We made it. One week down. Baseball is officially one-thirtieth of the way complete. We've been greeted by some surprise statistics, some unlikely heroes, and a handful of breakout stars in the making. Led by Justin Upton and his 6 homers, Chris Davis' 17 RBI, and Clayton Kershaw's game winning homer taking a back seat to his 0.00 ERA and 16 K's through 16 innings; 2013 is underway. It will be a long season of surprises, twists, and turns. You will look at stats of hundreds upon hundreds of guys over the course of 162 games. And we're here to try and help make some sense of it, and to help make your add/drop questions easier. Onto the notes.Add 'em:
- Mark Reynolds 1b/3b - You know exactly what to expect with Reynolds, power numbers. Only this year he's seemed to found his stroke early: 4HR, 8RBI this week.
- Dexter Fowler OF - Why is he owned in less than 80% of Y! leagues? Over his last 481 AB's (since start of 2012) - .304/79R/17HR/58RBI/13SB.
- Will Middlebrooks 3b - Another guy owned in less than 80% Y!. Hitting the cover off of the ball in Beantown. 19 HR and 62 RBI in his first 292 professional AB's.
- Jed Lowrie SS - Owned in just 71% of Y! leagues at a power thin position. 19 HR over his last 366 AB's. That prorates into about 28 HR over a full season.
- Justin Masterson SP - Took a step back for 2012, but looks dominant this season. 2-0 with 13K over 13IP.
- Glen Perkins CL - Looked sharp in his first three outings of 2013. Owned in 80% of Y! leagues, has a W and two SV so far. No hits or walks over three innings, either.
- Paul Maholm SP - Has been stuck on some terrible teams in the past, but has an ERA right around 3.60 over the past two plus seasons. Could finally put it together this year and finish with 16-9 3.50 ERA 1.20 WHIP off of your waiver wire. 50% in Y!
- Ryan Vogelsong SP - We weren't too high on the 36 year old to begin with, but looked very hittable in his first outing. Drop him and add someone trending the other way.
- John Axford CL - Another guy we weren't too high on for 2013. Cut bait and look for the next solid MRP to step up and grab some saves.
- Jose Veras CL - He's a 32 year old reliever with 5 career saves and a career ERA over 4.00, closing for perhaps the worst team in MLB history. Why is he owned in 45%?
- Alfonso Soriano OF - He looks like he's 37. It's early, but through one week - 0R, 0HR, 0RBI and a .382 OPS. You can do better.
- Dustin Ackley 1b/2b - You should count your losses now if you drafted him. Hitting .220 since start of 2012, and has just one hit this year. Should not be owned in 45%.
- Daniel Murphy 1b/2b - Teetered on the .300 line over the last two years with little power. Smacked two homers in 2013 already, so could finally prove useful this year.
- Justin Maxwell OF - Had the power last year with no average. Working on the latter in 2013. Might be a glimmer of hope in Houston.
- Vinnie Pestano RP - Has looked better than Perez over a small sampling this season. Is option 1-B in Cleveland. Could help your team, regardless of save chances.
- David Robertson RP - Owned in just 23% of Y! leagues and should take over if the 44 year old Rivera goes down again. Has 183 K's over his last 129.2 IP.
- Miguel Gonzalez SP - Equipped with a 94 MPH heater, owner of a 3.22 career ERA and a 10-4 major league record, this 28 year old post-hype-sleeper looks primed to succeed in 2013.
2012 delivered us a quick four game World Series, rendering the San Fransisco Giants champions, led by Kung-Fu Panda Pablo Sandoval, Marco Scutaro and Matt Cain. Our prediction of an Angels/Reds World Series fell short of expectations, but the Reds indeed broke out with a solid season. We had pegged the Angels/Yankees/Red Sox/Tigers/Rangers in the A.L. Instead we saw the Yankees/Orioles/Tigers/Rangers/A's in the playoffs. The Orioles young talent carried them to the post-season, led by young gun Adam Jones. The A's came out of nowhere led by some phenomenal young aces on the mound. We had even referred to them as a AAA team last April, and their play stunned many throughout the baseball world. In the N.L we fared worse than hitting 60% of our guesses before the season began. We, like some, completely overvalued the one-hit-wonder Miami Marlins. The Phillies proved us liars, and so did the Diamondbacks. We hope this seasons predictions are a little bit closer - but then again baseball, as we all know, is a long season. Let's hope 2013 brings as much excitement as 2012.
1. Toronto Blue Jays
2. Boston Red Sox
3. Baltimore Orioles
4. Tampa Bay Rays
5. New York Yankees
Our bold prediction for the 2013 season is that the Yankees finish last in the A.L. East for the first time since 1990, when they ended up behind the lowly Miluakee Brewers in the East. The Red Sox should be glad to have John Farrell back. We also think the Orioles and Rays take a step back this year. The Jays look very strong.
