Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Uncomplicated Fantasy Baseball Advice for 2013

Fantasy baseball advice is about to take a turn for the worse. Below is some personal advice, or more simply, easy suggestions to think about as you draft your 2013 fantasy baseball team.  I don't pretend to know all the answers on how to win a fantasy baseball league and I won't be that guy that tells you that only one strategy works over another. You may take my advice and then proceed to finish in last place.  I apologize in advance although that would be your fault, not mine ;).  I'm also not going to WOW you with any quirky yet high level-esque super "expert" fantasy advice. This is more a dumbed-down common-sensed approach to fantasy baseball management.  Probably more usable for beginners through intermediate players.  I've found over the years that when I simplify my draft strategy, I get better results.

What I will tell you is from my 15 or so years of playing fantasy sports, I've accessed a fair amount of success without being a stat-head, number cruncher, whatever you want to call it. I'm more a "go-with-your-gut" type of player.  Do the research, form your own opinions, get results.  By research, I mean know the players, keep an eye on the news, study draft position, know where-when-how to draft for value.  You won't see me here pushing BABIP, Luck%, and all these stat categories that make you want to stab yourself in the eye balls.  Not saying there's anything wrong with that strategy, its just not for me.

My personal fantasy baseball strategy or philosophy follows three simple rules.  My goal is to utilize effective, yet efficient ways to research and study players and draft position without trying to memorize percentages and stats that may or may not help in your league standings. My three strategies include:

Reading up on updated Player News - Go online to find local newspapers that cover the players' team extensively, search twitter for updated player news.  This is especially important during Spring Training.  I do this first, then read other fantasy blogs, magazines, etc., simply for more opinion but mostly for entertainment.  This is it. Not much more too it. If you know your players mixed with some basic strategy, you will win fantasy leagues.

Do Mock Drafts - There's a ton of mock draft software out there these days.  Do a few early (start by mid January at the latest) during the off season and see where managers are drafting players. Get a sense of where you might find value. Even if its against the computer, usually the draft software ranks players somewhat close to where everyone else ranks them. Remember, no one website has the perfect rankings, you should be creating your own rankings and just using all the content out there on the Internet simply as a guide.

Choose experience over unproven upside - This is where the "uncomplicated" part of the article title comes into play and the foundation for this piece.  See below.

So why has fantasy baseball advice taken a turn for the worse? Because the third part of my strategy is so wide-open and probably has no factual reason why it works for me.  This strategy also takes a bit of luck as does any fantasy baseball championship.  I'm a guy who likes to get the best results by doing the least amount of work (more work meaning - memorizing and stressing over useless stats) as possible and as I mentioned above, I'm more a "gut" drafter based off opinion more then anything. I admit it, but, I'm doing my research and forming my own opinions.  Here goes it....

My reliable yet uncomplicated winning strategy is drafting players, still with upside, that will potentially offer value off their draft position with more experience or service time over youth.  Meaning, I like to draft players with a full 2-5 years experience over the promising rookie or second player.  Some examples....

In the first Round of any (non keeper) draft in 2013, I will choose Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Robinson Cano, Carlos Gonzalez, and even Jose Bautista over say a Mike Trout.   Call me crazy knowing Trout had an amazing rookie season, but the risk of a sophomore slump (I know it appears unlikely), is just too high to let a steady elite player like Pujols or a Cano (considering position scarcity) slide to the next guy.  Even Cabrera, after a Triple Crown season makes sense here despite an almost certain decline in overall stats in 2013 (probably only slightly). Real player inexperience kills fantasy championship hope.  Just ask Eric Hosmer last year, Matt Moore, Dustin Ackley, Mat Gamel, Yonder Alonso, Delmon Young a few more years back.  I can go on all day about over-hyped first or second year players, drafted way to high, only to produce much to low.  My theory is that for every one Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum, etc., there's a 5 or 6 Delmon Young's.

As an example, Matt Moore is a fine player, definite elite potential, but his over-hype in his rookie year produced average results.  Managers were drafting Moore in rounds 7-10 in drafts last season. I had him pegged in say rounds 13-16 which is the type of value he ended up producing.  Think of the SP you probably passed up in 2012 for a guy like Moore.... James Shields, C.J. Wilson, Adam Wainwright, Mat Latos, Jordan Zimmerman, Josh Johnson, Max Scherzer.  These are a few I cherry picked from a mock draft done at in March 2012.  I'm not saying that Moore was the wrong pick here, just saying a choice of an over-hyped player drafted probably 5 rounds too high didn't profit you anything.  Look at Johnson and Wainwright, two elite SP's coming back from injury, drafted in the same range (R7-10) providing similar stats.  Wainwright was a beast in the second half and Johnsons team was terrible but both provided decent value considering their elite potential and draft position.  The big name passed up is James Shields who was chosen after Matt Moore in this case. Shields had a monster season with 223 K and a WHIP under 1.20.  This is a prime example of a few years experience, service time with some upside, and less risk over the over-hyped rookie with elite potential.  These guys simply need time to grow.

