MLB.com Fantasy 411 Mock Draft

Did Three Rounds for the purpose of the 2006 Opening Day Preview Show.

Round 1

1: Alex Rodriguez (Mitch Watnik, defending Fantasy 411 listener league champ)

He’s a stud in all five categories: averages of 125 runs, 46 HR, 127 RBIs, 18 SB and a .306 average over the past six years and he plays third base. Plus, his numbers are higher in four of the five categories (AVG being the exception) than Albert Pujols’ five-year averages.

2: Albert Pujols (Geoff Grant, MLB.com)

He’s the best player in baseball. I’ll take 130-45-130 and .330 every time.

3: Vladimir Guerrero (Alex Cushing, MLB.com Fantasy writer)

After A-Rod and Pujols, Vladdy is the clear choice here. So long as he’s healthy, his plate coverage is a .300-plus batting average in the bank, not to mention power and speed. No major weaknesses.

4: Miguel Tejada (Zack Stair, two-time winner of 411 listener league)

Power, average and position scarcity. ‘Nuff said.

5: David Ortiz (Matthew Leach, stlcardinals.com reporter)

I wanted Tejada, but no such luck. This is a tough pick, but I’m going to go with the dependable power of Ortiz. Even with a lesser offense around him, he’ll still drive in a ton of runs and hit a ton of homers. I love Miguel Cabrera, but he won’t have many RBI chances, and he won’t have anybody to drive him in.

6: Mark Teixeira (Mark Feinsand, yankees.com reporter)

After hitting .301 last year to go along with his 43 homers and 144 RBIs, it’s clear that he is going to be a roto force for years to come. Ameriquest Field is a dream for a guy like him. I had him third on my overall board.

7: Johan Santana (Gregg Klayman, MLB.com Director of Fantasy)

There are few pitchers like him — a WHIP under 1.00, 250-plus Ks — hard to find that nowadays, and there are about six to eight great hitters still left, so hopefully one will fall to me in the next round.

8: Manny Ramirez (Cory Schwartz, MLB.com Fantasy 411 host)

Ignore the trade rumors, the lack of steals and the other fine alternatives. Instead, check out Manny’s five-year averages with the Red Sox: .315 with 40 HR, 122 RBIs and 103 runs. An elite masher.

9: David Wright (Casey Stern, MLB Radio host)

The second-best third baseman behind A-Rod, and a star for years to come.

10: Miguel Cabrera (Jonathan Mayo, MLB.com)

A steal at No. 10. Yes, he’s been stripped of the veteran protection in the lineup, but this Miggy is just scratching the surface of his abilities, and I have a little more faith in some of the baby Fish than some others do.

11: Carl Crawford (Mike Siano, MLB.com Fantasy 411 host)

There is more power out there, but he increased his RBIs in ’05 and should hit for more power in ’06. Plus, you have to love the speed. The power options I liked may be there on the way back, Crawford won’t.

12: Derrek Lee (Vinny Micucci, MLB.com Fantasy 411 host)

Fans in the

Midwest

will appreciate the respect towards them with these next two picks. I will grab some immediate middle of the order power by selecting Derrek Lee. Sure, the slugging, average, OBP and more were all career highs, but I believe that this is the sign of more things to come. It is a contract year and I like the additions made to the Cubs lineup this offseason. Pitchers cannot just avoid him in the lineup.

Round 2

1: Chris Carpenter (Micucci)

My pitching staff is anchored by last season’s Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter. Carpenter seems to really enjoy the NL, proving that 2004 was not a fluke. Give me a sub-3.00 ERA with more than 200 K’s and just 51 walks in 241 innings, and I plan on WHIP’in the competition! All right, that was bad, but I also share a birthday with Carpenter, so that was the clincher.

2: Jason Bay (Siano)

Going with what I feel is best available from an offensive standpoint. If Soriano wasn’t playing in RFK Stadium, it would be a no-brainer because of position scarcity, but Bay is a fantasy stud, so he joins Crawford in my outfield.

3: Bobby Abreu (Mayo)

Wow, never thought I’d see a Bucco go that early. I, too, will pass on Sori. Abreu may be getting close to the downside now and he’s always put up perhaps the emptiest numbers in baseball. Of course, that doesn’t matter in fantasy, so even if he slips, I’ll happily take a .300 average, 25 HR and 25 SB in the second round.

4: Victor Martinez (Stern)

Head and shoulders above any other catchers.

5: Jimmy Rollins (Schwartz)

First some power, now some speed, and so much more. All signs point toward a monster season in 2006: his superb finish in 2005, his rapidly improving plate discipline, ability to hit from both sides of the plate, friendly home ballpark, you name it. And did I mention this is his age-27 season?

