Can you believe it’s that time again?  No, not 8:23 AM.  It’s time for the 2009 fantasy baseball rankings.  We begin our 2009 fantasy baseball rankings with the top 10 for 2009 fantasy baseball.  Tomorrow we will cover the rest of the top twenty for 2009 fantasy baseball then we will go around the horn with a top 20 list for every position.  All of these top 20 lists will live in the 2009 fantasy baseball rankings section. Some deeper positions will require a top 40 list.  Listed along with this top ten for 2009 fantasy baseball list are my 2009 projections for each player.  You know what else you can do if you’re feeling especially industrious (or if you know what industrious means)?  Look at our 2009 fantasy baseball player rater.  This top 10 list has me mentioning, amongst other things, where I see tiers starting and stopping.  I like to look at tiers like this, if Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols are in the same tier, it doesn’t matter if one guy is ranked 1st and one guy is ranked 5th, they’re both very close.  It comes down a bit to personal preference.  Now, obviously, I would prefer the guy at number one better than the guy at five.  This top 10 list is as of right now and could potentially change with a big injury or trade in spring training, so while it is the 2009 fantasy baseball gospel.  Take it with a tablet of salt.  Got it?  Good.  Anyway, here’s the top 10 for 2009 fantasy baseball:

1. Hanley Ramirez – I’m done fighting the man.  I’ve given up.  I’m going to take my medicine and admit that last year when I ranked Hanley 5th overall that I ranked him a bit too low. Part of what makes me a fantastic fantasy baseball ‘pert is my willingness to admit mistakes.  Frankly, I’m still worried about Hanley’s shoulder and its propensity to give out on a swing and miss.  But, and it’s a J. Lo-sized but, there’s no one who has done what Hanley has done the last three years even with this shoulder issue.  Then throw in his position, and he’s the number one guy off the board.  2009 Projections:  125/37/80/.295/35

2. Jose Reyes – I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing Jose Reyes and I don’t care who you’re bringing.  I love Reyes.  There, I said.  60 steals and 15 home runs is exactly what you want from your shortstop.   2009 Projections:  125/15/70/.290/60

3. David Wright – Let’s be clear, I’m not a Mets fan.  I watch them, but I have Direct TV so I watch everyone (preferably not the Pirates).  David Wright came in first on this 2009 fantasy baseball player rater by a hair and I think there’s a case to be made for the first four guys on this top ten list to be number one.  My biggest concern with Wright is how he derives a lot of his value from his steals and I think he’s more of a ten steal guy than a twenty steal guy.  2009 Projections:  110/33/120/.310/14

4. Albert Pujols – If you have the fourth pick overall and get “stuck” with POO-holes then you gotta love that.  Pujols is about as steady as they come for production, apparently, with or without a working elbow tendon.  As said in the David Wright blurb, the top four could all be number one in someone’s draft rankings, i.e., an argument could be made for any of them to be one overall.  This is the end of the first tier of the first round.  2009 projections:  105/35/110/.335/5

5. Miguel Cabrera – So begins the 2nd tier of the first round.  I call this tier, “I really hope I don’t have to pick 5th overall.  This shizz gets dicey.” If you have the 6th pick, you’re getting a slightly lower echelon player.  In the big picture, these guys are still top notch players and you shouldn’t complain… too much, at least.  I say this is the second tier, because I don’t think a serious argument can be made that Miguel Cabrera should be number one overall.  2009 Projections:  100/39/125/.305

6. Grady Sizemore – Sizemore is as good a lock for 30/30 as anyone.  His strikeouts are declining and BB/K is increasing.  In 2009, his average should move in the right direction.  The 5th Chapter of Akron’s Middle-Aged Bitties for Grady’s Babies approve this ranking.  2009 Projections:  110/37/85/.285/30

7. Ryan Braun – Something’s not kosher here.  Ryan Braun exceeded my expectations, but somehow fell off everyone else’s radar.  His 2008 92/37/106/.285/14 must’ve disappointed everyone who thought he was going to hit .320 every year.  I warned everyone before last season started — repeatedly — Braun is not a .320 hitter.  Though a guy that could hit 40 home runs and steal 15 bases is not someone you should underrate.  2009 Projections:  100/40/110/.280/15

8. Ryan Howard – Say what you will about his .250 average last year, but 45 home runs and a 140 RBIs go a real far way.  Oh, and there’s the two year average of one steal/year.  You can count on one finger how many players Bill James said will hit 50 home runs in 2009.  The same finger you can flip to your detractors at your draft when you choose Howard ninth overall in 2009.  2009 Projections:  100/45/140/.265

