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Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Josh Hamilton

John Hamilton - RotoBaller Fantasy Baseball AdviceJosh Hamilton had a career season in 2012-- a .285 average 43 HR, 128 RBI, 103 R and 7 SB-- that no one seems to be talking about. Instead, there is a lot of focus on his second-half swoon and his sour departure from Texas. Fact check: his second half was a drop-off, but not nearly as bad as you may believe. In his "poor" second half, Hamilton hit .259 with 16 HR, 53 RBI and 49 R, which was in the top 20 in MLB for both HR and RBI. Just as many did going in to 2012, we at RotoBaller believe Hamilton represents a mixed bag of positives and negatives. Let's take a closer look to see where he might come out in 2013.

There are some worrisome factors regarding Hamilton’s contact skills. His contact rate was bad (dropping from 75% in 2011 to 65% in 2012), and that coincided with three consecutive years of an increasing chase rate (swinging at pitchers outside the strike zone): from 2010 to 2012, 37%, 41% and 45% respectively. All this tells us that he's chasing junky pitches and either not seeing the ball well or trying to do his best impression of Vlad Guerrero. His declining contact rate and proclivity for extending the strike zone are negative indicators, i.e., not something you want to see in a top-tier player.

We’re not going to try to get into Hamilton’s head to figure out what he’s thinking upon joining a new team. We do know that he’s leaving a hitter-friendly ballpark and entering one that is much more suited to pitchers, but Hamilton led the majors in 2012 with fifteen “No-Doubt” HRs (courtesy of ESPN Homerun tracker), so we feel comfortable that his power numbers will be fine in Angels Stadium. He likely won't be hurt by the team switch. He's still facing the same pitchers, in the same parks, but importantly, he will NOT have to square up any of the very strong LAA pitching with which he's had to contend in the past.

In spite of our concerns, there is a LOT to like about Hamilton going into the 2013 season. His power is nearly in a league of its own and he is in a Hall-of-Fame lineup with plenty of RBI and run-scoring potential. We expect a regression from last year’s stats: his BA might not top .285, but 35 HR, 100 RBI and 100 R is likely, which places him squarely in the top tier. However, if you’re in a keeper league, the red flags we highlighted may mean this is the time to start dangling Hamilton for a package of up-and-comers like Bryce Harper or Jason Heyward, for example. We expect good things again this year, but of course we'll continue to monitor some key metrics to advise on trade options as the year progresses.
 
 
Net Net:

Josh Hamilton is currently coming off the draft board somewhere mid-to-late Round 2. Considering the upside (potential to be a top-5 performer overall) and downside (eroding contact skills and health issues), that seems about right-- that is, it's pretty fair value. However, if he somehow remains available as late as the third round in your league, draft him IMMEDIATELY. At the end of the day, Hamilton is still a fantasy stud with monster upside - don't hesitate to draft him if a good opportunity presents itself, as he can anchor your outfield. Outfield drops off after the top 20-25 and there are not too many players who can put up all-around stats like Hamilton.

Be sure to also check out RotoBaller's full 2013 fantasy baseball Outfield rankings with ADP comparisons.
 




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Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Jose Altuve

José Carlos Altuve AstrosJose Altuve is coming off a solid first full season that saw him bat .290 with 80 R and 33 SB. Those are very solid numbers for a 22-year-old player who had just 221 AB before the start of 2012, especially in the pitiful Houston Astros lineup, and we saw that Altuve is a very talented play with great upside. But we at RotoBaller also feel that fantasy owners are a little too high on Altuve and should tread lightly. Altuve's current ADP ranges between rounds seven and nine. He's the eighth 2B off the board, based on his plus speed and plate skills at a shallow 2B position. However, with minus power and run-production, alongside question marks about his ability to score runs, we feel that Altuve might be a bit risky to bank on in 2013.

Runs could be a challenge in a weak Houston Astros lineup that lacks any real threat outside of an aged Carlos Pena. The BA is much more likely to be sustainable. In 2012, though, he was aided by a .321 BABIP, which included 29 infield hits and a terrific 2:1 groundball/flyball rate - all of which which means he is taking advantage of his speed and keeping the ball on the ground. This is certainly one way to sustain a better-than-average BABIP. Considering he had a .167 average on flyballs (league avg is .224), it is imperative Altuve keep the ball down (he batted .277 on GB, league average .234). Yet, for someone who relies on his speed, it was disappointing to see that he had zero bunt hits (out of nine attempts) in 2012. This is a matter of coaching and developing his game. We feel that he could go anywhere between .280 to .300 if he maintains his GB/FB rate.

The plus part of his game that he should maintain in 2013 is his base-stealing skills. His 33 SB in 2012 were good for a 75% success rate, and that is his best fantasy attribute. In a terrible lineup that will have trouble generating runs, the Astros may just give Altuve the green light the entire season. But beyond the basepaths, Altuve may not provide much else: he only hit 2 HR after the 2012 All-Star break, so you won't see any power from him. Expect something like 7 HR and 50 RBI.
 
 
Net Net:

There are more reliable 2B (like Martin Prado) and higher-upside 2B (like Rickie Weeks) options who are being drafted 4-5 rounds later than Altuve. Weeks gives you very solid HR and RBI if he stays healthy. If you take Prado, you’ll get consistency and position flexibility. Altuve is entering just his second full season, with some nice upside, but plays in a terrible lineup. He could go either way, but without power numbers his upside really isn't THAT high: plus speed, BA and run-scoring. And if any of these categories fall off, then you are stuck with a league-average player and would have been just as good picking up Juan Pierre off waivers. Draft with caution unless he falls past the 12th round, at which point he can bring home a nice draft day profit.

For more RotoBaller.com 2B analysis, check out our full 2013 fantasy baseball Second Base rankings.
 




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Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Chase Utley

 
Utley Home RunIt wasn’t long ago that we all loved Chase Utley. After all, what wasn’t to like? The guy was a lockdown early-round pick year-in and year-out. But that was then, and this is now. Chase Utley hasn’t been an impact fantasy player since 2009, and in the past three seasons he’s missed 47, 59 and 79 games, respectively. He’s entering his age-34 season on a Phillies team whose window has all but closed, and the most significant offensive additions around him are a decaying 3B, a punchless CF, and a RF who is the sabermetric Antichrist. Still, the league-wide lack of depth at 2B combined with his reputation means Utley gets one more fantasy draft where an owner might consider reaching for him once the top half-dozen or so names at the position are off the board.

Optimists might point out that Utley, who has battled chronic knee issues the past two years, played in 83 of the season’s final 86 games in 2012. They would mention a new offseason program that saw him abstain from rest and instead participate in regular baseball activities, something that has led Utley to proclaim that he feels “pretty (darn) good” at spring training. Optimists would like his still ultra-efficient base-stealing, how he always rakes at Citizens Bank Park, and the fact that he’s in a contract year. They’d also like the fact that despite the huge chunks of missed time and underperformance of the past two seasons, Utley was still top-5 in ISO and OBP.

Pessimists, however, would tell you that Utley also said he felt great at Spring Training in 2012, and then proceeded to miss the entire exhibition slate - as well as the season’s first seven weeks. They’d point out that unless you’re playing fantasy baseball with Daniel Okrent, stolen bases (at least the amount Utley most likely will provide you) just aren’t that big of a deal in this case (his 90% career success rate notwithstanding, he’s stolen more than 16 in a season just once). And they’d also point out that while Utley still provides elite production at his home ballpark, unfortunately that’s the only production he seems to provide these days - a fact to which his three-year home triple slash (.290 AVG /.392 OBP /.506 SLG) and road splits (.238/.340/.360) clearly attest.

Further compounding the situation are Utley’s platoon splits, which have fallen precipitously. When Utley first entered the majors, his biggest problem was an inability to hit LHP; by 2006 he
had conquered that, and he continued mashing against lefties all the way through 2010. But the past
two campaigns have seen him regress to his 2004-2005 levels of production, a time in Utley’s career
when he saw nearly 78% of his plate appearances against righties (as opposed to an unregulated
65.5% from 2006-2012). In 2011 he hit .187/.298/.308 against southpaws and in 2012 he “improved”
to .215/.324/.355 against them-- unless he’s been drinking "milkshakes" with David Ortiz and Melky Cabrera, RotoBaller thinks that a rebound in that department at this point in his career is unlikely.
 
 
Net Net:

There’s no doubt that Utley has some fantasy upside in 2013, and can still hit the ball off his shoe-tops (against a right-hander, preferably at Citizens Bank Park) with the best of them. Even with the missed time, Utley's performance these past two seasons has actually been quite decent relative to the 2B position. He’s maintained an overall strong plate approach, pretty good on-base skills, and his two-year dip in batting average correlates with two straight years of low BABIP. But be advised that in the best-case scenario even a healthy Utley will probably be an exceptionally streaky option, as extended road-trips or scoring periods heavy on LH SPs could be problematic. Despite his upside and hitting abilities, fantasy consistency may potentially be a season-long difficulty. Considering the very significant injury concerns, in addition to underwhelming lineup support, it’s fairly prudent to rank Utley as a mid-to-lower-end option at 2B. He's certainly worthy of a flier if he falls low enough on draft day, and could even end up surprising with some decent return on the draft day price. We certainly wouldn't blame you for taking a chance on him in the later rounds of your draft. But if you do end up with Utley, also be ready with a viable replacement on hand rather than subjecting yourself to the horrors of the 2B waiver wire at an inopportune time.

For more analysis on 2B this year, be sure to check out RotoBaller's full fantasy baseball 2B rankings.
 




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Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Jason Kipnis

 
Jason Kipnis on June 30, 2012Jason Kipnis is entering 2013 as a trendy pick thanks to the overall solid stat line he contributed in his 2012 breakout campaign. His 76 RBI placed him fifth among all 2Bs, and his 31 SB were topped at the position only by Jose Altuve. He finished the first half with All-Star caliber numbers: 11 HR, 53 RBI and a respectable .277 BA. But true to his status as a developing player, it was his second half that left a taint in most owners' mouths. A strained neck seemed to sap much of his power, as he went yard only three times to finish 2012 with 14 HR-– serviceable, but considering his first-half pace, mightily disappointing. August was extremely difficult for Kipnis and his owners: in 24 games, he only had 2 HR while hitting just .180. Fortunately, he rebounded with a .274 BA in September, but the power never returned as he only mustered a single bomb that month.

