Baseball is back, and for many fans that means countless hours spent staring at computer screens searching for the next breakout player or to devise that genius trade. Ah, the joys of fantasy baseball. For years, the San Francisco Giants offered relatively little in the way of fantasy interest. Those days are over. The season starts on Thursday, and you can bet more Giants are flying off fantasy boards in 2011. So who's worth what?
Buster Posey, C
I know what you're thinking here, no brainer. He's good. Very good. Plus he's young, just 24 and several years removed from the oh so sought after 27-year-old season when a player hits their statistical prime. So why does Posey hold so much value? It's not for the reasons you think. Sure, he hits for great average (.305 in 2010) and decent pop (18 home runs in 108 games). But catcher is among the thinnest positions in fantasy baseball. There is a big drop off after the big four. What's more, if you are in a keeper league, Posey's value skyrockets. He also qualifies at 1B in most leagues. If you can draft or trade for him, don't hesitate.
Brian Wilson, Closer
He's crazy, he's loved, but right now he's injured. Still, saves are a critical part of building a championship team. Wilson led the league last year with 48 saves and has one of the longest leashes of any closer in the game. Despite the injury, he will likely only miss a week or two and return to being the most sure thing for saves there is. Don't fret. Hold on to Wilson, and watch your saves soar. There are plenty of closers starting the year banged up, so there are options to fill the void while Wilson is grabbing some pine. Think Jose Contreras and Ryan Madson of the Phillies, or Jon Rauch of the Blue Jays.
Matt Cain, P
Surprised I'm not listing Tim Lincecum here? We all know Timmy is freakishly talented. He's a second round pick in most leagues, which is where he should be drafted. The only issue, pitching is insanely deep this year. Cain has been drafted as late as the 7th or 8th rounds in some drafts. That's tremendous value for a guy who has made 30-plus starts over the last 5 years and is entering the prime of his career. An ace on nearly any other staff, Cain is content to be the No. 2. If you can make him your No. 2 or No. 3 starter, you might just have the best staff in your league.
Sleeper: Pablo Sandoval, 3B
One year ago, it was all about the Panda. He was simply a fantasy stud in 2009, hitting a blistering .330 and swatting 25 jacks. Last year, sound the alarm. Sandoval fell off a cliff, struggling in all aspects of his game. He hit only .268 and was benched for the postseason. Yikes. So what's to like this year? Sandoval has slimmed down significantly. His ballooning figure slowed his bat speed, and his production suffered. This year he looks like a new player. He had a nice spring and has a new spring in his step (did anyone see him run down that fly ball last night against the A's?) In case you haven't noticed, I'm all about value. The Panda could provide exactly that at a cheap price.