Don't overlook Joe Nathan, Justin Morneau 

January, 31, 2011
1/31/11
3:01
PM ET
Not only do the Minnesota Twins seem to contend for the American League Central division title each season, but they also possess quite a few high-end, high-upside fantasy baseball talents. That said, injury took quite a bite out of a few of these top guys in 2010. Closer Joe Nathan missed the entire season following Tommy John surgery. First baseman Justin Morneau played 81 games before suffering what ended up being a season-ending concussion. And catcher Joe Mauer dealt with nagging injuries and a sore knee for much of the campaign, though he kept playing and still provided ample fantasy value.

While Morneau and Nathan appear to be coming at a significant discount for 2011, if early drafts and the ESPN Fantasy summit meetings a few weeks ago are any indication, that's not the case with Mauer. While he suffered a major, if not surprising, drop in power last season, he still ended up fantasy's top backstop, a healthy bit ahead of Victor Martinez and Buster Posey on the ESPN Player Rater. He didn't win the league MVP or a batting title, as he did in 2009, but fantasy owners won't complain about a .327 batting average, 75 RBIs and 88 runs scored from their catcher. Mauer remains a stud, though I still doubt he'll hit more than 20 home runs in a season anytime soon.

[+] EnlargeNathan
Jerry Lai/US PresswireFantasy owners shouldn't forget how dominant Joe Nathan was prior to his elbow surgery.
Mauer is in the news because, like many on the comeback trail as spring training approaches, he recently told reporters he's going to be taking things mighty slowly following minor knee surgery in December. He also has been advising Nathan to avoid overexertion in February, which is wise advice for all players, really. We want you healthy in April and for the following six months, so unless you need to win a roster spot or are fighting for playing time, take it easy.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider