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!

  1. Carns says:

    So basically don’t take the same position twice in the first two rounds, and try to balance power and speed……thanks, Matthew.

  2. Greytech Drafting says:

    Grey, given that most of your advice is geared to pros (like in RCLs), do you foresee a post about how to take advantage of pairings when the majority of people follow the lead of the crack(-using) team at ESPN. In other words, while it’s easy to just say “stick to my top 100”, a post of how to met effectively play the value game vis-a-vis ESPNs rankings would be great.

    And not just a follow war room/point shares/spreadsheet. I’m talking strategy to fully exploit those things. I mean gallardo and liriano are in the 90s on ESPN. What’s a great strategy when you really only need to pull the trigger in 8th round for a front line starter?

  3. Fman99 says:

    So you’re not dropping Miggie even a little bit due to this whole “drink drink drive drive” thing? I was wondrin’

  4. emc squared says:


    Here’s my second mock (also came in “last” on ESPN after the draft) I like this one better than the 1st one quite a bit. Still a 12-team snake 5×5 picking 11th this time. 22 players 3 bench. Thoughts?

    1. Wright
    2. Howard — I followed your pairing even before you posted it!
    3. McCutchen
    4. Heyward
    5. Phillips
    6. Gallardo
    7. Rasmus
    8. Stubbs
    9. Billingsley
    10. Marcum
    11. Desmond
    12. Axford
    13. Swisher
    14. Jhoulys
    15. Kimbrel
    16. A Jax
    17. Leo Nunez
    18. Moustakas (ran out of time searching for a 1b/3b here)
    19. Gregg
    20. Minor
    21. Brignac
    22. Posada
    23. Borjous
    24. Kila
    25. League

  5. dave says:

    I’m targeting Longoria for my first round pick in a 5×5 AL only league. Would I be better off moving on Kinsler or Youks for my #2 pick? Should I not worry about 1B as much as finding some speed and AVG?

  6. Frank Rizzo says:

    The draft strategery posts are much appreciated Grey. Thanks!

    I’ve done a few mock drafts lately and have seen the potential in getting guys from the same team….I’m wondering if that’s a stupid move. Likely candidates….Pujols and Holliday, Miggy and VMart, A-Gonz and Crawford, etc. I know you run the risk of having one guy’s numbers go down if the other guy is hurt…..should we stay away from these combos at all costs?

  7. quimmy says:

    so im in a 15 team league. 7×7 with OBP and TB+BB the xtra cats. i have been doing a bunch of mocks and after taking PooHoles 1st these same 5 players are avail at 30/31 without fail:


    Which 2 do I go with to pair with PooHoles? Im leaning Dread and JUP. Thoughts?

  8. fredaycouples says:

    To the wise men (and the 1 woman) of razzball….

    Do you keep Nelson Cruz or Lincecum in a 12 team H2H League where I’m already keeping Votto, Utley and Zimmerman. Pitching and Batting are valued about equal but I can’t commit to taking Cruz and then taking a new #1 pitcher in the 5/6/7th round. Any thoughts?

    Also, If you had Votto, Utley, Zimmerman and Cruz what position do you go after in the 5/6/7 rounds — pitcher for sure, not sure what else.

  9. ScottyM says:

    I go Kinsler and J-Up there. OF is somewhat shallow, but not so much that I want to take 2 in the top 3 rds especially with risk involved in those upside picks.

  10. Cain Fan says:

    Grey – going into my draft I have Teix, Dunn, Phillips, Kemp, Pence, McCann which I think all pair nicely. My league has R, HR, RBI, SB, OBP and Ks for bats. What do you think is my biggest need going into the draft and which 3B pairs the best – Aramis, Pedro, Young? Thanks!

  11. DonSlaughtOnslaught says:

    On the Youk/Longoria pairing: If you are confident that you will get Youk, wouldn’t it be better to draft a 1B and wait for Youk to gain his 3B eligibility?

    I just think it would be tough to have Youk and not be able to use him at a position were he will be more valuable.

  12. Al says:

    Grey –

    Do these pairing have any relevance for auction leagues? How do adjust your strategy for the auction format?

  13. royce! says:

    Anecdotal evidence of how fantastical ESPN’s rankings are, my first 4 picks in a 12-team mock with full participation for the first 7 rounds-


    Although these 4 would probably cause some pain in the AVG, I would happily have all my real drafts start this way this year.

