Happy 2013 to all, if you're reading this, you've obviously survived the apocalypse, the holidays, in-laws, the flu, and your fantasy football league.  We hope 2013 brings big things to our readers.  We'll start with hoping for a top finish in baseball and football leagues.  Here's a very early set of lists heading into the 2013 fantasy baseball season.
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4 Players we're targeting early in drafts this season:

4) Mark Trumbo - The guy is probably closer to 10 in pre-draft 1B rankings than 5, but with that supporting cast, and last years numbers at the age of 25, we see big things for him in 2013.  Especially if he can bring up the .268 average.

3) Jose Reyes - Well, last year was certainly a failed experiment for the Marlins, and that experiment dragged down Reyes' value just enough for you to be able to get a decent enough deal on him.  We think you can expect 100 runs, 10 HR, and 30 SB in a very deep Toronto lineup for a fairly reasonable price (2nd round?). 

2) Yoenis Cespedes - Cespedes quietly put together a fantastic rookie season in limited AB's in 2012, so we think he could be had for a bargain price in 2013.  He got on base in each of his final-10 2012 games, and posted 3 HR and 6 RBI in that span.  Expect close to a .300 average, close to 30 HR, and close to 100 RBI this season.

1) Matt Cain - The guy is a horse.  Over 200 IP in each of his last six seasons, at least 163 K's in each of his last seven, with at least 12 wins in each of his last four.  He ranked sixth in ERA last season, and third in WHIP.  We have him (contrary to some) ahead of guys like Dickey, Latos, Lester, Scherzer, and Greinke.  Target Cain as your #2 SP in the early-middle rounds, and you won't be sorry you did.

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Four Players we expect a turnaround season from in 2013:

4) Tim Lincecum - What a major disappointment for most managers last season.  Lincecum failed for the first time in 5 seasons to reach 200 IP; his BB's have risen in each of the past four years, and his strikeouts have declined in each of the past four.  But we think last year was the anomaly.  Target Lincecum in the middle rounds, expecting a line similar to his 2010 season - 16 W, 3.43 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 231 K.

3) Adam Wainwright - While Waino bounced back last last season, we think 2013 will be more forgiving, as he's a year removed from Tommy John surgery now.  Before surgery, Wainwright went 39-19 with a ERA around 2.50 in his 2009 and 2010 seasons.  We think he could be a steal in the middle rounds - providing you with 15+ wins, 200 K, and an ERA under 3.10.

2) Jacoby Ellsbury - Jacoby has alternated hot and cold seasons in each of the past 5 years.  The Red Sox have gotten rid of the clubhouse distractions, brought in a coach that the players should love to play for, and Ellsbury should be past his shoulder troubles.  Victorino in the Boston OF should make playing defense that much easier for Ells, too.  We think if you take the risk, you should be rewarded with a .300 BA, 90 R, and 35 SB.

1)  Troy Tulowitzki - We've seen Tulo pretty low on draft boards this winter, and that's something we will continue to drool over.  Tulo should provide superb value in the 2nd-4th rounds should he be available.  Troy is a guy who hovered around .300, 30 HR, and 90 RBI, 10 SB from 2009-2011.  He seems ready to go this year, so hope for a major bounce-back season from Tulo.  We like his ceiling more than just about all SS not named Jose or Hanley.

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4 Players we'd stay away from in drafts (for the current asking price):

4) Asdrubal Cabrera - Shortstop is a pretty deep position after the drop-off from the top 4 guys (we have Reyes, Tulo, Hanley, Castro).  But after that you see a massive middle tier of players who can contribute in one way or another.  With that being said, you can get the same value whether you reach for Cabrera (who's currently ranked 7th amongst SS here ) in the middle rounds, or wait on a guy like Rutledge, Hardy, or Zobrist a few rounds later; providing you with similar, if not better, stats at a better price.

3)  Jarrod Saltalamacchia - We find no reason to rank a catcher who hit .222 last season in the top 12 for fantasy purposes.  And we've seen Salty pretty high up on some draft boards.  Why not pick up a guy like Miguel Montero, Alex Avila, or Salvador Perez several rounds later?  The 25 home runs was nice, but why kill every other stat at your catcher position?  Add Napoli (we think), and David Ross to the Sox catcher mix, and we just don't see Salty ranking inside even the top 14 catchers in leagues.

2) Adrian Gonzalez - When you draft a first baseman, you want stats, stats, and more stats.  You usually draft 1B for premium power stats, and if you can't do that, you wait on a guy like Freeman, Butler, or Hosmer - guys who have potential to get you at least 4 stat categories.  We can't justify paying top dollar for a 1B who has failed to top 31 HR since 2009, has topped .300 just once since 2006, and has never driven in more than 119 runs.  Don't forget - he moved from Fenway Park's short fences to the spacious confines of Dodger Stadium, and lost the DH in his lineup.  Gonzalez could certainly bounce back this year, but don't expect anything more than what he delivered in 2007 - .282, 30, 100, with zero speed numbers.  That's nothing we'd want in our first or second-round 1B.

