March 2013

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2013 Position Rankings: Starting Pitchers 41-80

There are rules for drafting starters, or spending on them in an auction. They've accumulated over time, and they involve spending only so much, or only so many high picks on the position. Those are fine rules, and I'm not here to knock them over. Your leaguemates might, though, and if they do, you'll have to choose: go with the flow...or against it. I've had both strategies work out. And fail. It's for this reason that you should consider the recommended rounds to be much more fluid at this position than in others. Every draft will take its own course.

Pitchers are volatile commodities, and even the best ones can't be fully trusted. How many of us took Roy Halladay early last year and thought we couldn't be safer? New opportunities show up throughout the year, in the form of top prospects and out-of-nowhere surprises. Marco Estrada and Wade Miley probably helped a lot of us to championships. So, don't be afraid to wait a little on starters during the draft: the conventional wisdom is there for a reason. (Now, I know I must be getting old.)

Last week, we ranked the Relievers and finished all the hitters:  ShortstopsThird BasemenSecond BasemenFirst BasemenCatchers, and  Outfielders. Today's rankings come from a team discussion, featuring Tim Dierkes and the entire RotoAuthority staff. As always, they're divided into groups of similar value, and tiered by where they deserve to be drafted in a standard league. If you're bidding in an auction, consider players in the same tier to be of similar price.We start in the middle, with number 41, and continue to number 80. After that, you're drafting to fill various needs, so we highlight the strengths and potentials of unranked starters. 

What about the top 40 starters? You'll have to wait, but only two more days--the climax of our rankings series comes out on Wednesday. 

Rounds 11-12

41. Mike Minor, ATL
42. Andy Pettitte, NYY
43. Hiroki Kuroda, NYY
44. Dan Haren, WAS
45. Wade Miley, ARI
46. C.J. Wilson, LAA
47. Jon Lester, BOS
48. Ryan Vogelsong, SFG

It's mid-draft and you've probably got your top two starters, maybe your top three. The elite pitchers are gone and you're left to choose from a mix of good and steady ones, and ones with higher risk and reward. Minor fits in the second category, but given the way he improved over the course of last season, I'd say he's heavier on the "reward" side of things. Ditto for Pettitte, who just pitched his first spring outing and could be a high-quality pitcher with extra help in wins. Kuroda's strikeouts slipped a bit, but he's a low risk guy on what should still be a good Yankees team. Haren terrifies me, with spring velocity issues and heath concerns that led the Angels to practically throw him out of town. Miley would be a lot higher if he just struck anyone out. Wilson, Lester, and Vogelsong have all shown good and ugly sides in the last years. Expect a bit of both from them next year, but more of the good.

Rounds 13-14

49. Ryan Dempster, BOS
50. Phil Hughes, NYY
51. Edwin Jackson, CHC
52. Brett Anderson, OAK
53. Alexi Ogando, TEX
54. Matt Harvey, NYM
55. Hisashi Iwakuma, SEA
56. Tim Hudson, ATL
57. Tommy Milone, OAK

Dempster and Hughes might not be great for your rate stats, but they should be assets in K's and Wins. Jackson is as steady as they come, and he has an above-average strikeout rate. Anderson has tons of talent, but he's made of glass. Ogando is talented too, but he's still an unproven commodity as a starter. Harvey's K/9 rate alone makes him worth owning. Iwakuma, Hudson, and Milone are all relatively safe picks. Wins are a limitation for Iwakuma, strikeouts are for the other two.

Rounds 15-16

58. Jarrod Parker, OAK
59. Matt Harrison, TEX
60. Mike Fiers, MIL
61. Dillon Gee, NYM
62. Matt Garza, CHC
63. James McDonald, PIT
64. Jason Hammel, BAL
65. Wei-Yin Chen, BAL
66. Trevor Cahill, ARI

Parker and Harrison pitched to good seasons last year, and could be in line to improve, but I wouldn't expect another 18 wins from Harrison. Fiers and Gee both pitched very well in limited time last year, though Fiers flamed out in September. Both are high-risk, high-reward guys. Garza will be on the shelf until "possibly early May," but if you can wait, he's a fantasy asset when healthy. McDonald went all Jekyll and Hyde last year, with great and horrible parts to his season. On balance, he's still worth having. Hammel seems healthy so far; if durable he could be very high on this list. Chen and Cahill don't have huge upside, but they can capably round out a fantasy staff. 

Rounds 17-18

67. Joe Blanton, LAA
68. Shaun Marcum, NYM
69. Alex Cobb, TBR
70. Scott Baker, CHC
71. Trevor Bauer, CLE
72. A.J. Griffin, OAK
73. Josh Beckett, LAD
74. Chris Capuano, LAD
75. Derek Holland, TEX
76. Johan Santana, NYM

I know Blanton was awful last year, but his peripherals were just so good. I can't help taking a chance on a guy with a 4.88 K/BB. Marcum is a great pitcher when he's healthy, but the contract he got tells me that most teams in baseball didn't think he was worth taking a chance on. Of course, we aren't risking millions of dollars here. Maybe mock drafters don't know Baker isn't scheduled to be ready by Opening Day. He's a huge risk, but the upside could be 160 IP of nearly ace-level pitching. Like pretty much everyone else that pitches for Oakland, Griffin looked pretty good without very many strikeouts last year. Theoretically, Beckett could return to form in the NL. I'll believe it when I see it, probably on someone else's team. Capuano is easily one of the five best pitchers on the Dodgers, but he still might pitch in the bullpen. Sometimes life isn't fair. Holland took a bit of a backwards step last year, but he's still interesting. I had been excited about Santana, but the spring reports haven't been encouraging. His talent is still worth taking a chance on.

Rounds 19-20

77. Brandon McCarthy, ARI
78. Patrick Corbin, ARI
79. Bud Norris, HOU
80. Wandy Rodriguez, PIT

McCarthy was healthier than usual last year, but his strikeouts disappeared. If Corbin wins the fifth starter's job, he's got intriguing peripherals. Norris is a strikeout machine, but the Astros are just so bad. And his rate stats aren't great either. If the rumors of a trade to St. Louis come to fruition, though, bump him up ten or twenty spots as a wins and K's guy. "Magic" Wandy's strikeout numbers keep trending down, but he's still decent overall, and so are the Pirates. I suppose more pitchers can and should go in these rounds, but at some point the numbers lose their meaning, and all that matters is what kind of pitcher you need, and which kind of risks your team is ready to take. 

