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The RotoWire Roundtable: February Consolidated Top 350, Part I

Michael Rusignola

Michael Rusignola

Michael Rusignola has been covering fantasy baseball for RotoWire since 1998. He roots for the NY Mets and SF Giants, his two hometown teams.

RotoWire Roundtable
By Michael Rusignola

(Due to the size of this table, we've broken this down to two pages. These are the ranks from 1-175. You can see 176-350 here)

Welcome back to another year of the RotoWire Roundtable! I'm sure many of you (like me) are in the early stages of planning for a league draft or auction. At its simplest, draft day strategy is about finding the right places to zig when everyone else zags. If you're doing it well, you're just a couple steps ahead of the competition - but you're not doing crazy things that confuse and bewilder the other owners in your league. True genius should be invisible to your competition until the draft or auction is nearly over.

So how exactly do you do this? It's simple: don't overpay for the players you love and don't bank on players falling to you that will likely be gone. We can all look at ADP to get a sense for where a player might go, but what ADP doesn't tell you is the variability associated with the ranking. This kind of sanity check (which many owners fail to do) ensures your draft day approach will actually be implementable. Think of the RotoWire Roundtable as a proxy for different strategies you may encounter: the more diversity there is in our rankings, the more unpredictable that player is likely to be in your own league draft or auction.

First, the ground rules: our rankings were assembled for 12-team, 5x5 mixed leagues that starts two catchers per team (thus there is a positional scarcity component added for catchers). We use five rankers: Jeff Erickson, Derek VanRiper, Michael Rusignola, Kevin Payne and our newest ranker, Jason Collette. The rankings were completely blinded -- none of the rankers saw any of the other rankings before the publication of this article. We aim to publish this series monthly through the first beginning of the season, with a final update in early April, once the season has begun.

An Overview of February's Rankings

February rankings always tend to have the most variability, as playing time and health issues are not yet resolved. Once again, Jeff's rankings seemed to be the most centrist of the bunch (see Table 1a), also exhibiting the highest correlation with the four other rankings (see Table 1b). Overall, there was less variability between the rankings than there was last year. Naturally, batters represented a significant portion of the early draft (see Table 2). Jason gave the lowest premium to the top starters but was bullish on the catching crop. Michael and Jason had the biggest divide over the ranking of relievers, with Jason pro-reliever (average elite reliever 77.8) and Michael anti-reliever (average elite reliever 93.8).

Table 1a: Correlation with Final Ranks

Correlation Jeff DVR Michael Kevin Jason
Correlations with the final ranks 0.98 0.91 0.95 0.89 0.96


Table 1b: Correlation between Rankers

Correlation Jeff DVR Michael Kevin Jason
Jeff 1.00 0.96 0.97 0.95 0.98
DVR 0.96 1.00 0.92 0.94 0.94
Michael 0.97 0.92 1.00 0.91 0.96
Kevin 0.95 0.94 0.91 1.00 0.92
Jason 0.98 0.94 0.96 0.92 1.00


Table 2: Position Breakdown

Average Rank of Top... 50 Batters 3 Catchers 15 Starters 5 Relievers
Jeff 29.96 40.00 45.66 83.60
DVR 29.50 41.00 47.60 83.80
Michael 30.72 36.33 43.60 93.80
Kevin 30.78 39.66 42.60 88.60
Jason 28.38 30.00 54.40 77.80


Rankings with One Outlier

First, we'll go through a couple of players where four of the rankers were in alignment but one ranker was out on the proverbial limb.

Mitch Moreland (1B) - The Optimist: DVR (190); The Pack: Jeff (319), Michael (311), Kevin (318), Jason (322).

Our optimist cites that even with the addition of Lance Berkman, the Rangers have much more flexibility in their DH spot this season, meaning there are still plenty of at-bats to go around for Moreland. If he's able to carve out 500 at-bats, Moreland has enough pop to make a run at 25 homers, while driving in a ton of runs as part of a still-strong Texas lineup. The pack is not certain the Rangers are sold on Moreland. It is hard to give Moreland a 500+ at-bat projection given how the Rangers have used him in the past, not to mention his declining walk rate and his big righty/lefty splits. At some point the Rangers have to make room for Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt to play, and Moreland seems among the more likely to give, especially with his limited defensive skills.

Giancarlo Stanton (OF) - The Pessimist: Michael (38); The Pack: Jeff (11), DVR (10), Kevin (7), Jason (10).

Our pessimist sees a player surrounded by a weak lineup who is being grossly overvalued for his home run potential. Consider this: Rotowire is projecting Stanton to put up the following line - .265 41 HR, 89 RBI, 86 R, 6 SB. The average line for the top 20 batters (excluding Stanton), is: .300 32 HR, 101 RBI, 100 R, 14 SB. Most teams would be dramatically improved by trading 9 homers for 12 RBI, 14 R, 8 stolen bases and .035 batting average points - meaning Stanton is not amongst his peer group. How different is he really from #31 Jay Bruce (.259 37 HR, 103 RBI, 86 R, 8 SB)? The pack concedes Stanton is a tough rank, especially given how the weak Marlins offense will affect his counting stats. But how can you overlook the home runs? Stanton works really hard at his craft, and presumably will be healthier this year. He could be the next batter to hit 50 dingers, which is great for any fantasy squad.

Alexei Ramirez (SS) - The Pessimist: DVR (NR); The Pack: Jeff (174), Michael (187), Kevin (170), Jason (192).

Our pessimist points to the drop-off in Ramirez's numbers last season, despite a similar batted ball profile to his career norms. Ramirez's ceiling simply isn't as high as we once believed and the rebound level is likely .270-.275 with double-digit homers and steals. The pack sees Ramirez as a capable middle infielder in a hitters' ballpark. He is extremely durable and bears an effortless glove at short. Both will provide him with enough slack to try for a rebound in 2013.

Players that Divided our Rankers into Two Camps

The players below split our rankers evenly, with half of the rankers taking an optimistic outlook on the player and the other half taking a more pessimistic view. Worth noting, the optimistic camp last year correctly predicted the NL MVP (Buster Posey) and AL Cy Young Award Winner (David Price).

Albert Pujols (1B) - Optimistic Camp: Jeff (6), Kevin (5), Jason (7); Pessimistic Camp: DVR (12), Michael (13).

The optimistic camp has sees Pujols as the single most reliable fantasy player over the last decade. He's durable, with the only health issue he's experienced (a minor knee injury) corrected this off-season. There's no reason that the marine layer should disproportionately hold him down compared to his teammates. If the first round is supposed to be about security, they see Pujols as as secure as it gets. The pessimistic camp feels that the last two seasons are much more indicative of what's to come than his previously elite levels. There's still a very good skill set here well worth investing an early selection in, but he's now (at least) 33-years-old and teams seem much less afraid of him than in years past (check out his declining walk rate for further proof of that point).

Brian McCann (C) - Optimistic Camp: DVR (118), Kevin (118); Pessimistic Camp: Jeff (185), Michael (205), Jason (158).

The optimists say that historically, this is a player who has been top-3 at his position. He's entering the prime of his career (would you believe he's only 28?) and if he had his typical season - .270 BA, 21 HRs, 75 RBI - a rank in the 120s is perfectly reasonable. The pessimists know that a return to those levels post-surgery is far from a guarantee. Take a look at how long it took B.J. Upton to shake off the rust from a torn labrum in 2009 (some might argue he still hasn't returned to who he was pre-surgery). Caveat emptor.

Jurickson Profar (SS) - Optimistic Camp: DVR (224), Kevin (252); Pessimistic Camp: Jeff (347), Michael (NR), Jason (NR).

The optimistic camp is quick to remind us that opportunity didn't appear likely to knock on Mike Trout's door a this time last year, and yea...the rest is already in the history books. The idea of ranking Profar ahead of guys who will clearly get playing time right out of the gate is to target high-upside guys who are one big injury or front office decision away from a prominent role. The pessimists remind us that Triple-A stats don't count in like 99.7% of fantasy baseball leagues. This is still quite a crowded depth chart in Texas. As it is, there's no clear path for Mike Olt let alone Profar, so we may have to wait another year to see Profar's potential.

All over the Place

For these players, there was absolutely no consensus, with rankings coming in literally all over the place.

Zack Greinke (SP) - Jeff (92), DVR (72), Michael (122), Kevin (65), Jason (125).

For the second year running, Greinke was one of the most divisive players on the list, with Kevin on the high end at 65 and Jason on the low end at 125. Last year, those rankings spanned from 34 to 108, so Greinke is definitely trending down year-over-year. The optimists recognize that they are Greinke apologists, and are not blind to the argument that he's had his Cy Young season and not much else around it. But they like that the move back to the National League will give him an opportunity to push his strikeout rate back into the batter-per-inning range (after that mark dipped to 7.9 K/9 following his trade to Anaheim). The pessimists cite his struggles with runners on base: in 2012, his BABIP with runners in scoring position was higher than it was with nobody on base. Given his well-publicized struggles with social anxiety disorder, it is a disturbing factoid.

Allen Craig (1B/OF) - Michael (24), Jason (29), Jeff (40), DVR (47), Kevin (58).

The optimists love that Craig qualifies at both 1B & OF and hits for a high average with slightly above average power when used as a first baseman. They see Craig as a player with a very stable skill set, a low floor, and smack in the middle of his prime producing years. The pessimists' biggest gripe with Craig is finding a season that he stays healthy and plays more than 130 games. The first base pool is very deep and it wouldn't surprise his detractors if five or more players at the position outproduce Craig for the season.

Paul Goldschmidt (1B) - Michael (18), Jeff (23), DVR (27), Jason (31), Kevin (47)

The optimists see in Goldschmidt a guy with emerging power who hits in the middle of the order in a great ballpark. He even runs a little. What's not to love? The pessimists say that Goldschmidt just inside the top-50 is as high as you can go. They don't think his base-stealing prowess is repeatable, and like with Craig, the deepness of the position makes him a risky play. There is simply too much hype around Goldschmidt for the down camp to burn that high of a pick on him.

And on with...

The List (Due to the size of this table, we've broken this down to two pages. These are the ranks from 1-175. You can see 176-350 here).

Rank Full Name Pos Jeff DVR Michael Kevin Jason Median
1 Ryan Braun OF 1 1 1 2 1 1.0
2 Miguel Cabrera 3B 2 2 2 3 2 2.0
3 Mike Trout OF 3 7 3 1 3 3.0
4 Matt Kemp OF 4 3 4 4 4 4.0
5 Robinson Cano 2B 5 6 7 6 6 6.0
6 Andrew McCutchen OF 7 8 5 11 5 7.0
7 Albert Pujols 1B 6 12 13 5 7 7.0
8 Carlos Gonzalez OF 8 5 8 10 8 8.0
9 Joey Votto 1B 10 4 9 16 9 9.0
10 Giancarlo Stanton OF 11 10 38 7 10 10.0
11 Prince Fielder 1B 14 9 14 9 11 11.0
12 Clayton Kershaw SP 12 17 6 12 14 12.0
13 Jose Bautista OF 9 16 10 19 12 12.0
14 Buster Posey C 20 21 12 8 13 13.0
15 Justin Upton OF 15 13 11 20 20 15.0
16 Justin Verlander SP 13 18 15 14 19 15.0
17 Bryce Harper OF 17 15 17 23 15 17.0
18 Troy Tulowitzki SS 18 14 21 13 18 18.0
19 Stephen Strasburg SP 19 11 31 18 30 19.0
20 Adrian Beltre 3B 16 22 29 21 16 21.0
21 Josh Hamilton OF 27 25 22 17 17 22.0
22 Curtis Granderson OF 22 50 16 43 25 25.0
23 Edwin Encarnacion 1B 26 29 32 22 21 26.0
24 Paul Goldschmidt 1B 23 27 18 47 31 27.0
25 Jason Heyward OF 28 19 54 27 24 27.0
26 David Wright 3B 21 31 27 30 28 28.0
27 Evan Longoria 3B 35 20 51 28 27 28.0
28 Adrian Gonzalez 1B 29 39 19 39 22 29.0
29 David Price SP 25 23 36 29 45 29.0
30 Adam Jones OF 30 41 20 41 32 32.0
31 Jay Bruce OF 32 30 42 54 26 32.0
32 B.J. Upton OF 31 34 39 38 23 34.0
33 Jacoby Ellsbury OF 34 33 25 35 44 34.0
34 Starlin Castro SS 33 40 34 32 37 34.0
35 Cliff Lee SP 24 51 23 37 36 36.0
36 Ian Kinsler 2B 37 38 48 24 34 37.0
37 Billy Butler 1B 42 37 30 55 33 37.0
38 Dustin Pedroia 2B 38 32 40 26 47 38.0
39 Jose Reyes SS 39 24 43 25 64 39.0
40 Allen Craig OF 40 47 24 58 29 40.0
41 Hanley Ramirez SS 36 42 59 15 41 41.0
42 Craig Kimbrel CL 46 36 41 36 67 41.0
43 Ryan Zimmerman 3B 43 26 46 44 39 43.0
44 Cole Hamels SP 44 46 37 40 49 44.0
45 Yadier Molina C 45 59 45 68 35 45.0
46 Aramis Ramirez 3B 41 35 50 46 57 46.0
47 Chase Headley 3B 47 70 33 51 38 47.0
48 Carlos Santana C 59 43 73 49 42 49.0
49 Jason Kipnis 2B 50 67 47 53 43 50.0
50 Freddie Freeman 1B 48 48 60 74 50 50.0
51 Felix Hernandez SP 52 44 58 34 51 51.0
52 Matt Holliday OF 53 52 49 52 60 52.0
53 Jered Weaver SP 58 73 28 48 54 54.0
54 Mark Teixeira 1B 54 54 72 71 48 54.0
55 Yoenis Cespedes OF 61 28 57 42 55 55.0
56 Matt Cain SP 51 56 55 33 77 55.0
57 Joe Mauer C 55 69 52 93 52 55.0
58 Brett Lawrie 3B 56 49 56 50 61 56.0
59 Alex Gordon OF 66 53 44 111 56 56.0
60 Yu Darvish SP 49 61 83 59 53 59.0
61 Madison Bumgarner SP 64 60 61 61 79 61.0
62 Ben Zobrist 2B 62 64 77 45 89 64.0
63 Melky Cabrera OF 76 45 35 84 65 65.0
64 Roy Halladay SP 67 63 75 66 106 67.0
65 Anthony Rizzo 1B 57 81 68 78 40 68.0
66 Miguel Montero C 69 89 63 76 62 69.0
67 Gio Gonzalez SP 70 99 64 56 86 70.0
68 Matt Wieters C 63 71 78 73 46 71.0
69 Michael Bourn OF 71 106 53 87 63 71.0
70 Alex Rios OF 89 138 71 70 69 71.0
71 Adam Wainwright SP 65 57 82 72 73 72.0
72 Aaron Hill 2B 79 58 79 57 74 74.0
73 James Shields SP 75 93 65 97 72 75.0
74 Desmond Jennings OF 73 95 76 64 76 76.0
75 Chris Sale SP 77 62 84 69 105 77.0
76 Kris Medlen SP 74 87 26 85 78 78.0
77 Brandon Phillips 2B 60 78 80 63 80 78.0
78 Johnny Cueto SP 72 92 74 80 108 80.0
79 Paul Konerko 1B 80 76 86 140 58 80.0
80 Jose Altuve 2B 87 68 66 81 95 81.0
81 Wilin Rosario C 81 96 100 62 66 81.0
82 R.A. Dickey SP 101 74 81 67 99 81.0
83 Eric Hosmer 1B 68 82 85 82 83 82.0
84 Jimmy Rollins SS 82 79 117 60 103 82.0
85 CC Sabathia SP 83 75 105 79 117 83.0
86 Shin-Soo Choo OF 78 84 70 107 84 84.0
87 Jonathan Papelbon CL 90 85 103 75 70 85.0
88 Austin Jackson OF 85 83 67 101 93 85.0
89 Ryan Howard 1B 102 77 91 100 59 91.0
90 Hunter Pence OF 98 117 62 91 87 91.0
91 Mark Trumbo OF 95 122 88 88 91 91.0
92 Zack Greinke SP 92 72 122 65 125 92.0
93 Ike Davis 1B 94 55 99 95 81 94.0
94 Jason Motte CL 88 97 102 96 68 96.0
95 Danny Espinosa 2B 96 127 115 94 96 96.0
96 Ian Desmond SS 84 113 98 31 104 98.0
97 Jordan Zimmermann SP 93 91 101 98 134 98.0
98 Yovani Gallardo SP 99 98 147 90 129 99.0
99 Carlos Beltran OF 100 65 120 109 98 100.0
100 Max Scherzer SP 97 100 143 83 116 100.0
101 Matt Moore SP 123 86 186 92 100 100.0
102 Josh Willingham OF 105 111 87 124 71 105.0
103 Pablo Sandoval 3B 104 66 113 105 114 105.0
104 Torii Hunter OF 134 105 94 194 92 105.0
105 Jesus Montero C 106 129 106 133 75 106.0
106 Chris Davis 1B 107 108 93 128 85 107.0
107 Angel Pagan OF 108 137 69 166 94 108.0
108 Nick Swisher OF 109 112 96 163 90 109.0
109 Fernando Rodney CL 91 123 109 NR 82 109.0
110 Nelson Cruz OF 112 110 92 125 88 110.0
111 Mariano Rivera CL 103 94 119 129 110 110.0
112 Asdrubal Cabrera SS 111 131 110 77 182 111.0
113 Adam LaRoche 1B 117 104 111 NR 97 111.0
114 Aroldis Chapman SP 133 115 97 102 166 115.0
115 Mike Napoli C 86 130 89 116 127 116.0
116 Ian Kennedy SP 136 124 104 119 113 119.0
117 Shane Victorino OF 122 135 107 114 119 119.0
118 David Ortiz DH 120 90 223 123 112 120.0
119 Carl Crawford OF 121 80 142 99 132 121.0
