RotoAuthority Retrospective

RotoAuthority Retrospective: Position Rankings -- Pitchers

Well, we've come to the end of RA's coverage of the 2013 season and we're wrapping up by looking back at our original position rankings. You can check out the hitters here, or you can just scroll down a little. Today, we examine our pitcher rankings. To save space and force myself to be original, I'm not including the original rankings in this post, but check them out: starters took two posts, but the relievers are more brief. I do recommend clicking those links--it'll be a long, long time of scrolling before you find articles we posted in March....

Just as for hitters, we'll check out our predictions and see how we did when we were different from the fantasy community at large (measured by proxy with Yahoo! rankings). So, the fact that Jason Motte was out for the season but ranked high on our list ain't counting against us. Neither is Jonathan Papelbon's disappointingly mortal season. Don't worry, though, there were plenty of other hits and misses worth actually noting.



Compared to the press some other guys got, I'm pretty pleased with tabbing Mariano Rivera and Joe Nathan for our 4th and 5th overall slots. Nobody that had those pitchers was disappointed, except keeper leaguers having to say their goodbye to Mo. The thing that made this ranking good wasn't where we placed these pitchers--that was pretty close to standard--but the tier break we placed before them and disappointments Rafael Soriano, Fernando Rodney, and J.J. Putz. (More on those guys below, unfortunately.)

Our 10th-12th ranked guys were by far our best predictions: Jason Grilli, Sergio Romo, and Greg Holland. All three were huge hits...though, to be fair, almost everyone else knew about Romo and Holland too. Grilli is the gem, and if I hadn't told my dad to read the article it might have been me who owned him and won our league...that's why you don't grow up to be fantasy experts, kids. Below these guys but in the same tier, we had Glen Perkins, who was another underrated hit.

We were lower than most on Joel Hanrahan, and higher than most on Bobby Parnell--both rankings I feel good about. 

At the very end of our list of Quality Non-Closers we remembered Koji Uehara. I'll claim that as a sort of moral victory.


Biggest, most glaring miss: accidentally leaving Craig Kimbrel unranked. Just kidding. We nailed that one like everyone else in the baseball-watching world. No, our big miss was ranking John Axford 8th! Ouch. There was reasoning behind that, but whatever it was it doesn't justify missing by that far. Let that be a lesson in reading multiple sources, I suppose.

Actually, everyone we ranked from 6th-9th was a miss: J.J. Putz, Rafael Soriano, Axford, and Fernando Rodney. Our saving grace was that we were lower on them than others...but still. At least two of those guys kept their jobs all year.

Right, smack, in the middle of our very best picks we had Tom Wilhelmsen and Rafael Betancourt ranked 13th and 14th. Wilhelmsen ran out of the same magic bartending dust that Axford did and Betancourt just fell apart. Literally. (Well, almost literally.)

Addison Reed was so good to start that 17th was low for him...but he kinda made up for it down the stretch.

Jim Johnson, Grant Balfour, Chris Perez, and Steve Cishek were all guys we thought shaky, but they all got the saves. 



Max Scherzer at number 13 was a pretty nice hit. You know you didn't regret using a 4th or 5th round pick to make sure he was on your team.

We were low on Matt Cain (not, you know, low enough), and if that kept you from nabbing him you breathed easy.

High rankings (33rd and 34th) for Homer Bailey and A.J. Burnett gave us some pretty nice hits.

We tabbed Hisashi Iwakuma for our 55th pitcher, and he more than earned that slot.

We ranked Jon Lester rather lower than average, and you probably didn't mind missing out on him as his ERA climbed after his hot start.

Putting Patrick Corbin 78th on the list meant he was actually on our board...not on a lot of others, I don't think.


We certainly paid for being higher than most on CC Sabathia and R.A. Dickey. I guess we've learned our lesson on guys with initials that don't pitch for Pittsburgh.

Between the strikeouts and our expectation that he take another step forward, we were more bullish on Yovani Gallardo (18th) than most. I, at least, paid for his hundred steps back into terrible-dom on multiple fantasy teams. We were willing to take the plunge on Roy Halladay (23rd) and Ian Kennedy (25th), which worked out horribly for anyone who jumped with us.

At 31st and 32nd, Josh Johnson and Jon Niese ruined some fantasy plans, while Marco Estrada (37th) wasn't any more helpful.

More aggression on young guns Matt Harvey (54th) and Shelby Miller (Prospects section) was warranted in retrospect, while our excitement for veterans Ryan Dempster, Phil Hughes, and Edwin Jackson was, ah, misplaced.

There were plenty of other hits and misses throughout our rankings but, unsurprisingly, most of those were us rising and falling with the fantasy community, which seems appropriate. A good rule of thumb in prediction is to have a very, very good reason when you disagree with everyone else in the world.

RotoAuthority is going dark now, to let you focus on the playoffs, or football, or fantasy cricket, or whatever it is you do to amuse yourself from October to March. Don't worry, though, RA will be back next January to give you an early leg up on your competition. See you next year.

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.



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.


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.



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).


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


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.


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


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

Misses 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


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....


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.



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.


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.


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. 

RotoAuthority Retrospective: How Bold Did You Go?

Before the season started, RA ran a column called Go Bold or Go Home, in which our team threw out our boldest 2013 projections. As with any set of bold predictions, made against the wider swath of fantasy common sense, we met with mixed success. Let's see how we did.

