Welcome to the 2009 fantasy baseball season here at The Fantasy Factor.
We're kicking off our coverage by taking a look at the 30 franchises around MLB and giving you the Top 5 fantasy prospects from each team. These are the names you'll hear on draft day as you construct the fantasy baseball roster you'll be stuck with until the end of Summer.
Along the way we'll provide player rankings, in-depth analysis, injury updates, and everything else you'll need to dominate in 2009.
Also, we're setting up the first Fantasy Factor Fan League. We'll ask YOU, the fans, to shoot us a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to be apart of the league and take on Ricky and myself.
Once a week we'll post the league's progress and standings, while having a little bit of fun along the way.
So, without further ado, here are the Top 5 Baltimore Orioles you'll want to know on draft day:
5. Matt Wieters (C - Rookie)
Reaching for fantasy rookies is becoming about as commonplace in drafts as the bean dip and tortilla chips. If you're going to put some money down, or a mid to late pick, on one this year, I suggest taking a look at Matt Wieters. Understand that initially, you won't be getting anything from Wieters because the way things stand right now, his name won't even be on the Opening Day roster. But that doesn't mean Wieters won't be called up to the bigs when the Orioles begin their inevitable slide to the basement of the AL East. He can hit for power and average and could be coming to a stadium near you in May.
4. Jeremy Guthrie (SP)
Ah, the crafty vet. Well, maybe not crafty, but certainly a veteran.
Guthrie has definitely put in his time as a major league pitcher, becoming the model of consistency in Baltimore for the past two seasons. With Guthrie you're not going to get anything flashy, but that's just fine as long as you plan ahead for it.
You could do worse looking for talent to complete the bottom of your rotation. But please understand that Guthrie is now 30 and coming off an injury shortened 2008 season. Buyer beware.
3. Aubrey Huff (1B BAL)
Huff is coming off a very fine and surprising 2008 season in his second year as an Oriole. He's a very capable DH for your squad that could be had in the later rounds of your upcoming draft. But I'm weary about proclaiming that Huff has the potential replicate his 30 round-tripper season from a year ago. Namely because the five previous seasons, Huff averaged a meager 15 HR, 59 RBI, .268 AVG.
While I expect that Huff will have a decent season, expecting much more than mediocrity from him is a stretch.
2. Brian Roberts (2B BAL)
Fresh off signing a four year contract extension, Roberts now has the job security that had been missing the past few seasons. The Orioles have long been rumored to be interested in parting with the versataile second baseman, much to the chagrin of the Baltimore faithful.
He's getting up there in years (31), but Roberts remains one of the top five at his position and can guarantee consistent production in steals, runs, RBI, and homers. Roberts is a great option for any fantasy squad.
1. Nick Markakis (OF BAL)
At 25, Markakis is the prized gem of the Orioles franchise and has the skills to validate the team's confidence in him.
Last year Markakis fell short of the expectations many had for him on draft day. He failed to clear the 100 RBI plateau and hit less home runs than he had in 2007. But what is encouraging about Markakis was his pitch selection that helped him rank second in American League with 99 BB.
The kid is a blossoming star in this league and this is the year Markakis takes full advantage of his physical attributes. If he can maintain the same plate discipline in 2009, Markakis could very well be on the verge of his first 30 HR, 110 RBI season.