There are many variables to consider when ranking fantasy baseball players each year.
One factor that many people overlook is what players are in a contract year. In a perfect world, every baseball player would play up to his potential every season because he wants to win or just for the love of the game. In a realistic world, money is a great motivator and many players have better seasons in contract years.
These are some of the most important players in contract years, and it might be wise to move them a few spots up in the rankings.
B.J. Upton, Tampa Bay RaysUpton had a very nice all around season in 2011. Upton hit 23 home runs, knocked in 81 RBIs, and also stole 36 bases. Upton only batted .243 last year, though, so maybe his contract year will help him improve in that category. Upton in an improved contract season could easily be a 30/30 player and close in on a 100 run/100 RBIs season.
Carlos Quentin, San Diego PadresQuentin will be in a very important contract year, because not only does he have a chance to make some money but he also has the chance to get out of San Diego. I doubt being on a bad team at the hardest stadium to hit is a position that sluggers love to be in. Of course, the fact that he plays in San Diego could also affect his numbers, but ultimately, I think if Quentin is healthy then that and his contract year will improve his numbers from last year.
Josh Hamilton, Texas RangersUnfortunately, Hamilton will always have the substance problem hanging over his head, and I'm writing this just a couple days after Hamilton had a relapse. Obviously, that could have a huge affect on his ability to concentrate. Can you imagine how good Hamilton would be if he can focus, stayed healthy all season, and had an improved contract year? If you believe that is a possibility then Hamilton is worth being the first outfielder chosen.
Matt Cain, San Francisco GiantsLast season, Matt Cain had an ERA of 2.88, a WHIP of 1.08, and a BAA of .217. Cain had an impressive stat line last season, and if he can somehow be even better in 2012 then he could find himself getting the type of money that #1 aces get. That could be all incentive Cain needs to have a Cy Young-caliber season.
David Wright, New York MetsThe Mets have an option on Wright for one more year, but with the Mets' financial problems it's possible they don't pick up the option or they could trade the third baseman and that would void the option.
There are not many stars in Major League Baseball whose stardom has been as damaged as Wright's. Bad team, lots of drama, and some injuries have been factors, but Wright also just hasn't played well. If Wright has any shot at a big contract and getting out of New York then he needs to have one of those all-around seasons that makes him a top 3+ third baseman again.
All stats were found at Baseball-Reference.com
The last several generations of Lee Andrew Henderson's family were Pittsburgh born and even though he was born in Alabama he has been a long time fan of the Pirates, Steelers and Panthers. Lee Andrew Henderson now has a blog and can be found on Twitter at @LeeAHenderson.