Deep League Options

Injury Returners: Cory Luebke, SDP (midseason), Colby Lewis, TEX (late May), Neftali Feliz, TEX (July), Brandon Beachy (June)

Wins: Bronson Arroyo, CIN, Mark Buehrle, TOR, Clay Buchholz, BOS, Ivan Nova, NYY, Paul Maholm, ATL

Strikeouts: Edinson Volquez, SDP, Felix Doubront, BOS, Chris Narveson, MIL

Prospects: Dylan Bundy, BAL, Shelby Miller, STL, Tyler Skaggs, ARI, Danny Hultzen, SEA, Julio Teheran, ATL, Gerrit Cole, PIT, Zack Wheeler, NYM, Dan Straily, OAK, Chris Archer, TBR

If I Only Had a Job: Kyle Lohse, FA, Hyun-Jin Ryu, LAD, Aaron Harang, LAD, Ted Lilly, LAD, Carlos Villanueva, CHC, Mark Rogers, MIL

High Risk (Moderate-High Reward): Chad Billingsley, LAD, Tommy Hanson, LAA, Ervin Santana, KCR, Chris Tillman, BAL, John Lackey, BOS, Ubaldo Jimenez, CLE, Scott Kazmir, CLE, Erik Bedard, HOU, Jorge De La Rosa, COL, Wily Peralta, MIL, Jaime Garcia, STL

Low Risk (Low-Moderate Reward): Lucas Harrell, HOU, Gavin Floyd, CHW, Jeff Karstens, PIT, Jason Vargas, LAA, Bartolo Colon, OAK,  Miguel Gonzalez, BAL, John Danks, CHW, Jose Quintana, CHW, Zach McAllister, CLE, Brett Myers, CLE, Rick Porcello, DET, Jeremy Guthrie, KCR, Wade Davis, KCR, Vance Worley, MIN, Joe Saunders, SEA, Jeff Niemann, TBR, Jeremy Hellickson, TBR, Ricky Nolasco, MIA, John Lannan, PHI, Clayton Richard, SDP, Freddy Garcia, SDP, Jake Westbrook, STL, Barry Zito, SFG, Ross Detwiler, WAS

No, the above isn't quite an exhaustive list of Major League starters, but it is pretty close. If your league goes deep, you might just need several of these guys. If it's shallow you can stick to the top 80, and don't forget to tune in on Wednesday to find who our top starters are.

How to Win: Saves

Saves are a curious phenomenon. Invented quite recently--for a stat with the weight of tradition--their presence in baseball's statistical pantheon has actually changed the way games are played and millions of dollars are apportioned. If not for this category, you might still be seeing the game's best relievers pitching the seventh and eighth innings of tied ballgames...not waiting until the ninth, only to sit down if a lead disappears or grows over three. See, saves are illogical, and that's just something we all have to accept before we can win this category.

Saves are subject to several factors, only one of which is a pitcher's performance. Since nearly all saves are doled out to just 30 pitchers at any given time, the manager's choice of pitcher matters too. For some teams (like the Braves) the choice is easy. The Tigers are having a tough time with it. What goes into the manager's closer decision? Who knows for sure, but performance, raw ability, reputation, and appearance all seem to go into it. Recent performance matters too: a quality pitcher can go into a rough patch with a closer gig and high fantasy value and leave with neither. Finally, winning games is part of it too...but, so is winning by a little. I like to target good or mediocre teams with better pitching than hitting.

There are, broadly speaking, two ways to win this one: more closers, or more information. 

To help you do either one, our first list is of the 24 closers who have a firm grip on their jobs. Note that this is not the same as last year's leaders, nor is it a ranking. You can check out our RP Rankings, or our Closer Depth Chart for information on each team's backup closers.

Firm Closers*

AL West

Grant Balfour, OAK
Tom Wilhelmsen, SEA
Jose Veras, HOU
Joe Nathan, TEX

NL West

Sergio Romo, SFG
Rafael Betancourt, COL
J.J. Putz, ARI
Huston Street, SDP

AL Central

Greg Holland, KCR
Glen Perkins, MIN
Chris Perez, CLE
Addison Reed, CHW

NL Central

John Axford, MIL
Jason Grilli, PIT
Jonathan Broxton, CIN**
Jason Motte, STL

AL East

Mariano Rivera, NYY
Joel Hanrahan, BOS
Jim Johnson, BAL
Fernando Rodney, TBR

NL East

Steve Cishek, MIA
Jonathan Papelbon, PHI
Rafael Soriano, WAS
Craig Kimbrel, ATL

*I say firm, but you know I don't mean it. These guys might not be fighting for jobs now, but any could lose it during the season to injury, sudden ineffectiveness, or manager's caprice.

**Brox is solidly a closer as long as the "Aroldis Chapman: Starting Pitcher" plan continues. If Chapman returns to the bullpen, expect him to bump Broxton out of the closer's chair.

With only 24 known closers this late into Spring Training, saves are already a rarer draft commodity than they used to be. It's down to two guys per team in a standard league; you could easily be stuck with just one in a deep league. The volatility inherent to closers makes me usually want to avoid them early in drafts (what I really like is snapping up three or four of the last six taken, but that doesn't look like such a good idea this year). This year, more than in others, I'd strongly consider using early and middle picks to get more than one of the top closers.

Closer Cage Matches

Not every save comes from a closer with a solid job. Each division hosts a team that can't seem to make up its mind about their stopper, and you can (with a little luck) profit from taking a chance with pitchers in those situations. Just don't depend on them. I went into a little more detail about these cases on Friday, so I'll keep it brief here.

Angels: Ernesto Frieri v. Ryan Madson

Frieri should start as closer; the plan is that Madson will return to the job when he's healthy.

Dodgers: Brandon League v. Kenley Jansen

League has been dubbed "closer" by the Dodgers...but they've done this before, and Jansen is really, really good. Especially at striking people out.

Tigers: Bruce Rondon v. Joaquin Benoit v. Al Alburquerque v. Phil Coke v. someone they haven't traded for yet.

This one's a mess. If you can spare your last round pick to have a horse in the race, go for it.

Cubs: Carlos Marmol v. Kyuji Fujikawa

Marmol is the closer. Marmol is very available in trade. Don't expect him to close in his new destination.