Don't even get me started on Eric Hosmer who was drafted in the 4th round of the referenced SI mock draft.  Again, the hype extreme and every magazine and blog regurgitated the potential of the amazing Eric Hosmer in his second year.  Hosmer turned out to be a dud when you could have drafted David Wright in this example.  All in hindsight of course but Hosmer is a prime example of what I'm talking about.

Ahead in 2013:
Here are basically a few cases for 2013.  These are just ideas and my own personal strategy.  Take it as you please. Use it, don't use it, whatever, but here is how I'm thinking my draft and keeping it uncomplicated.....

Desmond Jennings over Starling Marte - You'll have to over pay for Marte while Jennings will likely slip past his draft position from 2012 or remain unchanged at the most. Jennings was over-hyped last year too, but now with a year and a half experience, he's 26, and possesses elite talent, I'd rather take a chance on a potential break out OR an experienced contributor over the over-hyped rookie. If you put Marte's 2012 numbers together over a full season, you can make a case that he would be fantasy elite.  The skills are there, but I'm not paying for it this year.

Ike Davis over Anthony Rizzo - Rizzo is primed for a 30 HR season but only half a season under his belt which means he's primed for a bust as well.  Rizzo will be hyped in 2013. I'd say Ike Davis is comparable here in the power department but with a couple more years experience. I like Rizzo and the power potential but I'd rather minimize the risk with Davis at a likely similar draft position. Paul Konerko on the experienced and less hyped side is another comparable player I'd take before jumping overboard with Rizzo.

Ichiro Suzuki over Leonys Martin - Martin will get some hype with Josh Hamilton in Texas out of the way but I'm still going experience over youth here.  Martin has extreme talent and skills but I don't like buying a first model Ford if you know what I mean.  I'd rather stick with Ichiro knowing what I'll get with a slight uptick in power playing in Yankee Stadium.  Brett Gardner, Lorenzo Cain and even Ben Revere jump out at me before I take a chance on a hyped Martin.

So that's my basic and uncomplicated strategy. Looking at the players with a couple years under their belts along with the guys who get you there every year.  Kill me on my simple strategy if you like. I'm not saying this will win you a championship in 2013 but I am saying it's helped me either win or place in the money the last few years in the different types of leagues I play in.  This philosophy mixed with a little luck will get you there without going into stat overload and making you recent fantasy baseball before the season even starts!  ;)  Good luck in 2013!  More simple and uncomplicated strategy to come....


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Fantasy Man's 2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings - Closers

The Fantasy Man's 2013 Fantasy Baseball Closers RP Rankings

1. Craig Kimbrel
2. Fernando Rodney
3. Jim Johnson
4. Jonathan Papelbon
5. Joel Hanrahan
6. Sergio Romo
7. Jason Motte
8. Tom Wilhelmsen
9. Mariano Rivera
10. Rafael Soriano
11. Drew Storen
12. Ryan Madson
13. Joe Nathan
14. Rafael Betancourt
15. Chris Perez
16. Jose Valverde
17. Addison Reed
18. J.J. Putz
19. Andrew Bailey
20. Jonathan Broxton
21. Brian Wilson
22. Carlos Marmol
23. Huston Street
24. Greg Holland
25. Matt Capps
26. Grant Balfour
27. Wesley Wright
28. Frank Francisco
29. Brandon League
30. Steve Cishek
31. Heath Bell
32. John Axford
33. Glen Perkins
34. Casey Jannsen
35. Bruce Rondon

Relievers with Opportunity (Also good for Holds):
In each case here, the primary closer obviously needs something drastic to happen but these are the relievers that can quickly step in and get you saves...

Tyler Clippard - Drew Storen injury risk
Kenley Jansen - Brandon League lost his job last year
Ernesto Frieri - Ryan Madson coming back from injury
Joakim Soria - will back up Nathan
David Robertson - Mariano Rivera back from injury, will vulture saves
Joba Chamberlain - Mariano Rivera back from injury, could vulture saves
Jeremy Affedlt - If Sergio Romo doesn't work out, he'll step in, vulture saves
Jared Burton - No real option in MIN unless Capps comes back
Ryan Cook - Grant Balfour is shaky as a closer
Jordan Walden - Holds and vulture saves to rest Kimbrel
Kyle Farnsworth - Former closer, lost job due to injury
Brett Myers - Former closer, will get chance if Reed is ineffective
Aaron Crow - Jury still out on Holland
Joaquin Benoit - Good for a few vulture saves
Vinny Pestano - Back up to Chris Perez
Luke Gregerson / Dale Thayer - Huston Street always hurt
Jon Rauch/Bobby Parnell - Francisco injury risk

