Rankings Review: Putting Gregory Polanco and Trevor Bauer in context
Scott White weighs in on Justin Morneau's and Charlie Blackmon's rise up the rankings and continues to back Brad Miller. He also assesses the immediate value of two potential impact callups.
Last week, I introduced the concept of the Rankings Review, where I explain the changes I've made to my rest-of-season rankings over the last few days, and vowed to do it as often as I found the time.
Which is pretty weak as far as vows go, I'll be the first to admit.
But here I am back for seconds one week later, my rankings updated, my shirt pressed, my hair tied up in a bow. That last detail may not fit your image of me, but you have to admit it shows a certain attention to detail. And since you can't prove it's not the case, you'll have to assume I personify that trait.
It'll help when you see how badly I butchered things this week.
- Travis d'Arnaud has exhausted my patience. He has now played 51 games in the majors -- or nearly one-third of a full big-league season -- and has yet to do anything Ryan Hanigan couldn't. Upside is forever -- or at least until age 30 -- but holding out for d'Arnaud's while players like Miguel Montero, Josmil Pinto and Carlos Ruiz pile up points on the waiver wire seems unnecessarily stubborn. I still rank d'Arnaud 18th, so I'm not suggesting you drop him in a two-catcher league, but in anything shallower, you'll have another chance at him if he shows signs of taking a step forward.
- Jose Abreu is now a top-10 first baseman, moving ahead of Joe Mauer and Buster Posey (who are valued more for their catcher eligibility) and personal favorite Eric Hosmer. In only one month on the job, Abreu is already more than halfway to Hosmer's career high in home runs, so it stands to reason. And judging from the scoutingreports and his all too evident ability to hit the ball to all fields, I'm not worried about him become a Mark Trumbo-like all-or-nothing type.
- At 23rd in Head-to-Head leagues, Justin Morneau is now the best of the first basemen I'd halfway anticipate dropping at some point this season. Look, it's a deep position, so it's more of endorsement than it sounds. He's been good enough for long enough to begin the season that passing him up for a fringy Corey Hart or Nick Swisher type is nothing short of reckless, but other than him playing in Colorado now (which he's only doing half the time, remember), we still don't have a clear explanation for the turnaround. A two-week slump could make me skeptical enough to drop him when I'd never consider that for Mike Napoli or Victor Martinez.
- Dropping Kolten Wong to 30th at second base puts him sufficiently out of sight in mixed leagues, but not necessarily out of mind. I still like the skill set and could see him coming back and living up to all my preseason hopes for him, but the fact is he's in the minors now and wasn't doing anything before going there. Given the surplus of quality second basemen in the league right now, you should have another chance at him and will survive if somehow you don't.
- I know everyone's aching for me to move Brad Miller down, but I won't do it. I won't, Daddy. I won't. It's a matter of upside. Miller has the ability to hit .300 with 20 home runs and 15 stolen bases over a full season, which would make him a difference-maker at a weak position like shortstop. And he showed in half a season last year that he's as productive as an Andrelton Simmons, Starlin Castro or Jed Lowrie even if he falls short. So far, he's fallen way short, but ask the people who gave up on Jason Kipnis last April how they feel about it now. I myself gave up on Domonic Brown in a few leagues after touting him as a sleeper all spring only to see him hit 12 home runs for someone else in May. Players with the potential to impact the game like Miller could deserve a longer leash.
- Manny Machado's return from offseason knee surgery didn't move him in my rankings at all. Granted, he's more valuable healthy than hurt, but it was a close call between him and Kyle Seager even before I knew he would begin the year on the DL. And now Anthony Rendon has entered the mix, boasting about as much upside as Machado. No doubt, Machado has the type of raw ability that could vault him into the top five at the position by season's end, but let's make sure he's in good working order before making any bold proclamations.
- Figuring out where to slot Bryce Harper with all the time he's projected to miss is easier said than done. Standard operating procedure for ranking any player is to figure out the last one I'd trade him for and the first one I wouldn't, but injured players are more deserving of the investment in some leagues than others. I usually err on the side of shallower, but he's out of the top 20 no matter what format you play in.
- Nelson Cruz has reminded us all how good he can be when healthy. His new ranking acknowledges it while still guarding against the inevitable injury.
- Every week, Charlie Blackmon jumps about 10 spots in the rankings. It can't continue much longer. At 40th, he's now rubbing elbows with some of the mainstays at the position, and of course, no one would be surprised if he hit .180 over the next month and became an afterthought in Fantasy. And yet I'd still give up Alfonso Soriano for him in a heartbeat. It just goes to show you the back end at a position is far more malleable than the front end.
- After hyping Gregory Polanco to the hills in the latest Prospects Report, I should probably rank him in a spot that reflects how widely I believe he should be stashed. Just behind Chris Colabello and Nick Castellanos seems about right. Nobody's dropping either, but at the same time, they're keeping an eye out to see what else is available, just like with Polanco.
- Even before he went on the DL with a blister issue, Anibal Sanchez had let me down enough to drop a good 10 spots in the rankings -- and at the less malleable end of the position, no less. The strikeout rate was fine, but he was horribly inefficient and wasn't pitching the innings necessary to win games with any real consistency. Maybe he'll get back there when he returns, but I'd feel more secure with Mike Minor or Hisashi Iwakuma, even with them coming back from injury.
- Shelby Miller ... I should have known better. He issued 3.9 walks per nine innings over his final 18 starts last season, going less than six innings in 11 of them, and seems to have picked up where he left off last year. Clearly, he has upside, but the top 30 is no place for a work in progress. He's more Lance Lynn than Michael Wacha these days.
- Scott Kazmir is good. In his last 18 starts last year, he compiled a 3.06 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings. Yeah, he belongs in the top 40.
- We don't know that Trevor Bauer will be taking Carlos Carrasco's spot in the Indians starting rotation, but considering he got the call when the team needed an extra arm for a doubleheader earlier this season, it stands to reason. And considering he's issued just nine walks in his five starts between the majors and minors this year, it's possible all that work he put into his mechanics this offseason paid off. I'm taking a flier on him now, even at the expense of Clay Buchholz and Tim Lincecum.
- I'm starting to buy into both Ian Kennedy and Josh Beckett. The peripherals for both look great, and obviously, both have a history.
- I had some nice things to say about Hector Rondon and his potential to close for the Cubs Monday in this very blog, and while I don't recant any of it, the rankings obviously do a better job of putting it in context. Even though they're short-term options by comparison, Joe Smith, Jonathan Broxton and Sergio Santos all have a clearer paths to saves right now and are, therefore, more valuable. It's a fine line, though, and might depend on if you have a greater need for saves now or later.
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