79 Reasons to Snag Trout 1st Overall

Well, I really gave only three reasons, crystallized thusly:

1) Mike Trout is the best OF in baseball, so if you want an OF, take him.

2) It is possible that he could improve in meaningful ways, thanks to his youth.

3) Miguel Cabrera, coming off a career season, is likely to regress to the point where he isn't obviously the best hitter in baseball.

So...I pretty much struck out on three pitches. Each reason ended up getting invalidated: Chris Davis leapfrogged, like, a hundred guys to become the best OF in baseball, Trout regressed a tad (mostly in steals), and Miggy...well, at 30 years old and coming off a Triple Crown, has actually improved. Actually, (and his owners already know this), 2013 is Cabrera's best offensive season, by a huge margin. Didn't see that coming.

There is some good news, however slight: aside from the insurgent Davis, Trout was certainly the best OF, and a lot better than the only other guy considered for a top-3 pick: Ryan Braun.

If this article brought you Trout instead of Miggy (as it did me in a league in which I'm still wrestling for a third-place finish)...sorry about that. But if it brought you Trout instead of Braun...well, you're welcome.

Stephen Strasburg is the New Pedro Martinez

Too bad I didn't write this article about Yu Darvish or Max Scherzer. And too bad Clayton Kershaw picked just now to really distance himself from the elite pitching crowd. This one, in which I advised Stephen Strasburg as a first-rounder really didn't work out, but it was better than it spent much of the season looking. 

What went wrong?

Strikeout rate. If everything else that went wrong did (the Nationals regressing, Stephen Strasburg getting so few decisions, his ERA floating above the 3.00 mark), I'd still defend this call if Strasburg's strikeout rate hadn't plunged from 11.13 to 9.56. That difference, by the way, is worth another 30 strikeouts and could easily mean several points in the category in a roto-style league...or none.

So Strasburg's strikeout rate went from setting him apart among the elite to normal-for-elite-pitchers. Meanwhile, the only two pitchers who could best him in K/9 improved the rest of their game to elite status and set themselves apart: it's no wonder that Max Scherzer and Yu Darvish garnered all of RA's Cy Young votes.

Very thin silver lining: at least he was better than Justin Verlander....

Don't Draft Josh Hamilton

Total winner, from Mark Polishuk. You know what Josh Hamilton's done this year; you know when he was drafted in your league. And you know when you could have gotten other hitters with .240-ish averages and 20-ish homers: the waiver wire. Following this advice didn't win you your league, but ignoring it probably made that very, very difficult.

Not much else to say; I guess success speaks for itself.

Draft Marco Estrada--Or Else

This one failed for two reasons that were pretty predictable in retrospect: homers and injury. Marco Estrada gave up a ton of homers in the early part of the season, then hit the DL for a long time. Uh...hope he didn't cost you too high of a draft pick, though many of the pitchers getting drafted ahead of him might have been even worse busts.

For many drafters, he was worth negative value, dropped, and snapped up by someone else when he came off the DL. Pretty much the worst-case scenario. If, however, you stuck with him through his DL stint, his second half has been as good as the beginning was bad: good luck, good HR/9 rate, great production. He hurt plenty of teams in the early going, but he's powered just as many through the playoffs since coming back from the injury. Still, this one was a big miss from the predict-o-tron.

Go Old in the Outfield

Finally, predictions from this author that worked out pretty well! I suggested players like Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, and Alfonso Soriano over younger players with more projectiblity and less track record. (Of course, I also advised Ichiro Suzuki and Cody Ross, but hey, I'll take a half-winner when I can get it.) The principle here remains a good one, I think: older players don't get many owners excited and don't carry any more inherent risk than the young. 

Draft Adam Dunn over Paul Konerko

Another bold call from Mark, another spot-on suggestion. Unfortunately, that has more to do with just how bad Paul Konerko was this season, but that's a situation you seriously didn't want to get stuck in. Adam Dunn, meanwhile, killed your average like he always does, but still brought back 33 homers and 84 RBIs with a couple games left to play, making him a pretty useful CI or OF--still not exactly someone to count on at first, but that's not what this prediction said to do anyway.

Max Scherzer is a Top-10 Starter

Um...yup. The only way Steve Adams could have improved this prediction was to change the title to Max Scherzer is a Top-2 Starter, or Max Scherzer will win the Cy Young, or Max Scherzer: Better than Justin Verlander. But I'm really just belaboring the point of how awesome Scherzer was this season. I hope you followed this advice, because I'm guessing that Scherzer's production and draft position has put him on a lot of first-place fantasy teams this year.

Aaron Hill is the 2B for You

Well, yeah. Hill smacked the ball pretty hard for a short time, then went on the DL. Not exactly superstar production for a guy that ended up on most of my fantasy teams. And my wife's. While owners aren't thrilled with the production they've gotten from Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, and Ben Zobrist, at least those guys have been in the lineup all year, more or less. 

Since returning from his injury, Hill has been pretty good, but certainly not good enough to make up for all the time spend on the DL.

Ben Zobrist is a Top-30 Fantasy Pick

Yeah, this one was a pretty big blow, as our staff average definitely liked him more than most. (Unsurprisingly, he went pretty high in the MLBTR internal league.) I've written about his decline more than once this year, and, for me, even his amazing 2B/SS/OF flexibility isn't worth his lowered power output. There's a really big difference between going 11/11 and 20/20. He was certainly worth owning, but you had to spend such a high pick to get him...well, they can't all be winners, I guess.  

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