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A fantastic foursome stands above the rest, but there are plenty of upside plays in the middle rounds.

The Baseball Prospectus fantasy team has been rolling out its positional rankings over the past couple of weeks, and will conclude the process next week. Each team member assigned to cover a position will create an initial top 15 (more for outfielders and starting pitchers) on his own. He will then send that list to the rest of the team for discussion, at which point we will debate the rankings, both in terms of each player’s specific placement and the merits on which he was included in the top 15. This back-and-forth debate will yield the final list, which will be presented by the original author with notes on the pertinent players. We encourage you to bring your opinions into the fray using the comment section below.

Here are the previous rankings lists:

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Sometimes starters get sick, and they start a game anyway. After that, things often get ugly. We should celebrate their sacrifice.

Earlier this year, 28-year-old pitcher Paul Phillips of the Atlantic League Somerset Patriots was scheduled to start a game against the Camden Riversharks. Phillips, who was drafted by the Blue Jays in 2005 and bounced around Toronto’s and Tampa Bay’s systems until last season, entered that game with a league-leading 1.76 ERA. Phillips was Somerset’s ace, if the Atlantic League has aces. But Phillips wasn’t feeling well.

He pitched anyway. And predictably, he pitched poorly. He lasted three innings and threw 93 pitches, allowing four walks and five runs. When asked to comment on his subpar start, Phillips said:

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August 2, 2012 5:00 am

Value Picks: Starting Pitchers for 8/2/12

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Paul Sporer

Pitchers on the mend is the theme of this week's VP.

This week’s Value Picks will have a slightly different feel, with an injury flavor to them; a host of arms are out on rehab assignments, making now the prime time to get them on the cheap.  Don’t worry; I sprinkled in some able-bodied arms as well. 

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The Futures Game allows fans the chance to dream of the best up-and-coming prospects, but it's also a time when a scout can picture his own future.

I’ve been in Arizona for a week, and my eyes have been privileged enough to witness a remarkable amount of questionable baseball; sometimes calling it baseball is too generous, as the refinement level of the talent often leaves a lot to be desired. Of course, I will continue to refer to the experience as a privilege because, let’s face it, being at the back fields of a complex league park is better (for me) than being in a cubicle watching the countdown to closing time, and most people aren’t fortunate enough to get to participate in their passion on a daily basis. This is going somewhere, I promise.

My days have been spent standing in triple-digit heat, starting with the afternoon workouts, where the sun rains showers of pure hell, and concluding in the evening, when I find myself standing behind a back-field fence for three-plus hours at a clip, saved from the intense vengeance of the sun, but still subject to the oven-like temperatures that pack a punch deep into the night. By the time I return to my hotel, I feel like a slice of leftover pizza, something edible that was once fresh but gets exposed to the elements and reheated to the point that it loses its molecular identity, transforming the overall appeal from appetizing to agonizing. I’m inedible by the time July 10 rolls around. Arizona failed to offer the necessary chill to keep my structure established, and my texture isn’t pleasant to the senses.

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Jason survives a scare while scouting AZL action.

Let’s face it; sometimes the action off the field is more entertaining than the action on it. This is especially true when watching complex league baseball, as the talent is more often than not immature and the flow of the game reflects the level of refinement of the participants. These specific conditions can lead to long periods of daydreaming, misguided focus, and general ennui, which in turn can leave your memory of the game [itself] heavily weighted by outside influence. On Tuesday, July 5th, I traveled to Goodyear, Arizona to watch the AZL Indians host the AZL Rangers in a battle of AZL foes on an AZL field in front of AZL personnel. Not exactly a happenin’ scene.

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The Dodgers and Giants present a study in differing team construction, the Rockies and Diamondbacks face off, and pitching for San Diego makes even Dustin Moseley useful.

Beginning

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February 6, 2007 12:00 am

Lies, Damned Lies: PECOTA Takes on First Base Prospects

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Nate Silver

Nate recovers well enough from Chicago's Super Bowl loss to share PECOTA's take on first base prospects.

Fortunately, writing about first base prospects gives me something of the day off, since there aren't very many of them. A lot of this flows from sabermetric first principles; first base is the endpoint of the defensive spectrum, which not only means that you have to hit a whole lot to make a name for yourself at the position, but also that there's nowhere to go if your defense gets any worse.

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Notebook finishes the week by looking at three American League teams, focusing on a quiet MVP candidate, the worst right fielder in the game, and a much-improved pitcher perhaps on the verge of breaking out.

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June 16, 2005 12:00 am

Transaction Analysis: May 24-June 12, 2005

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Christina Kahrl

The Cubs shuffle through pitching options, the Brewers have one of the most interesting rosters in the game, and the Dodgers fight through injuries as they try to stay in the race. This and much more in Transaction Analysis.

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May 26, 2004 12:00 am

Can Of Corn: O.P.T.

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Dayn Perry

Adam Dunn is O.P.T. draw 162 walks on the season, which would be the fourth-highest total of all-time. Dunn, who's abusing the ball to the tune of .271/.457/.564 and is tied for third in the NL with a .348 EqA, has often been criticized for being too patient at the plate. It's possible there's merit to that idea, but he's knocking the snot out of the ball and he has more unintentional/quasi-unintentional walks than Barry Bonds. If he keeps this up, comparisons to a mid-'90s Frank Thomas won't be off base.

By "O.P.T.", I mean "on pace to." We're not even a third of the way through the season, so it runs afoul of sound analysis to pro-rate individual performances to 162 games and bandy about the results as though eminently meaningful. Nevertheless, I'm going to devote today's "Can" to looking at a handful of notable O.P.T.s and see what we can glean from them.

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April 29, 2003 12:00 am

Breaking Balls: Beer with a Ballgame

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Derek Zumsteg

"Derek," people sometimes ask me, "you drink a lot of beer. And I by that I mean a frightening amount of beer. What should I, the casual beer drinker, enjoy while I sit at home and watch my Rangers get their ass handed to them game after game?" So at great personal expense which, my accountant tells me, I will unlikely be able to deduct as a cost of business, I took the time to drink a lot during baseball games so that I could offer this report to you in the hopes that it enhances your enjoyment of this season.

So at great personal expense which, my accountant tells me, I will unlikely be able to deduct as a cost of business, I took the time to drink a lot during baseball games so that I could offer this report to you in the hopes that it enhances your enjoyment of this season.

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