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5. Josh Beckett
As was also the case with the Yankees, limiting ourselves to just five Red Sox players proved to be a rather arduous task. They simply have so much talent. In AL-only leauges, their top four starters and entire lineup (minus the catcher) should be owned. So why did we choose Beckett over the likes of Jon Lester, Jason Bay, and David Ortiz? Well, just a gut feeling more than anything. Beckett had a down year last season, no doubt about it. But he still struck out over 170 batters, and rarely issued a walk. Durability is a concern to be sure, but I like a bounce back year for Beckett in 2009.
4. Daisuke Matsuzaka
Dice-K emerged as one of the best pitchers in the American League last year. His 18 wins and 150+ strikeouts made him a fantasy stud, as well. The only thing he couldn't do was keep his walks down, and that remains a concern this year. 94 walks is far too many for a true ace. Still, that's his only downside. Dice-K is about as filthy as they come.
3. Dustin Pedroia
The reigning league MVP, the third most valuable fantasy player on this own team. Only in the AL East. I expect a bit of a regression out of Pedroia this year, but he's still vying with Chase Utley for the title of 'best second baseman alive'. Even if that juicy .327 average does dip a little, it won't drop too far. And Pedroia still does enough power wise (17 dongs) and on the base paths (20 SB) to warrant a high draft pick.
2. Jonathon Papelbon
Everyone knows closers are overrated when it comes to fantasy baseball, but Papelbon may be the best in the business. The Red Sox are going to win a lot of games and Papelbon is going to close lots of them out. 40+ saves seem to be a given. He gets his fair share of strikeouts as well, and his sub-1 WHIP proves he doesn't allow many base-runners.
1. Kevin Youkilis
KY gets the nod here as much for his versatility as for his bat. He'll probably be eligible at three positions in most leagues. That type of flexibility is huge for a fantasy owner. Oh yeah, the .312/29/115/91 line he posted last year isn't too shabby either.