Look, players get injured and it’s understandable that their stats trail off. There’s a certain consolation in attributing his second-half struggles to injury, rather than to opposing pitchers finding and exploiting some weakness(es) like a hole in his swing.

Nevertheless, Kipnis provided one of the biggest surprises of the 2012 season with his 31 SB. His previous professional best was 17 SB in 2011 between AAA and the Indians. So his 2013 total represents nearly a 100% increase-- quite a substantial jump. And without an established track record, it’s silly to assume that he’ll follow-up with another 30+ SB campaign; a more conservative projection of 20 SB for 2013 is probably more accurate.

Another outlier statistic was Kipnis's 76 RBI. Now, RBI are highly situational, and to a certain degree, it's a statistic in which luck is a significant factor. In this vein, Kipnis's 2012 numbers were aided by very high RBI conversion rates--– which is to say, he knocked in runners from second and third base at a rate about 15% higher than league average. His 68% conversion rate for plating runners from third with less than two out was a full 13% higher than AL MVP Miguel Cabrera's, and 14% higher than Josh Hamilton's.

One glaring weakness for Kipnis, which sort of sounds like a broken record when talking about young left-handed hitters, is his inability to hit LHP. Big surprise, right? Most young lefties stink it up against southpaw pitching, and Kipnis is no exception, hitting only .215 against LHP in 2012. You know White Sox’s ace Chris Sale is just going to tear him up.

Enough with this fancy talk. The big picture here is that despite some hiccups, Jason Kipnis performed extraordinarily well in some key situations. He is a talented young player, with a lot of upside, but he will likely be challenged to match his 2012 performance. You should realistically expect him to fall back slightly to the 70-RBI range. The Indians do have an improved lineup: with a healthy Carlos Santana, and newly-acquired Michael Bourn up at the top, Kipnis may well again have ample RBI and run-scoring opportunities. Let’s see if he can make his own luck in 2013 at the same rate he did in 2012!
 
 
Net Net:

While this may sound pessimistic about Jason Kipnis, we’re just trying to provide a bit of perspective. 2012 was a great breakout year for him, and he's a young talented player with a lot of upside. But it’s too soon to expect that he can easily repeat those 2012 numbers. Most drafts have Kipnis’s ADP somewhere in the fifth round, before more proven players like Ben Zobrist and Brandon Phillips. Those are established veterans on solid teams who feel like safer picks to us at RotoBaller. The fifth round is a little too much of an investment for Kipnis, and taking him there, you’ll be requiring a lot of return. In other words, it's a risky bet to make. Better to wait to see if he drops to round six or seven. Second base is a shallow position, but you can still snag guys like Danny Espinosa and Ricki Weeks in the tenth or eleventh round to provide a lot of the value you'd be expecting from Kipnis, but at a much more reasonable price tag.

RotoBaller's full second base rankings have also been released... be sure to check it out for more in-depth fantasy baseball analysis on 2B!
 




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Q&A: Who are the two best keepers of: McCutchen, Weaver, Bumgarner and Bruce

Question Submitted to RotoBaller >>

Name: Steven

Fantasy Baseball Question: Which two guys should I keep out of these 4: Weaver, Bumgarner, McCutchen, Bruce?

Player Pool: Mixed

# of Teams: 11-13

League Info and Categories: Weekly Points League. Pitching weighted toward IP, W/L and K. Hitting weighted toward OPS. Overall elite pitchers more valuable than elite hitters.

Roster Positions: No CI or MI. 3 OF Shallow Hitting and DEEP Pitching.

League Host: Yahoo!

 


RotoBaller Detailed Analysis >>

Hi Steven,

Thanks for your question. We haven't gotten a points league question yet! It always makes for an interesting analysis angle.

Even in a points league where pitchers are more valuable than hitters, McCutchen MUST BE one of your two keepers. Here's a guy who may still have more growth before hitting his prime, and though his BA will surely regress, his OPS should rise as his power continues to develop.

The other easy choice is letting Bruce go. In a H2H league, he can be borderline cancerous. Sure, he'll single-handedly win you 2 weeks throughout the year, but he is SO damn streaky that he will also act as a blackhole on your OF all the other weeks. Consistency is a really significant factor in this kind of format, and Jay Bruce is simply not yet consistent enough on a weekly basis to warrant keeping him.

That said, the REAL choice comes down to Bumgarner vs. Weaver. This is a really tough choice, buddy. Weaver was ranked eighteenth overall and the sixth best SP (5x5 rankings) in 2012. And in a points league where Pitcher Losses are a factor, Weaver was probably even better than that for you. Bumgarner was the fourteenth best SP and ranked 42 overall in 5x5. That is still fairly elite. He had a very respectable record at 16-11 but with fewer losses, he certainly would've cracked the top-ten SP list. So, you have two bona fide aces on your hands. Let's dig a little deeper and see if we can picture what 2013 has in store:

Weaver's ridiculous 20-5 record will come down to Earth; considering that he only threw 188 IP, there is a substantial amount of good luck in that record. His K-Rate has fallen big-time, to below the average for the top-100 SP-- in a league where Ks equal points, this points to trouble ahead. One other worrisome statistic is his .240 BABIP. A fly ball pitcher like Weaver can sustain a fairly low BABIP, but .240 is crazy-low, especially considering his fairly high line-drive % (21.1). Weaver's BABIP will likely regress to the .260-.270 range, which means more hits, in turn leading to more runs. All together, I think a line of 17-8 with 160 K and a 3.5 ERA is much more realistic expectation than a repeat of his eye-popping 2012.

Madison Bumgarner, conversely, is on the rise. His K-BB ratio is elite (18th overall) and will improve even further. His IP totals have been rising and he could easily surpass the 210 mark this year. If that happens, he'll also pass the 200 K mark for the first time in his career. Unlike Weaver (an extreme fly-ball pitcher), Bumgarner keeps the ball on the ground at a high rate, which is a much more reliable way to control run-scoring. San Francisco is always a good ball club, so Bumgarner should be good for a pretty similar record to last year's 16-11. Perhaps most significantly, he's only 22 years old, and he already has TWO high-end seasons under his belt. That is nasty! A reasonable projection for the Giants' young gun is a line of 16-9, 200 K and a 3.4 ERA.

 


YOUR ANSWER! >>

In summary, while McCutchen over Bruce is an easy call, Bumgarner vs. Weaver is much more difficult. In the end, I would go with Bumgarner for the following reasons: age, NL pitcher, K potential in a fantasy league format where points are tied to Ks, Weaver's diminishing Ks / huge IP totals of recent years, and the fact that sometimes you've just gotta go with your gut. Weaver is the EASY choice to make, but my gut is telling me he's in for a decline while Bumgarner is just about to take his game to the elite level.

 


Hope this was helpful and thanks for your submission!

- The RotoBaller Staff




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Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Starlin Castro

 
Starlin Castro 09-05-2010Starlin Castro is a very good and very consistent ballplayer. He’s not a "great" ballplayer, at least not yet, and he probably won't make the jump in 2013. Several years ago he came into the league with too much hype, and too many people expected him to put up numbers similar to the late-1990s shortstops, i.e., Nomar, Tejada, A-Rod, and Jeter. Starlin is a very talented young ballplayer, but everyone tone down your expectations a little and be content with a top-five SS who has shown consistent improvement, and will be good for around 15 HR / 70 RBI / .290 BA / 15 SB / 90 R in 2013. Reyes, Tulo and Hanley are the top three shortstops, but Starlin is a great candidate to finish ahead of any of those guys. He fills the stat sheet in all five categories and is likely to see a modest increase from his 2012 stats.

Most of Starlin's 2012 hitting sabermetrics lined up with his breakout 2011 season. His line drive rate in 2011 and 2012 were nearly identical at 20.1 and 20.5 respectively; he walked at the same rate, he whiffed at the same rate, and he even hit ground balls vs. fly balls at the same ratio. Basically, the decline in batting average in 2012 was due to unlucky bounces not going his way (sabermetrically speaking). From a power perspective, Castro’s HR total jumped from 10 HR in 2011 to 14 HR in 2012. And his AB/HR went from a meek 67.4 to a more modest 46.1 in 2012. Not Earth-shattering numbers, but a positive trend that should place him in the 15-20 HR range. And with all of his talent and upside, a 20 HR season is certainly possible if he can continue improve on that ratio.

Probably the biggest concern is his stolen base troubles. He had 25 SB last year but also led the NL
with 13 CAS, which is basically inexcusable for a player who also has the speed to hit 12
triples. For comparison, Jose Reyes also had 12 triples in 2012 and finished with 40 SB against just 11 CS. Bring Kenny Lofton to Cubs camp and teach this guy how to run. He’s never had a great SB/CS ratio, so you can be excused for thinking that he may never develop into a speed demon. 20-25 SB is a reasonable expectation, but there is potential for more if he can figure it out.
 
 
Net Net:

Starlin is the 4th ranked SS going into this year, and he will help you in all five standard hitting categories. He's a young and improving hitter, plays a big role in the Cubs lineup, and you can slot him into your lineup every day. Don’t expect him to dominate in any one category, but he's a multi-faceted player who will aggregate a lot of solid stats from a thin SS position. Starlin is a solid draft pick in Round 4 or 5, providing a good value with more room for upside than the top 3. If he slips further than that in your draft, RotoBaller recommends that you pounce! Starlin will be a consistent producer in 2013, and if he can finally put it all together we're looking at a potential 2nd-3rd round stud for years to come.
 
Be sure to also check out RotoBaller’s full Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Rankings for 2013.
 




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RotoBaller.com Rankings: 2013 Shortstop Rankings with ADP Comparison

Reyes - RotoBaller Fantasy Baseball AdviceShortstop. Ah yes, good 'ole Shortstop. Has to be one of the least fun positions in all of fantasy baseball. Year-in and year-out, the only thing you can count on out of your SS, with few exceptions, is consistent across-the-board yawn-inducing stats. After you get past the first nine or ten, the options always start to look plain putrid. However in 2013, there is something unique about SS. It has, finally, passed the “most putrid position” torch to... 2B. Not that this says anything about the quality of shortstops available for drafting (they are still pretty “meh”)-- it really just means that between injuries and guys falling off the planet, second base has sunk to lows previously unseen by any position but catchers!

