The RotoWire 200
by Jeff Erickson
This is our top 200 for 12-team, mixed-league drafts. The comments here are necessarily short to fit the format for the magazine, but it also works pretty well as a whole. If you're looking for more in-depth info, click through to the player's page and read his outlook and recent notes, or discuss them in the comments.
If this feature is new to you, here are our standard assumptions: We're looking at a standard 12-team, 5x5 mixed league with trading allowed. To qualify at a position, the player needs 20 games there last year or 10 this year. Our hypothetical league starts two catchers. Typically I value players on 68-32 hitter/pitcher ratio on a hypothetical budget, though auction values don't necessarily perfectly translate to draft values. Where you draft is important, as the decision to pass up one commodity at the draft slot means you'll definitely get a lesser version of that commodity if you have a long wait for your next pick, whereas in an auction you can allocate your budget more to how you see fit.
These first rankings have a lot of variance to them - some players are still unsigned, others have undefined roles, and others still are returning from a major injury and we haven't had a chance to see them in spring training. Moreover, we have some ADP's out there, but just a sliver of the information we'll have available in March. So these rankings conform more to how I see their worth, and less in context of where you can get them, though I try here and there to comment on that divergence where applicable.
Nothing draws out a good discussion more than a set of rankings, so jump in on the comments. We'll all learn something in the process. We'll take another crack at this in about a month after we have more information, and at that point we'll go a little deeper.
1. Ryan Braun, OF - Braun has only one year below .300, and 30-20 seems to be a lock.
2. Miguel Cabrera, 3B - The fantasy debate between Miggy and Trout is between stability and ceiling.
3. Mike Trout, OF - The 30 homers really came out of the blue; how much will he regress?
4. Matt Kemp, OF - The early reports on Kemp's shoulder rehab have been positive.
5. Robinson Cano, 2B - The reason you pay for Cano is because of his reliability, not as much for his position.
6. Albert Pujols, 1B - Pujols had his knee cleaned up this offseason, which might portend a bigger 2013 than 2012.
7. Andrew McCutchen, OF - There's some risk he runs less, given he was caught 12 times in 32 attempts.
8. Carlos Gonzalez, OF - Recurring leg injuries prevent CarGo from being a top-five guy, but look what he does with 140 games.
9. Jose Bautista, OF - Bautista is still a good bet to hit 45 homers.
10. Joey Votto, 1B - Votto's value lies in his reliable batting average, not his power.
11. Clayton Kershaw, P - We have Kershaw over Verlander because of the NL vs. AL factor.
12. Justin Verlander, P - It's hard to underestimate Verlander's great ratios along with his heavy workload.
13. Justin Upton, OF - I took Upton at #13 last year and would do it again this year, trade rumors or not.
14. Prince Fielder, 1B - If the first round is truly about a high floor, then Fielder belongs there.
15. Giancarlo Stanton, OF - Stanton has a wide range of outcomes, but if anyone hits 50 homers, it's him.
16. Adrian Beltre, 3B - Beltre's years in Seattle may cost him induction in the Hall of Fame - he's been that good since then.
17. Buster Posey, C - It's debatable whether Posey is a first-round pick - he has to get time at first base to make it worth it.
18. Bryce Harper, OF - Harper is that rare player worth betting on the production before he does it once.
19. Curtis Granderson, OF - Granderson's second half was scary, but he still has hit 84 homers the last two years.
20. Troy Tulowitzki, SS - At what point is Tulo's upside worth the injury risk? Your mileage may vary.
21. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B - One of three first basemen to have double-digit stolen bases last year.
22. Cliff Lee, P - You can safely take him a full 15 picks later, but he's my #3 pitcher.
23. Stephen Strasburg, P - In some leagues you'll get him here, in other leagues he'll be gone by 10 picks.
24. David Price, P - Price's average fastball velocity increased last season, a small rarity given how many innings he threw.
25. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B - Encarnacion no longer has to worry about opportunity - if healthy, he'll produce.
26. David Wright, 3B - It appears that Wright consciously exchanged power for fewer strikeouts last season.
27. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B - What happened to Gonzalez's patience? Perhaps with a full season in LA he'll recover.
28. Allen Craig, 1B/OF - Craig won't play 2B or the OF this year, making it more likely he stays healthy.
29. Adam Jones, OF - Jones hits his age-27 season this year, coming off of a career-high 32 homers.
30. B.J. Upton, OF - Upton's move to Atlanta is a neutral ballpark switch - he actually was much better at home last year.
