Thursday, March 12, 2009


Check out – Your First Class to First Place.

All new blog entries will now be featured on

You can also find player rankings, polls, quizzes, flash games, strategy articles, a trade mediator, and a team evaluator!


Thursday, January 22, 2009

H2H Corner - Third Basemen Rankings

By: Albert Lang

Holy Banana Republic! Third base is a deliciously deep fantasy position. If Garrett Atkins doesn’t get traded, and Chipper stays healthy (a slightly bigger if), you can pretty much rely on the top eight third basemen next year.

The debate surrounding third baseman is similar to that surrounding shortstops: who goes first and does he warrant being the first overall selection? For me, the answer to both those questions is David Wright. I have him two spots higher than Hanley Ramirez (my number one shortstop) and four spots higher than Alex Rodriguez.

Here is why. Not really, but it is fun to mess with A-Rod electronically. With A-Rod, you know what you get: 100+ runs, 35+ hrs, 100+ RBIs and a .300 average. Something else to keep in mind with A-Rod: there is an odd trend surrounding his homeruns, oddly enough, in odd years. In 2003, he hit 47 HRs; in 2005 the number was 48; and in 2007 he went deep 54 times. Contrast that to his production in even years: in 2004 he hit 36 and in 2006 & 2008, 35. If this trend continues, he is in line to hit more than 45 dingers in 2009. I’m guessing this is just a funky anomaly…but what if it’s not? In addition to A-Rod’s impressive power numbers, he also knows how to run. He hasn’t stolen less than 15 bases since 2002 (and has failed to reach this number only once in a full year during his career). So, A-Rod is amazing. I know it, you know it, Madonna knows it. His contemporary from Queens, however, is much more amazinger (go with me, I’m on a roll).

David Wright is similar to A-Rod in most offensive categories. Wright should get you 100+ runs, 30+ HRs and a batting average around .310. You can also count on his legs for 15+ stolen bases. Wright separates himself from A-Rod in two respects: age and doubles. Wright has averaged more than 41 doubles every full season in the majors. A-Rod, comparatively, has averaged just over 29. The doubles signal that Wright has room to grow in the power numbers, which will only help his counting stats. Quite simply, David Wright should improve while A-Rod has likely plateaued (though a hall of fame worthy plateau). In addition, Wright’s age makes him a less, albeit somewhat negligible, risk of injury and decline. Here, we are talking about four spots at the top of the draft; I think you can take David Wright first and not look back. He will be impressive, he will be healthy and his numbers should improve. You can’t say the exact same things about A-Rod.

Now I feel dirty talking about New York so much. On to the guys the Big Apple spotlight doesn’t shine so brightly on…yet.

After Kevin Youkilis, who is nasty, there is an interesting debate between the six – eight ranked players (Evan Longoria, Chipper Jones and Garrett Atkins). Evan Longoria is my sixth third baseman because of his numbers last year (.272 with 25 home runs in 122 games). If he stays healthy and continues to play to his potential a 30 home run campaign is not out of the question. The only slight concern with Longoria is the potential for a sophomore slump, but I’m still taking him in the 5th round and not looking back.

Meanwhile people tend to dismiss Chipper Jones. In his last five seasons, he has averaged about 123 games played, though he has eclipsed that number in each of the last two seasons. Aside from a bizarre 2004 campaign and his rookie season in 1995, Chipper hasn’t hit lower than .295 in his career. And, by the way, he should hit over 20 home runs, probably in the 25-28 window, drive in runs and score. Sure he might miss some games, but that is where his value comes into play. If you can get him in the 7th round and pair him with a sleeper back-up, you’ll have a first round quality third basemen in their cumulative statistics.

Garrett Atkins getting traded scares the DeJesus out of me. While suiting up for the Rocks full time, he hasn’t hit less than .286. Like Chipper you can count on 20+ homeruns (although it might take Atkins more games to do that in), he’ll score 80+ and drive in 100+.

Still, if I don’t get one of the top guys, I’m going with Longoria and banking on his upside. I’d rather use a fifth rounder on him, than grab someone like Carlos Delgado or Pena and wait to grab a Garrett Atkins. Chipper makes an interesting play, but you have to make sure you have a comparable back-up that can pick up the batting average slack. Because, lets be serious, who thinks Chipper is going to hit .364 again?

