We do a lot of advice based on realistic scenarios here, but that’s not the goal here. No, this is an absolute Dream Team for 2012. If you had the first crack at every position, this is what your team should look like.
Now, Clave, Nash and I do disagree on a lot of things. But one thing we’re all in complete agreement on is that leagues are better with different outfield positions, rather than just outfielders. So, that’s what this team is going to feature.
With that little piece of housekeeping at of the way, let’s get it started.
Quite frankly, you can’t depend on any catcher to bring more consistent stats in any offensive category. Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana have great power, but their averages leave much to be desired. Buster Posey and Joe Mauer are great hitters, but both coming off of serious injuries.
McCann hits for a high average and a lot of power. He is also on a team with other solid hitters around him, so the pitches will be strong, as will the RBI chances.
There aren’t many hitters in the league that you can describe as a legit Triple Crown threat, but Cabrera qualifies. In any possible offensive category other than steals, he will be at or near the top of the league.
Oh, and now he’s got Prince Fielder as a teammate. That is only going to make the pitches he sees better, and will allow the Tigers to put people in more normal spots in the batting order around him.
If this surprises you, allow me to direct you to a previous piece of mine. Cano has a swing custom-built for Yankee Stadium, and a lineup that will give him every chance to succeed.
Cano is a batting champion waiting to happen, and he has the power to go for about 30 homers and 100 RBI. Nobody else brings that complete package at second base.
This will likely be his final year being eligible at third base, so take advantage of it. Bautista is a complete bomber of the ball. There are only a select few players in the league who can come anywhere near his HR total, which will be right around 40, if not more.
In 2011, he also backed up a great power season with a .300 batting average. The American League East is a great hitting division and the lineup is strong up and down. You may still think he’s a bit of a fluke, but shed that reputation immediately. This guy is one of the best hitters in the game.
Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Shortstop
In Tulowitzki, you have a guy that will reliable be around .300/30/100 every year. Don’t forget one other thing. He plays half of his games at Coors Field.
Make all the jokes you want about the performance enhancing drugs, but this guy can hit extremely well, and is just entering his prime. This came down to Braun and Matt Holliday, but Holliday is older, is coming of an injury plagued season, and lost Albert Pujols.
Pujols lost Prince Fielder, but the rest works in his favor. Like Cano, he probably doesn’t have the power to be a Triple Crown threat, but hits well above .300 and will come in at around 30-35 homers and 100 or more batted in. On top of that, he’ll steal the occasional bag.
This one was tough between Matt Kemp and Ellsbury. They are both very good overall, with different comparative strengths and weaknesses. Both are young and have had some consistency issues, but Ellsbury gets the nod for dependability.
The Red Sox are just a better team than the Dodgers. Not only will Ellsbury will get better pitches with more RBI chances, but he’ll also be doing so in better hitting parks, against pitchers that aren’t as good as the ones that occupy the NL West. Yes, Kemp is incredible, but Ellsbury gets the nod here.
On top of that, he will be the fantasy MVP this season.
What’s this? Back to back 40/40 possibilities? Indeed. Nash called Upton his fantasy MVP for 2012, and there are plenty of good arguments.
The power and speed have always been there, but now the average is starting to climb. Right field is a position that tends to clutter, as the numbers there are similar. But putting Bautista at third base, Upton is hands down the best at the position when you consider all stats.
Utility: Albert Pujols, Los Angles Angels
Cabrera is younger and in a better lineup, so he gets the first base spot. Still, there was no way that Pujols wouldn’t be on this team.
I could get into the reasons why, but do I really have to? He’s still a highly effective offensive player, is the best hitter of this generation, and the best offensive first baseman since Lou Gehrig. If I have to elaborate, I will ask where you’ve been for the last 11 seasons.
As a Giants’ fan, I know just how fantastic Kershaw is. There’s nothing he doesn’t do well. He throws strikes, is absolutely filthy, and wins a lot of games. Other than that, he’s average.
Kershaw also pitches in a division that will help his stats. The offensive teams aren’t that good and three of the five parks (including his own) are some of the better pitching stadiums in the league.
In a weekly head to head league, this might be Justin Verlander, but Halladay gets the nod for overall consistency. He just does not have bad starts. Halladay is around the plate with strong stuff, and takes pride in finishing what he started.
In this era, few things are guaranteed with pitchers, as the position has become much more sheltered than in the past. But Halladay will win around 20 games, throw a ton of innings, strike out a lot of hitters, and not allow many runs, or even runners. That is reliable, just like Doc.
Closer: Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
It’s fitting that he enters the game to Enter Sandman by Metallica. The opening riff to that song defines metal more than any song out there, and Rivera defines the closer position. He’ll be in the Hall of Fame throwing one pitch. If the hitters haven’t figured that cutter out now, it’s not going to happen.
The Yankees are reliably the best winners in sports. They have their detractors, but that is a fact. The closer on that team is going to rack up a lot of saves, which Rivera has done better than anyone in the history of the game. There are good closers in the game, but only one Sandman.