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2011 Fantasy Baseball Closing Carousel: Cheap Sources for Saves You Need to Know

Forget the Alamo—remember the chinstrap ninjas!

You know, those guys who run the ultra-cool fantasy sports website who suggested you not blow an early draft pick on a closer? Who suggested, in true-to-form stealthy and deadly fashion, to grab your closers late—or even sniper them off the waiver wire?

So here we are, not even a half-month into the 2011 season, and who leads the MLB in saves? Huston Street? For real?

Street has six at the moment and even he’s not a shoo-in moving forward. The Rockies have turned to Matt Lindstrom in the ninth inning a couple of times lately. Thursday night, he bailed out Street with a save in the final two-thirds of an inning after Street gave up two earned runs in the first third.

Sitting just two saves behind Street is Joel Hanrahan—that Pirates guy we were telling you about. He has eight strikeouts in 6.1 innings pitched and should continue to earn saves in bunches for a Pirates squad that may not win much, but will win close when they do get the victory.

Jordan Walden, not even drafted in many leagues, won the Angels closer job quickly this season and has yet to allow a run through 6.1 innings pitched, fanning eight during that stretch.

What does it all mean? That saves can be cheap if you invest wisely.

In most competitive leagues with 12 or more teams, you may be struggling to find saves. Here are a few guys worth stashing away or watching closely:


Sean Burnett, WAS.

I like to think of my closers like a Brawny paper towel: You use them until they’re too saturated to help you, toss them out and grab another.

Burnett is just that—a guy you can use while hot and dispose of later. Everyone knows that Drew Storen is the closer of the future for the Nationals and by season’s end, he’ll be saving the majority of games for Washington.

For the time being, Burnett is worth an add if available. He is owned in 54 percent of Yahoo leagues.


Kyle Farnsworth, TB.

The Rays have generated two saves opportunities thus far and Farnsworth has been given the gig in both of them. Owned in just 30 percent of Yahoo leagues, Farnsworth has four strikeouts in 4.1 innings pitched and a 0.69 WHIP.

The Tampa Bay closer situation may be more of a committee than anything else over the course of the season, but for the time being, Farnsworth has done enough to keep the job mostly to himself and deserves a pickup in most league formats.


Matt Lindstrom, COL.

Mentioned above, Lindstrom has done very well bailing out Street as the Rockies have generated tons of save opportunities so far.

Anyone who knows Street also knows that he can have his share of meltdowns or injuries or both, and Lindstrom could be a major saves asset in any of those situations.

Owned in just five percent of Yahoo leagues, he is a good guy to stash away if you have the roster room.


Sergio Santos, CWS.

Available in 92 percent of Yahoo leagues, Santos is the first of several speculation adds on this list. This is how you play the closer game if you didn’t invest in saves much during your draft.

The White Sox closing gig is a muddled mess.  

Matt Thornton has blown enough saves to lose his grasp on the job. At the moment, he’s in a “committee” of potential closers with guys like Jesse Crain and Chris Sale. All of them have struggled, and while many have thought that Sale would be the ultimate winner of the bunch, Santos has made some major waves as of late.

Santos has pitched seven innings, striking out nine and not allowing a single run. Ozzie Guillen has suggested that he’d love for Santos to win the gig, probably meaning that Sale could work his way into the rotation.

Santos is a guy worth pouncing on if he can work his way through the relief pitching minefield in Chicago.


Kameron Loe, MIL.

While John Axford has struggled to avoid allowing runs and blowing saves, Loe has been very impressive overall. He has the makeup of a true closer and the Brewers are a team that need consistency in the saves role.

As Axford continues to struggle, so improve the chances that Loe could find himself in a position to snatch some saves and maybe take over the role all together.


Eduardo Sanchez, STL.

After asking ninja ep earlier Wednesday night if he knew of some good sleeper closer options for me as I scrounged for saves in a really deep league, he came through early in the morning with news of Sanchez and his five-strikeout MLB debut through two innings.


On the surface, that doesn’t mean he’ll be a closer, however, the Cardinals are struggling in the saves department. Ryan Franklin has blown three saves in four chances. Jason Motte is still trying to develop his sinker. Miguel Batista has saved games in the past, but up in age and not someone you’d want to rely on consistently in the ninth.

All of this could lead to an opportunity for Sanchez, and you should be watching and ready to pounce if such an opportunity arises.

Wondering about holds? Check out our early season holds update.

I made some bold predictions for the 2011 fantasy baseball season—you might be surprised at some.

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Fantasy Baseball 2011 Composite Rankings: The Ultimate Top 20 Third Basemen

With several of our composite 2011 fantasy baseball rankings ( Top 50 | C | 1B | 2B | SS | RP), we’ve seen the numbers help develop fairly clear-cut tiers for players.

At third base, the major cutoff seems to come after spot 14, where suddenly the overall score jumps up quickly and players are a mixed bag of risk, upside and red flags.

Be sure to check out the handy sortable rankings chart.


1. Evan Longoria, TB: Consensus No. 1 across the board. No surprise there.

2. David Wright, NYM: The only bright spot on the Mets roster at times, Wright shared a few No. 2 rankings with Mr. A-Rod.

Wright can easily be the best fantasy third baseman on any given day.

3 (tie). Alex Rodriguez, NYY: Reports from spring training suggest A-Rod is in the best shape of his life. Of course, comments like that are a dime a dozen in the spring among a number of major athletes.

Still, we know what A-Rod can do, especially in that lineup and at the hitter-friendly home stadium.

3 (tie). Ryan Zimmerman, WAS: Zimmerman doesn’t have the studly lineup around him like A-Rod, and his park isn’t as conducive to the long ball, but he does have plenty of youth and upside in comparison to A-Rod.

There is no reason to think Zimm will take a nosedive anytime soon.

5. Jose Bautista, TOR: The 50-plus home run effort last year seemed to come out of nowhere; many are, not surprisingly, expecting him to backslide this year.

Even if he hits just half the homers, he could be a decent option at third base for your fantasy team—just not necessarily at this draft position.

6. Adrian Beltre, TEX: Injuries and consistency will always be a concern for Beltre. The hitter-friendly confines in Arlington is a plus.

7. Martin Prado, ATL: Young enough to continue improving in most every stat category, Prado’s batting average makes him an intriguing pick.

The Braves lineup will be better than last year, which will only help Prado.

8. Aramis Ramirez, CHC: We know what A-Ram can do when healthy. He is aging quickly, but it is hard not to get hopeful that he’ll string along at least one more full season of stats at some point.

9. Michael Young, TEX: A fixture in fantasy rankings for years, Young’s offseason was riddled with trade rumors and uncertainty.

Does he have something extra to prove? We’ll see.

10. Casey McGehee, MIL: My most favorite buy-low candidate—look closely at his stats so far during his young MLB career.

You’ll be surprised. More about it here.

11 (tie). Mark Reynolds, BAL: He’ll hit for power, not for average. Some feel the move to Baltimore will help him bounce back from some disappointing swings in 2010.

Then again, he’ll be playing against the dreaded AL East.

11 (tie). Pablo Sandoval, SF: The butt of many jokes last year as he bulged out and his stats went south quickly. Allegedly, he entered the spring much more in shape than last year.

Could be a bounce-back guy. Just don’t overpay expecting 2009 production just yet.

13. Pedro Alvarez, PIT: The Pirates have a number of young guys who have good potential.

Alvarez won’t be ultra consistent, but will have stretches of solid production.

14. Ian Stewart, COL: One of those guys that we’ve been waiting…and waiting…on.

Some dings in the spring have me wondering if 2011 will be another subpar experience or if he’s primed for good value.

15. Chase Headley, SD: This is the spot where the slide starts.

There is a full 11-point differential between Ian and Chase, and while both Alvarez and Stewart have enough upside to be passable starting third basemen if needed, Headley isn’t as sexy.

16. Neil Walker, PIT: Feels cheap on this list in this spot. Not even mentioned in four of the five third base rankings used for this composite, Walker was tabbed 14th by the folks at Yahoo.

Their rankings are composite based too, but the key here is to make sure Walker is third base eligible in your league before snagging him as a third sacker.

17. Miguel Tejada, SF: Yes, this is the same guy we’re used to seeing on the shortstop list. You’ll still find him there.

He is eligible in many leagues as a third baseman too, for what it is worth.

18 (tie). Placido Polanco, PHI: See Tejada, except replace the term “short stop” with “second base.”

18 (tie). Scott Rolen, CIN: Many people save the last couple rounds of their drafts for high upside young guys.

Rolen, at this point in his career, doesn’t fit that bill. However, there is some comfort in knowing Rolen will likely produce decent average, double-digit homers and won’t bust on you like many of the late-round fliers typically do.

Just watch the injury reports.

20. Chipper Jones, ATL: You can repeat most of what I said about Rolen here.

Chipper has been mashing the ball this spring. I wouldn’t expect him to last a full campaign, but he’ll be a useful fantasy option if used correctly.


Other third basemen who received top 20 marks in at least one of the rankings but not enough to make the composite top 20 list include Jhonny Peralta, Michael Cuddyer, Ty Wigginton, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Lopez, David Freese, Chris Johnson, Juan Uribe, Alberto Callaspo and Wilson Betemit.


Again, don’t miss the sortable rankings chart for third basemen.

Other third base info you can use: My early third base rankings, my value third basemen and ep’s ADP third base discussion.

We also have all your holds needs: 2010 leaders | AL bullpens | NL bullpens

And a new, simple strategy for dominating your draft.

My sleepers/value players at each position: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP

For all your hard-hitting fantasy baseball advice, go to

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Fantasy Baseball 2011 Composite Rankings: The Ultimate Top 20 Shortstops

There are few combinations more popular than peanut butter and jelly … especially when spread over bread and smacked together into one sandwich. Imagine where we’d be without PB&Js. In fact, Wikipedia allegedly found a 2002 survey that suggests that the average American will have eaten approximately 1,500 PB&J sandwiches by the time that he/she has graduated high school.

In the realm of fantasy baseball, composite rankings are like a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They’re like smacking together several tasty flavors into one winning combination.

The following composite top 20 shortstops blends together rankings from ESPN, CNNSI, CBS, Yahoo and Be sure to check out the ultra-cool sortable table by going here. I guarantee you’ll like it!

 Don’t miss my early shortstop rankings, ep’s top 20 ADP for shortstop and my sleepers/value players at the position. Also, be sure to check out the other composite rankings:  Top 50 | C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP

1. Hanley Ramirez, FLA. No brainer, was consensus top shortstop across the board. More about him here.

2. Troy Tulowitzki, COL. Only think keeping Tulo from being a high first-round pick at a shallow position is his injury track record.

3. Jose Reyes, NYM. Struggles over the past two seasons have tempered many towards Reyes. However, every site utilized feel he’s the third best option at the position this season.

4. Derek Jeter, NYY. Older, yes. Declining? Yes. Still in a killer lineup in a hitter-friendly stadium? Yes.

5. Jimmy Rollins, PHI. Just one point behind Jeter, both guys are looking for the fountain of youth. Rollins has shown us what he can do. It is a matter of figuring out what he will do in 2011.

6. Elvis Andrus, TEX. Two seasons of MLB action tells us exactly what to expect from Andrus. Average between .260 to .270. Thirty steals. No power.

7. Alexei Ramirez, CWS. One of my value shortstops. Should hit 20 homers, steal 20 bases and have a healthy batting average to boot. Only thing holding him back in improved lineup is that he will start season batting eighth. 

8. Stephen Drew, ARI. Once upon a time, we expected Drew to mature into an elite option at this position. Nowadays, we know to temper expectations. Not a horrible option, but wouldn’t be this high if the position was deeper.

9. Rafael Furcal, LAD. For the past five seasons, Furcal alternated a .300 batting average with a .270 average every other year. If that pattern holds, this will be a down year again.

10. Ian Desmond, WAS. Difference between Drew, Furcal and Desmond is that Ian is much younger. Meaning there’s still a chance he capitalizes on his potential to improve.

11. Starlin Castro, CHC. Another young shortstop with upside, Castro has been hot all spring and provides a batting average no one else in this part of the list will touch. Good value.

12. Yunel Escobar, TOR. The power has dried up, steals are fairly miniscule and he’s been battling back soreness this spring. I won’t be owning Yunel in many leagues this year … if I can help it.

13. Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE. A guy I expected much better things from last season, I still wonder if Cabrera has some potential upside if you can snag him late enough. Emphasis on late.

14. Marco Scutaro, BOS. Here’s where composite rankings get interesting. Not ranked at all in the top 20 by or Yahoo, Scutaro is buoyed up to 14th overall by CBS Sports’ seventh overall ranking of him. Sports Illustrated have him 10th at the position.

15 (tie). Jhonny Peralta, DET. The power potential is always there for Peralta. However, his batting average has consistently dropped the past three consecutive seasons. With a new club, surrounded by better offensive weapons, perhaps Peralta has more value than first meets the eye?

15 (tie). Miguel Tejada, SF. Declining skill set. Double-digit power is still within reach. Batting average hitting .300 again is probably not. Giants plan to provide Tejada plenty of rest throughout the season too.

17. Alcides Escobar, KC. With a new club that may do a better job of utilizing his speed potential, Escobar could be an OK late value guy. Ranked as high as 13th by ESPN and not in the top 20 at the position at all by CBS and SI.

18. Cliff Pennington, OAK. Shoulder woes have hampered Pennington this spring. He won’t do muich in the power department, but 30 steals are within reach if he stays healthy. Don’t expect much help in batting average, though.

19. Erick Aybar, LAA. With numbers that have been all over the place during his MLB career, it is hard to peg what Aybar will bring to the table. He could steal 25 bases with a .270ish average if healthy, or he could totally disappear in stretches.

