Miguel Cabrera was a lock for a top-five pick in fantasy baseball drafts with some people even taking him No. 2. The Tigers first baseman was arrested on Wednesday for a DUI and resisting arrest. The immediate reaction is to downgrade Cabrera, but it’s still too early for that.
There’s no indication Cabrera, who turns 28 in April, will miss the start of the season or if he will go to rehab. Whatever the extent of his problems, the stats have never suffered. He’s very reliable and elite in every category except stolen bases. He had a career-high 1.042 OPS last season and as long as he doesn’t miss time, he’s still a top-five pick considering he’s in the prime of his career.
First base is a very deep position where lots of power is available. Joining Cabrera in the first two rounds at the position will be Albert Pujols, who will be drafted No. 1 in most leagues, Joey Votto, Mark Teixeira, Ryan Howard, and Prince Fielder. Adrian Gonzalez will also be in that group and he’s been drafted in the first round of some early drafts.
PETCO Park certainly sapped his power. He hit 48 home runs on the road and 23 at home the last two years. Fenway Park isn’t the home run park that people think, but Gonzalez should get a lot of doubles off the Green Monster and see a boost in runs and RBIs in a much better lineup. Watch Gonzalez in the spring to see how he fares coming off shoulder surgery.
Adam Dunn hit 38 home runs in two straight seasons after reaching at least 40 in five straight. He won’t help in batting average, but will eclipse 40 home runs again playing in U.S. Cellular Field.
Justin Morneau was putting up MVP numbers before a concussion cut his season short in early July. Monitor him closely this spring. Paul Konerko is usually undervalued, but will be overvalued coming off a 39-homer, 111-RBI season. He batted .312 behind a .326 Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP). His career mark is .285, so the average will dip. Konerko had a 19.5 HR/FB percentage and his career mark is 16.8 percent so expect regression.
People keep waiting for Billy Butler’s power surge and unless he stops hitting a lot of grounders, which he has done at a 47 percent rate in each of the last two seasons, don’t expect the home runs to increase.
Derrek Lee is coming off a down year due to injuries and some outlier stats in 2009, but moving to Baltimore will help and he’s a good value in early drafts. Aubrey Huff will be overvalued coming off a good season. Ike Davis had a good walk rate (12 percent) for a rookie despite a lot of strikeouts and showed good power. Look for improvement on last season’s stats.
Some undervalued players and sleepers for deep mixed leagues and mono leagues include Matt LaPorta, Justin Smoak, Dan Johnson, Kila Ka’aihue, and Mitch Moreland. The Diamondbacks battle between Juan Miranda, Brandon Allen, and Russell Branyan is one to watch.
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