The Fantasy Baseball Consensus #1

I was asked yesterday who I’m taking number one in the upcoming 2009 fantasy baseball draft. I am in two leagues, one of which the draft is coming up a week from tomorrow. It began to get me thinking, just in case I land the number one overall pick; if I gave you my life would you promise to not drop it?

The last few years it has been pretty cut and dry. If you land the top pick in your live fantasy draft you’re going Pujols or you’re going A-Rod. Some guys want to go number one overall with a starting pitcher or the best offensive catcher in the game; and those guys are so far off base we don’t even wanna waste page space getting into it. And even this year my mind drifted to Cardinal red or Rodriguez out of habit when the question was posed to me; but then I quickly decided against it.

It’s got to be Hanley Ramirez. And that isn’t just because a few mainstream sites around town are saying so. Let me tell you why he’s a legit fucking fantasy stud.

When Pujols and Rodriguez were legitimate top guns in fantasy baseball, it wasn’t because they were just superstars. It was because they’re guys that kill several birds with one stone in themselves. I looked at the rosters of the guys who have won my respective leagues now for the past several years. I looked at their top few picks. They’re striving to get guys that help them in almost every area. Last year I knew I was going for Prince Fielder with my first pick because I like owning a team that will out homer you until the last day of the season. And my way of thinking is all fucked up. I took guys that basically are a threat to hit 40 or 50 homers but they hit .260 or .270 and don’t steal any bases and should they struggle to hit the long ball or draw walks (like Fielder did last season) then you’re going to get killed in the runs category as well.

Hanley Ramirez is an absolute dominator for a few reasons. One thing you don’t want to overlook is at his age. He’s 25 years old come opening day. People want to believe that 29 or 30 (Pujols‘ age) is the ‘prime years’ of a players career. They’re wrong. 25 years of age is the new 29, and the fact is that few players truly put up their best numbers year in and year out once they hit 30 or the year before or after that hallmark number. Players are hitting their prime at much younger ages nowadays and it is entirely conceivable that a guy no longer does what he used to do once he is around 30. He might, but there’s a chance he will not. Ramirez is in his prime and the next 3 maybe 4 years he is going to give you something you’ll never get again out of him. He doesn’t have an abundance of mileage on the body and he’s still able to help you in every facet of the game.

Last year the son of a gun stole 35 bases, hit 33 homers and hit .301 while driving in 67. He scored an amazing 125 runs which will maybe be good enough to help you win that category outright. This year a lot of people think he’s going to hit around the same amount of homers, steal around the same amount of bases, hit for a little better average and maybe score a few less runs. I happen to think his power numbers could jump way up the board and he could steal more bases. We could be talking about a legitimate 40/40 year for Ramirez with near 100 RBI if Florida stops hitting him in the leadoff spot. I think his average will rise and you’ll see a monster that we haven’t seen in many years in fantasy baseball.

If you’re going to be a fantasy baseball geek, then do it right. If Ramirez is there do what it takes to add him to your team and watch A-Rod suffer through his soap opera life and Pujols’ heel or knee take a shit while you have your young cadillac out running on all cylinders for 162 games. If you end up selecting out of the top 5 enjoy your uphill battle and the envy that comes with watching Hanley do damage all season long, a feeling I know all too well.