I've taken part in three different fantasy baseball drafts in the past couple weeks, and in the process I've picked up a few members of the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics. In this case, "a few" doesn't mean "many." Neither team is stacked with mashers, the A's traded all their name starters and both teams have question marks at several positions including closer.
That didn't stop me from setting out to choose a fantasy squad consisting of Bay Area baseballers exclusively, much like I did before the 2011 NFL season with the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders -- a make-believe draft where I listed Braylon Edwards as the 4th-best player on the board. Yeah, that team would've performed poorly in a real fantasy league.
I can only imagine how this team will look at the end of the season in a standard fantasy baseball league. On that note, let's pick some players!
With the No. 1 overall pick in the Athliants fantasy draft, SB Nation Bay Area selects...
1. Tim Lincecum -- SP, SFG
His grip on the top spot isn't as strong as it was before the 2011 season ... in fact, it's pretty easy to argue that he was the third-best pitcher on his own staff last season. Still, two Cy Young awards and well over 200 strikeouts a year add up to a frontline starting pitcher who's worth a second or third round pick in any fantasy draft.
2. Pablo Sandoval -- 3B/1B, SFG
If he still had catcher eligibility he'd be No. 1, but Sandoval's bat still translates very well at third base.
3. Madison Bumgarner -- SP, SFG
If so many are calling Bumgarner a Cy Young sleeper, is he really a Cy Young sleeper anymore?
4. Matt Cain -- SP, SFG
Contract negotiations aren't going all that well, but Cain's pitching extremely well this Spring. Combine his consistency, improving peripherals, and the fact that 2012 looks like it'll be a contract year, and Cain could wind up becoming the best fantasy performer for either team.
5. Buster Posey -- C, SFG
After the injury, fantasy players have reason to be cautious. If Posey has a good year, he'll shoot up this list (provided he's still catching).
6. Coco Crisp -- OF, OAK
An Athletic finally comes off the board, and this team gets some much-needed steals.
7. Jemile Weeks -- 2B, OAK
The only second baseman worth drafting from either team, Weeks is one of the most intriguing fantasy sleepers in the game.
8. Melky Cabrera -- OF, SFG
He's striving for a big contract after this season, so a 20/20 season isn't out of the question.
9. Brian Wilson -- RP, SFG
The first closer comes off the board, due more to positional necessity than promise. Wilson's coming off an elbow injury that didn't require surgery, but kept him out of action for several weeks at the end of 2011.
10. Brandon McCarthy -- SP, OAK
Not a strikeout guy, and he pitched almost 70 innings more in 2011 than any other season. But he's the No. 1 guy for the A's, and he should help in categories like ERA and WHIP.
11. Yoenis Cespedes -- OF, OAK
What's fantasy baseball without a little gamble every now and then? Cespedes is totally unproven, but it's not like anyone else on either team has an airtight argument as to why he should go ahead of a guy this toolsy. Do you really want to be the person who misses out on the next 30/30 guy?
12. Brandon Belt -- 1B/OF, SFG
I'm still feeling like taking some risks ... when confined to picking Giants and A's, you go a little insane. Insane's what many people would call choosing a guy who might not break camp with the Giants, but Belt has too much power to stay bench-ridden for long.
13. Angel Pagan -- OF, SFG
14. Cliff Pennington -- SS, OAK
This has less to do with Pennington's production than the lack of production at this position on both sides of the Bay.
15. Ryan Vogelsong -- SP, SFG
If the back issues don't linger, he's a sneaky-good pitcher who helped out many fantasy teams last season.
16. Grant Balfour -- RP, OAK
He's the closer, for now.
17. Brian Fuentes -- RP, OAK
He's been a closer before, and he's there in case Balfour can't hold the job.
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