This is what I wrote about Troy Glaus before this happened: If none of the afore mentioned intrigue you, might I interest you in a third basemen who hasn’t hit less than 20 home runs in the last four years? Would you be surprised to learn this third baseman hit .270 with 27 HRs and 99 RBIs last year? And that you can get him fairly late in your draft? Ladies and gentleman (ok, just gentleman), I give you Troy Glaus. If you pick runs/stolen bases early in the draft (maybe Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins or Grady Sizemore), you could do worse than grabbing Glaus later on. When completely healthy, he has a real chance of hitting 35+ homeruns. Even when slightly healthy he should still get you 25+. He is only 32 and should be an 10th round draft pick – definite value and reliability you can pair with a riskier starting third basemen option. It’s cute right? Well back to reality.

Glaus immediately becomes a late round draft pick – someone you might be happy to store away on the DL in hopes that he comes back and can provide some pop in your lineup later in the year. Obviously this depends on your ability to stash people in DL slots. It almost makes sense to avoid him on draft day because it is more than likely he will eventually find his way to the waiver wire. Still, if you can stash him on the DL until May or so, he has value– it doesn’t hurt to have 15 home runs coming out of nowhere.

A young, potential Glaus clone is Chris Davis. Davis played in only 80 games last year, yet he hit 17 home runs and drove in 55 RBIs. He also batted .285 and scored 51 runs. The only concern is the kind of playing time he will get. If he starts, he could hit 30 homeruns and would find it almost impossible to score less than 80 runs and knock in around 100. Hitting in the Rangers lineup, in the launching pad of Arlington, means Chris Davis could become the preeminent sleeper third baseman. If you miss out on the top eight (or grab one of the riskier eight), make sure you have an idea where Davis might go, and then be sure you pick him a round ahead of that. He has a phenomenal chance to close the production gap.

Complete Third Basemen Ranks (* denotes projected starter):
David Wright*
Alex Rodriguez* (oh so pretty)
Miguel Cabrera* (positional flexibility)
Aramis Ramirez*
Kevin Youkilis*
Evan Longoria* (sophomore slump?)
Chipper Jones* (injury always a worry)
Garrett Atkins* (trade a concern)
Adrian Beltre* (Batting average should increase, which should help counting stats)
Jorge Cantu* (the numbers don’t lie…do they?)
Mark Reynolds* (so many strike outs)
Mark DeRosa* (positional flexibility, switch to AL)
Aubrey Huff* (great numbers last year)
Melvin Mora* (was RBI total a little fluky?)
Chone Figgins* (steals big source of value, better as a second bagger)
Chris Davis* (I like him)
Casey Blake* (good beard growing capabilities)
Kevin Kouzmanoff*
Edwin Encarnacion*
Alex Gordon* (at some point he might live up to the hype)
Mike Lowell* (age a concern)
Ryan Zimmerman* (bounced back to hit well last year…poor line-up, poor team)
Troy Glaus (injury zaps big bops)
Akinori Iwamura*
Ty Wigginton
Marco Scutaro
Mark Teehan
Freddy Sanchez* (never a huge fan of players that only get you batting average)
Felipe Lopez
Scott Rolen
Jeff Baker
Joe Crede
Pedro Feliz (he likes to hit homeruns…he likes to strike out)
Blake DeWitt
Ian Stewart
Rich Aurilia
Macier Izturis
Hank Blalock
Nick Punto
Aaron Miles
Ramon Vazquez
Greg Dobbs
Jeff Keppinger
Chase Headley (maybe low, but that line-up and ballpark don’t play nice for sophomore campaigns)
Omar Infante

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

H2H Shortstop Rankings

h2h Corner

Shortstop Rankings

By: Albert Lang

I love Cal Ripken (platonically, of course, unless he said something…). He was a steady, predictable, trusted shortstop (and later third baseman). Though his numbers might never have been completely dominating (with the exception of his MVP year of 1991), his fantasy owners were always happy to have him.

The evolution from Cal to Hanley Ramirez/Jose Reyes/Jimmy Rollins began in the mid-to-late 1990s with players like Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra, Miguel Tejada, and (to an overrated degree) Derek Jeter. As scoring exploded in this era, teams with offensive-minded shortstops setting the table and driving in runs appeared to be more successful.

Over were the days of great defense being king – or even valued (witness how difficult it is to ascertain Adam Everett’s true value). This new age has ushered in a new bread of fantasy superstars: the well-diversified offensive shortstop (be it via the stolen base, high batting average, runs scores, or, yes, homes runs/RBIs). Having this type of SS on your squad has become essential to the success of a fantasy squad.

The top three fantasy shortstops are pretty easy to predict (barring significant injury): Hanley Ramirez (#3 overall), Jose Reyes (4) and Jimmy Rollins (16). Given their numbers, you can make a case for taking either Hanley Ramirez or Jose Reyes with the top pick overall. Personally, I like Hanley Ramirez a bit more (and this really is splitting hairs) because his HR production has steadily improved from 17 to 29 to 33, while his batting average has stayed consistently around .300. My only concern is if his stolen base production continues to decline. In his first two full seasons, Ramirez swiped 51 bags, while last year he stole only 35. So long as he maintains that production, he will be the best fantasy shortstop for a long time (provided the Marlins hold off moving him to CF).