1. Detroit Tigers
2. Kansas City Royals
3. Chicago White Sox
4. Cleveland Indians
5. Minnesota Twins
The Tigers should once again compete heavily after Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez join an already-scary lineup. They Royals prove themselves, finally, this year. The White Sox just keep getting older and slower, while the Indians and Twins should have a tough time topping this division once again. Drew Stubbs and Nick Swisher are not the answers in Cleveland. The White Sox will really miss A.J. Pierzynski's clubhouse presence.
1. Los Angeles Angels
2. Seattle Mariners
3. Oakland A's
4. Texas Rangers
5. Houston Astros
Anytime you can replace the likes of Kendrys Morales and Torii Hunter with Josh Hamilton you're sitting pretty. The Angels have a video-game team, and should they stay healthy will make a run at a championship. The Mariners have certainly improved, and the A's have a scary pitching staff that is also one of the youngest in baseball. The Astros ARE a AAA team.
1. Washington Nationals
2. Atlanta Braves
3. Philadelphia Phillies
4. New York Mets
5. Miami Marlins
We give a slight edge to the Nationals this season, thanks in part to some key off-season aquisitions, read: Haren, Span, Soriano and a healthy Werth. (Not that the Uptons are bad pickups for Atlanta.) The Braves could be one of the best Wild Card teams we've seen in years. The Phillies continue to resist young talent, and continue to age (Utley and Halladay anyone?) The Mets will keep rebuilding, as they are perpetually looking for guys to surround David Wright with. The Marlins are a joke and are difficult to take seriously right now.
1. Cincinnatti Reds
2. St. Louis Cardinals
3. Miluakee Brewers
4. Pittsburgh Pirates
5. Chicago Cubs
Once again, we're going with the Reds. The N.L. Central could be a sneaky-tough division in 2013. The Reds replace average-black-hole Drew Stubbs with a much more patient Shin-Soo Choo to a lineup that already includes Votto, Phillips, and Jay Bruce. The Cardinals keep getting younger and more talented, and we like what we see. Allen Craig is a legitimate threat at the plate. The Brewers have a nice pitching staff. The Pirates didn't do much this offseason to help themselves over the hump, and the Cubbies are easily the worst team in this division.
1. Colorado Rockies
2. San Fransisco Giants
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
5. San Diego Padres
The Rockies are the suprise team this season. We think they could put it all together. CarGo and Tulo both look healthy. Dexter Fowler is a pure hitter and will keep getting better. The Giants follow up thier championship season with a Wild Card showing in 2013. The Dodgers are a team full of seperate parts and clubhouse cancers. We just don't see this team keeping it all together. The loss of Justin Upton will hurt the D'Backs, but they have a fully stocked pantry full of young talent waiting to blossom. The Padres have no superstar players, and the Headley injury hurt thier chances.
AL Wild card:
Red Sox over Royals
Tigers over Red Sox
Angels over Blue Jays
Angels over Tigers
N.L. Wild Card:
Braves over Giants
Reds over Braves
Nationals over Rockies
Reds over Nationals
Reds over Angels
W.S. MVP - Jay Bruce with some clutch hitting.
N.L. MVP - Matt Kemp
A.L. MVP - Mike Trout
N.L. Cy Young - Clayton Kershaw
A.L. Cy Young - David Price
N.L. R.O.Y. - Shelby Miller
A.L. R.O.Y. - Wil Myers
N.L. Comeback - Ryan Howard
A.L. Comeback - Jon Lester
N.L. Coach - Walt Weiss
A.L. Coach - John Farrell
When it comes to positional scarcity - you gotta love the abundance of start-able outfielders - which allows you to pursue good players at tougher positions to fill. Most will tell you to wait on catchers and wait on relievers. I say nay, wait on outfielders. That's not to say that you shouldn't take Kemp in the first, or Upton in the second. We're not telling you to draft Beltre over CarGo because the latter plays outfield. But we see no sense in rolling with a CarGo/Holliday/Bruce outfield while you're rocking Steve Cishek/Jose Veras at reliever and Jarrod Saltalamacchia as your catcher. Take your time with outfielders - almost a LIMA (low investment mound aces) type plan. We'll call it a BOP (Bargain Outfielders Plan). Without further ado - here comes on heck of a long list.
