB.  That certainly hurt his chances to drive in runs, as did injuries.  What does appear to be the case is that his days of stealing 50 bases are behind him.  This is going to be one of the more debated spots for me and chances are that he’s going to be moved as my projections and research get fine-tuned.  He certainly is a player we’ll take a closer look at as we get closer to the season, as the makeup of the Marlins will have a huge influence on his potential value.

4) Evan Longoria – Tampa Bay Rays – Third Baseman
An injury towards the end of the season helped to skew his numbers down, but don’t be mistaken, he is one of the better hitters in the game, period.  The fact that he plays at an extremely shallow position just makes him look all the more appealing.  He finished 2010 hitting .294 with 22 HR, 104 RBI and 96 R in 574 AB (151 games).  The power was down, thanks to his HR/FB taking a major hit (17.6% in ’09 to 11.1% in ’10).  At 25-years old, it certainly is easy to imagine the power coming back, so don’t shy away from him.

5) Troy Tulowitzki – Colorado Rockies – Shortstop
His slow start may have caused many owners to think that they could get a bargain on Tulowitzki in 2011.  The show he put on in the first half of September put those hopes to bed.  He hit .322 with 15 HR, 40 RBI and 30 R for the month, as he tried to carry the Rockies to another unbelievable late season run.  While they ultimately fell short, Tulowitzki proved how valuable of a fantasy player he could be.

6) Ryan Braun – Milwaukee Brewers – Outfielder
Some people may feel that the lack of elite outfielders helps Braun remain as a first round pick.  However, when you look at the numbers, there really isn’t much not to like, is there.  He hit .304 with 25 HR, 103 RBI, 101 R and 14 SB.  Many people believe that out of a first round pick, you don’t want someone that is going to help you in two or three categories, but someone who helps across the board.  Braun certainly does that, with the potential to significantly improve on these numbers moving forward.

7) Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds – First Baseman
Talk about a player who took a major step forward in 2010.  He hit .324 with 37 HR, 113 RBI and 106 R and while there is reason for skepticism, there also is a lot of reason for hope.  Can he repeat the .361 BABIP?  Can he repeat his 25.0% HR/FB?  Of course, his home park certainly helps, though he actually hit just .297 with 18 HR at home.  We’ll go into great detail about him in the near future, but he has turned me into a full believer.  Still, playing a position that is significantly deeper then many others would cause me to shy away from him in the first half of the round.

8 ) Alex Rodriguez – New York Yankees – Third Baseman
At this point, we all know that Rodriguez is an injury risk, but we also know that no matter what, he’s going to provide 30 HR and over 100 RBI.  In just 522 AB in 2010 he had 125 RBI.  Certainly, the development of Robinson Cano providing security behind him helped a great deal.  He’s probably a borderline first round/early second round pick at this point, but he’s a player you want to own.

9) Robinson Cano – New York Yankees – Second Baseman
With all the hype Cano had in 2010, his final numbers were extremely similar to what he did in 2009, outside of the RBI.  Just look at the numbers:

  • 2009 – .320, 25 HR, 85 RBI, 103 R
  • 2010 – .319, 29 HR, 109 RBI, 103 R

The fact of the matter is, however, that now that he’s done it twice it’s hard to argue how good he is.  Hitting in the middle of the Yankees lineup (which helps to explain his improved RBI), he should continue to be among the best hitters in the league.

10) Carlos Gonzalez – Colorado Rockies – Outfielder
Don’t get me wrong, he had a marvelous season overall hitting .336 with 24 HR, 117 RBI, 111 R and 26 SB.  However, does one year of those numbers justify a first round pick?  At a shallow position, they probably do, but I still have to consider him a borderline late first round/early second round pick at this point.  It may change as we get closer, but for now he’s near the bottom of the round.  A .384 BABIP just isn’t likely to be repeated, so he’s likely going to regress across the board.  That means we are going to need a significantly better look at him before cementing his spot on this list.

11) Chase Utley – Philadelphia Phillies – Second Baseman
We all know just how good he is.  While he may no longer be the best option at his position, he still brings more then enough to the table to justify being a late first round selection.  Injuries helped to reduce his numbers, holding him to just 425 AB on the season.  However, having hit .323 with 5 HR and 22 RBI in September should help ease some concerns.

