Though baseball is in the middle of its offseason, it's never too early to start looking at fantasy baseball rankings. ESPN.com's Tristan H. Cockcroft has a preliminary top 250 list for the upcoming 2011 season. Three Colorado Rockies appear in the top 100 of the rankings, and none of the three should come as any surprise: outfielder Carlos Gonzalez (No. 11), shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (No. 12) and pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (No. 37).
Both Gonzalez and Tulowitzki come in second at their respective positions. Only Boston Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford and Florida Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez rank ahead of the Rockies. Gonzalez, who finished third in NL MVP voting, was an outstanding producer in all 5x5 categories (.336 average, 111 runs, 34 HR, 117 RBI, 26 stolen bases). How close will he be able to replicate that line in 2011? Tulowitzki, who finished fifth in NL MVP voting, also put solid numbers across the board, though we must wonder what his final numbers would have looked like had he not missed a month of the season.
Jimenez, who finished third in NL Cy Young voting, had career bests in four of five categories (since he doesn't close out games) in 2010. He wound up with only 19 wins after having 15 at the All-Star Break. He finished eighth overall in strikeouts (214) and third in the National League in ERA (2.88). He is the ninth overall starting pitcher in this early set of rankings.
There are several other Rockies residing outside of the top 100. Rockies closer Huston Street (No. 133) had 20 saves and a 3.61 ERA in an injury-shortened season (he missed most of the first three months of play). Jhoulys Chacin (No. 159) finally settled in when used as a starter and finished with a 2.98 ERA in that role. The Rockies and fantasy owners expect big things out of him this upcoming season.
Third baseman Ian Stewart (No. 164) struggles with his average (he did bring it up to .256 in 2010 after a .228 in 2009) and will feel the pressure to produce. Can he handle it?
Recently re-signed Jorge De La Rosa checks in at No. 168. He put up a 4.22 ERA and a 1.315 WHIP in 2010. Catcher Chris Iannetta (No. 181) has been named the starting catcher, but can he finally produce? Outfielder Dexter Fowler (No. 241) is the last Rockie to appear on the list. He has speed to burn, but 2010 was a disappointment for fantasy owners. He had 27 stolen bases in 2009, but only 13 in 2010.