Player Rankings


RotoAuthority Rankings 2014: Catcher

RA Rankings are back with our second installment--if you missed Outfield on Tuesday, check it out now. If you're caught up, feel free to enjoy, utilize, argue with, or otherwise experience our Catcher rankings. These rankings are the product of the RotoAuthority expert team.

Within catchers, the rankings are the same whether you play with one catcher or two, but you're position scarcity matrix is completely different relative to the others. If you play in a single-catcher format, definitely wait on the position: there are plenty of rosterable catchers to go around.

But if you play in a league with two catchers...well that's when this becomes a thin position. Move catchers up significantly your overall rankings or dollar values, because the dropoff this year is an abyss.

That's enough intro. Too much! On to the rankings!

Tier 1: Impact in All Formats

1. Buster Posey

Posey stands alone. Why? Two years ago he was the MVP...his 2013 numbers look like his floor. You get safety and upside.

Tier 2: Choose Your Weapon

2. Joe Mauer

3. Brian McCann

4. Carlos Santana

You've got two choices (and three players) on the next level, once Posey's off the board. McCann and Santana offer serious power (especially with McCann in New York), while Mauer does his Mauer thing with batting average. Ask yourself what kind of production your team needs.

Tier 3: Still Awesome

5. Wilin Rosario

6. Yadier Molina

Same choice, less good options. But still excellent ones. Rosario has OBP issues and doesn't seem to have the faith of his team (Colorado was in the catcher market this winter), so those red flags keep his value below that of McCann and Santana. But he'll probably be a similar player. Molina is like Mauer...only a little less so. You aren't going wrong with either of these guys.

Tier 4: The Safety Net

7. Jonathan Lucroy

8. Salvador Perez

9. Matt Wieters

Lucroy and Perez look very similar, though if Lucroy keeps the homers up, he could launch himself into the next tier. Wieters is Rosario-lite (or what could happen if the latter's BABIP crashes) but his 22 homers still play well in fantasy. This group is the last tier for whom you can comfortably say you know what you're getting into. But that doesn't mean they aren't the last players worth targeting....

Tier 5: Do You Feel Lucky, Punk?

10. Yan Gomes

11. Wilson Ramos

12. Jason Castro

13. Evan Gattis

This is my favorite tier to target, actually. In a one-catcher league, I just wait until everyone else is gone and grab one of these guys. In a two catcher, I might do the same...just grab two of them. The reason is upside. Gomes and Ramos looked pretty tremendous in limited playing time last year, and both ought to be full-timers in 2014. Castro was basically an out-of-nowhere star, and Gattis, well he was flavor-of-the-week just early enough for the shine to come off his star. All four of these guys are risks, but catcher is a great position to take a risk since playing time considerations keep even the best catchers from putting up the same numbers other top players do. You just don't lose as much if the dice don't roll your way.

This, by the way, is the last tier that I see as viable starters.

Tier 6: Well do you? Punk?

14. Dioner Navarro

15. Miguel Montero

16. A.J. Pierzynski

17. Ryan Doumit

18. Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Admittedly, Navarro probably won't do anything like replicating last year's half-season in 500 AB. But if he does...well, it's worth the risk in a two-catcher league because his floor is replacement level (like most of the rest still available) and his ceiling is...above that (unlike most of the rest). Will this Montero bounce back? Quick answer: no idea. That's enough to give him a shot.

Pierzynski is for those who don't like to take risks: he is very steadily okay, which is pretty valuable. Doumit and Salty offer a little pop, not much else.

Tier 7: No, Not Really Feeling that Lucky....

19. Travis D'Arnaud

20. Devin Mesoraco

21. Russell Martin

22. Mike Zunino

23. Carlos Ruiz

24. Yasmani Grandal

25. Alex Avila

26. Welington Castillo

27. Derek Norris

28. Josmil Pinto

29. Chris Iannetta

30. J.P. Arencibia

If you're taking a second catcher from among these guys (or looking for a bench catcher for some reason), you can choose between low-ceiling veterans like Martin or maybe-this-time prospects like D'Arnaud or Zunino. The real key, of course, is to not have to choose from this tier at all because the upside is so low. If you are forced to draft one of these guys, I'd say wait until the very last round or the very last dollar--why pay more for replacement level?

Speaking of why pay more, check us out again next week: Tuesday will feature First Base, and we'll be back again Saturday with Third Base.



RotoAuthority Retrospective: Position Rankings -- Hitters

By the time you read this, the real playoffs will be ready to start and you'll be ready to join the Pirates bandwagon or something like that. I will. Or maybe you'll be so morose about the way your own team missed playoffs again (three years in a row...ugh, now I know how real Pirates fans felt), and want to delve into some fantasy post-mortem. Whether you missed your league title by the thinnest of margins or imploded in April, it's always good to take a look at what went wrong...and what didn't.