1. Mike Trout - We don't think this needs much explanation. Unless you're a Kemp fan.
2. Matt Kemp - Give this guy his wheels back and he'll pay major dividends.
3. Ryan Braun - This ranking is under the assumption that he'll be playing a full season.
4. Andrew McCutchen - Gets the nod over CarGo. .300, 25+ HR and 25+ SB looks nice.
5. Giancarlo Stanton - Every stat but SB is trending in the right direction. Love the power.
6. Carlos Gonzalez - Late first round pick will contribute in every stat category.
7. Justin Upton - We have him higher than most, but should improve in Hotlanta.
8. Jose Bautista - Great hitter, but don't like the injury risk and decline in AVG, OPS, SLG.
9. Bryce Harper - Will keep getting better. Breakout is possible 30/20?
10. Josh Hamilton - 100R, 40HR, 100RBI is very possible, but not all that likely at 31.
#2 OF's (#1's in the BOP):
11. Yeonis Cespedes - Another one of the outfielders with 30/20 potential in 2013.
12. Jason Heyward - Only 23. Another possible 30/20 guy. Don't like AVG, though.
13. Adam Jones - Turned it way up in 2012. His age 27 season should be more of the same.
14. Jay Bruce - Eerily similar output to Heyward is likely. Just 23 and love the CIN lineup.
15. Jacoby Ellsbury - Should have a great season - it is an odd numbered year. Easy 20/20
16. BJ Upton - We love his situation in ATL. Not going to hit .300 but will get you 20/30.
17. Desmond Jennings - Outfield sleeper. Will go later than this but should produce 10/40.
18. Austin Jackson - We love the potential for a .300/110/15/60/25 season. Relatively cheap.
19. Matt Holliday - We love consistent players with falling prices. Expect .300 and 27/100.
20. Adrian Gonzalez - Where he wants to be and has 1B eligibility. Like the price.
21. Allen Craig - Clone to Matt Holiday, only younger and cheaper. Like the 1B elig.
22. Ben Zobrist - Like the odds of producing a very useful fantasy season. SS/2B, too.
23. Hunter Pence - Most have him lower than this but love the cheap HR and RBI's.
24. Melky Cabrera - Melk man should approach .300 with 15/15 and 100 RBI.
25. Alex Rios - Has settled in nicely with CWS but alternating hot/cold years. 20/20.
26. Michael Bourn - Lots of speed at the top of a young Indians lineup.
#3 OF's (#2's):
27. Martin Prado - Should love playing in Arizona and can hit .310 and won't kill any stat.
28. Curtis Granderson - Should he come back in May ready to go will still smack 30 HR.
29. Shin-Soo Choo - We think he will enjoy the change of scenery. Decent power/speed.
30. Angel Pagan - Bold prediction and should be available >15th round - .290/100/10/60/30
31. Alex Gordon - Another season hovering around .300 20/20.
32. Norichika Aoki - Quietly put together a nice season. Will be a steal late.
33. Alejandro De Aza - See above.
34. Shane Victorino - We think 15 HR and 35 SB is a possibility in Boston.
35. Andre Ethier - Matt Holliday lite should produce another solid campaign.
36. Nelson Cruz - Big name, bargain bin price should he play a full season.
37. Mark Trumbo - Getting 35 homers this late should be a crime. Won't kill you in any cat.
38. Josh Willingham - Another guy who can get you around 30 homers after round 10.
39. Carlos Beltran - Revival season in StL, should be good for another 25 long balls.
40. Dexter Fowler - Similar to Austin Jackson should produce across the board.
#4 OF's (#3's):
41. Ben Revere - Great young hitter will absolutely kill your power #s.
42. Carlos Gomez - We think the 19 homers was a bit flukey. Temper expectations.
43. Torii Hunter - Speed is declining but love his situation in Detroit.
44. Jayson Werth - Says he's not 100% but double digit SB/HR is nice this late.
45. Carl Crawford - Not healthy yet, but could be the steal of the draft after round 10 or so.
46. Nick Swisher - Like the 1B elig., should be a lock for 100 RBI.
47. Brett Gardner - Forgotten speedster could be comeback POY.
48. Adam Eaton - Super breakout special, might not be such a sleeper anymore.
49. Todd Frazier - Probably better suited as a UTIL or 1B/3B, but cheap nonetheless.
50. Josh Reddick - Still don't know if the 32 HR was for real, but should be worth a gamble.
51. Michael Cuddyer - Getting older, but more patient. Great UTIL guy with 1B elig.
52. Chris Davis - Broke out in a major way in 2012, but watch the price. Good value later.
53. Ryan Doumit - Great versatility as you can plug him into your C slot, too.
54. Jason Kubel - We think season close to his 2010 season - .250/21/92
Guys to take a late round flier on (Or pick up via FA):