120 Sergio Romo CL 116 132 114 156 121 121.0
121 Nick Markakis OF 142 116 112 146 123 123.0
122 Kyle Seager 3B 110 161 124 161 115 124.0
123 Rafael Soriano CL 124 107 190 115 154 124.0
124 Elvis Andrus SS 125 139 108 86 159 125.0
125 Norichika Aoki OF 156 162 90 126 118 126.0
126 Rickie Weeks 2B 128 102 161 120 155 128.0
127 Brandon Morrow SP 129 88 150 108 152 129.0
128 Salvador Perez C 131 109 141 89 163 131.0
129 Martin Prado OF 154 128 131 117 180 131.0
130 Kendrys Morales 1B 159 121 132 130 135 132.0
131 Josh Reddick OF 151 175 130 132 122 132.0
132 Victor Martinez C 138 133 176 103 126 133.0
133 Cameron Maybin OF 137 134 125 207 124 134.0
134 J.J. Putz CL 119 147 136 144 109 136.0
135 Dan Haren SP 114 154 127 145 136 136.0
136 Pedro Alvarez 3B 132 103 192 151 137 137.0
137 Mat Latos SP 115 140 138 106 140 138.0
138 Jonathan Lucroy C 139 119 151 142 138 139.0
139 Jayson Werth OF 141 158 121 NR 128 141.0
140 Adam Dunn 1B 172 142 224 136 142 142.0
141 Alejandro De Aza OF 158 143 95 193 130 143.0
142 Will Middlebrooks 3B 145 151 129 104 149 145.0
143 Alfonso Soriano OF 140 204 146 187 101 146.0
144 Mike Moustakas 3B 147 120 169 179 139 147.0
145 Coco Crisp OF 148 152 118 174 120 148.0
146 Joe Nathan CL 118 153 149 167 107 149.0
147 Derek Jeter SS 130 149 116 NR 183 149.0
148 Grant Balfour CL 143 178 152 181 147 152.0
149 Greg Holland CL 127 177 153 172 133 153.0
150 Jim Johnson CL 153 195 172 121 143 153.0
151 Jon Lester SP 155 125 250 112 203 155.0
152 Jeff Samardzija SP 165 156 166 141 156 156.0
153 C.J. Wilson SP 150 141 181 157 160 157.0
154 Ryan Doumit C 178 157 165 155 146 157.0
155 Brian McCann C 185 118 205 118 158 158.0
156 Tom Wilhelmsen CL 126 198 159 164 111 159.0
157 Andre Ethier OF 170 159 126 148 165 159.0
158 Jon Niese SP 113 181 160 188 151 160.0
159 Howie Kendrick 2B 161 160 148 137 191 160.0
160 Josh Johnson SP 160 155 162 154 177 160.0
161 John Axford CL 146 165 168 165 102 165.0
162 Justin Morneau 1B 149 101 171 191 167 167.0
163 David Freese 3B 167 172 139 131 178 167.0
164 Dayan Viciedo OF 223 145 167 203 153 167.0
165 Brett Anderson SP 168 167 184 162 215 168.0
166 Mike Morse OF 152 234 174 127 169 169.0
167 Chase Utley 2B 162 170 199 122 211 170.0
168 Hiroki Kuroda SP 135 196 144 NR 170 170.0
169 Doug Fister SP 176 295 137 143 171 171.0
170 Ryan Ludwick OF 182 173 158 231 131 173.0
171 Jason Kubel OF 214 144 173 202 164 173.0
172 Joel Hanrahan CL 173 217 219 160 168 173.0
173 Ryan Vogelsong SP 164 296 156 209 173 173.0
174 Neil Walker 2B 166 183 145 176 174 174.0
175 Ben Revere OF 190 201 123 149 175 175.0


NR = Not Ranked
Abst = Abstained from Ranking


Players with the same median were ranked secondarily by their average ranking. Players who were not ranked were assigned a ranking of 395.5 (the midpoint between 351 and 440, the total number of ranked players) for the purpose of computing the median and average.

So... let's hear it! Do you agree with the Pack or the Outlier? Are you in the Optimistic Camp or the Pessimistic Camp? Or are there any players here where our rankers were in alignment but you feel we all got it wrong?