But I digress. Before we get into the tiers, let’s talk a bit about SS strategy. It’s a tricky position to draft: a productive SS can be fantasy gold if you don’t need to pay much on draft day, but a bottom-of-the-barrel SS is almost worse than having no one there at all! I’m exaggerating a little, but you get the picture.

Consider the end-of-season ranks of the top 14 SSs last year: 45, 60, 52, 59, 67, 85, 102, 124, 131, 188, 212, 216, 241, 357. After the first handful, that’s a very steep slope, at the bottom of which you encounter a sheer cliff. The bad ones are borderline horrific fantasy players, so owning them will put you at a serious disadvantage compared to other managers' better options. It's enough to make you think you should grab a top guy, right? But investing big-time draft capital on these guys means you’re passing on much better overall OF and CI players.

So what to do? The answer is simple and comes in two parts. First, recognize that you can only predict so much, especially with players as all over the map as the 2013 crop of shortstops is. Don’t get too crazy about your SS projections-- it’s not gonna make or break your league. Second, grab a solid middle-of-the-road shortstop, hold on, and hope for the best. Oh, and if they end up crapping the bed in the first month you shouldn't feel so bad about it since you didn’t pay too much-- just grab a hot waiver-wire commodity! Anyone who drafted Jeter, Desmond, or Rollins in 2012 followed this strategy. Anyone who picked up Marco Scutaro followed this strategy. All those folks managed to get high-end production from their SS position without paying much, if anything. And THAT is always what you want to look for: guys who will outperform their draft position.

SS is also a position where you can find cheap SB / BA / R guys later in the draft, if you’ve already filled out your other positions with productive guys. Think Eric Aybar or Alcides Escobar. It’s another option to consider, but usually requires some planning to identify guys you want to target in the later rounds. Remember, you don’t want to get stuck with that completely scrubby SS. With all that said, let’s get into the tiers and current ADPs, and we’ll help you identify some of the best values, sleepers and biggest potential busts at shortstop. Here are the RotoBaller rankings for SS:


(Looking for more fantasy baseball rankings? Check out our friends at FantasyPros!)

Tier 1: I’ll be straightforward: unless these guys fall to the fourth round, I will not own them, anywhere, ever, no chance. It’s just not worth the high price tag. I’d rather own a Josh Hamilton or an Evan Longoria or a David Wright than Tulo, Reyes or Hanley. And those guys are being taken in the same ballpark on draft day. Hypothetically, if all these guys play reasonably well and stay reasonably healthy, any one of them could finish first in the SS ranks. But all of them could easily finish where they did last year: ranked 52, 67, and 847 (although Tulo is probably a good bet to beat that performance!).

Tier 2: Usually, we have to get to tier 3 or 4 to start seeing some nice bargains, but since shortstop is so shallow, we can find some in tier 2. Starlin Castro is definitely NOT a bargain at pick #37, and while he does have the chance to bring his game to a new level and beat that ADP, it’s hard to justify taking him here. In this tier, Rollins and Desmond are where it’s at. Both can be prone to the extended slump, which can be frustrating, but you’re looking at two guys who almost went 25-25 last year, and can definitely come just as close this year. They’re being drafted in the 8th and 9th rounds on average and that’s a good value for solid SS production. Considering they produced 4th-5th round value last year, there is nice potential for return here. Zobrist is another guy in this tier who can get you nice production, and while his current ADP makes him less desirable than Rollins or Desmond, his 2B/SS/OF eligibility makes him a very solid pick as well.

Tier 3: I’m a Yankee fan, so I've gotta start with Jeter. It seems like every year people are predicting his demise, and every year he is proving them wrong. Last year he was the second-best shortstop in fantasy baseball, ranked 50th overall. He’s turning 39 this year, but the correct response to that is: “Who cares?” Jeter isn’t being drafted until the 12th / 13th round on average, but I think you can draft him in the 9th or 10th with confidence. Frankly, all the guys in this tier are going fairly late, and they could all provide nice return. I don’t see any of them completely flopping. Aybar could be a real sneaky pick if he gets off to a hot start: hitting behind Trout and in front of Hamilton and Pujols could be the best lineup spot in all of baseball. Escobar broke out last year very nicely, and if he continues on an upward trend he could find himself in tier 2 by mid-year. Read RotoBaller’s deeper analysis on Alcides Escobar for more on what to expect from him this year.

Tier 4: Bringing up the rear is tier 4. It's similar to tier 3 in that all these guys are going extremely low, but different from tier 3 in that many of these guys might do the fantasy baseball equivalent of a 50-foot belly-flop. Rutledge has BIG sleeper potential. Scutaro could be solid again, but could just as easily stink it up. Cabrera will be good for cheap steals which is never a bad thing from your SS. Same with Segura, but Cabrera is the preferred choice at RotoBaller. Ramirez always seems to benefit from some name-brand value, but don’t bother with him. J.J. Hardy can give you some cheap power and Cozart can give you a whole lotta “meh” with a nice side of “Why the F did I draft this guy?" Rounding out the tier is Andrelton Simmons who's slated to bat leadoff for a very solid Braves offense. If he gets off to a hot start, a line of 280-10-60-80-20 could be within reach. Think Starlin Castro light, at a fraction of the cost.

All in all, be careful when picking your shortstop: pay too much for a top guy, and you may sacrifice other top players at 1B or OF whose gaudy numbers you can bank on. Don’t pay enough for a SS, and you’re stuck with fantasy trash. So that middle tier is where all of the draft-day value lies. I would try to get a solid tier-2 or -3 guy, and stay away from the tier-1 pricey studs and tier-4 junky players. Good luck and let us know what you think!

*Note, this post was updated 3.21 in light of injury news about Hanley Ramirez.  Ramirez was downgraded from 3rd to 7th.
---------

And if you've missed them, be sure to also check out RotoBaller.com's other pre-season 2013 fantasy baseball positional rankings for more in-depth analysis:

 




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Digging Deeper into First Base – 2013 Fantasy Baseball 1B Rankings

 
Edwin Encarnacion, 20111B is another position where you need to make decisions early on, especially if you are drafting late first round in the range where you’ll have to decide between Pujols, Votto and Fielder. Regardless of where you draft, you need to prepare for this position. And if you prefer to take a late-round flier on someone, you should be well prepared on who is the best bet to provide substantial sleeper value. Ladies and gentlemen, RotoBaller is digging deeper into first base:

1. Albert Pujols – In his first season as an Angel, he started off slow but carried your team mid-season, swatting eight or more HR in May, July and August and batting well over .300 from June to August. This lineup is stacked from top to bottom and that leaves plenty of opportunities for R and RBI. The addition of Josh Hamilton will only provide Albert with more pitches to hit.

2. Prince Fielder – Fielder enjoyed similar success in his first season as a Tiger. What I love most is his batting average which exceeded .300 for the first time in his career. He has played 161 or more games in each of the last four years. The return of Victor Martinez should provide Fielder with some protection, again similar to Albert with Hamilton.

3. Joey Votto – He missed some of July and August which is pretty much the worst time to lose your top player, especially after June when he batted .392. Joey is healthy and you should have no concerns. Expect 30+ HR, .300+ BA and 100+ RBI.

4. Edwin Encarnacion – I feel like every time I checked the Blue Jays box score, Edwin hit a HR. I must have checked it at least 42 times, because that’s how many bombs he hit. People will be skeptical of his stats, and many won’t buy in to a repeat performance. But 30+ bombs with the lineup the Blue Jays have put together is not absurd at all. Remember that the Blue Jays added Jose Reyes and Melky Carbrera, their #1 and #2 hitters, which will ensure Edwin has every opportunity to improve on his 110 RBI from 2012.

5. Buster Posey – Posey is a very intriguing 1B. Why? Because it leaves you with the option to fill in your roster at 1B or C later on based on needs and availability. You can add another star at 1B from this list, or you can add a C later on. Posey bounced back from his brutal 2011 injury with an MVP season. Having Posey at the catcher position is invaluable but he certainly won’t hurt you at all at 1B.

6. Adrian Gonzalez – After being bounced around the past few years he has found his home in LA. The lineup will be shuffled around so much early on that I can’t even put a finger on who will be hitting where, with the possible exception of A-Gonz hitting at #3. He will put up the same gaudy stats he has been for the past several years. Being surrounded in the order by guys like Kemp, HanRam, and Crawford, assuming all three are healthy, will only help Gonzalez.

7. Billy Butler – Butler has been improving with each season he spends in the majors. The emergence of the Royals offense will only make Butler better. They are a very young team but Butler’s 29 HR were not completely unexpected. Butler is a pure hitter and only getting better.

8. Paul Konerko – The Sox offense was questionable at best last year, and the drop off in RBI for Konerko was a direct result of that. Be cautious with Konerko, and have a backup plan. That said, a healthy lineup and new manager could pay dividends for the veteran 1B.

9. Mark Teixeira – Tex is two-sided, as he’s shown he can hit 30 or 40 HR and bat .250 or .315. Despite hitting 39 HR in 2011, he looks like he is on the decline. He is still in a potent lineup, sandwiched by Cano and Granderson, and assuming he plays 150+ games, he should get you those 30 HR, but expect a .250 BA rather than his .280 career mark.

10. Allen Craig – Sleeper! How could a top 10 1Bb be a sleeper? Because if we look at his totals for the past two seasons, here is what we would find: in his second season in the majors in 2011, his line was 71 R, 23 HR, 86 RBI and a .315 BA, while last year he produced 103 R, 30 HR, 125 RBI and a .307 BA. If Allen can stay healthy (which is his major flaw), he will be a fantasy stud!

11. Ryan Howard – It’s been a year since his injury and he is fully healthy. He produced for you in the final three months of the season finishing with 14 HR and 56 RBI, but the steadily dipping BA is a serious concern. Expect a 30+ HR season and 100+ RBI. The addition of Michael Young, Ben Revere and Delmon Young will only help the Philadelphia offense.

12. Ike Davis – The Mets opening-day lineup is looking questionable. 24-year-old Ruben Tejada will be asked to play the role of leadoff hitter, and Daniel Murphy will likely be hitting second. While both have exceeded expectations over the past two seasons, expect a slight dip in their stats, and know that the #1 and #2 hitters directly impact the rest of the lineup. In 2012, Davis’s 32 HR were rewarding at the expense of a .227 BA. Look for Ike Davis to meet you at the halfway point and sacrifice some HR for a better BA.

