'09 Draft Prep: +/- Player Ratings

With defense always and forever the priority at catcher, the position, at least in recent years, has become somewhat of a joke in Fantasy, with the elite options usually going off the board too soon and the middle options proving mostly indistinguishable from one another.

So perhaps you might not expect to see us hold catchers to a higher standard for home runs (14) than we do second basemen or shortstops (12 each). Keep in mind, though, that the rigors of catching make baserunning an afterthought, leaving Russell Martin as the only halfway decent base stealer of the bunch. If a catcher doesn't homer, he doesn't do much of anything offensively, making power hitters a bit more common at the position.

Rest assured, catchers have a low statistical baseline overall, with the average top-40 Fantasy option hitting .270 with 14 home runs, 65 RBI, 50 runs scored and five stolen bases. If any of these catchers in the table below projects to perform above that baseline in a particular category, he gets a plus (+). If he projects to perform below it, he gets a minus (-). If he projects to meet it, he gets nothing at all.

You might notice runs and RBI remain in short supply for the catcher position, which shouldn't come as a surprise considering catchers typically need a day off once a week to rest their knees. Of the five traditional Rotisserie stats, none depend on at-bats more than runs and RBI, which tend to accumulate during the natural course of a game, regardless of the individual player's talent (though that obviously plays a crucial role as well).

Catchers

Rank Player, Team Avg. HR RBI Runs SB
.270 14 65 50 5
1. Brian McCann , Atlanta + + + +
2. Russell Martin , L.A. Dodgers + + + +
3. Geovany Soto , Chicago Cubs + + + + -
4. Joe Mauer , Minnesota + - + +
5. Victor Martinez , Cleveland + + + + -
6. Bengie Molina , San Francisco + + -
7. Ryan Doumit , Pittsburgh + + -
8. Chris Iannetta , Colorado - + + + -
9. Kelly Shoppach , Cleveland - + + -
10. Jorge Posada , N.Y. Yankees -
11. Matt Wieters , Baltimore + -
12. A.J. Pierzynski , Chicago White Sox + -
13. Ramon Hernandez , Cincinnati - -
14. Brandon Inge , Detroit - + +
15. Yadier Molina , St. Louis + - - - -
16. Chris Snyder , Arizona - -
17. Jarrod Saltalamacchia , Texas - - -
18. Dioner Navarro , Tampa Bay + - - -
19. Mike Napoli , L.A. Angels - + - -
20. Jesus Flores , Washington - -
21. Kurt Suzuki , Oakland - - -
22. Ivan Rodriguez , free agent + - -
23. Gerald Laird , Detroit - -
24. Jason Varitek , Boston - - -
25. Taylor Teagarden , Texas + - - -
26. John Baker , Florida - - -
27. Jeff Clement , Seattle - - -
28. Kenji Johjima , Seattle - - - -
29. Rod Barajas , Toronto - - -
30. Miguel Olivo , Kansas City - - -
31. John Buck , Kansas City - - -
32. Brian Schneider , N.Y. Mets - - - - -
33. Carlos Ruiz , Philadelphia - - - -
34. Jason Kendall , Milwaukee - - -
35. Miguel Montero , Arizona - - - -
36. Jeff Mathis , L.A. Angels - - - -
37. J.R. Towles , Houston - - -
38. Ronny Paulino , Philadelphia - - - -
39. Gregg Zaun , Baltimore - - - - -
40. Max Ramirez , Texas - - -

First Basemen

You won't find many first basemen batting in front of or behind the pitcher. That's because teams usually reserve the position for their best sluggers. Accordingly, Fantasy owners have always considered first base one of the deepest positions in the game, often using it to fill their DH and utility slots.

So perhaps you won't even blink when you hear that the average Fantasy-relevant first baseman hits .280 with 25 home runs, 85 RBI, 75 runs scored and five stolen bases. Those numbers represent the approximate medians for each statistic using the top 40 players at the position. Of course, any player with a .280-24-85-75-5 line would have some appeal in Fantasy, so don't discount someone just because you don't see a plus sign next to his name. Remember: This table shows how first basemen compare to each other, not to players at other positions.