55. Ichiro Suzuki - Will post solid, but unspectacular stats in the Bronx.
56. Denard Span - Should like his new home. Low level 5 tool guy.
57. Ryan Ludwick - Nothing by way of speed, but with the AB's could hit 25HR and 80RBI.
58. Cody Ross - Human powder keg should love playing time in ARZ. 27-28 HR possible.
59. Lorenzo Cain - Double digit SB/HR in the last round/FA should prove useful.
60. Starling Marte - Needs to settle in with Pirates, but could be a huge, huge sleeper here.
61. Alfonso Soriano - Could help with power #s, not much else.
62. Coco Crisp - Gets the playing time, and should swipe 40 bags.
63. Emilio Bonifacio - Will have more value at 2B, and will score lots of runs.
64. David Murphy - Double digit HR/SB is clutch this late.
65. Will Venable - We have him as a very deep sleeper. 10 HR/20 SB should come easily.
66. Carlos Quentin - Power #s late, if you need them.
67. Tyler Colvin - Could prove useful with similar numbers to 2012.
68. Garrett Jones - We like the potential here for 25-30 HR facing only righties.
69. Brandon Moss - 400 AB's should mean 25+ homers.
70. John Jay - More of a role player in StL, but could break out a bit in 2013.
Guys like Prado, Hanley, Seager, and Frazier are eligible at other positions. Aramis Ramirez and Beltre are nearing the second half of their 30's. Chase Headley and Arod are both now injured and out for significant parts of the season. Third base is no longer looking like the hot corner. Think of it more as the opportunity corner. Pedro Alvarez finally learned how to get the ball over the fence; Will Middlebrooks and Manny Machado will look to move up into the upper echelons of the position over the coming seasons. Consider it the changing of the guards, leaving a huge middle tier of players. Grab the usual suspects early: Cabrera, Beltre, Wright, Longoria. And if you can't - you can probably wait it out and get some nice value while stocking up on pitching and outfielders. Let's take a gander.
1. Miguel Cabrera - Arguably the best hitter in baseball. Hope for a top three pick.
2. Hanley Ramirez - We have him ranked as the #2 SS too so his price tag could get high.
3. Adrian Beltre - Getting up there in age, but should be a lock for .300-30-100.
4. David Wright - Love the value of a possible 2nd rounder on him. Tough lineup to be on.
5. Evan Longoria - If this guy could just stay healthy, he'd be a top 10 pick, easily.
6. Ryan Zimmerman - Putting it all together. You can realistically hope for .290-90-30-100
7. Brett Lawrie - 23 year old oozing with potential. Could top 100 runs and 20/20.
8. Aramis Ramirez - Extraordinarily consistent. Even at 34.
9. Pablo Sandoval - Extraordinarily inconsistent. But has shown the ability to rake.
10. Martin Prado - .300 with double digit steals and homers for Prado should come easily.
11. Will Middlebrooks - Surprisingly even-keeled in his first half-season, 15 HR in 267 ABs.
12. David Freese - One cool customer. A legit threat for a guy you can wait on.
13. Kyle Seager - Great sleeper/value pick. 2B eligibility, too. 15/15 should be no problem.
14. Pedro Alvarez - The Adam Dunn of 3B. Can he post 35 HR with a .240 BA?
15. Manny Machado - Much higher in keeper leagues. Just 20. Could push 20HR/10SB.
16. Todd Frazier - We love the 1B/3B/OF eligibility, and the Reds lineup.
17. Chase Headley - Out at least 4-6 weeks. More of a flier pick but can surely hit.
18. Mike Moustakas - Just 24 and will continue to develop. Hopefully he can bring up AVG.
Guys to take a flier on or grab via FA:
19. Kevin Youkilis - Will get plenty of AB's in '13 - getting back to 25 HR a possibility.
20. Michael Young - We think he still has some value here. Pray for .290-80-10-80
21. Mark Reynolds - Could win a lumberjack contest. .220 hitter with 35 HR potential.
22. Trevor Plouffe - Will see plenty of ABs and has OF eligibility too. 25 HR and no AVG.
23. Marco Scutaro - Probably more valuable at a utility player, and won't kill any stat
24. Chris Nelson - Keep your eye on his playing time. .284, 13HR, 6SB over 550 career ABs.
25. Chris Johnson - If he gets the ABs in ATL could be a great #2 3B on your team, cheap.
I'm so old school with fantasy baseball sometimes, that I still think of Nomah, Tejada, and Jeter when I talk about the shortstop position with people. Back then, if you missed out on those three, you were going to wait to grab a shortstop. And wait some more. But things have changed for the better. And this year, the good news seems to be that there are at least 15 legitimate shortstops that you can utilize on your team. The trend for 2013 is that at most positions, you can wait for the depth, and target the guys you actually want on your team in the early rounds. With so many players eligible at shortstop, you don't have to sacrifice any particular stat if you choose to wait for a player.