13. Adam Dunn – It is what it is. If your league has CI than Dunn is the perfect complementary guy if you own someone like Billy Butler or Buster Posey, guys who hit only 20-25 HR but have a high BA. You will need someone to offset Dunn’s disgusting .204 BA. It might take a couple of other high-average players to lead your league in BA while owning Dunn, but 41 HR is hard to find, especially considering that only six other players hit 40+ HR in 2012.

14. Mark Trumbo – Trumbo was spectacular last season hitting 32 bombs and 95 RBI. He will have similar stats in addition to having 1B, 3B and OF eligibility this season. He is a versatile player and exceptionally underrated.

15. Adam LaRoche – LaRoche doesn’t have the same talent around him that Trumbo has, but he is another fairly underrated player. After spending his first seven major league seasons with five different teams, his seventh season and sixth team have found him a home. As an everyday starter last season he hit 33 HR and 100 RBI with a respectable .270 BA.

16. Freddie Freeman – Freeman improved moderately on his rookie season. The Braves entire lineup has improved going into 2013. This bodes well for a productive fantasy season for the young 1B. Freeman has the offensive potential of moving up in the lineup where is projected at batting sixth.

17. Paul Goldschmidt – The D-Backs made some changes to improve the club, despite trading guys like Trever Bauer and Justin Upton, which could well be addition by subtraction. Entering his second full season manning 1B, Goldschmidt is primed for an improved season. Easily a 30/100 candidate and he doesn’t hurt you in the BA category.

18. Nick Swisher – Swisher will be playing ball for a new team for the fourth time in his career. While his batting average may vary anywhere from .220 to .290, he will predictably hit you 23+ HR and anywhere from 80-100 RBI. This is all IF he makes the adjustment from being A guy in NY to being THE GUY in CLE.

19. Anthony Rizzo – Still figuring things out after only 136 career major league games, but he definitely has some power. Much of Rizzo’s success will rely on the remaining projected lineup. I wouldn’t expect too much of an improvement from last season for Rizzo; 23/80 seems achievable, though.

20. Corey Hart – Hart will put up nasty fantasy stats if he plays a full season. Unfortunately he will likely miss April (possibly into May) following surgery. He will probably have a few more 14-day DL stints, too. However, if he falls far enough in the draft for you stash him, be confident that he will put up numbers when he plays. You could scoop him up with your final pick, stash him on your DL and see where he takes you.

Don't forget to check out RotoBaller's first base fantasy baseball rankings, and full breakdown of the different tiers...

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RotoBaller.com Rankings: 2013 First Base Rankings with ADP Comparison

Pujols - RotoBaller Fantasy Baseball AdviceFirst Base. Ahhhh yes, First Base. My favorite position in fantasy baseball. It's the beginning of everything. First Base is where it all starts... in both fantasy, and real life ;-). First Base is where your fantasy team and fantasy championship begins. This is where the biggest, baddest sluggers in baseball usually play. This is the position where year after year you find guys slugging HR and RBI like animals. If you don't have a bona fide slugging 1B that will put up 25-30 HR and at least 85-90 RBI, then you really have no chance at winning your league. Make sure you get a first baseman with big-time power.

Now, here's the thing with First Base. It is always fairly deep, and there are always tons of guys that are 1B eligible that can hit you 25-30 HR. Think Chris Davis in 2012, a guy that probably wasn't drafted in standard leagues but ended up the season swatting 33 bombs. You can always find good, cheap power at the 1B position. That said, I'm not necessarily recommending that you stick with a "cheaper" guy as your 1B starter all year. But those types of guys are great for UTIL slots, bench stashes, and late draft fliers with upside. If you don't know who to take at the end of your draft, take some extra 1B guys since they probably have the potential to do the most damage.

What this means is you don't HAVE to spend big on an elite 1B like Pujols or Prince. But if you do, it certainly wouldn't be a bad decision. Some fantasy managers like to go after a five-tool type in the earlier rounds (or maybe even an elite pitcher). If this is your strategy, and you decide to hold off on 1B for a few rounds, you should be fine. But just make sure that you don't miss out on a big-time slugger. This is the time and the place to add your cornerstone slugger to your team. Now onto the RotoBaller rankings:


(Looking for more fantasy baseball rankings? Check out our friends at FantasyPros!)

Tier 1: Pujols is a machine, and will put up another monster year. But if you can't stomach a slow start to the season then I can't blame you for passing. I'm going Prince over Votto, although Votto has more upside. Here's the thing though: Prince never misses a game. Both will be big-time studs as long as they're healthy.

Tier 2: If Edwin does it again this year he'll be the #1 ranked 1B next year-- crazy upside in that lineup. Posey really isn't a 1B and should be drafted as a C, but his MVP numbers are legit. Some may think Adrian Gonzalez (ADP ~33) is ranked a bit high considering his decline in power, but I'm expecting a big bounce back year-- he's back in the familiar NL West in a dynamite offense. We're looking for .300, 20+ HR, 100 RBI, with upside for a lot more. Butler is a BA machine, and could find himself in Tier 1 next year if his production remains consistent and his power continues to develop. Konerko is the ageless wonder, and his AVG / HR / RBI upside provides the best value in this tier with an ADP ~80. Other than Konerko, none of the guys in this tier provide huge draft-day bargains.

Tier 3: A lot of "experts" are down on Teixeira in '13, but I'm expecting a big year. He's still in Yankee stadium, with a short porch, in one of baseball's top-five lineups. Allen Craig is a fantasy dream... if he can finally stay healthy-- he has all the upside in the world, but just never puts in a full season. Ryan Howard's K-rate was worrisome last year, and it may seem controversial to rank him this high, but a healthy and productive Howard has a chance to provide fantasy riches for your team. He still has the ability to put up some of the biggest power numbers in the game. Howard could go off the board anywhere from Rounds 6-9, potentially providing a substantial profit on draft day. Ike Davis is one of the guys I like best in this tier, especially at his draft-day bargain price. He's coming into the year healthy and past his "Valley Fever." He has a full year to show everyone how great he can be-- the guy put up 20 HR / 41 RBI in 2012 after the All-Star break in only 251 at bats... on a horrible team!

Tier 4: This is my "I have a ton of power but usually hit for a low AVG tier." Dunn hit 41 HR last year, Trumbo has gone 29 HR / 87+ RBI for 2 years straight and is in arguably the best lineup in baseball. LaRoche is Mr. Consistency, almost always going for around 25-30 HR / 85-90+ RBI. Freeman and Goldschmidt are the exceptions here, as both have the ability to hit for higher AVG but not as many HR. Freeman should be healthier this year, and has a good chance to break out in a big way; if he falls to the 7th round, pounce! But I'm not sold on Goldschmidt, and his current ADP is way too high. He has a lot of talent, but pitchers will adjust in his sophomore season and he will regress-- think Eric Hosmer in 2012. You can read RotoBaller's deeper analysis on Paul Goldschmidt and what to expect from him this year. Of these guys, Dunn and Laroche are positioned to give you the best draft-day value.

Tier 5: This is my "I have a lot of potential and upside" tier. These guys are mostly being undervalued or overlooked, for various reasons. But this is where I'm going to be looking in the middle to late rounds of the draft to stock up on potential under-the-radar studs. If you stash a couple of these guys and they put up big seasons, it can help win you a league. Morneau, Berkman, Hart (if healthy) and Kendrys could provide nice returns on their current ADPs. You can also read RotoBaller's deeper analysis on Justin Morneau for more on what to expect from him this year.

Tier 6: This is my "I also have some upside but not as much as Tier 5" tier. Once again these guys can be later-round draft steals. Keep on eye on Todd Frazier's spring: if he's raking, then try and snag him on draft day. You can also read RotoBaller's deeper analysis on Todd Frazier and what to expect from him this year. Also keep an eye on Moreland: if he has a full time job all to himself, he can thrive this year in Texas.

Tier 7: I'm not in love with anyone here, and most of these guys will probably be on waiver wires to start the league in standard 10-12 team mixed leagues. But keep an eye on Chris Carter with a full time gig-- he showed some nice promise down the stretch last year. And Adam Lind always has the potential and slight chance to come closer to his 2009 where he slugged .305 / 35 HR / 119 RBI.

UPDATE 3/7/2013: Due to injury, Mark Teixeira will miss at least a month of the regular season. Consequently, you've got to revise downward any projections for his 2013 production to the tune of over 15%. In our estimation, this drops T-Rex down to the top of the fifth tier, where he can commiserate with fellow DL-bound 1B Corey Hart.

UPDATE 3/17/2013: Teixeira's injury is worse than originally expected, and he will be out until June at the earliest now.  We've dropped him further in our rankings and he should only be drafted in the mid-late rounds of a draft at this point.

Comments are open. Let me know where you think I went wrong!
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And if you've missed them, be sure to also check out RotoBaller.com's other pre-season 2013 fantasy baseball positional rankings for more in-depth analysis:

 




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Q&A: What will Jake Peavy's 2013 Look Like?

 
Question Submitted to RotoBaller >>
 
Name: Mitchell

Fantasy Baseball Question: What are your predictions for Jake Peavy? Will he have the same success in 2013 that he had in 2012?

Player Pool: Mixed

# of Teams: 11-13

League Info and Categories: Standard plus OBP and Quality Starts

Roster Positions: Standard

League Host: Yahoo!

 


 
RotoBaller Detailed Analysis >>
 
Hi Mitchell,

Thanks for your question. Let's get into it, shall we?

Ahhh, Jake Peavy, how I loved thee last year... sigh. Now I know Fernando Rodney was straight-nasty all year, but in my mind Jake Peavy was easily the AL's Comeback Player of the Year in 2012. He didn't win it because he managed 111 IP in 2011, so I'm guessing perhaps he didn't technically qualify, but forget that. Peavy hadn't thrown 200+ IP or exceeded 170K since 2007-- his comeback was five years in the making. Anyone who owned Peavy last year reaped some of the best value for any single player in Fantasy Baseball (though Peavy himself likely reaped the most value with his $29M two-year deal). His final line of 219 IP, 3.37 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, with 11 W and 194K was good for the 17th best SP and 64th overall (according to Baseball Monster). Considering he was a late round flier (probably undrafted in many leagues), that's about as good as anyone could have hoped for.

