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Fantasy Baseball Today

Rankings Review: Giving credit where credit is due

By Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer

Jonathan Villar was nobody's idea of a Fantasy standout coming into the season, but he's performing like one now. (USATSI)
Jonathan Villar was nobody's idea of a Fantasy standout coming into the season, but he's performing like one now. (USATSI)

As I mentioned in my last post, the rankings got an overhaul Monday night. Here are some of the changes and my reasoning for them:

  • In his first five full big-league seasons, Matt Wieters had exactly one month in which he hit over .300. After hitting .338 in April, he now has two. A switch hitter, he has mostly struggled from the left side of the plate over his career, batting .214 against righties last year and .224 in 2012, but a change to his stance has him hitting .368 against them now. He's still in the thick of his prime at age 27 and never quite lived up to his potential as the No. 1 overall prospect entering 2009, so a breakout season isn't so far-fetched. I'm not exactly down on Brian McCann or Salvador Perez, but I believe Wieters is better than both.
  • Wilson Ramos gets a bump as he nears his return from a fractured hand, but since he went down, the catcher position has only gotten deeper, with Devin Mesoraco and Miguel Montero emerging as mixed-league mainstays. Ramos outperformed Buster Posey in Head-to-Head points per game last season, but he's outside my top 12 here.
  • With all the attention paid to Jose Abreu and Adrian Gonzalez at first base, Anthony Rizzo's breakout hasn't gotten the attention it deserves in Fantasy. His improved plate discipline hinted of greatness even before his home run binge, and he still has more walks than strikeouts on the year. This longtime Eric Hosmer apologist has a new pet player.
  • James Loney doesn't excite me. Never has, never will. But he's not beyond hitting over .300 over a full season, given his low strikeout rate. And because he at least has doubles power, he can be useful in Head-to-Head points leagues. His new ranking reflects it.
  • I went into the second base rankings fully intending to give Dee Gordon his due credit, believing he's everything we hoped Billy Hamilton would be coming into the season, just at a weaker position. But seeing some of the players I'd have to move behind him, I decided to hold off just a little bit more. I managed to move him up to 12th in Rotisserie leagues, but in Head-to-Head leagues, I don't want anyone selling those other players short. It has less to do with what I think of him than what I think of them, which says something about the depth at second base. By comparison, Gordon is now eighth at shortstop in both formats.
  • Behold, a Tommy La Stella sighting! I'm intrigued because I love players who make contact and get on base, but La Stella strikes me as a better-in-real-life-than-Fantasy type. My hope is for Omar Infante-type production if he indeed does replace Dan Uggla.
  • Did you know Jonathan Villar is on a near 30-30 pace? I find it nothing short of irritating. The way he strikes out every third at-bat makes me wonder if he'll even keep his job all year, but I can't just ignore the kind of numbers he's putting up at the weakest position in Fantasy. Fortunately, since it is the weakest position in Fantasy, the players I displaced for him aren't the kind you'll miss.
  • Mike Moustakas is now behind Trevor Plouffe at third base, which is my way of crying uncle with him. I read some encouraging reports and saw some encouraging signs coming into the year, but it's not like you can trust in the track record with him. I'm sure some will say it's long overdue, but I think part of my responsibility with the rankings is to move a player only when I'm confident I won't be moving him back (except in the case of injury). It's not like I can't move him back, but chasing the streaks does nobody any good.
  • I didn't end up moving Jay Bruce down that much even with him expected to miss a month with a torn meniscus. A player's production can vary so greatly from month to month that you can't be sure whatever you'd acquire for Bruce would be worth it in the short-term. I'd rather make do with a fill-in than risk underselling a stud in a panic move.
  • Outfield is as oversaturated as usual. I'm having the hardest time reconciling newcomers like Melky Cabrera, Desmond Jennings and Michael Morse with holdovers like Carlos Beltran, Shane Victorino and Domonic Brown. You could reshuffle them to your liking and not catch any flak from me.
  • Nick Markakis is kind of the James Loney of the outfield and, with his hot streak, has been moved up to reflect it. Theoretically, he's better in Head-to-Head than Rotisserie, but since Rotisserie requires more outfielders, he's more likely to be rostered there.
  • Poor Eric Young. He takes a hit with Juan Lagares' return, but I'd still hold on to him in Rotisserie leagues.
  • I'm all-in on Johnny Cueto. Bumping him up to 16th, just behind Masahiro Tanaka, officially puts him in ace teritory. Jon Lester gets a big bump as well now that he's back to being a strikeout pitcher. The improved control also helps.
  • Some of the unexpected early season standouts are beginning to make up ground in the starting pitcher rankings, with Jesse Chavez, Tim Hudson and Wily Peralta moving into the top 60 at the expense of CC Sabathia, Ubaldo Jimenez and R.A. Dickey. Nate Eovaldi would be right there with them if he didn't play for the Marlins, who I fully expect to come back down to earth. As it is, he's not far behind. Garrett Richards is in the discussion, too, but a few spots back. I like what he's done in terms of strikeouts and think he has good stuff, but his walk rate suggests he's on shaky ground still.
  • A few Mets homers have written in suggesting I'm not giving Dillon Gee and Jonathon Niese enough credit. I still don't know that I am here, but elevating them to Jake Peavy and Matt Garza territory is at least a step in the right direction. Gee, of course, lacks strikeout potential, so ranking him as far ahead of Mike Leake as I do is a fairly strong endorsement.
  • Since the last Rankings Review, Ernesto Frieri and Hector Rondon have entered (or re-entered) the saves mix, and Jim Johnson appears to be the next pitcher to do so. Of those three, I rank Frieri the highest, both because of his strikeout potential and manager Mike Scioscia's stated preference for him, and he's only one spot behind John Axford, who's coming off back-to-back blown saves and is giving the Indians something to think about with his continued control problems. With a 2.03 ERA and 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings, Cody Allen would be the obvious choice to replace him and is now in my top 40 at the position in Rotisserie leagues.
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