31. Josh Hamilton, OF - Hamilton moves from a top-five hitter's park to a pitcher's park in Anaheim, hence the discount.
32. Jay Bruce, OF - Bruce's batting average is locked in, but there still might be another power bump coming.
33. Starlin Castro, SS - It's important to remember that Castro will be just 23 this season - another level is still possible.
34. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF - Ellsbury's power in 2011 appears to be a fluke, but there's still post-hype value with him.
35. Ian Kinsler, 2B - It doesn't make sense that Kinsler doesn't hit for average, but an improvement doesn't seem probable.
36. Aramis Ramirez, 3B - Ramirez quietly had a great first season in Milwaukee last year.
37. Billy Butler, 1B - Butler just barely earned his first base eligibility, playing 20 games there in 2012.
38. Chase Headley, 3B - Headley doesn't have to repeat his 31-homer performance to deserve this spot.
39. Hanley Ramirez, SS/3B - Ramirez's CT rate is trending downward, making it unlikely he'll hit .300 again.
40. Evan Longoria, 3B - Longoria ranks lower than his ADP because of his chronic hamstring woes.
41. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B - Behold the miracle of the cortisone shots.
42. Dustin Pedroia, 2B - This is as a good place to illustrate what happens when you don't give a scarcity bonus to 2B or SS.
43. Jason Heyward, OF - It looks like Heyward's "bad attitude" was a bad shoulder all along - see what happens when he's healthy?
44. Cole Hamels, P - Hamels had a slight shoulder in the offseason - watch the news closely this spring.
45. Jered Weaver, P - Weaver benefits greatly from his home park's background - watch out if he lands elsewhere.
46. Yadier Molina, C - The gains that Molina made at the plate the last two years are for real.
47. Craig Kimbrel, P - There will be NFBC leagues where Kimbrel will go in the third round this year.
48. Jason Kipnis, 2B - Kipnis probably won't steal 31 bases again, but he probably will hit for better average.
49. Anthony Rizzo, 1B - After just one year, the trade to get Rizzo looks like a heist in Theo's favor.
50. Jose Reyes, SS - Can Reyes' hamstring hold up playing on the Blue Jays' artificial playing surface?
51. Felix Hernandez, P - Hernandez has lost one MPH off his fastball each of the last two seasons.
52. Mark Teixeira, 1B - Teixeira's low average might create a buying opportunity, as the power hasn't abated.
53. Corey Hart, 1B/OF - Hart will get full-time duty at first base this year.
54. Freddie Freeman, 1B - If you can get one of Goldschmidt, Rizzo or Freeman here or later, you've done well.
55. Kris Medlen, P - The notion that Medlen will regress creates a buying opportunity if you differ on the degree of that regression.
56. Yu Darvish, P - Darvish is not and never was Daisuke Matsuzaka - he's much better.
57. Adam Wainwright, P - Wainwright wore down in September, yet his second half ERA was over a run better than his first half.
58. Madison Bumgarner, P - MadBum's Game 2 start in the World Series quelled a lot of fears fueled by a rough September.
59. Matt Cain, P - Cain is more reliable than Bumgarner, but has a slightly lower ceiling.
60. Gio Gonzalez, P - Gonzalez's walk rate improved during the regular season, but then he got wild in the playoffs against the Cards.
61. Joe Mauer, C - Would you rather have power or a high batting average from your catcher?
62. Brett Lawrie, 3B - It's hard to hit homers when you hit groundballs 50 percent of the time, as Lawrie did in 2012.
63. Alex Gordon, OF - Gordon hasn't developed into a home run hitter as expected, but he's doing everything else right.
64. Carlos Santana, C - This is Santana's age-27 season. We're still waiting for that next level.
65. Matt Wieters, C - Wieters, or at least his reputation, suffers quite a bit from the hype that preceded his arrival.
66. Michael Bourn, OF - Bourn is by far the highest profile free agent unsigned at our press deadline.
67. Matt Holliday, OF - Holliday long has been a reliable performer, but he started to decline a little in 2012.
68. James Shields, P - One hand, he loses the home field stats of the Trop. On the other hand, he's out of the AL East.
69. Yoenis Cespedes, OF - What will Cespedes do for an encore? He might be a full-time DH for Oakland this year.
70. Ben Zobrist, 2B/SS/OF - Zobrist consistently delivers positional flexibility and a ton of extra-base hits.
71. Miguel Montero, C - Montero gets less acclaim than the other second-tier catchers, but is a reliable source of production.
