Feb 24, 2012; Jupiter, FL. USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Lance Berkman (12) fields ground balls while wearing a fake moustache during spring training at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

St Louis Cardinals Fantasy Baseball Rundown

Every year, the beginning of March means many things. Not only does March bring the beginning of Spring, but also the beginning of baseball. Many of us are excited about the coming of baseball in general, however there is a smaller subset that is excited about another beginning. The return of baseball also brings the return of fantasy baseball. I don’t know how many of our readers are fantasy baseball players, but given the popularity of the game, it is a good bet that many of you are players like myself. It isn’t the best strategy to go into your draft hoping to own your favorite team’s players, but owning your favorites can be beneficial if planned properly. Today, I will discuss whether the Cardinals have an ownable player at each position and, if so, what round you should target them in your draft.

Catcher 

Yadier Molina is definitely ownable. Because of his batting average and the relatively small chance of repeating his power numbers, Yadi is normally the 9th catcher off the boards. According to Mock Draft Central, he has been going around the 18th round in a ten team league and the 15th round in a twelve team league. In deeper leagues or two catcher leagues, you may look into taking him even earlier.

First Base

Lance Berkman is looked at as a potential bargain at first base. If his power numbers from 2011 carry over into this season, he could generate a lot of value for his owners as he is currently going in the tenth round in a ten team league. He is the tenth first baseman off the board, just after Eric Hosmer and Michael Morse and about two rounds before Freddie Freeman. Berkman has more of a track record than these three. He lacks the upside that the three surrounding players provide, but he offers more reliability.

Second Base

At the beginning of spring training, second base is a three man battle between Tyler Greene, Skip Schumaker, and Daniel Descalso. It doesn’t really matter who wins, as neither of these three will be drafted unless you play in an absurdly deep league.

Third Base

David Freese has been going around the 17th round in a ten team league. He is being drafted as a sleeper pick as the power surge he saw during the playoffs would make him very valuable if carried over. Due to his injury risk and inconsistent play, he can’t really be looked at as a sure-thing starter in anything but deep or NL only formats.

Shortstop

Rafael Furcal is not really ownable as he doesn’t offer much upside. The power that made him a popular fantasy pick early in his career is all but gone. His injury risk also makes him a dangerous play. He will be avoided in anything but deep leagues and NL only formats.

Outfield

The best option in the Cardinals outfield is obviously Matt Holliday. He routinely goes around the fourth round in a ten team league. Carlos Beltran also offers fantasy players a solid option out of the Cardinals outfield. He can generally be drafted around the early 15th round. Allen Craig may go in deep or NL only leagues due to his power upside, but playing time could be a concern. Jon Jay is not a solid fantasy option, even in NL only leagues.

Starting Pitching

The Cardinals have three pitchers worth drafting. Despite the uncertainty of his return from Tommy John, Adam Wainwright is the first Cardinal pitcher off the board and generally is drafted around the 11th round. This is not good value in my opinion as there is simply too much risk surrounding Wainwright. Chris Carpenter goes about two rounds later, but is also a huge risk due to age-related decline in skills. Jaime Garcia generally goes around the 18th round, which is very good value if he can put up a season similar to his 2011 production. Neither Lohse nor Westbrook are worth owning unless you are in an NL only league. They actually are generally drafted after Shelby Miller, who doesn’t appear to be getting any starts in 2012 unless he has a fantastic showing at spring training or AAA and forces the Cardinals hand.

Relief Pitching

In a standard league, Jason Motte is obviously worth owning due to his saves and strikeouts. He can be had around the 19th round, which is great value for a reliever with solid strikeout numbers. Fernando Salas is a speculative option in the 25th round as he may challenge Motte for the job and also puts up a solid K-rate. The rest of the relievers are deep or NL only options.

This season could be a very fun one for Cardinals fans as St Louis offers decent options at every position but second base. Good luck in your drafts and keep an eye on your favorite Cardinals for potential bargains!

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Tags: Adam Wainwright Allen Craig Carlos Beltran Chris Carpenter Daniel Descalso David Freese Fantasy Baseball Fernando Salas Jaime Garcia Jake Westbrook Jason Motte Jon Jay Kyle Lohse Lance Berkman Matt Holliday Rafael Furcal Shelby Miller Skip Schumaker St Louis Cardinals Tyler Greene Yadier Molina

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