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State of the Position 

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February 8, 2016 6:00 am

State of the Position: Shortstop

11

J.P. Breen

The 30,000-foot-high view of the six spot for fantasy purposes.

Baseball is arguably the most difficult of all major sports, and if not the most difficult, at least the most failure-laden sport. A batter who fails 70 percent of the time is an All-Star nowadays, while a starting pitcher who surrenders a baserunner per inning is a borderline ace. Hell, the notion of failure is so embedded in baseball that it’s expected that young players crash and burn before finding their footing in the majors.

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The hot corner looks a lot better through the fantasy lens than it did a year ago.

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January 25, 2016 6:00 am

State of the Position: Second Base

7

J.P. Breen

An overview of the fantasy offerings at the keystone.

Over the past half-decade, the second-base position has lost its offensive potency. It has become a premium fantasy position, in many ways, as top-tier options seemingly have gotten an extra ADP boost in recent years due to the dearth of intriguing players at the third and fourth level.

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An overview of the fantasy options available at this position for the coming season.

In fantasy baseball, 2015 saw a revitalization of sorts at first base. After a down year in 2014 where merely five first basemen earned $25 or more in mono formats, 2015 saw eight first basemen crack this barrier. The big categorical jumps at the position came in home runs and batting average. The position picked up nearly 100 home runs from 2014 (or three home runs per every 600 plate appearances) and jumped from a .252 batting average in 2014 to a .259 batting average in 2015. Where in drafts and auctions last year the temptation was to go small at the position to avoid overspending on modest production, last year’s spike in production suggests that it might be better to go big early. Where only two first basemen cracked the Top 25 overall in mixed league rankings in 2014, five first basemen turned the feat in 2015, with a sixth barely missing the cut.

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Surveying the league-wide backstop landscape and the fantasy implications therein.

Although the league-wide narrative following the 2015 season was that offensive numbers positively bounced back from a prolonged decline, we cannot extend that argument to the catcher position. Production from MLB catchers at the plate has taken a nosedive. It has fallen for three consecutive seasons:

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March 2, 2015 6:00 am

State of the Position: Relief Pitcher

5

J.P. Breen

An overview of the ninth-inning men and those who'll set them up.

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February 18, 2015 10:21 am

State of the Position: Starting Pitchers

4

Ben Carsley

The eternally confounding class of ballplayers.

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State of the Catcher
State of First Base
State of Second Base
State of Third Base
State of Shortstop
State of Outfield






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February 9, 2015 6:00 am

State of the Position: Outfield

13

Mike Gianella

Those people in your mock telling you "outfield is thin?" Yeah, they're lying.

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Helping you navigate a notoriously weak position.

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January 26, 2015 6:00 am

State of the Position: Third Base

2

Mike Gianella

Sizing up the position from a fantasy point of view.

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January 19, 2015 6:00 am

State of the Position: Second Base

3

J.P. Breen

The keystone might be deeper than you think.

Although the league-average second baseman only hit .250/.307/.364 in 2014, the position was rather deep. Seven second basemen finished the season as top-50 fantasy players in ESPN leagues, including a few breakout stars such as Josh Harrison, Dee Gordon, and Brian Dozier. Ultimately, it proved to be a crazy season in which cheap options on draft day provided some of the best value—as five of the top-10 second baseman were, on average, drafted outside the top 15.

Perhaps it’s a changing of the guard. Dustin Pedroia, Brandon Phillips, and Chase Utley continue to age and are no longer elite options. Guys like Anthony Rendon and Jose Altuve now lead the charge. That doesn’t even include the massive number of second-base prospects who are poised to jump into the mix in 2015—such as Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, Kolten Wong, and the forgotten Jurickson Profar, among others. The position has the potential to be crazy deep.

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January 12, 2015 6:00 am

State of the Position: First Base

11

Mike Gianella

Big power might suddenly be tough to come by at a position that had been well stocked before 2014.

If 2013 looked like the dawn of a grand new era at first base, in 2014 reality came crashing down on this supposed new paradigm. Ten first basemen earned $25 or more in mono formats in 2013; in 2014, only five first basemen managed to reach this vaunted plateau. It could be argued that first base has been impacted more by the limited offensive climate than any other position. The days of the 25-30 home run hitter aren’t dead and forgotten, but with fewer top shelf big boppers to go around, fantasy owners have to decide if they want to invest a high draft pick on a major power play or if they want to try and opt for cheaper production that is attached to more of an all-around player. James Loney’s 2014 line looks excruciatingly boring, but he was the 13th-best first baseman in fantasy in 2014. Unless your league is super shallow, what were once pedestrian-looking numbers are now a staple in some team’s lineup.

Despite the lack of top tier production in 2014, the top of the player pool still looks strong. Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Cabrera both look to bounce back from injuries and take their rightful place at the top of the heap in mono leagues. Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Abreu offer strong power production and could easily fill the void if Cabrera’s injury recovery winds up being on the longer side. Immediately beneath this quartet of $30-plus potential earners is a trio of grizzled veterans—Adrian Gonzalez, Victor Martinez, and Albert Pujols—accompanied by last year’s big breakout player, Anthony Rizzo. Martinez produced at an elite level last year, but the fickle nature of V-Mart’s high batting average makes Rizzo the most likely to crack the top five this year assuming further growth.

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