1. Alfonso Soriano, NYY $32
Soriano's numbers fell off just a bit from his breakout 2002 campaign, but he was still one of the best fantasy players in the game last year. The big question here is where he hits in the order, as it could have a big effect on his stolen base totals. If he's leading off, look for 40. If he's in the middle, it could drop all the way to around 25.
Projection: .292 - 38 - 98 - 115 - 30
2. Bret Boone, SEA $27
This guy is so confusing to fantasy owners that it hurts sometimes. He came out of nowhere to almost win an MVP, faded some, then bounced back to another crazy season. Don't overspend on him, but he's still one of the best options for 2B out there.
Projection: .289 - 30 - 105 - 100 - 14
3. Adam Kennedy, ANA $21 Kennedy is a tough guy to figure out too. His batting average dropped 43 points in 2003, but he hit six more homeruns. Anaheim's Guerrero-infused lineup should help his stats some too. You can bank on a good amount of steals and runs from him, and everything else is gravy.
Projection: .285 - 10 - 58 - 90 - 20
4. Michael Young, TEX $18
Not a very good list when Young is the fourth best on it.
|Young: He's quietly very solid in a potent Rangers' lineup.|
Projection: .280 - 12 - 70 - 98 - 15
5. Jerry Hairston, BAL $13
Hairston missed roughly three months with a broken foot in 2003, but still managed a very good number of steals. In Baltimore's newly-potent lineup, Hairston will probably be able to score a lot of runs, and 30 stolen bases is definitely within reach.
Projection: .269 - 7 - 49 - 88 - 31
6. Mark Ellis, OAK $9
Ellis didn't really perform up to expectations in his first full season in the majors, but he was solid enough. He doesn't have a lot of power, and the A's won't let him run much, so don't spend much and take what you can get.
Projection: .269 - 11 - 58 - 80 - 8
7. Eric Young, TEX
The Rangers picked up Young to be a swingman between 2B and the outfield, so he'll see time at both positions. Getting enough time might be a bit of an issue, but Young can still fly on the bases, so he'll find his way into games.
Projection: .266 - 7 - 46 - 69 - 26
8. Fernando Vina, DET $9
Vina makes his return to the AL, where he played until 1998, when Milwaukee switched leagues. Vina will help bring a veteran presence to the Tigers, but you really care how he can help your team. While injury and age have slowed his production, Vina used to be one of the best leadoff hitters around. If he can stay healthy, look for a good average, decent steals, and almost no power whatsoever.
Projection: .284 - 3 - 49 - 70 - 15
9. Desi Relaford, KC $8
Relaford's best quality is that he is eligible for 2B, 3B and OF. This alone makes him a worthy pickup for your bench, but he could start in deeper or AL-only leagues. KC should be a pretty good team next season, and Relaford will be a good role-player for them, as well as your fantasy team.
Projection: .274 - 7 - 51 - 75 - 18
10. Luis Rivas, MIN $6
When Rivas swiped 31 bases in 2001, he looked like he'd be a solid fantasy producer for a while. Now, with just 26 steals in the last two years combined, he's looking less enticing. Without good power, or a good average, the best you can hope for is a decent amount of runs from this guy.
Projection: .258 - 7 - 40 - 72 - 18
11. Orlando Hudson, TOR $5
Hudson has shown signs of excellence, hitting .315 in May and June, but he had a miserable second half and started losing playing time. He's the scheduled starter for Toronto, but he's definitely a weak link in their lineup.
Projection: .274 - 10 - 52 - 59 - 6
12. Willie Harris, CHW $5
Harris has serious speed. He stole 54 bases in 2001 at AA Bowie, and averaged 51 steals per 162 games throughout his minor-league career. He's slated to start for the White Sox in 2004, but he'll need to hit well enough to stick around so he can steal enough bases. A career .290 hitter in the minors, we think he's got a good shot to do so. Major sleeper pick here, but make sure he qualifies at 2B in your league.
Projection: .274 - 6 - 49 - 70 - 25
13. Ronnie Belliard, CLE $3
Belliard had a solid season in 2003 for the Rockies and was picked up by the Indians because prospect Brandon Phillips hasn't cut it yet. Phillips will still have every opportunity to win back the gig, but Belliard will likely be starting in the beginning of the season.
Projection: .270 - 6 - 51 - 59 - 5
14. Mark Bellhorn, BOS $4
Bellhorn and Reese will platoon in 2004, with Bellhorn seeing the bulk of the time for two reasons. One, he'll face the righties and two, he can actually hit, though you wouldn't know that from his 2003 campaign. We're betting that moving to Fenway and the Boston lineup will revitalize his stats, but be very careful here.
Projection: .255 - 10 - 48 - 57 - 3
15. Antonio Perez, TB $2
Never heard of Perez? We're not surprised, but he will probably be Tampa Bay's opening day second baseman this coming season, and he can fly, or at least he used to be able to. Back in 1998, Perez stole 58 bases... in 63 games! If he's running, this one is a serious sleeper. If he's not, he's just another Devil Ray that you probably don't want.
Projection: .250 - 4 - 39 - 45 - 15
16. Brandon Phillips, CLE $2
Phillips has yet to adjust his strike zone to the major-league level, which is keeping him from being the player he's capable of. If he wants it badly enough, Phillips should be able to win back his starting job from Belliard, or he could hit .208 again.
Projection: .249 - 9 - 45 - 52 - 9
17. Pokey Reese, BOS $1
Reese probably won't play often enough to warrant a roster spot, even if he did hit well enough. Boston got him for his defense, so unless that counts in your fantasy league, don't worry about Pokey.
Projection: .233 - 3 - 41 - 38 - 8