RotoWire Partners

Behind the Numbers: Positional Rankings

David Regan

David Regan

David Regan is a five-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner, and was named the 2010 Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year.

I'm hoping to cover my positional rankings in the next three weeks. No, I don't agree 100% with RotoWire, ESPN, CBS Sports, etc., but we all have our own opinions and these are mine. This week we'll cover Catcher, First Base, and Second Base. Next week will be Shortstop, Third Base, and Outfield. In week three, it's the pitchers. A few insights into how I rank these guys:

Past performance - Clearly if a guy has “done it before” over multiple years, we can expect him to do it again.

Age - I'll take the younger guy when it's remotely close.

Trends - I like guys who show improvement in their plate discipline and power.

Durability - Guys like Prince Fielder are preferable over the Utleys of the world.

Catcher

The Elite

1. Buster Posey, SF - Probably comes off the board in the middle of round two.

2. Matt Wieters, BAL - Higher on him that most, but he's 26 with three full seasons under his belt, his 10.1% BB% last year was a career high, and he hit .299/.402/.540 in September.

3. Yadier Molina, STL - Turns 31 in July and that has me at least a little concerned.

Tier 2

4. Carlos Santana, CLE - Love the 15% BB% and he's just 26. Monster year could be in store. In related news, Casey Blake is retired.

5. Miguel Montero, AZ - Contact rate took a dive from 80% to 73% year over year. I could see 25 homers however.

6. Wilin Rosario, COL - If the team can stomach his hacking ways, he could hit 30+ homers in that park. It just may come with a .230 average.

7. Joe Mauer, MIN - 147 games were a career high, but he still just hit 10 homers. The power isn't coming back folks.

Tier 3

8. Jesus Montero, SEA - More worried about the 5.2% BB% than the Biogenesis link and the fact he came into camp out of shape. Could roll out of bed as-is and hit .270 with 20 homers, but potential is there for more, even in that park.

9. Jonathan Lucroy, MIL - Was on his way to a monster season prior to Suitcasegate. Conservative projection is .280 with 15 homers.

10. Mike Napoli, BOS - Hip is troubling, but he could easily hit 30 homers in his new park. I'll probably let someone else roll the dice unless he really drops.

11. Victor Martinez, DET - He's back, but power really dropped off in 2011. Still, that lineup will certainly help, as will playing DH. Upside these days is probably 15 HR, but could also hit .290.

12. Salvador Perez, KC - .301 with 11 HR over approximately 300 PA's last year after returning from the knee injury. Conservative projection is .290 with 15 HR, but that may very well be on the low side.

13. Ryan Doumit, MIN - Career year in 2012, but can he repeat at age 32? Some regression is likely, but he could always hit a bit when healthy.

14. A.J. Pierzynski, TEX - Won't hit anywhere near 27 homers again ever, but hard to argue with the new park.

15. J.P. Arencibia, TOR - Needs to take a big step forward this year, particularly in relation to his .22 BB/K rate. At least Travis d'Arnaud no longer looms as a threat.

16. Tyler Flowers, CHI-A - Anything more than .230 will be a pleasant surprise. He'll hit 20+ homers, and in OBP leagues he may very well be a top-10 catcher.

17. Brian McCann, ATL - Likely opens on the DL. At this point, you're living in the past if you draft him among the league's top-15 catchers.

Best of the rest

18. Alex Avila, DET - Rebound candidate, but not to 2011 levels.

19. A.J. Ellis, LA - Breakout year, but is the power real?

20. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, BOS - Has power, but is a .288 OBP in each of the past two years enough to hold off David Ross and Ryan Lavarnway?

21. Russell Martin, PIT - Ugly year, but did hit 21 homers and September line is somewhat encouraging - .256/.348/.526.

22. John Jaso, OAK - Not sure he can repeat last year's breakout .276/.394/.456.

23. Welington Castillo, CHI-N - Prime sleeper candidate.

24. Carlos Ruiz, PHI - Can rejoin the Phillies on April 28 after serving 25-game suspension. Also won't come near a .343 BABIP again.

25. Chris Iannetta, ANA - Only a .226 career hitter, so don't expect much there. Will hit for some power and he's in a nice lineup.

26. Travis d'Arnaud, NY-N - ETA probably June, but what if he gets off to a slow start in Triple-A?

27. Yasmani Grandal, SD - 50-game suspension. Nice work.

28. Kurt Suzuki, WAS - Nats really need to upgrade here, but perhaps Wilson Ramos returns strong and beats out Suzuki.

29. Rob Brantly, MIA - Projected starter, but limited offensive upside

30. Derek Norris, OAK - Value took a dive with the Jaso acquisition.

31. Erik Kratz, PHI - 33 year-old has just 181 career at-bats, but he has some pop and should be the guy to fill in to start the season with Carlos Ruiz serving out his 25-game suspension.

First Base

The Elite

1. Albert Pujols, LAA - No longer a no-brainer for this spot, but still a top-five pick.

2. Joey Votto, CIN - Closing the gap on #1.

3. Prince Fielder, DET - Eight fewer HR than in 2011, but as safe as they come with seven straight seasons of 157+ games played.

Tier 2

4. Paul Goldschmidt, AZ - Expect him to bump up last year's 20 homers by at least 10.

5. Edwin Encarnacion, TOR - Power is real, though count on some regression, but maybe not as much as you think.

6. Adrian Gonzalez, LA - Expect a return to 25 or so HRs.

7. Allen Craig, STL - Still quite underrated in what should again be a very good lineup.

8. Billy Butler, KC - 20 games at 1B, so he should qualify here in most leagues. Next year may be a different story, but either way, he'll hit.

9. Anthony Rizzo, CHI-N - Hitting third behind Castro and DeJesus should allow him to drive in 100+. .292/.375/.491 in September.

10. Freddie Freeman, ATL - Power increased slightly and he bumped his BB% from 8% to 11%. All signs point to further improvement, though perhaps not of the dramatic variety.

11. Mark Teixeira, NY-A - You can probably blame the low 2010-2012 BABIPs on the defensive shifts he's encountered. Power is still there, but the days of .300 are long gone.

12. Ryan Howard, PHI - 58 HR will be his career high, but should be a lock for .250-30-100, perhaps a bit more.

Tier 3

13. Paul Konerko, CHI-A - Blame wrist injury for second-half slide. That said, he turns 37 next month, so further regression is likely.

14. Mark Trumbo, ANA - I think he can correct second-half slide, but too many holes in that swing for him to ever be elite.

15. Ike Davis, NY-N - No ankle injury + no Valley Fever = .270 instead of .227? Very possible.

16. Eric Hosmer, KC - Major disappointment in 2012, but BB% actually went up, from 6% to 9.4%. .255 BABIP should turn around and allow him to hit in the .260-.270 range. Probably tops out at 20 HR this year, but long-term upside remains high in my book.

17. Chris Davis, BAL - I doubt the .355 BABIP is sustainable, but the 33 HR last year were real.

18. Nick Swisher, CLE - No short porch now, but I don't expect his totals to change much.

19. Adam LaRoche, WAS - 17% HR/FB rate says the 33 HR's won't be happening again, but should be in line for another solid season in a strong lineup.

20. Kendrys Morales, SEA - In that park, 20 HR is his ceiling. Being the full-time DH should help keep him in the lineup most days.

21. Adam Dunn, CHI-A - Still hard to believe he posted a .118 ISO and -3.0 WAR in 2011. Improved those totals to .263 and 1.7 in 2012, and has at least 38 HR in eight of the last nine years. He'll kill your average though.

Best of the rest

22. Chris Carter, HOU - SLEEPER - probably winds up in LF.

23. Brandon Moss, OAK - Amazing 12.6 AB/HR rate won't continue given a lucky 26% of his flyballs went for home runs last year. Still a nice AL-only guy, but skeptical he repeats 2012.

24. Mark Reynolds, CLE - You know what you're getting here.

25. Justin Morneau, MIN - Just not sure what to expect here.

26. Corey Hart, MIL - Might not be back until May, hence the discount here.

27. Garrett Jones, PIT - BB/K took a dive from 0.46 to 0.32 and now he's probably a platoon guy at best.

28. Brandon Belt, SF - Plan is to try him in LF for those days that Buster Posey slots at 1B. Guess is that he hits .280 this year, but still waiting for the power.

29. Justin Smoak, SEA - As of now, he is slated to get most of the 1B at-bats. Just not sure that lasts.

30. Adam Lind, TOR - This guy had a .932 OPS four years ago? Quite the fall, and I don't see a big turnaround coming.

31. Yonder Alonso, SD - Seven of his nine homers came over the final three months, so could be a 15 HR guy this year.

32. Carlos Pena, HOU - 20-25 homers are a lock, but will he hit .200?

33. Mitch Moreland, TEX - Should start Opening Day, but will be on a short leash with Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar looking for playing time.

34. Lance Berkman, TEX - Roll the dice in AL-only leagues that DH role keeps him healthy.

35. Brett Wallace, HOU - Off to a good start this spring, but role still a bit unclear.

36. Todd Helton, COL - Wine and lottery tickets? Really Todd?

37. James Loney, TB - Pass.

38. Gaby Sanchez, PIT - Probably only starts against right-handers occasionally.

Second Base

The Elite

1. Robinson Cano, NY-A - Yep, in a class by himself. Fourth on my draft board behind Braun, Trout, and Cabrera.

Tier 2

2. Jason Kipnis, CLE - Has 20/30 potential and should just keep getting better.

3. Ian Kinsler, TEX - Hitting in the .250s has hurt value, but should still score a ton of runs and hit for above average power for his position. Probably moves to 1B or LF at some point this year to make room for Jurickson Profar.

4. Dustin Pedroia, BOS - BB% dip from 11.8% to 7.7% is a concern, but he's still easily in the top four.

Tier 3

5. Brandon Phillips, CIN - At some point, he'll slow down, but he's been amazingly consistent and I like him batting second this year.

6. Aaron Hill, AZ - 2011 appears to be the outlier now.

7. Ben Zobrist, TB - Very consistent since 2009 and also qualifies at SS.

8. Danny Espinosa, WAS - Was hoping to see contact rate increase, but it went from 71% to 68%. That has me pessimistic he can hit .250.

9. Rickie Weeks, MIL - Hit .261 in the second half after an ugly first half. Figure he hits that again with his usual 20 homers and 15 steals.

10. Jose Altuve, HOU - .290 with 33 steals, so it was a nice step forward last year. Expect more progress in 2013, as he has the skills to hit .300.

11. Chase Utley, PHI - Has averaged 100 games played over the last three years, but reports indicate that he's feeling good this spring. Of course that could change any day, so I am not buying.

12. Dustin Ackley, SEA - .226 in his first full season, but he's only 25, so that makes him a bit of a bounce back candidate.

13. Howie Kendrick, ANA - The 18 homers in 2011 appear to be an anomaly, but he could have quite a bit of value if he ends up hitting second between Trout and Pujols.

14. Neil Walker, PIT - Doesn't have a lot of upside and yes, I do worry about his back injury.

Best of the rest

15. Dan Uggla, ATL - At least his .233 AVG in 2011 was offset by 33 home runs. Hit just .220 last year and power dropped off to 19 homers. Does walk a lot, so probably a top-10 2B in OBP leagues.

16. Kelly Johnson, TB - Sort of a Dan Uggla, but with less power. Eventually Zobrist will be the 2B and Wil Myers the RF.

17. Gordon Beckham, CHI-A - I've lost all hope.

18. Omar Infante, DET - 12 HR and 17 SB, so he was a nice surprise. Expect a little regression.

19. Marco Scutaro, SF - Little upside here.

20. Jedd Gyorko, SD - Off to a nice start this spring as he looks to beat out Logan Forsythe.

21. Daniel Murphy, NY-N - Solid guy to have as a MI in deep leagues, but that's his upside.

22. Darwin Barney, CHI-N - .305 career OBP, but he's a whiz defensively. MI in NL-only formats is his fantasy upside.

23. Jemile Weeks, OAK - Grant Green could take his job.

24. Brian Roberts, BAL - Still playing I think.

25. Mark Ellis, LA - Really zero fantasy upside.

26. Jamey Carroll, MIN - See above.

27. Donovan Solano, MIA - Just don't see an ounce of upside, but this is the Marlins, so he could be the starter.

28. Kolten Wong, STL - Could be the guy as early as Opening Day.