Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Red Flag Alerts: Infielders
Joe Mauer: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Let's start with something that'll appease the fantasy cynics (like me): A list of statistical anomalies -- or individual red flags from 2009 -- to becognizant of when evaluating veteran infielders:

Joe Mauer: Don't expect ... 28 HRs or .365 batting average
Miguel Olivo: Don't expect ... 23 homers

First Base
Albert Pujols: Don't expect ... 124 runs or 16 steals
Derrek Lee: Don't expect ... 35 homers
Adrian Gonzalez: Don't expect ... 40 homers
Kendry Morales: Don't expect ... 108 RBIs
Russell Branyan: Don't expect ... 76 RBIs

Second Base
Chase Utley: Don't expect ... 23 steals
Ben Zobrist: Don't expect ... 27 homers
Aaron Hill: Don't expect ... 36 HRs or 108 RBIs
Martin Prado: Don't expect ... .307 batting average
Felipe Lopez: Don't expect ... 88 runs scored
Chris Getz: Don't expect ... 25 steals
Alberto Callaspo: Don't expect ... 79 runs
Luis Castillo: Don't expect ... 20 steals

Third Base
Mark Reynolds: Don't expect ... 44 homers
Kevin Youkilis: Don't expect ... 7 steals
Ryan Zimmerman: Don't expect ... 110 runs scored
Chone Figgins: Don't expect ... 114 runs scored
Aramis Ramirez: Don't expect ... .317 batting average
Mark DeRosa: Don't expect ... 23 homers
Scott Rolen: Don't expect ... .305 batting average

Derek Jeter: Don't expect ... 30 steals
Jason Bartlett: Don't expect ... 14 homers
Yunel Escobar: Don't expect ... .299 batting average
Alcides Escobar: Don't expect ... .304 batting average
Erick Aybar: Don't expect ... .312 batting average
Marco Scutaro: Don't expect ... 100 runs scored
Willie Bloomquist: Don't expect ... 25 steals

American Dreamers

Here's an early, early listing of the top-30 outfielders for AL-only leagues:
1. Carl Crawford, Rays
2. Grady Sizemore, Indians
3. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
4. Nelson Cruz, Rangers
5. Adam Jones, Orioles
6. Bobby Abreu, Angels
7. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
8. B.J. Upton, Rays
9. Torii Hunter, Angels
10. Josh Hamilton, Rangers
11. Nick Markakis, Orioles
12. Curtis Granderson, Yankees
13. Shin-Soo Choo, Indians
14. Adam Lind, Blue Jays
15. Carlos Quentin, White Sox
16. Johnny Damon, Free Agent (likely to join the A's, Tigers or Yanks)
17. Michael Cuddyer, Twins
18. Ben Zobrist, Rays
19. Denard Span, Twins
20. Juan Rivera, Angels
21. Vladimir Guerrero, Rangers
22. Jason Kubel, Twins
23. Alex Rios, White Sox
24. Vernon Wells, Blue Jays
25. Nolan Reimold, Orioles
26. Julio Borbon, Rangers
27. Delmon Young, Twins
28. Travis Snider, Blue Jays
29. J.D. Drew, Red Sox
30. Magglio Ordonez, Tigers
Sleepers To Watch: Rajai Davis, Desmond Jennings, Jake Fox

National Treasures

... And the top-30 outfielders for NL-only leagues:
1. Ryan Braun, Brewers
2. Matt Holliday, Cardinals
3. Matt Kemp, Dodgers
4. Jayson Werth, Phillies
5. Shane Victorino, Phillies
6. Carlos Lee, Astros
7. Jason Bay, Mets
8. Justin Upton, Diamondbacks
9. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
10. Alfonso Soriano, Cubs
11. Carlos Beltran, Mets
12. Andre Ethier, Dodgers
13. Manny Ramirez, Dodgers
14. Adam Dunn, Nationals
15. Hunter Pence, Astros
16. Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
17. Corey Hart, Brewers
18. Jay Bruce, Reds
19. Nate McLouth, Braves
20. Kyle Blanks, Padres
21. Ryan Ludwick, Cardinals
22. Raul Ibanez, Phillies
23. Brad Hawpe, Rockies
24. Michael Bourn, Astros
25. Garrett Jones, Pirates
26. Nyjer Morgan, Nationals
27. Chris Coghlan, Marlins
28. Dexter Fowler, Rockies
29. Cody Ross, Marlins
30. Chris Young, Diamondbacks
Sleepers To Watch: Drew Stubbs, Seth Smith, Colby Rasmus, Gerardo Parra