20 (tie). Mike Aviles, KC. A late-round sleeper possibility, Aviles is now penciled into the Royals’ leadoff spot for the start of the season after a hot spring has driven up his stock. He can hit for average, steal double digit bases and hit double digit homers. I still wonder when/if Alcides Escobar usurps the leadoff gig at some point.

20 (tie). Juan Uribe, LAD. Increasing power numbers the past two seasons led to a cushy contract this offseason with the Dodgers. His average is mediocre to bad and steals are basically nonexistent.

20 (tie). Jason Bartlett, SD. Those who were expecting Bartlett to follow up on his 2009 breakout were sorely mistaken in 2010. Considering the 2009 power came out of nowhere, I suppose that isn’t a surprise. Don’t expect that to drastically change in pitcher-friendly San Diego.

Others who received top-2o rankings from other sites but not enough to warrant a place on the composite top 20 include Alex Gonzalez, JJ Hardy, Reid Brignac, Yuniesky Betancourt, Ryan Theriot, Omar Infante and Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

Again, don’t miss the sortable ranking table!

Need help figuring out holds? Check out our most recent post on holds leaders from 2010 as we prepare to tackle holds for 2011.

My early rankings include: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP

My positional sleepers/value players are: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP

And don’t miss our newest features, including everything you’ll ever need to know about BABIP, a discussion on home run efficiency and how it can help you find sleepers and busts, a dozen prospects you need to watch this season.

Read more MLB news on

Fantasy Baseball 2011: Why Joe Mauer Is the Most Overvalued Player in the Game

Yesterday, I did a double-take in the dog food aisle.

Between bags of Proplan and Pedigree were small 11.5-pound bags of Chef Michael’s “filet mignon” flavored dog food. As if that wasn’t enough, the food had potato and green bean “garnishes.”

All for $22, or $2 a pound. I wouldn’t spend $2 a pound for real filet mignon for my family. I’m cheap that way. But for a dog? You could make a roadkill possum flavored dog food and it would get just as much interest from Fido as anything Chef Michael could whip up.

And the vegetables? Dogs are carnivores. You don’t see wild dogs digging up their own carrots or growing a grove of broccoli. Get a grip!

And yet people buy this stuff thinking they’re providing the best for their dog. Sort of like certain people who are quick to jump on a name-brand player at a premium price in their fantasy draft, thinking they are providing the best for their team. But in Joe Mauer’s case, they’re not.

Mauer is the filet mignon dog food of the catcher pool. A nice roadkill possum like Mike Napoli may not be as appealing, but will get the job done at a much cheaper price.

First, let me start by saying I like Joe Mauer the person and player. He’s the kind of guy you want to build an MLB franchise around.

Mauer is easy going, likeable and efficient at the plate. He’s content playing for a smaller-market team despite the big lights and other temptations that a big city franchise would offer.

But from a fantasy standpoint, all the qualities that make him such a great MLB centerpiece also helps make him a household name. The likeability turns into hype, and the hype drives fantasy draft value through the roof.

This whole story idea was planted earlier this week when posting the top 20 composite catchers. A reader noticed a comment I made about Victor Martinez being my top fantasy catcher for this season.

His official comment: “You have Victor Martinez over Joe Mauer…lose a little respect there. Martinez is my No. 3, but I can understand having him No. 2. I don’t see him in Mauer’s area code.”

I would disagree by a good margin.

First, let’s look at what Joe Mauer is: He’s an elite option in the batting average category. The .327 last season may have been down in terms of his .365 in 2009, but 99 percent of all major league players would kill for a .327 average over the course of a season.

And those batting averages are no fluke. He’s made a career of hitting for average, at a near-historic pace when comparing him to others who are currently still playing.

What Mauer definitely is not is a speed threat. He did have one season with double-digit steals (13 in 2005), but hasn’t been able to accumulate even half of that over the past three seasons combined.

But what about power, you ask? He did hit 28 homers in 2009. You’d be correct.

Except, that was the only year he was an elite home run hitter. His next biggest number was 13 in 2006.

He hasn’t hit double-digit homers in any of the other five seasons he’s been in the majors thus far, including last season when he smacked nine.

In fact, 13 other catchers hit more homers than him last season. That’s only catchers, not overall hitters.

To look at it another way, I recently did an article on home run efficiency, looking at players and how many at-bats they average between homers in a season. The elite power guys hit in the teens (around 15 to 18 at-bats per home run). Average power guys hit in the low 20s to (at worst) mid-20s.

Mauer’s home run efficiency? A 38.2. And that’s not just last season, but his whole major league career, including the 28-dinger 2009 campaign.

In his six full MLB seasons, Mauer has averaged 497.5 at-bats. At that many at-bats, factoring in his 38.2 career average, he’ll hit a generous 13 homers in 2011.

And, like I said, that factors in the 28 long balls he hit in 2009…which I probably should point out was a contract season. Just saying.

Last year, even if he had hit the 13 homers, there still would have been 10 catchers who fared better in round-trippers. All of them, I should add, you can get later (some much later) in fantasy drafts this spring.

Mauer did finish the 2010 season with 75 RBI, making him the third best catcher in that category behind Victor Martinez and Brian McCann, and just a handful ahead of guys like Kurt Suzuki, Mike Napoli, Buster Posey and John Buck.

It should be noted, however, that all four of them produced their RBI total with fewer at-bats in 2010…Posey and Buck with more than 100 at-bats less than Mauer, in fact.

So, it is very much conceivable that Mauer may fall out of the top 5 among catchers in 2011 if the others are able to stay healthy.

Runs scored, however, is a category that Mauer does well in each season. Last year, he scored 88 runs…the next highest was Victor Martinez with 64.

So, out of five categories, Mauer will give you an advantage over other catchers in two (average and runs scored). Not exactly a feat for which I’d want to pay top dollar.

In fact, ESPN has him ranked 30th among all players, meaning he’d be taken in the late third, early fourth round at that position.

His ADP is even more asinine. At last check, it was right around 20th, meaning a late second round, early third.

Meanwhile, Victor Martinez, who has hit better than .300 the past two seasons himself and who gives you significantly more homers and RBI, can be had a good round (if not more) later.

Other catchers, such as Mike Napoli, who had three times as many homers as Mauer in 2010 and four times as many steals during that time in 50 fewer at-bats, fall much later than Mauer.

Billy Butler, who was so adeptly compared Mauer to in a different post, is being picked in the seventh round. Butler hits more than .300, had nearly double the home runs that Mauer did in 2010, and easily had more RBI.

And Martin Prado, who also hits better than .300, hits more homers than Mauer and easily had more runs scored and steals than Mauer in 2010, is going, on average, in the sixth round.

Position scarcity, you scream? I could make a case that third base is more shallow than catcher this year in fantasy terms, and Prado was eligible at third base the last time I looked.

