The other day in the comments someone asked that I give some pairings for my first two rounds of the 2011 fantasy baseball drafts. I was going to do this anyway (you’re not the boss of me!), but sometimes I need a gentle nudge in the right direction. Not a noodge, thank you. What I’m hoping to lay out to you is who do you draft 2nd if you’ve drafted so and so first. I already did the pitchers pairings. I think it might be helpful to go through pairings for your 5 outfielders, all your middle and corner infielders too. I’m not sure I’ll have the time or patience to do them though. We’ll see! Or not. Your choice. For easy reference, the royal we will be using the top 10 2011 fantasy baseball rankings and the top 20 2011 fantasy baseball rankings. I’m going to assume you’re in a 12 team, 5×5, MI, CI, 5 OF, 1 Utility, 1 Catcher league. Anyway, here’s some pairings for the first two rounds of 2011 fantasy baseball drafts:
Miguel Cabrera – I’d put him with just about anyone but another 1st baseman. The reality of the situation is you want to get someone that is going to give you a few steals, say, 10. A third baseman would also be ideal, but it might be unrealistic to think you’re going to get A-Rod or Zimmerman. Youuuuuuuuk would be available in my fantasy fantasy world and have 3rd base eligibility at the start of the season, but getting Youuuuuuk might not be realistic either. What is realistic is Matt Kemp, Justin Upton or Andrew McCutchen. Miggy with one of those three looks real nice to me. Your team would be balanced heading off to the third pick. Someone like Kinsler, Pedroia, Phillips or Reyes would also work. Really, as long as you avoid a 1st baseman, catcher and a starter, you should be fine.
Albert Pujols – More or less the same deal as Miggy. I wouldn’t worry about anything other than trying to get a 2nd pick with at least 10 steals.
Hanley Ramirez – You want just about anyone but a shortstop or 2nd baseman. Ideally, you want a big bat. I.e., not someone like Carl Crawford. You want someone that is going to get you 30+ homers. Howard and Fielder are gone according to my rankings, but they may not be in Yahoo, CBS or ESPN’s fantasy fantasy world. If they’re there (stutterer!), I like them with Hanley like a fat kid likes cake. In a best case scenario, I’d have a 1B or 3B teamed with Hanley. An outfielder is fine, but you’re gonna be behind the eight ball filling out your infield later on. If you can pinkie swear me you’ll grab Adam Dunn with Hanley, then take an outfielder.
Evan Longoria – Anyone but a 3rd baseman. You really want a 1st baseman. (This is a common theme. Leave the first two rounds with a 3rd baseman and a 1st baseman and you’re in better shape than the schmohawk who took Tulo and Cano.) Since Longoria’s speed is a little wonky, I’d have no problem pairing him with a guy like Kemp, McCutchen or Reyes. Youuuuuk would also work nicely since Longoria’s average is a bit weak. Someone like Kinsler or Phillips aren’t terrible, but you’re putting yourself in a potential average hole that you’ll need to dig out of later. Shin-Soo isn’t a terrible guy with Longoria either. Just keep in mind, Longoria’s average and steals may need help.
Joey Votto – You could pair Votto with Yuniesky Betancourt and you’d be fine. Votto’s that good. Wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a number one pick next year. Let’s run away together, Joey! Wait, what am I saying? Oh, pairings, right. Yeah, you don’t want Votto with a 1st baseman, obviously. He’s similar to Miggy and Pujols. You want a third baseman, but you can work with just about anything.
Ryan Braun – I wouldn’t draft an outfielder next. Ideally, I’d try for a 3rd baseman, 1st baseman, 2nd baseman or a shortstop, in that order. I wouldn’t kick Braun and Fielder or Braun and Howard out of bed, but Braun/Zimmerman looks better.
David Wright – Similar to Longoria, but with where Longoria’s potential pitfalls could be average and steals, Wright’s a potential power problem. I’d want a power guy. Think Wright and Howard or Fielder. That sounds like the best pairing since my tilapia, Mad Dog 20/20 pairing last night.
Ryan Howard – Obviously if I’d take Wright and Howard, I’d also take Howard and Wright. See how that works? Since Howard is power first, I’d pair him with Reyes or McCutchen too. He’s a similar pairing to Pujols and Miggy, but he’s more of an average issue so I’d be careful about guys like Kemp, Kinsler or Phillips.
Troy Tulowitzki – This isn’t about pairing, but I don’t see how I’m going to draft Tulo in any league this year. Just going too early for my taste. Any the hoo! If I do, I’d give a lookie-loo to a 1st baseman or 3rd baseman, Sam I am. Since Tulo is a power threat at a normally weaker position, I’d also take a speed outfielder (Crawford) or a speed/power outfielder (McCutchen, Upton). You are dealing with more risk though if you go the speed route with your second pick because if Tulo craps out with another injury and you have, say, Crawford, you may only get around 40 homers combined from your first two picks while Howard can produce that by himself.
Prince Fielder – Same story as Ryan Howard, but he’s slightly less of an average issue so I’d pair him with Kemp, Kinsler or Phillips, as well.
Adrian Gonzalez – He could have a bit more risk than Fielder on the average side, but for our purposes he’s nearly identical to Fielder in projections and pairing.
Chase Utley – No Kinsler or Phillips. Similarly to Tulo, since Utley is a power threat at a normally weaker position, I’d take a speed outfielder (Crawford), speed shortstop (Reyes) or a power/speed outfielder (McCutchen, Upton). He could also work with a 1st baseman or a 3rd baseman. Shoot, Utley works with everyone. Love you, Utley. Write soon!