Discussion

Updated Top 100 for 2012 (Braun No. 1)

Updated: February 23, 2012, 8:44 PM ET
By Eric Karabell
Pitchers and catchers have their bags packed and are ready to report to spring training, so it seems only appropriate to release my Top 100 overall rankings and get the conversation started! These rankings reflect my thought process in a few areas of this season's draft strategy, such as focusing on scarce middle-infield positions; enjoying hitters who hit for power while also stealing bases; waiting a good, long time for starting pitchers; flat-out avoiding closers in the early rounds; and, of course, the most important part of any draft, having fun. You have to enjoy not only ranking players, but drafting them. With that, here are my thoughts! For ESPN.com's overall rankings, click here.

1. Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers: No suspension? Works for me. Welcome to No. 1, Mr. Braun.
2. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers: Edges out the next guy in part thanks to pending third-base eligibility, but also because his lineup is better.
3. Albert Pujols, 1B, Los Angeles Angels: Of course, it's not like he'll be bad for his new team, either. It is worth noting, though, that no other Angels hitters made this list. Yep, Vernon Wells must have just missed!
4. Matt Kemp, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers: Falls short of 40/40 again, but barely. In other words, he's legit.
5. Jose Bautista, 3B/OF, Toronto Blue Jays: In 2012, he will lead the majors in home runs. Again.
6. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies: Might not produce the numbers of other top 10 guys, but consider the position he plays. You don't want to get stuck with Jason Bartlett starting at your middle-infield spot for you.
7. Justin Upton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks: A future MVP, and it could be this season.
8. Robinson Cano, 2B, New York Yankees: Peace of mind and consistency, and the fact he plays second base doesn't hurt.
9. Hanley Ramirez, SS, Miami Marlins: Clearly I have no concerns about him bouncing back strong, moving to third with a smile, stealing plenty of bases, playing nice with new manager Ozzie Guillen, nada.
10. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Boston Red Sox: Must be a major slump pending when he hits only 25 home runs.
11. Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston Red Sox: Surprise! Position scarcity rears its head to some degree here, but the numbers are there as well.
12. Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays: Brings the potential for a home run title, and he should add at least 30 points to last season's batting average.
13. Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds: Nothing's wrong with him. He's still very much coveted, but position scarcity works both ways.
14. Ian Kinsler, 2B, Texas Rangers: He's so injury-prone that he has posted 30-homer, 30-steal campaigns in two of the past three seasons.
15. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Boston Red Sox: He's not going to hit 40 home runs, but he's still a pretty safe option.
16. Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado Rockies: Don't feel guilty at all that a good portion of his numbers are supplied by a friendly home ballpark.
17. Jose Reyes, SS, Miami Marlins: Just know going in that he's not likely to play in 150 games. We can live with that. The Marlins have three valuable shortstop-eligibles in Reyes, Ramirez and Emilio Bonifacio, and they should combine for 120 stolen bases.
18. Prince Fielder, 1B, Detroit Tigers: Upon signing with the Tigers, I moved him up more, past Adrian Gonzalez. But upon further review, I think he fits better here.
19. David Wright, 3B, New York Mets: The hatred for this fellow is flat-out unwarranted. Look at his 2010 numbers. He's terrific and will bounce back. In fact, quite a few Mets are worth owning (Lucas Duda!), though no others made this Top 100.
20. Curtis Granderson, OF, New York Yankees: I thought about pushing him out of the second round, but a 35-homer season with the steals and runs still makes him worth it.
21. Mike Stanton, OF, Miami Marlins: If you said only two players would hit 40 home runs this season, I'll predict Bautista and this guy.
22. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates: If you ask me who could eventually pull a Matt Kemp and threaten 40/40, I'd say this guy, although the power isn't quite there yet.
23. Roy Halladay, SP, Philadelphia Phillies: Finally, a pitcher. There's just too much SP depth to miss out on a top hitter.
24. Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas Rangers
25. Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit Tigers: Could have the same season but win, what, six or seven fewer times?
26. Mark Teixeira, 1B, New York Yankees
27. Hunter Pence, OF, Philadelphia Phillies: Seems to me the team's new cleanup hitter will put up his best numbers yet.
28. Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
29. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington Nationals: Really, who is safe to play in 150 games? This guy sure isn't.
30. Cliff Lee, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
31. Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas Rangers: I have no idea how many games he'll play, 90 or 120 or 140. But I think he'll hit when he plays.
32. Tim Lincecum, SP, San Francisco Giants: Not exactly a slouch, and still an elite K guy.
33. Matt Holliday, OF, St. Louis Cardinals: Seems a bit overrated to me now that he doesn't steal bases. Pence seems more likely to produce the non-Colorado numbers we've come to expect from Holliday.
34. Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals: A future Votto, and a really safe pick.
35. Felix Hernandez, SP, Seattle Mariners
36. Ben Zobrist, 2B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays: The second base part is really important. I realize I like him more than most, but the 20-homer, 20-steal potential and versatility is nice.
37. Kevin Youkilis, 3B, Boston Red Sox: Yes, he's not the most durable fellow, but I don't know why people think he's done. He hit better than .300 the three seasons prior to 2011. Why assume his 2011 season is the new him?
38. Cole Hamels, SP, Philadelphia Phillies: Hopefully the contract talk doesn't affect him negatively.
39. Pablo Sandoval, 3B, San Francisco Giants
40. Nelson Cruz, OF, Texas Rangers
41. Brett Lawrie, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays: Yeah, I'd say I like this "future Ryan Braun" quite a bit. Enjoy him while he's playing third base!
42. Jered Weaver, SP, Los Angeles Angels: Terrific season, but like Verlander, don't assume a high wins total.
43. CC Sabathia, SP, New York Yankees: With him, you probably can assume the wins.
44. Dan Uggla, 2B, Atlanta Braves: Not as much power available in drafts as there used to be. Some of it comes with a bad batting average, but so be it.
45. Zack Greinke, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
46. Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati Reds
47. Jon Lester, SP, Boston Red Sox: This year he won't have a poor September.
48. Dan Haren, SP, Los Angeles Angels
49. Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies: Showed he could still run a little, collecting 14 steals (without being caught) in 103 games in 2011.
50. Jimmy Rollins, SS, Philadelphia Phillies: Still produces enough numbers to warrant this rank, even if he misses some time.
51. Brandon Phillips, 2B, Cincinnati Reds
52. Michael Bourn, OF, Atlanta Braves: Others will rank him better, and it's not that I foresee a bad season, but there's speed available late, so he's not a must-have commodity early. Tough to fill a spot this early with a nonfactor in the power categories.
53. David Price, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
54. Carlos Santana, C, Cleveland Indians: Yep, he's my top catcher. Love the walk rate, and I expect a considerably better batting average.
55. Starlin Castro, SS, Chicago Cubs: Won't double his home run output, but he doesn't need to with all the hits and the 20-plus steals.
56. Paul Konerko, 1B, Chicago White Sox: He's still reliable, and there's no reason to think the run ends this season.
57. Mike Napoli, C/1B, Texas Rangers: Some will point to his massive second half, when he hit .383 with power, but we can also learn from his first half, when he hit .232. Don't pay for the extreme of either half.
58. Yovani Gallardo, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
59. Matt Cain, SP, San Francisco Giants
60. Elvis Andrus, SS, Texas Rangers: Like Starlin Castro, he should develop some power. But I'll say he doesn't reach double-digit home runs this season.
61. James Shields, SP, Tampa Bay Rays: I'd say his 2011 numbers are more likely than his 2010.
62. Lance Berkman, 1B/OF, St. Louis Cardinals: I'd say his 2011 numbers are also more likely than his 2010.
63. Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees: What is it about all the hate for the New York third basemen? A-Rod could still hit 30 home runs.
64. C.J. Wilson, SP, Los Angeles Angels: All the facts suggests he's safe, considering he thrived in Texas.