Today, we'll examine RotoAuthority's position rankings and see how things went. I'm not going to reproduce all the lists here, for the sake of my space and your time, but I will be linking to each article before I hit up the highlights. And the lowlights. Today's article will focus on hitters; we'll take on pitchers in a couple days.

As a proxy for other rankings you could have looked at, I may reference the Yahoo! preseason rankings.

Outfielders

Hits

Matt Kemp certainly wasn't the seventh-best OF...but where else did you see him ranked outside the 1st round?

If you took Adam Jones in the 2nd, you didn't regret it.

Matt Holliday and Shin-Soo Choo didn't disappoint in the 3rd, while Carlos Beltran stayed healthy enough to live up to his spot in the rankings (22nd).

Alfonso Soriano did pretty good for you if he was the 37th OF taken in your draft.

Colby Rasmus and Brandon Moss were our best bench suggestions.

Misses

We'll skip the usual guys that everyone missed, and skip right to Josh Willingham, who we ranked with the 6th-7th round guys.

We missed the other direction with Hunter Pence (33rd OF), who you probably didn't get if you followed our advice. Nelson Cruz (34th) would have been an even worse call, if we hadn't mentioned "that PED thing." In that same round, you probably missed out on Shane Victorino (36th) and his resurgence. 

Carlos Gomez was starting to get trendy when we wrote this up, but we didn't quite buy it, ranking him 49th. Um...hopefully you drafted targeted him before that.

Catchers

Hits

We weren't miles ahead of everyone else on Wilin Rosario and Mike Napoli, but did place them over the still-very-good Victor Martinez, and the awful Miguel Montero. (Here I give myself a half-hearted pat on the back.)

Jonathan Lucroy was a pretty good call at 10th catcher.

Though we caught some comment-flack for it, we were duly unimpressed with Russell Martin (pitch-framing and postseason heroics notwithstanding).

Misses

We could have gone a little higher on V-Mart, and pairing Jesus Montero in a tier with Brian McCann is just embarrassing.

Of all the wild stabs in the dark we took, none were at Jason Castro or Evan Gattis, which could have made us look like geniuses.

First Basemen

Hits

Did you grab Edwin Encarnacion in the 2nd round? Feel some trepidation? That one worked out okay.

Taking David Ortiz over the majority of first basemen would have really worked out.

Ranking Ike Davis as low as 22nd wasn't nearly low enough...but it was better than the ranking plenty of other outlets gave him.

This is doubling on the same guy, but Brandon Moss was a pretty good 30th first baseman.

Misses

Congratulations if you didn't miss on Albert Pujols and Billy Butler. We were also high on Anthony Rizzo, while too low on Paul Goldschmidt.

Mark Teixeira and Paul Konerko made us look bad in the 7th or 8th rounds, while Lance Berkman made us look bad if you drafted him at all.

Second Base

Hits

We were sort of ahead of the crowd on Jose Altuve, I guess. This one wasn't RA's signature position.

Misses

Well...you can start with Aaron Hill and Ben Zobrist (4th and 5th), and go right to Danny Espinosa, Rickie Weeks, and Dan Uggla (9th, 10th, and 11th).

In all fairness, it's pretty tough to come out looking smart when a whole position seems to take a step back. Expect second base to be even drier in 2014 than it was going into this season.

Third Basemen

Hits

Even in a partial season, Hanley Ramirez justified his number five slot on our list. I'm sure we downgraded him after the injury, but even if you didn't, you weren't really unsatisfied. He's back.

Pedro Alvarez and Manny Machado overperformed even our expectations, but ours were higher than most, and hopefully encouraged you to draft aggressively.

I'll give us a little credit for including Matt Carpenter and Josh Donaldson in our top 30...and by us, I mean someone else on our team besides me....

Misses

We pretty much missed on everyone ranked from 6th-11th: Aramis Ramirez, Chase Headley, Brett Lawrie, Pablo Sandoval, Will Middlebrooks, and Todd Frazier all brought disappointment to their fantasy teams. Just a couple picks later, David Freese did the same. At some point I mentioned third base's "stronger middle class" than the other infield positions, and that's who these guys represent. Ouch. Not just for us, but for the entire position.

Shortstops

Hits

We suggested reaching for Ian Desmond--aren't you glad you did?

We were actually a little low on J.J Hardy, but hopefully still higher than mainstream. Those 25 homers paid dividends in plenty of leagues.

