(81) Team 1- Shin-Soo Choo, Cincinnati Reds: I am very high on Choo this season. He was four home runs away from being a 20/20 guy in 2012, despite playing on a weak Indians ball club. Now, he will likely be batting leadoff for a very powerful Reds’ lineup at Great American Ballpark, one of the most favorable parks for home runs. He holds a great combination of speed and power and has very talented hitters behind him in the lineup, giving him great potential to score a ton of runs. Only real downside with Choo is his strikeout rate is high, but still, he is great value for your outfield position here in round nine.
(82) Team 2- Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies: With a double digit strikeout rate since 2007, Papelbon is one of the more reliable relief pitchers in all of fantasy baseball. During his first season in Philadelphia, he posted 38 saves (3rd in NL), while striking out 92 batters, a terrific number for closers. He’ll get plenty of opportunity to produce a ton of saves in 2013, considering the Phillies offense is average at best. I don’t see them leading by a ton of runs heading into the final inning too often, which means Papelbon will see plenty of action.
(83) Team 3- Jason Motte, St. Louis Cardinals: Back to back relief pitchers? As Jim Carrey would say, “alrighty then!” 2012 was easily a career campaign for Motte, as he posted an impressive 42 saves (1st in NL) and his 86 strikeouts certainly weren’t too shabby either. Obviously, this draft took place a few weeks ago and now Motte is dealing with a mild strain in his elbow, which could ultimately force him to start the season on the DL. As long as the injury isn’t too serious, I still believe he will finish the season as one of the league’s better closers.
(84) Team 4- Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals: Following his breakout 2011 campaign, Gordon regressed a bit in 2012. His home run total decreased by nine, RBI by 15 and his runs by eight. He started his career as a very undisciplined batter, but over the past two seasons, has batted .294 and .303. Gordon is clearly maturing as a hitter and has the power to hit at least 20 home runs. He is also fast enough to snag at least 10-15 bags, making him a legitimate 20/15 candidate at least. The lineup around him is young and filled with talent, and if that talent can reach it’s potential, I expect big things from Gordon here in 2013.
(85) Team 5- Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants: Oh look, another injury to the third base position! Kung Fu Panda is experiencing some pain in his elbow, which could place him on the DL to start the 2013 season. Sandoval has been plagued with injuries throughout his career, forcing the 26-year old to never reach his full potential. Now, he is reaching the prime of his career and if he continues to develop as an all around hitter, he could finally reach his ceiling. Still, there are a ton of third baseman I’d personally take over Sandoval in 2013.
(86) Team 6- Kris Medlen, Atlanta Braves: There seems to be a lot of excitement about Medlen heading into 2013. Coming off of a very nice season in 2012, in which he struck out 120 batters in less than 140 innings pitched. He also won 10 games and posted an ERA of 1.57. Fast forward to this year and it appears that Medlen will start the third game of the season for the Braves. At 27-years old, he is about to hit the prime of his career and what a great time to do it, as the Braves have improved their defense tremendously, having arguably the best outfield in baseball. Medlen strikes batters out, induces ground balls and has the team around him to succeed. What’s not to like?
(87) Team 7- David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox: Even if he wasn’t injured right now, I still don’t think I would have picked Ortiz here with guys like Freddie Freeman still on the board. Ortiz (heel) is already scheduled to start the season on the DL and may be out for quite some time. The combination of size (6’4″, 250 lbs) and age (37) provides a much greater injury risk than most players in baseball. Of course, if he can manage to get back onto the diamond (and stay there), Ortiz provides obvious power with an improved contact rate. Still, much too risky for my liking.
(88) Team 8- Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays: Moore’s first “full” season as a starting pitcher was a bit of a learning process. During the first half of the 2012 season, Moore sported a 4.42 ERA and a WHIP of 1.46 in his first 17 starts. After the All Star break was much better, posting an ERA of 3.01 and a WHIP of 1.21. Just 23-years old, Moore should continue to improve and mature as a pitcher and will see much more opportunity with James Shields heading to Kansas City. His upside is tremendously high and Tropicana is quietly a pitcher’s ballpark, so don’t be surprised if he breaks out in 2013.
(89) Team 9- Jose Altuve, Houston Astros: No surprise here, but it is official that Altuve will lead off for the Astros in 2013. Houston was pretty much a mess, outside of their lone All Star Altuve. He will bat for a very solid average and can easily steal upwards to 35-40 bases, as long as he can get on base. During the second half of the 2012 season, Altuve progressed as a hitter, walking eight percent more often and swinging at far less pitches out of the strike zone. Despite playing on a poor team, Altuve has great value at a weak position and should stil put up good numbers.
(90) I Love Griffey- Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers: Injuries have certainly crippled Martinez for quite some time, preventing him from being the dominant hitter he is capable of being. However, he appears to be healthy enough in 2013 to open the season as the Tigers’ designated hitter, batting in the heart of a very strong lineup. Expect him to see tons of production in RBI and runs and the fact that he is still eligible at the catcher position raises his value a bit.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.