I'll probably re-order this ranking later in the off-season but this is what I'm thinking now.  This is the most frustrating position to draft.  Every "expert" will tell you to draft closers late in the draft, if you want finish in the middle of the pack. You really do need a solid closer and when an opportunity presents itself to draft a stud in the earlier rounds (late 6th - 8th), then go for it.  Personally, I'd rather draft a Rodney, Mariano, Papelbon, Hanrahan somewhere when the closer run starts because I'm confident I'll get what I'm paying for. Sure, you can wait until the 13th or 14th and get Matt Capps or Greg Holland but your simply throwing darts.  If they pan out, that's not value, its pure luck.  Go back and look at all the closers drafted last year. Which closers finished the year with solid closer numbers?  Basically the guys in my top 15. Of that 15, 6-7 of them were either drafted late in the draft or plucked off the waiver wire. Problem is, you can't predict that. The guy who picked up Fernando Rodney isn't a genius, he's a luckbox.  However, I bet the guy who drafted Craig Kimbrel did well in the standings.  Point here is you can wait until late and pluck a closer or grab a guy off the waiver wire but your simply throwing darts and praying.  I'd rather draft a solid closer knowing what I'm going to get... or at least feeling confident in the solid closers out there who's jobs don't appear in potential jeopardy based on injury or ineffectiveness.  That's just me. Not saying my strategy is right or wrong, just offering my experience and whats worked for me. If you know where you can find starting pitching value, then you can use the higher slots to draft a solid closer or two..... Jus' sayin'.

The injury risks are tough to deal with this year.  Mariano Rivera still has to be considered a top talent after missing a year with a knee injury considering the track record and the save opportunity potential. The job is obviously his and if you've seen him pitch for 15 years on a daily basis like I have, you know he's going to come out and be solid. Wouldn't be surprised if he gets off to s slower start though.  Brian Wilson is more of a risky pick because he doesn't have the track record of Rivera.  He's got the talent and the hype but who knows how he responds to injury.  Remember, Mariano tore his ACL, Wilson needed Tommy John. Big difference here.  Drew Storen hasn't proved he can stay healthy for a full season so use caution and don't get too excited even though the Nationals look like they'll win 250 games. Temper your expectations on Storen and don't overpay for the team hope. A full season of Storen will net some nice value as long as you don't reach to get him. The other injury risk is Huston Street.  You love the ballpark but you hate his health history. Dude gets hurt every year.

Rafael Soriano and Jose Valverde are solid - elite closers looking for jobs. Toronto, Detroit, and Houston come to mind with money for them with Minnesota, Miami, and Oakland in the mix. I don't see Oakland buying a closer based on their purchase history, Miami just dumped, and Minnesota doesn't seem like a team that purchases high priced talent.

As for sleepers, I like that you should find Ryan Madson and Jonathan Broxton a bit lower on the draft board. Madson missed a year last year and Broxton wasn't always affective with the Royals. Broxton is a really nice sleeper who could potentially provide elite closer stats for a winning team. I also like Tom Wilhelmsen to hold onto the job for Seattle in 2013.  He's a monster 6'6", put up great numbers, more K's then innings pitched, great ballpark and plays in a lot of close games.  Super sleeper for now is Wesley Wright assuming he gets the closer job. The Astros are now in the American league, Wright a new face and relatively unknown and pitched well as a reliever in 2012. If the Astros sign someone, then my other super sleeper is Kenley Jansen. The Dodgers signed Brandon League but he lost his job last year in Seattle. Jansen showed he could save games and now with another year experience could be primed to steal the job away at some point.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Fantasy Man's 2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings - Starting Pitchers

The Fantasy Man's 2013 Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitchers SP Rankings

The Elite Tier 1:
Clayton Kershaw
Justin Verlander
Felix Hernandez
Stephen Strasburg
Roy Halladay
Cliff Lee
Cole Hamels
C.C. Sabathia
Jered Weaver
Zack Greinke
David Price
Matt Cain

The "Who am I?" Tier 2:
Tim Lincecum
R.A. Dickey
Johnny Cueto

The "I can be elite but not totally sure but definitely good enough to build around" Tier 3:
Chris Sale
Adam Wainwright
Jon Lester
Josh Johnson
Gio Gonzalez
James Shields
Madison Bumgarner
Yovani Gallardo
Mat Latos
Jordan Zimmerman
Brandon Morrow
Doug Fister
C.J. Wilson

The "Jury is still out but the upside is potentially elite" Tier 4:
(Potential Breakout Picks)
Aroldis Chapman
Tommy Hanson
Ian Kennedy
Max Scherzer
Matt Moore
Yu Darvish

The VALUE Tier 5:
(Former elites, upside here [kinda], solid consistent starters, should be available later for value)
Jake Peavy
Dan Haren
Josh Beckett
Ryan Dempster
Chris Capuano
Chris Carpenter
Johan Santana
Tim Hudson
Huroki Kuroda
Andy Pettitte
Ryan Vogelsong
Shaun Marcum
Jaime Garcia
Matt Garza
Ricky Romero
A.J. Burnett
Brett Anderson
Matt Harrison
Jason Vargas

The Second Value Tier 6:
(Young talent with upside, offer some risk but have shown potential elite type talent, more value)
Jon Niese
Jarrod Parker
Lance Lynn
Kris Medlen
Wade Miley
Bud Norris
Homer Bailey
Phil Hughes
Vance Worley
Wei-yin Chen
Jeremy Hellickson
Randall Delgado
Marco Estrada
Brandon McCarthy
Henderson Alvarez
Derek Holland
Franklin Morales
Clayton Richard
Jose Quintana

