RotoAuthority Rankings 2014


RotoAuthority Unscripted: Your Aberrant Experts (Starter Rankings)

Aberrant, deviant, distorted...awesome. However you want to call it, the rankings we put up here at RotoAuthority aren't just a clone of every other expert on the planet. Sure, we agree on the top four hitters, and that Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish should be the first two pitchers off the draft board, but things start to change after that.

Last week, I wrote up where some of our biggest differences were at each hitting position, and today we'll take up starting pitchers. You can check out our whole SP rankings here. (Note: I thought about including relievers, but it just didn't seem that fruitful—the big differences at that position are when to take any relievers at all.)

And for your reference, check out all of RotoAuthority’s rankings: OutfieldCatcherFirst BaseThird BaseSecond BaseShortstopCloserMiddle and Corner Infield

Once again, ADP and the Expert Consensus come from FantasyPros.com, with data they glean from across the fantasy globe.

Matt Cain
RA Ranking: 14 ADP Rank: 18 Expert Consensus: 17

The ranking difference doesn’t quite tell the story here—the RA thinking is that Cain remains a high-level SP option, just after the truly elite. Though ADP and the Expert Consensus only slot him a few ranks lower, they suggest he belongs squarely in the middle of your number-two pitchers. Verdict: Small differences matter—trust RA.

Doug Fister
RA Ranking: 19 ADP Rank: 33 Expert Consensus: 33

We’re aggressive on Fister, but there's very little not to like about his new situation, moving to the NL most especially. Remember when Gio Gonzalez made the same transition? There was a big improvement in his strikeout rate. Our prediction is that Fister leapfrogs new teammate Jordan Zimmermann, and we’re willing to take him as our number two starter if need be. Of course, we may not need to, given his ADP, but games of fantasy chicken are another story altogether…. Verdict: Trust RA.

Jered Weaver
RA Ranking: 21 ADP Rank: 28 Expert Consensus: 31

Weaver went from overrated to underrated in the space of about a year. I’m inclined to think that he’s being punished for the fact that he hasn’t sustained that one season of elite strikeout production. Just because he isn’t missing bats, though, doesn’t mean that he hasn’t made a habit of overperforming his FIP and providing solid help in WHIP every year. Weaver is just the kind of pitcher that I like to use to balance out high-K, high-BB pitchers like Gio Gonzalez. Verdict: Expect to see Weaver on plenty of teams that contend in ERA, WHIP, and Wins—trust RA.

Hyun-jin Ryu
RA Ranking: 25 ADP Rank: 31 Expert Consensus: 30

Ryu is another guy who doesn’t dominate whiffs, but helps everywhere else. Playing for the Dodgers, he benefits from a good lineup and a friendly park—he’s got the factors you want for good luck. That and strong control, and the fact that he’s relatively young. I see a high floor with room for improvement in his second year stateside. Verdict: Trust RA

Gerrit Cole
RA Ranking: 27 ADP Rank: 21 Expert Consensus: 19

“Why do you hate Gerrit Cole?” asked, apparently, everyone. We don’t. It’s not that we love Cole less—just that we love others more. There’s always risk with young pitchers, and with Cole there’s also the risk that he doesn’t add the strikeouts that most are expecting—and there are a lot of enticing options between our ranking and that of the Experts. Still, he’s got seriously high reward, so the enthusiasm is understandable. Verdict: Go for it if you’re focused on upside. Otherwise, there are plenty of more proven pitchers available.

A.J. Burnett
RA Ranking: 28 ADP Rank: 48 Expert Consensus: 48

Most others seem to see in Burnett a guy who’s too old and had huge home/road splits—and now is leaving that favorable home behind. Me, I see a guy who pitched good and struck out far more batters than anyone else left on the board. There’s certainly downside here—serious downside—but the upside is the ace-level pitching he gave owners last year. The RA ranking is aggressive, but he’s an absolute steal at his ADP. Verdict: Target him between our rank and his ADP—he’s a risk worth taking.

Masahiro Tanaka
RA Ranking: 30 ADP Rank: 20 Expert Consensus: 27

The numbers above tell the story on Tanaka: experts (including RA) are cautiously interested—but every league seems to have someone who just can’t wait to take Tanaka. Verdict: The experts agree—be patient with Tanaka.

Hiroki Kuroda
RA Ranking: 37 ADP Rank: 49 Expert Consensus: 41

Another Japanese Yankee where RA and the Experts land nearly together—and far from ADP. There’s nothing terribly exciting about the dependable Kuroda, so it’s no wonder he’s lasting longer in drafts. That said, reliable pitchers are rare, and good for balancing out risks like his new teammate. Verdict: Trust RA (and the other Experts)

Matt Moore
RA Ranking: 49 ADP Rank: 32 Expert Consensus: 28

This is one strikeout source even I won’t touch. With huge walk rates and a year that started great but seemed to get worse every month, Moore seems to be made of red flags. There’s no way I’d consider taking him as early as the other Experts suggest. If that means I miss out on what he’ll do to my WHIP even if things go right, well that’s fine. Verdict: Moore is a time bomb at 28. Trust RA.

Rick Porcello
RA Ranking: 55 ADP Rank: 77 Expert Consensus: 71

Porcello is cemented into the rotation of one of baseball’s best teams, and he's ratcheted his strikeout rate up a bunch in 2013. He’s still younger than we think, since he came to the Majors at 20 years old and he could really put it all together this year. Even if he doesn’t, he ought to be a good source of Wins and ERA. Verdict: He’s got more upside than plenty of late-round pitchers, and a much, much higher floor. Trust RA.

Scott Kazmir
RA Ranking: 56 ADP Rank: 76 Expert Consensus: 72

Kazmir came back like lightning last year, with prodigious strikeouts and a FIP that suggested his 4.00+ ERA ought to come down. Now, he’s in a very favorable park, still playing for a contending team—this is a risk I like. Verdict: Trust RA.

John Lackey
RA Ranking: 61 ADP Rank: 80 Expert Consensus: 64

RA and the Experts are nearly 20 draft slots ahead of most on Lackey! Maybe most drafters didn’t notice that he really bounced back last year. I don’t know why drafters don't like him, but it's easy enough to see that he's well worth drafting. Verdict: Trust RA—and the Experts.