Then again, that baseline does reveal one shortcoming: For all you can expect to find at first base, look elsewhere for stolen bases. Lance Berkman led the position with 18 steals last season, and even that marginal total doubled his previous career high. Conor Jackson ranked second with 10.

Rank Player, Team Avg. HR RBI Runs SB
.280 24 85 75 5
1. Albert Pujols , St. Louis + + + +
2. Miguel Cabrera , Detroit + + + + -
3. Ryan Howard , Philadelphia + + + -
4. Mark Teixeira , N.Y. Yankees + + + + -
5. Lance Berkman , Houston + + + + +
6. Justin Morneau , Minnesota + + + + -
7. Prince Fielder , Milwaukee + + +
8. Kevin Youkilis , Boston + + +
9. Adrian Gonzalez , San Diego + + + -
10. Aubrey Huff , Baltimore + +
11. Carlos Delgado , N.Y. Mets - + + + -
12. Garrett Atkins , Colorado + + + -
13. Derrek Lee , Chicago Cubs +
14. Joey Votto , Cincinnati + +
15. Carlos Pena , Tampa Bay - + + -
16. Chris Davis , Texas - + +
17. James Loney , L.A. Dodgers + - + -
18. Conor Jackson , Arizona + - +
19. Jorge Cantu , Florida -
20. Carlos Guillen , Detroit + - - - +
21. Nick Swisher , N.Y. Yankees - - +
22. Mike Jacobs , Kansas City - + + - -
23. Jason Giambi , Oakland - + + - -
24. Paul Konerko , Chicago White Sox - - -
25. Adam LaRoche , Pittsburgh - - -
26. Casey Blake , L.A. Dodgers - -
27. Todd Helton , Colorado + - - - -
28. Hank Blalock , Texas - -
29. Ryan Garko , Cleveland - - -
30. Pablo Sandoval , San Francisco - - -
31. Casey Kotchman , Atlanta - - -
32. Billy Butler , Kansas City - - -
33. Lyle Overbay , Toronto - - -
34. Kevin Millar , Baltimore - - - - -
35. Nick Johnson , Washington - -
36. Travis Ishikawa , San Francisco - -
37. Wilson Betemit , Chicago White Sox - - -
38. Chad Tracy , Arizona - - - -
39. Jeff Baker , Colorado - - - -
40. Ryan Shealy , Kansas City - - -

Second Basemen

Given coaches' and executives' insistence on defense up the middle, second base has historically modeled shortstop as a glove-first, bat-second domain. Fittingly, the two positions share the same unimpressive baseline numbers: a .276 batting average, 12 home runs, 60 RBI, 70 runs scored and 12 stolen bases. The average starting second baseman will finish with those stats, giving you a basis of comparison for every player at the position.

Just glancing at this table, you might notice second base has a few more plus signs at the top than shortstop does, indicating a more gradual decline in talent. If you miss out on the elite trio of Chase Utley , Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia , you still have a halfway decent chance to grab a plus Fantasy option like Brian Roberts , Brandon Phillips or Dan Uggla .