Everth Cabrera might have gotten suspended to end the season...but not before racking up nearly a million 37 steals in less than 400 AB.

Misses

Big misses for us on the whole, Elvis Andrus = Alcides Escobar equation. Andrus was much better than our 11th rank, and Escobar was much, much worse. Guess who ended up on my teams?

Jose Reyes was a disappointment at the top end of the rankings, but he had the virtue of not killing you as badly as others (looking at you, Starlin Castro).

Danny Espinosa gets to suck the life out of this set of rankings too, while Jimmy Rollins and Derek Jeter don't make things look any better.

Overall

There's a lot of fantasy information out there, and it's sometimes a mess to sort through. Each prediction system will have its hits and misses. The best recommendation I (or any other honest commentator) can give is to get your info from more than one source and take advantage of their mutual predictions.

Not that that would have saved you from drafting Starlin Castro.

Check us out in a couple days for the pitching segment of this narrative and the wrap-up of RA's 2013 coverage. 



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.



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.

13th-14th

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?

15th-16th

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.

17th-18th

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.

19th-20th

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.

21st-22nd

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 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.



2013 Position Rankings: Third Basemen

After what seems like forever of ranking thin positions, namely Second Base and, oddly enough, First Base, we come to a relatively deep position. Not super deep, like Outfield or, unbelievably, Catcher, but deeper than it has been in years past, and deeper when compared to other infielders. It isn't often that I would consider getting my CI from third base, but I could this year. 

After a team discussion, featuring Tim Dierkes and the entire RotoAuthority staff, this round of rankings goes 30 players deep; 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. With third base squarely in the middle of the position scarcity spectrum, some of these players you'll want at third, but for others you'll have to pay middle infield prices. On this list, they're ranked where you should get them as a third baseman.

Early 1st Round

1. Miguel Cabrera, DET

He's the only infielder among the plausible top three players; if your league discounts steals at all, he's a slam-dunk first choice.

2nd Round

2. Adrian Beltre, TEX

I can still hear Giants fans at a Mariner game chanting "Bellllll-troids! Belllll-troids!" Not that I think he's on the juice or anything, but playing in Texas instead of Seattle is even better than chemical enhancement. Also, Beltre is quite a bit better than any third baseman below him on this list.

3rd Round

3. Evan Longoria, TAM
4. David Wright, NYM
5. Hanley Ramirez, LAD (SS)

Longoria came back strong at the end of last year, and before his injury, he was an easy choice for the late first round. I think he's a great risk here. I think it's time to admit that Wright isn't the player he used to be. That said, he's still among the class at his position. As a shortstop, I'd consider Ramirez in the second--that's how short that group is. If he's your third baseman, I'd reach for him in the third, but be happy to get him in the fourth.

4th Round

5. Ryan Zimmerman, WAS
6. Aramis Ramirez, MIL

Zimmerman isn't developing into one of the game's premier players, and he won't be the Face of the Nationals with Bryce Harper on the team, but that's good news for fantasy drafters, because Zim's brand of low-key excellence should play very well in a quality lineup. Ramirez is just a hair behind in my mind, mostly because his age brings a slight risk of sudden decline. That said, he's been one of baseball's best sluggers for the last two years.

5th Round 

7. Chase Headley, SDP

This choice was a tough one for me, and I know some at RotoAuthority would put him at the top of the previous tier. I just can't, though. His year came from out of nowhere, and even Petco's moving fences can't convince me that he'll sustain last year's production level. I don't think he'll drop to where he was before, but any chance that he does makes him hard to take before the fifth. I'll settle for possible lower production for the relative safety of those above him.

7th-8th Rounds

8. Brett Lawrie, TOR
9. Pablo Sandoval, SFG

Lawrie disappointed in his first full season, but he's got the talent and the lineup to take a big step forward. He's at least as big a risk as Headley two or three rounds earlier, but he probably doesn't have as high of an upside. (Not that anyone but Chase Headley's parents thought he had that kind of upside.) Pablo could be a huge bargain, in this range, as the main risk with him is his health. Fortunately for you, his World Series production doesn't seem to be inflating his ADP. After these guys, I would wait a nice long time before taking a third baseman from the position's middle class.

12th-13th Rounds

10. Will Middlebrooks, BOS
11. Todd Frazier, CIN
12. Martin Prado, ARI (OF)  

Middlebrooks and Frazier both killed the ball in a partial season and displaced fragile veterans. Both play in friendly home parks,  have good or amazing lineups around them, and are young enough to have real hope for the future. Actually, they were both so good in 2012 that it's all I can do to keep them this low. Small sample size, I remind myself, small sample size. Still, I wouldn't be shocked if either or both were among the top at the hot corner going into next year. Prado is way less exciting, but he is much safer and should be very helpful in batting average and runs scored. Sometimes very different players have very similar value.