Again, I’m not trying to knock Mauer the player or Mauer the person. I’m just suggesting that Mauer the fantasy commodity is very much overpriced this year, and you’d be wise to pass over him unless he somehow fell several rounds later at best.

Oh, and did I mention he is coming off offseason knee surgery? He hasn’t had any setbacks of note, but you should still keep that in the back of your mind.

Disagree? I’d love to hear your comments, or even challenge you to play against me and other chinstrap ninjas in our chinstrap ninja reader leagues. Click here if you’re interested.

Want to read more chinstrapninja fantasy baseball content? We just updated our 2011 fantasy baseball index.

My early rankings include: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP

My positional sleepers/value players are: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP

And don’t miss our newest features, including everything you’ll ever need to know about BABIP, a discussion on home run efficiency and how it can help you find sleepers and busts, a dozen prospects you need to watch this season and recent player updates.

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Important Fantasy Baseball Player Updates You Need to Know: March 18

As we push through the latter parts of Spring Training, player news and updates will have more and more impact on our Fantasy Draft Day plans.

With this week winding down, here are some insights:


Chase Utley, PHI.

The forecast for the one-stud fantasy second baseman continues to be extremely cloudy. His ailing knee is still causing issues, so much so that he made a comment last week that he wouldn’t “jeopardize” his career to rush himself back for opening day or any early season action.

Recently, Utley went to see some mystery doctor about the knee, with not much information available about the context or result. Today we learned that the visit was allegedly with a rehab specialist to get some “new exercises,” according to Phillies assistant GM Scott Proefrock.

Utley did take some batting practice Friday and made some throws from second base. While that is somewhat encouraging on a small scale, there are more unanswered questions than anything else, including rumors that the Phillies may have been looking quietly into veterans such as Michael Young.

Stay tuned and be cautious on draft day.


Aroldis Chapman, CIN.

Not really surprising to most of us ninjas (especially those who checked out comments about Chapman in our recent mock draft post), but Chapman is looking like he could see the closer role after all this season and going forward.

Cincinnati GM Walt Jocketty suggested Thursday that Chapman’s future may be as the closer. While the organization originally looked for Chapman to develop into an important cog within its rotation, he has the stuff to be a good closer in the league.


Brian Roberts, BAL.

Back issues have been a concern for Roberts this spring and his value in many fantasy formats has fallen drastically.

On Friday, Roberts took live batting practice and is nearing a return to live Grapefruit League action.

How long Roberts can stay healthy will go a long way to determining how much of a draft day bargain he will be.


Carlos Beltran, NYM.

Many are suggesting that Beltran will be a draft day bargain in many fantasy leagues based on his ability and the low draft stock.

But the oft-injured and aging outfielder needs to stay healthy long enough to produce some stats first. It isn’t a good sign that he’s already been fighting sore knees and received a cortisone shot Friday morning.

You may want to take a flier on him on draft day. However, I’ll take a younger upside project player in those late rounds over Beltran.


Wandy Rodriguez, HOU.

Scratched earlier this week due to minor tendinitis, Rodriguez seems to have bounced back quickly.

He threw a pain-free side session Friday and is on track to start the Astros’ second game of the regular season.


Kendrys Morales, LAA.

Manager Mike Scioscia mentioned previously that Morales, rehabbing from a broken leg, would have to start seeing spring game action by this coming weekend to have a realistic chance of making the opening day lineup.

Don’t expect that to happen. As of Friday, he still couldn’t run full speed in a straight line. Looks like a 15-day DL trip is on the horizon more than ever.


Francisco Liriano, MIN.

After several mediocre showings this spring, Liriano put it all together Friday, striking out seven over five innings of one-hit ball against the Orioles.

Remember to watch for Liriano on draft day. He could be a nice bargain.


Grady Sizemore, CLE.

Those who were hoping Grady would rebound quick enough for an opening day appearance are out of luck. Sizemore has been ruled out for the season opener.

However, he did slide on his surgically repaired knee Friday with no ill effects. Consider him a high risk, moderate reward option this season.

Check out previous player updates: 3-11 | 3-14

My early rankings include: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP

My positional sleepers/value players are: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP

And don’t miss our newest features, including everything you’ll ever need to know about BABIP, a fantasy baseball team report on the Anaheim Angels and Houston Astros, a dozen prospects you need to watch this season and recent player updates.

For all your hard-hitting fantasy baseball advice, go to

Read more MLB news on

Fantasy Baseball 2011 Composite Rankings: The Ultimate Top 20 First Basemen

Look the word “composite” up in a dictionary, and you’ll find it means the merging of different parts into one, stronger, more complete object.

Our composite rankings do the same thing. Merging rankings from sites such as ESPN, CBS, SI, MLB and Yahoo into one super list, we’ve already tackled the Top 50 fantasy players and the Top 20 catchers for 2011.

Now, here are the Top 20 first basemen for 2011 (as with the other composite rankings, be sure to check out the interactive rankings chart found here. I guarantee you’ll like it!).

Also, don’t miss my early 2011 first base rankings, ep’s ADP first base ranking discussion and my sleeper/value first base options.

1. Albert Pujols, STL. No-brainer here. The consensus top pick across the board.

2. Miguel Cabrera, DET. Second on all the rankings except Yahoo, which had Votto ahead of Cabrera. When he plays, he puts up elite numbers. Some are worried that his off-field issues will lead to missed games, and I’ve seen Cabrera falling to the end of the first round in many mocks. If that is the case, make sure he doesn’t fall past you!

3. Joey Votto, CIN. So nice to see the young Votto finally live up to chinstrapninja expectations. He’ll provide nearly identical stats to MigCab, but will be a few spots cheaper on draft day (unless Cabrera falls in your draft like I mentioned above).

4. Adrian Gonzalez, BOS. The switch from pitcher-friendly San Diego to hitter-centric Boston is good news for Gonzalez. The only concern about his chances to be elite in 2011 involved offseason shoulder surgery. It appears rehab is going on schedule, and he recently said he hopes to play in every game this season.

5. Mark Teixeira, NYY. Ranked as high as third by CBS, Teixeira has more than ample ability in a hitter-friendly park on a hitting-heavy lineup. If he can start hotter out of the gates in 2011, watch out.

6. Prince Fielder, MIL. You know first base is deep when Fielder is legitimately sixth on the list and you really can’t argue it. He could produce just as well as anyone on this list.

7. Ryan Howard, PHI. Ranked as high as fifth by Yahoo, Howard’s numbers were down last year in comparison to the 2009 campaign. He has potential to be one of the best power hitters in baseball, and will make a nice fantasy first baseman for most people—especially in the late-second or early-third round as some mocks have him going.

8. Kevin Youkilis, BOS. Second Sox player on the list, Youk is ranked as high as fifth by ESPN. The batting average is there. He doesn’t hit as many homers as the others on this list. Doesn’t really steal, and is coming off two injury-shortened seasons.