Blue Jays: Sergio Santos v. Casey Janssen

Janssen is hurt, but was supposed to have the job. Santos was pitching very well, but he was hurt last year and now he might be a little bit hurt.

Mets: Bobby Parnell v. Frank Francisco

Parnell is a pretty good pitcher who isn't hurt. Francisco is a volatile (but underrated) pitcher who is hurt.

Any of these situations could also end up in job shares or committee approaches. I've listed the current frontrunner first in each case (though others might be less bullish on Santos and Parnell), but all of these teams' plans are way up in the air.

Draft More Closers

Now that we've actually found the closers, we can get back into some real strategy. As I said above (long ago, by now), one of the two main ways to win saves is to have the most closers. In some years, you can do this on the cheap, by getting undervalued closers way at the back end of your draft. This year, not so much. You can also spend heavily on the most elite closers, those unlikely to lose their jobs even after blowing two or three saves in a row. (That can happen to anybody.)

I recently tried this strategy out in a Yahoo! mock draft. A standard Yahoo! league is very shallow, and it doesn't contain MI or CI spots, and only runs three OF's. What does this mean for closers? Well, if I only need one player at each premium position, then I can stand to spend a little more on closers. That's what I did. I drafted four closers, and if this were a real league, I would win saves for sure with this crew. Here's my whole team (for context), with relievers in black:

1. Giancarlo Stanton (Mia - OF) 
2. Edwin Encarnacion (Tor - 1B) 
3. Cliff Lee (Phi - SP) 
4. Craig Kimbrel (Atl - RP) 
5. Aramis Ramirez (Mil - 3B) 
6. Shin-Soo Choo (Cin - OF) 
7. Jonathan Papelbon (Phi - RP) 
8. Jose Altuve (Hou - 2B) 
9. Michael Bourn (Cle - OF) 
10. Ian Kennedy (Ari - SP) 
11. Anibal Sanchez (Det - SP) 
12. Nick Swisher (Cle - 1B,OF) 
13. Brian McCann (Atl - C) 
14. John Axford (Mil - RP) 
15. Jason Grilli (Pit - RP) 
16. Alcides Escobar (KC - SS) 
17. Todd Frazier (Cin - 1B,3B,OF) 
18. Wade Miley (Ari - SP) 
19. Hisashi Iwakuma (Sea - SP,RP) 
20. Josh Rutledge (Col - 2B,SS) 
21. James McDonald (Pit - SP) 
22. Bronson Arroyo (Cin - SP) 
23. Jason Hammel (Bal - SP) 

My starting pitching is a little thin, and I don't have much bench, but I think it's a decent team. (If you don't, let me know in the comments, so I don't do this in a real draft...) The important thing, though, is that I will win saves.

Presumably, you can spend extra on saves without going to this extreme. One way to do this is to grab closers that are better than their draft positions. In case you didn't notice, I did a little of that on the team above.

John Axford is the 5th reliever going on MockDraftCentral, and 8th on RotoAuthority's rankings, so there's no value there...except that he's number 13 on Yahoo!

Similarly, Glen Perkins is our 15th ranked closer, and he goes at a fair 14th on MDC, but you can get him 21st on Yahoo!

Jason Grilli is our 10th closer ranked, but he's going 19th on MDC and 17th on Yahoo! Grilli (and his awesome 13.81 K/9) are very underrated.

Rafael Betanourt is our 14th closer, but he's 18th on MDC and 16th on Yahoo!

Addison Reed is our 17th closer, but he's 22nd on MDC and 20th on Yahoo!

Huston Street is our number 16, but he lasts until number 24 on MDC. On Yahoo!, though, he's ranked 12th, so be careful.

Jose Veras is way down everybody's lists, but saves could be extra-hard for him to come by: even at 250 overall on Yahoo! and 303 on MDC, he's probably still the second Houston Astro taken in many drafts. Yeah, that's a bad team.

Any of these pitchers--or any other--could get very underrated in any draft you might do. Even when intending to fill some other position, remember to consider grabbing a value closer if one slips to you. In an auction, of course, this is even easier to see, though your leaguemates might make you pay a premium if they notice you trying to amass an All-Star bullpen.

Get More Information

You can succeed in saves without spending more than the competition. In last year's Silver League, the team that won in saves finished at or near the top of the whole league standings. That team didn't break the bank on closers in the draft (though I seem to recall them spending the normal amount). Instead, throughout the year, they consistently snatched up some of the best closers to take over jobs midseason. Helpfully, I believe they started by nabbing Fernando Rodney.

If you think you can succeed this way, I say go for it. All it means is more more work, and it can really pay off. Following our own @CloserNews Twitter feed is a great way to start, but I'd suggest loading up on as many information sources as you can. It helps living on the West Coast, or staying up late to catch the night games and news. Injuries and managerial decisions can happen at any time, and in many leagues, a newly minted closer will have been snatched up by the time you wake up in the morning. 

There's another way to squeeze saves out of your team, and that is to stream setup guys. It takes some seriously careful watching (it was a lot easier for me to do when I was taking night shifts on the @CloserNews feed, I'll tell you that), but when a closer has pitched two or three days in a row, you won't expect him to come in the next day, so you grab his backup and hope for a save opp. For a couple years, I've wanted to try devoting a whole team to this strategy, but I haven't gotten around to it, mostly for time zone related reasons.

A Few Final Words: Different Strategies for Different Leagues

I'm in five different leagues next season, and I'll have at least four different strategies for success in saves. If your league does daily changes and has a lot of open P slots, then either of the strategies above will work well for you. You can leave most of your relievers in on most days (or cycle in your streamers), and sit them when you need to put in extra starters. It's like reliever paradise. I'll probably go for quantity in one, and information in another and see what happens.

But I also play in leagues with weekly lineup changes and waiver wire pickups, and one of them allows only two relievers--but awards them a ton of points. For these, my plan will (probably) be to get at least one high quality reliever, one medium quality guy, and a third or fourth injury backup. Or maybe I'll go for two of the top ten and hope for the best. We'll see how the draft goes.

Some leagues do quite a few categories: 7x7 or even 10x10. The more categories you have, the less you should spend on closers. Similarly, points leagues can have very valuable closers, or make them pretty worthless. On the flip side of things, if you play in a 4x4 league (the original standard), saves just got way more valuable. Ratchet closers up your lists accordingly.