14th-15th Rounds

13. Pedro Alvarez, PIT
14. David Freese, STL
15. Kyle Seager, SEA
16. Mike Moustakas, KCR 

Here is where you really get the chance to pick your poison. With Alvarez you get all-power, horrible-average. He's on the top of these players thanks to the fact that 30 bombs and the chance to improve are pretty good, even for the CI spot. Freese isn't exciting or durable, but he helps in average. Seager was a pleasant surprise out of Seattle, and perhaps he will be able to put a few more balls over the shortening fences in Safeco Field. Moustakas...well, he was a big prospect going into last year, and even the chance that he puts it all together makes him worth grabbing around here.

17th-18th Rounds

17. Manny Machado, BAL
18. Kevin Youkilis, NYY (1B)

By this time, you're hopefully filling out your CI and Utility spots, which means any third baseman you take should be a better hitter straight-up than any possible first baseman. That means that our round recommendations can really break down. Save these guys for later if there are useful first basemen. If not, maybe you should be jumping on them earlier, because, to me, this is the last group of full-timers who could be described to have a moderately high upside.

Machado's prospect status was through the roof going into last year, and he held his own at just 20 years old. He'll take his lumps, but some power and a little speed seem like reasonable possibilities. Youk is sort of the opposite of Machado, with the Yankees and fantasy teams trying to squeeze the last drops out of his career. The chance that there's even a little left in the tank makes him worth taking a flier on.

20th-22nd Rounds

19. Chris Nelson, COL (2B)
20. Michael Young, TEX (1B)
21. Chris Johnson, ATL
22. Jeff Keppinger, CHW (2B)
23. Mike Olt, TEX 
24. Lonnie Chisenhall, CLE

Anyone who plays in Colorado is interesting, all the more so if he's got multi-position eligibility like Nelson does. If he's assured a spot, you could even bump him up a round or so. Young doesn't have much left but a chance to start, which is what you can say about Johnson and Keppinger too. Olt and Chisenhall don't have starting jobs at the moment, but they've got more upside than those above them. Olt, in particular, makes a better bench stash than anyone else in this tier, because if he has a hot streak you can expect the Rangers to find him at bats at first base and DH.

23rd Round and Beyond

25. Matt Carpenter, STL (1B, OF)
26. Nolan Arenado, COL
27. Jordan Pacheco, COL (1B)
28. Trevor Plouffe, MIN
29. Josh Donaldson, OAK
30. Pedro Ciriaco, BOS

At this point, we're looking strictly at bench bats and those not expected to win job fights. Carpenter will probably be super-subbing for St. Louis again, and he could spot-start for a fantasy team too if his playing time develops into a pattern. Either Arenado or Pacheco could win the third base job in Colorado over Nelson. Or Nelson could end up playing second base. Regardless, any starting infielder in Colorado is worth taking a flier on. Plouffe spent half a season hitting the tar out of the ball for Minnesota...and the second half flailing helplessly. I guess it's better than a full season of helplessness. Donaldson might get most of the playing time at third for Oakland, or he might not. Ciriaco is only a choice if Middlebrooks flames out badly.

Some Guys who Can Play 3B for a Yahoo! Team

a. Mark Trumbo, LAA -- 5th Round 
b. Mark Reynolds, CLE -- 14th-15th Rounds
c. Jedd Gyorko, SDP -- 16th-17th Rounds
c. Marco Scutaro, SFG --  18th-19th Rounds

Trumbo's high-power, low-average profile looks better compared to third basemen than it does outfielders, but not by a huge amount. I wouldn't take him until Headley is gone. Reynolds is a borderline starter at third, but he gets a little extra CI value because he can actually back up both positions that can play there. Gyroko is assumed by many to be starting at second, since he won't be chasing Headley off third (sorry, I couldn't help it). He and Scutaro get a bunch of extra value as bench players if they have 3B eligibility, because you can slide them in and out of your MI and CI spots, giving you a free backup outfielder, extra reliever, or whatever else strikes your fancy.

The group of players at third base isn't elite by any means, but it has a stronger middle class than the rest of the infield, relative to what you expect of them. Lately, third had been a lot more like second base and shortstop, but this year a lot more of the players can compete with a thinned out first base. The bottom still drops off, though, so I suggest locking up third and CI quickly.



2013 Position Rankings: Second Base

Position rankings hit the real infield today, with second basemen. Traditionally a thin position for fantasy production; the keystone isn't an exception this year. Maybe the best you can say for it is that it's still richer ground than shortstop, as the top of the field is pretty talented and decent options are present until near the middle rounds. The bad news is that it drops off really far after that. The worse news is that you're probably going to need two second sackers, because you really don't want to fill your MI slot with a shortstop.

