March 22, 2013
Fantasy Tier Rankings
Today we continue our positional tier rankings. Last offseason, Derek Carty tackled the tiers by himself; this spring, we've decided to attack them as a team. Players at each position will be divided into five tiers, represented by the number of stars.
Five-star players are the studs at their respective position. In general, they are the players that will be nabbed in the first couple of rounds of the draft, and they'll fetch auction bids in excess of $30. Four-star players are a cut below the studs at the position. They will also be earl- round selections, and they're projected to be worth more than $20 in most cases. Three-star players are the last tier in which players are projected to provide double-digit dollar value in auctions, and two-star players are projected to earn single digits in dollar value in auctions. One-star players are late round sleepers and roster placeholders. As was the case with our positional rankings series, the positional tiers aren't simply a regurgitation of the projected PECOTA values.
We retained last year's roster requirements for the positional tier series. Dollar values come from our PFM using a 12-team, standard 5x5 scoring format, with 23-man rosters and the following positions: C (2) 1B (1) 2B (1) 3B (1) SS (1) CI (1) MI (1) OF (5) UT (1) P (9). The minimum bid for players is $1, and, as we did last year, we'll allocate $180 of a $260 budget to hitters. Players needed to play in 20 games at a position to qualify there. The PFM is customizable, so if your league uses a different format, you can adjust it to match your league settings and see how it impacts players’ dollar values.
You can find the previous Fantasy Tier Rankings posts here:
Here are the shortstops:
Tulowitzki and and Reyes form an obvious 1-2 punch atop the shortstop rankings considering Hanley Ramirez’s recent injury. I’ve seen them drafted interchangeably, but still lean toward Tulo given how rare his 30-homer, 100-RBI skills are for middlemen. Drafting Tulo means assuming a bit more risk, but it’s easier to replicate Reyes’ speed later in the draft.
Castro has the talent, but has yet to put it all together over a full season. Desmond just had a monster year, but it remains to be seen how much he’ll regress. Rollins also is coming off a fantastic year, but his age will start to show eventually.
Four-Star Value Pick: All three of these guys get drafted fairly aggressively due to positional scarcity concerns, but Desmond will sometimes slip outside the top 50 in drafts; at that spot, I’d snatch him up all day. As mentioned before, the power seems legit and he was the number-one fantasy shortstop last year.
Zobrist could have snuck his way up into the four-star tier, but as Bret mentioned yesterday, his steals projection is suspect given his success rate last year. Another name for this tier could be the Healthy Tier—Aybar is the only member of it that spent time on the disabled list last season. Some people will spend $20+ on Andrus expecting continued improvement from the 24-year-old, but I mostly agree with PECOTA’s stagnant projection, though the runs total seems low for the second hitter in the Rangers order.
If Aybar can play in the two hole, he has a good chance to return value, but I wouldn’t reach too much for a guy who has never quite played a full season. If A. Escobar plays a full season, I expect him to come closer to 75 runs and 30 steals than what PECOTA projects.
Three-Star Value Pick: All of these players have a fair amount of variance in their draft position, so it’s hard to make a definite value pick, but A. Cabrera stands out as someone who can contribute in all five categories and, at age 27, is in a good position to deliver a productive year. Maybe not quite as good as his 2011, but something close to that level of output.
Rutledge had an awfully impressive year considering he had never played above High-A before 2012, but his brief résumé makes him unworthy of a major reach. If that means I miss out on him, fine—the upside is not terribly high. Jeter’s ankle is already giving him problems, but the Captain always seems to prove the doubters wrong. Segura would be ranked higher based on talent, but batting eighth in the Brewers lineup will kill his fantasy value.
I’m skeptical that Simmons will remain the Braves leadoff hitter all year, but if he does, his runs total alone will make him worth the pick. E. Cabrera won’t help much besides his steals, but if you’re nearing the end of your draft and feeling light on steals, he’s the perfect late-round remedy. As I normally advise with injuries, I’d exercise caution with Ramirez, as two months can easily turn into three months. If you are in a shallow league with deep benches, sure, Hanley could be worth the wait. But unless he falls as far I’ve ranked him, I’d let someone else take the risk.
Two-Star Value Pick: Cozart’s fluky-low RBI total last year diminished what was otherwise a solid fantasy season for a shortstop. Assuming he hits better than last year’s .219/.245/.315 line with runners on base, he should rack up a fair amount of RBI in Cincinnati’s loaded lineup. He hasn’t stolen much in the majors, but he did steal 30 bases in Triple-A one year, so the potential for double-digit steals is there. Cozart often is overlooked in drafts and sometimes can be had as late as the 300th-overall pick, which is like taking fantasy stats from a baby.
If Greene can beat Marwin Gonzalez for the Astros’ shortstop job, he makes for a nice sleeper, as Bret highlighted the other day. Scutaro, Tejada, and Peralta are boring players but have stable playing time, which has value at this point. Nunez can be a nice source of cheap steals, though his opportunities will be spotty on the left side of the Yankees infield. Drew was a nice sleeper before the concussion issues, and with his clearance today, he is still someone to consider late. Gordon will still have to battle for at-bats, but given Hanley’s injury, he’s worth a $1-2 flier for steals. I personally don’t have the patience to wait on Hamilton until the summer or even September, but if you do, he’s worth a buck in an auction.
One-Star Value Pick: Y. Escobar might not be the most likable player, but that shouldn’t distract from his fantasy value this year. Batting second in the Rays lineup, I’m expecting a .270 average, 10 homers, five steals, and solid run and RBI totals for this group of players. If you miss out on a top shortstop, you should still feel comfortable heading into the season with Yunel as your starter.