Whether you play in a deep league or a shallow league, with weekly changes or daily, with just two RP slots or more than you can even use, there is a value for saves out there. Whatever it is pay that, and not more. In a head-to-head league, you could even punt the category (but don't, because someone else will and even one closer will beat that team twice next year), but every little bit helps in standard Rotisserie.

There's an old adage floating around in the aether of our cultural consciousness that, "It's better to be lucky than good." Nowhere is this more true than in getting saves for your fantasy baseball team, so: good luck!

By the way, this concludes the standard 5x5 categories, but it doesn't conclude the How to Win series. My plan is to examine OBP next week, since plenty of leagues use the stat and it indirectly affects all leagues. If a bunch of people clamor for something else, though, maybe I'll change the plan....

The Closer Depth Chart is Up to Date

Uncertainty surrounds the bullpen pictures for several teams, but the good news is that our Closer Depth Chart (see the top right-hand corner of the page) is back up-to-date. Check it out before bidding on a closer or setup man, and keep checking it for updates throughout the season.

For many teams, the pecking order is easy to establish in our one, two, three format, but there are a few that need a little more explanation. Briefly, here is an overview of some bullpen flash points around baseball.

Detroit Tigers

Anyone could emerge on top of this wide-open pen. Even someone not yet on the team. Really, anybody but Jose Valverde could close for Detroit. The leading candidates are:

Joaquin Benoit
Bruce Rondon
Al Alburquerque
Phil Coke

This team has the best chance in the Majors of opening with that fantasy-death scenario of a committee.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Ernesto Frieri closed very well last year, but they signed Ryan Madson to take over the job, but now Madson is hurt....

This one is murky, but possession is nine tenths of the law, right? I'd go with Frieri for now--who knows what will happen with Madson, and Frieri will give you strikeouts along the way. 

New York Mets

Incumbent Frank Francisco was supposed to be fighting for his job this spring, but instead he's been hanging out in the trainer's room. Bobby Parnell has been pitching well in the meantime, and it looks like he'll be opening the season as closer. I rather think that Parnell would have to be pretty bad to lose the job to Francisco during the season.

Chicago Cubs

For now, the much-maligned Carlos Marmol is supposed to be the closer, but it's no secret that the Cubbies intend to ship him out of town. Some rumors even say they want him gone before Opening Day, which would probably kill all his fantasy value (unless he goes to Detroit). Whenever Marmol departs, Kyuji Fujikawa will be installed as the stopper.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Last season, Kenley Jansen started the year setting up for an inferior pitcher--Javy Guerra. Now, history is repeating itself, with Brandon League playing Guerra's part. Things are a little murkier this time around, though, because Jansen lost the job due to his heart condition and League is getting paid lots of money. Will health or cash keep Jansen out of the closer's role? They could. Or maybe they won't. The nice thing is that Jansen--like Frieri--gets so many strikeouts that he's valuable on a roster even if he isn't saving games. 

For updates on these situations and all the others that are sure to crop up throughout the year, follow @CloserNews on Twitter.

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Sleepers & Busts: AL West Aces

The AL West has a number of highly rated pitchers littered throughout its ranks, including the newly minted highest paid pitcher in MLB history. King Felix inked a seven-year, $175MM extension this offseason, and his career accolades and relative youth make a compelling argument to say he's worthy of that honor. The King is currently being drafted as the No. 7 starting pitcher, per Mock Draft Central, and that's pretty accurate. Maybe he could go above Cole Hamels, who's going an average of two spots higher, but he's in the correct vicinity. Ditto for Texas ace Yu Darvish (No. 9), whom I'd probably drop behind Matt Cain, Adam Wainwright and Gio Gonzalez, but is close enough to the right spot that I won't complain.

Let's look around the rest of the division for some murkier ace cases...

Jered Weaver, LAA - ADP 55

I'll say it right out of the gates -- I'm not touching Weaver in drafts this year. Weaver's been a fantasy rock for years, but his strikeout rate has dropped in consecutive seasons (6.8 K/9 in 2012) and much of his 2011-12 success came from high strand rates (82.6 percent and 79.2 percent) and equally low BABIPs (.250 and .241).

There's also the fact that while he's never been a flamethrower, Weaver's velocity is looking more and more like that of Livan Hernandez than Felix Hernandez these days. By the end of last season, he was creeping down into Barry Zito territory with that heater, as you can see. That diminished fastball averaged a career-worst 4.8 percent swinging strikes.

The differences were noticeable, as Weaver posted his highest line-drive rate since 2007 (21.1 percent), and he allowed home runs at nearly the highest rate of his career. Weaver maintained solid command and could rebound if he shows rejuvenated velocity, but he also made his first trip to the disabled list in in five years last season. With all of the red flags surrounding him, I'd drop him from a Top 10 pitcher to more of a Top 20 guy -- and probably at the back-end of that class. His name value is so high, however, that he'll almost certainly never drop that far. As such, it's best just to say "No Thanks" and take someone like Cain, Wainwright, Gonzalez, James Shields or Madison Bumgarner instead. Weaver's bust potential is just too high.

Final Ruling: Bust

Brett Anderson, OAK - ADP 204

Some 140 picks later in MDC drafts comes Brett Anderson -- the 50th starting pitcher off the board. That's a bit surprising for a 25-year-old with a career 3.57 ERA and 3.14 K/BB ratio. Obviously it's due to the fact that this will be his first full season removed from Tommy John surgery, but Anderson was nothing short of spectacular upon his brief return in 2012. Nearly 60 percent of the balls put in play against Anderson were of the grounder variety, and he posted a pristine 3.57 K/BB ratio to go along with a 2.72 FIP/3.06 xFIP/3.10 SIERA (small sample size caveat noted).

Anderson plays in a monstrous park with a pretty solid outfield defense behind him, though the infield defense could stand to improve for such a heavy ground-ball pitcher. Still, that he's being drafted after the likes of Homer Bailey, Alexi Ogando, Kyle Lohse and the aging Tim Hudson, among others, is fairly surprising. Just a few of the questionable non-starters going ahead of him include Mark Reynolds, Justin Ruggiano and Ernesto Frieri.

A career 3.57 ERA, 3.53 FIP, 3.55 xFIP and 3.59 SIERA show that Anderson is a solid bet for a useful ERA at that stage of the draft, with upside for improved ratios to offest his below-average strikeout rate. The Oakland "ace" (one could argue that Jarrod Parker deserves that title) is a terrific investment in the later rounds of drafts, and a definite post-injury sleeper.

Final Ruling: Sleeper

Bud Norris, HOU - ADP 411

It's tough to look at the Astros' rotation and declare anyone to be the ace of that staff, but if I have to pick one, Norris is my guy (apologies to Lucas Harrell). In terms of fantasy baseball, Norris is a one-trick pony, but's a pretty nice trick. He's whiffed 553 players in 563 2/3 career innings. Granted, 74 of those whiffs have come against pitchers that he'll no longer be facing all that often, so the K-rate will likely decline. However, we can't simply assume all of those strikeouts would vanish if he were to face position players.

Norris has still struck out roughly 24 percent of non-pitchers he's faced in his career. So let's assume that if you replace the 204 pitchers he's faced with actual hitters, that instead of whiffing 74 of those opponents, he'd have fanned 49. That drops his K/9, but still leaves a healthy mark of 8.4. Norris has averaged 169 innings per season over the past three years, so that's about 158 strikeouts in your pocket if you decide to draft the 132nd most popular pitcher on MDC.

Over the past three seasons, Norris has a 4.41 ERA but far more respectable marks in FIP (4.13) and xFIP (3.93). He's been a bit better than the numbers suggest in the National League, but that doesn't change the fact that the AL will likely hurt his ratios. Home runs have always been an issue for Norris, and facing a DH instead of facing someone like Tim Lincecum certainly isn't going to help his cause in that department.

But if you're in a deep mixed league or an AL-only setting, there's no reason that Norris should be as far down the draft board as he is over at MDC. He's surrounded by anemic strikeout rates (Bartolo Colon, Jeff Karstens, Wade LeBlanc) and players who likely don't even have jobs to open the season (Tyler Cloyd, Jeff Niemann, Josh Collmenter, Aaron Harang).

If you're in a standard 10- or 12-team mixed league, Norris can stay on the free agent list and perhaps make an occasional spot start against a weak lineup. But in deeper leagues, he's a nice source of strikeouts late in the game that could provide far more acceptable ratios than names being drafted ahead of him (I'm looking at you, Ubaldo Jimenez).

Final Ruling: Sleeper

Go Bold or Go Home: Murphy's Mock Draft

Last week, RotoAuthority held a writer-reader mock draft. If you were part of it, then you know that just about everything went wrong that could have that night...but you also know that we surged boldly forward and ended up having a successful, competitive mock. Thanks, by the way, to everyone that drafted with us.

We did our mock in the same format as the RotoAuthority and Silver Leagues: 26 rounds, 5x5 categories and these relatively standard positions:

C, C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, CI, MI, OF, OF, OF, OF, OF, DH, SP, SP, RP, RP, P, P, P, P, P, Bench, Bench, Bench

Tim Dierkes drafted 12th, and I was in the cleanup spot. Below the fold is the round by round, with a little commentary on good and bad picks, and whatever else springs to mind.

If you drafted with us, feel more than free to leave a comment with your thoughts. Especially if you disagree with mine!

Continue reading "Go Bold or Go Home: Murphy's Mock Draft" »

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2013 Position Rankings: Relief Pitchers

No position comes close to relievers when it comes to unpredictability. With their value tied so intrinsically to saves, and each pitcher throwing only a tiny sample of innings, it shouldn't really be a surprise to anyone when weird things happen: like Fernando Rodney being 2012's best reliever; like John Axford pitching badly enough to lose his job; like anything that happens when Carlos Marmol is on the mound. 

So how do you rank players that come with such an intense level of inherent variance? With caution. Waiting on closers and drafting multiple smei-competent back-enders has always been my plan at this position, and I see little reason to change. Great relievers fall suddenly, and nobodies rise to prominence just as quickly. The rounds into which the closers are tiered reflect my own closer-caution--unfortunately, some drafts won't let you play it so safe if you want to compete in saves, so consider the rounds looser guidelines than usual, even though the player groups stand just fine.

We're finished with the hitters; you can find ShortstopsThird BasemenSecond BasemenFirst BasemenCatchers, and  Outfielders at these links. Today's rankings come from a team discussion, featuring Tim Dierkes and the entire RotoAuthority staff and they cover all the closers, plus some of the most draftable setup guys. They're divided into groups of similar value, and tiered by where they deserve to be drafted in a standard league. If you're bidding in an auction, consider players in the same tier to be of similar price.

3rd Round

1. Craig Kimbrel, ATL

Kimbrel is so good that even I would consider taking him in the third, and I haven't taken a closer before the 10th in about five years. Those strikeouts pile on value; my only worry is that dominant relievers before him have fallen hard.

7th Round

2. Jonathan Papelbon, PHI

After Kimbrel, there is no one I would take over Papelbon, for the simple reason that he's been good for so long that his sample isn't all that small any more: we can safely conclude that he's a good pitcher. It doesn't hurt that the Phillies are paying him big stacks of cash and won't remove him from the job unless he turns into Heath Bell.

8th-9th Round

3. Mariano Rivera, NYY
4. Joe Nathan, TEX
5. Jason Motte, STL

Rivera's been so good for so long that only his injury keeps him this low on my list. It's not that I think he'll be the best closer out there, it's that I'm very confident that he'll be good--and keep his job. Nathan proved last year that his injuries are behind him; like Rivera, so is a long history of success. Motte is a lot lower on this list than most, but don't get me wrong: he has a higher fantasy ceiling than anyone above him (except Kimbrel), but his relative inexperience also tells me that he has a lower floor. Plus, his team isn't invested in him the way Nathan's, Rivera's, and Papelbon's are.

11th-12th Rounds

6. J.J. Putz, ARI
7. Rafael Soriano, WAS
8. John Axford, MIL
9. Fernando Rodney, TBR

Putz is rock solid--when healthy. Fortunately, David Hernandez is one likely backup, and he's worth rostering in a setup role. Unfortunately, Heath Bell is the other likely backup. Soriano should be great in saves and strikeouts, but his walks will keep his WHIP up and probably lead to the occasional blowup. Axford should rebound from a tough 2012 to be the high-K stopper we'd come to expect. Rodney's last season screams fluke...but what if it wasn't? I'm willing to take that chance, albeit not as early as mock drafters are.