72. Brandon Phillips, 2B - Phillips won't often get asked to hit leadoff this year, thanks to the addition of Choo.
73. Melky Cabrera, OF - You can either take a moral stand against cheaters, or you can turn a profit with Cabrera's acquisition cost.
74. Johnny Cueto, P - Cueto perhaps is the best in the game today at controlling the opposing team's running game.
75. R.A. Dickey, P - Can Dickey maintain the huge strikeout spike after moving to the AL East?
76. Roy Halladay, P - Halladay is one of the trickiest pitchers to value - do you weight his track record or the injury?
77. Chris Sale, P - Sale held up well in his first professional season as a starter.
78. Desmond Jennings, OF - Jennings illustrates the risk of pricing in the breakout season before it happens.
79. Shin-Soo Choo, OF - The Reds' new center fielder and leadoff hitter.
80. Aaron Hill, 2B - Has a batter's value fluctuated more wildly than Hill's has over the last four years?
81. Paul Konerko, 1B - Konerko won't be a trendy pick, but when healthy he's been pretty reliable.
82. Mike Napoli, C - Concerns about Napoli's hip kept him in limbo for nearly two months over the offseason.
83. Jose Altuve, 2B - Altuve is probably underrated by the public and overrated in the expert community.
84. Wilin Rosario, C - Concerns about Rosario's defense prevent us from giving him a full 140+ game projection.
85. Eric Hosmer, 1B - Hosmer follows teammates Billy Butler and Alex Gordon in struggling early in his career.
86. CC Sabathia, P - Sabathia has dropped in most drafts because of his elbow and his heavy workload year after year.
87. Jordan Zimmermann, P - Zimmermann has been extraordinarily unlucky in chasing wins the last two years.
88. Alex Rios, OF - If we believed there was something to an odd-year, even-year theory for Rios, we'd worry. But we believe in the player, not the theory.
89. Mark Trumbo, OF - Most of Trumbo's playing time could be at DH this year.
90. Ian Desmond, SS - Don't be surprised if Desmond's batting average falls back this year.
91. Jimmy Rollins, SS - Just how much can Rollins stay on the field?
92. Danny Espinosa, 2B/SS - Espinosa qualifies at both second base and shortstop in 2013.
93. Jonathan Papelbon, P - Papelbon gets credit for years of reliability, though his homer rate spiked in 2012.
94. Max Scherzer, P - "Bad Max" occasionally shows up, but Scherzer was dominant in the second half.
95. Jason Motte, P - Motte is one of the safer closer investments this year.
96. Zack Greinke, P - Greinke cost a mint, yet still is the Dodgers' distant second starter.
97. Hunter Pence, OF - Pence really gets hurt by his new digs in San Francisco.
98. Austin Jackson, OF - Jackson put it all together at the plate, but his stolen bases collapsed. Will those return in 2013?
99. Yovani Gallardo, P - Gallardo's walk rate went back up in 2012 after he showed improvement in 2011.
100. Fernando Rodney, P - Never doubt the Rays when it comes to their ability to dig up a closer out of thin air.
101. Ryan Howard, 1B - The question with Howard is how much was he playing hurt in 2012 - that strikeout rate is scary.
102. Josh Willingham, OF - Willingham will be priced to move by the Twins by the trade deadline.
103. Chris Davis, 1B/OF - It appears that Davis will be the full-time first baseman this year.
104. Ike Davis, 1B - Davis managed to hit 32 homers despite his bout with Valley Fever.
105. Jesus Montero, C - The Mariners trade of John Jaso means that Montero will get more time behind the plate than initially planned.
106. Mariano Rivera, P - Rivera reportedly is fully healed from his torn ACL.
107. Torii Hunter, OF - Hunter could score a ton of runs while hitting in front of Cabrera and Fielder.
108. Nelson Cruz, OF - Does Cruz have a dead-cat bounce in him? He's still only 32 years old.
109. Angel Pagan, OF - Pagan has 98 stolen bases over the last three seasons.
110. Nick Swisher, 1B/OF - Swisher loses out on the short porch in right field in Yankee Stadium by signing with the Indians.
111. Carlos Beltran, OF - Beltran really tapered off in the second half - it's a shame he hasn't been able to stay healthy.
112. Kyle Seager, 3B - Seager was the first Mariner to hit 20 homers since the 2009 season.
113. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS - The Indians might not be done shopping Cabrera.
114. Jon Niese, P - This could be a big breakout season for Niese, even if the W-L record doesn't reflect it.
115. Dan Haren, P - Concerns about Haren's health limited him to just a one-year deal with the Nats this offseason.
116. Mat Latos, P - What will be more influential - Latos' strong second half, or his NLDS meltdown against the Giants?
117. Sergio Romo, P - The Giants used a committee of sorts during the regular season, but Romo was the sole closer in the playoffs.