9. Adam Dunn, CWS. He has hit 38 or more home runs for the past seven consecutive seasons and added 100 or more RBI in six of the past seven years. The issue is the batting average swings, which will always be there. He has shown improvement in this category over the past two seasons, although his average did take a hit after the All-Star break last year. He’s still one of my value first basemen.

10. Buster Posey, SF. Baseball fundamentalists will scoff at Posey, a catcher, being a top-10 first baseman, too. However, the numbers don’t lie. All five rankings had Posey included, with having him the lowest (13th). Other owners in your league will have no qualms of starting a catcher at their first base slot if the eligibility allows it. The only question is whether or not you will.

11. Justin Morneau, MIN. The concussion-shortened 2010 season shouldn’t scare too many owners. Morneau had a solid track record in previous years of staying healthy, and the Twins are taking it easy with Morneau…not rushing him back too quickly. Could be a good value at this point.

12. Kendrys Morales, LAA. Morales allegedly “hit a plateau” in his recovery from a broken leg. Looking like he’ll start the season on the DL, and Mark Trumbo will get a chance out of the gates to make some noise for himself.

13. Paul Konerko, CWS. After posting batting averages that were basically statistical yo-yos during his long career, Konerko raked last season with a .312 average over 548 at-bats and added his most home runs (39) since 2005. If you’re expecting him to repeat those stats, good luck.

14. Billy Butler, KC. Decent average, OK power and now steals? Royals manager Ned Yost recently suggested Butler will steal 10 bases in 2011. He currently has one over 533 career major league games. No wonder the Royals continue to struggle.

15. Victor Martinez, DET. My top overall catcher finds himself on this list due to dual eligibility and rankings from (12th) and Yahoo (11th). Why the other three sites had Posey and not Victor in their rankings is beyond me. As I said with Posey, some of the MLB faithful will cringe to see V-Mart on this list at all.

16. (tie) Aubrey Huff, SF. He continues to quietly produce decent numbers. He’s played in 150 games in four straight seasons now, and hit 26 homers, scored 100 runs and batted .290 at the plate in 2010. All in 569 2010 at-bats. Could be an under-the-radar late-round savior if you get in a pickle.

16. (tie) Carlos Lee, HOU. The Astros are toying with Lee at first base, but are hoping Brett Wallace will be the guy there. Wallace’s spring has been decent, so Lee will likely stay in the outfield. The main thing is to double check his eligibility in your respective leagues before pulling the trigger on him hoping to throw in him at first base.

18. Carlos Pena, CHC. The power numbers are for real. The pitiful average? Let’s just say he’ll hit better than the .196 he hit in 484 at-bats last season. But not enough to make him worthy of anything other than a bench or flex play, especially on a new team with less umpf in its lineup.

19. Ben Zobrist, TB. OK numbers, but nothing that will knock your socks off are combined with a batting average that is below average. His eligibility could make him useful as a plug-in option in case one of your studs gets hurt.

20. Adam Lind, TOR. Stuck as a DH or utility player in some league formats, make sure you check your league settings before drafting Lind with hopes of starting him at first base. He had a breakout 2009 campaign followed by a majorly disappointing 2010. He’s young enough to bounce back, and I’m taking a chance on him late in drafts.

Other players that received some first base Top 20 rankings, but not enough to get them on the composite list, included Mike Napoli, Pablo Sandoval, Derrick Lee, Gaby Sanchez, Adam LaRoche, Lance Berkman, James Loney and Michael Cuddyer.

Again, for more on this topic, check out the interactive chart found here.

My other rankings include: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP

My positional sleepers/value players are: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP

And don’t miss our newest features, including everything you’ll ever need to know about BABIP, a fantasy baseball team report on the Anaheim Angels and Houston Astros, a dozen prospects you need to watch this season and recent player updates.

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Important Player Updates That Will Affect Your Fantasy Baseball Draft

It happens to someone every year on fantasy baseball draft day.

Player X starts to fall below his average draft position. He keeps sliding down the round and into your lap. You shake your head in disbelief. Player X fell this far? I’m about to select the steal of the draft! You already hear league mates moan with disgust as you snipe away such a good draft day value.

Except, your selection is met with laughs and jeers. Turns out that Player X just happened to blow out his knee earlier in the day during an exhibition game.

Don’t be that owner. Make sure you check player updates before the draft starts, including the following:

Chase Utley, PHI. There is little doubt that when healthy, Utley is an elite second base option. The problem is that he’s been healthy less and less and currently is looking unlikely to play for the early part of the season.

MRIs on his ailing knee show tendinitis, bone inflammation and chondromalacia. Cortisone shots haven’t helped, and while we’re far off from any last-resort situations, surgery can’t be officially ruled out at this point yet.

Of course, the smart move is to have him miss time if it means he’ll come back stronger and more ready to contribute. Utley’s draft stock is taking a serious hit, and you should definitely tread carefully.

Zack Greinke, MIL. A “value” pitcher in a recent post of mine, Greinke is now facing a DL stint after news broke that he fractured a rib playing a pickup basketball game during the offseason.

Now, reports suggest he’ll likely miss his first three starts of the season. In the scope of a 162-game season, three starts are but a drop in the bucket. However, there are no guarantees that he’ll definitely be ready when expected.

Depending on how far he starts to drop on draft day, he could be a high-risk, high-reward option.

Ian Stewart, COL. A potential value third baseman for the 2011 season, Stewart suffered an MCL sprain in late February and still is sidelined with the injury.

Rockies manager Jim Tracy on Thursday night hinted toward the possibility that Stewart could start the season on the DL.

Fortunately, the MLB season is a long one and Stewart should be back at some point, one would think, within the month of April if he misses time at all. This sort of news helps lower the draft stock of Stewart even lower than it already is, making him an even more interesting, later-round value selection.

Domonic Brown, PHI. The highly touted prospect was on the fast track to a starting major league gig and possible fantasy sleeper-dom until a broken Hamate bone in his right hand sent him to the surgeon.

He’s expected to miss four to six weeks, meaning we won’t be seeing him before the end of April at the earliest.

Again, however, the MLB season is a long one and his injury will help lower his draft stock. Just don’t draft him expecting him to play right off the bat.

Neftali Feliz, TEX. Many are expecting Feliz to pick up right where he left off last season as a decent fantasy closer. Except Feliz’s role with the team has yet to be officially settled.

In fact, Rangers GM Jon Daniels suggested that the Rangers would be better off both short- and long-term if Feliz was in the rotation.

He could be a sneaky-good value for a starting pitcher, but as a closer, you should start considering other options.

One potential plus is that he’ll likely have eligibility as both a starter and relief pitcher if he does enter the rotation, making him a little more valuable in leagues with tight roster restrictions

Jon Garland, LAD. Not that he was high on many fantasy rankings anyway, but Garland will be spending some time on the DL to start the season. In fact, Garland has not missed a start in nine years.

A strained oblique muscle will sideline him for four to six weeks, according to reports Thursday.