10. Jason Grilli, PIT
11. Sergio Romo, SFG
12. Greg Holland, KCR
13. Tom Wilhelmsen, SEA
14. Rafael Betancourt, COL
15. Glen Perkins, MIN 

Grilli seems like he came out of nowhere, but he's put up two excellent seasons in a row, and has four straight years of increasing strikeout rates--a number that increased to 13.81 K/9 last year. Romo has serious questions about the health of his elbow, and the best-case scenario for him seems to be that other members of his bullpen vulture more saves than average. Holland and Williamsen rake in the strikeouts but play for mediocre teams. Also, their closing tenure has been short, so their leashes will be too. Betancourt would be a tier higher if he didn't play in Colorado. Perkins was excellent last year, but how many leads will the Twins' rotation be able to deliver?


16. Huston Street, SDP
17. Addison Reed, CHW
18. Jonathan Broxton, CIN
19. Jim Johnson, BAL
20. Grant Balfour, OAK
21. Chris Perez, CLE
22. Steve Cishek, MIA 

Street is a very good pitcher--when healthy, which isn't much of the time. Draft him expecting a DL stint. Reed flew under the radar a little, but was quite successful. Broxton didn't impress--especially with the strikeouts, but the Reds should hand him plenty of leads. Johnson was dynamite last year...but he doesn't get many strikeouts and this Orioles fan expects a bit of team regression. Balfour's overall numbers are pretty good, but he bounced in and out of the closer role. Oakland is an organization that isn't afraid to make changes or defy convention, which is great for them, but less than ideal for a fantasy closer. Perez was surprisingly competent last year, but his shaky history keeps our enthusiasm low. Cishek pitched well, but it probably wouldn't take much for the mercurial Marlins to make a change. Also, they might not be too good next year.


23. Joel Hanrahan, BOS
24. Bobby Parnell, NYM

Hanrahan's underlying numbers were pretty shaky last year, and I don't think Boston will hesitate to make a change if one is needed. They proved with Andrew Bailey that trading for someone doesn't mean he'll get a long leash. Parnell is looking more and more like the Mets' closer in camp. If he starts the season with the job, he'll have to really blow up to lose it to Frank Francisco.


25. Brandon League, LAD
26. Ernesto Frieri, LAA
27. Kenley Jansen, LAD
28. Jose Veras, HOU
29. Sergio Santos, TOR

League and Frieri are both slated to start the season closing for their Los Angeles teams. Both teams are expected to switch closers at some point in the year. For the Angels, that's the plan: switch to Ryan Madson. For the Dodgers, it's what you expect when Jansen is that much better than League. As far as what will really happen...I couldn't say at all. I can say, however, that I prefer to take the guy with the job in hand, because sometimes they don't let it go. Speaking of jobs in hand, that's what Veras has in Houston, and what Santos appears to be grabbing--to start the season--in Toronto.

Should any of these messy closer situations get fully straightened out by Opening Day, Frieri and Jansen would belong in the 13-14th tier, Santos and League in the 15th-16th tier.


30. Casey Janssen, TOR
31. Ryan Madson, LAA
32. Carlos Marmol, CHC
33. Kyuji Fujikawa, CHC

Janssen and Madson haven't healed as expected and could be seeing their jobs slip away. Should they manage to gain a certain hold on their jobs before Opening Day, both would be worth taking among the 15th-16th tier.

Marmol will have the job as long as he's a Cub--how else to keep his trade value up? The bad news for anyone who drafts him is that the Cubbies might have him traded by Opening Day. If that happens, bump Fujikawa way up this list, as he won't have much competition for saves. I would take him around the 15th or 16th round.

23rd and Beyond

34. Joaquin Benoit, DET
35. Al Alburquerque, DET
36. Bruce Rondon, DET
37. Frank Francisco, NYM 

I don't know what will happen in Detroit's bullpen, but all three of these guys have a chance to close, and a chance to keep the job if they get it. Maybe Francisco will keep his job.

Quality Non-Closers 

38. Vinnie Pestano, CLE
39. David Hernandez, ARI
40. David Robertson, NYY
41. Luke Gregerson, SDP
42. Sean Marshall, CIN
43. Santiago Casilla, SFG
44. Ryan Cook, OAK
45. Andrew Bailey, BOS
46. Drew Storen, WAS
47. Johnny Venters, ATL
48. Mike Adams, PHI
49. Antonio Bastardo, PHI
50. Tyler Clippard, WAS
51. Jacob McGee, TBR
52. Trevor Rosenthal, STL
53. Koji Uehara, BOS 

Some of these guys have a decent shot to close, thanks to a shaky or injury-prone incumbent (Pestano, Hernandez, Robertson, Gregerson, Cook, Bailey, Uehara), while others might vulture some saves along the way (Casilla, Marshall). Some are just worth rostering on their skills alone (Bastardo, Storen). All of these guys are probably best left for deeper leagues.

This year's closer picture is murkier than it has usually been in the recent past. More teams have unresolved questions surrounding the back end of their bullpens: the Angels, Dodgers, Tigers, Mets, Blue Jays, and Cubs are all without a certain closer. Expect to get quite a few saves off the waiver wire, and in the meantime, draft a few backup closers. Your relievers don't have to be the best to get the most saves.

2013 Silver League

The RotoAuthority League may have been filled, but this year's Silver League is just getting started. It's just as competitive as the Big Show (I should know--I was lucky to finish fifth last year) and features cash prizes. The winner will also be invited to join next year's RotoAuthority League.

The draft will be held on Sunday, March 17th, at 7:00pm CST. It will take several hours and all participants must be present for the entire time.  The specs of the league are below:

  • $100 buy-in to be paid via LeagueSafe prior to the draft
  • Payout of $900/$200/$100
  • Mixed 5x5 league with AVG, HR, RBI, R, SB for hitters and ERA, WHIP, K, W, SV for pitchers
  • 12 teams, three of which are currently open
  • Positions of C, C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, CI, MI, OF, OF, OF, OF, OF, DH, SP, SP, RP, RP, P, P, P, P, P, Bench, Bench, Bench
  • Lineups set daily
  • Unlimited transactions, trades approved automatically
  • 162 maximum games played per position, 1500 innings for pitching

If you are interested in joining, please make your case in the comments section.  You must include your email address. There are eleven open spots, and they won't last long. The thread will close...soon.

If you are selected, you'll get an e-mail from Tyler, the commissioner. If you don't get an e-mail, then you're probably not in the league. Don't despair, though: in another couple days we'll have a post up where RotoAuthority readers will be able to put together their own leagues.