But I digress... you asked about his 2013, not for what you already know about 2012. Simply put, Peavy will go as far in 2013 as his health will carry him. And his health is looking pretty good so far this winter. If he stays healthy and spring training reports are positive, I can most definitely assure you his ADP (currently 188) will climb. How high it climbs will determine whether or not you should draft him. Currently, he's going in the 15-16 round range. For a guy who can give you 190 IP, 3.6 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 170 K with 11-13 W, that is a STEAL. That line would give him roughly 9th-10th round value, and obviously picking that up in the 15th round is a good deal.

Here's my advice with Peavy: make a projection for him, and don't factor in his injury history in this projection. Injuries are extraordinarily difficult to predict, and if we realistically took Peavy's last five years into account, we'd have to chop our projections in half if we considered all his injuries. So, make a projection for a healthy Peavy, and identify what type of return he'll give you based on that projection. When draft day comes, and his ADP is more stable, see how much room you have to work with. If your projection of Peavy is for 10th round value (like mine), and he's going in the 12th, it's not worth it. If your projection is for 8th round value, and he's going in the 14th, that's a gamble worth taking in the 12th or 13th round. It's all about ROI-- it's all contextual.

Back to 2012 for a second - Peavy consistently got ahead of batters and was able to induce a career high % of swings at bad pitches. He was a great pitcher last year. However he also had a career high Fly Ball % of 44% (10 percentage points above the league average), which does not bode well at the Cell. The Southside has a great home-run hitters park, and Peavy was hurt by the long ball (27 HR). Nevertheless, he still dominated, mostly because no one was ever on base when he gave up the HR, and he got timely strikeouts when he did let on base runners. All in all, it paints the picture of a very effective pitcher who may find it hard to improve on his 2012 campaign because of his fly ball tendencies.

 


 
YOUR ANSWER! >>
 
In summary, Peavy can definitely repeat most of his performance from 2012, and at the price he's currently being drafted at, that would be one of the best draft-day bargains. However, Peavy's HR issues could hold back further improvement, and a little bad luck could lead to an ERA in the 3.8/3.9 range. Pay attention to where he's being drafted, and make sure you're getting a good enough deal to warrant drafting this reborn but injury-prone pitcher. If everything plays out right, you could have yourself a really solid #3 SP in the 14th-15th round.

 


 
Hope this was helpful and thanks for your submission!
 
- The RotoBaller Staff
 
 




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Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Todd Frazier

 
Todd Frazier will most likely be one of the last guys on your roster. In a 12-team league, there are twelve better options, so you don’t necessarily want to target him as your starting 3B. BUT he can still contribute to your fantasy success, and has the potential to be a 2013 sleeper. Frazier has also earned a spot on your roster as a bench-stash with some potential, in a solid lineup-- a guy you can rotate in and out of the lineup on Mondays and Thursdays, and when he’s got favorable matchups. There's always the chance that he breaks out into a viable everyday player based on what we saw last year, so he makes for a good end-of-draft flier and "lottery ticket".

Look to Frazier for power. In this new era of PED testing, a guy who can go for 20 HR is someone who demands some of your attention. His AB/HR ratio was 22.2 which is comparable to players like Aramis Ramirez (21.1), Matt Holliday (22.2) and Yoenis Cepedes (21.2). Cincinnati’s lineup is stacked and Frazier will be batting 6th which bodes well for his RBI opportunities. Fraizer doesn’t steal bases and he most likely won’t score too many runs either hitting in front of Zack Cozart and Ryan Hanigan. But he’ll also go into the 2013 season with 1B and 3B eligibility which is a plus, and could end up with OF eligibility depending on your league settings. Last year he played eight games in the OF, which for many leagues, just missed the cut-off to start the 2013 year with fantasy OF eligibility.
 
 
Net Net:

Frazier has some decent pop, and showed flashes of upside last year. He could float around on the waiver wire, or in 12-team deeper leagues go in Round 16 or 17. Stashing him on your team to see how he performs in a solid Reds lineup isn't a bad idea. And he also could have 3B, 1B and OF eligibility by mid-year, which will enhance his value. Look for him to fill some holes and to sub in for those guys who are enjoying an off day... and at the same time hope for the best, as we look forward to seeing how he performs in his first full year with a full time gig. If you're not sure who to take at the end of your draft, this is a perfect candidate. A young player, in a great lineup, in a hitter's park, with power potential, multi-position flexibility and a solid rookie season... that's the type of upside you should be willing to take a chance on in your later rounds.
 
Be sure to check out RotoBaller's full Fantasy Baseball Third Base Rankings for 2013. And since Frazier is 1B eligible as well, check out our First Base Rankings while you're at it!
 




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Digging Deeper into Third Base - 2013 Fantasy Baseball 3B Rankings

 
David Wright 63B is always one of the tougher positions to lock down, especially when you wait around on draft day. If your league has a CI position, it’s always good to lock up 3B early and do yourself a favor by taking a second 3B as well-- it’s a solid backup plan, and it can work for you with trade bait for a rival manager who gets stuck with a question mark at the position.

1. Miguel Cabrera – The #1 fantasy player. “What about Mike Trout” you ask? He hit 30 bombs, swiped 49 bags and scored 129 runs to go along with a .326 BA. When my OF ranks come out, get my take on Trout, but for now we are talking about “Miggy.” He is the epitome of consistency, something that is VERY important in fantasy baseball. He played 161 games last season and has flourished with the addition of Prince Fielder in the lineup. Expect similar stats to last season, top the tune of: 40 HR, 100+ R, 125+ RBI, and a .330 BA.

2. Adrian Beltre – Beltre has continued to improve as a top fantasy 3B option. The loss of Josh Hamilton is going to hurt a bit, but Texas is still a very productive lineup top to bottom. Hopefully the pressure doesn’t get to Beltre as he is the ultimate run producer for this team.

3. David Wright – He bounced back from his injury-riddled 2011 season with a very productive 2012, during which he was an all-around fantasy guy. His days of stealing 20+ bases are long gone but he still puts up consistent fantasy numbers.

4. Evan Longoria – Can he get through a full season? In less than half a season he put up gaudy fantasy numbers including 17 HR. In 133 games in 2011 he hit 33 homers, including 17 HR in August and September (during your fantasy baseball playoffs). Bottom line is: when he plays, he produces. Let’s hope he stays healthy in 2013.

5. Hanley Ramirez – He has 3B and SS eligibility which is a plus for deeper leagues. More importantly, though, is the Dodgers’ projected lineup, which includes Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Eithier-- so, so, so much potential for R and RBI. Keep in mind for keeper leagues, Ramirez will NOT have 3B eligibility in 2014 as the Dodgers have stated that Hanley will be the everyday SS in 2013. All that said, you'll probably want Hanley as a SS, so don't draft him as a 3B.

6. Ryan Zimmerman – It will be interesting to see how Denard Span helps this team and how Bryce Harper develops in his second season. Regardless, Zimmerman is good for over 20 HR and should knock in close to 100 RBI. When he stays healthy, he produces at an elite level.

7. Aramis Ramirez – After Aramis, the talent drop-off is clear. He fit in nicely with Milwaukee after nine seasons in Chicago. His numbers were better than expected; while I do not see him having the same success, and would expect his numbers to drop slightly, he consistently surprises everyone and puts up solid season after solid season. Better to draft someone else and trade for him after his cold first half. In all my leagues I will end up with one of these top 7 guys.

8. Chase Headley – Talk about career year and fantasy playoff MVP. 19 of his 31 HR and more than half of his RBI came in the dog days of August and September. Zero chance he maintains those numbers, but a midseason trade will improve his value. Indulge a little prognostication: I can envision Hafner and Youkilis splitting time at DH while Headley takes over at 3B.

9. Pablo Sandoval – He is going later in drafts than he probably should. He would make a fantasy manager very happy as a candidate for CI or UTIL. He hasn’t played a full season for a couple of years, but like many, when he is on the field he is productive. Pence, Posey, Pablo make a nice productive middle of the order for the defending World Series Champs.

10. David Freese – It’s too early in his career to project what Freese will do but I think his 20 HR from 2012 probably represents his ceiling. If he maintains his BA I would consider him a possible fantasy starter; nevertheless, he is a guy who won’t hurt you, but he won’t win any MVP awards either.

11. Pedro Alvarez – If you’ve been reading my rankings you can tell by now, I hate guys who hurt you. I am not a fantasy guy that will ever lose BA or OBP. David Freese is the opposite of Pedro Alvarez. What would you rather have: 30 HR and a .240 BA, or 16 HR and a .290 BA? If you’ve drafted high BA guys, you can afford Alvarez; if you’ve drafted high HR guys, go for Freese instead.

12. Brett Lawrie – The only way he moves up this list is if he were to start stealing more bases. With where he is hitting in the lineup, 70 HR hitting in front of him in Bautista and Encarnacion, it might be unlikely that he does that. He will have a shot at producing some RBI, but he’s still fairly young and he needs some more time to develop. Great hitter for keeper formats, though, but he is going way too high in drafts.
 
 
Be sure to also check out RotoBaller's full fantasy baseball Third Base rankings for 2013.
 

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RotoBaller.com Rankings: 2013 Third Base Rankings with ADP Comparison

Pujols - RotoBaller Fantasy Baseball AdviceRankings season is in full swing here at RotoBaller, and up next is third base, aka the Hot Corner. 3B is deep-- the top guys in 2012 occupied final player ranks of 3, 10, 12, 23, 24, and lower down 41 and 67. However, after those players, not one of the guys in the table below finished in the top 89. Their ranks drop quick after that - 120, 142, 157, 170, 231, etc. You get the picture: great top-end depth with STEEP drop-off.

This makes 3B a strange position this year: you can maybe acquire a 30 HR / 90 RBI guy in Pedro Alvarez in the 15th round, or Will Middlebrooks (big breakout coming?) in the 10th, or Moustakas in the 15th - all this might make you think you can wait for a while before drafting a quality 3B. But a lot of these players have HUGE question marks around them, even some of the top guys. So the question, as always, is "should you wait?" or "should you pounce?". In my mind, the message is crystal clear: draft a highly-rated 3B, or ya might screw the pooch. Just make sure you draft the right one ;-).