The "Forgotten High Risk High Reward but who knows" Tier 7:
(Talented players we want to believe in but haven't put it together yet, formerly of the Second Value Tier)
Edinson Volquez
Ivan Nova
Chad Billingsley
James McDonald
Trevor Cahill
Ricky Nolasco
Wandy Rodriguez

The Fantasy Man's Super Sleepers Tier 8:
Mike Minor
Alex Cobb
Patrick Corbin
Mike Fiers
Miguel Bautista
A. J. Griffin
Scott Diamond
Alexi Ogando
John Lackey

The Hot Over-hyped Rookie Types Tier 9:
Matt Harvey
Julio Teheran
Shelby Miller

Yeah, it's a lot of tiers, I know.  If a starter isn't listed, I either forgot about them or I feel they're simply waiver wire material in a 12 teamer.  There's a few waiver wire potentials on this list in shallow leagues but for deeper leagues there's values to be had at the right times in any draft.  My thought process here is a straight ranking is useless since there are so many SP's offering different value stories, so I split it up into tiers that I would personally use in a draft and when an opportunity presents itself, I strike based off these tiers.

Tier 1:
Obvious SP's you can draft in rounds 2-4 based on your league settings. If you downgrade any of these guys, you might as well just give me your money now.

Tier 2:
Three elite SP's that scare me, and probably you but if their right, the value you get here (if they fall in the 5th or later) can make or break your season. Tim Lincecum is elite talent with the biggest question mark but he has #1 SP potential, has proven it and if you believe its just a fluke of a bad season, the value here is insane.  R.A. Dickey has been a top 10 SP over the last three years, look it up. But, he's 37 and coming off his best year and about to get paid so the question is age and motivation. if you read his book, you pay extra for Dickey.  Johnny Cueto's 2012 was actually better then his 2011. The crazies out there will think he will be better then 2012 but I'm just not sure how much more ceiling there is.  maybe a few extra K's and 2-3 more wins so still elite but I need one more showing to include in the elite tier.

Tier 3:
These guys are your solids right down the list in order of preference for me.  They get you the stats you need and also provide potential elite status in just about all of them but haven't recently performed like the elite.  This is the group where you can successfully cherry pick and build your staff around if you miss on an elite.

Tier 4:
Yep, the jury is still out on these guys.  Chapman has insane and elite stuff, but as a starter? Eh, I would leave him as a closer and continue dominance. I see the next Joba Chamberlain here. Can Tommy Hanson stay healthy? Who knows. Can Max Scherzer cut down the walks and the dingers? Otherwise he has elite stuff. Do we get the Ian Kennedy of 2011 or 2012? Will Matt Moore, rookie super hype of 2012, take the next step? He has obvious talent.  Same goes for Yu Darvish. So these guys have elite stuff but just need to take the next step to elite status and show consistency.

Tier 5:
This is a tier of former elites, or just good solid starters who maybe are a bit older, have recently struggled, or maybe have been injured but still offer a glimmer of eliteness from time to time.  These are SP's you can count on who won't kill your stats but should slip later in the draft simply because there are more exciting options such as what you see in Tier 5.  Personally, I'll take Tim Hudson over Wade Miley any day, or Jake Peavy over Lance Lynn, etc.  I rather experience over youth near the end of the draft since I'm drafting my upside guys earlier in Tier 3.... but thats just me. Lots of "no longer sexy" picks here that will provide excellent fantasy stats.

Tier 6:
The second value tier here similar to Tier 4 but younger SP's with obvious talent but we need to see them do it again and take that next step. These are the guys you can get in rounds 16-22 in a 12 team snake or for $5 or less in a 12 team $260 auction league where their youth and talent can provide mucho value.

Tier 7:
These are starters you draft to fill your 8th and 9th slots and hope for the steal of the draft. There's talent here, have shown glimpses, but haven't put it together year and running out of time.

Tier 8:
These are my super sleepers because no one is talking about them.  Patrick Corbin is a guy I have read AND heard in the same sentence as being "special".  That's a huge keyword for me.  Bautista was amazing down the stretch for Baltimore, Friers racked up K's, Griffin was just simply solid, Diamond came out of the gates hot, we've seen Ogando dominate, and John Lackey if healthy and his mind right could be a steal at the end of your draft.  These are the guys I fill my last slot or two with.