Draft Round Battles: Starlin Castro Vs. Jose Reyes

"Mark, is this seriously your matchup?"


"Geez, this column will be pretty short.  It's Jose Reyes, man!  All-Star staple, centerpiece of the offseason's biggest trade, playing in a stacked lineup in Toronto...heck, if Troy Tulowitzki struggles coming back from injury or Hanley Ramirez's career continues to stall, Reyes is probably the best shortstop in the game.  This one is a no-brainer!"

Or is it, imaginary straw man character I invented for the purposes of this post?

"Wait, I'm imaginary?"

Well, yes, but... 


Huh.  Who would've thought that a fantasy baseball column would contain such existential pathos?  Then again, for all the Cubs fans reading this, you're used to questioning the meaning of life, right?  #1908 #BillyGoat #Cheapshot 

Anyway, let's end this little skit and get down to business.  (Plus, as a Maple Leafs fan, I have no right to mock another team's championship drought.)  This is a matchup that, as noted, seems pretty clear on paper.  Reyes has been a good-to-superb fantasy option for a decade while Starlin Castro has had a very good start to his Major League career but, in the words of Roto Authority's own Alex Steers McCrum, is "a little bit overrated" in terms of what he brings to the table, fantasy-wise.

So, it may surprise you to learn that Castro and Reyes are neck-and-neck on Mock Draft Central's latest average draft position reports.  Castro has a 36.57 ADP, making him the third shortstop and 35th player taken overall.  Reyes is literally right behind, as the 36th player taken overall and the owner of a 36.91 ADP. What gives?  Is this a case of fans continuing to "overrate" Castro or thinking Reyes is going downhill since he didn't duplicate his all-world 2011 season?

It might not be that stark but rather simply a case of fantasy managers drafting for the future rather than the past.  In picking Castro over Reyes, you're picking a shortstop who has put up a .297/.336/.425 line over his first three Major League seasons, with 162-game averages of 10 homers, 67 RBI, 81 runs and 21 steals. Castro doesn't even turn 23 until later this month, so it's possible he's only just scratched the surface of his potential. 

Castro does indeed get a lot of hype as the Cubs' next great hope and star of the future, so fantasy owners who draft him on that basis tend to be let down since they're expecting the second coming of Derek Jeter.  Yet, as noted, Castro has been pretty good; this isn't an Alex Gordon or Eric Hosmer case, when you have a guy that's dead weight in your fantasy lineup while you're waiting for the breakout to happen. Castro has helped many a fantasy squad and could become a cornerstone player if he makes the leap in 2013.

And even if the leap doesn't happen quite yet, there's a certain stability in Castro since you know what he'll bring to the table.  He might not get significantly better but I highly doubt he'll get worse --- at a minimum, he'll repeat his .753 OPS, 14 HR, 78 RBI, 25 SB season from 2012.  Castro still has Wrigley Field to work with, he has the security of a long-term extension and he'll have a full season of Anthony Rizzo hitting behind him, even if the Cubs lineup isn't so hot overall.

Compare this stability to Reyes' situation heading into 2013.  I should note that, despite my forthcoming devil's advocate arguments, I still expect Reyes to have a very good season; it's just that more things could go wrong for Reyes this year.  His move to Toronto indeed puts him atop a deep batting order so there's plenty of room for run-scoring opportunities, but it's also a move to a brand new league and an artificial surface, so Reyes could have trouble adjusting.  While Reyes has spent his career hitting in pitcher-friendly ballparks in Queens and Miami, he'll be moving to a good hitters' park in Toronto but it's worth noting that Reyes' game (based around gap power and speed) was very well suited to his past stadia and he has only a career .748 OPS in away games.

Perhaps the most worrisome number associated with Reyes, however, is the fact that he'll turn 30 years old in June.  It's a red flag age for any player but particularly a player like Reyes whose game is so reliant on his legs.  According to Fangraphs, Reyes had the lowest full-season speed score (7.1) of his career in 2012.  Reyes' base-stealing is his biggest edge over Castro (40 SB to Castro's 25 last season) but if that gap continues to narrow, then they're basically the same offensive player, with Reyes holding an edge in runs but Castro ahead in the power numbers.  And of course, Castro's power numbers are likely to only go up, while it's not like Reyes will suddenly get faster as he ages.

As I said, I still think Reyes will be a good player in 2013.  While I hate to dabble in intangibles, he could be energized by playing for a Jays squad that should be in the playoff hunt all season long.  If both he and Castro are on the board when you're picking at the end of the third/start of the fourth round, however, I might bite the bullet and draft Castro just for pure ceiling reasons.  I submit that Reyes is unlikely to revert to his .877 OPS form from 2011 and will probably resemble the player he was last year with the Marlins.  Castro, on the other hand, already came close to matching Reyes' numbers and has nowhere to go but up.


Well, not the 'wrong' shortstop, just maybe the slightly riskier....


2013 Position Rankings: Shortstops

You know what I hate? Drafting a shortstop. When you go with a top quality guy, you're still getting a player with some kind of serious flaw. When you wait until late in the draft, you get someone who doesn't even have the bat for second base or catcher. My solution: create your own league, in which shortstops are disallowed. Until then, enjoy our tiered rankings.

Just as we've done previously, with Third BasemenSecond BasemenFirst BasemenOutfielders, and Catchers, these rankings come from a team discussion, featuring Tim Dierkes and the entire RotoAuthority staff; they go 30 players deep this time. They're divided into groups of similar value, and tiered by where they deserve to be drafted in a standard league. If you're bidding in an auction, consider players in the same tier to be of similar price. If a player has other positions in parentheses, that means you can draft and start him there. Since they're shortstops, at the very bottom of the position scarcity barrel, this ranking will reflect their real draft value. If you're taking, say, Ben Zobrist, as an OF, discount his price a little.

2nd Round

1. Troy Tulowitzki, COL

You know things are rough at the position when the top guy missed essentially all of last year. He's either a bargain, as a player with top-of-the-first-round value, or a huge overpay, thanks to another massive injury. Go for it.

3rd Round

2. Hanley Ramirez, LAD (3B)
3. Jose Reyes, TOR

Hanley could be in the middle of a long return to form, so I could see him improving to something near what we used to see with the Marlins. Reyes should be a three-category beast at the top of Toronto's lineup, but he'll be a liability in HR's and RBI's.