9. Johan Santana – Unless Johan really falls and, by that, I mean early 3rd round, I won’t get him.  I’ve placed him 10th because I can see him easily earning this value, but I’m not drafting him here.  He’s the first player on this top ten list that I wouldn’t draft at the place where I ranked him.  If that makes any sense… *SPOILER ALERT* If you don’t want to know how the top 20 for 2009 starts, stop reading here.  If Utley is ready to start the 2009 season on Opening Day, I’d switch him from 11th overall to 10th and put Johan there.  (BTW, If I had a pimped out car with a spoiler kit, I’d write SPOILER ALERT on the side in metallic paint.  Cause that’s how I roll!)  2009 Projections:   18-6/2.95/1.12/210

10.  Chase Utley – You know you don’t want this pick in any 2009 fantasy drafts.  You’d prefer to grab Teixeira or Hamilton.  You know what else?  You smell like vagina.  Last year, you didn’t want Pujols either.   You talked about the risk involved and wanted the safe bet.  You wanted Vlad or David Ortiz.  How’d that turn out?  Utley’s due back by 2009 Opening Day.  I don’t doubt for one second Utley will work his hardest to be there.  Maybe he has a small setback and is out until May.  In 2007, Utley missed a month and still put up quality stats.  I know it doesn’t feel like the safest pick, but you gotta trust Utley.  He got you.  2009 Projections:  105/29/105/.295/10

  1. Steve says:

    Bless you Grey Albright. You’ve just made me and the Hippo feel very self-satisfied.

  2. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Steve: Why’s that? You agree with the above?

  3. Phil B.

    phil says:

    Totally agree on Arod, and the top 5. Santana at 10 i agree with as well, i wouldnt draft him there, really with pitching as deep as it is i’ll be taking hitters until round 8 at least, maybe 10.

  4. IowaCubs

    IowaCubs says:

    @Grey: I like this, though I was a little stranged out when I came to the blog directly from the email feed only to find the Brandon Phillips post. Any idea how you can post it on the main page when you update your player rankings?

    I disagree with Johan almost completely, but that’s only because I’ve been brainwashed and conditioned to believe otherwise.

  5. Grey

    Grey says:

    @IowaCubs: Hmm… That’s weird. I posted it to the front page and then linked it in the Rankings page. It should be in your feed. I think. I’m a bit computer-stupid though so I’m open to anyone else knowing what the problem might be. Rudy? You out there?

  6. IowaCubs

    IowaCubs says:

    @Grey: It’s back up on the main page. Right on.

    Also, Derek Lowe signs with the Braves. This makes his value almost exactly the same as it was with the Dodgers, though the NL West is the preferred pitching division. Thoughts?

  7. Grey

    Grey says:

    @IowaCubs: Because he’s a groundball pitcher (when he’s going well), I think his value stays pretty much the same almost anywhere he goes. He’s one of the few who I wouldn’t even mind in Coors.

  8. Steve says:

    @Grey: Pretty much, Was actually referencing my and Hippo’s first-round picks in the Commenters’ Draft.

  9. sean says:

    @IACubs: do you think this forces the Mets to resign Oli Perez?

    @Grey: I’m on board with the top ten, especially ARod at 1. I can’t envision a world where someone looks at 100/35+/115/15/.300 guaranteed and passes. I think Johan is a welcome addition to the top ten. Even though we agree about not drafting him there, he’s the only pitcher that I think has a chance of returning first-round value.

  10. Eric W says:

    YES Arod is the #1 player he is going to put up monster numbers this year 07 style. not because he has tex backing him up but because he is going to have no pressure all the media and fans are going to be focused on cc tex and burnet just the way he likes it.

  11. rob says:

    I don’t know much about the new ballpark, but Johan has seen some recent deflation in his numbers, and that concerns me a LOT. I’m not so sure I would feel comfortable with him at Coors field, as suggested.

    If Citifield or whatever it’s called (it’ll change in a few years anyway, so why remember) turns out to be a hitters’ ballpark, Santana may be in trouble — not deserving of the #1.

    I read something that says that right-center is deeper in the new ballpark, so I guess pundits feel it is more of a pitchers’ park than the last.

    For Santana owners’ sakes, I hope the pundits are right.

  12. Russ says:

    Hey. So, I get to pick my draft spot (reward for finishing fourth last year, just after the money). I like the 6 hole (12 team league) because it’s right in the middle, but it seems like after the top five, it’s a crap-shoot.

    Any ideas?

  13. Steve says:

    @Russ: In the mocks I have done, top 5 or #12 have been best.

  14. Russ says:

    @Steve: Thanks Steve. I’ve always loved the end of the snake. I like having the back-to-back picks. Hmm…

  15. Steve says:

    @Russ: Yeah – sometimes you can get Howard + Utley (or Utley + Howard) which is a pretty nice way to start things off.

    Tex can (and probably should) fall to there too.

  16. Russ says:

    @Steve: So is this just a phobia of mine or does anyone else get nervous taking teammates rounds 1-2? two years ago i got burned taking sizemore/hafner, last year it was braun/fielder…howard/utley makes me nervous, but that’s because i’m not that great at fantasy yet. (note that i was 11/12 the first year and 10/13 the next).

