Tough call at this position. Wieters had a nice finish to 2009 and all signs indicate that he'll take some significant steps forward. Victor Martinez had a solid 2009 but couldn't justify him at #1 for a couple of reasons a) His OPS was 161 points lower at Catcher than at First AND the Red Sox have openly stated they plan to use him primarily behind the plate b) Is the Victor Martinez of 2007/2009 that had 13% of his flyballs turn into home runs or are we going to see the Victor Martinez that only saw 3% of his flyballs and 2 of his 266 At Bats turn into home runs.
A Toss-Up between Teixiera and Youkilis. Teixiera has the slight power edge and a right field porch more suited for Little League giving him the edge. Both Youkilis and Pena have a penchant for hitting plenty of homers and drawing plenty of walks. Youkilis has a significant edge over Pena as Youkilis is able to draw his walks and hit his homers while still hitting .300 while Pena is usually south of .250
An very loaded field at Second. You have tier, 1 (Pedroia/Cano) where their performance is established and you know (mostly) what you are going to get. Could see Pedroia going 20-20, I don't see Cano hitting 27 out again. You have your second tier (Hill/Zobrist) of players who had breakout seasons last year but its still unclear how sustainable their level of production is going to be. Look for these two to settle into a rhythm of hitting from .260 to .280 with around 20 homers.
5- Cesar Izturis
While Derek Jeter is one of the more over-rated players in baseball, he's still considerably better than the rest of the field. There was somewhat of a bidding war for Scutaro over the winter, i'm still trying to figure out why. That's nice that Bartlett had a great season last year. Too bad, that his home run numbers are not sustainable based on Bartlett's past.
A-Rod may be one of the more unlikable players in baseball. He's also still one of the elite hitters in baseball. Evan Longoria has been a hitting machine ever since being called up in 2008. Longoria looks to move himself deeper into the elite echelon of Third Basemen this year. There is an off chance that Beltre could have a big season considering he's playing for a contract and getting away from Safeco field but this is far from a sure thing.
These rankings are based on a couple of hunches 1-Carl Crawford is in his contract year, a solid chance to explode beyond his baseline .300-20 homers- 60 steal baseline. Nolan Reimold had a nice rookie year and looks to be on the cusp of a breakout season.......wouldn't be surprised to see him hit .275 and 25-30 homers. Mike Cameron is still a solid player, at this point what you see is what you get.... .250 average 20-25 homers striking out every 3 to 4 at bats and multiple hot and cold streaks.
Could see these rankings go a few different directions. Moving to Yankee Stadium should be one of the best things to happen to Granderson's career. He's already shown he can hit 30 out per year and with the little league sized porch that Yankee Stadium calls Right Field should inflate his home run totals.....now if only he can figure out hitting lefties. I'm completely unmoved by high stolen base totals which prevents Ellsbury from grabbing the top spot. Not bought or sold on Jones yet he got lucky in the first half, unlucky in the second half.....Vernon Wells had a chance to hit number-1 but then I remembered there were criterion other than contract size.
5-Gabe Kapler/Matt Joyce
One through three are fairly interchangeable sources of .270-.280 average (.250 for Swisher) and 20-30 homers. On talent alone, Drew is on top but as always, there are concerns about staying healthy. Swisher has better power than Markakis but hits for a lower average. Swisher's power was too good to pass up......plus Swisher is a cheddarhead member. Travis Snider is the toughest one to figure out.....I could see anything from struggling for a month and being sent to the minors to having a breakout season similar to what I'm expecting out of Jay Bruce and Kyle Blanks.
Skeptical on Lind hitting 35 out this year but could see him hitting .280 with 25-30 homers. Ortiz has the pedigree, and more power but the way his numbers have trended the last few years is a bit discouraging. Luke Scott.....another 20 homer hitter.....Pat Burrell, after last years epic fail anything will pass as progress.....
Standings after First Half:
A few surprises here. The Red Sox grabbed the top spot despite having less players in the 1-spot than the Yankees (2 vs. 4). The Yankees ranking was dragged down due to weaknesses in left (Brett Gardner) and DH (Nick Johnson). A bit surprised of how far back the Rays were. The O's and Blue Jays are ranked about where I thought they would be.