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May 26, 2011
Checking the Leaderboards
With nearly two months of the 2011 season behind us, let's take a look at which players are leading the pack at their respective positions, and whether or not we can expect those starts to develop into trends, or if we should be selling high before the bottom falls out.
We'll use CBS player rankings here to determine the leader at each spot. Those are based on standard mixed rankings with 5x5 scoring and 12 teams, so no need to worry about curveballs from some funky league format I may play in.
Catcher: Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals (#150)
Posey, Santana, and McCann won't hit poorly forever, though, and Molina, for all his Molinaness, won't hit .320 and slug nearly .500 all season. Or, at least, betting on such an event would be foolhardy, given his career numbers in both (.271 and .367, similar to his .286 and .372 marks from the last three seasons). There is no harm in holding on to the hardest working Molina in show business for the duration of the year, but if you can ship him off somewhere to an owner who will overpay for the rights to the #150 ranked player in fantasy, by all means do so.
Last year, when I wrote a similar article to this, Miguel Olivo was the lone backstop in the top 100 players. He hit .193/.225/.313 in the second half—despite playing in Colorado—and finished well off that pace. It's a long season, and I would bet on a lot of other odd things happening before I put money on Yadier being King Backstop come October.
First Base: Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox (#22)
In fact, here is what I wrote about him back in February:
In Boston's stacked lineup, out of Petco, and healthy, Gonzalez should rank ahead of everyone except Pujols at first. Problem is, we're not entirely sure when his shoulder will be 100 percent—it could be Opening Day, or it could take a month for the Sox new first baseman to get into the swing of things. I would be very surprised if Gonzalez didn't obliterate his forecast here, though.
Given Pujols' start, it may turn out the only thing I was wrong about in regards to Gonzalez was the "except Pujols" part. If you've enjoyed your Adrian Gonzalez thus far, then you'll be a happy customer the rest of the year, too.
Second Base: Michael Young, Texas Rangers (#43)
Third Base: Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays (#6)
There is no reason to think Bautista won't continue to mash and remain atop the hot corner rankings.
Shortstop: Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians (#21)
Left Field: Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays (#6)
Center Field: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers (#7)
Right Field: Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays (#6)
Starting Pitcher: Dan Haren, Los Angeles Angels (#1)
He may not finish the year on top, but unless you are going to get something absolutely ridiculous on the offensive end for him, there is no reason to sell.
Relief Pitcher: Francisco Rodriguez, New York Mets (#24)
It's been six years, nearly as many books, hundreds and hundreds of articles, and weeks of my life spent in chats with you folks, but today I am saying goodbye to Baseball Prospectus. I want to thank Will Carroll for convincing me to try to get hired at BP all those years ago, former editor John Erhardt for deciding to bring me aboard to write for Prospectus Notebook, Christina Kahrl for teaching me many of my first writing lessons during her years in charge of the good ship BP, Kevin Goldstein for his faith in me to get fantasy coverage up and running at BP like never before, and Steven Goldman for his role as mentor that he won't escape, despite my exit from this website. And, of course, you, dear reader, as none of this would have been possible without your persistent clicking of my articles over the last half-decade.
Leaving isn't the same thing as going away, though; I'll still be on the Internet writing about baseball—even more than I already do, if you can believe that—but you will hear about exactly where and in what capacity very soon. If you want to see me drop cryptic hints and eventually let you know where you can find my work, you can follow me on Twitter (@marc_normandin). Just know that I'm not going away; whether that news is comforting or disconcerting, I leave to you.
I'm leaving many colleagues behind who are also my friends, but because of that, I know you and Prospectus remain in more than capable hands. I won't name them all here for fear of forgetting someone, but you know who you are. Or, at least, you should. I've sent enough signals over the years.