Ryan Ludwick (STL): Ludwick is in what can be considered the best hitting position in baseball, right behind Pujols and Holliday. Last season was viewed as a subpar for Ludwick to many, but that can be attributed to the hype surrounding him after his 2008 campaign. Ludwick’s numbers were solid across the board last season, and improved when Holliday was acquired by Saint Louis. Ludwick was battling some small injuries last season, but is fully recovered and poised for a great post hype season.
Projected Stats: R:72 HR:27 RBI:101 SB:3 AVE: .297
Carlos Quentin (CWS): Quentin is only a year removed of hitting 36 home runs in only 130 games and making noise in the MVP voting. After a 2009 season mired by injury, Quentin is back hitting third for the White Sox and if he can round back into form he will be a force. The Sox’s line-up is athletic, but underperformed last season. A few key additions (Pierre) and promising rookies (Beckham) are signs of an improved Chicago line-up, only improving Quentin’s value. Quentin has been crushing the ball this pre-season, but has been drafted at about the 180th pick overall.
Projected Stats: R:92 HR:33 RBI:105 SB:12 AVE: .285
Rajai Davis (OAK): A lot of people are hesitant about grabbing a hitter on a team that doesn’t score any runs. Davis however, is entrenched at the leadoff spot and if anyone on this team is going to pile-up runs, it’s going to be him. Davis hits for average and gets on base, and once he is there he can fly. Davis is probably the least heralded of all the candidates to swipe the most bases this upcoming season. With the lack of notoriety also comes great value, Davis has the lowest draft position of any outfielder who is being consistently drafted, behind players who are not in the league yet (Heyward) and players who will not be cleared to play until late summer (Beltran).
Projected Stats: R:101 HR:1 RBI:66 SB:62 AVE: .305
Brad Hawpe (COL): Pretty much everyone on the Rockies’ line-up has been identified as a player that will breakout in 2010. As the saying goes a rising tide lifts all boats, and Hawpe is a player who stands to benefit greatly with the improving performance all around him. Hawpe is going to be hitting in the heart of the line-up in the thin Coors air, and a return to his 2007 season numbers are not out of the question. Hawpe fell on a lot of draft boards because of his horrible second last half last season, but he has been remarkably consistent over the past three seasons, and early reports out of the Cactus League is that he is more prepared for the seasons at this point in the year than he has ever been in the past. Hawpe is going in about the 14th round in Yahoo leagues.
Projected Stats: R:88 HR:28 RBI:94 SB:3 AVE: .289
Hunter Pence (HOU): Pence has improved every year that he has been in the bigs, and now at 27 he is in his prime. Although his power didn’t increase last season, he cut down his strike outs and increased his batting average and walks substantially. This is a sign of Pence maturing as a hitting and becoming more patient at the plate. His improved batting eye will translate to a spike in power numbers and transform him into one of the elite outfield hitters this upcoming season.
Projected Stats: R:83 HR:31 RBI:91 SB:3 AVE: .289