Last week, we looked at First Basemen and Catchers. Before that, we led off with the Outfield. This round of rankings goes 30 players deep; 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. For most such players, second base is probably the position at which you'll be drafting them.

1st Round

1. Robinson Cano, NYY

Yup. He's going among the upper picks this year and he's worth it.

3rd-4th Rounds

2. Dustin Pedroia, BOS
3. Ian Kinsler, TEX
4. Ben Zobrist, TBR (SS, OF)
5. Aaron Hill, ARI

The second tier at second base has slipped a little, with (relatively) down seasons from Pedroia and Kinsler flattening their value out a little. As Mark put it some time ago, Kinsler has the higher ceiling and the lower floor, but his overall direction isn't promising. The good news is that Zobrist continues his quiet brand of goodness and super-flexibility. The better news is that Hill put up a great year, with 26 homers that bested everyone at the position not named Robinson. In context, it looks to me like his lousy 2011 was the outlier year.

5th-6th Rounds

6. Jason Kipnis, CLE
7. Brandon Phillips, CIN

Kipnis really cooled off in the second half, so I have minor doubts for next year. But only minor ones, as his speed is good and he was expected to proved even more power, so he could grow into increased homer totals. Phillips does a little--but not a lot--of everything, and should benefit from a powerful Reds lineup.

7th-8th Rounds

8. Jose Altuve, HOU

Altuve gives good speed and he hit for average last year. I tend not to trust anyone for whom batting average is a primary skill, because a little bad luck can go a long way when it comes to hurting a guy like Altuve's value. Also, who will hit him in? That said, if you took him, be glad: you just reached the end of the second basemen you're happy you drafted.

10th-11th Rounds

9. Danny Espinosa, WAS (SS)
10. Rickie Weeks, MIL

Espinosa has a little power and a little speed, but he's got a good chance to be a liability in batting average. He reminds me of a less-proven Brandon Phillips. He's worth taking a round or two earlier as a shortstop. Weeks should bounce back, right? There's a good chance he won't spend most of next season under the Mendoza line, and a healthier BABIP would make him significantly more productive. Unfortunately, his history of injury still affects his value. After this, the second basemen take another significant turn downward.

15th-16th Rounds

10.5 Kyle Seager, SEA (3B--18 games at 2B)
11. Dan Uggla, ATL
12. Chase Utley, PHI
13. Neil Walker, PIT
14. Howie Kendrick, LAA

I told you there would be a long drop. If he's eligible in your league, Seager could be a sneaky-good choice for second. Uggla lost just about everything last year, but before that he was so good that all he has to do is get a little back and you get great return for this kind of inpvestment. Cross your fingers and hope for a little more BABIP and a few more balls over the fence. Can Utley keep his body together? He was pretty good in 77 games last year, but you better have a backup. Better yet, make him the backup. Walker and Kendrick are similarly unexciting, relatively solid plays at this point. Especially if you're looking for a starter at second.

18th-19th Rounds

15. Jedd Gyorko, SDP
16. Dustin Ackley, SEA

If Gyorko gets the official starting job from San Diego, go ahead and bump him into the next tier. He's an interesting prospect, who could have some real pop in his bat. Ackley has some presumed upside, but with two seasons under his belt he hasn't shown much of it.

20th-22nd Rounds

17. Chris Nelson, COL (3B)
18. Omar Infante, DET
19. Marco Scutaro, SFG (SS)
20. Daniel Murphy, NYM
20.5 Michael Young, PHI (3B/1B--16 games at 2B)
21. Jeff Keppinger, CHW (3B, 1B)
21.5. Emilio Bonifacio, TOR (OF--15 games at 2B)
22. Kelly Johnson, TBR

Nelson has some pop and plays for Colorado, always a nice mix. Remember how Phillips did a little of everything, and then Espinosa did even less? Well Infante does less than him, but at least he does it in all five categories. Scutaro is a better than average bet in batting average, and he makes a useful MI selection because he can play second and short. Murphy hit 40 doubles to go with an average near .300, which means he should be in good position to take advantage of whatever scoring opportunities happen for the Mets. Young has descended into mediocrity, but that's better than what anyone below him can say for themselves. If your league has 15-game eligiblity or less, he could be a decent MI; Bonifacio could net you some steals under the same circumstances. Keppinger might put up an acceptable average but won't do much else. Johnson is caught in the Tampa Bay mix-and-match, but if he gets regular playing time he could be useful at MI.

