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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 5×5 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:

Five Stars

Player

Team

Mixed $

AL/NL $

PA

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

Troy Tulowitzki

COL

$29.47

$29.33

628

88

28

95

11

.298

Jose Reyes

TOR

$30.36

$30.94

650

91

14

65

36

.291

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.

Four Stars

PLAYER

TEAM

Mixed $

AL/NL $

PA

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

Starlin Castro

CHN

$13.19

$21.57

624

68

10

65

19

.287

Ian Desmond

WAS

$16.62

$23.52

619

72

16

70

22

.270

Jimmy Rollins

PHI

$20.84

$25.18

668

88

16

63

29

.247

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.

Three Stars

PLAYER

TEAM

Mixed $

AL/NL $

PA

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

Ben Zobrist

TBA

$18.66

$21.47

668

83

18

79

18

.253

Elvis Andrus

TEX

$13.56

$20.02

642

78

5

48

28

.275

Asdrubal Cabrera

CLE

$11.09

$17.01

625

69

14

69

13

.272

Erick Aybar

ANA

$10.97

$18.11

628

73

7

51

23

.272

Alcides Escobar

KCA

$3.15

$13.76

519

59

4

39

23

.271

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.

Two Star

PLAYER

TEAM

Mixed $

AL/NL $

PA

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

Josh Rutledge

COL

$4.50

$14.99

495

61

12

53

11

.281

Derek Jeter

NYA

$10.34

$16.45

649

77

8

54

14

.280

Danny Espinosa

WAS

$6.86

$16.05

541

64

18

64

15

.237

Alexei Ramirez

CHA

$7.69

$15.31

565

62

14

64

13

.271

Jean Segura

MIL

($0.98)

$12.39

412

47

7

38

21

.259

J.J. Hardy

BAL

$6.63

$12.05

592

72

20

68

1

.252

Andrelton Simmons

ATL

$5.50

$15.75

623

68

6

47

19

.259

Everth Cabrera

SDN

$9.81

$21.41

546

68

3

34

43

.245

Zack Cozart

CIN

$3.34

$13.70

536

59

15

59

11

.248

Hanley Ramirez

LAN

$4.60

$16.13

401

56

15

52

17

.278

Jed Lowrie

OAK

$0.20

$7.40

552

65

13

52

2

.239

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.

One Star

PLAYER

TEAM

Mixed $

AL/NL $

PA

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

Tyler Greene

HOU

$10.34

$16.61

556

74

16

55

22

.237

Yunel Escobar

TBA

$0.91

$8.70

597

66

8

49

5

.258

Marco Scutaro

SFN

($1.42)

$9.15

594

62

3

43

7

.261

Jhonny Peralta

DET

$0.39

$8.37

538

57

14

60

1

.257

Ruben Tejada

NYN

($0.64)

$9.60

619

63

5

46

6

.257

Eduardo Nunez

NYA

($3.83)

$8.94

362

43

5

31

22

.258

Stephen Drew

BOS

$0.90

$9.25

522

57

12

57

5

.261

Dee Gordon

LAN

($32.21)

$2.46

63

7

0

4

5

.251

Billy Hamilton

CIN

N/A

N/A

250

39

2

13

37

.237

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.