1) Jason Heyward - Heyward is a classic post-hype sleeper candidate, but why pay it forward when his past stats just don't justify his draft position?  This is a guy who was supposed to crush major league pitching, and has left owners wanting more after three mediocre seasons.  Heyward's asking price is somewhere between rounds 5-7, but he's only averaged .261-20-65-14 over his first three seasons.  Instead of reaching for Heyward's potential stats, wait 3 or 4 rounds and grab a guy like Austin Jackson who's averaged .280-10-51-20 over the same three year span.

 
 
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4 Young players (under 25), not named Harper, Stanton, or Trout, we want on our team this season:

4) Willin Rosario - If you could take any catcher after round 10, Rosario is the guy to target.  At just 24, Willin already has 31 HR, 79 RBI and a 0.824 OPS in just 450 major league at bats.  If he continues to improve, you could be staring down the barrel of a 35 HR season sometime soon from your catcher position, and he wont kill you in any stat.

3) Chris Sale - At just 23, Sale has proven five things:  he can throw heat for strikes, he can setup out of the bullpen, he can close games, he can anchor a rotation as a starter.  Arm health is the only question with Sale, but should he continue to maintain a sturdy arm, you should expect numbers of at least an elite #2 starter - 15+ wins, 200 K's, an ERA right around 3.00.

2) Starlin Castro - Castro has many things going for him this year.  At just 22, he already has almost three full major-league seasons under his belt, he plays a middle infield position (very well I might add), and he's fully capable of filling all 5 major ROTO statistics.  Over the past two full seasons, Castro is averaging .296-86-12-72-23 and seems to be trending in the right direction.  The sky is the limit for the young shortstop.

1) Madison Bumgarner - Mad Bum pitches has pitched so well over his past three-plus seasons that people might tend to forget that he's just 23.  He pitches in a great NL pitchers-park, he's won almost a half-a-game per start so far, and struck out over a batter/IP over his short career.  The only thing we'd be cautious of heading into 2013, is that his ERA has risen to an uncharacteristic 3.37 over each of the past three years.  If he can get the home runs back down to 2011 form, and keep the hits down like he did last year, Bumgarner could top a 17 win season with 200 K's and an ERA below 3.00.  We're all in.

Honorable Mentions - Brett Lawrie 22, Freddie Freeman 23, Jason Heyward 23, Manny Machado 20, Josh Rutledge 23, Salvador Perez 22, Eric Hosmer 23, Jesus Montero 23

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4 veterans over 35 that could provide a useful fantasy season:

4) Tim Hudson 37 - You gotta respect a guy in this day and age who can play through 14 major league seasons for just two teams.  Husdon is the owner of 197 career wins, a 3.42 ERA over 14 seasons, and more than 1800 career strikeouts.  The great thing is, he's barely showing signs of slowing down.  The 37 year old posted a 16-7 record last season, with a 3.62 ERA.  We think he has at least one more 14+ win season left in him - and you can probably get him in the wee hours of your draft.

3) Derek Jeter 38 - Every year I cast Jeter off onto the island of fantasy has-beens.  Yet I find myself owning him in at least one league every year.  The talent level, no matter the age, seems to be appropriate for the round owners can secure him in.  There hasn't been a season in his 18 year career in which he didn't record at least 100 runs, 11 HR, or 11 SB. In fact, he's averaging 104-14-20 in those three categories in his career.  We don't think he's close to being done, either.

2) Paul Konerko 36 - When you look at Konerko's stats since 1999 when he went to the White Sox, you can only pick out two seasons where he didn't hit at least .277 or hit 25 home runs.  In fact, he's a career .283 hitter and has averaged 30 homers and 89 RBI's in each of his 14 full seasons.  Konerko is a guy you'd want to own should you target pitching or outfielders early in your draft. 

1) David Ortiz 37 - Arguably the best DH of all time, Ortiz could only hurt your fantasy team in terms of clogging up your Utility position.  Since coming over to Boston in 2003 and receiving full time AB's, Big Papi has averaged 34 Home Runs and 109 RBI's per season.  Tack on a career .285 batting average (including 5/10 seasons in Boston over .300), and you've got some fantasy gold.  We rank Ortiz slightly lower than your typical elite power hitter due to not being eligible at any fantasy position, but if you're looking for some power numbers somewhat under the radar, snag the 7 time all-star.  With a full season of AB's, Big Papi should be good for .290-85-30-100 in the early middle rounds.


Honorable Mentions - A-ROD 37, Ichiro 39, Michael Young 36, Joe Nathan 38, Torii Hunter 37, RA Dickey 38