Jake Peavy, CWS. After surgery nearly eight months ago to reattach a torn lat muscle, we all figured Peavy would be a long shot to start the season off the DL. However, he has been defying the odds with a near-miraculous comeback so far.

He has hit 91 miles per hour on the radar gun recently and has allowed just one run in five and two-thirds innings of spring ball. This doesn’t mean you should draft Peavy at a premium, but if he falls far enough he could have interesting value come draft day.

Javier Vazquez, FLA. One of my value starting pitchers considering his track record in the NL vs. his time underachieving on the Yankees roster, Vazquez has a chance to restart his career in Florida this year.

So far this spring, Vazquez has worked diligently on his dwindling velocity, changing form to use more of his lower body in the delivery process, which he did when pitching so well in Atlanta.

The early results are promising. He’s been pitching in the low-90s compared to the mid- to high-80s from his 2010 season with the Yankees. Time will tell if Vazquez can provide enough consistency to be a fantasy weapon again, but considering how far he falls in most drafts, he’s worth a late-round pick.

For more player updates, be sure to check back at or visit

Check out my positional rankings: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP 

And, I also discuss my favorite value players at each position: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP

My newest article discusses more sleepers and how home run efficiency can help us determine who will break out, who will back slide and who will continue to produce solid numbers.

We even recently finished discussion on each position’s ADP rankings: Top 10 | Top 20 | C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP

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Dominate Your 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft with These Sleeper, Value Pitchers

Overpay [oh-ver-pey]: To pay at too high a rate; To pay more than is due, as by an error; To draft a pitcher in the first three rounds of any regular fantasy baseball draft.

Any pitcher, you ask? Even Roy Halladay? Even Tim Lincecum? You betcha.

It isn’t that these guys are great pitchers. I’d love to have one of them on my roster. I don’t think I will, though, because I refuse to take a starter before the fourth round, and in many drafts, I’ll wait even later than that.

That’s because I can fill up my roster with these guys:

Zack Greinke, KC and Justin Verlander, DET. OK. These guys definitely aren’t sleepers. Then again, it is, in my book, highway robbery for either to fall to the fourth round (or later) in drafts while pitchers like Josh Johnson and CC Sabathia go a full round or two earlier. For more on both, check out my rankings.

Yovani Gallardo, MIL. The 3.84 ERA will scare some drafters away. But under the surface, there are some things to like. Especially his strikeouts per nine innings. His 9.67 mark in that category over the past two seasons puts him among the top five at the position.

Factor in, too, that with Greinke coming to town, Gallardo won’t have to pitch out of the No. 1 hole, reducing some of the pressure on him to be the ace. The Brewers lineup will one again provide plenty of run support.

The best part is that Gallardo is falling farther and farther in most drafts.

Shaun Marcum, MIL. Might as well make this a Brewers trio to start things off. Marcum has a lot of changes going in his favor. He moved from the AL to the NL. He moved from a division that had the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays to one that a slew of several good, but not elite, offenses and then the Astros and Pirates for dessert.

Marcum also finds himself in the third hole of the rotation, where he won’t be expected to carry the team. When you look at his stats last year minus the games against the fearsome threesome of the AL-East, his stats are very, very sweet.

Francisco Liriano, MIN. Not necessarily a deep sleeper himself, but Liriano is vastly under-rated this spring. He had no trouble regaining a high level of strikeouts last season, more than a year removed from Tommy John surgery, but lacked control at times, ballooning out his ERA in stretches.

The control will slowly come back, and I fully expect his ERA to get better over the season.

Madison Bumgarner, SF. With pitches in the mid-90s and a full arsenal of backup options, this left-handed sophomore is coming off a solid rookie campaign where he notched a 3.00 ERA in 111 innings pitched before compiling a 2-0 record with a 2.18 ERA in the playoffs.

Bumgarner may run into some growing pains during the season, but considering the upside, he’s a steal in many drafts at the moment.

Gio Gonzalez, OAK. A young pitcher with a growing track record of improvement during his three years of major league action, Gonzalez is definitely undervalued in drafts.

His 171 strikeouts and 3.23 ERA only stand to improve moving forward, despite the lack of run support he’ll have with the Athletics.

Brian Matusz, BAL. Each of Matusz’s four-pitch arsenal (fastball, curveball, slider and changeup) has shown improvement during the young Oriole’s major league tenure.

Some will balk at his bloated ERA, but look at the second half of last season, where his numbers got increasingly better.

Brett Anderson, OAK. Anderson was one of my sleepers for last season. His talent is well documented. Unfortunately, so is his injury track record as of late.

When Anderson finally did get healthy last season, he finished the season strong (2.80 ERA). He isn’t going to win you a strikeout total, but he will produce well enough in other categories to warrant a draft pick in the 11th to 13th rounds, where he is currently going in drafts right now.

Brandon Morrow, TOR. People can tell you that Morrow turned in a woeful 4.49 ERA last season, and they’d be right. But do they realize his strikeouts per nine innings was phenomenal during the 2010 campaign? He produced a wicked 13.08 K/9 during the second half of the season and was nearly unhittable down the stretch.

Morrow was drafted ahead of pitchers you may know. Like that Tim Lincecum character. And Clayton Kershaw. And Max Scherzer. There is a reason for that, and those who are wily enough in the 14th rounds or later will greatly benefit from taking him at a great value slot.

For more on starting pitchers, check out my 2011 SP rankings. The rest of my positional rankings: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP

My other positional value players and sleepers can be found here: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP

And, be sure to see our extremely popular composite ultimate Top 50 fantasy baseball players for 2011.

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Fantasy Baseball Composite Rankings: The Ultimate Top 50 Players for 2011

Plenty of fantasy writers, magazines, websites, etc. offer rankings. Positional rankings. Top 10s. Top 20s. Rankings by statistical category.

Each set of rankings typically factor in a combination of past player performances, lineup protection, run support, stadium tendencies (hitters’ park vs. a pitchers’ park), injuries, opportunities for promotion, etc. However, the biggest part of any preseason fantasy ranking involves predictions, projections and overall guesswork.

Because of that, no two sets of fantasy rankings are alike. They’re like snowflakes. And, it is basically impossible to have the perfect set of rankings heading into your respective fantasy drafts. 

But what if we broadened our scope? What if we took several of the most respected fantasy rankings for the 2011 fantasy baseball season and mathematically merged them into a “super” ranking? Wouldn’t that give us the best of all worlds?

So, like we’ve done in the past, has once again started to delve into the world of composite rankings. Composite meaning we meshed together some of the major rankings we all turn to on draft day.

The following list is the composite top 50 fantasy baseball players based on rankings from,,, and (Sports Illustrated). Be sure to work your way to the bottom of the page. For an interactive table, where you can compare rankings side-by-side, go here.

If you click on a player’s position in the list below, you’ll be taken to my personal ranking and analysis for that position. Another cool feature, as we try to help keep your preparation for  fantasy baseball draft day as quick and painless as possible.