Chris Tillman
RA Ranking: 70 ADP Rank: 60 Expert Consensus: 58

Tillman was pretty lucky with his ERA last year, so I have some worries about what his 2014 will really look like. That said, he plays on a team with a good offense and misses bats, so there’s some useful upside here. If you think his ERA and WHIP will hold together, I can understand liking him more than we do. Verdict: You can feel OK about drafting him before me…but I’ll feel fine too.

Jonathon Niese
RA Ranking: 71 ADP Rank: 100 Expert Consensus: 84

RA and the Experts seem to have noticed what most drafters haven’t: Niese really regained form after I dropped him off all my fantasy teams returning from injury. In fact, he pitched like the top-40 starter that he was in 2012. You don’t have to be as aggressive as RA to get this guy on your team, but you definitely should. Verdict: Trust RA…but feel free to wait on him.

Alex Wood
RA Ranking: 73 ADP Rank: 62 Expert Consensus: 60

I’d like to excuse myself to say that we did this ranking before the Braves’ rotation got hit with injuries…but that’s not particularly true. Wood does seem to have more upside than our 73 ranking gives him credit for, though at this point in the draft, you’re sorting through which kind of risk/reward candidates you like. Verdict: Go ahead and move Wood up a little higher on your draft board. There are plenty of people less interesting than him.

 

 



RotoAuthority Rankings 2014: Downloadable Version, Plus Middle and Corner Infield

As we sort through the rubble of our mock draft, tinker with the rankings for starting pitcher, and wonder if Ervin Stantana will ever sign, I thought it would be useful to put our hitting rankings together in a couple easy-to-use formats, combine lists for MI and CI, and give you the spreadsheet version of all our rakings:  Download RotoAuthority Rankings 2014.

If you haven't read the lists with analysis, check each of them out at the links below:

 OutfieldCatcherFirst BaseThird BaseSecond Base, Shortstop, and Closer

Here is what our Second Base and Shortstop lists would look like if you were drafting to fill out the MI position:

Rank Tier Name POS
1 1 Robinson Cano 2B
2 1 Hanley Ramirez SS
3 1 Troy Tulowitzki SS
4 2 Jason Kipnis 2B
5 2 Dustin Pedroia 2B
6 3 Jean Segura SS
7 3 Ian Desmond SS
8 3 Jose Reyes SS
9 4 Aaron Hill 2B
10 4 Matt Carpenter 2B
11 4 Everth Cabrera SS
12 4 Elvis Andrus SS
13 4 Ian Kinsler 2B
14 4 Ben Zobrist 2B/SS
15 5 Jose Altuve 2B
16 5 Chase Utley 2B
17 5 Jedd Gyorko 2B
18 5 Brandon Phillips 2B
19 5 Martin Prado 2B
20 5 Daniel Murphy 2B
21 6 Starlin Castro SS
22 6 Brad Miller SS
23 6 Andrelton Simmons SS
24 6 Jonathan Villar SS
25 6 Xander Bogaerts SS
26 6 J.J. Hardy SS
27 6 Jed Lowrie 2B/SS
28 6 Jurickson Profar 2B/SS
29 6 Alexei Ramirez SS
30 6 Brian Dozier 2B/SS
31 6 Howie Kendrick 2B
32 7 Omar Infante 2B
33 7 Neil Walker 2B
34 7 Alexander Guerrero 2B
35 7 Anthony Rendon 2B
36 7 Asdrubal Cabrera SS
37 7 Jimmy Rollins SS
38 7 Jhonny Peralta SS
39 7 Erick Aybar 2B
40 7 Kelly Johnson 2B
41 7 Kolten Wong 2B
42 7 Emilio Bonifacio 2B
43 7 Derek Jeter SS
44 7 Nick Franklin 2B/SS
45 7 Alcides Escobar SS
46 7 Zack Cozart SS
47 7 Jordy Mercer SS
48 7 Stephen Drew SS
49 7 Yunel Escobar SS
50 7 Dan Uggla 2B
51 7 Rickie Weeks 2B
52 7 Mike Aviles SS

In a similar vein, here are you First and Third Base options mixed, for the CI position:

Rank Tier Name POS
1 1 Miguel Cabrera 3B
2 2 Paul Goldschmidt 1B
3 2 Chris Davis 1B
4 2 Adrian Beltre 3B
5 2 Edwin Encarnacion 1B (3B)
6 2 Joey Votto 1B
7 3 Evan Longoria 3B
8 3 David Wright 3B
9 4 Prince Fielder 1B
10 4 Freddie Freeman 1B
11 5 Mark Trumbo 1B
12 5 Albert Pujols 1B
13 5 Eric Hosmer 1B
14 5 Adrian Gonzalez 1B
15 5 David Ortiz DH (1B)
16 6 Ryan Zimmerman 3B
17 6 Matt Carpenter 3B
18 6 Buster Posey 1B
19 6 Pedro Alvarez 3B
20 6 Josh Donaldson 3B
21 6 Jose Abreu 1B
22 6 Allen Craig 1B
23 7 Brandon Belt 1B
24 7 Joe Mauer 1B
25 7 Anthony Rizzo 1B
26 7 Carlos Santana 1B
27 7 Mike Napoli 1B
28 7 Matt Adams 1B
29 7 Billy Butler 1B
30 7 Michael Cuddyer 1B
31 8 Pablo Sandoval 3B
32 8 Manny Machado 3B
33 8 Brandon Moss 1B
34 8 Brett Lawrie 3B
35 8 Kyle Seager 3B
36 8 Aramis Ramirez 3B
37 8 Nick Swisher 1B
38 8 Adam Lind 1B
39 8 Adam LaRoche 1B
40 8 Chris Carter 1B
41 8 Jedd Gyorko (3B)
42 8 Kendrys Morales 1B
43 8 Jonathan Lucroy 1B
44 9 Chris Johnson 3B
45 9 Martin Prado 3B
46 9 Chase Headley 3B
47 9 Justin Morneau 1B
48 9 Adam Dunn 1B
49 9 Xander Bogaerts 3B
50 9 Yan Gomes 1B
51 9 Corey Hart 1B
52 9 Michael Morse (1B)
53 9 Todd Frazier 3B
54 9 Jurickson Profar 3B
55 9 Victor Martinez (1B)
56 10 Will Middlebrooks 3B
57 10 Matt Dominguez 3B
58 10 Mike Moustakas 3B
59 10 Nolan Arenado 3B
60 10 Yonder Alonso 1B
61 10 James Loney 1B
62 10 Daniel Murphy 1B
63 10 Daniel Nava 1B
64 10 Mark Teixeira 1B
65 10 Ryan Howard 1B
66 10 Ike Davis 1B
67 10 Anthony Rendon 3B
68 10 David Freese 3B
69 10 Mark Reynolds 1B/3B
70 10 Mitch Moreland 1B
71 10 Justin Smoak 1B
72 10 Paul Konerko 1B
73 10 Matt Davidson 3B
74 10 Garrett Jones 1B