Cain Enabler

No one is saying that Matt Cain has become Tim Lincecum's equal in real-world or fantasyland baseball; heck, he might evenget passed by phenom Madison Bumgarner on the Giants' totem pole of pitching dynamos something this year. But the following must also besaid about the All-Star: Cain has progressed to the point where he makes a great fantasy SP1 (that's No. 1 starting pitcher, to the layperson) on reliever-heavy fantasy teams ... and a superb SP2 on starter-heavy squads. Don't believe us? Here's Cain's up-to-date résumé:

**190-plus innings: 4 (2006-09)
**13-plus wins: 2 (2006, '09)
**3.65 or less ERA: 3 (2007-09)
**1.28 or less WHIP: 3 (2006-07, '09)
**170 or more strikeouts: 3 (2006, 2008-09)
**Minimum 2/1 K-BB ratio: 4 (2006-09)

One Man's Trashy Pick ... Is Another's Treasure

While thumbing through The Sporting News' 2009 fantasy baseball annual last week (yes, I collect old fantasy mags, as sad as that sounds), I was blownaway by the surprising number of supremely talented veterans that were taken after the 200th pick in TSN's official mixed-league mock draft:Trevor Hoffman (No. 202 overall), Adam Jones (207), Frank Francisco (225), Jered Weaver(228), Jorge Posada (232), Pablo Sandoval (236), Mark Buehrle (241), Heath Bell (244),Justin Upton (253), Ubaldo Jimenez (261) and Wandy Rodriguez (265).

Fast forward to 10 months later ... as it's impossible to believe that some fantasy owner unwittingly drafted his team MVP (Upton -- 26 HRs, 86 RBIs, 84runs, 20 steals, .300 BA) after Jerry Hairston, Jr., Jeff Francoeur, Mark Ellis, Edgar Renteria, Ty Wigginton and OliverFreaking Perez went off the board. And it's similarly stupefying that some random owner lucked into Wandy Rodriguez in Round 23 ... whileManny Corpas, Gavin Floyd, Brad Ziegler, Joel Zumaya and Armando Galarraga came flying off the shelves long before Wandyand his 0.75 ERA in five July starts last year.

All this brings to light one inescapable truth about drafting, regardless of prep time:
You will encounter one bust in the first fourrounds. Citing the TSN published mock draft again, not one owner hit a proverbial home run in Rounds 1, 2, 3 and 4, value-wise. And no one coulddefinitively argue they had selected the best player in every round (with the possible exception of Frank Neville getting ChaseUtley, Mark Teixeira, Carlos Lee, Jason Bay). The lesson here for 2010: If your preferred stud is taken just seconds before your pick ... take adeep breath, maybe take a swig of beer and simply roll with the punches. Chances are your second choice is a stronger play than the first one.

On the flip side, it's possible to strike out on the first four picks and rally for a league title. Take Roger Kuznia, for example, from theTSN draft of 2009: With the 9th overall pick, Kuznia may have had the worst luck with his Big Four (Jose Reyes, Brandon Phillips, Brandon Webb,Magglio Ordonez) ... before being blessed with Troy Tulowitzki, Carl Crawford, Jon Lester, James Shields, Ryan Zimmerman andJustin Verlander in five of the next six rounds. He also drew good fortune from Round 16 or later -- usually the time when owners unwiselytake shots in the dark untested rookies or unflattering "name" veterans -- with Huston Street, Frank Francisco and JorgePosada. Amazingly, he had the foundation for a championship ... without a true franchise player from Rounds 1-4.