Rank Player, Team Avg. HR RBI Runs SB
.276 12 60 70 12
1. Chase Utley , Philadelphia + + + +
2. Ian Kinsler , Texas + + + + +
3. Dustin Pedroia , Boston + + + + +
4. Brian Roberts , Baltimore + + +
5. Brandon Phillips , Cincinnati + + + +
6. Alexei Ramirez , Chicago White Sox + + +
7. Dan Uggla , Florida - + + + -
8. Robinson Cano , N.Y. Yankees + + + -
9. Mark DeRosa , Chicago Cubs + + + -
10. Jose Lopez , Seattle + + + -
11. Kelly Johnson , Atlanta + +
12. Placido Polanco , Detroit + - + -
13. Rickie Weeks , Milwaukee - + - + +
14. Howie Kendrick , L.A. Angels + -
15. Freddy Sanchez , Pittsburgh + -
16. Mike Aviles , Kansas City + +
17. Aaron Hill , Toronto -
18. Orlando Hudson , Arizona
19. Akinori Iwamura , Tampa Bay - - +
20. Kazuo Matsui , Houston - - +
21. Mark Ellis , Oakland - -
22. Clint Barmes , Colorado -
23. Alexi Casilla , Minnesota - -
24. Felipe Lopez , Arizona - -
25. Luis Castillo , N.Y. Mets - - +
26. Blake DeWitt , L.A. Dodgers - + -
27. Brendan Harris , Minnesota - -
28. Maicer Izturis , L.A. Angels - - -
29. Asdrubal Cabrera , Cleveland -
30. Emmanuel Burriss , San Francisco - - +
31. Mike Fontenot , Chicago Cubs + - - -
32. Jeff Baker , Colorado - - -
33. Joaquin Arias , Texas - - +
34. Chris Getz , Chicago White Sox - - -
35. Esteban German , Kansas City - - -
36. Nick Punto , Minnesota - - +
37. David Eckstein , San Diego - - -
38. Marco Scutaro , Toronto - - -
39. Mark Grudzielanek , Kansas City + - - - -
40. Matt Antonelli , San Diego - - -

Shortstops

The shortstop position doesn't have a long track record of middle-of-the-order hitters, and it doesn't figure to gain any in 2009. Still a position more for speedsters than sluggers -- if either -- shortstop usually doesn't have enough depth to satisfy every member of a 12-team Fantasy league.

If you were to approximate a median baseline for the top 40 Fantasy shortstops in the five traditional Rotisserie categories, you might arrive at a .276 batting average, 12 home runs, 60 RBI, 70 runs scored and 12 stolen bases.

The table below underscores the aforementioned lack of depth at the position. Given the already low baseline, only a few useful Fantasy options remain after the elite trio of Hanley Ramirez , Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins goes off the board. What follows is a virtual wasteland of numbers, littered by a handful of stolen-base specialists and only one or two legitimate sleepers.

Rank Player, Team Avg. HR RBI Runs SB
.276 12 60 70 12
1. Hanley Ramirez , Florida + + + + +
2. Jose Reyes , N.Y. Mets + + + +
3. Jimmy Rollins , Philadelphia + + + +
4. Derek Jeter , N.Y. Yankees + + +
5. Stephen Drew , Arizona + + + + -
6. Troy Tulowitzki , Colorado + + + -
7. J.J. Hardy , Milwaukee + + + -
8. Jhonny Peralta , Cleveland + + + -
9. Michael Young , Texas + + +
10. Miguel Tejada , Houston + + -
11. Yunel Escobar , Atlanta + -
12. Orlando Cabrera , free agent - + +
13. Mike Aviles , Kansas City + +
14. Rafael Furcal , L.A. Dodgers + + +
15. Edgar Renteria , San Francisco +
16. Cristian Guzman , Washington + - - + -
17. Ryan Theriot , Chicago Cubs - - + +
18. Jed Lowrie , Boston + -
19. Yuniesky Betancourt , Seattle - -
20. Jason Bartlett , Tampa Bay - - - +
21. Bobby Crosby , Oakland - +
22. Khalil Greene , St. Louis - + + -
23. Elvis Andrus , Texas - - + +
24. Clint Barmes , Colorado -
25. Brendan Harris , Minnesota - -
26. Nomar Garciaparra , free agent + - -
27. Maicer Izturis , L.A. Angels - - -
28. Erick Aybar , L.A. Angels - - +
29. Cesar Izturis , Baltimore - - - - +
30. Brandon Wood , L.A. Angels - + + - -
31. Asdrubal Cabrera , Cleveland -
32. Jerry Hairston , Cincinnati - - +
33. Julio Lugo , Boston - - - +
34. Emmanuel Burriss , San Francisco - - +
35. Ben Zobrist , Tampa Bay - + - - -
36. Jeff Keppinger , Cincinnati + - - - -
37. Nick Punto , Minnesota - - +
38. David Eckstein , San Diego - - -
39. Marco Scutaro , Toronto - - -
40. Ronny Cedeno , Seattle - - -

Third Basemen

Though maybe not quite as deep in talent as first base, third base remains a power position, with some of the top options carrying as much clout as any player in Fantasy.