12) Mark Teixeira – First Baseman – New York Yankees
I was extremely torn on this final spot, with names like David Wright, Carl Crawford and Josh Hamilton also in consideration.  They all have negatives, but for now I’m going to give the nod to Teixeira.  I know he struggled in the average department, but he also had some bad luck, with a .268 BABIP.  Considering that he still produced the home runs (33), RBI (108) and runs (103), I’m not worried that he’s not going to produce enough.  The average will bounce back and he should remain among the best hitters in the game.

What are your thoughts on the first round?  Who do I have going too early?  Whose too late?  Who was left off that you think belongs?

Make sure to check out our early first round rankings:


  1. Andrew says:

    Shocked you didn’t include Crawford. He’d make my Top 5. Only player other than Pujols to finish in the top 5 the past 2 seasons. I tend to play it safe in the first round, though.

  2. Rotoprofessor says:

    Well, Crawford’s value is undetermined at this point, depending on where he lands via free agency. That’s going to play a pretty big role. As it is, he is getting up there in years and you just don’t know if the speed is going to decline, which will hurt his value.

    He was certainly right on the border, however, and could land in the rankings when we update it next time around.

  3. Bobby A says:

    It kind of seems like you discount Votto too much for being a 1st baseman, but not MiggyCab. Personally, I think after Pujols, you get the two Shortstops and Longoria for the Top 4. Then, MiggyCab, Votto, Cano, and Braun forming the Top 8. Where does Mauer land? Keep up the great posts!

  4. Rotoprofessor says:

    Bobby, I think the difference between Cabrera and Votto is the fact that Miggy has done this before. I’m not sure Votto can maintain his metrics, while there’s little doubt that Miggy can maintain his numbers.

    As for Mauer, it’s really tough to say. Without the power, he’s more of a 3rd/4th round pick to me this year, but I will definitely have a better idea once my projections come more into focus.

  5. big o says:

    hamilton’s numbers compare favorably with braun’s ,
    and yet there is NO mention of him in the top 12 ?

    maybe his accomplishments should be discounted since he “swamped”
    braun in obp and slg , but did so in 100 less AB ‘s .

  6. Rotoprofessor says:

    big o, I did mention him as being in consideration for the bottom of the round, and he very easily could be added as we get closer to draft day. The problem with him has always been injuries and if he can stay healthy enough to produce like a first round pick. That is the biggest detriment and the reason he may ultimately fall short for me.

  7. Chuck says:

    What would it actually take for Josh Hamilton to break into the first round? I mean, he IS the second coming of Babe Ruth…

  8. Chuck says:

    Also think you’d have to be certifiable to draft Tulo at 5. Hell no.

  9. ClayHenry says:

    As much as I love Tulo, he does seem proned to suffering hamstring injuries and is consistently a slow starter. Although, I thoroughly enjoyed his 2009 season and a complete season from him would be scary.

    Plus, I don’t get the extreme hype of Cano… especially considering he doesn’t steal bases. I would actually prefer to take a chance with a potential 5 tool stud like Matt Kemp or Dustin Pedroia. Yes, Pedroia will be a great bargain in fantasy leagues next year.

    I love the bold prediction on Longoria.

  10. Rotoprofessor says:

    Clay, as you said, if Tulo ever put together a full healthy season, the numbers could be scary. We’ll see what happens as the season gets closer, but there is a good chance he falls down the rankings slightly.

    As for Cano, I’m not trying to overhype him by any stretch, but when Chase Utley was the #1 ranked 2B, no one would argue with him at this spot in the rankings. You have a 2B that will hit close to 30 HR and be borderline 100/100, that certainly has a ton of value. Doing that at any position is great, at a shallower 2B position gives you an edge over the competition.

    Of course, I’m not arguing waiting and taking Pedroia two rounds later. I’m not sure he’s going to be a bargain, but in the 3rd or 4th round, he’ll be a solid pick, most likely.