So, let's take a look at the rankings. I've included some ADP data where it's available, and I'll keep this updated as Yahoo, ESPN, etc. make their leagues' draft results available. As you can see, I'm projecting that the fantasy impact of the 3B position will be distributed among 6 distinct tiers in 2013.


(Looking for more fantasy baseball rankings? Check out our friends at FantasyPros!)

Tier 1: Since most of you won't get to draft the consensus #1 pick, our look at the tiers and ADP will skip over Miggy.

Tiers 2 and 3 are similar in the types of players with the exception of Longoria (who's pure risk / reward)-- all high-end guys with high ceilings and sketchy history of inconsistency or injury. Level of achievement sets apart tiers 2 and 3: Wright or Beltre each make fine picks in Round 2, while Zimmerman and Aramis are fine picks in Rounds 4-5 (Hanley is on this list but he shouldn't be drafted as a 3B anywhere). No bargains in tier 2 or 3: high but fair prices for mostly bankable players.

Tiers 4-5 is where we start to see upside bargains. In tier 4, Sandoval has potential to shatter his ADP value. His power / avg upside is unmatched by most guys at 3B. Alvarez and Freese are held back by avg and power issues, respectively, but should also provide good return for their low ADPs. Headley is one guy in this tier who I would AVOID at all costs - he's a solid ball player, but there is just no way he repeats last year's bonkers performance. Anyone who drafts him in the first 6 rounds is asking to be disappointed. In tier 5, we have a whole list of upside guys who could easily be top 10 3B next year, but the ADP on some (Lawrie, Prado) makes them as appetizing as a tuna fish shake. Others look simply delectable: Moustakas in the 15th, Middlebrooks in the 13th, and Youkilis in the 18th are my favorites. You can read RotoBaller's deeper analysis on Will Middlebrooks and what to expect from him this year. Todd Frazier is another decent bat who could be sneaky in a potent Reds lineup. You can also read RotoBaller’s deeper analysis on Todd Frazier for more on what to expect from him this year.

Generally speaking, there is not enough consistency in the tier 4-5 bunch to warrant waiting on one of them and foregoing a top third baseman. 3B is a position where you should pounce on a top guy and savor his steady near-elite production. If you play in a CI league, or have multiple Util slots, then I'd recommend drafting a second 3B from tier 4-5, as well. Avoid drafting all players in tier 6 - the value just isn't there.

Comments are open. Let me know where you think I went wrong!

*Note, this post was updated 3.21 in light of injury news about Chase Headley.  Headley was downgraded from 8th to 15th

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And if you've missed them, be sure to also check out RotoBaller.com's other pre-season 2013 fantasy baseball positional rankings for more in-depth analysis:

 




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Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Salvador Perez

 
This year’s catching pool has a lot of enticing players-- players that make you think you know something more than other owners and that you are about to steal a sleeper. Mid-career players who you imagine are going to put it all together and break out ::cough:: Matt Wieters ::cough::. Young players who could bring down the old guard to become top-5 guys – Wilin Rosario ;). Older men that have name recognition and can trick you into thinking they have something left in the tank – Brian McCann ;). Then there’s the guy who is still cheap to draft, who you kind of have an eye on, but are nervous to draft too early because people will say you are trigger happy. But by the end of the year people will call you a fantasy genius!

Salvador Perez is that guy. After you draft Perez in the 10th or 11th round, that owner who drafted Yadier Molina in the 4th or 5th round will immediately question his entire drafting strategy. Salvador is the “it” guy-- he is young, he plays in a promising line-up, he is a big guy at 6’3 and 245 lbs, and he has a lifetime .311 batting average in 437 major league at-bats. And his minor league numbers are formidable as well, backing up a trend of consistent production.

Sure his OBP is kinda low at .328, but this guy just doesn't strike out. His K/AB ratio is 1:10 - the MLB average is about 1:5. In plain English, he is twice as hard to strike out as the average major league player. And did I mention yet that he’s only 22? To know the strike zone is to know baseball. Plate discipline is sexy. Put the ball in play and things happen. He has the power to bring in the stats – with 11 HR in 305 PA in 2012. Do that for a whole season and this guy is a top tier catcher by 2014.
 
 
Net Net:

Salvador Perez has major fantasy baseball sleeper potential for 2013. And most importantly he is not going nearly as high as guys like Miguel Montero or Mike Napoli, guys who I would call overrated name-droppers, with a side of injury history. Getting Perez in round 11 or 12 will bring you good fortune, and may wind up being one of the steals of this year's catchers' draft class.
 
Be sure to also check out RotoBaller's full fantasy baseball Catcher rankings for 2013.
 




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RotoBaller's 2013 Fantasy Baseball Strategy: When in Doubt, Go with Position Flexibility

When in doubt…Go with flexibility.

Much like when choosing that special someone at a bar, for fantasy position players, when in doubt, go with flexibility.  As the game of baseball evolves, teams are looking for players that are more athletic and capable of playing more than one standard position.

Multi-position eligible players are more valuable then your typical one position eligible players and when deciding whom to take on draft day, go with flexibility. That’s not to say that if you have to decide between Albert Pujols and Nick Swisher, that you
should take Swisher because he is eligible at OF and Prince Albert is not; however if deciding between Nick Swisher and Alfonso Soriano, the extra OF eligibility should sway you towards the former Yankee.

Now, every league has different standards for how many games a player must play at a certain position in order to become eligible at that position, so for your viewing pleasure I have included the position and number of games started.*

5. Adrian Gonzalez, LAD, 2012: 1B (151); OF: (18) - Most people are in two different camps regarding Mr. Gonzalez. Is he a bounce back candidate that batted .298 with 31HR and 101 RBI back in 2010 with San Diego or a bust that the spendthrift Dodgers should not have traded for who batted .299 with 18HR and 108 RBI with Boston and L.A. in 2012. His true power is probably somewhere in between; but Mr. Gonzlez is #5 on this list because he is eligible at two positions that are fairly top heavy. Mr. Gonzalez is being taken in the third round  on average, and you may want to jump on this guy early given his positional mobility along with new lineup and surroundings.

4. Hanley Ramirez, LAD, 2012: SS (57); 3B (98) - Much like Adrian Gonzalez, some people are willing to throw in the towel on the once elite SS and others think he will regain the form that made him one of the best, if not the best SS in baseball. However, Hanley is on this list because he is not just a SS, but also has that 3B eligibility. If you draft the former 2006 Rookie of the Year and 2009 NL batting champ early on in the draft, I suggest you look to cover your bases with some other players on this list who may be available later on.

3. Nick Swisher, CLE, 2012: 1B (41); OF (109)
Newly acquired bopper, Swisher projects to be batting in the middle of a revamped and potent Indians lineup featuring speedsters Michael Brantley and free agent acquisition Michael Bourn at the top of the order, along with mainstays Carlos Santana, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipniss.  Not to mention Drew Stubbs who was acquired via the Shin Soo Choo deal, and Mark Reynolds. With all these players looking to get playing time, it would appear that Swisher will be the first baseman with Stubbs, Brantley and Bourn manning the OF and Reynolds as the full-time DH. However, Swisher still has the eligibility from a year ago. Because of the newly revamped Indians lineup, Swisher should have nice opportunities for RBIs at the very least, and he should not lose any value coming from New York, especially given the flexibility at OF and 1B.

2. Ben Zobrist, TB, 2012: 2B (58); SS (47); OF (71)
Joe Maddon is someone who loves taking players and putting them all around the field and that’s not just when David Ortiz and Mark Texieria are up at that plate. Maddon is one of the preeminent managers to take a player like Ben Zobrist and use him all over the diamond. Now, because Zobrist gained eligibility at SS last year, that would seem the most logical spot to play him; but that should give you more flexibility with taking other positional players or if Zoby drops in your draft, he may end up being that super stud you can plug in should an elite player get hurt.

MPrado01
1. Martin Prado, AZ, 2012: 1B (4); 2B (10); 3B (25); SS (13); OF (119)
There is a reason Mr. Prado is #1 on this list. I mean, just look at all that flexibility!!! Normally, you would take someone like Prado and say that SS seems to be the most logical choice to play him and you would probably be correct; however I say draft someone like Prado and that gives you the option to then draft the next best player regardless of the position and that gives you even more flexibility should the next player or even Prado himself, get hurt. Say you draft Prado in roughly the 10th Round - that gives you the flexibility to gamble and take Jose Reyes or even Hanley Ramirez early on and then you have a backup in case of injury or high quality starter at a weak position like 3B.

Honorable mentions: Danny Espinosa, Allen Craig, Marco Scutaro.

Lost eligibility: Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion.

*Note: Games do not add up to 162 as a player need not play 9 innings at any position to become eligible at said position (i.e. Hanley Ramirez could play 5 innings at SS and 4 innings at 3B and that would be considered 1 game at SS and 1 game at 3B even though
it was only 1 game total and not two games)




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Digging Deeper into Catchers - 2013 Fantasy Baseball Catcher Rankings

 
Let's dig a little deeper into the top 12 catchers heading in to the 2013 Fantasy baseball season, as a follow up to our RotoBaller Rankings: 2013 Catcher Rankings with ADP Comparison. When using the catcher rankings make sure you determine what kind of draft strategy you want to pursue when it comes to the catcher position: the “I want the best catcher" plan, the “go with the flow” angle, or the “worry about it later” approach.

1. Buster Posey – The only catcher in a league of his own. After playing only 45 games in 2011 due to injury, he bounced back with an MVP season, literally. In addition his gaudy stats (24 HR, 103 RBI) he is one of the rare catchers who won’t hurt you in BA, posting a career .314 BA. He gets extra ABs due to his off days at 1B, and really is just a stud. His draft price will be expensive, but well worth it as long as he remains healthy.

2. Yadier Molina – Over 20 homers, 76 RBI and a .315 BA last year, but some would still expect him to be lower on this list. He was very underrated going in to 2012, and he is probably a bit overrated going into 2013. Still, he has emerged as a consistent BA contributor and run-producer in the middle of a strong Cardinals lineup. Keep the faith.

3. Joe Mauer – I love having players that hit for average. 25 players hit above .300 last season and Mauer is one of those guys. His stats appear to be unimpressive, but that’s only because of his 10 homers. He was still 3rd in RBI, 1st in R, and 2nd in SB at the catcher position. Again, if you end up with Mauer he won’t hurt you, though as this list goes on, you might see a few catchers who will. Let's not forget Mauer was THE elite Catcher not too long ago, before the injury bug bit him.