Jose Reyes doesn’t provide the pop that Hanley does, but he more than makes up for it with his legs and knowing how to use them. He has averaged 113 runs in each full season with at least 56 stolen bases each year. His batting average is a bit more suspect than Hanley’s, though it has hovered between .280 - .300 for the last three seasons. I don’t really like the Mets, but I love Jose Reyes. If they have any interest in Cesar Izturis, I’m sure the Orioles would be happy to make a deal (provided Izturis isn’t an Angelos favorite yet).

Outside the big 3, if you’re looking for a dependable player with decent upside, might I suggest Jhonny Peralta (66)? For someone I thought would have a comparable 2008 season to Khalil Greene, he put up very un-Greene-like numbers. Aside from 2006 (.257 and 13 HRs), Peralta hasn’t hit lower than .270 or less than 21 HRs in a full season. He should also get you 70+ RBIs (potentially more depending on where he hits in what could be a productive lineup) and 85+ runs (his career low is 82). Over the last four years, Peralta has quietly become a fairly consistent SS (and he could add 3b eligibility and flexibility to your line-up this year). While he might not possess the upside of a Rafael Furcal (75), he is nonetheless a good – and likely under the radar – option.

Speaking of upside, if you’re looking for a later-round shortstop with the potential for solid returns, think long and hard about Rafael Furcal (75) and Stephen Drew (93), particularly if they fall where they should (the seventh and ninth rounds, respectively). Both could experience better seasons this year than last. Furcal has the well-earned health specter hanging over his head: he has failed to play 140 games in four of his nine complete seasons. However, when he plays, he puts up delicious numbers. A healthy Furcal is good for 100-130 runs, 10-15 HRs, and 25+ SBs. He hasn’t posted an average worse than .275 and should be right around.280.

As for Stephen Drew, he posted a remarkable sophomore campaign. His batting average jumped from .238 to .291 (his 2008 numbers were actually more in line with his 209 at bats in 2006). He also scored 91 runs and hit 21 HRs. If he continues improving his batting average and adds a little pop – he might hit 27-30 HRs and be a good source of RBIs – he would be an excellent mid-round selection.

I wonder if I am a little low on Troy Tulowitzki (108). Because of the upside he presents, he could be a lot like Stephen Drew. I am ultimately dissuaded, however, because I like the consistency (and stolen bases) from Orlando Cabrera (102) (ya know, if someone wants to give up the picks and sign him already) and J.J. Hardy (96) a bit more. It wouldn’t be a reach, though, to consider Tulo over the three players ranked in front of him.

Last year’s top 13:

  1. Jose Reyes (last year’s overall ranking: 2) Finished: 2nd among shortstops
  2. Hanley Ramirez (3) Finished: 1st among shortstops
  3. Jimmy Rollins (4) Finished: 4th among shortstops
  4. Orlando Cabrera (42) Finished: 9th among shortstops
  5. Carlos Guillen (44) Finished: 15th among shortstops
  6. Troy Tulowitzki (58) Finished: 33rd among shortstops
  7. Derek Jeter (65) Finished 7th among shortstops
  8. J.J. Hardy (73) Finished: 8th among shortstops
  9. Edgar Renteria (79) Finished: 18th among shortstops
  10. Khalil Greene (82) Finished: 56th among shortstops
  11. Jhonny Peralta (85) Finished: 3rd among shortstops
  12. Michael Young (88) Finished: 5th among shortstops
  13. Miguel Tejada (91) Finished: 11th among shortstops

In retrospect, I was way too low on Michael Young and way too high on Orlando Cabrera and Carlos Guillen. Looks like I pegged Derek Jeter and J.J. Hardy right on though. Tulowitzki, I’m taking a mulligan (on account of his injury). Still, I never advocated taking him in the fourth round, which is where a lot of people drafted him.

If Jhonny Peralta continues his upward trajectory, failing to land one of the big three would necessitate getting Jhonny in the 6th/7th round. This could be a draft-changing/saving move. He could be undervalued in drafts and might provide a good SS at the right price if you are frozen out of the alpha dogs.

If you have a top pick, you could do worse than taking Pujols or Grady Sizemore. When the draft comes back around, however, make sure you can get Jimmy Rollins. It is hard to nitpick Jimmy’s value next year – he had injury problems and still made it back to a top 5 year. He is easily a second rounder in my book, but hopefully, you can get him toward the end of the round. This, surprisingly, makes Jimmy Rollins (with a tip of the hat to Jhonny Peralta) perhaps the best SS bargain.