1. Jose Reyes - May be a shock, but he is consistent and won't kill any stat. 100 runs easily.
2. Hanley Ramirez - 5 tool stud if he can bring the average up to the .270 range.
3. Troy Tulowitzki - Don't pay for potential in the 1st. Topped 540AB just twice in 6 years.
4. Starlin Castro - .297 career average and should approach 20/20 in 2013.
5. Ben Zobrist - Gets the nod over Desmond with the better average and eligibility.
6. Ian Desmond - If he can repeat 2012, consider him in the top 4 heading into 2014.
7. Martin Prado - We think his lousy 2011 was the fluke. Great bet for .310 and 15/15.
8. Elvis Andrus - Slap/Gap hitter should get better in 2013. .290 with 10/30 is within reach.
9. Jimmy Rollins - Getting old, but should continue to put up 20/20.
10. Derek Jeter - 39 but still in great shape. Put up double digit HR/SB in 16 MLB seasons.
11. Alcides Escobar - Could prove more valuable with later pick than Andrus/Rollins/Jeter.
12. Asdrubal Cabrera - Dont see him topping 17 HR or 10 SB. We think 2011 was a bit fluky.
13. Josh Rutledge - Moving to second base with a healthy Tulo. 500 AB's will mean 15/15 +.
14. Erick Aybar - Rollins Lite should provide adequate runs and SB's.
15. Everth Cabrera - Could post 65 SB in 2013. Put up 44 in 398 AB's in 2012.
16. Danny Espinoza - Many have him higher, but we don't like the AVG/OPS output.
17. Andrelton Simmons - Might not shine in any one category but will certainly help you.
Guys you should take a gamble on or pick up via FA:
18. Zach Cozart - Thinking he'll improve on '12 numbers. .260/70/12/70/10 possible late.
19. Jean Segura - Just 23; could post Simmons type numbers, un-drafted in your league.
20. Marco Scutaro - We envision him mirroring his '12 numbers, worthy of a bench spot.
21. JJ Hardy - The Dan Uggla of SS. All power, no speed, no patience at the plate.
22. Eduardo Nunez - Plenty of AB's in 2013. Career line over 450 AB's is .272/64/7/48/38.
Remember the days when a guy like Robinson Cano was ranked as the 9th or 10th second baseman in the league? The good old days, when Chase Utley was a fantasy god, Brian Roberts and Mark DeRosa were fantasy relevant, and Alexei Ramirez qualified at the position? I remember a time when I looked at the rankings and felt as I could hold out until the late rounds to grab a serviceable 2b. Not much has changed since those days, other than the names you see on your rankings lists. With so many players shifting to second, or keeping eligibility at second, you can look down a long list of guys you can strategically grab for the position to help you over the long haul. Guys like Espinosa, Prado, Zobrist all can play multiple positions, adding that much more value to your roster. Let's take a peek at the rankings we have compiled this off-season.
1. Robinson Cano - Easy pick for #1. At least .302-28-94 over the past three seasons.
2. Dustin Pedroia - Should he stay healthy will push Kinsler for #2 because of his AVG.
3. Ian Kinsler - One of the best bets in MLB for a 20/20 season.
4. Ben Zobrist - Eligibility gives him the nod here. Great bet to contribute in 5 cats.
5. Jason Kipnis - Kinsler light - expect 15 HR and 30 SB for 2013.
6. Jose Altuve - Michael Bourn of the infield. Good bet for .300 and 40 SB this year.
7. Brandon Phillips - Extraordinarily consistent. 18 HR and ~15 SB in each of last three.
8. Martin Prado - Consummate ballplayer. Won't kill you in any stat - 2b,3b,SS,OF elig.
9. Danny Espinosa - Should be good for 20/20 but watch the average.
10. Rickie Weeks - Hopefully he can bring his average up.
11. Chase Utley - Expect a bounce back season from Utley. Won't hurt your team healthy.
12. Dan Uggla - 0 average potential, but huge power potential in revamped ATL lineup.
13. Aaron Hill - Was his 2012 season in ARZ a fluke?
14. Kyle Seager - 2b/3b is nice. Should approach 20/20.
15. Neil Walker - If you look at his #s you'll see how consistent he really is.
16. Omar Infante - Love this guy in the DET lineup.
17. Howie Kendrick - Solid, but unspectacular source of decent across the board stats.
Guys you could take a gamble on or pick up via FA:
18. Jurickson Profar - Should scoot up this board should he get some AB's in the majors.
19. Dustin Ackley - Should he put it all together, will be a steal here.
20. Daniel Murphy - Very sneaky late round value - without the power numbers.
21. Emilio Bonifacio - Could score 100 runs in Jays lineup with sneaky speed.
22. Marco Scutaro - Love the versatility, but not going to put up huge numbers in any cat.
23. Jedd Gyorko - Having a great spring and could win the full time job.
This season, the catcher position seems pretty deep, but after the top 14 or so players, there seems to be a steep drop-off into barely rosterable players. The tricky part is that 5 of our top 14 catchers also qualify at another position (meaning at least one manager is probably planning on selecting more than one of these guys).
