Lind, Kubel rank ahead of Vlad, Big Papi at DH
1. Adam Lind, Blue Jays
Given the systematic ascension of Lind's on-base percentage in the last three years -- including the .370 in 2009 -- I am fairly certain he'll conquer 175 hits and a .300-plus batting average this season. As for duplicating 35 homers ... that's an entirely different kind of flying altogether. But then again, I'm not in the business of denigrating studs with .932 OPS rates too much -- especially when Lind appears to be the best DH, by a long shot. Projections: 30 HRs, 104 RBIs, 85 runs, 1 steal, .302 average.
2. Jason Kubel, Twins
Kubel deserves double mention here: Not only has he evolved into a rock-solid fantasy contributor, but he also has a wonderful knack of boosting one's spirits at least five or six times on a random summer night. Need a grand slam to win a game in the 9th? Need someone to hit for the cycle sometime in May? Need someone to collect five hits in one game at the tail-end of a head-to-head fantasy matchup in July? Kubel usually grants all these wishes. In fact, he's probably a better head-to-head stud than with roto leagues ... but the differences are negligible. Projections: 24 HRs, 97 RBIs, 74 runs, 2 steals, .296 average.
3. Vladimir Guerrero, Rangers
Who could've dreamt it a year ago at this time: After Lind and Kubel, the list of dependable DHs potentially takes a turn for the worse. Take Vladdie, for example: He used to be a lock for 150 games, 25-plus homers and 110-plus RBIs -- all while hitting for an impossibly high average. But now, the 35-year-old Guerrero sometimes looks like a fish out of water when free-swinging from his heels. Put it all together, and this No. 3 ranking reeks of reputation-only ... and a Rangers-related bounce. Projections: 23 HRs, 81 RBIs, 64 runs, 4 steals, .298 average.
4. David Ortiz, Red Sox
Combine Big Papi's disappointing 2009 (28 HRs, 99 RBIs, 77 runs, .238 BA) with his positive PEDs report and it doesn't paint a pretty picture. The coziness of Fenway still helps Ortiz's cause, to a degree, but he's essentially built for 25 homers and mediocre batting average. Projections: 26 HRs, 92 RBIs, 74 runs, 0 steals, .247 average.
5. Hideki Matsui, Angels
Matsui had a best-case scenario season in 2009 (28 HRs/90 RBIs/World Series MVP) ... which can only mean that a worst-case scenario campaign is on the horizon, right? Wrong. Buoyed by the warm weather of Southern California, there's no reason Matsui shouldn't hit 24-26 homers -- with 135-plus games under his belt. Projections: 25 HRs, 85 RBIs, 54 runs, 0 steals, .277 average.
6. Luke Scott, Orioles
Who can forget Scott's 6-homer, 14-RBI onslaught around Memorial Day last year -- perhaps the greatest six-day stretch of the 2009 season? Conversely, who can forget the massive slump that soon followed the Best Week Ever? That aside, we'll gladly take another 25 homers from Scott, as he finds his niche within the Orioles' sneaky-good lineup. Projections: 26 HRs, 77 RBIs, 65 runs, 4 steals, .266 average.
7. Pat Burrell, Rays
Instead of randomly guessing Burrell's numbers for 2010 -- his second-go-round in the American League -- we'll simply surmise that last season's 14-HR output was a fluke ... and that he probably won't hit 33 homers with 81 games at Tropicana Field. As always, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Projections: 24 HRs, 80 RBis, 53 runs, 1 steal, .258 average.
8. Jose Guillen, Royals
This is a risky pick for a few reasons. First, Guillen still possesses a rocket arm and, in theory, makes for a better right fielder. Second, the enigmatic Guillen could easily get bored at his new position -- for the very reason listed above (wanting to play the field). Finally, yes, Guillen was on track for 18 homers last year, but he seems to have lost plenty of RBI mojo as Father Time works his black magic. Projections: 20 HRs, 74 RBIs, 64 runs, 4 steals, .264 average.
9. Travis Hafner, Indians
It's hard to tell if this ranking serves as a positive or negative with the oft-injured, inexplicably power-deficient Pronk. Obviously, the expectations are no longer through the roof, and yet we might be underselling his talents if he were to somehow play in 140 games. That's a big if. Projections: 19 HRs. 63 RBIs, 52 runs, 1 steal, .271 average.
10. Jim Thome, Twins
If only Thome would have gotten a shot at the Great Hefty Bag of the Metrodome for one year. Instead, we're left to wonder what'll be like trying to hit a baseball out of Target Field in April. (Talk about a joke that never gets old.) Projections: 27 HRs, 68 RBIs, 60 runs, 0 steals, .253 average.
11. Carlos Guillen, Tigers
Now that Johnny Damon has signed on the dotted line, Guillen can officially prepare for his new life as a designated hitter. Frankly, I don't know what to expect from one of baseball's most underappreciated hitters when fully healthy. But here goes. Projections: 17 HRs, 58 RBIs, 53 runs, 4 steals, .279 average.
12. Ken Griffey, Jr., Mariners
As long as Griffey can stay fresh and avoid Mr. Injury Bug for sustained periods, he seems like a lock for 18 homers in Seattle's rejiggered lineup. But that could be wishful thinking.
13. Nick Johnson, Yankees
Johnson will most likely never see the light of day on mixed-league rosters, so let's just focus on his AL-only value. Maybe he'll crank 10 homers and hit .285 this season; but that's probably not going to happen with a maximum expectation of 380 at-bats. Projections: 8 HRs ... .278 average.
14. Andruw Jones, White Sox
At one point in the not-too-distant past, Jones was the best defensive centerfielder in baseball and a reasonable lock for 35 HRs and 110 RBIs. And now, he's sandwiched between Nick Johnson and Jack Cust at DH. Ouch!
15. Jack Cust, Athletics
The all-or-nothing Cust is only a consideration in leagues where homers are valued ... and batting average is completely ignored. Good luck finding one. Projections: 24 HRs, 71 RBIs, 82 runs, 2 steals, .245 average.