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boatman44
3/22
Paul, is Hanley droppable in a 12 team mixed with only one D.L spot? thanks.
psingman
3/22
For now, use that DL spot on Hanley. If another one of your top players goes down, that's when you'll have a tough decision to make.
Behemoth
3/22
The thing with Hanley is that, in a standard mixer, you can pick up, say, a 2 star option off the waiver wire pretty easily. 2-3 months of that + 3-4 of Hanley is more than a 2 star option for me.
psingman
3/22
In boatman's case the cost of Hanley occupying the DL spot is fairly large, so had he not drafted yet I would recommend most of the two-star tier over him still. If you've got two-star players in your waiver wire you can go for that strategy, but another risk is Hanley's production even when back on the field.
psingman
3/22
And just to clarify, within tiers I have no problem rearranging the order of players within a tier. That's pretty much the point of organizing players this way. So if you want to bump Hanley up to the top of Tier 2 above Rutledge, that's not a big deal and in your case is sounds justified. I'd still take all of the third tier guys before him though.
jrbdmb
3/24
How much would you bump Hanley up in a keeper league? (Three years max in my league.)
swarmee
3/24
5th or 6th rounder? Can you keep him in the round drafted or do you have a 4/5 keeper limit?
psingman
3/24
Depends on how your league handles keeping players, but top to the three-star tier seems reasonable.
dandaman
3/22
Paul, lets say Jeter does lose a few months this year- does Nunez get all the playing time and where would he rank on this list? Thanks, Dan
psingman
3/22
With regular at-bats I'd slot him near Andrelton and Everth Cabrera. Lots of unknowns with him, though.
jthom17
3/22
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bkopman
3/22
Paul, could you comment on the values in article as opposed to Mike Gianella's in the Fantasy Auction Values? I'll use Alcides Escobar as an example. Your AL/NL price is $14 whereas Mike's is $24. I assume that both are based on the same stats. Is one bid versus expected earnings etc.? Thanks.
swarmee
3/22
Yes, the values in here are straight from the PFM projection tool. The dollar values on Mike's pages are his suggestions of bid limits, based on his understanding of the market for those players and the likelihood they have of reaching the PECOTA/PFM projections. If there's a guy PFM projects to steal 55 based and nobody is spending more than $4 for the guy, there's no reason for you to blurt out "$18!" just because PFM says he'll be worth $25 in your league.
psingman
3/22
swarmee's explanation should suffice. I'll also add that Mike's bid limit's also include some of his personal opinions on players, and he's an Alcides fan. He's expecting a higher average and more steals than PECOTA's .270, 23 projection.
ubersamoyed
3/22
As I make my first comment on these boards, I'll go ahead and throw my two cents in on Andrus. I perceive him as a definite value pick given his ADP and consensus rank. The thought process goes as such: Andrus suffered a "down" year in 2012 due to a variety of factors. If I were forced to put a finger on it, then I would place the issue more on the mental side than the physical. But, there's factors in play this year which could support a spike in his growth curve rather than the predicted stagnation. First, he's in what could be described as a "show me" year in terms of a contract. "Counting numbers" will be placed at a premium. Second, the loss of Hamilton should have dramatic impact on the Ranger's general strategy and composition(plus a new hitting coach). In terms of steals, Andrus should be far more aggressive. In terms of RBI's, the 9 hole should be an upgrade while a moderate Kinsler bounceback should provide more opportunities. As of today, he's raking it in Arizona. But, that's another point altogether. Regardless, the greatest impact...ironically...should be the Hamilton/Berkman variable. Granted, Hamilton's talent cannot be understated. Yet, Berkman's ability to work counts should play into Andrus's strengths. I don't disagree with the notion that the run total should decrease. That's sound logic. But, the essential question is "By how much?"...and that's where I diverge from consensus opinion. I strongly suspect that an increase in RBI's and steals should balance the total equation into a perceived progression year rather than stagnation. And, to top that off, there's many who believe that the loss of Hamilton will actually allow Andrus to achieve some much-needed mental growth. Accordingly, I'm strong on Andrus. How strong? It's all relative...and I'm not advocating a significant jump in ranks. I'd place him right behind/at Rollins, and I wouldn't wait for very long to pull the trigger once the first 4-5 SS's fall off the board...especially with the HanRam injury as backdrop. Obviously, this is a "feel" prediction more than anything else. Yet, I thought I would share my evaluation/prediction on a player I'm very familiar with. Do with it what you will...
DetroitDale
3/23
You state that you agree with pecota's projection for andurs yet find it low for a guy in the number two spot in the rangers order. Andrus' impending free agency combined with his agent boras's noted desire to let his client test the market combined with Texas stating all but saying they can't afford to sign him makes it highly likely Elvis will leave the building prior to July 31st. Is it possible pecota is smart enough to take this into account?
Behemoth
3/23
Andrus has two years left in Texas. They aren't trading him mid-season this year if they're in contention, unless they have huge needs to fill elsewhere due to injuries or whatever.