4. Wilin Rosario – The truth is 133 career games makes it hard to rank a player, especially a catcher. That said, 28 HR, 71 RBI and batting .270 in 117 games in 2012 is hard to ignore. Rosario is likely to start the season batting eighth but I wouldn’t take that into much consideration, because a good quick start to his 2013 season could mean a bump up in the lineupl, providing a bonus to his fantasy owners with guys like CarGo and Tulo in the lineup. Oh, and he plays in Coors Field... and is only 24 years old.

5. Carlos Santana – He had a great second half last season hitting .281 with 13 of his 18 homers after the All-Star break. If that is any indication of his 2013 season, he should bypass Wieters. Maybe we see a trend, a slow first half this season, then midseason buy-low trade target. Just saying, you heard it at RotoBaller first! Carlos Santana has a big-time pedigree, and may finally put it all together this year.

6. Mike Napoli – We know Napoli will hit over 20 homers. What we don’t know is his batting average, and how his hip condition will affect his production. He is also now playing in Boston hitting behind Big Papi and in front of second-year 3B Will Middlebrooks. He has potential to hit closer to his 2011 season than 2012. He will also probably get more ABs than a standard catcher, giving Papi a breather occasionally. Always a plus for catchers.

7. Miguel Montero – Montero could even be rated higher. A guy that will contribute in BA and get you some solid counting stats is a guy that I look to own. Montero will be hitting fourth in the Diamondbacks lineup which I love even with Upton gone. I would expect 15 homers, 75 RBI and a .276 BA.

8. Victor Martinez – He is worth the risk as long as you draft a back-up plan. He is 100% healthy and with the projected lineup looking like this: Austin Jackson, Tori Hunter, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, V-Mart, etc. As the Tigers DH Victor will not have the stress of playing defense.

9. Matt Wieters – Don’t be shocked here and I will tell you why: Wieters will hit over 20 homers, 80 RBI and produce a BA of at least .250. He is likely to improve on his stats previous years stats. He is becoming increasingly consistent at a position full of inconsistency.

10. Salvador Perez – Much like Rosario, Perez has only played 115 games in his short MLB career including 76 games in 2012 (less than half a season) in which he produced 11 homers and 39 RBI’s. I am not suggesting he gets 20 bombs or 80 RBI, but 15 and 70 all while batting .300+ wouldn't be bad at all here. Salvador Perez is an up-and-coming young stud.

11. Jesus Montero – I smell trouble with this Montero. I expect him to contribute to the counting stats, but you WILL pay a price in BA. The Ms have a very strange projected lineup. The Mariners had the worst batting average in the major leagues from 2010-2012, so expect no less from them in 2013, even with the new dimensions at Safeco. Another note of caution: Montero may face suspension, from being linked to the new PED scandal in baseball. Beware.

12. Brian McCann – If you have waited this long to draft a catcher and you “end up” with McCann, great! If healthy, you can expect 18 HR, 60 RBI... and most importantly, you’re drafting him late rounds. When compared to Yadier Molina's 20/80 at #2, 18/60 ain’t so bad 10 catchers later. The only issue here is his health, as he is still rehabbing from off-season shoulder surgery. He will probably miss some time, and may not be his old self. Take caution.
 
Keep an eye put for our other position rankings and player analysis coming soon...
 




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One-Tool Fools

 
I’m calling out all fantasy owners who have Elvis Andrus types in their Top 50 or 75 rankings -- enough with your teenage fetishes about these one-tool wonders! Base stealers like these chumps can certainly run, if that's the kinda thing you're into... but they can't do much else. Their net impact on your team is a dead roster spot, where all you can hope for is a couple of hits and a couple of SBs per week -- and that’s based on the best-case scenario that these thieves actually keep on stealing on a consistent basis. Yes I'm talking about all of you obsessing over Everth Cabrera or Emilio Bonifacio or Ben Revere.

Remember what happened when you splurged on Willy Taveras following his 68 SB season in 2008? You were rewarded with a hideous line of 25 SB, 1 HR, and 15 RBI in 2009. Putrid!

But for my ultimate "one-tool fool" that somehow continues to entice owners...Juan Pierre. Enough! He hasn’t scored more than 100 runs since 2004. Pierre averages 2 HR and 40 RBI per season. Yes I know he hits for a decent batting average, like Revere. But even if you're getting some steals and a few hits, once you take the runs away it just isn't worth wasting a roster spot on guys like this.

Instead, look for more well-rounded ballers. Guys that will get you stats in multiple categories, not just steals. If you want steals, you can draft someone like Angel Pagan or Coco Crisp or even Rajai Davis or Cameron Maybin later in the draft -- and you'll be rewarded with a little batting average, a little pop, a little power and a lot more upside... instead of a one-tool fool.
 




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Q&A: Which MLB teams will provide the best fantasy production in 2013?

 
Question Submitted to RotoBaller >>

Name: Roy Billupss

Fantasy Baseball Question:  I am in a league in which team owners don't draft individual players, we each draft one entire MLB team. Each owner may then only start players from that team. From which real-life MLB teams can you build the best fantasy rosters? Please rank the top 6-8.

Player Pool: Mixed

# of Teams: 8-10

League Info and Categories: Standard roto

Roster Positions: Standard

League Host: Yahoo!


 
RotoBaller Detailed Analysis >>
 
Hi Roy,

Thanks for submitting your question to Rotoballer!

This is a really interesting question and a definite change of pace compared to our usual player-analysis questions. Your league sounds like a refreshing break from the grind of a daily league. Reminds me of this set-it-and-forget-it Ironman league I was in a few years back, where we couldn't make any add/drops the whole year. The lack of control was a nice change of pace, considering how much we sometimes anguish over daily lineup decisions!

Anyway, on to your question. Let's look at the top 2012 MLB teams from a fantasy stats standpoint and consider their player movement as well. If we rank all the teams in each category, and average the ranks, these are the top teams:

  1. Nationals: Remain largely unchanged - Harper is a year older, Strasburg is off his leash, acquired Haren, they're a good bet to repeat in the top slot or close to it.
  2. Angels: Acquired Hamilton, but they were already the top ranked offense. I think Weaver will have a down year, and Haren is gone, but their offense will carry their fantasy value. Good bet to finish anywhere from 2-5
  3. Yankees: Dynamite offense as always. A healthy CC, Hughes a year older, could see a slightly improved pitching staff. Could finish anywhere from 1-4.
  4. Rays: The second best pitching team in baseball in 2012, led by David Price. Moore is a year older, Cobb is a big sleeper, but they lost Shields - they'll be a top 5 pitching team again. Their offense was middle-of-the-pack but has upside-- IF Longoria and Jennings can stay healthy. The Rays too could finish anywhere in the top 5 but also as low as 7 if their bats don't stay healthy.
  5. Cardinals: Goodbye Kyle Loshe and Lance Berkman. Hello to...??? The Cards made few offseason moves, but do have some upside with Wainwright returning to form after Tommy John surgery, a full year of Allen Craig and prospects Oscar Taveras and Shelby Miller knocking at the door. The Cardinals always manage to stay competitive but I can't see them finishing in the 5 slot again. Look for a 7-9 finish.
  6. Rangers: Tied for the 3rd best offense, they've lost Hamilton and Napoli, and Cruz is a huge question mark. Even with Olt and Berkman playing big roles in '13, it's a good bet their offense will slip a bit. Their pitching will be mediocre, so look for a 7-10 finish
  7. Giants: 3rd in pitching in 2012, with a Lincecum rebound they could even surpass the Nats as the best rotation. A healthy Sandoval and resurgent Pence could push their offense up a bit. Look for a 4-7 finish.
  8. Brewers: Even after losing Fielder, the Brewers had the 2nd best offense in 2012. Their pitching was just ok, and they're depending on continued breakouts from Marco Estrada and Mike Fiers. Their offense and pitching could fall off in 13, making a finish outside the top 10 a possibility.
  9. Phillies: A bad season from Doc Halladay, and nearly a 0 win season from Cliff Lee, and they still finished with the 7th best pitching. They will climb the pitching charts and finish in the top 5 easily. A healthy Howard should boost their 19th best offense a bit. I like them to finish in the 6-9 range.
  10. White Sox: If Chris Sale can't repeat his ridiculous rookie campaign, and Peavy can't put together another great year, their 18th best pitching will definitely slip. Rios, Ramirez and Dunn are all over the map year-to-year, so the Sox offense could finish anywhere from 5th-10th. They will finish outside the top 10 as well.

The Reds, Braves and Athletics are all worth honorable mention on this list, coming in just behind the ChiSox. The Reds made a nice addition with Choo, and have a healthy Votto, hopefully a more consistent Bruce, and the breakout of Todd Frazier. Latos found the plate in the 2nd half, and Cueto established himself as a legit Ace.  Throw in Aroldis Chapman moving to the rotation, and the Reds seem poised to make a huge jump, so look for them to potentially finish in the 4-8 range and displace some of the teams from 2012's top-10. The Braves also got more exciting with the additions of Justin and BJ Upton, but they have a lot of question marks: Will Uggla and Hanson regain form? How will McCann and Beachy rebound from serious surgeries? Can Hudson keep it up? Can Medlen repeat? Too many question marks for my taste-- look for them to finish in the 9-13 range. Lastly, the Athletics, who surprised the hell out of everyone last year, were the most balanced of all these teams (lowest discrepancy between hitter and pitcher ranks), but there's really nothing that screams "big improvement". They would be extremely lucky to be lucky to finish in the top 10.
 


 
YOUR ANSWER! >>
 

Net net bottom line: If you have one of the top three picks, the Nats, Angels and Yanks are the safest. Middle of the pack, your best bets are the Giants and Rays. After that, I like Cinci to make a big splash - they could be your sleeper if you pick late!


 
Hope this was helpful and thanks for your submission. Good luck!

- The RotoBaller Staff
 




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Q&A: Will Tim Lincecum bounce back in 2013?

 
Question Submitted to RotoBaller >>
 
Name: Mitch I.

Fantasy Baseball Question: Will Tim Lincecum bounce back? My other options to keep are Mark Buehrle or a closer. So Lincecum is a must. But how do you think he will fair in 2013?