23rd Round and Beyond


23. Brian Roberts, BAL
24. Gordon Beckham, CHW
25. Johnny Giavotella, KCR
26. Logan Forsythe, SDP
27. Darwin Barney, CHC
28. Maicer Izturis, TOR
29. Jemile Weeks, OAK
30. Cliff Pennington, ARI (SS)

Let's face it, these guys are warm-bodied injury replacements for deep leagues. Technically, there is some upside to be found here, but not enough to consider betting on for more than a bench role.

Things start breaking down quickly at second base, with all the options after number ten or so having low upside, low chance of reaching their upside or both. Not only that, but two of the top nine will probably be drafted as shortstops, thinning things out even more. Moral of the story: don't be the last team to take a second baseman. In fact, the overall weakness of the position makes me readier than usual to grab one of the top players, even though several of them come with serious question marks. No wonder Robinson Cano is getting drafted as high as third overall.



2013 Position Rankings: First Basemen

Our position rankings are rolling along today with first basemen. If you're just catching the series, check out Catchers and Outfielders. After a team discussion, featuring Tim Dierkes and the entire RotoAuthority staff, we've prepared tiered rankings that go 40 players deep. The players are 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. Speaking of players with other eligibilities, their rank here only represents their rank as a first baseman--basically, Carlos Santana's ranking represents when you should nab him even if you've got your catcher slot filled by Buster Posey.

Finally, there's a strategic reality to be aware of before you go into the draft: first base is weak this year. Really weak. A lot of the old stalwarts have fallen off the map, and their younger replacements haven't brought their game to an elite level yet. You'll still have to pay a premium for first basemen, but don't be shocked if you aren't getting the production or the certainty you've been able to expect for the last two decades.

1st Round

1. Albert Pujols, LAA
2. Joey Votto, CIN
3. Prince Fielder, DET

These guys are pretty easy to rank. Though Votto and Pujols come with more question marks than usual, the supra-elite production we've seen from them before is enough to keep them at the top of the pile. Fielder is close, much closer to Votto or Pujols than he is to any other player. So close that if you prefer his consistency to their upside, we'll understand.

2nd-3rd Round

4. Edwin Encarnacion, TOR
5. Adrian Gonzalez, LAD

These guys are fair value in the third, but I can totally understand reaching for them in the second. First is just that shallow, that it's worth banking that Encarnacion can do it again or that Gonzalez will find his lost power. Plus, Gonzo's average and lineup will keep him valuable even if the power doesn't come back on, and E5 was so good that he can slip a lot and still be one of the top third basemen. Yeah, things are that thin.

5th Round

6. Billy Butler, KCR
7. Paul Goldschmidt, ARI
8. Allen Craig, STL (OF)

Call me crazy, but I prefer Butler's consistent production and recent power surge to the relative unknowns of Goldschmidt and Craig. I know this seems low on Goldy, but would you take him in the second round if he wasn't stealing bases? He's got plenty of potential, but his ADP doesn't reflect that--it reflects a proven star and that isn't what he is. Craig is going too high too. He's not young and he's got a career full of injury-shortened seasons. Was he great last year? Yes. Will he be great again if healthy? Probably. See: question marks.

6th Round

9. Anthony Rizzo, CHC
10. Freddie Freeman, ATL
11. Buster Posey, SFG (C)

Rizzo is full of potential and Freeman still has room to grow. That said, players like these used to be had a lot later in the draft. It feels like a reach to me, but that's the change of market value. I prefer Rizzo because he's got the best chance to make a big jump instead of a little step. Unless your league doesn't allow catchers, you can't get Posey at this point. This is where I'd slot him in at first, as I expect some regression from any MVP season.

 7th-8th Round

11.5 (David Ortiz, BOS--DH only)
12. Mark Teixeira, NYY
13. Paul Konerko, CHW
14. Adam LaRoche, WAS
15. Adam Dunn, CHW

Ortiz can't play first, but at this point you might be taking your utility player or DH. If you are, take Ortiz above any available first baseman. Age and injury risk are all that keep him this low, because his production is top-notch when he's healthy. I still hesitate to write Teixeira's name down, even this much lower than his ADP. He truly seems to be on the decline, and he's at the point of his career where the downward slide could really accelerate. Maybe he rights the ship and I reevaluate during the season, but right now he isn't where I'd place my bet. Konerko and LaRoche are consistent and unexciting. Oddly, I think Konerko is a little overrated and LaRoche a little underrated despite similar profiles. Dunn's good years kill your batting average, but his power is getting rarer and rarer, so I'd still reach for him here.