Complete Shortstop Ranks (* denotes projected starter):

  1. Hanley Ramirez*
  2. Jose Reyes*
  3. Jimmy Rollins*
  4. Jhonny Peralta*
  5. Michael Young*
  6. Rafael Furcal* (health is a question here)
  7. Derek Jeter*
  8. Stephen Drew* (Could improve in the desert)
  9. J.J. Hardy*
  10. Orlando Cabrera (where will he end up?)
  11. Troy Tulowitzki* (Wasn’t a big fan last year, but I didn’t predict injury-plagued campaign)
  12. Miguel Tejada*
  13. Christian Guzman
  14. Ryan Theriot
  15. Mike Aviles
  16. Marco Scutaro
  17. Carlos Guillen*
  18. Yunel Escobar* (lots of swirling trade rumors)
  19. Edgar Renteria* (yuck…AT&T Park…not cool)
  20. Jed Lowrie
  21. Bobby Crosby
  22. Yuniesky Betancourt*
  23. Clint Barmes
  24. Jose Bautista
  25. Jason Bartlett (Tampa Bay MVP? Seriously?)*
  26. Brendan Harris
  27. Cesar Izturis* (Way to go Orioles)
  28. Jamey Carroll
  29. Erick Aybar
  30. Rich Aurilla
  31. Macier Izturis
  32. Nick Punto (Metrodomers love him)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

H22 Corner

Offseason Auction

By: Albert Lang

Are you pissed that your stove hasn’t been hot enough? Do you desperately wish that your team could bring in a highly touted free agent, but realize that it would probably set them back a few years? Is your greatest sense of hot stove joy jettisoning a poorly signed free agent in the first place?

If so, here is an avenue to get your fix: Hot Stove Fantasy Baseball.

Recently, a couple of friends and I got together, dressed up as our favorite GMs (here, here and here) and performed our very own Hot Stove Fantasy Auction.

Basically, it follows typical auction rules ($230 per team) and we set it up as a standard 5x5 Roto league. But, aside from head to head, I think you can do any type of league – SABR, run quantifier, points, etc.

The player universe is everyone that filed for free agency (including those desperate (smart?) few who accepted arbitration). You start 10 hitters (normal spots plus two utilities) and four SPs, three RPs and three general Ps. You cannot make any moves (other than trades) during the regular season and must fill each roster spot with a body.

The caveat here, to the normal auction, is that you can lock players up for multiple years. So the bidding on Mark Teixeira can reach 10 years and $35 per. This means that every year for the next 10 you are locked into spending $35 on Big Tex. You get to be your own Brian Cashman this way. There is also a buy-out clause in every signing – 75 percent of the dollars and 75 percent of the years, rounded up. So you can get out of paying the full price of an Albert Belle-type, but you aren’t fully let off the hook for a poor signing.

Once you are done with the auction, load the rosters into your favorite online league and watch as your team produces. This league is fully intended to bridge the gap between the end of fantasy football and pitchers and catchers.

This year provides a great leaping point because of the depth of the free agent class. Next year, you are looking at Matt Holliday, Jason Bay and Adrian Beltre – not quite Mark Teixeira, Rafael Furcal, Manny Ramirez and Adam Dunn. Also, to provide some more perspective – the top free agents in 2007 were Alex Rodriquez, Jorge Posada, Mike Lowell, Barry Bonds and Andruw Jones.

I don’t have any strategy for you as I haven’t played this yet. However, I think the old stars and scrubs/LIMA strategy could be fruitful. Why rely on a bunch of middling free agents (Orlandos Hudson and Cabrera) when you can stock up on Tex, Furcal, Adam Dunn, and bridge the gap with people like Renteria and Grudzielanek? That’s about all I got. Randy Johnson could be a real sleeper, though.

Post a comment if you have any questions. I’d be happy to help you set up this type of league with your friends/officemates.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Second Basemen Rankings

h2h Corner

By: Albert Lang

Ladies and Gentleman, your 2008 AL MVP is a second baseman. He also, probably, went late in every 10 team draft. In retrospect, the 2008 spring training suggested second base was a position on the rise, particularly when players like Dustin Pedroia were more of an afterthought in drafts.

Going into 2009, however, it appears there are only two healthy lockdown reliable second basemen (and the reigning MVP isn’t one of them). After this dynamic duo, things go from good (with upside) to dicey to scary. Ultimately, you’re reading this article because you’re looking for a second basemen you can trust (or because I’m spamming you). With some of the options so devoid of consistency (Rickie Weeks, Brandon Phillips and Dan Uggla please stand up), you’ll want to draft well, or else consign your fate to whoever has the hot hand in the free agent carousel (Jose Lopez, Alexei Ramirez, Kelly Johnson, Casey get the picture).