So, download the spreadsheet, enjoy drafting middle and corner infielders with ease, and of course, join us one last time on Saturday for the Starting Pitcher rankings.



RotoAuthority Rankings 2014: Shortstop

Shortstops are a pretty weak crew again (surprise!) Even the top options come with question marks, and the later guys, well. Ouch. The good news, though, is that this position does offer a lot of speed, so there's that. What's more, if you keep your expectations pretty low, there are a surprising number of interesting players who specialize in a category or have decent potential. So don't despair if you miss out  on the top options. In fact, maybe you should skip those top options altogether....

This is the last of our hitter rankings; in fact, all we have left to unveil are the Starting Pitchers, which will be coming out in two parts next week. Be excited. Be very excited. Then hurry up and draft.

Catch up on our whole series: OutfieldCatcher, First Base, Third Base, Second Base, and Closers.

As always, these rankings are the product of the entire team here at RotoAuthority.

Tier 1: Imperfect Superstars (Rounds 1-2)

1. Hanley Ramirez

2. Troy Tulowitzki

Ramirez came back with a bang last year, putting up the best half-season of any player in baseball. But this comes on the heels of back-to-back disappointing years. Tulowitzki gives you a first baseman-level bat at short whenever he's healthy...which isn't nearly often enough. Personally, I like either one in the second, and neither in the first. But these two are unquestionably the class of shortstop.

Tier 2: Very Good, Still Imperfect (Rounds 3-5

3. Jean Segura

4. Ian Desmond

5. Jose Reyes

Segura's splits and short-porch homers were cause for worry, but his season would still have been great without double-digit homers. And he's young enough for skill progression to even out luck regression. Desmond has some strikeout-related red flags, but you have to love his power-speed combo. Reyes isn't a good bet to be healthy, but he is a good bet to produce while he's on the field. A full season in Toronto, and we might be using the power-speed label on him too. If only he could play a full season....

Tier 3: Run, Run, Run (Rounds 6-8)

6. Everth Cabrera

7. Elvis Andrus

8. Ben Zobrist

Cabrera and Andrus are very similar, but Cabrera's stolen base history is actually more encouraging. You might not see them in this order in a lot of drafts, but I'd take Cabrera before Andrus goes off the board. Zobrist doesn't fit the category theme, but if you aren't looking for speed, he's your only good choice at this point.

Tier 4: Off a Cliff (Rounds 12-15)

9. Starlin Castro

10. Brad Miller

11. Andrelton Simmons

12. Jonathan Villar

13. Xander Bogaerts

14. J.J. Hardy

15. Jed Lowrie

16. Jurickson Profar

17. Alexei Ramirez

18. Brian Dozier.

The rankings take a nosedive here, but the names are still interesting--moreso than in years past. The order here could get controversial, so consider these guys to be options to pick from more than a list to run down. You've got young players with potential, speed, power, and possible rebound types. Pick your poison.

I can't bring myself to take a risk on Castro any earlier than this. Yeah, he'll probably bounce back, but he was...just...so...bad. Miller is a very interesting guy and could produce even more with Robinson Cano around. Simmons is getting plenty of hype, but he may not be a 20-homer guy just yet. Villar has crazy wheels, but won't do your batting average any favors. Bogaerts is brimming with potential and has more upside than anyone here but Castro. Hardy is a consistent source of power, though he doesn't offer anything else. Lowrie is a balanced hitter with a long medical record. Profar is as interesting at short as he was at second. Come to think of it, he's up there with Castro and Bogaerts for upside. If Ramirez reallyhas transformed from power to nothing to speed, then his 30-steal upside is very interesting. Dozier worth taking a chance on because anyone with a little power and a little speed is interesting at this point.

Tier 5: Old Reliables?

19. Asdrubal Cabrera

20. Jimmy Rollins

21. Jhonny Peralta

22. Erick Aybar

Cabrera doesn't offer any upside at this point, but his personal brand of mediocrity is pretty safe. Rollins is only this high because maybe he'll get another boost before sliding all the way into oblivion. Peralta shouldn't be a BABIP hero again next year, but he should deliver some counting runs and RBI in the Cardinals' lineup. Aybar is probably the last of the guys you should consider giving your starting MI job to, but his floor seems to come with a decent average.

Tier 6: Hopefully These Guys Are on Your Bench...Or Your Opponents' Teams

23. Derek Jeter

24. Nick Franklin

25. Alcides Escobar

26. Zack Cozart

27. Jordy Mercer

28. Stephen Drew

29. Yunel Escobar

30. Mike Aviles

Jeter probably doesn't have much left in the tank. But this late in deep leagues, it's worth a try. Franklin gets more valuable with a trade or surprise Spring Training takeover of short...right now he's a bench player. Last year, Alcides Escobar went from my speed target to the worst player in baseball. In retrospect, his batted ball profile says I shouldn't have been too surprised. He'll bounce back, yeah, but how far? Cozart and Mercer look to have double-digit power. Drew would be a tier above on a decent team...but he doesn't even have a bad team right now. Yunel Escobar...at least plays every day. Aviles offers positional flexibility and not much else. It's better than nothing, though, I guess.

