With the odd machinations of the keeper system in our league, we're now at the point where a couple of putative studs become eligible for the draft every year. Last year, the draft contained the best player in baseball (Albert Pujols), a fantasy shortstop that was awesome until he hurt every muscle in his body (Jose Reyes), a pair of fat slugging 1Bs (Miguel Cabrera & Prince Fielder), the best catcher in baseball (Joe Mauer, who stupidly fell to the 2nd round) and a two excellent building blocks (Carl Crawford, Justin Morneau).
The 2010 draft promises to have more of the same, as a bunch of talented players are hitting +2, +3 and +4 status, meaning that if you wanted to retain them, they'd take up between 25% and 42% of your keeper list. Yet, while most of these players are undeniably top-shelf players, they all come with some reservations . Let's take a quick look at what awaits the top half of the first round:
Alex Rodriguez (would be +4). There's an argument to be made that Will should keep him and 7 other players only, but that seems improbable. The "issue" with A-Rod isn't talent, it's age--he's already 34 years old, and it's a fair question whether he'll still be a superstar in 3 years. Regardless, he is likely going to be the first or second pick.
David Wright (+4). Mr. Met had baffling season with a good OBP and steals and a whopping 10 HRs. His low R's and RBI can be attributed to the rest of the Mets moving into Walter Reed, but if it's Madoff Field that is keeping him from hitting dingers, he's a lot less valuable.
Johan St. Johan Santana (+4). Gave up more homers than you'd expect from an ace pitcher (in a pitchers' park, no less) and left the season early with an injury. There's also the strategy question of whether it's worth taking a pitcher in the top 3 when he only impacts 30-35 games a year.
Grady Sizemore (+3). Once considered the best outfield prospect on earth, he had a shabby '09 and was recently spotted exposing himself on camera.
Ryan Howard (+3). Probably more valuable in fantasy than in real life, he's a guy that sabermatricians love to hate because of his horrible platoon split and the fact he has "old guy" skills. He's probably a top-3 pick, but again, how good is he going to look in 3 years?
Chase Utley (+3). Actually...there are no issues here, except that I'd put good odds that Tucker keeps him.
Matt Holliday (+3). Unless he returns to Colorado, is he really any better than 2/3 of the starting OFs?
Lance Berkman (+3). No real objection to his current talent, the problems are he's another, like Howard, that doesn't project to age well (he'll be 34 when the season starts) and the Astros are so horrible that his RBI and R suffer, a la Wright. If you're taking him, you're taking him to be a piece of the puzzle, not the cornerstone.
The only thing that's really clear from this exercise? The 9th pick is gonna stink.