- Catcher: Catchers are almost completely fungible outside the top 4; they are all equally crappy. Alas, you will find good value in Matt Wieters (Brian McCann good at a fraction the cost), Geovany Soto (bounce back imminent), and Kurt Suzuki. Can't get them? Just wait for A.J. Pierzynski in the 20th.
- First Base: Joey Votto is a top 5 first basement going in the third. This may be the last year you get him at a discount. Lance Berkman in the sixth is almost criminal. Honestly, though, you couldn't screw up first base if you tried.
- Second Base: 2B is shallow this year, so getting one of the top guys is important. Gordon Beckham is my big value pick for 2010. No projection system on Fangraphs expects him to hit lower than .275 and most see him as a .280+ hitter with 20 HR/10 SB potential. If placed in the heart of the White Sox lineup, he will be just as valuable as Cano and Pedroia, but cost about 30-40% less. Beckham only has "3B" eligibility in Yahoo standard leagues (he will gain 2B eligibility the first week of the season), so you may be able pick him up with some owners asleep at the wheel. If you can't get Beckham, try Asdrubal Cabrera. His 10/10, .300 talents may come packaged with 100 runs. The drop off after Cabrera is scary and you don't want to be apart of that.
- Shortstop: If 2B was the kiddie pool, SS is a puddle of water. It's really only six players deep. After Zobrist is off the board, there remains only Asdrubal Cabrera in terms of multi-category positive players. The rest -- guys like Elvis Andrus, Jason Bartlett, Steven Drew, and Evereth Cabrera -- either come with huge regression risks (like flukey career years) or category killing stats (ie, Evereth Cabrera's RBI "potential").With this in mind, I have one true value pick. ESPN never stops talking about him, so it may be hard to fathom this, but Derek Jeter's consistent .300+ average, 15 HR, 20+ SB ways make him an underrated fantasy commodity. 100 R and RBI is not out of the question when you bat amongst the AL's most awesome offense in baseball's most home run happy parks. Did I mention he's only going in the late 3rd/early 4th round?
- Third Base: Matthew Berry thinks 3B is shallow. I disagree, provided you don't play with a CI position or have more than 12 players in your league. This is because the 12th ranked 3B is Chipper Jones. But Jones is not where you will find the true value in 2010. That lies in two players. The first is David Wright. Yes, he has an MLB-leading .400 BABIP last season and yes, his power diminished by more than 33% when Citi Field opened, but there are signs for hope. First and foremost, the Mets are chopping that monster wall in centerfield. Second, Wright was disproportionately shafted by Citi Field's dimensions last season; even if he does not jack 30+ bombs in 2010, 25 is entirely plausible and completely valuable when paired with a .300+ AVG, 100 R/RBI, and 20+ SB. And that .400 BABIP? It was fueled by a downtick in home runs and abnormal spike in strikeouts. Whereas Wright never struckout even 20% of the time ever before in his career, he struck out 26.2% of the time in 2009. The risk with Wright is minimal and the upside is high. If you can't get Wright, you can wait to the end of the draft and still get a plus-quality 3B who isn't even ranked in most leagues. Thanks to his raw power and line drive talents, post-hype sleeper Chris Davis will be an absolute steal if he can shave his strikeout rate from 40% to even 30% this season (see September and his minor league numbers from 2009). Don't let the strikeouts and Carlos Pena-like AVG fool you, he's a .280+ hitter. And the power? That's never been in question (67 HR between the majors and minors since 2008, .230 career ISO in the MLB).
- Outfielders: The outfield is where the majority of the 5 category talent lies. Unfortunately, all of it tends to get drafted in the first few rounds, making the best talents in fantasy more scarce then they seem. Nelson Cruz (ADP of 63) is valued highly this season thanks to his 33 HR/20 SB output last season. With better health and lineup consistency expected in the future, fantasy owners are expecting an uptick in Rs and RBIs too. Cruz only misses a top 50 ranking only because the low batting average (.260 last season, .255 career) marks him as a 4-category (as opposed to 5) stud. A .280 BABIP and .319 xBABIP promise better luck in the future, however. Cruz's xBABIP-adjusted 2009 triple slash line (assuming all additional hits would have been singles) was .288/.357/.552 (.909 OPS). Like Cruz, Jay Bruce also suffered from an extremely (and abnormally) low BABIP. The .082 disparity between Bruce's actual BABIP and xBABIP was second to none. No one expects him to hit .300, but he's a .275-or-better kind of guy according to xBABIP based projections. Only 23 years old, his .246 ISO from last season screams monster potential and as would be expected of anyone paired with Joey Votto, the RBIs will come aplenty. Another underrated stud is Carlos Gonzalez. The perennial prospect has bounced around quite a few farm systems in his career, but has finally found a home in cozy Coors Field. He hit 13 HR and stole 16 bases with a .289 average in a half season last year. A 20/20 campaign and .280 average is not out of the question by any means. If you can't get any of these guys, try targeting Franklin Gutierrez (Matt Kemp-lite) and late in the draft (Jay Bruce-lite) late in the draft. Quality steals are also aplenty between Nyger Morgan, Julio Borbon (the best valued quality steals option, in my opinion), Juan Pierre (now that he's a starting OF again), and Rajai Davis.
- Designated Hitters: I am not a big fan of filling your utility spot with a DH because DH's aren't what they used to be. Whereas the average AL DH hit .264/.348/.470 (.818 OPS) in 2006, that line fell to .255/.337/.442 (.779 OPS) in 2009. Outside Vladimir Guerrero and David Ortiz, there's no one really worth drafting unless the Indians give Russell Branyan or the Twins give Jim Thome some consistent ABs. Almost every DH comes with significant injury risk this season. Employ at your own peril.
Below are my "best values" by position: