xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Most valuable young baseball players in 2008?

Sun reporter Childs Walker's latest column breaks down who will be the most coveted players in fantasy baseball in 2013. His list is full of players in the prime part of their careers, which means that a lot of these players could play big roles on your fantasy team this year as well.

Walker lists 16 players that will help in his "quest for fantasy dominance." But which of these players will help you the most? I looked at each of the 16 players on his list and prioritized the top five players for you to keep handy when you need that extra help in your fantasy draft. My rankings are based on their career statistics, as well as my opinion of who will have the most success this year.

Advertisement

David Wright, 3B, New York Mets

I have to say I agree with Walker in his analysis of the Mets third baseman. Wright batted .325 with 30 home runs and 107 RBIs last season. Throw in the 34 stolen bases and 113 runs and you have someone who could have single-handedly won you a fantasy baseball championship last season. Over the last three seasons, Wright has a .314 batting average, 83 home runs and 325 RBIs, so I don't think last year was a fluke. If he is available in your league, I'd make sure he is at the top of your draft list.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies

Yeah, he might be a little old to consider for your fantasy team in 2013, but Howard is perfect for your 2008 fantasy roster. In 410 games in the major leagues, Howard has 129 home runs. For those counting at home, that's an average of about 52 home runs over a 162-game schedule. Along with those 52 home runs, Howard will probably get you 135-150 RBIs and around 100 runs scored. Strikeouts might hold his batting average down (.268 average last season with 199 strikeouts), but the home runs and RBIs will cancel out any negative impact from the batting average.

Prince Fielder, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers

After a .271 batting average, 28 home runs and 81 RBIs in a solid rookie campaign, Fielder exploded for 50 home runs and 119 RBIs last season. If he has another year like last season, he may surpass Howard in my draft list for 2009. With a lot of protection in the Brewers' lineup, Fielder may even eclipse last season's numbers. He won't turn 24 until May 9, so he is definitely a candidate for your fantasy team through 2013 and beyond.

Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit Tigers

The biggest question mark for Cabrera is whether he will be able to continue his offensive dominance despite changing leagues this year. While the American League is traditionally the league with better offensive production, Cabrera will need to adjust to an entirely different group of starting pitchers. With that said, Cabrera has averaged a .313 batting average, 31 home runs and 118 RBIs in his first four full seasons in the major leagues. With a lineup that should offer him more protection than he had in Florida, I think Cabrera's numbers will at least equal his career averages.

Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington Nationals

Mark it down -- Zimmerman will set career-highs in batting average, home runs and RBIs this season. That way, when he does it, you'll be able to post a comment on this post thanking me for the advice. I'm just kidding, but the 23-year-old third baseman is headed for big numbers. In his rookie season, Zimmerman hit .287 with 110 RBIs. Last year, he hit 24 home runs. This season, I think Zimmerman is going to have around a .290 batting average with 25-35 home runs and 120-130 RBIs. As Walker said, it's only going to get better for Zimmerman because he is gaining major-league experience at a time when most players are still riding buses in the minors.

And the rest…

Jose Reyes, SS, Mets -- If you take Reyes, you probably won't need another person to contribute to your total in stolen bases, but his lack of power means you'll need to accommodate accordingly.

Mark Teixeira, 1B, Atlanta Braves -- The Severna Park native will definitely contribute substantially to fantasy teams between now and 2013, but his numbers won't be as high as the top five on this list.

Hanley Ramirez, SS, Florida Marlins -- If the 24-year-old shortstop can replicate his .332 batting average, 29 home runs and 81 RBIs from a year ago, then his fantasy stock will continue to rise.

Grady Sizemore, CF, Cleveland Indians -- When I think of a five-tool player in the major leagues today, I think of Sizemore. This year, his batting average will be around .285 and he'll likely hit another 25 home runs from the leadoff spot.

Carl Crawford, CF, Tampa Bay Rays -- Crawford is going to hit over .300 and get you at least 45 stolen bases. My only concerns are that he has failed to score 100 runs the last two seasons and he dropped to 11 home runs last season after hitting 18 in 2006.

Robinson Cano, 2B, New York Yankees -- How many years until Cano takes over for Derek Jeter as the quiet leader of the Yankees? His .314 career batting average will certainly help his case.

Nick Markakis, RF, Orioles -- Markakis had an excellent sophomore campaign, batting .300 with 23 home runs and 112 RBIs. However, the Orioles shipped his protection -- shortstop Miguel Tejada -- to Houston. His production will depend upon who steps up (if anyone) to replace Tejada in the lineup.

Jeff Francoeur, RF, Braves -- Francoeur's batting average jumped from .260 in 2006 to .300 last season, but his home runs dropped from 29 to 19. He'll need to find the right balance of average and power in order to succeed this season.

Ryan Braun, 3B, Brewers -- Has anyone burst onto the scene as quickly as Braun did last season? In 113 games, the 24-year-old hit 34 home runs to pick up Rookie of the Year honors. Now, I'd like to see if he is able to do it again this season.

Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies -- If there wasn't a guy named Braun hitting 34 home runs last season, Tulowitzki would have easily won the Rookie of the Year. This year, he'll need to prove he deserves the big contract he just received from the Rockies by putting up similar numbers again.

B.J. Upton, CF, Rays -- Yes, I know Upton really thrived in his new role as the center fielder of the Rays last season. But, something tells me it might have been a one-time thing. The Rays will depend on Upton and Crawford if they want to pass the Orioles in the standings this season.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement