Usually one of the shallower positions in fantasy, shortstop has added some much needed depth with players like Ben Zobrist and Martin Prado joining the fun. Let’s take a look at the tiers based on our Rotographs consensus rankings.
Castro is extremely durable and hasn’t even reached his peak seasons yet, what’s not to love? The 23-year-old’s average dipped below .300 last year (.283) but he increased his home runs, steals, and RBIs. He’s a safe bet to at least match last season’s totals which is why he’s number one in our rankings. Reyes can easily grab the top spot in this tier if he hits like he did in the second half of last season when his line was .312/.361/.495 with 20 stolen bases. He’s leading off for what should be an impressive Toronto lineup so he’ll have ample run scoring opportunities as well.
If healthy the top spot would belong to Troy Tulowitzki without question. No one provides the type of overall production at the position like the seventh year man out of Long Beach State. He looks to be recovered from the groin injury that cut his 2012 season short. If other owners are wary you may be able to pick up him at a discount on draft day.
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The Rays had one of the best bullpen’s in baseball last year, posting the lowest ERA (2.88) and highest K/9 (9.33) in the American League. Joe Maddon’s group wasn’t called on much thanks to the amount of innings the rotation was able to bear. With the loss of workhorse James Shields the ‘pen will likely be tasked with more work in 2013. Luckily for the Rays nearly all of the key components return this season.
When Zach first posted the starting pitcher rankings I spent a few minutes looking at the list, mulling over who would be interesting to write about. Players like David Price and Justin Verlander were the easy, obvious choices. But, I instead fixed my eyes upon the 101st name on the list, someone who tormented me relentlessly as a member of nearly all of my teams this season: Ricky Romero.
When looking at Ryan Dempster’s ranking at the end of last season – 31st overall, $10 – my first reaction was “that’s about right.” That’s exactly who Dempster is. If you looked up “31st best pitcher” in the dictionary, if such an entry existed, you’d probably find a picture of Ryan Dempster. He only started 28 games last season, which is 5-6 less than usual, so if he had pitched a full schedule his ranking may be a bit higher, but you get my point. He’s not one of the top 20 starters in baseball, but he’s squarely in the top 40 discussion.
Players don’t usually get better as they graduate to their mid-30’s. It’s just good science. At the ripe old age of 35 Carlos Beltran had his best fantasy campaign since 2008 from a pure numbers stand point. His end of season numbers — .269, 83R, 32HR, 97RBI, 13SB – were good enough for 11th place ($17) in our rankings , but how he ended up there is a different story.
If it’s ok with Eno I’m going to take the format he used in the first paragraph of his Josh Hamilton piece and apply it to B.J. Upton.
For a 28-year-old outfielder we have a surprising abundance of information about B.J. Upton. 4,000 or so plate appearances. Six full seasons and he has nearly two whole years until he touches 30. He’s worn the masks of several different players during his time in the big leagues, so it’s been tough to pin him down. He’s been the high walk, low power base stealer (2008), the all power, no OBP guy (2012), the low average, moderate power guy (2010-2011), the bust (2009) and the all-around All Star (2007). Over the past few years it appears his true form has come to light.
Since it’s a holiday week we’re taking a break from the positional rankings we’ve been rolling out. In the Thanksgiving spirit I thought I’d list a few things I was thankful for this past fantasy baseball season.
Adam LaRoche’s health:
After surgery for a torn labrum and partially torn rotator cuff ended his 2011 season early– he played just 43 games – LaRoche was a risk come draft day. When healthy he has 25-30 home run power, and boy was he healthy in 2012. He bounced back beautifully, playing in 154 games and launching 33 homers and knocking in 100 runs. Those who took the chance of drafting him reaped the rewards of one of the biggest bargains of the season. I had the pleasure of grabbing him for $5 in my Ottoneu league.
During the 2008 World Series a few friends and I began calling Carlos Ruiz “Babe Ruiz”. The light hitting 29-year-old catcher in his second season was destroying the Tampa Bay Rays. He hit .375/.500/.688 in the five games compared to .219/.320/.300 during the regular season. We were miffed and upset that our beloved Rays were getting destroyed by Carlos F’ing Ruiz.
He’s come a long way since then.
There are certain types of players in fantasy that drive us all crazy. The most maddening of all might be the inconsistent hitter who vanishes for long stretches of time but is able to catch fire and carry your whole offense. Sure, the month or so the player is hitting the cover off the ball is nice, but the dead weight in between can be tough to handle.
No one better epitomized that player last season than Jimmy Rollins.
The competition for biggest disappointment of 2012 is a tough one. Names like Roy Halladay, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Tim Lincecum, and John Axford come to mind. The one who sticks out most to me, and admittedly it may be because I’m a Rays fan, is Evan Longoria.
It certainly wasn’t performance based. Longoria hit .289/.369/.527 in his time this year, the highest OPS of his career. The issue was the amount of time he was actually on the field. You see, thanks to a torn hamstring he played in just 74 games. At the plate he showed no lingering effects from the injury – his .378 wOBA was fourth among third basemen (min. 300PA). His legs were understandably effected as he wasn’t able to run with the speed or aggressiveness we’re used to seeing. He missed out on a few extra bases and runs because of it.