Not surprisingly, third basemen rank just behind first basemen and outfielders in average performance, with a median baseline of a .280 batting average, 20 home runs, 75 RBI, 70 runs scored and 10 stolen bases. The average third baseman produces those numbers, giving you an indication of how your third baseman will compare to your competitors'.

Since a .280-20-75-70-10 performer has a significant amount of Fantasy value in his own right, a blank space isn't necessarily a bad thing. An average third baseman is a good, solid player and a likely starter for some Fantasy team as either a corner infielder or a designated hitter.

Again like first base, you won't find many stolen bases at third base, with Chone Figgins the only true speedster who qualifies at the position.

Rank Player, Team Avg. HR RBI Runs SB
.280 20 75 70 10
1. Alex Rodriguez , N.Y. Yankees + + + + +
2. David Wright , N.Y. Mets + + + + +
3. Evan Longoria , Tampa Bay + + + +
4. Kevin Youkilis , Boston + + + + -
5. Aramis Ramirez , Chicago Cubs + + + -
6. Chipper Jones , Atlanta + + + -
7. Aubrey Huff , Baltimore + + + -
8. Garrett Atkins , Colorado + + + -
9. Chris Davis , Texas - + + -
10. Ryan Zimmerman , Washington + + -
11. Chone Figgins , L.A. Angels - - + +
12. Mark DeRosa , Cleveland + -
13. Jorge Cantu , Florida + + -
14. Mark Reynolds , Arizona - + + +
15. Edwin Encarnacion , Cincinnati - + + -
16. Mike Lowell , Boston + -
17. Carlos Guillen , Detroit + -
18. Alex Gordon , Kansas City -
19. Adrian Beltre , Seattle -
20. Casey Blake , L.A. Dodgers - -
21. Melvin Mora , Baltimore - -
22. Hank Blalock , Texas - -
23. Ian Stewart , Colorado - -
24. Kevin Kouzmanoff , San Diego - + -
25. Ty Wigginton , free agent - - -
26. Jed Lowrie , Boston - -
27. Bill Hall , Milwaukee - - -
28. Blake DeWitt , L.A. Dodgers - - -
29. Wilson Betemit , Chicago White Sox - - - -
30. Brendan Harris , Minnesota - - - -
31. Eric Chavez , Oakland - - - -
32. Josh Fields , Chicago White Sox - - - -
33. Troy Glaus , St. Louis - - -
34. Brandon Wood , L.A. Angels - - -
35. Dallas McPherson , Florida - - -
36. Pedro Feliz , Philadelphia - - - -
37. Scott Rolen , Toronto - - - -
38. Brandon Inge , Detroit - -
39. Joe Crede , free agent - - - -
40. Andy LaRoche , Pittsburgh - - - - -

Outfielders

Ah, outfielders. You can find one to fit just about any need. From middle-of-the-order sluggers to speedy leadoff types, the outfield position offers every type of offensive player imaginable simply because it has three times the selection of any other offensive position.

As you might imagine, outfielders have to measure up to a pretty high standard in Fantasy -- one so diverse not even some of the elite players (i.e. Grady Sizemore ) can excel in every category. Using the median statistics for the top 100 outfielders, the average Fantasy outfielder hits .280 with 20 home runs, 80 RBI, 80 runs scored and 16 stolen bases.

Fantasy owners often look to outfielders to build up their stolen bases, and the table demonstrates just how much value those specialized players can have. An outfielder with a plus sign in the steals column will jump significantly up the chart even if he doesn't excel in as many ways as a player beneath him.

Rank Player, Team Avg. HR RBI Runs SB
.280 20 80 80 16
1. Grady Sizemore , Cleveland + + +
2. Matt Holliday , Colorado + + + +
3. Josh Hamilton , Texas + + + + -
4. Ryan Braun , Milwaukee + + + +
5. Carlos Beltran , N.Y. Mets + + + +
6. Alfonso Soriano , Chicago Cubs + + +
7. Melvin Upton , Tampa Bay + +
8. Manny Ramirez , free agent + + + + -
9. Carlos Quentin , Chicago White Sox + + + -
10. Ichiro Suzuki , Seattle + - - + +
11. Carl Crawford , Tampa Bay + - +
12. Alex Rios , Toronto + + +
13. Jason Bay , Boston + + + -
14. Carlos Lee , Houston + + + -
15. Vladimir Guerrero , L.A. Angels + + + -
16. Nick Markakis , Baltimore + + +
17. Jacoby Ellsbury , Boston - - + +
18. Shane Victorino , Philadelphia - - + +
19. Curtis Granderson , Detroit +
20. Magglio Ordonez , Detroit + + -
21. Nate McLouth , Pittsburgh - + +
22. Matt Kemp , L.A. Dodgers + +
23. Bobby Abreu , free agent + + +
24. Adam Dunn , free agent - + + +
25. Ryan Ludwick , St. Louis + + + -
26. Vernon Wells , Toronto + -
27. Corey Hart , Milwaukee - +
28. Torii Hunter , L.A. Angels
29. Jay Bruce , Cincinnati - + -
30. Raul Ibanez , Philadelphia + -
31. Johnny Damon , N.Y. Yankees - - + +
32. Hunter Pence , Houston - + -
33. Jermaine Dye , Chicago White Sox + + -
34. Brad Hawpe , Colorado + + - -
35. Chris Young , Arizona - +
36. Pat Burrell , Philadelphia - + + -
37. Conor Jackson , Arizona - + -
38. Carlos Gomez , Minnesota - - - +
39. Coco Crisp , Kansas City - - - +
40. Milton Bradley , Chicago Cubs -
41. Juan Pierre , L.A. Dodgers - - - +
42. Andre Ethier , L.A. Dodgers + -
43. Rick Ankiel , St. Louis - + -
44. Xavier Nady , N.Y. Yankees - -
45. Mark DeRosa , Chicago Cubs - -
46. J.D. Drew , Boston -
47. Delmon Young , Minnesota -
48. Hideki Matsui , N.Y. Yankees + -
49. Justin Upton , Arizona - -
50. Eric Byrnes , Arizona - - +
51. Jayson Werth , Philadelphia - -
52. Lastings Milledge , Washington - - - +
53. Fred Lewis , San Francisco - - +
54. Denard Span , Minnesota - - +
55. Nick Swisher , N.Y. Yankees - -
56. Shin-Soo Choo , Cleveland - -
57. Nelson Cruz , Texas - - -
58. Adam Jones , Baltimore - - -
59. Willy Taveras , Cincinnati - - - +
60. Mike Cameron , Milwaukee - - -
61. Cameron Maybin , Florida - - - +
62. Josh Willingham , Washington - - -
63. Jason Kubel , Minnesota - -
64. Jeff Francoeur , Atlanta - + -
65. Michael Cuddyer , Minnesota - - -
66. Randy Winn , San Francisco - -
67. Jose Guillen , Kansas City - + - -
68. David DeJesus , Kansas City - - -
69. Brian Giles , San Diego + - - -
70. Ty Wigginton , free agent - - -
71. Aaron Rowand , San Francisco - - - -
72. Jeremy Hermida , Florida - - -
73. Luke Scott , Baltimore - - - -
74. Elijah Dukes , Washington - - -
75. Ryan Church , N.Y. Mets - - -
76. Chase Headley , San Diego - - - -
77. Michael Bourn , Houston - - - - +
78. Ryan Spilborghs , Colorado - - - -
79. Ryan P. Freel , Baltimore - - - - +
80. David Murphy , Texas - - -
81. Adam Lind , Toronto - - -
82. Ben Francisco , Cleveland - - - -
83. Marlon Byrd , Texas - - - -
84. Skip Schumaker , St. Louis + - - -
85. Ken Griffey , Chicago White Sox - - - -
86. Chris Dickerson , Cincinnati - - -
87. Cody Ross , Florida - - -
88. Jack Cust , Oakland - + -
89. Mark Teahen , Kansas City - - - -
90. Marcus Thames , Detroit - + - - -
91. Jody Gerut , San Diego - - -
92. Juan Rivera , L.A. Angels - - -
93. Nate Schierholtz , San Francisco - - - -
94. Garret Anderson , L.A. Angels - - -
95. Matt Joyce , Tampa Bay - - -
96. Franklin Gutierrez , Seattle - - - - -
97. Travis Snider , Toronto - - -
98. Matt LaPorta , Cleveland - - -
99. Eric Hinske , free agent - - - -
100. Ryan Sweeney , Oakland - - - -