  17. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Steve: Ah, gotcha.

    @sean: I can envision that world. It happened between 1999 and 2002. It took people hitting 70 HRs a year though.

    @Eric W: Yeah! Just leave Arod alone with his old lady.

    @rob: I was talking about Lowe being a groundball pitcher not Santana (who’s obviously not a GB pitcher).

    @Russ: You want the 5th pick this year in non-keepers.

  18. Steve says:

    @Russ: Ha! It does feel strange taking team-mates back to back (as it were), but those two are about as good as it gets.

    Great production (esp from your 2B) and you’re not really reaching for either of them.

  19. Russ says:

    @Grey: That’s where I’ve been leaning.

    @Steve: Great points. I just feel like I’m not making the most out of my opportunity to choose my own spot by going last. I realize it’s only last once, but I think you know what I mean.

  20. Denys says:

    really? Santana @ 10? you’re losing it Grey.

  21. Pops says:

    Anxious to check out the rest of the top twenty. I’m also curious to see if you can possibly top the Madonna vagina party joke. High comedy.

  22. big o says:

    i’ll finally get it.
    never again will i choose hanley ramirez with the 1st pick of any draft , mock or real .
    from this moment forward , i acknowledge that a-rod is the only true #1 player in fantasy baseball …. and real baseball (as we know it to be portrayed) , as well.

    while other “intangibles” may cause me to rather have another ballplayer on my team , to chose anything but the strongest opening move would place me in a positional disadvantage from the start.

    i don’t feel any better , having said that.
    but it needed to be said.

  23. big o says:

    my god .
    that was my 100th comment .

    seems like i should have gotten to this point in my life sooner than i did.

    did i ever tell you about my favorite reverend jim story from the old tv show… taxi ?

  24. big o says:

    as soon as paypal unfreezes my account , i’m buying you another small pina colada …. though i’d feel better if you drank gin , or scotch .

  25. Rob says:

    I was just offered Johan and Hunter Pence for BJ Upton in a 12 team keeper. We keep 12 guys. I would drop Corey Hart if I decided to keep Pence. Is Upton’s long term upside too high to deal him, or is he close enough to Pence in value that I’d be foolish to turn down Johan? Thanks.

  26. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Rob: It’s not lopsided, but I think you gotta make that deal.

  27. @Rob: I’d make that deal too except I wouldn’t drop Hart for Pence. Don’t you have a SP you can drop if you want to keep Pence?

  28. Jeff1 says:

    Why do you think that Santana will pitch fewer innings this year? He hasn’t been bellow 210 since 2003 when he only pitched 158 innings.

  29. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Jeff: The listed 210 is Ks. Though he may pitch less innings this year because of the bullpen additions.

  30. Jimmy ray says:

    As far as A-rod goes you have to ask yourself ” was that an off year or the start of his decline…was it punk” 5th would be the earliest I would take A-rod

  31. Josh says:

    Just nit-picking, but with dropping A-rod, MCAB now begins the tier of “I really hope I don’t have to pick 5th overall. This shizz gets dicey.”

  32. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Josh: Thanks for the heads up! Fixed.

  33. Martin says:

    I have the 5th pick in my draft. DAMN

  34. Falcon says:

    Arriving fashionably late to this thread, but am intrigued. Personally, I hate having back to back picks (IE spot 1 or 12). Am I off base here?

    My reasoning is that from spot 8, I have good information about the other managers’ lineups. If I need a SS, and Peralta is available in the 8th round – I check the 9-12 managers lineups. If they all have SS’s, I snag Votto and wait for Peralta in the 9th round while feeding the dog some peanut butter.

    This is just an example – in the mock I did that in, some dude drafted Daniel Murphy in the 6th to the chorus of ridicule.

    Bottom Line: Does the ability to gather information give the outer-inner draft order spots (like that?) more value? I am talking spots 4,5,8,9 in a 12 team league.

  35. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Falcon: I personally like to be able to take two guys back to back. Picks 12/13 are much better than 1 and 24, obviously, but I think better than 4 and 20 too. I also like to be able to take the first two starters of another tier or first two closers of lower teir, i.e., I like to start runs in a draft. It’s about where you feel comfortable though so I don’t think there’s a right and wrong answer.

  36. Matt says:

    I pick #5 in a 5X5 H2H where each category win counts as a point in the final standings. Meaning the goal isn’t just to win weeks, but to win as many categories over the course of the season as possible — win a week 6-4 and your rival wins 10-0, your rival is 4 games ahead of you in the standings. We use OBP instead of AVG, and we use SB-CS and SV-BS. So IMO steals and saves are LESS valuable in this circumstance since you can rely on luck quite often to win those categories.

    Do you think I’m off base in thinking Ryan Howard is a great pick at #5? Over a Cabrera/Braun/Sizemore type?

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