  14. Craigo says:

    @Carns – Agreed, this is Berry-esque…

    @aconstipatedmonkey – What are you a Grey defender? The point is, tis article was uncharacteristically pointless.

  15. quimmy says:

    @ScottyM: I was thinking that I shouldn’t pair Kinsler and JUP as I would be taking on 2 sub .270 BA’s.

    My thinking was the following pairs:

    Pedroia JUP
    Kinsler Dread
    Kinsler Heyward
    Dread JUP

    Kinsler and JUP trumps all these pairing with PooHoles?

  16. The Wright Stuff says:

    Hey Grey. How are you, man? I am a frequenter of razzball. Love your site and insight. Always helpful as well as entertaining!

    I enjoyed your recent “pairings” post because I’m at a crossroads.

    In my serious, 10 team keeper, money league, I have 10th (and 11th) pick this year. Our draft is in a few weeks.

    First round type players who are being kept include Votto, Cano, and CarGo. The rest of the top 9 picks should include (in no particular order):
    Pujols, Hanley, Longo, Tulo, Miggy (maybe, depending on if he falls due to his recent off field issues), Braun, Utley, Hamilton.

    Then, it gets to me; I am keeping Heyward (and Ubaldo). I now have 2 picks. IF somehow Miggy falls to me, I am going to have to consider him.
    I am thinking about pairing him (or another 1b like A-Gone, Howard or Prince) with the likes of Crawford (if he also falls to me at 10/11)

    What do you think? Knowing the players who are/aren’t available as I mentioned earlier in the email, what 2 player combination would you take at 1/2?

    The league is 5×5; TB not HR and OBP not AVG.



  17. amscalone says:

    Grey and whoever else –

    This post got me thinking about starter pairings again. I’ll be going into the draft with Lincecum and Jimenez as keepers (rds. 11 & 25 respectively).

    From which tier should I be looking for my next starter/ what kind of pitcher do you feel I should be targeting?


  18. fitz says:

    I see ESPN has dropped Miggy down to 13 in their rankings haha.

  19. Ben the M says:

    Great post Grey.

    I had the most active off-season weekend ever(for me) and could use just a bit of advice in cleaning up all the messes I have made.

    First off all these moves are for a 20 team keeper league where you must keep 6 keepers with no penalty, 5×5 head to head scoring.

    Last week I asked about a potential deal and you said it was fair, well that was not enough for me to pull the trigger so I asked for an additional piece here was the deal we agreed upon.

    I gave up Felix, Hanley, and Latos and


    CarGone, Kemp, Reyes, and Josh Johnson

    that left me with the following 7 players that I want to keep (can only keep 6). Votto, Kemp, CarGone, Holliday, Reyes, Johnson and Liriano.

    I said I wanted to move an OF and offers have come in fast an furious. Here are the most interested offers I have received. Which ones would be worth pursing in your opinion?

    I get Longoria and a 15th(21 rd after the keepers) rd pick


    Carlos Gonzalez and a 6th round picks (12th round after the keepers)

    I get Cano and a 1st rd pick


    Holliday and Johnson


    I get Utley and Fielder


    CarGone and Holliday


    I get Uggla and 1st rd



    I know this is a lot of garbage all at once, but to me most of the deals seem like pretty good ones, so I need to be careful and try to choose the best one as it will probably be my one chance to turn an OF into a good IF.


  20. OaktownSteve

    OaktownSteve says:

    @Grey: Kind of on the subject of pairings, what do you think of the idea of a fantasy platoon? For instance, I took the projections for Rajai Davis (pre-Podsednik) ADP 235 and Travis Snyder ADP 250 and basically took 50/50 from each and came up with a player who was comparable in value to Torii Hunter ADP 93. If you had the platoon you could pick and choose pitching match ups and ballparks to try and get the best from each. You could also throttle up power or speed as the standings start to solidify. The idea being you can address other needs with the earlier draft pick. Of course, it costs you a roster spot. So what’s a roster spot worth? Or is this just a dumb idea?

  21. Ben the M says:

    Sorry on the post above it should be Liriano not Johnson.

  22. Joel says:

    @Grey, – In regards to the article, I’m in a keeper league and have first pick this year. I already have Miggy on the roster and was hoping you can suggest between Longoria or Votto whom are the best available hitters on the board.

