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Rotoworld
suggested that Brett Garnder, who has been leading off recently in spring training games for the New York Yankees, could start the season off in that slot. Gardner, who scored 97 runs in 569 plate appearances could challenge for the league lead in runs scored if he is hitting out of that slot. For starter, he sports a solid .383 on-base percentage. With his ability to get on base, along with his excellent base stealing ability, in the powerful Yankees lineup, 100+ runs seems like a certainty.
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Furthermore, Gardner hit .344 with nobody on and nobody out. He hit .295 with the bases empty and just .255 with runners on. Brett lead off in 25 games last year, batting .290 with a .412 OBP.  Jeter stuggled hitting second last year (.157 average), but has spent the bulk of his career hitting second. The similarity of his numbers leading off and hitting second is staggering. Leading off Jeter is hitting .313 with a .385  OBP, .454 slugging percentage, and a .839 OPS. Out of the two-hole he’s hitting .314 with a .384 OBP, a .456 slugging percentage, and a .840 OPS.
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Gardner spent the bulk of his ABs in the eighth and ninth slots. If he were to lead off he would see an increase in plate appearances, which would have a positive effect on his counting numbers. He would certainly be a great value with his current ADP of 180. Garnder is batting .270 this spring with four stolen bases.
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The  Toronto Blue Jays are considering using speedster Rajai Davis at the top of their lineup as well. Davis stole 50 bases in 561 plate appearances last year. Like Gardner, Davis excelled with the bases empty hitting .302. Davis hit .291 leading off and .277 in the other spots in the batting order. If he leads off for the Blue Jays, Davis will be an extreme fantasy value according to his 237 ADP.
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When you are getting ready for your fantasy baseball drafts keep in mind that we could be experiencing a stolen base renaissance with Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Rajai Davis all looking to steal 60+ bases.


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By Matt Carpenter
twitter.com/carmatts
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According to Mock Draft Central Matt Kemp is the number 23 player off the board and Matt Holliday is the 24th. So as the draft winds around and you are on the clock, which player should you take?
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Matt Holliday is money in the bank. Draft him and count on a plus .300 average, 25 HRs, and 100 RBI. He’s put up those numbers ever since he entered the major’s in 2004, and there is no reason to believe he won’t do it again. With the exception of 2008, Holliday has never run much and no one expects him to get more than a few steals this year.
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They key word with Kemp is upside, upside, upside. A first round pick last year, the rising Dodger star disappointed owners last year with a .249 average, although he clubbed a career high 28 HRs. Only 26, Kemp is entering his prime and is a possible holy grail for fantasy owners, a combination of tremendous power and speed. New manager Don Mattingly has said Kemp will bat cleanup so RBI opportunities will be plentiful. With stolen base guru Davey Lopes now a Dodger coach, many are predicting a 30/30 campaign for Kemp.
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Comparing the two players, Holliday is expected to have a better average while Kemp will steal more bases. The other categories will depend purely on whether Kemp has a breakthrough season. Deciding which player to take depends on what kind of owner you are. Some like to take reliable studs and save the high risk/reward plays for later in the draft. Others like myself see Kemp as a player entering his prime and a possible value as Kemp has first round upside at a third round price. You can’t go wrong with either pick, but Kemp could disappoint this year and still have similar numbers as Holliday.
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albert-pujols david-wright-jose-reyes
Images courtesy of Icon SMI

It’s pretty common knowledge that Hanley Ramírez is going to be the #1 pick.  What’s not to like about him?  He has 30/30 potential at the shallow Shortstop position.  Once he’s plucked out of the draft pool, the question is what do you do with the second pick?  Not long ago, before a steroid scandal, a bad hip, an affair with an aging Pop star, a link to an infamous madam, the list goes on, that answer would have been simple.  Now that A-Rod and his tarnished image is on the shelf, three other names  (Albert Pujols, José Reyes, David Wright) rise to the surface.

Naturally Albert Pujols is going to generate some heavy consideration.  Why not?  The dude can mash.  He shrugged off an elbow scare last year to put up another monster year (.357, 100 R, 37 HR, 116 RBI).  His 1.115 OPS was the highest of his career.  While his numbers are amazing, his Run, HR, and RBI totals of the past two seasons make up the worst two-season stretch in his career.  He’s getting walked more.  He had a career high 104 BBs last year, which was up five from his previous career high set in 2007.  Aside from a minor dip in his production, the other main reason to pass on Pujols in the two-hole is his position.  He’s easily the best First Baseman in the league, but he isn’t ahead of his competition by leaps and bounds.  You have Lance Berkman, Mark Teixeira, Ryan Howard, Miguel Cabrera, Adrián González, Justin Morneau, and Prince Fielder to name a few.  While they aren’t Prince Albert, they’re close. 

That leads me to José Reyes.  He is part of a Big Three Shortstop group of the aforementioned Hanley Ramírez and Jimmy Rollins.  Reyes is rock solid, but he leaves you hanging in the HR, RBI, and Batting Average departments compared to Pujols and teammate David Wright.  He scores a lot of Runs, but he gets little (if any) separation from Pujols and Wright there.  He swipes a ton of bases, but I contend that they can be made up later.  I’d love to have Reyes on my fantasy team, but not before Pujols and Wright come off the board.

That leads me to David Wright.  He has averaged 106 Runs, 29 HRs, 112 RBI, 22 SBs, and .311 over the past four seasons.   His numbers have looked even better the past two years (114 R, 32 HRs, 116 RBI, 25 SBs, .313).  He has topped Pujols in Runs, RBI, and SBs without losing much in HRs or Average.  He has topped Reyes in HRs, RBI, and Average without losing much in Runs.  He doesn’t touch Reyes SBs, but he’s pretty good for a Third Basemen.  Which brings me to the second part of my argument.  With A-Rod hurt and Miguel Cabrera switching to 1B, Wright doesn’t really have any peers.  Kevin Youkilis and Aubrey Huff had great seasons, but I see them taking a step back.  Chipper Jones is solid, but he’ll turn 37 in a month and he hasn’t played 150 games since 2003.  Aramis Ramírez is real good, but he doesn’t score Runs or steal bases like Wright, and his HR, RBI, and BA numbers are slightly lower.  Evan Longoria has the potential to make the leap, but I see much lower R, SB, and BA for him.

This debate was sparked by the Rotoprofessor’s First Round Rankings.


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