The cream of the crop was supposed to be Chase Utley (I had finished a version of this article the day the news came out). Utley is a fantastic player, someone anyone would be happy to choose as their only second baseman—except for this calamity. Last year, he did an overwhelming amount of damage in April through the end of May (19 HRs, 49 RBIs and .310 average). In my opinion, the loss of time and 200+ at bats moves Utley into the 10th round range. He should be the 13th second basement off the board.

Still, many of you, I know, would like to make the upside play. You think you can make due with a below-average second baseman for half the season then kick into overdrive with Utley in the line-up (especially if you can grab him in the 6th round or so). I’ve been there. I’ve thought those thoughts. When it comes down to it, there are just too many risks associated with this play. When he does come back, will the injury still hamper him? Since he misses all of spring training, how long will it take him to get back into Utley shape?

This injury immediately bumps Ian Kinsler to the top of the board for second base. While he is not as durable as one might hope, Kinsler has excellent tools. If he can play 160 games, he could be the real 2009 Chase Utley. His numbers have been staggering (see my argument here). Still, the injury bug has to be a slight concern.

For some reason, people don’t seem to love Brian Roberts as much as I do. In interest of full disclosure, I’m a Baltimore Orioles fan. There is no bias, however, in B-Rob’s numbers. Last year, I drafted him early and was handsomely rewarded with a .296 average, 107 runs and 40 SBs – he even threw in 57 RBIs. Those numbers mirror his 2007 and are in line with 2006, (when he missed 20 games or so due to injury). Quite simply, he has proven that he scores runs, hits for a decent average and steals many bases. If Roberts is available anywhere in the third round of your draft, grab him. Think about it this way: if you can get Brian Roberts in the 3rd or Utley in the 6/7, you're going to be much much happier w/ B-Rob a couple of rounds earlier.

Chone Figgins could be a B-Rob light (minus the consistency). He is not a bad choice if he goes where he should, about the 8th/9th rounds. Figgins could offer a .280 average, 80+ runs, and 35+ SBs. Not horrible for that spot in the draft (and probably better numbers than what you can now expect from Utley).

2009 will test your faith in Brandon Phillips: which half year will show up? I loved him going into last year. He rewarded that love with a phenomenal first half, in which he hit .280 with 15 HRs, 58 RBIs and 19 SBs. His second half, however, was disastrous (.225/6/20/4). I’m willing to roll the dice with him as the 4th second basemen off the board, especially if he is available in the 4th/5th rounds. That could be a sneaky play if you get frozen out of the top steady second basemen. Phillips could solidify a weak position without being too costly and could very well end up being the top second basemen at the end of the year.

A potential sleeper for you: Mark Ellis – I could see taking a chance on him. There are some ifs surrounding him (will he stay healthy, will he get to bat in front of Matt Holliday (does this even matter), etc.), but his price will not be nearly as high as someone like Howie Kendrick. If those ifs work out, you could be looking at 20+ home runs – in his last full season (2007), he hit .276 with 19 HRs and 76 RBIs. In 140 fewer at bats last year, he hit 12 HRs and managed to steal 14 bases. A 15 HR/15 SB season is not out of his reach.

The opposite side to the California coin is Howie Kendrick. He falls into the same level of dislike that I have for Robinson Cano (detailed here). Both of them are, for reasons beyond me, tremendously overvalued. The tools are supposedly there, but the production definitely is not. Kendrick has played 72, 88 and 92 games in three “full” seasons. His high watermarks include a tidy .322 average, five HRs, 39 RBIs, 55 runs and 11 SBs. Combining his best seasons doesn’t even make a top 10 second basemen for me. If you’re in a shallow league and want to take a chance on upside knowing the free agent pool will be stocked with the reliable carousel mentioned above, go for it. But in deeper leagues, or more competitive leagues, I’d prefer to secure the services of a second bagger I know I can trust – kind of like going to a bookstore and buying almost any Graham Greene novel (with the possible exception of the Power and the Glory – wasn’t really a fan).