Player Pool: Mixed

# of Teams: 11-13

League Info and Categories: Keeper League; Offense: Standard plus OBP; Pitching: Standard plus QS

Roster Positions: Standard

League Host: Yahoo!

 


 
RotoBaller Detailed Analysis >>
 
Hi Mitchell,

Thanks for submitting your question to Rotoballer!

To anyone who wiped Lincecum's 2012 from their memory, this would be a no-brainer! Unfortunately, Lincecum's 2012 was very real, and there's a good chance that he cost many teams a fantasy championship because they kept rolling the two-time Cy Young winner out there. I think he'll fair better in 2013, but let's look at the numbers a little deeper to temper our expectations.

2012 was a career worst, but he still racked up the Ks (9.2 K/9) and that's right in line with his last two years. His biggest issues last year were that he walked a lot more guys (now a 4-year trend) and he allowed a lot more line drives, which consequently gave those walked baserunners the opportunity to come around to score much more frequently. At the heart of the increased line drive rate is Lincecum's diminishing velocity, which Baseball Analytics illustrates in this chart. Quite simply, batters squared up his fastball a lot more, and they were crushing it.

Was there any silver lining in Lincecum's 2012? Yes - his second half showed much better control, an improved WHIP, a normalized BABIP and LOB%, all resulting in a huge improvement in ERA (6.4 1st half vs 3.8 2nd half). He was also extremely unlucky with the long-ball, garnering an almost impossible ~17% HR/FB rate-- that's one stat that you've got to expect to regress in a bit in 2013.

All these data points are reasons to expect a more consistent and improved 2013 campaign for Lincecum. His total #'s are pushing him down the draft charts to the point where his ADP has him going with the likes of Dan Haren, Jeff Samardzija, Homer Bailey, Josh Johnson, Jarrod Parker, AJ Burnett and Tim Hudson. There's just as great a risk with some of these guys, and not as great of an upside as you have with Tiny Tim.
 


 

    YOUR ANSWER! >>
     
    The big question that everyone seems to be asking is: can Lincecum learn to pitch rather than just throw? He needs to get better at throwing to the edge of the plate and at limiting the line drives. It's important because his decreased velocity doesn't allow him to get away with mistakes like he used to. My answer about whether to keep him, therefore, is a soft yes. Here's a guy who won two Cy Young awards, and even in a down year still had the stuff to induce as many swings and misses as in past years, generating a very respectable number of Ks. Like other guys before him, he'll learn to adapt-- there were already signs of this in last year's second half, and I think that trend will continue in 2013. My rough projection for him in 2013 is: 200 IP, 210 SO, 3.75 ERA, 1.3 WHIP, 12-14 W with room for upside. With 11th-12th round value, he's an easy keeper over a reliever or Buehrle.

     


     
    Hope this was helpful and thanks for your submission!
     
    - The RotoBaller Staff
     
     




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Q&A: I can only keep 5 out of these 6 - Granderson, McCutchen, AGonz, Bumgarner, and Beltre - who should I let go?

Question Submitted to RotoBaller >>

Name: Jake

Fantasy Baseball Question: I can only keep 5 out of these 6: Granderson, McCutchen, Reyes, A-gonz, Bumgarner, Beltre What you think??

League Type, Categories and Player Pool: Roto 5x5, Mixed league, 11 Team

Roster Positions: C,1,2,3,ss,mi,ci,5OF,8P,5B,2DL

 


RotoBaller Detailed Analysis >>

Hi Jake,

Thanks for submitting your question to Rotoballer!

You’ve got a real nice selection of keepers there. Since you didn’t mention prices, I’m assuming this is a “keep your 5 best” type league without any contract limits. Let’s dig into these guys a bit more to help you figure out which one to let go.

First off, all 6 of these guys are top 60 picks and will be gone within the first 5 rounds of any fresh draft, so it’s not going to be an easy decision. So let’s get rid of the obvious guys: McCutchen is a 1st round pick this year; Reyes is top-2 shortstop hitting at the front end of a potentially dynamite offense, and he gives you top-of-the-line stats at a very thin position; Beltre keeps putting up monstrous seasons. Tie those guys up in a neat package and don’t touch it. That way you have 3B, OF and SS covered.

That leaves Bumgarner, AGonz, and Granderson. Last year, these guys were ranked 42, 60, and 26 respectively.

  • Even with a hitting .232, Grandy was a top-26 player because he mashed 43 bombs and chipped in 10 SB. I think the BA will come up to the .250-.260 range. Even though his K% was a career high (and that is concerning), Granderson drove the ball extremely well, though his BABIP did not reflect this. It’s fair to expect a floor of 35 HR at this point. Net-net, Granderson is going to be a 2nd - 4th round caliber player.
  • Gonzalez had his worst year at the plate in 2012. His BB% and ISO (raw power) were pitiful. He’s turning 31 this May so we can safely assume his best years are behind him. Still, he’s not as bad as his 2012 season, and he’s in the middle of a great lineup. I like the fans’ predictions at Fangraphs, 298-23-105-88-3 with maybe a few more HR and R in there also. That stat line would move him to the middle / end of the 3rd round in terms of draft-day value.
  • Bumgarner is a borderline fantasy ace. He was the #12 SP last year, which means he can lead any fantasy rotation just fine, though not necessarily carry it the way a guy like Verlander can. Bumgarner has good, but not great or elite strikeout potential (ranked 24th), good control (ranked 20th), questionable stamina (ranked 18th from 2011-2012 in IP). These things separate him from the elite arms, from whom you’re looking to get substantial contributions to your Ks and Ws. I think it’s reasonable to expect a similar year to 2012 from Bumgarner which should put him solidly in the 4th round.

YOUR ANSWER! >>

As I said, all these guys are solid keepers. It comes down to needs and rare commodities. It will be very difficult to draft a 1B or OF after the 5th round that gives you AGonz / Grandy’s stats. On the other hand there are always sleeper pitchers available, even ones as good as Bumgarner (Gio Gonzalez and RA Dickey are two who were drafted later than the 5th round last year), or just slightly worse (Peavy, Kuroda, Zimmerman were all later picks who put up numbers close to Bumgarner). BUT, definitely don’t just lazily let him go into the draft!!! My advice would be to trade him pre-draft to a manager with a weaker pitching staff. Try to snag a draft pick if you can, or upgrade a different keeper with a 2-1. If you can’t do that, then let him go!


Hope this was helpful and thanks for your submission!

- The RotoBaller Staff




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Q&A: Why is Paul Goldschmidt's ADP so high? Where would you recommend taking him?

Question Submitted to RotoBaller >>

Name: Steve

Fantasy Baseball Question: Why is everyone so enamored of Paul Goldschmidt? Guy is going really early in mock drafts. Where would you recommend taking him?

League Type, Categories and Player Pool: Roto 5x5, Mixed league

Roster Positions: Standard

Any Other League Details: 12 team league

 


RotoBaller Detailed Analysis >>

Hi Steve,

Thanks a lot for your question! And thank you for awakening me from my winter hibernation from fantasy baseball! Every year I need a couple months to regroup after the grueling slog of multiple competitive daily leagues. Lucky for you, around the new year I usually start my stats / fantasy consumption, and I’m well on my way to preparing for 2013!

Paul Goldschmidt’s ranking / ADP was something I was also puzzled over, so let’s dig into things further. Last year, his first full year in the bigs, he hit .286-20-82-82-18 in 514 AB. He was 24 years old. Those are very respectable numbers, good for 53rd overall and 5th for 1B. But his ADP is 20 (per Mock Draft Central) and he’s ranked within the top 25 almost universally, which means his backers are expecting a season around 285-28-100-95-15 . That would put him in elite hitting company and warrant a top 25 pick. The question is – what are the chances he actually achieves this?

What I won’t give you is an iron clad probability. What I can give you is a list of pros / cons to help understand how credible the projection is.

Pros (in favor of achieving the projection):
- Learning to Hit Righties – Goldschmidt hit righties better as the year went on
- Better Control – While a 22% K-rate for the year isn't great, and won’t let him hit higher than .290 without some serious BABIP luck, Goldschmidt cut his K-rate from 24% to 20.5% from the first to second half last year (his BB% also increased 1.5% from first to second half)
- 30th in OPS - As a 24 year old he was the youngest player in the top 30
- Legs - He racked up 18 SB last year

There are other stats as well, but the general picture is of a young emerging power hitter who should put up very solid 1B numbers and be right around the top 5 1B in fantasy.

Cons:
- Limited Power Last Year - He only hit 20 HR last year in nearly a full season
- K's - Goldschmidt still strikes out a lot (33rd), and if you look at the names right around his in K%, you’re hard pressed to find guys who batted north of his .286. The chances he’ll repeat that avg. are slim unless his K% improves
- Legs? - Can you really count on a slugger like this to steal 18 SB again when he averaged less than 10 all previous seasons?
- Two Words: Eric Hosmer
- Track Record - Significantly, he hasn't put up those lofty projected numbers yet – if he had, it would be a lot easier to project him to do it again!

To me, this is a case of fantasy group think: some projections and pundits have this guy breaking out in a monster way, and everyone jumps on the bandwagon, which in turn causes more people to proclaim his monster campaign is nigh, which in turn causes even more people to jump on the wagon…rinse and repeat. This happened last year with Eric Hosmer, a similarly unproven player who ended up being a drag on every team he was on.

Here’s the thing: consider this handful of players who are being drafted after Goldscmhidt on Mock Draft Central: Adam Jones, Josh Hamilton, Giancarlo Stanton, David Wright, Jacoby Ellsbury, Curtis Granderson, Jose Reyes, Dustin Pedroia. These are ALL guys who put up solid numbers year in and year out – they are proven, and they are being drafted in the first three rounds because of credibility and reliability. Goldschmidt has neither, but he does have a lot more hype! I guess I’m the exception to many out there, because I wouldn't draft Goldshmidt ahead of any of these guys.


YOUR ANSWER! >>

In summary, we have a young power hitter who did some special things last year, and could be on the verge of a true breakout, but has yet to truly justify his draft position / ranking. If Goldschmidt is being taken off the board in the 2nd round, I would definitely pass. If he gets to the 4th or 5th, then he could provide nice value, but even there you’re still banking on a guy to get to a level he has never been at before!


Hope this was helpful and thanks for your submission!

- The RotoBaller Staff