9th-10th

16. Eric Hosmer, KCR
17. Chris Davis, BAL (OF)
18. Carlos Santana, CLE (C)
19. Joe Mauer, MIN (C)

Hosmer will either be a steal here, or a hideous bust. I don't imagine for a second that he'll give ninth round production, but I couldn't say with any confidence whether he'll be better or worse than this. The power that Davis showed last year was no surprise, but the respectable batting average sure was. In case you already have Posey catching for you, here's where you should grab Santana or Mauer to play first.

11th-12th Rounds

20. Nick Swisher, CLE (OF)
21. Ike Davis, NYM
22. Mike Napoli, BOS (C)

Swisher takes a slight value hit at first, but he's still a really consistent performer with versatility. Davis could be a decent value play here. Napoli will be playing first for the Sox, but you probably don't want him out from behind the plate on your team.

13th-14th Rounds

23. Lance Berkman, TEX
24. Todd Frazier, CIN (3B)

The chance that Berkman has any gas in the tank at all makes him worth a flier. He could be massive value here, though the risk is high. Frazier is an interested and underrated player. After an impressive partial season, he won't be battling the ghost of Scott Rolen for time at third base.

15th-16th

25. Justin Morneau, MIN
26. Kendrys Morales, LAA

Morneau is one of those fallen stars, but at least he's picked himself up to the kind of mediocrity that allows you to play him at utility or corner infield. The move to Safeco scares me: I don't know what difference the moving fences will make, but I do know (sort of, not like I'm a meteorologist or anything) what that humid Seattle air does to fly balls. Plus, Morales isn't that awesome in the first place. 

 17th-18th

27. Yonder Alonso, SDP
28. Chris Carter, HOU
29. Michael Cuddyer, COL
30. Mark Reynolds, CLE

Alonso might be able to take advantage of the shortening fences in Petco, and he's young enough to improve the old fashioned way. Carter could hit a bunch of home runs, and the Astros will have little choice to be patient with any batting average issues that hit him. A healthy Cuddyer could be pretty valuable splitting time between your OF and CI spots, especially in daily leagues where you can take shameless advantage of his home park. Reynolds is like Adam Dunn lite: lower ceiling, (usually) lower floor. We miss that 3B eligibility--though he managed 15 games there last season, so if your league has less stringent requirements than most, lucky you.

19th-20th

30. Brandon Moss, OAK
31. Ryan Howard, PHI
32. Garrett Jones, PIT

At this point, it's worth taking any chance at all that Moss's fluky looking season can be repeated. Howard isn't much more than a famous name who strikes out a lot at this point. He's getting drafted way higher than this...but I can't think of a good reason why. Jones will probably be platooning a bit more, but you can use that to your advantage with a little bit of a bench and daily changes.

21 and Beyond

33. Corey Hart, MIL (OF)
34. Justin Smoak, SEA
35. Carlos Pena, HOU
36. Brandon Belt, SFG 
37. Adam Lind, TOR 
38. Tyler Colvin, COL (OF)
39. Mitch Moreland, TEX
40. Todd Helton, COL 

Hart will be injured, and it remains to truly be seen for how long. If we get definitive good news, I'd bump him up, maybe up several rounds. If not...maybe I wouldn't draft him at all. Maybe Smoak can take advantage of the new dimensions in Safeco. I'm skeptical, but this is the time for chance-taking. If Reynolds is Dunn-lite, maybe Pena is Reynolds-lite. Belt believes he found his stroke late last year. If he did he could finally be fantasy-viable. Lind is a memory of a great 2009, and fading fast. Toronto seems to be giving him one last try, so your fantasy bench could too, I suppose. Colvin plays in Colorado, so that's always interesting. Well, usually interesting, since Todd Helton is only number 40 because round numbers make us all feel more comfortable.

Even in the deepest of years I feel pretty comfortable taking an elite first baseman early in the draft. This year, that's even more true. Any of the top three can anchor your team, but everyone after that is a serious question mark. Plenty of players could make (or remake) their mark as an elite hitter this year, but who knows for sure which ones really will. I suggest taking two or more, again, just as usual but for different reasons: it's time to diversify the risk at this position in a way most of us never have. 



2013 Position Rankings: Catchers

Welcome back to RotoAuthority's Position Rankings. Last week, we ranked Outfielders, and today we continue on with Catchers. Slightly less numerous in real and fantasy baseball, our catcher list goes up only to 30...but do you really want the catchers after that? Probably not, and if you do, they'll be waiting on the waiver wire. The players are 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. Positions in parentheses mark other eligibilities the player has. As before, these rankings were crafted after a team discussion, featuring Tim Dierkes and the entire RotoAuthority staff.