118. Adam LaRoche, 1B - LaRoche returned to the Nats, making Michael Morse expendable.
119. David Ortiz, DH - Ortiz is the only true DH to make this list.
120. Elvis Andrus, SS - The Rangers reportedly wouldn't part with Andrus to land Justin Upton.
121. Rickie Weeks, 2B - Weeks blew up in the second half, but hit just .199 before the All-Star break.
122. Mike Morse, OF - Will Seattle hurt Morse's value, or will the new dimensions take the teeth out of Safeco Field?
123. Brandon Morrow, P - Morrow was making the leap before getting stymied by the elbow injury last year.
124. Tim Hudson, P - Was CarGo Billy Beane's worst trade, or was it Hudson?
125. Hiroki Kuroda, P - Kuroda satiated all concerns that he would be able to pitch in the AL East.
126. Ian Kennedy, P - Kennedy's home run rate prevents him from being among the solid second tier of starting pitchers.
127. Joe Nathan, P - Nathan is still reliable as they get, though at some point Joakim Soria could be a threat to steal save chances.
128. J.J. Putz, P - Putz has job security in the form of a fresh contract extension with the Diamondbacks.
129. Jonathan Lucroy, C - Lucroy wins the weirdest injury of 2012 for his courageous battle against his own suitcase.
130. Pedro Alvarez, 3B - Alvarez has 35-to-40 homer potential if you can stomach the low batting average.
131. Pablo Sandoval, 3B - Sandoval never has hit for the power we hoped for after his 25-homer season in 2009.
132. Derek Jeter, SS - Jeter expects to be ready for Opening Day after suffering a gruesome ankle injury in the playoffs.
133. Norichika Aoki, OF - Aoki should get a full slate of at-bats with Corey Hart moving to first full-time.
134. Shane Victorino, OF - Victorino should benefit from hitting in Fenway Park, masking some of his decline.
135. Alejandro De Aza, OF - De Aza could be a 10-homer, 25-steal guy if he can stay healthy for a full season.
136. Cameron Maybin, OF - Maybin had a slightly better second half and should benefit from the fences moving in at Petco.
137. Coco Crisp, OF - The A's have a logjam in the outfield, but Crisp should be a reliable source of stolen bases.
138. Kendrys Morales, 1B - It's hard to see why the Mariners traded for both Morales and Mike Morse, but Morales should play full-time.
139. Mike Moustakas, 3B - The power kicked in for Moustakas last year, but we're still waiting to see him develop a better batting eye.
140. Salvador Perez, C - Sleeper alert - Perez could end up being a top-five catcher.
141. Victor Martinez, C - We're treating Martinez as catcher-eligible, but not all leagues are doing so.
142. Aroldis Chapman, P - Once again, Chapman is the ultimate wildcard, with him moving back into the rotation.
143. John Axford, P - Axford was terrible last year, but regained the job and doesn't have much in the way of competition.
144. Matt Moore, P - Moore had trouble working deep into games, missing out on a number of wins due to a quick hook.
145. Josh Johnson, P - The Blue Jays have a lot riding on Johnson returning closer to his pre-2011 injury form.
146. Rafael Soriano, P - Soriano surprisingly signed with the Nationals, relegating Drew Storen to a set-up role.
147. Tom Wilhelmsen, P - Wilhelmsen doesn't have a prospect pedigree, so he's a threat to get traded near the deadline.
148. Greg Holland, P - Holland has great skills, but ranks a little lower because the Royals have so many good alternatives.
149. Alfonso Soriano, OF - Can Soriano's knees hold up to give him another big power season?
150. Jayson Werth, OF - When the Nats signed him, they didn't expect Werth to become a leadoff hitter, but here we are anyhow.
151. Josh Reddick, OF - Reddick really slumped in September, marring an otherwise brilliant season.
152. Carl Crawford, OF - Crawford had just been cleared to start performing baseball activities at press time in January.
153. Dustin Ackley, 2B - Ackley is a prime Last Year's Bum candidate.
154. Will Middlebrooks, 3B - Look for Middlebrooks to backslide a little in 2013.
155. J.P. Arencibia, C - Arencibia will share some time with Josh Thole, but his main long-term threat is now a Met.
156. Ryan Vogelsong, P - Vogelsong is a perfect guy to stream for his home starts in leagues with daily moves.
157. C.J. Wilson, P - Bone chips in Wilson's elbow marred his second half - expect big things in 2013.
158. Jeff Samardzija, P - It took a long time and some missteps along the way, but Samardzija fulfilled his potential last year.