Tier 9:
The over-hyped rookie types are what they are.  Unless your talking Stephen Strasburg or Clayton Kershaw, just relax and sit down. Matt Harvey's potential is crazy based off his few performances late but if your skipping over tier 3-4 and some of tier 5 for a guy like Harvey, you're asking to finish in last place. I'm just not a believer in drafting rookies like this because you always end up paying market price or more for 16th round or later numbers. Best case: Matt Moore 2011.  People were drafting this guy in the 10th round and sometimes earlier last year. Just too early thanks to the hype.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Fantasy Man's 2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings - Outfield

The Fantasy Man's 2013 Fantasy Baseball Outfielders OF Rankings

Group 1:
Matt Kemp
Jose Bautista
Ryan Braun
Carlos Gonzalez
Andrew McCutchen
Jacoby Ellsbury
Josh Hamilton
Justin Upton
Giancarlo Stanton
Adam Jones
Mike Trout
Bryce Harper
Carlos Beltran
Matt Holliday
Curtis Granderson
Carl Crawford
Jay Bruce
Allen Craig
Jason Heyward
Melky Cabrera
Shin-Soo Choo
Nelson Cruz
Mark Trumbo
Yoenis Cespedes
Mike Morse
Jayson Werth
Hunter Pence
Ben Zobrist
Desmond Jennings
Carlos Gomez
Michael Bourn
Austin Jackson
Alex Rios
Corey Hart
Shane Victorino
Mike Cuddyer
Josh Reddick
Colby Rasmus
Alex Gordon
Starling Marte
Jason Kubel
Matt Joyce
Martin Prado

Group 2:
Drew Stubbs
Brett Gardner
Dayan Viciedo
Jon Jay
Alejandro De Aza
Carlos Quentin
Nick Markakis
Nick Swisher
Josh Willingham
Angel Pagan
Andre Ethier
John Mayberry
Torii Hunter
Alfonso Soriano
Carlos Lee
Ichiro Suzuki
Lucas Duda
Denard Span
Ben Revere
Peter Bourjos
Cameron Maybin
Will Venable
Coco Crisp
Luke Scott
Ryan Ludwick
Delmon Young
Jeff Francouer

Group 3:
Nolan Reimold
Fernando Martinez
Dominic Brown
Alex Presley
Mike Baxter
Brett Jackson
Justin Maxwell
Eric Thames
Brandon Moss
Justin Ruggiano

Probable Overhyped Magazine Sleeper: Starling Marte
Last Years Overhyped Magazine Sleeper:  Mike Trout and Bryce Harper
The Fantasy Man's Sleeper: Carlos Gomez
The Fantasy Man's Super Sleeper: John Mayberry
Bust Candidate: Michael Bourn
Value Play - Mark Trumbo and Desmond Jennings

The outfield position this year is tricky and if you're not paying attention, you can really fart up this part of the draft.  I split this list up into two main categories....

Group 1 - the solid draft-able outfielders who likely take up your 1st-3rd of 5 (in a normal league) outfield slots.

Group 2 - the wannabe good fantasy players who disappoint every year, aging but still hold value late, players who at least are starting/full-time with a bit of value.

Group 3 - Some unknowns or forgottens you should at least check out, look up, research about

Basically, if I left a player off either list, it means that they're not  a full-time player, they're waiver wire material or I simply forgot to add the player in.  Regardless, I don't have time to list every possible potential outfielder so I'm sticking with who is relevant.

So above I described the OF position as tricky.  For starters, the elite class of OF is GI-normous with the first 10 players listed potential first round picks and you can go top 12 listed if you feel Mike Trout and Bryce Harper belong in the elite list.  I don't think they're quite there yet, show me two years in a row and I'll push them up a few slots next year.  However, I just can't stomach taking Harper over say Carlos Gonzalez or Jacoby Ellsbury for example. For those who love Mike Trout, it just doesn't sound right to choose Trout over Jose Bautista or Matt Kemp, does it? Maybe its just me, I don't know. Either way, OF is deep the first 25 or so in which any of Group 1 can take up your first OF slot.  After that first 25 or so there is a huge drop off for the next 10-15 players in group one.  Then, once Group 2 hits, the floor completely drops out with guys you either can't trust, don't want to trust, don't have much in the tank or are perennial busts but still draft able in the right spot.  Within the lower half of Group 2 and after, you might as well close your eyes and throw darts.  I mention the position is tricky because its so strong top half (Group 1), the bottom half (Group 2) is a complete crapshoot, but then there's likely some good value to come out of Group 3.  Its just not a steady decline of talent like we've seen in the past is all I'm saying. Just looks weird to me.

Big sleeper of the bunch, Carlos Gomez.  I always put him on a sleeper list and last year he finally delivered some value. What I liked most is that he was consistent from beginning to end.  In 415 AB in 2012, Gomez hit .260/19HR/37SB/51RBI and only 98K. He's already an excellent defensive player and he just turned 27 with a few years in the league now. If there was ever a time to break out, this is it. I'd say he's a slightly poor mans Jacoby Ellsbury right now but could be Ellsbury material by the end of the season. The talent is there.  Here's something to chew on and lets consider Ellsbury and typical projections for 2013 since his career has been a roller coaster of numbers and Gomez and Jennings from last season assuming there's more upside....

Jacoby Ellsbury         .290BA  12HR  60RBI  50SB   in 600AB (My 2013 Projection)
Desmond Jennings    .246BA  13HR  47RBI  31SB   in 505AB (2012)
Carlos Gomez           .260BA  19HR  51RBI  37SB   in 415AB (2012)

A few things to consider.....
- I don't see Ellsbury hitting 30+ HR again but I do see 50+SB
- I'm not saying Gomez and Jennings will be as good as Ellbury but the numbers are close projected over a full season.
- Ellsbury is 29, Gomez is 27, Jennings is 26
- Jennings has been highly touted the last two years or so, the upside is there, was hurt for a month or so last season.
- Gomez has been touted at least five years or so and finally making strides, started as a part-time player last season.