Shortstops wraps up our hitter coverage; next week we roll out the starters. Also, keep an eye out for convenient list-only versions of these rankings and melded middle and corner infield lists. 



RotoAuthority Rankings 2014: Closers

As you certainly recall, we’ve recently dug into a number of different position rankings for hitters (including Outfield, Catcher, First Base, Second Base, and Third Base – with Shortstop rankings to arrive on Saturday). Now it’s time for Closers to get a little love. Like the rest of the RotoAuthority rankings, we’ll break down the position into tiers with some extra attention to sleepers and setup guys. Unlike Opening Day, we won’t make you wait any longer…

Tier 1 – Top Guns

1. Craig Kimbrel

2. Kenley Jansen

3. Aroldis Chapman

4. Greg Holland

The top tier features four excellent closers with high-end career strikeout rates (Kimbrel – 15.1 K/9, Jansen – 14.0, Chapman – 14.7 K/9, Holland – 12.3). With 163 combined saves last season, each one of these guys can give you a serious advantage in the relief pitcher department week-to-week. Many will place Kimbrel in a tier all by himself, and perhaps rightfully so, but I think that Jansen, Chapman, and Holland will give him a run for his money in 2014.

Tier 2 – Next Best Thing

5. Koji Uehara

6. Joe Nathan

7. Trevor Rosenthal

8. Casey Janssen

9. Jim Johnson

10. Glen Perkins

Uehara had an outstanding end to 2013 and might be among the game’s best. If he can prove that his 2013 numbers aren’t a flash-in-the-pan (1.09 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 12.2 K/9, 21 saves), he’ll be pushing Kimbrel with the rest of the top tier. Nathan has been consistent (340 saves over the last 10 years) and should keep the Joe Show going in Detroit. Rosenthal will have to prove that last season was not a fluke (2.63 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 12.9 K/9) and he can handle the ninth before moving up the rankings. Janssen, Johnson, and Perkins are all consistent enough to round out the top 10 for the fickle closer position.

Tier 3 – On the Cusp of Top-Notch

11. David Robertson

12. Jonathan Papelbon

13. Jason Grilli

14. Sergio Romo

15. Ernesto Frieri

16. Rafael Soriano

17. Grant Balfour

18. Steve Cishek

Robertson will inherit the ninth after Mariano Rivera’s departure and has outstanding numbers as a setup guy (2.04 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 10.4 K/9 last season). If he can keep these numbers up, he’ll perform admirably in Mariano’s stead and be a draft day gem. Although Papelbon seemingly struggled last season, he still posted good numbers (2.92 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 29 saves) and should have another good year. Grilli provides strong value this season and was a dominant closer most of last season (2.70 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 13.3 K/9, 33 saves) despite missing time due to injury.

Tier 4 – Steady Eddies

19. Addison Reed

20. John Axford

21. Huston Street

22. Jim Henderson

23. Fernando Rodney

24. Bobby Parnell

Without being too flashy, this tier is dependable if you’ve decided to wait at closer. Axford might return to form and move up a tier before the season’s end. Rodney is closing for the new look Mariners and could have plenty of save opportunities. If Parnell can stay healthy for 2014, he’ll provide some great value later in drafts.

Tier 5 – Position Battles & Closer Sleepers

25. Jose Veras

26. Tommy Hunter

27. LaTroy Hawkins

28. Neftali Feliz

29. Nate Jones

30. Chad Qualls

31. Mark Melancon

32. Rex Brothers

33. Jesse Crain

34. Danny Farquhar

35. Joakim Soria

Unlike the above tiers, this one if chock full of potential and uncertainty. Jose Veras will regain the ninth as closer for the Cubbies and Tommy Hunter seems to have won the closer gig in Baltimore. Hawkins might eventually lose his job to Rex Brothers, but the Rockies are paying him to be their closer on Opening Day. While Jesse Crain may eventually own the job in Houston (out until April with injury), Chad Qualls should be the first to have it in 2014. Neftali Feliz and Nate Jones would both be ranked higher if either were officially named closer.

Tier 6 – Setup Guys

36. Darren O’Day

37. Tyler Clippard

38. Cody Allen

39. Pedro Strop

40. J.J. Putz

41. Matt Lindstrom

42. Joaquin Benoit

43. Brad Ziegler

44. Tanner Scheppers

45. Sergio Santos

46. Daniel Webb

47. Brian Wilson

48. Jose Valverde

49. Francisco Rodriguez

This grab bag tier features a number of names you’ve seen before and some that are fairly new to the scene. Clippard and Allen are both elite setup men that could steal a few saves. Strop, Benoit, and Santos also provide tremendous value as setup men and can be useful in several fantasy formats (especially those that count holds). Putz and Ziegler are speculative picks that could pan out if there’s a closer competition in Arizona. Other wild cards include former closer studs Wilson, Valverde, and K-Rod.

If you’re chasing saves in your fantasy league, there’s only one place to check out… For the latest news on closers to grab, stash, start, or bench, be sure to follow @CloserNews on Twitter.



RotoAuthority Rankings 2014: Second Base

This week is the last of our hitter rankings, with only the ever-exciting middle infield positions left to post. Today, we give you Second Basemen, a delightful position filled with speedsters, injury-risks, low batting averages, and a surprising amount of players with flexible eligibility. Saturday will deliver us Shortstop; sandwiched between them, we'll see Closers ranked by Luckey Helms on Thursday. So it should be a pretty exciting week all around.

In case you missed it, check out the OutfieldCatcher, First Base, and Third Base for the fuller picture.

These rankings are gleaned from the brains of the entire RotoAuthority staff, they're tiered, and the round by round guides are vague suggestions that will vary from format to format...but you know all that because you read the first four articles in this series.

Tier 1: New Team, Same Tier (Round 1)

1. Robinson Cano

Cano is likely to lose some counting stats by shifting to the Mariners' lineup and park. That's not ideal, I guess, but the distance between him and everyone else is so huge that I wouldn't worry about it much. It also helps that Seattle's Safeco Field isn't quite the black hole it used to be, presumptively thanks to the moved-in fences.

Tier 2: Old Guy, New Guy (Round 3)

2. Jason Kipnis

3. Dustin Pedroia

Mark Polishuk covered this draft round battle back in January, and we all came to pretty much the same conclusion: Kipnis by a hair. Both are noticeably better than your other options.