159. Grant Balfour, P - Balfour's role as the closer should be more stable this year.
160. Jim Johnson, P - The O's can't possibly have as many one-run wins this year, can they?
161. Ryan Ludwick, OF - With Joey Votto ailing, Ludwick was the Reds' best hitter in the playoffs.
162. Neil Walker, 2B - If you wait on second basemen, Walker always seems to be there.
163. Doug Fister, P - Boring, but he gets the job done.
164. Alexi Ogando, P - The Rangers have committed to moving Ogando into the rotation.
165. Glen Perkins, P - Even the worst teams, unless they are truly horrid, provide plenty of save chances.
166. Chris Perez, P - Perez reversed declines in his strikeout rate to turn in a solid 2012 campaign.
167. David Freese, 3B - Freese managed to stay relatively healthy the full season for the first time in his career.
168. Howie Kendrick, 2B - Kendrick is coming off of a disappointing year, but that Angels lineup is still loaded.
169. Alexei Ramirez, SS - Sometimes players just don't take the next step - that's the case with Ramirez.
170. Starling Marte, OF - The Pirates hope he's more like McCutchen and less like Tabata.
171. Justin Morneau, 1B - Morneau is the healthiest he's been in three years.
172. Michael Saunders, OF - Saunders was the other Mariners hitter to improve, besides Kyle Seager.
173. Ben Revere, OF - This is Revere's big chance - the Phillies gave up a lot to get him.
174. A.J. Pierzynski, C - After six years of power decline, Pierzynski's home run outburst came completely out of the blue.
175. Wade Miley, P - With all of Arizona's pitching prospects, Miley's breakout was a surprise, but it appears legit.
176. Rafael Betancourt, P - Betancourt is effective, but oh-so-painful to watch. Throw the ball already.
177. Kenley Jansen, P - For the second year in a row, we're ranking Jansen higher than the Dodgers' incumbent closer.
178. Joel Hanrahan, P - For the second year in a row, the Red Sox have traded for a closer. Will Hanrahan work out better?
179. Jonathan Broxton, P - Broxton succeeded in 2012 despite a big drop in his strikeout rate.
180. Mike Minor, P - Minor had a huge second half. I will own him on a lot of teams this year.
181. Andre Ethier, OF - Ethier signed a big contract extension last season, only to be on the trade block over the offseason.
182. Brett Anderson, P - Anderson looked really good in his comeback from Tommy John surgery, only to strain an oblique in September.
183. Jarrod Parker, P - Parker put together a nice rookie campaign, and could fit in as a nice #2 behind Anderson.
184. Homer Bailey, P - Bailey finally took the next step for the Reds, but he's still got a vicious home/road split.
185. Adam Dunn, 1B - What you see is what you get - lots of power, no average.
186. Nick Markakis, OF - It's a shame that the O's couldn't have Markakis' services in the playoffs.
187. Martin Prado, 3B/OF - It remains to be seen if Prado will play third full-time, or if he'll go to left to make room for Juan Francisco.
188. Brian McCann, C - McCann had shoulder surgery in October and might miss the start of the season.
189. Michael Cuddyer, 1B/OF - Cuddyer is fully recovered from the oblique injury that ended his season.
190. Michael Young, 1B/3B - Young will be the Phillies' full-time third baseman.
191. Jon Lester, P - The Red Sox really hope the return of John Farrell will right the ship with Lester.
192. Dan Uggla, 2B - Uggla is one of the numerous bounceback candidates at second base.
193. Jake Peavy, P - Peavy had a great comeback season, but it's hard to shake the feeling that he could break at any moment.
194. Steve Cishek, P - Unless the Marlins are truly wretched, Cishek should get 25-30 saves.
195. Alcides Escobar, SS - It's too bad Escobar doesn't walk more - his stolen base opportunities ride on his ability to hit for average.
196. Todd Frazier, 1B/3B - The Reds sat Frazier behind Scott Rolen in four of the five NLDS games against the Giants. The job is his now.
197. Chase Utley, 2B - Let's not write an obituary for Utley's career yet, but the long-term outlook isn't promising.
198. Erick Aybar, SS - Aybar is still a relatively cheap source of speed from a scarce position, but brings little else.
199. Tim Lincecum, P - I'm not sure what to expect with Lincecum - you tell me.
200. Matt Harvey, P - Harvey looked great in his first turn with the Mets. Let's see how the league adapts to him.