Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
If only life were as simple as Microsoft Word.
If you mess up on Word, all you have to do is hit "undo."
Sometimes we get second chances in life, but rarely is the world of fantasy sports as forgiving. You do your research, go to the draft, pick your roster, make a few tweaks here and there, maybe make a big trade. But other than that, that's really about all you can do.
Many of you took Albert Pujols with the No.1 overall pick. Some of you drafted Jacoby Ellsbury ahead of Josh Hamilton. Perhaps you grabbed Tim Lincecum when Jake Peavy was still available. We all make mistakes on draft day and most of the time there isn't a whole lot we can do about it.
But what if there was a way we could remedy our ill-advised draft day mishaps? What if we could travel back in time and start over at square one?
Are you thinking what I'm thinking? I'm talking about a re-draft.
If we could do the draft again, knowing what we know now, I think the top-10 draft picks would be a lot different from the ones we chose at the beginning of the season. Let's take a look.
(The number in parentheses next to each player represents what pick they were taken with in this year's fantasy draft)
1. Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas Rangers (taken 48th) - Hamilton's numbers to start the year compare very favorably with Barry Bonds' stats from the beginning of the 2001 season. That was the season when Barry Bonds toppled Mark McGwire's home run record and recorded 73 long balls. After 143 plate appearances, Bonds was at 15 HRs and 34 RBIs. Hamilton has 18 deep balls and 44 RBIs through 143 trips to the dish and his batting average (.402) is miles ahead of Bonds' .270 mark at that point in the 2001 campaign.
2. Matt Kemp, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (3rd) - While Hamilton has exceeded expectations by moving up 47 spots in the rankings, Kemp is right about where we thought he would be. Sure, he's cooled off a bit in May (.212, 0 HRs, 3 RBIs compared to .417 with 12 HRs and 25 RBIs in April), but he's still batting .482 against lefthanded pitching and he leads the National League in OPS (1.173) and runs scored (29). Kemp, currently third in the NL in batting average (.359), should be in contention for the batting title all year long.
3. Carlos Beltran, OF, St. Louis Cardinals (112th) - Amazingly, 111 players had their name called before Beltran was taken off the board in Round 12 of this year's draft. All he's done since then is hit .298 with 13 HRs and 32 RBIs. Right now, Beltran is on pace for his best year since 2006 when he smashed 41 HRs and knocked in 116 runs for the New York Mets. In addition to his big power numbers, Beltran has also enjoyed a nice season on the base paths. He's stolen safely in five out of his six attempts, putting him on pace to finish the season with 24 thefts, which would be his most since 2008.
4. Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (4th) - Braun was drafted fourth at the start of 2012 and that's where I have him at this point in the season also. Braun was able to shrug off a mediocre spring training (.213) and open the season with 10 HRs and 21 RBIs in his first 32 games. He is also hitting a respectable .306 clip. Braun's slugging .636 percentage represents a new career high in that area.
5. Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado Rockies (21st) - After taking a step back in 2011 (.295, 26 HRs and 92 RBIs after a .336, 34 HR, 117 RBI effort the year before), Gonzalez has rebounded in a big way in the early part of this season. He is third in the National League in RBIs (28) and runs (26) and right now he is on pace for 29 stolen bases, which would eclipse his career-high of 26 established during his mammoth 2010 season. Gonzalez was snubbed by All-Star voters back in 2010, but I'm not expecting that to happen again this season.
6. Edwin Encarnacion, DH, Toronto Blue Jays (205th) - Pitchers facing the Blue Jays have more than just Jose Bautista to worry about this year. Encarnacion has already stroked 11 homers so far in 2012 and his 29 RBIs are second in the American League. He's also hitting 15 points above his career average of .261. Encarnacion isn't just having a career year at the plate: he's also having his most productive season as a base-runner. With six steals in seven attempts, Encarnacion is already just two below his career-best of eight stolen bases. He should be a lock for 20 homers and 20 thefts when 2012 is in the books.
7. Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati Reds (44th) - Joey Votto isn't the only Red who can rake. Fantasy owners have always known about Bruce's elite power (he has 67 homers since the beginning of 2010), but we didn't think he'd ever hit close to .300. Right now Bruce is at .295. Could this be the year Bruce finally bops 40 homers? With 10 blasts in his first 32 games, it sure looks like it.
8. Adam Jones, OF, Baltimore Orioles (84th) - What's more surprising? The fact that the Orioles are still in first place or that Adam Jones is fifth in the AL in home runs despite having a career-high of just 25? Jones is on pace for 46 homers and 97 RBIs, which would be the most prolific season by an Oriole since Miguel Tejada exploded for 34 long balls and 150 RBIs back in 2004. Plus, Jones can steal. His five swipes in eight tries is good for 10th in the AL.
9. David Wright, 3B, New York Mets (35th) - David Wright is always amongst the most-overrated players in fantasy baseball. Except for this season. Wright has been a hitting machine this year, busting out of the gates with a .400 average and 21 RBIs. Wright has produced five seasons of 25 or more homers in his career, so despite hitting only four homers in his first 115 at bats, I'd expect him to be in the 25-30 homer range by the time the 2012 season comes to a close. Part of Wright's success has to be attributed to his improved plate discipline. He has already walked 21 times this year, fourth-most in the National League.
10. Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit Tigers (11th) - I considered putting Jake Peavy at No. 10 and it's hard to ignore how good Lance Lynn has been for the Cardinals, but to me, Verlander is still far and away the most dominant starting pitcher in baseball. He's off to a 4-1 start and his 56 strikeouts rank second in the American League. Verlander's ERA (2.47) is only sixth in the league, but of the five pitchers ahead of him in that category (Drew Smyly, Peavy, Jason Hammel, Brandon Morrow and Felix Hernandez), only Hernandez (2.29) has a real shot at maintaining that ratio for the entire season. Verlander rarely walks hitters and his durability is phenomenal (he has never sustained a major injury despite throwing 1362.1 innings since 2006). He has an excellent shot at winning his second Cy Young Award in a row.