Last year’s top 13:
Chase Utley (last year’s overall ranking: 9) Finished: 2nd among second basemen
Brandon Phillips (10) Finished: 9th among second basemen
Brian Roberts (18) Finished: 4th among second basemen
Dan Uggla (38) Finished: 6th among second basemen
BJ Upton (40) Finished: 7th among second basemen
Chone Figgins (52) Finished: 20th among second basemen
Ian Kinsler (61) Finished 3rd among second basemen
Kelly Johnson (68) Finished: 10th among second basemen
Robinson Cano (72) Finished: 16th among second basemen
Placido Polanco (78) Finished: 11th among second basemen
Jeff Kent (81) Finished: 32nd among second basemen
Freddy Sanchez (95) Finished: 27th among second basemen
Orlando Hudson (96) Finished: 28th among second basemen

Outside of the Dustin Pedroia oversight (he finished 1st), these rankings are pretty spot on. The high level of trust in Brandon Phillips and Dan Uggla sure looked good in the first half of the season, but, alas, slumps and injuries (or reversions to form?) derailed both their seasons, as well as my keeper team which started Phillips at second and Uggla at IF.

I liked Ian Kinsler, but not enough. I love Kinsler for next year. My dislike and low ranking of Robinson Cano was accurate. I’m still dubious on whether he can hit for a high average. Meanwhile Jeff Kent gets the Todd Helton first basemen ranking treatment.

Below, I love the top two. After that, I feel like there is a gulf of consistency between them and 3-5. With a repeat year, or something close to it, Dustin Pedroia would vault into the top tier (along with a healthy Utley) for 2010. For now though, if you want to guarantee yourself an elite second basemen, I’d stick to Ian Kinsler and Brian Roberts.

Complete Second Baseman Ranks (* denotes projected starter):
Ian Kinsler*
Brian Roberts*
Dan Uggla*
Brandon Phillips*
Dustin Pedroia*
Mark Derosa*
Chone Figgins (if he retains eligibility)*
Jose Lopez*
Alexei Ramirez (sophomore slump?)*
Kelly Johnson*
Robinson Cano (eh – as discussed here)*
Casey Blake (depending on where he ends up)*
Chase Utley (when does he really return from injury?)*
Rickie Weeks (Will he be traded? Will he get playing time? Will his body work?)
Placido Polanco*
Ryan Theriot*
Akinori Iwamura*
Ty Wiggington
Marco Scutaro
Freddy Sanchez (a healthier version of Howie Kendrick)*
Kazuo Matsui*
Clint Barmes
Ray Durham
Felipe Lopez
Mark Ellis (Sneaky play here with upside of 20+ HRs)
Alexi Cassila
Jeff Kent (Yeah…he got old)
Orlando Hudson (He could move up depending on what line-up he slots into)*
Jose Bautista
Blake DeWitt
Ronnie Belliard
Howie Kendrick (I don’t like Howie Kendrick…guys who derive most of their value from BA are not my favorite)*
Asdrubal Cabrera
Ian Stewart (3b of the future? At bats could free up if the Rocks move Atkins)
Ramon Vazquez (could put up interesting numbers with full time at bats)

Friday, November 14, 2008

First Basemen Rankings

h2h Corner

By: Albert Lang

I recently took a business trip to the west coast – I learned that it is far. Thankfully my roommate (he is a DJ and also really good at Survivor Fantasy) lent me his iPod. Since he is a DJ, he has loads of pop music. While I still love listening to the whimsical Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright, I cant deny the joy I get from Burnin’ Up or Hot N Cold (man Katy Perry’s songwriter = the amazing). I can’t remember a time when pop music was so consistent and fraught with as many heavy hitters, which, now makes the rambling preamble pertinent.

The not-so-hot corner (unless Ryan Howard [lefty] is up) represents a deep pool of home run hitters and RBI collectors. This is, perhaps, the steadiest position, year in year out. Outfield is deep, and you start three (sometimes more) for a reason. But outfielders possess the full gamut of fantasy statistics, while, with first basemen, you really only need think about HR/RBI production.

There isn’t anything shocking in these rankings – I’ve long been a fan of Lance Berkman, although I never seem to get him. His stolen base output (18) was great, but don’t expect that when figuring out your plans on draft day.

In my opinion, there is a core of nine reliable first basemen. This means you can wait on the position in drafts and try to acquire elite players at more elusive positions and stat categories early. There is no shame, however, in securing HR/RBI production – week in, week out – by grabbing an Albert Pujols or Ryan Howard in the first round.

That said, I am not sold on Carlos Delgado, Derrek Lee (mostly because of how he spells his first name), David Ortiz and Carlos Pena. Quite simply, where did Delgado’s first half self go? In April, May and June, Delgado hit .198, .258 and .229 with 3, 5 and 6 home runs respectively. Regardless, that horrendous start is in there somewhere, and it could come back like that sketchy rash you got vacationing in Tijuana.