The Fantasy World Changes In 26 Days

Consider this your first of many warnings: On Feb. 22 (at least that's our tentative date), will roll out its all-encompassing, not-to-be-missedFantasy Baseball Preview for the 2010 season ... featuring expansive positional breakdowns (rankings/commentary), the Top 250 overall list, along with plentyof supplementary pieces from our friends at RotoExperts.And before you ask, yes, Kevin Slowey will once again grace the top-25 starting pitchers -- so feel free to get an early jump on anycondescending Tweets for my Twitter account. Batter up!

Compare & Contrast

Here are three early projections from, Fanball mag and The Sporting News for Jason Bartlett, Derek Jeter, Troy Tulowitzki, Jimmy Rollins, JoseReyes -- all of whom could easily rank as the No. 2 shortstop this season (behind Hanley Ramirez, of course):

Bartlett 12 HRs, 65 RBIs, 80 runs, 27 steals, .289 BA
Fanball: 6 HRs, 49 RBIs, 84 runs, 23 steals, .287 BA
The Sporting News: 15 HRs, 74 RBIs, 111 runs, 35 steals, .295 BA

Tulowitzki 30 HRs, 103 RBIs, 100 runs, 18 steals, .285 BA
Fanball: 26 HRs, 92 RBIs, 98 runs, 16 steals, .283 BA
The Sporting News: 26 HRs, 96 RBIs, 105 runs, 18 steals, .290 BA

Rollins 17 HRs, 76 RBIs, 100 runs, 33 steals, .274 BA
Fanball: 18 HRs, 71 RBIs, 105 runs, 42 steals, .268 BA
The Sporting News: 19 HRs, 69 RBIs, 104 runs, 36 steals, .273 BA

Reyes 10 HRs, 55 RBIs, 100 runs, 45 steals, .284 BA
Fanball: 12 HRs, 57 RBIs, 92 runs, 50 steals, .297 BA
The Sporting News: 12 HRs, 65 RBIs, 117 runs, 58 steals, .300 BA

Verdict: Wow! What did Bartlett do to Fanball to deserve 40-60 percent projection-reductions from last year? We're talking an across-the-board mini-meltdown! That said, the projections for Tulo, Jeter, Reyes and Rollins are all favorable ... and eerily consistent. Bottom line: If you thinkTulowitzki is the real deal in steals and batting average ... he should probably go second on draft day behind Hanley. And if you swear a healthy Reyes'statistical floor begins at 110 runs and 55 steals ... perhaps he should be the second shortstop taken -- and a Round 1 pick, to boot.

It's All About The Slot: #10

The No. 10 pick in a 12-team fantasy draft really isn't so bad. Basically, you get to watch other owners 'reach' for players -- god knows why -- beforesettling on a sensible value pick (presumably with wonderful upside). And if that's not grand enough ... BOOM! ... there's another pick coming down the pipejust five slots later! OK, so maybe I'm overselling the experience a bit ... but there's really nothing to worry about here -- especially when possessing agreat strategy for the 10th and 15th slots (and so on and so forth):

Round 1, Pick 10 overall: Motive -- Best overall player
1st option: 1B Ryan Howard, Phillies ... 2nd option: 2B Ian Kinsler, Rangers

Round 2, Pick 15 overall: Motive -- Best corner infielder or outfielder
1st option: 3B Evan Longoria, Rays ... 2nd option: 3B David Wright, Mets

Round 3, Pick 34 overall: Motive -- Best outfielder or starting pitcher
1st option: OF Jayson Werth, Phillies ... 2nd option: SP Felix Hernandez, Mariners

Round 4, Pick 39 overall: Motive -- Best outfielder or power-hitting infielder
1st option: OF Nick Markakis, Orioles ... 2nd option: 1B Joey Votto, Reds

Round 5, Pick 58: Motive -- Best outfielder, pitcher (or guy named 'Lee')
1st option: OF Carlos Lee, Astros ... 2nd option: SP Cliff Lee, Mariners

Round 6, Pick 63 overall: Motive -- Best starting pitcher or top-ranked closer
1st option: SP Jon Lester, Red Sox... 2nd option: RP Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox

Round 7, Pick 82 overall: Motive -- Best pitcher or middle infielder
1st option: SP Yovani Gallardo, Brewers ... 2nd option: SS Jason Bartlett, Rays

Round 8, Pick 87 overall: Motive -- Best starting pitcher or 5-category outfielder
1st option: SP Matt Cain, Giants ... 2nd option: OF Andrew McCutchen, Pirates

Round 9, Pick 106 overall: Motive -- Best middle infielder or power hitter
1st option: 3B/SS Gordon Beckham, White Sox ... 2nd option: 1B Billy Butler, Royals

Round 10, Pick 111 overall: Motive -- Best high-end closer
1st option: RP Heath Bell, Padres ... 2nd option: C Matt Wieters, Orioles

Round 11, Pick 130: Motive -- Best corner infielder or starting pitcher
1st option: OF/1B Garrett Jones, Pirates ... 2nd option: SP Matt Garza, Rays

Round 12, Pick 135: Motive -- Best starting pitcher or middle infielder
1st option: SP Matt Garza, Rays ... 2nd option: SS Elvis Andrus, Rangers

Round 13, Pick 154: Motive -- Best middle infielder
1st option: 2B Ian Stewart, Rockies ... 2nd option: 2B/3B Casey McGehee, Brewers

Round 14, Pick 159: Motive -- Best outfielder or versatile infielder
1st option: OF Corey Hart, Brewers ... 2nd option: 2B/3B Casey McGehee, Brewers

Round 15, Pick 178: Motive -- Best closer or catcher
1st option: RP Chad Qualls, Diamondbacks ... 2nd option: C Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks

Round 16, Pick 183: Motive -- Best player available
1st option: SP Kevin Slowey, Twins ... 2nd option: RP Francisco Cordero, Reds

Round 17, Pick 202: Motive -- Best closer or outfielder (emphasis on speed)
1st option: RP Billy Wagner, Braves ... 2nd option: OF Julio Borbon, Rangers

Round 18, Pick 207: Motive -- Best middle infielder or outfielder
1st option: 2B Howie Kendrick, Angels ... 2nd option: OF Drew Stubbs, Reds

Round 19, Pick 226: Motive -- Best starting pitcher or power reliever
1st option: SP Brett Anderson, Athletics ... 2nd option: SP/RP Joba Chamberlain, Yankees

Round 20, Pick 231: Motive -- Best catcher
1st option: C Mike Napoli, Angels ... 2nd option: RP Jason Frasor, Blue Jays

Round 21, Pick 250: Motive -- Young player with greatest upside
1st option: 1B Jason Heyward, Braves ... 2nd option: SP Wade Davis, Rays

Mi Casa, Su Casa; Su Dinero, Mi Dinero

If you're ever looking to win an easy fantasy public league on ESPN, CBSSports, Sporting News, etc., without really trying, simply join one where itscommissioner advertises something in the vain of: Diamondbacks Fans Only, or Die-Hard Mariners Honks Only or You must know thatDarnell Coles was one of six Detroit Tigers to hit 20 homers in 1986 to play here.

Think about it: These commissioners aren't trying to entice the savviest fantasy owners from all parts of the world. No, they're seeking someone else to ventwith in the chat rooms -- IF Dan Haren ever maintains his dominance AFTER the All-Star Break ... or WHEN Mariners outfielderFranklin Gutierrez goes into a mid-June swoon (rhyme intended). In other words, they're looking for a new friend, a faceless companion tolean on during, uh, those lean times of a season (pun intended). But really, that's the best kind of league to join -- you get inside the heads of apologistsand myopians, who will undoubtedly reach for their hometown stud, while killing them slowly over a loooooong season with sound, rational decisions about guys... who may or may not be wearing your favorite team's jersey (winning intended).

I'm Outta Here, Folks!

Excluding the pre-Super Bowl Fantasy Clicks (that'll be posted around Feb. 4), I'm basically going into hiding for the next few weeks -- as a means ofgetting some pre-Olympics R&R ... AND, more importantly, prepping for the aforementioned Fantasy Baseball Spectacular in mid-February. My regular FantasyClicks will return on Monday, Feb. 15. Take care!

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