  23. Sean A says:

    @Grey: In a keeper league and Longoria, ARod, Wright, Youkilis, Beltre, Bautista and even Sandoval are being kept. I have Zimmerman who I’m keeping at $18 and Alvarez who I can keep at Util at $13. We’d spoken earlier about my team, I questioned you a few times about keeping Drew or LaRoche. Rather than Drew at $7, who i can probably get back at that price, what do you think about my keeping Alvarez just to use for a trade after the draft? (there is trading before the draft).

    With the drop off at 3rd and with how high Alvarez seems to be going, i think i may get more out of this strategy, despite that i hate having Util filled predraft and losing the value of who i would draft over Alvarez. But, this way i can analyze my team post draft and fill a need with better knowledge than in the middle of a draft. This is all assuming i can make a trade, people are pretty reluctant to do so in my league soon after the draft.

    Your thoughts?

  24. Sean A says:

    @Grey: There are 5 bench spots (filled by reserve draft after the regular auction is finished), so i could keep him there or at Util for a while. Not 100% sure the meaning of your question.

    Oh, McGehee and Reynolds are also being kept.

  25. Brandon says:

    Anyone have thoughts on potentially booting AVG as a category in a 12 team 5×5 h2h $260 auction league?

    A lot of the guys with poor AVG seem to go “fairly” cheap in our auction. Since AVG is all over the place from week to week, could stacking up on HR,R,RBI,SB and forgetting about AVG pay off?

    Ohh, and by booting AVG i mean rostering these fellas (Keepers):

    Alvarez 10
    Bautista 10
    Werth 13
    Uggla 18
    Dunn 21

    Also, adding in guys like Alcides Escobar, Bourjous, Borbon for steals.

    Any thoughts on the feasibility?

  26. Exactly says:

    hey razzers, I’m in a H2H points league, picking 7th with a bunch of people who like taking pitchers in the first round, so I’m fairly confident that I can get any of the 3 combos…which one looks best?

    Votto, Zimmerman, Pence/Choo
    Longoria, Howard/Fielder, Pence/Choo
    Braun, Howard/Fielder, Reynolds

    Thanks, y’all.

  27. Wilsonian says:

    Well I’m rollin up phat on my last pick of my 16 Team H2H draft. Our categories are:

    H, R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, OBPS
    W, K, SV, K, ERA, WHIP, KS/9

    My team:

    C- Napoli
    1b- Dunn
    2b- Hill
    3b- Wright
    SS- Andrus
    OF- Hamilton
    OF- Heyward
    OF- Tabata
    UTIL- Raburn
    UTIL- C. Johnson

    SP- Lester
    SP- Marcum
    SP- Gio
    RP- Kimbrel
    RP- Hanrahan
    P- Cueto
    P- E. Jackson

    BN- League
    BN- R. Soriano
    BN- Cecil
    BN- Sean Rod

    I’ve got one last bench spot to fill. There are 8 more picks until my last one and I’m having an issue with who to target. Can you rank these guys as to who you would take with that roster (if you can, just rank 5 out of these)?

    Homer, Narveson, Paulino, Guthrie, Robot Jones, FraGu, Valencia, Espinosa, Brandon Allen, Pods, Farnsworth, Dotel, Kalish, Chris Carter, Arencibia, Yunel, Bartlett, Harang, Carrasco.

    Thanks man, I really appreciate the help with this team.

  28. Carns says:

    @aconstipatedmonkey: I find about 95% of the posts at Razzball useful, helpful, or otherwise entertaining, I just commented late last week how helpful last week’s “10, 14, 16 team average” was. Christ, I was gushing. I just thought that telling someone to not take a 2nd 3rd baseman in the second round after taking Longo in the first round was Grey not living up to his own standards. Not everyone is going to hit a home run every day (except 2011 Mike Napoli).

    I just call em like I see em, dawg.

  29. Sean A says:

    @Grey: Gotcha. I would most likely have him at Util, i did for most if the end of last year.
    Assuming he wouldn’t be on the bench, would you agree with the strategy? And, if so, not knowing about the other keepers (they are about even at SS and 1B), would you throw back Drew at $7 or LaRoche at $2?

  30. Jason says:


    1 auto draft, first 6 rounds: Braun, Wright, Howard (WHAT!), Dread, Kinsler, Ubaldo. Stop it.

  31. Jason says:

    Oh, this is 9th pick too, even worse. COME ON!