Tier 3: Said "Other Options" (Rounds 5-8)

4. Aaron Hill

5. Matt Carpenter

6. Ian Kinsler

7. Ben Zobrist

The dropoff here is pretty big. I've said rounds five through eight, but maybe Hill should be in his own tier, because he's the only one I'd consider taking in the early part of that range. His health has been questionable, but he has raked consistently with Arizona. Carpenter is a question mark too: his BABIP will go way down, but how far? And how much value will be left? The Cards' lineup ought to keep those runs scored pretty high, at least. Kinsler and Zobrist seem unlikely to reach 20 homers or 20 steals again, but they still do a little of everything.

Tier 4: Value From Imperfection (Round 9-13)

8. Jose Altuve

9. Chase Utley

11. Jedd Gyorko

12. Brandon Phillips

13. Martin Prado

14. Daniel Murphy

Altuve's strong in steals and doesn't hurt in average...but he isn't that helpful anywhere else, thanks to the rest of the Astros. Utley hasn't been healthy since...well, since he was a first or second round pick, I believe. Nab a solid backup if you want him. Gyorko has nice power, but serious BA and OBP issues. Phillips is declining and expensive--but those are problems for real life, not fantasy. He still does just enough of everything to be useful, and if he continues to hit behind Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, he should rake in the RBI again. Prado is unexcitingly decent, which is a pretty useful sort of player. Murphy was a pleasant surprise last year, but it's difficult to see him repeating completely. The steals, especially, came out of nowhere--but then, he was only caught three times. Now I'm just arguing with myself.

Tier 5: Underrated (Rounds 14-17)

15. Jed Lowrie

16. Jurickson Profar

17. Brian Dozier

18. Howie Kendrick

Lowrie isn't getting much love (outside of a very sensible Rotographs article) but he was a pretty great hitter last year. Injury risk is the only reason he's this low, which is understandable enough--but he can hit. Consider getting him and Utley together and hoping they don't get injured at the same time.... Profar fizzled in the Majors last year, but what could we expect? Up and down, on and off the bench, moving around enough to be eligible (in some leagues) at second, third, and short. He was a great prospect for a reason, and it's well worth taking a chance now. Dozier has just enough power and speed to be interesting, though he is buried in the Twins lineup. Kendrick is a pretty dependable batting average guy in a decent lineup.

It's worth noting that all eighteen of these players makes a pretty decent second baseman or middle infielder--all can start on good fantasy teams. The next tier will change that.

Tier 6: The Point at which You Wished You'd Gotten Your MI Already (After 17)

19. Omar Infante

20. Neil Walker

21. Alexander Guerrero

22. Anthony Rendon

23. Kelly Johnson

24. Kolten Wong

25. Emilio Bonifacio

26. Dan Uggla

27. Rickie Weeks

28. Nick Franklin

Infante and Walker are safe, unexciting picks. The former will help a little in average, the latter in homers. They make useful handcuffs for the riskier options above them. Guerrero doesn't seem to be looking super sharp in the Dodgers' camp, but keep watching him. If he does end up starting, bump him up a tier or two. Rendon ought to show more than he did last year with more stability. If Johnson gets most of the playing time for New York, he could be a good, late power source. He's a bit more valuable in daily leagues. Wong may or may not be ready, but any live hitter in the Cardinals' lineup ought to be okay in the counting stats. Bonifacio is supposedly coming off the Cubs' bench, but if they use him often enough, he might help in steals. Uggla is pretty bad, but can hit the ball a long way. Weeks may be done, but if the rest of March goes well for him and he wins back the starter's job (big if), he could be draftable. Franklin is on the outside looking in for Seattle, but if he gets traded or steals Brad Miller's shortstop job he gets interesting quickly.

Second base is very short on elite talent, but after the top guys are gone, there are a surprising amount of decent options. This is where to target your MI player, as usual. In shallow leagues, I wouldn't worry much at all about position scarcity here, as you have plenty of opportunities to take fliers on interesting players with question marks and handcuff them with safer moves. This is one year that I actually expect to be happy with my second baseman.



RotoAuthority Rankings 2014: Third Base

The RA Rankings roll on over to the hot corner today, an exceptionally top-heavy position. You'll see some true stars go in the first couple rounds, a strong but question-marked middle class, and difficult-to-roster back end. In deep leagues, get your CI elsewhere!

We started this series with the Outfield, continued to Catcher, and hit First Base on Tuesday. Next week, we'll finish the infield and move, finally, on to pitchers. Sorry DH's, no article for three names (spoiler: David Ortiz would be first).

These rankings are the product of the whole expert team at RotoAuthority. Tiers and round suggestions are meant to be relative--where you value third basemen in general will depend on your league settings and personal strategy.

Tier 1: Captain Obvious (First or Second Pick)

1. Miguel Cabrera

Duh.

Tier 2: The Stars (First or Second Round)

2. Adrian Beltre

2.5 Edwin Encarnacion

3. Evan Longoria

4. David Wright

The only question mark with Beltre is his age--otherwise he's a nearly-flawless four-category stud. If you have loose enough eligibility requirements (read: play in a Yahoo! league), Encarnacion can play third and belongs here. He's elite at either corner. Longoria and Wright have health concerns in the recent past, but play at an extremely high level. Give Longoria the edge because he spent all of last season healthy and Wright did not.

Tier 3: Question Marks Already? Yup. (Fifth to Seventh)

5. Ryan Zimmerman

6. Matt Carpenter

7. Pedro Alvarez

8. Josh Donaldson

Zimmerman didn't do much for most of the season, then broke out like crazy in September. Too bad, that's more consistency than anyone else in this tier can brag about. He has, perhaps, the lowest ceiling and highest floor of the group. Carpenter BABIP'd his way to greatness last year, but has the lineup and profile of someone who can continue to produce--but don't expect him to repeat last year's value. Alvarez probably will repeat, though: lots of homers, a horrible batting average, and roller coaster up and down weeks. Donaldson is a big-time regression candidate, but even the chance of a repeat is growing tantalizing here, given the talent that remains.