I can of an entire article on these guys. Point is, there is a ton of potential elite talent later in the draft, probably in rounds 6-10 of a 12 teamer here with Jennings and Gomez. I like players in the OF who contribute in all categories and these guys fit the bill. These are my two big sleepers for 2013.

Another sleeper I like is Drew Stubbs.  I call him a sleeper because of how bad he was last year and how he'll likely slip in drafts.  I know I know, maybe another Rickie Weeks or Nick Markakis as far as talent never translating to fantasy but the tools on this guy are sick and if he can cut down on the K's just slightly and hit the plate with some kind of a game plan, he can put up 20/40 or even 30/30 type numbers.  I love these types of players and always willing to take a risk at the right time of the draft.  Stubbs will likely drop in the rankings so might be good to scoop up say in or after the 13th round or so. if I can get .260/15/35SB+ I'd be pretty happy but thats basically what he's averaging with the BA slightly higher.  So I'm happy with that but the talent is there for much more which is just extra value caked on.

My super sleeper is John Mayberry. He was on sleeper lists last year but inconsistent playing time early proved to not work well for Mayberry. He hit 14 HR in 441 AB but had a much better second half in 2012.  The OF situation looks bleak in Philly but Mayberry is a beast at 6'6" / 250lbs so he has the size and the power to add value late in the draft.  he also posseses some speed which he did not showcase last season. Throw 24 doubles on top of the 14 HR and you have yourself a nice little super sleeper in the prime of his career with a chance to play everyday and whom no one is talking about.

The overall big picture here is that you can't go wrong with Group 1 anytime in the draft, there's not much in Group 2 so pick your spots, and if you're paying attention, there will be some value in Group 3.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Fantasy Man's 2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings - Third Base

The Fantasy Man's 2013 Fantasy Baseball Third Basemen 3B Rankings

1. Miguel Cabrera
2. David Wright
3. Evan Longoria
4. Adrian Beltre
5. Pablo Sandoval
6. Brett Lawrie
7. Ryan Zimmerman
8. Mike Moustakas
9. Kevin Youkilis
10. Aramis Ramirez
11. Chase Headley
12. David Freese
13. Pedro Alvarez
14. Martin Prado
15. Michael Young
16. Kyle Seager
17. Will Middlebrooks
18. Trevor Plouffe
19. Manny Machado
20. Mark Reynolds
21. Daniel Murphy
22. Placido Polanco
23. Jeff Keppinger
24. Eduardo Nunez
25. Alex Rodriguez*

Overhyped Magazine Sleeper: Manny Machado
The Fantasy Man's Sleeper: Mike Moustakas and Pedro Alvarez
The Fantasy Man's Super Sleeper: Eduardo Nunez
Bust Candidate: Aramis Ramirez - You just never know when this guy will take a half season off at the plate

Analysis:  Its weird not seeing Alex Rodriguez's name in the top 5 but news just broke that A-Rod will be out 4-6 months with a second hip surgery. There's a few ways to look at this.  Depending on your belief and the reports in spring training before your draft, you'll want to apply the 3 possibilities below and draft accordingly...

1. 4 months is December - March, a month or so of extended spring training, and he's back by the end of May. That's best case scenario.

2. A more realistic guess would be that same 4 months recovery time, all goes well, but they simply push him back to the All-Star break.  To me it seems whenever a player is supposed to be back in May, it ends up delayed until the All-Star break. Never fails.

3. Worst case scenario is he's out for the 5-6 month range in which case I'll assume he'll be out for the year.

My thinking here is that A-Rod will be close to the #2 scenario. The media will sensationalize the possibility of the end of A-Rod, but personally, I think we'll see him in the second half. He's a fast healer. In this case, I'm going to draft A-Rod solely as a stash. As some of my loyal readers know, I am a big A-Rod fan and still a believer, but I'm realistic too. So I like A-Rod in the say 12th - 15th rounds of your draft purely as a high risk high reward stash or grab for $5 or less in the auction and keep for next year. In keeper leagues, you must must must think about A-Rod in the second half of your draft!

There's not much in the way of sleepers on this list but thank goodness is somewhat deep with lots of high upside players after your top 12. Big sleeper picks for me for a boost in rankings by the end of the season could be Pedro Alvarez and Mike Moustakas.  Alvarez has monster power, 35HR+ power but the whiffs and the inconsistency could kill your championship chances. However, Alvarez can get super streaky and hot and those flashes add up in stats.  I like upside in every category, the lineup is looking stronger, table setters at the top of the order.  I'll go as far as to say I see a 100+ RBI season coming up.  You heard it hear first.

With Mike Moustakas, he had a fine year in Kansas City in 2012 but seems to me like we're treating him like a rookie still.  Hitting .241/20/73/5 leaves a lot to be desired but he's capable of much more. I'm not going to blow smoke up your asses with useless stats. Bottom line is he's only 24, third year in the league and he doesn't strike out a ton.  Probable upside is .270/25/90/5. Potential upside is .290/30/100/5

Super sleeper award goes to Eduardo Nunez either as a 3B while A-Rod is out or simply a utility player getting a ton of playing time.  Fact is Nunez can't catch, but his bat and speed has a ton of potential. The Yankees love his bat but hate his glove so you'll see him spell Derek Jeter, A-Rod or whoever plays 3B, bat as a DH, etc. If he gets a chance to play somewhat consistently, your looking at 20-30SB+ with 10-20 HR.

As for the rest, there's enough here for 14 teams to each get a quality 3B, then a few more to fill your CI or DH slot so the position is somewhat deep. Everyone after Michael Young has questions marks but all provide something. You might be asking why I put Jeff Keppinger on the list over some of the others I may have left off.  Well, Keppinger hit 9 HR last year in half a season (he was hurt in the first half) and holds position eligibility all over the field. He can hit .300 and has been linked to the Yankees as a potential 3B to take the place of A-Rod everyday.  If he lands a full-time position, he's got value written all over him.  Daniel Murphy can hit for a decent average and hits HR's in bunches, although he doesn't hit many. If you can get .275/15 out of him, you'll have some good value on your hands late in the draft. Placido Polanco is simply a solid serviceable player and Mark Reynolds will add some pop and a few SB.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Fantasy Man's 2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings - Shortstops

The Fantasy Man's 2013 Fantasy Baseball Shortstops SS Rankings

1. Hanley Ramirez
2. Jose Reyes
3. Troy Tulowitzski
4. Ian Desmond
5. Starlin Castro
6. Ben Zobrist
7. Elvis Andrus
8. Jimmy Rollins
9. Asdrubal Cabrera
10. Derek Jeter
11. Danny Espinoza
12. Jhonny Peralta
13. Zack Cozart
14. Jed Lowrie
15. Dee Gordon
16. Alcides Escobar
17. Stephen Drew
18. Yuneal Escobar
19. Marco Scutaro
20. Rafael Furcal
21. Josh Rutledge - Super sleeper with full-time play
22. Andrelton Simmons

Probable Overhyped Magazine Sleeper: Zack Cozart
Last Years Overhyped Magazine Sleeper: Asdrubal Cabrera
The Fantasy Man's Sleeper: Dee Gordon
The Fantasy Man's Super Sleeper: Josh Rutledge
Bust Candidate: Rafael Furcal
Value Play - Stephen Drew - Its going to happen at some point...

Analysis:  Is this deja vu? Shortstop here is looking almost as bad as second base as far as depth. Is it just me or does this list just not provide any excitement at the position?  Good news is that, at least in my opinion, Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez might be slightly better values then their norm the last few years. What I mean is, their flare for crazy upside and top 5 status is dwindling as we sort of know what we're going to get so they're available towards the end of the 1st round and maybe slipping into the early second. That would be nice value for me considering how weak the MI positions are.  If you can walk out of the draft with a late round pick and snag Reyes, Ramirez, or Tulowitzski one and two, you could really do some damage. Considering our options this year, I'd say that position scarcity, more then ever, should apply to your draft strategy.  I'm not big on position scarcity because its almost a moo point if you know where to find value in the draft late.  However, since "late" isn't looking great, I may have to personally take a stronger look at scarcity.

The sleeper outlook here is solid later in the draft.  I'm looking at players like Zack Cozart, Alcides Escobar, Dee Gordon, and Josh Rutledge.   Some things to like about my sleepers...

Escobar - hit .293 with 35SB in 605AB
Cozart - showed 15HR pop in 561 in rookie season, 20+ not out of the question as he grows
Gordon - 32SB in 303AB and hurt half the season, 50+ SB late in draft at scarce position makes sense
Rutledge - Hit .277 with 37R, 8HR, 37RBI, and 7SB, super sleeper here if he gets a chance to play

So in simple terms, I like Cozart later for power, Escobar and Gordon for BA and speed, and Rutledge for a potential fantasy gem with full-time play.

On the bust side, I already mentioned Marco Scutaro in the 2B Rankings and I've pretty much given up on Stephen Drew and Rafael Furcal. Someone else can draft these fantasy headaches.

The biggest gainer on the list and new comer to the second tier is Ian Desmond.  Desmond hit .292 with 25HR and 21SB and was a spark on an improved Nationals team which looks good again for 2013. Desmond will likely continue to hit at the top of the order and while I don't see 30/30 potential, we have been proven wrong and he could get you 200+ hits if he gets 600+ AB and stays healthy.  I'd love to draft Desmond here if I miss out on the top 3 where he'll provide potentially second round type numbers from possibly the late 3rd through 5th rounds depending on draft. I say that because a true guru will smoke out Desmond early enough, but he doesn't quite have the name recognition or the proven experience to normally be drafted in the top 3 rounds of a 12 teamer by magazine readers.... in my opinion.  Magazine reader = the guy who picked up a magazine the night before the draft.  Now if the mags come out in January and support my position on Desmond, then you can throw that theory out the window.