Lee doesn’t provide the power or RBIs slotting into the middle of a potent line-up that an owner would like to see. He seems far removed from his MVP-esque numbers in 2005, when he hit .335 with 46 HRs, 107 RBIs and 15 SBs. Last year (a comeback year of sorts), he hit .291 with 20 HRs, 119 RBIs and 8 SBs. In his last three seasons he has hit a combined 50 HRs; reaching his 2005 levels now seems unattainable.

Meanwhile there are a lot of question marks around Big Papi. What does the loss of Manny, if anything, mean? Will Jason Bay provide the necessary protection? Will his wrist heal fully? He appeared to be cheating on fast balls down the stretch. With first base, I’d rather not take a chance and draft him early expecting Morneau-, Fielder- or Youkilis-level production. Given where I rank him, there is a good chance for upside. I see him as a solid UTIL on someone’s squad.

I bought heavily into Carlos Pena last year. It didn’t pay the dividends I would have liked, especially when Adrian Gonzalez was still on the board 2-3 rounds later. That said, Pena provides a good chance at 35+ HRs and 100+ RBIs. I guess what I’m saying is, if he is the 13th first basemen off the board, you have a good upside play on your hands.

I also really like Joey Votto – he could provide some great stats in that ballpark. In what was essentially a full season, he hit .297 with 24 HRs, 84 RBIs and 7 SBs. Lots of upside there.

Last year’s top 15*:

  1. Prince Fielder (last year’s overall ranking: 14) Finished: 11th among first basemen
  2. David Ortiz (19) Finished: 22nd among First Baseman
  3. Ryan Howard (23) Finished: 4th among First Baseman
  4. Carlos Pena (25) Finished: 20th among First Baseman
  5. Albert Pujols (27) Finished: 1st among First Baseman
  6. Lance Berkman (28) Finished 2nd among First Baseman
  7. Justin Morneau (41) Finished: 9th among First Baseman
  8. Adrian Gonzalez (50) Finished: 8th among First Baseman
  9. Derrek Lee (66) Finished: 14th among First Baseman
  10. Mark Teixeira (69) Finished: 3rd among First Baseman
  11. Carlos Delgado (76) Finished: 10th among First Baseman
  12. Kevin Youkilis (77) Finished: 6th among First Baseman
  13. Paul Konerko (83) Finished: 37th among First Baseman
  14. Adam LaRoche (89) Finished: 25th among First Baseman
  15. Todd Helton (98) Finished: 52nd among First Baseman

*Miguel Cabrera wasn’t ranked because he didn’t have first basemen eligibility yet.

Man…Todd Helton was the first draft pick in fantasy I ever made – it’s sad to see him fall to these depths. What can you do though? I wasn’t too interested in him last year and want no part of him this year.

I was a little too bullish on Carlos Pena it appears, and the David Ortiz injury really hurt that prediction. I thought Prince Fielder was the second coming of Ryan Howard…I was wrong. I do expect the same kind of season next year, maybe a tick better.

It pays to go with consistency at first base, which is why Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, Mark Teixeira and Adrian Gonzalez make up my top five fantasy first baseman next year.

Complete First Baseman Ranks:

  1. Albert Pujols
  2. Ryan Howard
  3. Lance Berkman (probably will not repeat his stolen base performance)
  4. Mark Teixeira (regardless of where he lands)
  5. Adrian Gonzalez
  6. Miguel Cabrera
  7. Justin Morneau
  8. Prince Fielder
  9. Kevin Youkilis
  10. Carlos Delgado (kind of scary putting him here, cant argue with 2/3 of his season though)
  11. Derrek Lee
  12. David Ortiz (no Manny, no problem? Hurt wrist = problem)
  13. Carlos Pena (legit 30+ HR possibility)
  14. Jason Giambi (where will he end up?)
  15. Joey Votto
  16. Jorge Cantu (could regress)
  17. Mark Reynolds (prefer him as your 3b – one of these years he will put together a good *lucky* batting average campaign)
  18. Mark Derosa
  19. Aubrey Huff
  20. Mike Jacobs
  21. Conor Jackson (man, did he fade)
  22. Adam LaRoche
  23. Chris Davis
  24. Nick Swisher
  25. James Loney (not so high on him…never was)
  26. Ryan Garko (see catcher rankings)
  27. Kevin Millar (consistently below average)
  28. Alex Gordon (so woefully inconsistent)
  29. Lyle Overbay (consistent)
  30. Eric Hinske
  31. Casey Kotchman
  32. Victor Martinez (you want him for his other eligibility)
  33. Ty Wiggington
  34. Paul Konerko (could he be D.O.N.E.?)
  35. Billy Butler (let’s just say, I don’t believe in the Royals)
  36. Matt Stairs (platoon in Philly, if Burrell gone?)
  37. Daric Barton
  38. Rich Aurillia
  39. Greg Dobbs (ditto the Stairs talk)
  40. Ross Gload
  41. Darin Erstad (he wasn’t entirely unusable last year…but yeah, he was close)
  42. Martin Prado (interesting numbers down the stretch: .335 BA, 25 runs, 2 HRs, 25 RBIs in the second half, massive positional flexibility, cool name)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

H2H Catcher Rankings

Catcher Rankings

“Variable, this is Knife! Over! Variable, this is Knife! Over! Variable, this is Knife! Where the heck are you!?!?”