6: Derek Jeter (Klayman)

Was hoping Bay or Lee would be left. Nothing wrong with a shortstop who can bat .300, score 120 runs, hit for some power and add speed as well.

7: Carlos Beltran (Feinsand)

Better than he showed last year. Better lineup around him in 2006, so a return to 30-30 is not far fetched.

8: Ichiro Suzuki (Leach)

Banking that last year was a fluke, rather than the beginning of a trend. I’m figuring .330 with 100-110 runs and 30-plus steals, and that’ll do me right nicely.

9: Chone Figgins (Stair)

Figgins steals 3.5 times the bases, scores 20 more runs, but totals half the RBIs and 20 fewer HRs than Chase Utley. Soriano hit .268 in

Texas

and is going to be lucky to hit .250 in RFK with lower production all around. I’ve got my steals here.

10: Michael Young (Cushing)

I had Jeter and Rollins on the radar, but I’m fine with the underappreciated Young. He’s improved in each of the last three seasons, so I’ll cross my fingers and hope he swipes double-digit bases again in 2006. Good middle infielders are scarce.

11: Jose Reyes (Grant)

I was going to take Young, but so much for that pick. So I’ll take the flyer — pun intended — on Mr. OBP himself, Jose Reyes. Oh yeah, I’ll also take his 60 SBs and Carlos Delgado added to the lineup.

12: Mariano Rivera (Watnik)

The best closer in baseball and nobody has taken a closer yet. Enjoy the bidding over Billy Wagner, Brad Lidge, Joe Nathan, et al, boys!

Round 3

1: Chase Utley (Watnik)

Almost 20/20 at second base. Plus, he’ll get more plate appearances this year. More home runs, more RBIs …

2: Todd Helton (Grant)

If he’s healthy and returns to the form of the past few years, Helton will be the steal of the third round. I’m counting on .330, 110-30-100.

3: Aramis Ramirez (Cushing)

I was set to dance with either Utley or Helton, but I was snubbed. For a 27-year-old power hitter, Ramirez rarely strikes out and there’s a bit of a drop-off at third base after him. With better health, he’s primed for 40 jacks and a .300 batting average.

4: Gary Sheffield (Stair)

Stud outfield producer.

5: Barry Bonds (Leach)

I thought about positional choices, going with somebody like Jeff Kent for power at second or Eric Chavez before all the decent 3B men are gone. And then I thought again. And I said to myself, ‘Self, the best hitter since Ted Williams is still on the board.’ It’s a risk, but risk-reward bets don’t come with much better potential reward than the one and only Barry Bonds.

6: Roy Oswalt (Feinsand)

In my mind, the second-best pitcher in the draft. Getting him in the third round is a steal.

7: Alfonso Soriano (Klayman)

Sure he’s playing in

Washington

, but he still plays 81 games on the road and his speed isn’t going to stay in

Texas

either. Also a fan of the position scarcity theory, so I’m very happy now to have Soriano and Jeter back together patrolling the middle of my fantasy infield.

8: Grady Sizemore (Schwartz)

The strikeouts are a worry, but he made better contact in the Minors, so he should adjust. He’s not a great basestealer, but it appears he has a green light so that should improve also. Beyond that, he looks to be the very model of a five-category talent on the rise … Even a repeat of last year’s numbers would be great value.

9: Francisco Rodriguez (Stern)

Have to have that stud closer. He give saves, strikeouts and that warm fuzzy feeling.

10: Ben Sheets (Mayo)

Jump on the Brew Crew bandwagon early, folks. Sheets will continue to be an absolute stud in K’s, ERA and WHIP. With an improved team behind him that will score more runs, the win total should go up as well. Even if it doesn’t, Sheets is the best fantasy starter still on the board.

11: Scott Rolen (Siano)

Already have two OF’s, didn’t want to take a pitcher and feel that Rolen will be absolutely fine and return to his 2004 monster self. Third base is extremely deep, but I still feel he is the best available. I liked Travis Hafner, but his restrictive position eligibility scared me off (he played one game at 1B in 2005).

12: Carlos Lee (Micucci)

This is a difficult spot in the order. The top level talent is starting to thin out. I would rather think position scarcity at this point, but I’ll go with Lee. This is the best player on a rising team, who has power and plays in a hitter’s park. Plus, did anyone notice the under-the-radar 13 steals from a power-hitting corner outfielder? With talent such as Delgado, Jorge Cantu and Hank Blalock still available, this was a tough choice.

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