Tier 4: I Told You We Should Have Drafted Someone Already (Eighth to Tenth)

9. Pablo Sandoval

10. Manny Machado

11. Brett Lawrie

12. Kyle Seager

13. Aramis Ramirez

13.5 Jedd Gyorko

If Sandoval really is in shape in camp and playing well, he could be great value here, but he's just too inconsistent to rank higher. A lot of industry people are down on Machado--he might be one of those "so overrated he's underrated" types. Zig where others are zagging, because he could grow into his upside, even partially, and return a ton of value. It's make-or-break for Lawrie, but, like Machado, he could bust into another tier. Seager is steady and decent. Yes, it's boring, but it's a lot less risky than everyone else in this tier. Ramirez has faced recent injuries and is pretty old; many are assuming the Big Decline is coming. But he's kept hitting so far.... Gyorko is more interesting at second, but he can play third in Yahoo! style leagues.

Tier 5: It's Worth a Shot (Eleventh-Fifteenth)

14. Chris Johnson

15. Martin Prado

16. Chase Headley

17. Xander Bogaerts

18. Todd Frazier

18.5 Jurickson Profar

Johnson is a BABIP product, true...but his track record suggests that high BABIP's (albeit not quite as high as last year's) are something he can do. Expect him to be very overlooked on draft day, so if you're scared off by the risks in Tiers 3 and 4, wait for him. If you want dependability, Prado is the guy for you. He may go earlier, thanks to 2B eligibility, and if your league makes position flexibility extra useful, go ahead and bump him up a tier. Headley still has a lot to prove, but the very fact that his 2012 happened means he's got to be fantasy relevant. Bogaerts is well worth the flyer (especially if he can play SS in your league), but he's as unpredictable as any other prospect. Frazier was one of my favorite targets going into last year, but a lousy BABIP and disappointing power took some of the shine off. A BABIP rebound could make him a useful player if expectations stay in check. It seems too early to give up on Profar as an impact player.

Tier 6: How Do We Not Have a Third Baseman Already? (after the Fifteenth)

19. Will Middlebrooks

20. Matt Dominguez

21. Mike Moustakas

22. Nolan Arenado

23. Anthony Rendon

24. David Freese

25. Mark Reynolds

26. Matt Davidson

Middlebrooks was pretty horrid last year, and the Red Sox aren't exactly excited to keep him in the lineup. Never a good sign when a young player's team is already disenchanted. Dominguez has some power. I guess. Moustakas showed life for a brief moment last year. Maybe it'll just take a little longer for George Brett's teachings to take hold? Arenado plays for Colorado. That's enough for me. Rendon was a prospecty type before. Freese is a warm body in a good lineup, which could be good for some runs and RBI. Reynolds has a lot of power, but nothing else at this point. Milwaukee could be good for him. Davidson may win the 3B job with the White Sox and ZiPS projects him for 21 homers. Worth a shot, I suppose....

My strategy has been to target a player from the top tiers as often as possible. Especially in auctions, where I have more control over who ends up on my team, I've found them worth the extra dollars. What I really don't want is to spend high picks or dollars on Tier 3 question marks. I'd rather hope that a Tier 4 player drops far enough to be valuable, or just wait on a Tier 5 guy. Don't mess with Tier 6 if you can help it.

In an odd sense, third base actually might be more scarce in shallow leagues, relative to other positions. If you need a MI, then 2B and SS get a lot more scarce, but the CI position just means you roster another 1B. Without those positions, the bar gets set higher...high enough that a lot of third sackers can't meet it. 



RotoAuthority Rankings 2014: First Base

There is depth at first, especially in power, but that doesn't mean you can afford to wait for the position: you'll be needing that depth. First base is where you turn for your cornerstone player, for your CI slot, and for Utility and bench depth. That is to say: a good fantasy team has more than one first baseman. Kind of like the Mariners, but you really don't have to care about defense.

Last Saturday, we ranked the catchers, and a week ago we did the outfield. Check out those rankings alongside first base, because there's a lot of overlap between first basemen and those two positions. So when catchers or outfielders show up in these rankings, remember that this is where they rank if you're drafting them for first base.

Rounds are given with tiers more to help you separate the values of players than tell you which round to target the player. In any given draft, values will show up at different times, and the whole league may be up or down on a position. Whether or not you should stick to your rankings or go with the flow depends on the situation, your strategy, and the effects your particular league settings have on position scarcity and the value of pitchers.

Tier 1: First Rounders

1. Paul Goldschmidt

2. Chris Davis

3. Edwin Encarnacion

4. Joey Votto

 Goldschmidt isn't really in this tier, he's in Zero-Tier by himself as the third overall pick. Davis offers more power than anyone else in the draft, and you can argue his upside as worth a top-five selection...or focus on his regression risk and argue for him in the second. Votto is nearly for batting average what Davis is for homers, and he's an extremely safe early pick. Encarnacion takes a sort of middle ground by offering overall production and a risk level between that of Davis and Votto. In Yahoo! leagues, he's 3B eligible, which is very awesome.

 Tier 2: Just Below Elite (2nd-3rd Rounds)

 5. Prince Fielder

6. Freddie Freeman

Park factors won't save Fielder from regression, but they might wash it out a little. He's distinctly less valuable than the four guys ahead of him, but still a solid lineup anchor. Freeman may not post such a high average next year, but he's young enough to expect some skill improvement and carries significantly fewer red flags than the next set of guys.

 Tier 3: The Safety's Off (4th-5th Rounds)

 7. Mark Trumbo

8. Albert Pujols

9. Eric Hosmer

10. Adrian Gonzalez

10.5 David Ortiz

Trumbo could be a three-category monster in Arizona with all that power. Watch Pujols carefully in Spring Training, especially anything to do with playing the field, running, or his feet. Warning signs should bury him on your lists, but successful play could bump him into Tier 2. Picking Hosmer here is betting that he'll compound his improvements from last year. Gonzalez is like the lite version of Votto: good average, low risk, so the opposite of his tier-mates. If David Ortiz is 1B-eligible in your format (read: Yahoo! leagues), he's worth taking with this tier.