As for the draft, if you miss out on a top 3 in the first two rounds, Desmond in the late 3rd or 4th if you have the guts, then you might as well wait until somewhere in the 7th - 10th rounds where you can grab  a Rollins, Jeter, Cabrera, Espinoza or Peralta as a safety net. Otherwise, I'd wait until later 13th-16th rounds to grab Gordon or Escobar or take a chance on Rutledge (assuming full-time play).  That's my particular strategy at SS this year.

Monday, December 03, 2012

The Fantasy Man's 2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings - Second Base

The Fantasy Man's 2013 Fantasy Baseball Second Baseman Rankings

1. Robinson Cano
2. Ian Kinsler
3. Dustin Pedroia
4. Chase Utley
5. Brandon Phillips
6. Dan Uggla
7. Ben Zobrist
8. Danny Espinoza
9. Jason Kipnis
10. Neil Walker
11. Aaron Hill
12. Rickie Weeks
13. Dustin Ackley
14. Howie Kendrick
15. Daniel Murphy
16. Jose Altuve
17. Omar Infante
18. Jemile Weeks
19. Gordon Beckham
20. Marco Scutaro
21. Brian Roberts
22. Jurickson Profar

* (9) Michael Young - Played 10 games at 2B so if your league guidelines are lax, Put Young into your top 10 as a no brainer.

Probable Overhyped Magazine Sleeper: Danny Espinoza
Last Years Overhyped Magazine Sleeper: Dustin Ackley
The Fantasy Man's Sleeper: Rickie Weeks - can't be as bad as he was last year
The Fantasy Man's Super Sleeper: Gordon Beckham
Bust Candidate: Aaron Hill - just seems to obvious, or Marco Scutaro as described below
Value Play - Jemile Weeks or a healthy Brian Roberts

Analysis: Ugh, talk about weak!  The catcher position looks deeper then normal this year, 1B is unbelievably deep but where you have major surplus in one, your super deficient in the other. Well that other is second base at the moment.  The first observation is how stale the elite list is. After Robinson Cano and Ian Kinsler, the rest of the list is one big question mark. It's almost as if you are ranking on name recognition alone. So best advice, grab a top ten while you can or else wait until this particular list is almost exhausted, then snag one when your forced too.  After this list, anyone else you choose is going to leave you a black hole at 2B all year!

My big sleepers here are Gordon Beckham, and Jemile Weeks with Danny Espinoza a bit higher up. I feel like these are the guys you can get at a great value.  I like Danny Espinoza who is a 20/20 player but hasn't hit for any kind of decent average. Still, he's quite young so there's upside potential. The 20/20 is legit though. I suppose he'll be one of the hot "sleepers" so maybe he shouldn't technically be a sleeper if everyone else is high on him. If he's not deemed a sleeper by anyone else, well, there you have it!

Gordon Beckham has been a bust since his second half break out a few years ago but there's a few things to like without reading too deep into it.  First, he's only 26 and about to enter his prime with three and a half or so years experience. Second, he doesn't strike out much (only 89 K in 525 AB) despite the low average. Third, he still hit 16 HR and walked 40 times.  And fourth, he seems durable, hasn't been hurt at all.  There's something here, I can feel it and I'll take a chance and leave my 2B slot open and live with Beckham at the end of the draft.

Jemile Weeks showed he can be a burner and hit for average in his rookie year in 2011 but took a step back last season.  If he secures the job out of spring training, I like the upside here despite his probable draft position which is likely in the late teens of a 12 team snake draft.  To bet on NFL Football, MLB Baseball or any other sport I suggest to check out the odds and stats before taking action.

As for the rest of this, I'm just not a believer in Omar Infante, Dustin Ackley has potential to make huge gains but his team and his ballpark keep his value down,  and Marco Scutaro has prime bust written all over him.  Not that Scutaro has much upside to begin with, he's a serviceable player, but his post season hype and heroics will likely have you drafting Scutaro a few rounds higher then he should be simply for a serviceable player.  You already now what you're getting from Uggla, Phillips, Zobrist and maybe Walker has a little bit of upside.  Aaron Hill and even Jose Altuve seem like good potential busts to me or simply dudes I don't plan on drafting.  Jury is still out on Jason Kipnis in my opinion and the Indians look bad offensively.

Maybe a few players not on this list to think about, potential sleepers in some situations (But players I'll likely skip)....

- Jordanny Valdespin - Nice talent but much to learn, has potential all-star ability but may not play full-time yet at any one position.

- Stephen Lombardozzi - Looks like a sleeper on paper but there's no full-time position for him. Will have value in NL only leagues as a utility player but doesn't offer much power or speed.

- Ryan Roberts - some power and speed but likely a low BA if he can play everyday somewhere

- Darwin Barney - Simply serviceable imo

That's where I stand on 2B. Seriously, if I haven't listed a player, I have no interest in drafting.  Not particularly excited about this position. In auction leagues, I'm likely throwing big money out at Cano and Kinsler or I'll take Utley in a value spot. After that, your guess is as good as mine. Otherwise I'll wait for Beckham or potentially a healthy Brian Roberts at the end of the draft.