Designated Hitters

Most Fantasy leagues allow you to start any position at designated hitter, making these DH-only players optional in Fantasy. In fact, with some of the big-name designated hitters retiring in recent years and others ( Travis Hafner ) suffering major power outages, only two players at the position -- David Ortiz and Jim Thome -- deserve guaranteed spots on all Fantasy rosters. Only two more -- Hafner and Gary Sheffield -- have any mixed-league appeal, though Rocco Baldelli and Kila Ka'aihue do each have some sleeper potential.

Given the surprising lack of Fantasy-relevant talent at a position that exists strictly for offense, the top 12 designated hitters have a relatively low median baseline of a .260 batting average, 10 home runs, 50 RBI, 50 runs scored and five stolen bases. Really, though, outside of Ortiz, you shouldn't bother with any of these players until the latter rounds of your mixed-league draft.

Rank Player, Team Avg. HR RBI Runs SB
.260 10 50 50 5
1. David Ortiz , Boston + + + + -
2. Jim Thome , Chicago White Sox - + + + -
3. Travis Hafner , Cleveland + -
4. Gary Sheffield , Detroit + +
5. Rocco Baldelli , Boston - - +
6. Kila Ka'aihue , Kansas City - - -
7. Chris Carter , Boston + - - -
8. Jeff Larish , Detroit - - -
9. Cliff Floyd , San Diego - - -
10. Tug Hulett , Seattle + - - - -
11. Randy Ruiz , Toronto - - - -
12. Mike Sweeney , Seattle - - - -

Starting Pitchers

Starting pitchers can help you in only four categories, as the saying goes, making the basis for comparison a bit short-handed.

You can pretty much strike the saves column from the record because it obviously doesn't apply. When discussing starting pitchers in Rotisserie play, you care only about wins, ERA, strikeouts and WHIP. In case you haven't caught on to the drill yet, the table below shows how each starting pitcher compares to the average starting pitcher in each of those four statistics using a plus sign (+), a minus sign (-) or neither. The baseline stats, as taken from the median values for the top 100 starting pitchers, are 13 wins, a 4.00 ERA, 165 strikeouts and a 1.32 WHIP. The baseline for saves, obviously, is zero, meaning any starting pitcher with even a remote chance of recording saves gets a plus sign in that category.

With only four categories, not five, available for drawing comparisons, the distinctions within this table aren't quite as obvious as the ones you'd find for position players. For instance, by just counting up the pluses and minuses, Adam Wainwright doesn't appear to have significantly more value than Derek Lowe , when in reality, he most definitely does.

So use it for what it is. No table can take the place of you actually looking up the statistics yourself, but this one at least gives you a quick reference for making comparisons if you get in a pinch on Draft Day.

One more word of caution: Just because a pitcher doesn't have a plus sign in the strikeout category doesn't mean he isn't a strikeout pitcher. Innings have a direct impact on strikeouts, remember, and some pitchers get hurt often enough that we can only project so many innings for them.