 Tier 4: Risk and Reward (6th-7th Rounds)

 10.6 Buster Posey

11. Jose Abreu

12. Allen Craig

If your league hates catchers, here's where you should take Posey to play first. What will Abreu do? I have no idea--but the power potential makes it very intriguing to find out. He's even more interesting to me if you've already taken one first baseman. Craig is a bit overrated (maybe playing for the Cards will do that these days), has a lengthy injury history and rocked a massive BABIP last year. He'll produce, but don't reach for him. 

Tier 5: All About Upside (8th-9th Rounds)

13. Brandon Belt

13.5 Joe Mauer

14. Anthony Rizzo

14.5 Carlos Santana

15. Mike Napoli

16. Matt Adams

16.5 Billy Butler

16.6 Michael Cuddyer

Belt took significant steps forward last season, and could put together the last piece of the puzzle: homers. Even if he doesn't, he should offer fine production in a surprisingly good Giants lineup. Rizzo disappointed last year. If you think his struggles were mostly due to his low BABIP, bump him up a tier. If you think maybe that low BABIP was due to a skill he hasn't developed yet, drop him down a tier. If you aren't sure, this is a decent place to take a chance on his upside. Napoli isn't the healthiest guy in the world and needs a stratospheric BABIP to post an okay average...but he should provide plenty of homers and RBI.

By rounds, this is a pretty aggressive Adams ranking, so wait on him if you think you can get away with it. He was a partial-season monster, though, and St. Louis seems intent on giving him the job (but watch their spring carefully just in case). Mauer and Santana's skills probably translate to this tier in first base--definitely take them after Posey is gone.

If Butler has 1B eligibility, he belongs in this tier, as does Cuddyer. Both are a big step ahead of Tier 6.

Tier 6: Hey, Nobody's Perfect (10th-15th Rounds)

17. Brandon Moss

18. Nick Swisher

19. Adam Lind

20. Adam LaRoche

21. Chris Carter

22. Kendrys Morales

22.5 Jonathan Lucroy

Moss and Lind are platooners, but their power rocks in daily leagues. Frankly, it's even good enough to cover for their off days in deep weekly leagues. Swisher and LaRoche used to be unexciting, dependable options until they disappointed last year. They both hit in quality lineups, however, and a little bit of bounceback could provide fine fantasy value. Carter can hit a ton of homers, but his batting average black hole will suck away a lot of their value. He can be particularly useful on teams that punt the category, use OBP, or can afford to balance him out with high-average players. Morales's value will depend a lot on where and if he gets a job. I can honestly see him opening the season unemployed, so I won't be taking him until he signs somewhere.

Tier 7: First Base Isn't as Deep as You Thought (15th-20th Rounds)

23. Justin Morneau

24. Adam Dunn

25. Yan Gomes

26. Corey Hart

26.5 Michael Morse

27. Todd Frazier

27.5 Victor Martinez

27.6 Chris Johnson

28. Yonder Alonso

29. James Loney

29.5 Daniel Murphy

29.6 Daniel Nava

Morneau has upside since he'll play in Coors Field. Dunn ought to still have some of that old power--but man, is the average bad. Gomes is an interesting sleeper...for a catcher, so you can see how rough things have gotten. Hart is one to watch in Spring Training. It was only two years ago that he was putting 30 homers out of the park. Morse could be interesting as well. If either is truly healthy, they might be worth bumping up a tier. Frazier could conceivably bounce back from a low-BABIP year. Martinez, Johnson Alonso, Loney, and Nava shouldn't hurt you in average, which is more than you can say for the players below this level.

Tier 8: No (After Round 20)

30. Mark Teixeira

31. Ryan Howard

32. Ike Davis

33. Mark Reynolds

34. Mitch Moreland

35. Justin Smoak

36. Paul Konerko

37. Garrett Jones

Teixeira and Howard may have a little power left--or they may not. Will Davis be able to hold up a decent batting average? Or even a bad one? If Reynolds has the power to be a usable bench option. Moreland could help with runs and RBI in that Texas lineup. Smoak may have one last chance to fulfill some promise. Konerko probably won't get too much playing time, with Abreu and Dunn looking much better. Oh, Garrett Jones. Oh, the Marlins.

If you're filling in your DH or Util slot, or if you're playing a Yahoo! league, the ranks of Tiers 7 and 8 swell with catchers, outfielders and DH's with a few games played at first. Don't forget about them, as many produce more than the real first basemen on the list.

The moral of first base: don't wait! Yes it's deep, but you need lots of them on your team. I love building my offense with a first-rounder and then locking up my CI or Util slot a few rounds later with two heavy hitters, but there are intriguing options all the way down to Tier 6. At a minimum, try to get two players above Tier 7--I really don't suggest trying to rely on anyone below that. As for Tier 8 guys, try your best to stay away. Far away.



RotoAuthority Rankings 2014: Outfield

Welcome to the first of RotoAuthority's position-by-position fantasy rankings. With input from Tim Dierkes and the whole team of RA experts, we'll rank and tier each position. Today, we kick it off with the Outfield. Why Outfield? Because why not? Because everyone starts with Catchers and that gets old. Because Outfield is a big position to digest and you might as well start early. Take your pick. Or better yet, check out the rankings and tell us in the comments where you agree, disagree, or were surprised.

Largely, each tier consists of guys you could make a case for drafting in any order or spending more or less the same dollar amount on. That's not to say that ranks within the tiers don't matter, just that the difference between Carlos Gomez (Tier 2, Rank 11) and Jacoby Ellsbury (Tier 2, Rank 6) is bigger than the difference between Gomez and Shin-Soo Choo (Tier 3, Rank 12). Order matters, but tier matters more.

Tier 1: First Rounders

1

Mike Trout

2

Andrew McCutchen

3

Carlos Gonzalez

4

Adam Jones

5

Ryan Braun

These guys make legit first round or very-early second round picks. One exception to the tier rule: don't take anyone else over Trout. Otherwise, the choice is yours.

Tier 2: Second-Third Rounds

6

Jacoby Ellsbury

7

Bryce Harper

8

Giancarlo Stanton

9

Jay Bruce

10

Mark Trumbo

11

Carlos Gomez

Strategy interrupts the purity of our endeavor: take Ellsbury for steals, Stanton, Bruce, or Trumbo for raw power, Harper or Gomez for that sweet power/speed combination. If you're very lucky, you can get one of these guys in the third.