With that out of the way, let me clean up the catching variables: depending on where Cap’n ‘Tek ends up, he could fall completely off this list or move up (you assume someone paying him good free agent money would give him more playing time than the Sox might).

There are also a lot of rumblings about Boston trading for a young stud catcher (which should probably shake up/clarify the Texas catcher situation). Until that stuff plays itself out, it’s hard to rank the Saltalamacchias and Teagardens of the world.

I don’t know if there is a ton of surprise here outside of the Indians catcher position. This is more an indictment of Ryan Garko and Travis Hafner than anything else. It is conceivable that Victor Martinez slides to first base or DH to make way for Shoppach to get more at bats. While getting his first opportunity at consistent playing time, Shoppach hit three times as many HRs (21) and twice as many doubles (27) as last year – granted he had about twice as many at bats in 2008 than in 2007. He also scored 67 runs (and if the Indians offense improves) that number could increase to somewhere in the 80s in 2009. He was a second round draft pick by the Boston Red Sox, so there is potential here. It will be important to see how Matt Laporta does in camp – if he can snag an everyday spot in the line-up that could limit Shoppach’s upside.

Mike Napoli at 13 seems about right to me. In some (smaller) leagues I might take a chance on him over proven vets like AJ Pierzynski or Ramon Hernandez. He did hit .273 last year with 20 HRs and 7 stolen bases. He could conceivably be a 25 HR 10 SB guy. That combination of stats in a catcher is intriguing.

There’s also Matt Wieters. Let’s see if he breaks camp first before he gets ranked. But man, am I looking forward to his debut. I haven’t been this excited since Ben MacDonald…we all know what can happen with prospects, eh J.R. Towles?

“Circular error probable zero. Impact with high-order detonation. Have a nice day.”

Complete Ranks:

  1. Brian McCann (overall ranking: 61)
  2. Russell Martin (69)
  3. Joe Mauer (76)
  4. Geo Soto (87)
  5. Ryan Doumit (125) – can he stay healthy?
  6. Jorge Posada (128) – ditto
  7. Bengie Molina (132)
  8. Victor Martinez (148) – where has the power gone?
  9. Kelly Shoppach (153) – will he get at-bats?
  10. AJ Pierzynski (164)
  11. Chris Iannetta (169)
  12. Ramon Hernandez (176) – watch our for Matt Wieters
  13. Mike Napoli (178) – will he claim that stat potential?
  14. Chris Snyder (185)
  15. Dioner Navarro (209)
  16. Kurt Suzuki (210)
  17. Yadier Molina (212)
  18. Gerald Laird (218)
  19. Ivan Rodriguez (223)
  20. Rod Barajas (225)
  21. John Buck (236)
  22. Miguel Olivo (241)
  23. Jason Veritek (249) – his landing spot could answer a lot of question marks.
  24. Pablo Sandoval
  25. Jeff Clement

Last year’s top 10*:

  1. Russell Martin (last year’s overall ranking: 29) Finished: 3rd among catchers
  2. Victor Martinez (60) Finished: 27th among catchers
  3. Jorge Posada (76) Finished: 39th among catchers
  4. Brian McCann (102) Finished: 2nd among catchers
  5. Joe Maurer (103) Finished: 1st among catchers
  6. Geovany Soto (109) Finished 5th among catchers
  7. Kenji Johjima (110) Finished: 34th among catchers
  8. Bengie Molina (160) Finished: 6th among catchers
  9. A.J. Pierzynski (175) Finished: 8th among catchers
  10. Ryan Doumit (178) Finished: 4th among catchers
  11. Mike Napoli (195) Finished: 10th among catchers
  12. Ramon Hernandez (205) Finished: 11th among catchers

*I only ranked 12 catchers last year for two reasons. One: I didn’t play in a league – beside my 18-team SABR auction competition, which was an entirely different ranking experience – that had more than 10 teams. Two: typically people don’t double up on catchers. Frankly, after the top five, it gets a little muddy anyway. The injuries to V-Mart and Posada hurt my initial rankings and Johjima being horrible didn’t help, but otherwise, it appears my rankings ended up suitable for a standard 5x5 h2h league.

By: Albert Lang