2nd Round

1. Buster Posey, SFG (1B)

I'm not normally an advocate of taking a catcher in the second round...but I'd probably make an exception for Posey. He's the top catcher by a mile.

4th Round

2. Carlos Santana, CLE (1B)
3. Yadier Molina, STL
4. Joe Mauer, MIN (1B)

I agonized for a while over who to install second on this list, Santana or Molina. Finally, I was won over by the possibility of Santana building on his power and the likelihood of Molina's homer total returning to its 2011 level. Mauer is more easily behind the other two, because his low power reins in his upside and his history of injuries makes his downside extra-steep.

5th-6th Rounds

5. Wilin Rosario, COL
6. Matt Wieters, BAL
7. Mike Napoli, BOS (1B)

Rosario came out of nowhere (or almost nowhere) to lead catchers in home runs. There seems to be a pretty good chance he does it again, playing in Colorado. Playing first for Boston, Napoli could put up some big numbers. Unfortunately, his health status limits his draft position almost as much as it did his real-life contract. If his own team isn't sure about him, neither am I.

9th-10th Rounds

8. Salvador Perez, KCR
9. Miguel Montero, ARI
10. Jonathan Lucroy, MIL
11. Victor Martinez, DET

Perez has put up two awesome partial seasons, and you can count me among those who think he can put them together. This Montero seems to be the rare case of a player getting overrated who does lots of things pretty well but excels in none. I don't think he's in line for a bad season or anything, but I wish he had more power. Martinez is a big question mark, having missed all of last season, but the extra plate appearances he could get as a full-time DH make him a worthy risk.

11th-12th Rounds

12. Brian McCann, ATL
13. Jesus Montero, SEA

A disastrous BABIP killed McCann's batting average last year, but I'd still be willing to draft him closer to his old position if he were expected to be healthy to start the season. Instead, expect to shelf McCann for a little while, though his exact timetable is in flux. He should still be great value, though--by the end of the year you'll have forgotten the weeks you spent with a placeholder catcher. This Montero should benefit from the moving fences in Safeco, though by how much remains to be seen. He could still make the jump to elite-hitting catcher, but the chances go down each year.

13th-14th Rounds

14. Ryan Doumit, MIN (OF)
15. A.J. Pierzynski, TEX

Doumit has some sock, and should get extra at bats playing in the outfield. His ranking makes him among the first second catchers, but don't be unhappy if he's your starter. Pierzynski shocked us all last year. We aren't exactly expecting a repeat, but if even a little of that power sticks with him in Texas, he will be huge value at this point.

17th-18th Rounds

16. J.P. Arencibia, TOR
17. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, BOS

These guys are the same. Lots of power, awful batting averages. Last names that make me question everything I know about spelling. There's a pretty big gap between these two and Pierzynski, because their downside is so low, and even at their best that batting average really drags you down. But they do hit home runs....

20th-22nd Rounds

18. Tyler Flowers, CHW
19. Rob Brantly, MIA
20. Wilson Ramos, WAS
21. Chris Iannetta, LAA

There's another big jump, as we get to the last few catchers started in two-catcher leagues. Flowers is interesting, but his upside appears to be joining Arencibia and Saltalamacchia. Accordingly, make sure they're off the board before you nab Flowers. Brantley could contribute in average, while Ramos and Ianetta might add a few bombs.

23rd and Beyond

22. A.J. Ellis, LAD
23. Welington Castillo, CHC
24. Russell Martin, PIT
25. Alex Avila, DET
26. John Jaso, OAK
27. Travis d'Arnaud, NYM
28. Carlos Ruiz, PHI
29. Yasmani Grandal, SDP
30. John Buck, NYM 

Well, it gets pretty rough back here. Fortunately, only three teams are selecting a starter from this bunch (and one of those is just an injury-replacement for McCann). Ellis and Jaso should get a bump if your league counts OBP. If it doesn't, at least they might score some runs. D'Arnaud is pretty much a prospect stash, while Ruiz and Grandal should only be stashed if you have a ton of bench spots or your league lets you keep suspended players on something like the DL.

Catchers are surprisingly deep this year. Most years, the names start getting ugly really fast, and you're getting a scrub if you don't have a top-six backstop. This time around, though, you can get some quality catchers quite late. In a two-catcher league, my favorite pre-season strategy for this position is to get both of my starting catchers between the ninth and fourteenth rounds, landing me two of the players ranked between eighth and fifteenth on this list. I won't have paid a premium price for my first catcher, and I won't be stuck with bad production with my second. In a single-catcher league, I'll probably try to be among the last to draft a catcher, because the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth catchers are all pretty good. Unless, of course, Buster Posey falls to the third round....





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