 Tier 3: Third-Fourth Rounds

12

Shin-Soo Choo

13

Alex Rios

14

Justin Upton

15

Jose Bautista

16

Matt Holliday

17

Carlos Beltran

18

Yasiel Puig

19

Hunter Pence

Again with the strategy. Do you want steady players like Holliday and Rios or risks of age, injury, youth, and whatnot? Risky or not, this is the last tier from which you can get a true OF cornerstone--my personal recommendation is to make sure to get at least one of these top 19 players, especially in 5-OF leagues. Better yet, be one of the teams with two.

Tier 4: Not Quite Stars

20

Wil Myers

21

Jason Heyward

22

Alex Gordon

23

Starling Marte

24

Yoenis Cespedes

25

Jayson Werth

26

Coco Crisp

27

Josh Hamilton

Myers and Heyward might become stars. What will Coco do for his next magic trick after transforming from a 5/40 player to a 20/20 guy? The only "sure thing" in this section is Gordon, but risk and upside aren't bad from your (hopefully) number three OF.

Tier 5: Taking the Good with the Bad

28

Curtis Granderson

29

Michael Cuddyer

30

Austin Jackson

31

Matt Kemp

32

Shane Victorino

33

Nelson Cruz

34

Desmond Jennings

35

Leonys Martin

36

Colby Rasmus

Everyone left has some seriously good reasons not to draft them.  But you have to.

We're seeing a bit more category differentiation here: Jackson for Runs, Martin for Steals, Cruz for Homers...hope he doesn't really end up in Seattle. Victorino is a nice source of balance, and check out just how good Rasmus was until he got hurt. What to do with Kemp? This is a kind of wait and see placeholder, because his value is so dependent on his health status. What he does in the Spring could rocket him up the list...or plummet him down.

Tier 6: Better than They Look, at Least

37

Alfonso Soriano

38

Torii Hunter

39

Domonic Brown

40

Norichika Aoki

41

Alejandro DeAza

42

Christian Yelich

43

Nick Swisher

Any of these guys makes a pretty solid number-four OF. I'm not super-thrilled by any of them as my third guy, though. Brown has the most upside, but plenty or reason to tread carefully. Probably a couple of these guys will be nice values...and one or two big disappointments. If I could tell you which, I'd never lose in fantasy. Also, if your OF is done at this point, props to you. Hopefully your infield can handle it, though....

Tier 7: Well You Can't Just Leave the Slot Empty

44

George Springer

45

B.J. Upton

46

Billy Hamilton

47

Josh Reddick

48

Ryan Ludwick

49

Michael Bourn

50

Martin Prado

51

Brett Gardner

52

Khris Davis

53

Carl Crawford

54

Nick Markakis

55

Kole Calhoun

56

Rajai Davis

57

Will Venable

58

Angel Pagan

59

Dexter Fowler

60

Carlos Quentin

Our last tier is a big one--pretty much the whole complement of fifth OF's. The title is a bit unfair--there are potentially interesting pieces here, whether single-category stars, prospects, or high-risk guys.

Yes, Billy Hamilton is this low because who knows how well he'll hit or if he'll even start. Or stick in the Majors. Our Least Favorite Upton still deserves a flyer, as do AL West prospects Springer and Calhoun. Draft Springer even if he doesn't win the job outright with Houston--his "competition" won't keep him out of the Bigs for long.

If you want some steady, safe production here, think about Prado, Markakis, Venable, Pagan, or Fowler. (Though Prado will already be gone to someone's infield.)

If you want to take on a health risk, Quentin or Crawford could return a ton of value or spend the rest of their lives on and off the DL.

Maybe Bourn's power will come back (I'm not betting on it, but fifth OF isn't exactly high stakes). Gardner is more likely to steal (but with a lower overall ceiling), and Rajai Davis seems to get 40 steals a season with or without a starting job. That has value, especially if you take a decent platoon partner for him.

For power upside, Reddick, Ludwick, and Khris Davis are your guys. Khris was huge down the stretch, and Reddick and Ludwick were impact players just a year ago, so there could be something there. Or not. This is your fifth OF slot after all....

If I Only Had a Job: These guys would be on the official list if only they were projected to start at the beginning of the season. Watch them carefully in Spring Training, and watch their competition too. They stand a good chance of breaking into a starting role at some point in 2014, so consider using a draft and stash for one of these guys even if they don't take over a job before Opening Day

Oscar Taveras (upside, Tier 6), Emilio Bonifacio (speed, Tier 7), Nate McLouth (speed, Tier 7)

Bench Strategy

When considering your bench outfielders (who often end up playing DH/Util for you), consider guys who can help you in power or steals, young players (or old ones) that you can't count on but might just play like starters, real-life platoon players that you too can platoon, and those boring sorts of guys whose chief virtue is that they typically play better than average waiver bait.

Power: Josh Willingham, Nate Schierholtz, Michael Morse, Dayan Viciedo, Kyle Blanks, Justin Ruggiano

Speed: Adam Eaton, Ben Revere, Eric Young, Jr., Denard Span, Ichiro Suzuki, Aaron Hicks, Jarrod Dyson, Drew Stubbs, Juan Pierre

Upside: Marcell Ozuna, Marlon Byrd, Oswaldo Arcia, Nick Castellanos, Melky Cabrera, Chris Young, Robbie Grossman, Charlie Blackmon, Lorenzo Cain, Jackie Bradley, Avisail Garcia, Gregory Polanco, Jose Tabata, Junior Lake, Darin Ruf, Logan Morrison, Corey Hart, Michael Saunders

Platoon Usefulness: Daniel Nava, Raul Ibanez, Matt Joyce, Jonny Gomes, Chris Denorfia, Jeff Baker, David DeJesus, David Murphy

 Check us out again next week, as we continue our rankings by diving into the infield.

Reliably OK: Michael Brantley, Andre Ethier, Gerardo Parra, Peter Bourjos, Dustin Ackley, Cody Ross

 





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