1. Albert Pujols, 1B. No surprise here. Overall top-ranked player by everyone outside of We discussed the Hanley vs. Albert for first overall last season. The argument stays basically the same for this year.

2. Hanley Ramirez, SS. Another no-brainer. Received one first-place ranking and seconds the rest of the way. I could, and soon will, make my case for Hanley first overall.

3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B. Off-field issues aside, Cabrera has proven to be a consistent on-field stud. Even a 13th ranking by doesn’t knock Cabrera off this pedestal.

4. Troy Tulowitzki, SS. Perhaps fueled by position scarcity concerns, Tulo needs to stay healthy and show consistency to produce well enough for a top four overall selection.

5. Evan Longoria, 3B. Some more discrepancies starting to show between rankings. His highest was fourth by, lowest was ninth at I’m not buying this high.

6. Ryan Braun, OF. A 10th ranking by keeps Braun out of the top five, which is where I have him.

7 (tie). Joey Votto, 1B and Carlos Gonzalez, OF. Two young players with great careers ahead of them. Votto has long been a chinstrapninjas favorite. CarGo broke out in 2010. I personally think it would be silly not to expect some regression for Gonzalez. Not a lot but enough for me to pass at this spot.

9. Robinson Cano, 2B. Ranked as low as 11th by and as high as fourth by I’m a huge Yankees fan and loved what Cano did last year but can’t bring myself to select him this high until I see another season of elite numbers.

10. Carl Crawford, OF. The move to Boston could put Crawford in a position to see yet another stat increase. However, 10th overall seems a little high. A ranking of third overall by inflated Crawford on this list.

11 (tie). David Wright, 3B and Roy Halladay, SP. Wright has produced as a third baseman for quite some time and was helped by a ninth ranking from Halladay is easily the best pitcher in baseball right now but didn’t receive anything higher than a ninth (from, illustrating across the board the importance of focusing on offense early in drafts.

13. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B. The transition from a pitchers park in San Diego to a more hitter-friendly environment at Fenway could mean big things from Adrian. As long as injuries don’t linger.

14 (tie). Josh Hamilton, OF and Chase Utley, 2B. When healthy, Hamilton is an elite performer. Same can be said about Utley. It will be a case of how much they each see the field this year.

16. Mark Teixeira, 1B. A little low for Teixeira in my opinion, but some are nervous about his streakiness last year. ESPN has him at 22nd.

17 (tie). Alex Rodriguez, 3B and Felix Hernandez, SP. ARod has definitely seen a decline of late, but I’ll still take a gamble on his talent level alone if he falls to me. King Felix doesn’t have the track record, or enough run support, to deserve too early of a look.

19. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B. I love Zimmerman as much as I did last year. I still think he could finish the season as the top fantasy third baseman. He’s just not as cheap as he was last year around this time.

20. Matt Holliday, OF. It is interesting how well Holliday has produced from a consistency standpoint over the past several seasons and how little love he receives for it. Yahoo has him ranked as low as 27th overall. I’d dance a jig if I could get him in the middle of the third round.

21 (tie). Prince Fielder, 1B and Tim Lincecum, SP. Due to some erratic play in 2010, Fielder is becoming a sneaky value pick in the later second round. Lincecum finished last season strong and should continue to be a force on the mound.

23. Dustin Pedroia, 2B. Not a buyer at this point on Pedroia, partially due to his injury-shortened 2010 and partially to my own personal bias against anyone wearing red socks who typically works in the Boston area, making an illustration of myself for the whole finding objective rankings comment from above.

24 (tie). Ryan Howard, 1B and Kevin Youkilis, 3B. I know he is more streaky, but if I can get a player of Ryan Howard’s ilk at the end of the second round, why again isn’t Hanley Ramirez the consensus top overall pick? Youkilis? Just repeat everything I wrote about Pedroia at No. 23.

26. Joe Mauer, C. Seems that the major sites are starting to realize the silliness of thinking about Maurer in the first round. In fact, three of the three used had him ranked lower than 30th. I’ll still snag my catcher later.

27. Cliff Lee, SP. The move back to the NL back to Philly and its well-endowed offense will only help Lee, who is dominant when he’s happy.

28. Jose Reyes, SS. A ranking of 36th by ESPN and 44th by SI means Reyes is nearing the realm of draft-day value. Health is the only concern.

29. Matt Kemp, OF. One of the toughest guys to peg if you look at the variance between rankings. That’s because people are still trying to understand why he struggled so badly at times last year. He’s ranked as high as 21st (by ESPN) and not even mentioned in the top 50 for cbs, while falling to 46th for SI.

30. Nelson Cruz, OF. Speaking of health, Cruz is the poster child for what injuries can do to a player’s value. He rakes when on the field but can’t seem to keep himself there.

31. Jose Bautista, 3B. The 54 home runs last year, you’d think, would put him higher on this list. But like some of us at expect, the other rankings suggest a regression is in store for Bautista in 2011.

32. Justin Upton, OF. There is no doubt Upton is uber-talented, but inconsistency can scare away many fantasy owners. He isn’t even ranked in the top 50 by SI. I’ll definitely give him a shot at the right price.

33. Shin-Soo Choo, OF. Another casualty of the SI top 50 (probably because their rankings lean heavily on the pitcher side of things), Choo is still a five-category threat that seems to get little love by some on draft day.

34. Buster Posey, C. Interesting that Posey finds himself ahead of all catchers not named Mauer on this list, especially since ranked him outside of their top 50. Hype can be a powerful thing, and while I expect Posey to have a stellar career, I also think it would be silly not to expect some growing pains this year.

35. Ian Kinsler, 2B. Yet another player who could be a first rounder if injury concerns weren’t circling him like vultures over roadkill. Big-time reward/risk option.

36. Dan Uggla, 2B. He doesn’t have Kinsler’s upside, but he also is much more reliable in covering your backside if you take him on draft day, especially on a maturing and talented Braves roster.

37. Josh Johnson, SP. Another interesting ranking. I have Johnson much lower than other pitchers you’ll find later in this list. Two sites ( and have him in their top 30. More of my thoughts can be found here.

38. Victor Martinez, C. He’s the third catcher on this list, and the first I’d take of any of them. If I were to draft a catcher early, that is.

39. Jon Lester, SP. See Josh Johnson two spots ahead of him? Lester is one of the pitchers I’d place higher. He would have gotten there if he wasn’t so low on both’s and’s lists.

40. C.C. Sabathia, SP. Not ranked in the top 50 by three of the five sites used in this experiment, Sabathia gets this high thanks to a 19th overall ranking from SI.

41. Andrew McCutchen, OF. Two sites don’t rank him in the top 50; three sites have him in the 30s. Which is how he winds up in the middle. Could be a sign of possible value?

42. Clayton Kershaw, SP. The last player on this list to be ranked in the top 50 by each of the sites used, Kershaw definitely saw a decent amount of fluctuation between sites.

