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What to do? Find the keepers

Baseball’s playoffs begin tomorrow, but it the season ended for most fantasy players yesterday. Suddenly, owners have some free time.

But what to do with it?

You could re-introduce yourself to your family. That woman in your house might really be your wife like she says she is. And yes, those probably are your children. If you are actually considering the last option rather than laughing, seek help.

Or …

You could give in to the addiction to fantasy baseball and start planning for next year. With that in mind, here is one player’s early order of preference for the top eight players for next season in non-keeper leagues.

  • Texas Rangers’ shortstop Alex Rodriguez is still the safest and best top pick. The guy hit .298 with 47 home runs, 118 RBI, 123 runs and 17 stolen bases in what was arguably a down year.

  • St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Albert Pujols just keeps getting better, and if he was still eligible at third base, he’d be the top pick. As it is, the .359 average with 43 HR, 124 RBI and 135 runs scored are too good to pass up.

  • New York Yankees second baseman Alfonso Soriano was baseball’s only 30-30 man this season.

  • Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton struggled with a back problem early, and that kept him to 33 home runs. But he belongs this high with a .358 average, 117 RBI and 135 runs scored.

  • Kansas City Royals’ Carlos Beltran isn’t the first name fans will come up with, but he has good all-around numbers to go with 41 steals; stolen bases are a premium these days.

  • Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Carlos Delgado’s average tends to fluctuate from one season to the next, but the power is always there and he has a good lineup around him.

  • Atlanta Braves outfielder Gary Sheffield has a history of big contract years like 2002, but with his talent and that lineup, he should be good for another productive season.

  • San Francisco Giants left fielder Barry Bonds isn’t as durable as he used to be and the walks hurt his value, but he hit .339 with 45 home runs, showing his skills are as good as ever.

    Notice the lack of pitchers above. Chicago Cubs starter Mark Prior probably belongs in the top 12 — higher in keeper leagues — but it is always best to be cautious with pitchers. Los Angeles Dodgers closer Eric Gagne is as much of a lock as anybody, but closers don’t change the game enough to go this high.


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