65. Madison Bumgarner, SP, San Francisco Giants
66. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, Cleveland Indians
67. Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Cleveland Indians: Think about how much you loved this guy a year ago today. Hey, he had a rough season. Doesn't mean he's done.
68. Ian Kennedy, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
69. Daniel Hudson, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
70. Alex Gordon, OF, Kansas City Royals: Whenever a top prospect struggles for a few years, we'll have to remember what Gordon did in 2011. I don't think he'll do much more this season than he did in 2011, though.
71. Shane Victorino, OF, Philadelphia Phillies: Didn't run as much in 2011, but he remains productive. Watch out for the durability issues and enjoy his cameo on "Hawaii Five-0"!
72. Matt Moore, RP, Tampa Bay Rays: Meet the AL Rookie of the Year. I generally don't talk up young pitchers, but this fellow will dominate.
73. Stephen Strasburg, SP, Washington Nationals: Nothing to fear here, other than him hitting his innings limit by September.
74. Brian McCann, C, Atlanta Braves
75. Jayson Werth, OF, Washington Nationals: Won't be winning a batting title anytime soon, but he's still good for a 20/20 season.
76. B.J. Upton, OF, Tampa Bay Rays: Hurts the batting average quite a bit, but he still offers a terrific power/speed combo, and he's only 27 years old!
77. Michael Morse, 1B/OF, Washington Nationals: The power is legit, but that batting average has to drop some, hopefully not more than 30 points.
78. Desmond Jennings, OF, Tampa Bay Rays: I might be overrating him some, but his skill set will translate, and he'll run a lot. I say the Rays win the AL East.
79. Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Seattle Mariners: Go ahead and give up on this guy, then watch him hit .300 with 40 steals.
80. Matt Wieters, C, Baltimore Orioles: I'm not sure who could possibly be disappointed in him still.
81. David Ortiz, DH, Boston Red Sox: How many times have you written him off? Power is down across the league, so even filling your DH spot early with this guy makes sense.
82. Derek Jeter, SS, New York Yankees: We know many people have written him off. Of course, I'm not one of them, but still this is about the latest he has gone in a draft.
83. Alexei Ramirez, SS, Chicago White Sox
84. Josh Beckett, SP, Boston Red Sox
85. Matt Garza, SP, Chicago Cubs
86. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves: Word is he's in great shape. Perhaps everyone is in February, but I think he'll continue to emerge.
87. Mat Latos, SP, Cincinnati Reds: Leaving Petco Park can't help him, but he's still good enough to succeed.
88. Michael Young, 1B/3B, Texas Rangers: Won't supply the home runs, but he's safe in batting average, and with that lineup he should knock in 100 runs again.
89. Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota Twins: Speaking of batting average ... Yes, he's an injury risk, and no, I don't think he'll ever hit 20 home runs in a season again. But when healthy, what other catcher could win a batting title? Not sure I'd choose a catcher in the first 10 rounds in a standard one-catcher format, but still what a bargain.
90. Adam Jones, OF, Baltimore Orioles
91. Brett Gardner, OF, New York Yankees
92. Craig Kimbrel, RP, Atlanta Braves: Ah, a reliever. Finally. I'm not worried that I won't get Kimbrel in any leagues. He'll likely go four rounds earlier. Saves are saves, and there's much turnover. If we knew for sure he'd fan a million hitters again, that would be different. But we don't.
93. Jordan Zimmermann, SP, Washington Nationals
94. Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta Braves: Well, I'm clearly buying low.
95. Rickie Weeks, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers
96. Ricky Romero, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
97. Dustin Ackley, 2B, Seattle Mariners: Jesus Montero didn't make my top 100, but he didn't miss by a lot. And the Mariners have to score more runs this season.
98. Corey Hart, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
99. Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers: I'm not a big fan of him, but he still slips into my top 100.
100. Carl Crawford, OF, Boston Red Sox: Wow, look how far he has fallen! But consider he could miss a good amount time, and when he returns he'll be hitting sixth or seventh.

So what do you think? Anyone too high or too low? Who's missing? Share your thoughts below, and I'll chime in with some more of mine as well.

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