4th Round

4. Ben Zobrist, TBR (2B, OF)
5. Starlin Castro, CHC

Zobrist does a bit of everything and he can back you up at second and in the outfield, if you somehow need that. Castro is a very good player, and a little bit overrated. He could improve, but I'd rather pay for the guy he actually is: good average, good speed, a few homers, and a lousy lineup to keep down the Runs and RBI's.

5th-6th Rounds

6. Ian Desmond, WAS

Desmond broke out like crazy last year, placing himself with the top power hitters in the middle infield, while still stealing 21 bases. He's going in the 7th round in mock drafts, and I think it's worth the risk that he falls back to earth to get him on your team.

7th-8th Rounds

7. Jimmy Rollins, PHI
8. Danny Espinosa, WAS (2B)

Rollins, once among the shortstop elite, stole 30 bases and clubbed 23 homers last year. You'd think that would be enough for him to regain his former status, but a lousy batting average, increasing age, and the downward trend in his overall production are keeping his price down. Yes, I think he's going the wrong way, but I don't think that the end is here--he's got a lot of room to fall before he stops being useful. Espinosa is trending the other direction and he's still young, which is what keeps his value near that of Rollins. A 20-20 season is possible, and he'll benefit from hitting in a good lineup, if probably from the back of it.

12th-13th Rounds

9. Derek Jeter, NYY
10. Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE

Jeter is old, yes. Jeter isn't the player he used to be, yes. And I'd still want the batting average and runs scored that he brings to the table over anything you'll see below him on this list. Cabrera doesn't hurt you anywhere--not even in home runs--but he doesn't really help, either. Pronunciation aside, is there any more boring name you can call out in your draft? A player like this shouldn't be reached for.

15th-16th Rounds

11. Elvis Andrus, TEX
12. Alcides Escobar, KCR

You know what you see here? The brand name and the generic version. No power, decent average, good steals and a place at the top of the order. Escobar was more valuable last year, but Andrus gets a slight nod for setting the table for better hitters.

17th-18th Rounds

13. J.J. Hardy, BAL
14. Everth Cabrera, SDP
15. Josh Rutledge, COL
16. Andrelton Simmons, ATL

Since the position's starters are presumably taken by the time you get to these guys, consider them the shortstops worth using at MI. Hardy has better power than most of the players above him, and Cabrera could be an impact base stealer, to the tune of 50 or more. Rutledge is a Colorado guy and he'll probably gain 2B eligibility. The chance that he hits more than a few homers isn't bad. Simmons is being given the keys to Atlanta's shortstop job, and he could end up being a speed and batting average type of player.

19th-20th Rounds

17. Marco Scutaro, SFG (2B)
18. Alexei Ramirez, CHW
19. Erick Aybar, LAA 

Scutaro will almost certainly regress next year. That's okay, though, because he still gets value from his versatility. Ramirez took a big step back last year, after being one of shortstop's more dependable players for the past couple years. His new level is still capable of backing up your starter. Aybar is a pleasantly harmless backup, but don't wait so long that you're starting him, event at middle infield.

21st-22nd Rounds

20. Jed Lowrie, OAK
21. Zack Cozart, CIN
22. Jhonny Peralta, DET
23. Stephen Drew, BOS

Lowrie may not get full playing time, and he isn't the healthiest kid in school, but he sure can hit. Cozart and Peralta don't do much, but you don't ask that much of a backup, which is strictly what you should be looking for with them. Drew is like Lowrie, but with less upside. Importantly, it isn't zero upside. As a side benefit, everyone in this tier but Lowrie should be able to enjoy the benefits of hitting in a powerful lineup.

23rd Round and Beyond

24. Jurickson Profar, TEX
25. Jean Segura, MIL
26. Hiroyuki Nakajima, OAK
27. Yunel Escobar, TBR
28. Cliff Pennington, ARI (2B) 
29. Jamey Carroll, MIN (2B, 3B)
30. Tyler Greene, HOU (2B)

If you're in a shallow league, I wouldn't bother with prospects with no job, like Profar or Billy Hamilton. If you're in a deep league, the time to take those guys is when all the shallow-leaguers are gone. If someone else wants to overpay, let 'em. Segura isn't a huge upside player, but he does have some, and he makes a good end-game play because he should have the starting job on Opening Day. Nakajima is in a similar vein, but even harder to predict, being from Japan and all. Escobar has a higher floor than most of the players out here. Pennington, Carroll, and Greene are only here because they can back up multiple positions, but even that's better than nothing. 

Shortstop is a rough place to be a fantasy drafter, but you can find some decent values throughout the draft. In some ways, I think it's actually a little easier to manage than second base, simply because your expectations are (fairly) set so low. Hits a few homers and does nothing else. Cool. Steals a ton of bases but kills my power categories. Great. Missed all of last season. All-Star.

There are four shortstops ranked as third or fourth-rounders, but if you can, I'd probably avoid all of them. The overall scarcity of power makes me prefer to go after a slugging outfielder or third baseman at that time. Instead, I'd probably want to be among the later teams to get a shortstop, but double up on players with disparate skill sets, like J.J. Hardy and Everth Cabrera, or Alcides Escobar and Josh Rutledge.

Want To Join The RotoAuthority Team?

We at RotoAuthority are looking to expand our team as we head into the regular season. Whether you're hoping to break into sportswriting, or just looking for the chance to brag to your fantasy league about your new expert status, this could be your chance.

Right now, we want to add two writers to provide weekly content during the run-up to Opening Day, and who can continue through the season. For one position, we are looking for someone to provide coverage of closer situations, for the other we are looking for your original content ideas.

We are also seeking a manager for @closernews, a Twitter project of ours that is 14K followers strong.  Ideally this person would be writing the closer news article for RotoAuthority.  

Ideal candidates will:

  • have some college education
  • be familiar with Twitter and RSS feeds
  • be baseball and fantasy experts
  • be strong writers whose copy requires minimal or no editing
  • previous writing experience is excellent, but not necessary

The positions are paid, per article for the writings, and monthly for the @closernews twitter feed. We are looking for strong writers who are motivated to provide quality content all season long.

If you're interested in writing about fantasy baseball on a weekly basis, contact us at with a brief description of yourself and why you would be a good fit at RotoAuthority, and anything that makes you unique as a writer and analyst. Also, please add a writing sample of about 300 words, written in the style you've seen here, showing your expertise in fantasy baseball. It can be orignal analysis or a reaction to breaking news.

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