43. Jason Heyward, OF. Last year’s rookie sensation enters his sophomore campaign with high expectations. Usually a sign of impending disappointment in fantasy circles, so this ranking seems pretty solid considering.

44 (tie). Justin Morneau, 1B and Adrian Beltre, 3B. Who says first base isn’t deep this year? Just be sure that Morneau’s concussion is in his rearview mirror before spending too much on him this spring. Beltre should enjoy hitting in Arlington, as long as he can stay healthy.

46. Adam Dunn, 1B. He’s the Rodney Dangerfield of fantasy baseball. No one can hold a candle to the consistent power numbers he produces, he has shown some progress in his batting average the past two seasons and finds himself on a much more talented roster this season. Again, I ask, why isn’t Hanley Ramirez the first overall player?

47. Ubaldo Jimenez, SP. The season-ending numbers were impressive despite the roller coaster ride getting there. Way too talented to last too long on draft day.

48. Jimmy Rollins, SS. If this were a draft order, getting Rollins at the end of the fourth round isn’t a bad consolation prize for a shallow position, as long as he can rebound at least somewhat to Rollins pre-2010.

49. Kendry Morales, 1B. Ditto to everything said above about Justin Morneau, except replace the word “concussion” with “leg.” There are some reports that suggest Morales could miss the season opener. We’ll see.

50 (tie). Justin Verlander, SP and Derek Jeter, SS. Yet another pitcher from a glut of second-tier starters that will produce very well and prove that you don’t need to spend a pick in the first round or second round on pitching. Jeter’s skill set has diminished for sure, but he still produces better than others at his position.

Be sure to check out the interactive table that compares each ranking more closely. For a list of players that just missed this list, go here.

Also, don’t miss our nearly complete series on value players and sleepers: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP

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Fantasy Baseball: Six Steps To Making Your League More Fantasy-Football Friendly

To a veteran brain surgeon, cutting open a skull and messing with an amygdala or a few ganglia isn’t as intimidating as it may be for everyone else. A rocket scientist could tell you, in his sleep, that perchlorate has nothing to do with your morning cup of coffee. And for Martha Stewart, whipping up the perfect pecan pie is about as challenging as preparing a pack of Ramen Noodles.

We, as fantasy baseball fanatics, aren’t so different. To us, the word “rotisserie” means much more than cooking meat. ERA isn’t just a laundry detergent or realty group. We rattle through more stats in a week during the summer than a Wall Street stock broker.

Fantasy baseball, in all its complex glory, may seem comfortably simple to those of us who have played it for a while. But for newbies, including those who are used to the less-frantic ebb and flow of fantasy football, the transition can be a tough one to make.

I’ve always suggested that fantasy baseball takes much more dedication than fantasy football to the casual fan.

You have nearly double the starting positions, roughly double the stat categories to worry about, numerous minor league prospects who could be called up at a moment’s notice (would be like the NFL being able to “call up” a college football player at any point during the season as needed) and games happening basically every day compared to weekly for the NFL.

But, there are ways to make the transition easier, especially if you are creating a fantasy baseball league with numerous fantasy football aficionados in tow. Here are a few suggestions to make that happen:

1. Use head-to-head scoring over rotisserie.

Fantasy football leagues are almost unanimously head-to-head experiences. Rotisserie, where everyone is ranked based on production in each stat category, is a radical concept to those who have no experience with it.

Of course, fantasy baseball is, at its core, better in rotisserie format, where it gets its roots. And, you can always tell owners in your new league that switching to rotisserie is the goal in the future. However, head-to-head format keeps the transition from one sport to another as seamless as possible. Your co-owners will thank you for the inaugural year sacrifice.

2. Keep scoring as simple as possible.

In fantasy football, scoring is typically pretty cut and dry. Players get points for yards gained and TDs scored, with a few exceptions. In fantasy baseball, there are a ton of stats to factor in. Home runs, steals, strikeouts, saves, etc. Than you have percentage-based categories, such as ERA, batting average and WHIP. And that is in a “standard scoring” league.

Do your new league owners a favor and keep your scoring at that level. Don’t dip into the extra categories that are gaining popularity among leagues, such as errors, strikeouts per nine innings, doubles, triples, GIDP, slugging percentage, quality starts, etc. In fact, Yahoo standard leagues offer 86 different stat categories you can score in your respective leagues.

Save the unique stats for more experienced owners.

3. Set your league transactions for weekly changes.

Typical leagues allow owners to change their rosters daily, mirroring the major league schedule. While fantasy owners can plan ahead and alter their daily lineups a week out in these types of formats, it can still put them at a disadvantage vs. those who can check the league and free agent pool on a daily basis.

Fantasy football owners are used to weekly roster changes as they set their team up for Sunday games and then make free agent moves early the next week. Setting your baseball league to follow a similar schedule will, once again, minimize the stress for those with less experience and keep most everyone on a level playing field.

4. Keep starting positions as standard as possible.

Again, the goal here is to minimize extra stress by keeping things simple. Most typical fantasy baseball leagues start a catcher, first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, shortstop, three outfielders, two to three starting pitchers and two or so relief pitchers and/or closers.

Over time, these “standard” rosters plumped up to include a hitting utility player (player from any offensive position), several utility pitchers (either starting or relief guys), corner infielders (first baseman/third baseman), middle infielders (second baseman/shortstop), a second starting catcher, etc.

Again, here, I would recommend you limit the extra starting positions (similar to flex starters in fantasy football) to limit any additional confusion.

One thing to consider, though: If your new leaguemates are keen on mock drafting at major sites such as ESPN, they’ll likely be asked to draft a corner infielder, middle infielder and utility players. If they are practice drafting with a certain roster setting, it may be good to replicate that as your league status quo.

5. Encourage your league owners to do at least one or two mock drafts.

This isn’t a foreign concept among the fantasy football people, as mock drafts are common in both fantasy sports. However, it doesn’t hurt to encourage the extra practice, especially if your new league owners are really, really raw on fantasy baseball and entrenched in their fantasy football habits.

6. Suggest websites that will keep league owners informed.

Sort of a double-edged sword, because less informed league owners mean you’ll have a better chance of winning the league. But who wants to win in a league where the competition isn’t as solid as it should be?

Plus, many non-fantasy baseball people don’t grasp the enormity of the MLB player pool throughout the 162-game marathon known as the regular season.

Not only are major league teams constantly tweaking their lineups and reassessing player roles (such as promoting a new closer), but they also are keeping a close eye on the minor league pool. Prospects are brought up regularly during the season, especially later when teams either fall out of contention or need to patch holes created by injury or ineffective play.

Keeping on top of all those potential player moves is a chore in itself for even the most seasoned fantasy football owners. It can blow the mind in some who are new to the sport.

Player updates and prospect discussions will be available regularly this season at Another site that is worth bookmarking for this task is

In the meantime, continue checking out my recent rankings (C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP), our position-by-position sleepers and value players (C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP) and our ADP rankings discussion (Top 10 | 20 || C1B | 2B | 3B).

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