Our advice is to wait as long as possible on selecting your catcher, but don't be one of the last two or three guys to do so. Find who you think the best value is and make sure he'll be there when you select as late as you see fit. In fact, the disparity between the top catcher (Posey) and our #14th ranked player (AJ Pierzynski) was 10R -3HR and 26RBI. And you could get the latter about 16 rounds later in your draft.
1. Buster Posey - Easily the top catcher in the game right now.
2. Carlos Santana - 1B eligible, switch hitter, 26 years old, improved lineup.
3. Yadier Molina - Stolen bases certainly help at C position.
4. Willin Rosario - Should put up numbers in every stat category easily.
5. Matt Weiters - Can he top 30 HR/90RBI this season?
6. Joe Mauer - Has lost stock in some fantasy circles, but still has a .873 career OPS.
7. Salvador Perez - SLEEPER ALERT should hit .300-70-15-70 over a full season at age 22.
8. Mike Napoli - The 30+ HR will be nice at Fenway, and eligible at 1B, too.
9. Miguel Montero - Not the best lineup around him, but still a great bet for a solid year.
10. Brian McCann - A 'bad' season = 20HR 67RBI, much better lineup in 2013, too.
11. Jesus Montero - Fences in, better lineup, a year older. Could break out.
12. Ryan Doumit - Will help in more ways than one. Good value, consistent, OF elig.
13. Alex Avila - Split the difference between 2011 and 2012 - .270-65-14-65
14. AJ Pierzynski - We think hitting in Tex. could help. .280 with 20 HR shouldn't be tough.
Guys you could take a gamble on or pick up via FA:
Jonathon Lucroy - Could surprise and help out in all 5 stat categories this season.
AJ Ellis - OBP machine in a ridiculous lineup should pay dividends.
Carlos Ruiz - Not sold on solid 2012 campaign. He's a 34 year old catcher, too.
Rob Brantly - Great sleeper candidate, full time AB's in Miami.
JP Arencebia - Should go under the radar, will put up good enough power #s in that lineup.
Tyler Flowers - We think 25 home runs with a FT gig this season if he can cut the K's.
There was once a time in fantasy baseball history when first base was the running back of fantasy baseball. You took 'em early, you took 'em often, and you filled in the rest. We've since lost the first base eligibility of the Utley's and Ortiz', the Delgado's and Derrek Lee's have long since been forgotten. We welcome you to 2013 where first base is the new tight end of baseball. Tons of depth, but you either get the top few guys, or you wait as long as you can to pick from the best of the rest. Without further ado, we hope to sort through the first base rankings - and hope to help you should you wait past the first couple of rounds to grab a 1B.
1. Joey Votto - Only an injury can stop him this season.
2. Albert Pujols - Arguably the top 1B, but age and stat trends might say otherwise.
3. Prince Fielder - Consistently puts up monster power numbers. Love the DET lineup.
4. Buster Posey - C eligibility warrants Posey a hot commodity.
5. Adrian Gonzalez - Back where he wants to be, should even out to .300-30-100
6. Billy Butler - Seems to have put it all together last season with his .313-72-29-107 line.
7. Edwin Encarnacion - Reminds me of Adrian Beltre - can he maintain the elite status?
8. Paul Goldschmidt - Five-tool fantasy first-sacker. Love the 18 SB.
9. Freddie Freeman - In ATL lineup, .280-100-30-100 is possible from the 23 year old.
10. Allan Craig - Could put up some serious numbers with close to 550 AB's.
11. Carlos Santana - C eligibility skews his rankings a bit, but is worth the pick.
12. Mark Teixeira - Don't ask for average or steals and you shouldn't be disappointed.
13. Mark Trumbo - Love the lineup. 35 long balls shouldn't be too much to ask for.
14. Joe Mauer - Probably better suited in your C position.
15. Mike Napoli - Power numbers galore in Beantown. Let's see an average above .230
16. Ike Davis - You have to love your chances on a gamble he puts it all together this year.
17. Eric Hosmer - At this point you could do much worse than chasing his potential.
18. Paul Konerko - No complaints in getting a repeat 2012 performance later in the draft.
19. Ryan Howard - If he can stay healthy, you got yourself a steal.
20. Todd Frazier - Like the 1b/3b eligibility. Could take big steps forward in 2013.
21. Michael Cuddyer - Plug and play - the perfect fantasy utility player.
22. Nick Swisher - Take the worst of each stat over the past three years - .260-75-23-85-1
23. Chris Davis - A repeat of 2012 would be a best case scenario.
24. Anthony Rizzo - Could emerge as a top 15-20 1B for 2014.
25. Adam Laroche - Could help your team with another 100 RBI's this year.
Guys you could take a gamble on or pick up via FA:
26. Adam Dunn - You draft him for one thing only - long balls.
27. Kendrys Morales - Should do well with a full time gig. 30 homers?
28. Garrett Jones - Can't hit lefties, but can certainly help your team when facing RHP.
29. Kevin Youkilis - With a full season and at bats, could return to 20+ HR.
30. Tyler Colvin - Like what he did in limited at bats last season.
31. Brandon Moss - 21 HR in just 265 at bats last year.
Happy 2013 to all, if you're reading this, you've obviously survived the apocalypse, the holidays, in-laws, the flu, and your fantasy football league. We hope 2013 brings big things to our readers. We'll start with hoping for a top finish in baseball and football leagues. Here's a very early set of lists heading into the 2013 fantasy baseball season.
4 Players we're targeting early in drafts this season:
4) Mark Trumbo - The guy is probably closer to 10 in pre-draft 1B rankings than 5, but with that supporting cast, and last years numbers at the age of 25, we see big things for him in 2013. Especially if he can bring up the .268 average.
3) Jose Reyes - Well, last year was certainly a failed experiment for the Marlins, and that experiment dragged down Reyes' value just enough for you to be able to get a decent enough deal on him. We think you can expect 100 runs, 10 HR, and 30 SB in a very deep Toronto lineup for a fairly reasonable price (2nd round?).
2) Yoenis Cespedes - Cespedes quietly put together a fantastic rookie season in limited AB's in 2012, so we think he could be had for a bargain price in 2013. He got on base in each of his final-10 2012 games, and posted 3 HR and 6 RBI in that span. Expect close to a .300 average, close to 30 HR, and close to 100 RBI this season.
1) Matt Cain - The guy is a horse. Over 200 IP in each of his last six seasons, at least 163 K's in each of his last seven, with at least 12 wins in each of his last four. He ranked sixth in ERA last season, and third in WHIP. We have him (contrary to some) ahead of guys like Dickey, Latos, Lester, Scherzer, and Greinke. Target Cain as your #2 SP in the early-middle rounds, and you won't be sorry you did.
Four Players we expect a turnaround season from in 2013:
4) Tim Lincecum - What a major disappointment for most managers last season. Lincecum failed for the first time in 5 seasons to reach 200 IP; his BB's have risen in each of the past four years, and his strikeouts have declined in each of the past four. But we think last year was the anomaly. Target Lincecum in the middle rounds, expecting a line similar to his 2010 season - 16 W, 3.43 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 231 K.
3) Adam Wainwright - While Waino bounced back last last season, we think 2013 will be more forgiving, as he's a year removed from Tommy John surgery now. Before surgery, Wainwright went 39-19 with a ERA around 2.50 in his 2009 and 2010 seasons. We think he could be a steal in the middle rounds - providing you with 15+ wins, 200 K, and an ERA under 3.10.
2) Jacoby Ellsbury - Jacoby has alternated hot and cold seasons in each of the past 5 years. The Red Sox have gotten rid of the clubhouse distractions, brought in a coach that the players should love to play for, and Ellsbury should be past his shoulder troubles. Victorino in the Boston OF should make playing defense that much easier for Ells, too. We think if you take the risk, you should be rewarded with a .300 BA, 90 R, and 35 SB.
1) Troy Tulowitzki - We've seen Tulo pretty low on draft boards this winter, and that's something we will continue to drool over. Tulo should provide superb value in the 2nd-4th rounds should he be available. Troy is a guy who hovered around .300, 30 HR, and 90 RBI, 10 SB from 2009-2011. He seems ready to go this year, so hope for a major bounce-back season from Tulo. We like his ceiling more than just about all SS not named Jose or Hanley.
4 Players we'd stay away from in drafts (for the current asking price):4) Asdrubal Cabrera - Shortstop is a pretty deep position
after the drop-off from the top 4 guys (we have Reyes, Tulo, Hanley, Castro). But after that you see a massive middle tier of players who can contribute in one way or another. With that being said, you can get the same value whether you reach for Cabrera (who's currently ranked 7th amongst SS here
) in the middle rounds, or wait on a guy like Rutledge, Hardy, or Zobrist a few rounds later; providing you with similar, if not better, stats at a better price.3)
Jarrod Saltalamacchia - We find no reason to rank a catcher who hit .222 last season in the top 12 for fantasy purposes. And we've seen Salty pretty high up on some draft boards. Why not pick up a guy like Miguel Montero, Alex Avila, or Salvador Perez several rounds later? The 25 home runs was nice, but why kill every other stat at your catcher position? Add Napoli (we think), and David Ross to the Sox catcher mix, and we just don't see Salty ranking inside even the top 14 catchers in leagues.2) Adrian Gonzalez - When you draft a first baseman, you want stats, stats, and more stats. You usually draft 1B for premium power stats, and if you can't do that, you wait on a guy like Freeman, Butler, or Hosmer - guys who have potential to get you at least 4 stat categories. We can't justify paying top dollar for a 1B who has failed to top 31 HR since 2009, has topped .300 just once since 2006, and has never driven in more than 119 runs. Don't forget - he moved from Fenway Park's short fences to the spacious confines of Dodger Stadium, and lost the DH in his lineup. Gonzalez could certainly bounce back this year, but don't expect anything more than what he delivered in 2007 - .282, 30, 100, with zero speed numbers. That's nothing we'd want in our first or second-round 1B.1)
Jason Heyward - Heyward is a classic post-hype sleeper candidate, but why pay it forward when his past stats just don't justify his draft position? This is a guy who was supposed to crush major league pitching, and has left owners wanting more after three mediocre seasons. Heyward's asking price is somewhere between rounds 5-7, but he's only averaged .261-20-65-14 over his first three seasons. Instead of reaching for Heyward's potential stats, wait 3 or 4 rounds and grab a guy like Austin Jackson who's averaged .280-10-51-20 over the same three year span.
4 Young players (under 25), not named Harper, Stanton, or Trout, we want on our team this season:
4) Willin Rosario - If you could take any catcher after round 10, Rosario is the guy to target. At just 24, Willin already has 31 HR, 79 RBI and a 0.824 OPS in just 450 major league at bats. If he continues to improve, you could be staring down the barrel of a 35 HR season sometime soon from your catcher position, and he wont kill you in any stat.
3) Chris Sale - At just 23, Sale has proven five things: he can throw heat for strikes, he can setup out of the bullpen, he can close games, he can anchor a rotation as a starter. Arm health is the only question with Sale, but should he continue to maintain a sturdy arm, you should expect numbers of at least an elite #2 starter - 15+ wins, 200 K's, an ERA right around 3.00.
2) Starlin Castro - Castro has many things going for him this year. At just 22, he already has almost three full major-league seasons under his belt, he plays a middle infield position (very well I might add), and he's fully capable of filling all 5 major ROTO statistics. Over the past two full seasons, Castro is averaging .296-86-12-72-23 and seems to be trending in the right direction. The sky is the limit for the young shortstop.
1) Madison Bumgarner - Mad Bum pitches has pitched so well over his past three-plus seasons that people might tend to forget that he's just 23. He pitches in a great NL pitchers-park, he's won almost a half-a-game per start so far, and struck out over a batter/IP over his short career. The only thing we'd be cautious of heading into 2013, is that his ERA has risen to an uncharacteristic 3.37 over each of the past three years. If he can get the home runs back down to 2011 form, and keep the hits down like he did last year, Bumgarner could top a 17 win season with 200 K's and an ERA below 3.00. We're all in.
Honorable Mentions - Brett Lawrie 22, Freddie Freeman 23, Jason Heyward 23, Manny Machado 20, Josh Rutledge 23, Salvador Perez 22, Eric Hosmer 23, Jesus Montero 23
4 veterans over 35 that could provide a useful fantasy season:
4) Tim Hudson 37 - You gotta respect a guy in this day and age who can play through 14 major league seasons for just two teams. Husdon is the owner of 197 career wins, a 3.42 ERA over 14 seasons, and more than 1800 career strikeouts. The great thing is, he's barely showing signs of slowing down. The 37 year old posted a 16-7 record last season, with a 3.62 ERA. We think he has at least one more 14+ win season left in him - and you can probably get him in the wee hours of your draft.
3) Derek Jeter 38 - Every year I cast Jeter off onto the island of fantasy has-beens. Yet I find myself owning him in at least one league every year. The talent level, no matter the age, seems to be appropriate for the round owners can secure him in. There hasn't been a season in his 18 year career in which he didn't record at least 100 runs, 11 HR, or 11 SB. In fact, he's averaging 104-14-20 in those three categories in his career. We don't think he's close to being done, either.
2) Paul Konerko 36 - When you look at Konerko's stats since 1999 when he went to the White Sox, you can only pick out two seasons where he didn't hit at least .277 or hit 25 home runs. In fact, he's a career .283 hitter and has averaged 30 homers and 89 RBI's in each of his 14 full seasons. Konerko is a guy you'd want to own should you target pitching or outfielders early in your draft.
1) David Ortiz 37 - Arguably the best DH of all time, Ortiz could only hurt your fantasy team in terms of clogging up your Utility position. Since coming over to Boston in 2003 and receiving full time AB's, Big Papi has averaged 34 Home Runs and 109 RBI's per season. Tack on a career .285 batting average (including 5/10 seasons in Boston over .300), and you've got some fantasy gold. We rank Ortiz slightly lower than your typical elite power hitter due to not being eligible at any fantasy position, but if you're looking for some power numbers somewhat under the radar, snag the 7 time all-star. With a full season of AB's, Big Papi should be good for .290-85-30-100 in the early middle rounds.
Honorable Mentions - A-ROD 37, Ichiro 39, Michael Young 36, Joe Nathan 38, Torii Hunter 37, RA Dickey 38