Rank Player, Team Wins ERA Ks WHIP Saves
13 4.00 165 1.32 0
1. Johan Santana , N.Y. Mets + + + +
2. CC Sabathia , N.Y. Yankees + + + +
3. Tim Lincecum , San Francisco + + + +
4. Brandon Webb , Arizona + + + +
5. Roy Halladay , Toronto + + +
6. Jake Peavy , San Diego + + +
7. Cole Hamels , Philadelphia + + + +
8. Dan Haren , Arizona + + + +
9. Roy Oswalt , Houston + + +
10. Cliff Lee , Cleveland + + +
11. John Lackey , L.A. Angels + + +
12. Josh Beckett , Boston + + +
13. Ervin Santana , L.A. Angels + + +
14. A.J. Burnett , N.Y. Yankees + +
15. Edinson Volquez , Cincinnati + + +
16. Daisuke Matsuzaka , Boston + + +
17. Carlos Zambrano , Chicago Cubs + +
18. Scott Kazmir , Tampa Bay + +
19. Chad Billingsley , L.A. Dodgers + + +
20. Jon Lester , Boston + +
21. James Shields , Tampa Bay +
22. Francisco Liriano , Minnesota + +
23. Felix Hernandez , Seattle + +
24. Ryan Dempster , Chicago Cubs + +
25. Chien-Ming Wang , N.Y. Yankees + + -
26. Justin Verlander , Detroit +
27. Adam Wainwright , St. Louis +
28. Rich Harden , Chicago Cubs - + + +
29. Joba Chamberlain , N.Y. Yankees - + + + +
30. Ben Sheets , free agent - + - +
31. Jered Weaver , L.A. Angels
32. Brandon Morrow , Seattle - + +
33. Ricky Nolasco , Florida + +
34. Josh Johnson , Florida +
35. Brett Myers , Philadelphia +
36. David Price , Tampa Bay + +
37. Yovani Gallardo , Milwaukee +
38. Aaron Harang , Cincinnati + +
39. Matt Cain , San Francisco - + +
40. Max Scherzer , Arizona - + +
41. Erik Bedard , Seattle +
42. Ted Lilly , Chicago Cubs +
43. Derek Lowe , Atlanta + - +
44. John Danks , Chicago White Sox
45. Zack Greinke , Kansas City +
46. Javier Vazquez , Atlanta - +
47. Roberto Hernandez , Cleveland -
48. Matt Garza , Tampa Bay -
49. Joe Saunders , L.A. Angels + -
50. Mike Pelfrey , N.Y. Mets -
51. Gavin Floyd , Chicago White Sox -
52. Jair Jurrjens , Atlanta -
53. Ubaldo Jimenez , Colorado -
54. John Maine , N.Y. Mets
55. Kevin Slowey , Minnesota - +
56. Andy Pettitte , N.Y. Yankees -
57. Scott Baker , Minnesota - -
58. Johnny Cueto , Cincinnati - - +
59. Chris Carpenter , St. Louis - - + +
60. Andy Sonnanstine , Tampa Bay - -
61. Jon Garland , L.A. Angels - -
62. Chris Young , San Diego -
63. Jeff Francis , Colorado - -
64. Brad Penny , Boston -
65. Randy Johnson , Arizona - +
66. Oliver Perez , N.Y. Mets - -
67. Gil Meche , Kansas City -
68. Clayton Kershaw , L.A. Dodgers -
69. Hiroki Kuroda , L.A. Dodgers - -
70. Aaron Cook , Colorado -
71. Bronson Arroyo , Cincinnati - -
72. Mark Buehrle , Chicago White Sox -
73. Jeremy Bonderman , Detroit - - -
74. Chris Volstad , Florida -
75. Justin Duchscherer , Oakland - -
76. Sean Marshall , Chicago Cubs - -
77. Armando Galarraga , Detroit - - -
78. Paul Maholm , Pittsburgh - -
79. Kyle Lohse , St. Louis - -
80. Wandy Rodriguez , Houston -
81. Jesse Litsch , Toronto - -
82. Scott Olsen , Washington - -
83. Randy Wolf , free agent - -
84. Todd Wellemeyer , St. Louis - -
85. Anthony Reyes , Cleveland - -
86. Dave Bush , Milwaukee - - - +
87. John Smoltz , Atlanta - +
88. Edwin Jackson , Detroit - - -
89. Joe Blanton , Philadelphia - - -
90. Jamie Moyer , Philadelphia - - -
91. Jeremy Guthrie , Baltimore - -
92. Pedro Martinez , free agent - -
93. Nick Blackburn , Minnesota - -
94. Glen Perkins , Minnesota - - -
95. Vicente Padilla , Texas - - -
96. Manny Parra , Milwaukee - -
97. John Lannan , Washington - - -
98. Brandon McCarthy , Texas - - -
99. Barry Zito , San Francisco - - -
100. Kenshin Kawakami , Atlanta - - - -

