2014 Fantasy Baseball Positional Preview-Second Base

When looking at the 2nd base position this year, it appears to be in a transition period. It doesn’t even know who it is anymore…Sigh. The top players over the past few seasons are still around, but are in steady decline.  The big question heading into the season at the position is whether or not its top player, Robinson Cano, will continue as the undisputed #1.  As always, the rankings to follow are our composite rankings for the site.  Please check out my ranks here, and Steven’s are here as well.  @RyNoonan grounded one to second and will bust his butt down the line to first!

 

1 Robinson Cano Mariners
2 Dustin Pedroia Red Sox
3 Ian Kinsler Tigers
4 Jason Kipnis Indians
5 Jedd Gyorko Padres
6 Ben Zobrist Rays
7 Aaron Hill Diamondbacks
8 Jose Altuve Astros
9 Matt Carpenter Cardinals
10 Martin Prado Diamondbacks
11 Brandon Phillips Reds
12 Brad Miller Mariners
13 Chase Utley Phillies
14 Howie Kendrick Angels
15 Jed Lowrie Athletics
16 Daniel Murphy Mets
17 Neil Walker Pirates
18 Brian Dozier Twins
19 Jurickson Profar Rangers
20 Anthony Rendon Nationals
21 Kolten Wong Cardinals
22 Josh Rutledge Rockies
23 Marco Scutaro Giants
24 Dan Uggla Braves
25 Kelly Johnson Yankees
26 Alexander Guerrero Dodgers
27 Omar Infante Royals
28 Gordon Beckham White Sox
29 Scooter Gennett Brewers
30 DJ LeMahieu Rockies
31 Rickie Weeks Brewers
32 Dustin Ackley Mariners
33 Nick Franklin Mariners
34 Maicer Izturis Blue Jays
35 Emilio Bonifacio Royals

It’s clear that from a run production stand point, Robinson Cano is moving to a less hitter-friendly park, especially for HRs, but I believe his power will translate to Seattle, and the lineup around him will support his counting stats (runs/rbis) enough to make him worth a 1st round pick, and the top at his position.  The position overall is top heavy, with a good mix of young talent and guys that contribute really well in a stat or two.  You should always be trying to add across the board producers, but when constructing your roster, you’ll find value in what the middle of the pack guys can give you here.  Let’s take a look at how I tier them out for drafts.

 

Tier 1

Robinson Cano Mariners
Dustin Pedroia Red Sox
Jason Kipnis Indians

 

We’ve gone over Robinson Cano, so let’s take a look at the last 2 ‘sure things’ at the position.  Dustin Pedroia played hurt last season.  ALL season.  He played through a UCL sprain and a thumb that he jammed on opening day.  You hold the bat with your hand.  Your thumb is a part of said hand. It’s safe to say that he was affected by the injuries, his GB rate spiked, he had the lowest FB % of his career, and his HR/FB ratio was his lowest since his rookie season.  Pedroia did all this while continuing his ‘Lasershow’ moniker, he hit line drives at an elite rate and he still managed a top 5 finish at the position.  This is a bounce back season, people.  We’re just 2 seasons removed from a fantasy line of .307/102/21/91/26.  Analyzing 1st/2nd half splits can be overrated at times, but we’ve had back to back seasons of huge 2nd half dips in production from Jason Kipnis.  I think he’s the clear #3 at the position, and his end of the year numbers have been strong the past 2 season, but I think he’s more of a .270 hitter than the .284 we saw last season.  It’s easy to think, ‘young guy, getting better, he’ll jump that .284 to .290’, but you didn’t do your homework.  I did it for you. He won’t, you’re welcome.

 

Tier 2

Ian Kinsler Tigers
Aaron Hill Diamondbacks
Jedd Gyorko Padres
Jose Altuve Astros
Matt Carpenter Cardinals
Ben Zobrist Rays
Martin Prado Diamondbacks
Brandon Phillips Reds
Brad Miller Mariners
Chase Utley Phillies

 

This is a big tier, and you definitely want your starting 2nd basemen to come from either Tier 1 or 2.  If you play with a middle infield spot as well, you’ll want to know what your roster needs at that time, statistically speaking.  The ballpark in which you play matters, and Ian Kinsler is going from one of the best hitters parks in Texas, to one in Detroit that’s neutral at best.  His FB% is in a 4 year decline, and he was just +4 in SBs last year (15 steals in 26 attempts).  That’s….that’s not good.  They’ll stop letting him run. Pass. Aaron Hill is a player that I think gets overlooked too often.  Yes, he misses time, he missed nearly half the season last year, but he’s still a solid producer when he’s in the lineup, with elite power at the position; with power down, he should be moved up your list.  Jedd Gyorko is sexy.  Not as a man, but as a name in fantasy.  Maybe as a man, I don’t know.  Not my thing. I do know that if he’s everyone’s ‘sleeper’, then he’s awake.  Jedd at his best is Aaron Hill, with 15-20 points less in BA.  Jose Altuve is a limited player, but valuable nonetheless. His stolen base production is tops at the position and he gets on base at a decent enough clip to help your run total.  He needs to be on a fantasy team that started real strong with HRs/RBIs in the first few rounds.  Matt Carpenter had a fantastic 2013.  He’s a much better baseball player for the Cardinals, than fantasy player for you.  He went 11/3 last year.  We like 20/20 guys.  Sure, they’re rare, but I don’t think the 11 HRs are repeatable.  His average and runs were elite last year, but a little less luck in batted balls (.359 BABIP is a bit high) and he’s .290/90 instead of last year’s .318/126.  Ben Zobrist has been valuable to not only his team, but to fantasy owners over the past 5 years.  His multi position eligibility is useful, but his bat might not be for much longer.  He was way off his career HR/FB%, so a return to plus power is possible, but I think the days of 20/15 are a thing of the past.  Martin Prado struggled to begin the season, but finished strong.  I see him being more consistent, but in the same ballpark for end of year numbers.  YAWN.  Brandon Philips is a familiar name, and his RBI total will look great if you see it on draft day.  103!  Cool!  Friends don’t let friends draft Brandon Philips.  Everything in his advanced profile says ‘jump off this ship’.  I’d rather be a year early than a year late. Jump!  Brad Miller had a nice debut in Seattle last year.  He’s eligible at both 2nd/SS and I see solid all around numbers hitting in a much improved lineup.  Chase Utley can; A) repeat last year’s numbers, or B) play 150 games and be at the top of this tier.  I’d go with A.  He just isn’t what he was, and he struggles to stay on the field.

 

Tier 3

Daniel Murphy Mets
Howie Kendrick Angels
Jed Lowrie Athletics
Brian Dozier Twins
Jurickson Profar Rangers
Neil Walker Pirates
Anthony Rendon Nationals

 

There’s a lot to like about Daniel Murphy‘s game, and he could very well be in the tier above.  He won’t hurt you anywhere statistically, he stole 23 bases in 25 attempts last year, and a healthy and improved lineup will help him sustain his counting stats.  Howie Kendrick was going to win batting titles, so we were told.  He’ll be 31 this season.  I wouldn’t expect improvement anywhere, but his lineup spot will really impact his final stat line.  Jed Lowrie is another guy that’s fun to own when he’s healthy, last season’s 154 games was the first time he’s been over 100 in his career.  It’s hard to pencil him in  for 120 games, so he’s hard to draft, but at this point he’s more of a MI start, and not your 2nd basemen.  Brian Dozier had a nice power/speed mix, and could be a good MI play if he can keep his average about .250. Neil Walker isn’t sexy (remember, that’s Gyroko) but he is steady.  He also is capable of decent power and that’s rare.  He’s worth a look as a MI. Jurickson Profar is a much hyped prospect, and will get his first full season to translate the tools that had scouts rank him as the top minor leaguer in the game before last season.  He’s worth a flier in the later rounds.

 

Tier 4

Kolten Wong Cardinals
Josh Rutledge Rockies
Alexander Guerrero Dodgers
Kelly Johnson Yankees
Dan Uggla Braves
Rickie Weeks Brewers
Scooter Gennett Brewers
Omar Infante Royals
Nick Franklin Mariners
Gordon Beckham White Sox
Emilio Bonifacio FA
Marco Scutaro Giants
DJ LeMahieu Rockies
Brian Roberts Yankees
Tommy La Stella Braves
Dustin Ackley Mariners

 

The last tier for 2nd base, guys for deeper or AL/NL only leagues here.  Kolten Wong is an interesting prospect and will be valuable if he’s hitting near the top of the Cardinals lineup come March. Alexander Guerrero has talent, but let’s see how that plays itself out into a starting role.  Dan Uggla still hit 22 HRs last year.  More than you thought, right?  Oh but he hit .179.  He’s hit .233, .220, and .179 in his 3 seasons in Atlanta.  Woof.  He’ll be lucky to hold on to his job, because I think Tommy La Stella is starting at 2nd for Atlanta sooner rather than later.

 

2014 Fantasy Baseball SS Preview

Today we rank one of the most intriguing positions in all of baseball: Shortstop.  Ok, so maybe you’re pining for the glory days of power hitting shortstops like NomarJeter and A-Rod, but ladies and gentlemen we are due for a renaissance!  Granted, the value of these players drops off quickly, there is significant value to be had in this group, especially for keeper and dynasty owners. Xander Bogaerts and Jurickson Profar are due to be everyday regulars in 2014, with Addisson RussellJavier BaezCarlos Correaand Francisco Lindor right behind them (Are you paying attention dynasty owners?!).  In the meantime, let’s dive into the shortstop ranks and see how these guys stack up against one another.  As always, Ryan’s individual ranks can be found here and Steven’s can be found here.

Continue reading 2014 Fantasy Baseball SS Preview

2014 Fantasy Baseball SS Preview

Today we rank one of the most intriguing positions in all of baseball: Shortstop.  Ok, so maybe you’re pining for the glory days of power hitting shortstops like NomarJeter and A-Rod, but ladies and gentlemen we are due for a renaissance!  Granted, the value of these players drops off quickly, there is significant value to be had in this group, especially for keeper and dynasty owners. Xander Bogaerts and Jurickson Profar are due to be everyday regulars in 2014, with Addisson RussellJavier BaezCarlos Correaand Francisco Lindor right behind them (Are you paying attention dynasty owners?!).  In the meantime, let’s dive into the shortstop ranks and see how these guys stack up against one another.  As always, Ryan’s individual ranks can be found here and Steven’s can be found here.

Continue reading 2014 Fantasy Baseball SS Preview

2014 Fantasy Baseball 3rd Base Preview

We continue with our position by position rankings as we get you prepared for upcoming drafts. Yesterday, Ryan (@RYNoonan) released our first base rankings and we continue today as Steven (@SMartano) takes us to the other side of the infield to evaluate third base.  For the composite list, we’ll be using our writers’ rankings, but click on the link for both Steven’s andRyan’s individual positional ranks to see where they differ.  This year, there is significant power and value to be found at third base, but there is some injury risk and a lack of depth as the talent drops off relatively quickly.  Let’s take a look:

Continue reading 2014 Fantasy Baseball 3rd Base Preview

2014 Fantasy Baseball Positional Preview-First Base

Today we launch our 2014 Fantasy Baseball position by position previews. We’ll have a new position featured each day, finishing with our overall Top 300. We’ll be using our writers’ composite rankings as we break things down this week, but click on the link for both Steven’s and Ryan’s individual ranks to see where they differ. Time to start with a position that, unlike past years, you must address early in your draft. Ryan, @RyNoonan kicks us off with a look at First Base.

 

1 Paul Goldschmidt Diamondbacks
2 Edwin Encarnacion Blue Jays
3 Prince Fielder Rangers
4 Freddie Freeman Braves
5 Chris Davis Orioles
6 Joey Votto Reds
7 Albert Pujols Angels
8 Adrian Gonzalez Dodgers
9 Eric Hosmer Royals
10 Buster Posey Giants
11 Anthony Rizzo Cubs
12 Allen Craig Cardinals
13 Carlos Santana Indians
14 Joe Mauer Twins
15 Mark Trumbo Diamondbacks
16 Jose Abreu White Sox
17 Matt Adams Cardinals
18 Brandon Belt Giants
19 Mike Napoli Red Sox
20 Nick Swisher Indians
21 Brandon Moss Athletics
22 Michael Cuddyer Rockies
23 Corey Hart Mariners
24 Kendrys Morales FA
25 Mark Teixiera Yankees
26 Adam Lind Blue Jays
27 Chris Carter Astros
28 Ryan Howard Phillies
29 Justin Morneau Rockies
30 Victor Martinez Tigers
31 Adam LaRoche Nationals
32 Ike Davis Mets
33 Logan Morrison Mariners
34 Adam Dunn White Sox
35 Mitch Moreland Rangers
36 Yonder Alonso Padres
37 Gaby Sanchez Pirates
38 Mark Reynolds Yankees
39 Brett Wallace Astros
40 Garrett Jones Marlins

 

First things first, Miguel Cabrera is moving to 1B this year, and he’ll be the top ranked player here once eligible. More than likely though, if you own him you’re starting him at 3rd base.

It’s a different era. There just aren’t that many 30+ home run hitters anymore. How many do you think there were in 2013? Go ahead, guess, I’ll wait… Wrong. It was 14. Exactly half as many as 5 years ago, when 28 players hit 30+ HR’s in the 2008 season. Six of the 14 players that did it last year are listed above. The aforementioned Miguel Cabrera would make it 7 and if David Ortiz has 1B eligibility in your league, he’d make 8 of 14. The game has changed, so you need to change your strategy. In 2008 you could wait at 1B because it was so deep, sure the elite guys were worth the early round pick it took to land them, but you could wait and still be happy with your starter. Now, you need to jump into the 1B pool early, and don’t be shy to jump back in again a pick or 2 later. I’ve broken them into tiers. It’s important to separate positional ranks into tiers so you know when its time to buy, or time to wait on the position. You’re able to resist the temptation to fill positional needs too early, and allows you to maximize value throughout the draft.

 

[b]Tier 1[/b]

Paul Goldschmidt Diamondbacks
Edwin Encarnacion Blue Jays
Prince Fielder Tigers
Joey Votto Reds
Chris Davis Orioles

 

This is the best of the best and the case can be made for all of them being top 10 overall. Paul Goldschmidt feels really safe for someone with a limit track record, but I have no doubt that he’s a top 5 pick this year. [b]Edwin Encarnacion[/b] has had back to back top 10 seasons and he’ll be even better this year. Jose Bautista and Jose Reyes missed a combined 113 games last year, their return combined with slightly better batted ball luck (.247 BABIP) makes E5 a nice value around pick 10. He’s another guy that you’re starting at 3rd though, most likely. Don’t overreact to ‘down’ years from [b]Prince Fielder[/b] and [b]Joey Votto[/b], they are safe and late first, early 2nd round picks. [b]Chris Davis[/b] is polarizing. Last year’s fantasy MVP scares me a little and I’d let someone else take him, especially if it’s in the top 10.

 

[b]Tier 2[/b]

Freddie Freeman Braves
Albert Pujols Angels
Eric Hosmer Royals
Adrian Gonzalez Dodgers
Allen Craig Cardinals
Anthony Rizzo Cubs

 

[b]Freddie Freeman[/b] is getting a lot of early season love, and I understand why. I’m just not quite ready to put him in the group above yet, but he’s still a early round pick. [b]Albert Pujols[/b] has declined, but that doesn’t mean you need to stay away, there’s still value here. He doesn’t run anymore, and his plate discipline metrics have slid to a place where I can’t predict a .300+ average any longer, but he’s still a strong bet to hit .280/30/100. [b]Eric Hosmer[/b] needs to continue his 2nd surge, which saw his GB% drop and his FB% rise. He has a huge ceiling and is still young, but he won’t meet projections if he can’t drive the ball consistently and hit more fly balls. [b]Andrian Gonzalez[/b] is steady and boring. There’s nothing wrong with that, he’ll give you .290/24/100 in his sleep. The move to the OF for the oft-injured Craig isn’t something that excites me, but on a per game basis he’s a top 40 bat. [b]Anthony Rizzo[/b] will continue to grow, and I feel like he’ll make a leap this year, maybe to the top of this tier. If [b]David Ortiz[/b] has 1B eligibility, and he does in Yahoo!, he’s right behind Pujols for me in this tier. I keep hearing how old Papi is, and he keeps raking.

 

[b]Tier 3[/b]

Buster Posey Giants
Carlos Santana Indians
Joe Mauer Twins

 

Catchers with 1B eligibility. We’ll go into details on these 3 in our Catcher Preview, but you’re starting these players at C.

 

[b]Tier 4[/b]

Matt Adams Cardinals
Mike Napoli Red Sox
Mark Trumbo Diamondbacks
Jose Abreu White Sox
Brandon Belt Giants
Brandon Moss Athletics
Michael Cuddyer Rockies

 

By this point you should already have at least one 1B from the tiers above, but if you don’t this is your last chance for a passable starter. These guys all have questions, but there’s power throughout the tier. [b]Matt Adams[/b] just needs at bats. He’ll hit lefties well enough to stay in the lineup, and he mashes right handed pitching. [b]Mike Napoli[/b] and [b]Mark Trumbo[/b] are good additions if your team looks strong in average at this point, both could hit 30 HRs. [b]Jose Abreu[/b] is a young, powerful Cuban beast, playing in HR heaven in Chicago. He’s a mystery of sorts when trying to forecast his plate discipline, but I think the power comes early and often. [b]Brandon Belt[/b] continues to improve, but he’s limited in that park. I can’t see that swing translating into big power numbers in SF, but he won’t hurt you in any category. [b]Brandon Moss[/b] hit 30 homers while in a platoon role, that deserves your attention. If he learns to hit lefties he could be dangerous.

 

[b]Tier 5[/b]

Corey Hart Mariners
Kendrys Morales FA
Nick Swisher Indians
Ryan Howard Phillies
Chris Carter Astros
Victor Martinez Tigers
Mark Teixiera Yankees
Adam Lind Blue Jays
Justin Morneau Rockies
Adam LaRoche Nationals
Ike Davis Mets
Adam Dunn White Sox
Mitch Moreland Rangers
Logan Morrison Mariners
Mark Reynolds Yankees
Garrett Jones Marlins
Paul Konerko White Sox
Yonder Alonso Padres
Brett Wallace Astros

 

This is the last group, and it’s full of guys worth owning. Some for all year and some for their eventual hot week or month. Lots of big power/low average guys here. We’ll learn more about some of these guys as we get closer to the spring, but there’s value to be had here late.

 

Dodgers Extend Clayton Kershaw to Record Setting Deal

Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to a 7-year, $215 million contract extension, Jon Heyman has confirmed. The highly anticipated contract shatters previous pitcher extensions including last year’s deal between the Detroit Tigers and Justin Verlander, which netted the power pitcher a 7-year $180 million extension.Kershaw led the National League in ERA for the past three seasons, throwing more than 200 innings in every year since 2010, and it was clear the Dodgers wanted to lock him up before he was able to test free agency; the deal buys out his final arbitration year and an additional six years. 

Last year, the southpaw curveball ace finished 16-9 with a 1.83 ERA—94% better than park-adjusted league average ERA (ERA+). His 0.92 WHIP and 232 strikeouts in 236 innings propelled him to his second Cy Young Award in the past three seasons.

The Dodgers lock up Kershaw as a stud number one to complement Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu, who are both signed through the 2018 season. There are rumors they are still interested in at least exploring adding Masahiro Tanaka to their rotation. 

Check back with Blind Side Fantasy Advice for fantasy implications and updated pitcher rankings.

Rakuten Eagles Post Masahiro Tanaka

Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball recently agreed to new terms on a posting system for Japanese players to exit their existing NPB contracts and sign with an MLB team. Under the new system, whichever MLB team signs a posted Japanese player will pay the NPB team what is essentially a $20 million tax. Masahiro Tanaka is the first player to be posted under the new agreement.All MLB teams have 30 days (from Thursday, December 26) to attempt to come to terms with Tanaka, a 25 year old right handed pitcher for the Rakuten Eagles. Tanaka has the option to negotiate and sign with whichever team he wishes – a significant change from the previous posting system, which awarded the player to whichever team had the highest blind-bid. The change is certainly a welcome one from the players’ perspective, as players now have the ability to sign with whichever team they choose, at whatever teams they choose. 

Under the previous system, Texas paid a $51,703,411 posting fee to the Nippon Ham Fighters and gave Darvish a 6-year $56 million contract, and the Red Sox paid the Seibu Lions a $51,111,111.11 posting fee, ultimately agreeing to a 6-year $52 million contract with Daisuke Matsuzaka. Under the new system, Tanaka is likely to earn a greater average annual value (AAV) due to the posting fee limit of $20 million. 

Tanaka is represented by Excel Sports Management (other clients include Clayton Kershaw and Derek Jeter) and it is expected most MLB teams will be interested in at least taking a look at the Japanese star who posted a 24-0 record, 1.27 ERA in 212 innings. His minuscule career home run rate of .5 home runs per nine innings, combined with a 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings makes for an intriguing fantasy play this upcoming season. Even if he does not have the upside of Yu Darvish, Tanaka will certainly be an impact fantasy player.

Check back with Blind Side Fantasy Advice for fantasy implications and updated rankings upon Tanaka’s signing with a major league club.

Week 16 Quartback Rankings

Before you dig in to my Blind Side Best this week, take a moment and appreciate the fact that you’re still looking at rankings for your upcoming Week 16 matchups. Most of your peers aren’t at this point, their season’s, their chance to win it all, is over. Great work! For those of you in a league that plays your title game in Week 17, eh. You might want to re-think that. Your team changes at times through the season, but never more so than for Week 17. Derrick already has us thinking about a few teams that may be resting players in Week 16 or during the 2nd half of this weekends games. Week 17 is a headache that’s easily avoided.

I’m doing these ranks with standard league scoring in mind. When or if there’s a big PPR swing I’ll note it. Find me on Twitter, @RyNoonan

Week 16 Quarterbacks

Rank Player Name Opponent Notes

1 Peyton Manning at HOU –

2 Nick Foles vs. CHI –

3 Matthew Stafford vs NYG –

4 Drew Brees at CAR –

5 Tony Romo at WAS –

6 Jay Cutler at PHI –

7 Cam Newton vs. NO –

8 Tom Brady at BAL –

9 Philip Rivers vs. OAK –

10 Colin Kaepernick vs ATL –

11 Kirk Cousins vs DAL –

12 Andy Dalton vs. MIN –

13 Ben Roethlisberger at GB –

14 Ryan Tannehill at BUF –

15 Russell Wilson vs. ARZ –

16 Ryan Fitzpatrick at JAC –

17 Andrew Luck at KC –

18 Alex Smith vs IND –

19 Matt Flynn vs PIT –

20 Matt Schaub vs. DEN –

21 Matt Ryan at SF –

22 Matt Cassel at CIN –

23 Carson Palmer at SEA Questionable (ankle)

24 Joe Flacco vs NE –

25 Mike Glennon at STL –

26 Eli Manning at DET –

27 Matt McGloin at SD –

28Jason Campbell at NYJ

29 Chad Henne vs. TEN –

31 Kellen Clemens vs. TB –

32 Geno Smith vs. CLE –

QB Bits:

It was hard to not rank Nick Foles #1, especially if there’s a chance Peyton Manning doesn’t play all 4 quarters, but if you have both, you’re splitting hairs. I had ranked Aaron Rodgers # 3 if he was playing. I think Colin Kaepernick is going to have one of those games that taunts and teases us, I love this prime-time match-up on Monday night in the last game at Old Candlestick. The Falcons 32nd ranked pass defense helps too. I like Kirk Cousins but I can’t believe he’s your best option at QB this week. Dallas has been a fantasy QB’s dream of late, and I expect it continues, but I can’t imagine you’re here in week 16 without solid QB play. I would roll the dice with Cousins over Andrew Luck or even Russell Wilson this week. I don’t love the match-up for Luck and I’m reluctant to go all in on any Seahawks this week, with little to gain. It’s hard to trust the ‘Red Riffle’, Andy Dalton, but that match-up at home vs a depleted Vikings secondary is as good as it gets. If you bet on red, Dalton could give you top 5 production this week.

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