Rankings Review: More drastic changes needed

Brian Dozier just isn't slowing down. (USATSI)
Brian Dozier just isn't slowing down. (USATSI)

Granted, Eric Hosmer hit .261 with one home run over his first 50 games last year only to hit .318 with 16 home runs over his final 109, and Victor Martinez hit .228 with two home runs over his first 52 games only to hit .336 with 12 home runs over his final 107.

But those extreme cases of midseason turnarounds are more the exception than the rule. We're nearly two months in now, more than one-fourth of the way into the season. We can only blame sample size for so long.

So with this latest Rankings Review more than any that preceded it, you'll see players come closer to being ranked (in these here rankings) like they've actually performed, which should elicit cheers from the masses.

It's not to save face or anything. You'll notice certain underachievers like Carlos Santana, Robinson Cano, Allen Craig and Jason Heyward still inspire a certain level of confidence. But for those with less of a track record or obvious warning signs, it's time to re-evaluate.

Of course, that goes for the other end of the spectrum, too. I followed Michael Hurcomb's lead in moving Brian Dozier up to sixth at second base, behind what was a clear top five at the position coming into the season (Jason Kipnis included). He's just not slowing down, his latest nine-game hitting streak bringing his batting average up to a season-high .257. I'm not saying he's a 40-40 man this year, but even if he just doubles his home runs and stolen bases the rest of the way, which is entirely feasible given the way he finished last season, he'll probably live up to this ranking. Over his last 134 games dating back to June 15, he's batting .256 with 26 home runs, 20 stolen bases and 68 walks. 

What else?

Derek Norris has officially entered mixed-league territory as the No. 16 catcher. So I'm a little late to the party, but the Athletics have only recently made him an everyday player, moving John Jaso to catcher as needed. Think 16 is still too low? Fine, but understand they could always go back to the platoon if Norris slumps.

Now that we know Prince Fielder is playing with a herniated disk in his neck, the outlook for him changes a bit. Before, he was a near certainty to bounce back. Now, it's like Ryan Braun's thumb injury earlier this season: Can he avoid the DL, and how effective will he be if he does? Braun has answered those questions, but until Fielder does the same, he's with Chris Davis just outside the elite at the position.

Brandon Moss is good. We've known this for a couple years now. How good depends on how long the Athletics continue to play him every day. They just traded for Kyle Blanks, which is a little unnerving, but given that Moss is batting .346 against lefties so far this year, it may not matter. The risk is enough to rank him behind other must-starts like Michael Morse and Michael Cuddyer, but he's trending up.

Matt Adams, meanwhile, is trending down. Even if his power comes around, his 36-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio figures to hold him back in points leagues and could eventually hurt his batting average in Rotisserie. The downgrade isn't quite as extreme as it appears, given the depth at first base.

Yes, I'm downgrading Martin Prado, but more because of all the players who have lapped him at second base -- such as Chase Utley, Jose Altuve, Dee Gordon, Anthony Rendon, Daniel Murphy and, of course, Dozier -- than his own struggles. You'll notice he didn't fall as many spots at third base. I still have faith in him hitting for average, having lived out this same early season slump last year.

Brandon Phillips is another victim of the numbers at the position. I pegged him as a bust coming into the season, but 18th?

I wish David Wright, Adrian Beltre and Evan Longoria would do something already so I can get away with ranking Josh Donaldson behind them still. Given their track records, I still trust them for better numbers going forward, which is no knock on Donaldson. 

In his last 26 games, Matt Dominguez is batting .309 with five home runs. He's no Nolan Arenado or anything, but at a weak position, that's enough to give him a bump.

I'd say it's safe to downgrade Domonic Brown -- not to the point that you're dropping him across the board or anything, but enough to make him a fringier option in shallower leagues. Let's face it: As good as he was last year, he had an uneven perfrmance from April to September after a mostly uninspiring track record up to that point. The talent is there, but you can't bank on him tapping into it again.

Matt Cain has a down arrow next to his name, than I'm less discouraged by him than encouraged by Julio Teheran, Hisashi Iwakuma and Jon Lester. Those three are looking like borderline aces while Cain, if only for trade negotiation purposes, deserves a bit more skepticism.

I'll admit my confidence in Homer Bailey is shaken. He shows signs of coming around but can't seem to sustain anything. It's not to the point that I'm dropping him, but risers like Yordano Ventura and Corey Kluber are looking more trustworthy going forward.

So ... many ... arrows in the 60-80 range at starting pitcher. Your guess is as good as mine with that group. You have your DL stashes in Michael Pineda, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker and Dillon Gee; your risers in Drew Pomeranz, Dallas Keuchel, Drew Hutchison and Trevor Bauer; and your fallers in Nathan Eovaldi, Dan Haren, Chris Archer and Yovani Gallardo. In theory, I guess I want them all, but I know you have to pick and choose in some leagues. You might want to go with your gut with this group. For any of them, the next start could change everything.

Jenrry Mejia is apparently now closing for the Mets, but he's not yet eligible at relief pitcher in Fantasy. I may have him a tad low in the starting pitcher rankings for some people's liking, but then again, Terry Collins never seems to stick with a closer for long.

As for the other new closers or speculated closers, I rank them Sean Doolittle, Zach Britton, Jason Motte and Chad Qualls. Doolittle is the most speculative of all of them, but given his 28 strikeouts to zero walks in 21 innings, I believe he could dominate in the role.

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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