  11. Andrew says:

    For what it’s worth, a writer over at The Hardball Times argued this morning that Hanley and Tulo HAVE TO go 1-2. I disagree…

  12. Andrew says:

    For what it’s worth, a writer over at The Hardball Times argued this morning that Hanley and Tulo HAVE TO go 1-2. I disagree…

  13. Matt says:

    Hanley Ramirez should be number 1 overall. There are a lot of great 1B but SS is a thin position. I still think Tulo is overrated. Tulo was always either injured or playing poorly in the first half and all it takes is one hot month and he’s in the same class as Ramirez? Come on, one month doesn’t make or break a player. I also think if both Jose Reyes and Tulo are healthy that overall Reyes will put up better numbers. Less strikeouts a little less power but a crap load of more stolen bases.

    The problem is people don’t look at the whole picture when ranking players or determining the value. It’s either based on what a player did in the prior year, their potential or what he did in any given month.

    You’d think people would learn from Greinke, drafting him as a top 5 SP coming into 2010 based on 2009 numbers while flat out ignoring his 2008 numbers. Or drafting Chamberlain as a top 35 SP in 2009 based on his RP numbers in 2008. But no people don’t learn at all. They stupidly continue to rank players and draft players solely by what they did last year, one month, their potential or by what they did at other positions rather than what they’ve done their whole career. A month does not make up for a whole year and one season does not determine a player’s career. Also RP numbers do not carry over to SP numbers or visa versa. That is why these people tend to end up near the bottom of their leagues.

  14. Rotoprofessor says:

    Matt, the problem with Reyes is that I think his days of stealing 60 bases are behind him. For one, there’s once again the chance that he moves to the third spot in the order (though I don’t buy that).

    More importantly, in an effort to keep him healthy, I think the Mets will real him in a bit and not let him run as often. That is going to decrease his value somewhat.

  15. ClayHenry says:

    I agree 100% on Reyes and feel his maximum SBs will be disappointing when compared to years past.

    I agree with Matt on the Hanley sentiment… people will be overlooking him based solely on a not so productive 2010.

    I also stand by comment about Tulo’s tender hammy and slow starting consistencies. It is hard to ignore that amazing September, but that brief stretch will get many fantasy owners to overvalue him.

  16. Chuck says:

    For me, I could maybe slot Tulo after A-Rod in the draft order above. In spite of age and health, I still rate A-Rod higher than Tulo. I just see the risks being higher with Tulo in terms of inconsistency, assuming health risks are similar.

  17. Rotoprofessor says:

    I could argue that there are also huge risks with A-Rod’s health, as he has missed time each of the last three seasons. That said, as I dig into projections more and more, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Tulo fall to much later in the first round.

    In fact, A-Rod will likely fall a bit as well.

  18. marco says:

    This website is awesome! Nice work!

    Last year I set a goal to get: Tulowitzki/Crawford as my #1 and #2 and it worked out great landing me Second Place in my league. My biggest downfall was my pitching was really bad. My hitting was good enough to get me the 2-spot. I would move up Tulowitzki to the #3. ShortStop is not the deepest position and Tulowitzki has 35/15 potential which is competitive to players from any other position. If he can avoid the injury bug he can be a top 5 player. I will not be getting Crawford this year in addition to Tulowitzki. I say he’s a #4 or #5- why? sounds crazy! He is the only hitter in the majors that’s going to give you 40plus stolen bases with close to 20HRs. All other base steelers make you suffer in the HR and RBI category which Crawford does not: 19HR/90RBI- no base steeler compares in my opinion. So get your SBs early without getting completely obliterated on HRs. What are your thoughts?

  19. Andrew says:

    Very early Mock Draft Central Top 12, for what it’s worth:

    1. Pujols
    2. Hanley
    3. Miggy
    4. Longoria
    5. Tulo
    6. Votto
    7. Wright
    8. CarGo
    9. Tex
    10. Howard
    11. Cano
    12. Crawford

  20. Rotoprofessor says:

    marco – welcome to the party! I think Crawford’s value will ultimately be decided by where he signs. Once we know where he’s going to play, we will have a much better idea of how to value him for 2011.

    Andrew – That’s definitely interesting and I wouldn’t have many disagreements, outside of David Wright. Is it just me, or is he extremely too high? He’s much more suited as a second round pick for me, so at this point I’m not anticipating having him on any of my teams.

    • Christopher says:

      I would say Wright is around 18th – 20th overall as he will not progress past last year’s numbers. He will simply digress I believe.

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