  32. Grey

    Grey says:


  33. Kidface says:

    Sups Grey,

    I have the first pick overall and i made a trade for the fifth pick (i gave up my 2nd and 3rd round pick – also got his 8th round) and barring something unforeskin i will draft Pujols at 1 and having spoken to the people drafting 2-4 i anticipate both longoria and tulo to be available at five. which way should i go given that i dont pick again until the end of the fourth round? thanks.

  34. Mike says:

    Grey, I just want to say that last year was the first time I played fantasy baseball (long time basketball player) and the first time that I’d payed any attention to the sport since I was a kid and the bash brothers were my favorite players ever. History hasn’t been kind to that memory, but I digress.

    I used last year’s cornerstone combo from you that I found linked on some other baseball site and picking from the #2 spot I ended up with Hanley and then two reaches that people kind of shook their head at, Joey Votto and Ryan Zimmerman.

    All I’m saying is I now expect this year’s column to work out just as well for me.

  35. Dootdedoo says:

    We can keep six at drafted dollar values for 2 more years in a 12 team mixed auction league, 6×6 (OPS, holds), $260 cap:

    First year of using keepers, so unsure of the inflation that may take place with top players? Thoughts on this – focus on solely value, or keep reasonable priced studs in anticipation of inflation for top talent?

    Likely keeping:
    Marmol $6
    Dunn $12
    Delmon Y $6

    Which 3 from the following would you keep?
    Utley $32
    Hughes $2
    Longoria $40
    Butler $11
    Braun $43
    Pujols $50
    Crawford $34

    Thinking: Marmol 6, Dunn 12, Crawford 34, Utley 32, Delmon 6, Longo 40

  36. josh says:


    I am currently preparing for a draft in a 4 keeper roto league that just started last year. Its a standard 12 teams, 5X5. We run 1 for all infield positions and 3 in the outfield with 2 utility spots. Pitching is standard. My 4 keepers are cano, david wright, cargo, and justin upton. Also only about half the teams kept a pitcher. I dont really know where I should start with my draft. I’m mainly scared about the 1b spot. Votto, miggy, pujols, fielder, a. gonzalez, adam dunn, morneau, tex, howard, and youkilis all got kept. I have the 7th pick and from rumor hear that morales will get taken before me. Reyes is left for shorts stop but i doubt he will fall to 7th as well since we are technically starting in the 5th round. Any advice on how I should approach the draft with my keepers will help me a ton and also what i should do about my 1b problem. Thanks for your time!

  37. Bob says:

    Hey Grey,

    I am in the 2nd year of a 10 team Roto Keeper League with 3 keepers per team (cannot keep players from the 1st 2 rounds of last years draft). I am having trouble choosing 3 of the following 4 based on the round I can keep them:
    Cano (keep in the 3rd round)
    Wainright (in the 5th round)
    Choo (in the 9th)
    Posey (in the 18th, I am keeping him for sure based on value)

    Also, I was offered the following trade: His 1st round pick (3rd overall) for my 8th round (73rd overall) and keeper rights for Cano.

    Thanks for your help

  38. Dingo says:

    I’m always a fan of this post, Grey — it’s really helpful to see how different picks complement each other. One question about Fielder vs. A-Gonz: Why do you think Gonzalez is a bigger AVG risk than Fielder? His career average at SD is higher than Fielder’s, and he should get a boost from moving to Fenway, no?

  39. Will says:

    Grey, what are your thoughts on my keeper options, which 5 to keep? 10 team, 5×5, snake draft, my pick is 10th in round 6. Unfortunately I can’t trade anyone before the draft for picks.

    Keeper options: Cano, CarGo, Fielder, Reyes, Zimmerman, McCutchen, Choo, and J. Upton.

  40. Alex says:

    Hey Grey, quick question. I’m in a 12 team basic 5×5 with C,1B,2B,SS,3B,OF,OF,OF,UTIL.

    I have 5th pick and I happen to know Miguel Cabrera is dropping to 5 (crazy right?). If Prince Fielder was on the board coming back in round 2, do you think it would be crazy to grab him and use him at UTIL? I know it seems ridiculous to spend two high picks on two 1Bs, but isn’t Miggy + Fielder just too good to pass up on?

    Would you consider Longoria at 5th, and Fielder coming back instead? Or is Miggy at 5 just too good to pass up on?

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