Relief Pitchers

Saves are the name of the game for relief pitchers. All other stats are peripheral by comparison, making the distinction between the good Fantasy relievers and the bad Fantasy relievers clear as night and day.

But those other stats matter in their own small way, if for no other reason because they show how likely a pitcher will meet, or perhaps even exceed, his projection for saves. The better a pitcher pitches -- with a lower ERA and WHIP, more strikeouts, etc. -- the more likely he'll capitalize on his save opportunities and the more likely his team will trust him with even more opportunities.

The table below demonstrates how each reliever compares to the average reliever using a median baseline of three wins, a 3.30 ERA, a 1.25 WHIP, 68 strikeouts, and most importantly, 22 saves -- a mark attainable by any reliever with a legitimate chance of earning saves, but one easily surpassed by the most reliable closers in the game.

Given the nature of their responsibilities, closers, who you'll see concentrated at the top of this table, don't -- and, in fact, shouldn't -- project for more than the baseline three wins. Some of the middle relievers at the bottom, though, project for slightly more either because they have consistently exceeded three wins in the past or have an outside chance of starting this season. In general, though, you shouldn't count on any wins from your relief pitchers, for obvious reasons.

Rank Player, Team Wins ERA Ks WHIP Saves
3 3.30 68 1.25 22
1. Francisco Rodriguez , N.Y. Mets + + + +
2. Jonathan Papelbon , Boston + + + +
3. Mariano Rivera , N.Y. Yankees + + +
4. Joe Nathan , Minnesota + + +
5. Joakim Soria , Kansas City + + +
6. Carlos Marmol , Chicago Cubs + + + +
7. Brad Lidge , Philadelphia + - +
8. Bobby Jenks , Chicago White Sox - + +
9. Kerry Wood , Cleveland + +
10. B.J. Ryan , Toronto + +
11. Jose Valverde , Houston + +
12. Brian Fuentes , L.A. Angels + +
13. Jonathan Broxton , L.A. Dodgers + +
14. Francisco Cordero , Cincinnati - + - +
15. Huston Street , Colorado +
16. Mike Gonzalez , Atlanta +
17. Trevor Hoffman , Milwaukee - - + +
18. Brad Ziegler , Oakland + - +
19. Joey Devine , Oakland + +
20. Matt Capps , Pittsburgh + - +
21. Brian Wilson , San Francisco - - +
22. Chad Qualls , Arizona
23. Matt Lindstrom , Florida - -
24. Heath Bell , San Diego
25. Troy Percival , Tampa Bay - -
26. Chris Perez , St. Louis -
27. George Sherrill , Baltimore - - -
28. Chris Ray , Baltimore - -
29. Jose Arredondo , L.A. Angels + + + -
30. Frank Francisco , Texas - + -
31. Grant Balfour , Tampa Bay + + -
32. Joel Hanrahan , Washington - -
33. Brandon Lyon , Detroit - -
34. Ryan Franklin , St. Louis - - - -
35. J.J. Putz , N.Y. Mets -
36. Joel Zumaya , Detroit + + -
37. Scot Shields , L.A. Angels + + -
38. Dan Wheeler , Tampa Bay -
39. C.J. Wilson , Texas - - -
40. Hong-Chih Kuo , L.A. Dodgers + + -

You can e-mail us your Fantasy Baseball questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com . Be sure to put +/- Ratings in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Raised in Atlanta by a board game-loving family during the dawn of the '90s Braves dynasty, Scott White was easy prey for the Fantasy Sports, in particular Fantasy Baseball, and has devoted his adulthood... Full Bio

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