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Behind the Numbers: Positional Rankings: SS, 3B, OF

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.

Part 2 of 3 in my positional rankings.

Shortstop

It's a very deep group this year. Tulowitzki's ADP sits around 20. Reyes though is the better value about 20 spots later.

The Elite

1. Jose Reyes, TOR - If he doesn't score 120 runs, he was either hurt, highly-ineffective, or both. Now in a hitters' park, on turf, and in a lineup that looks quite good. A career year is in order after his 8.8% BB% was his best mark since 2009.
2. Troy Tulowitzki, COL - Easily #1 when healthy, but he's missed big portions of three of the last five seasons.
3. Starlin Castro, CHI-N - 22-point increase in his ISO and an uptick in his BB%. Could be in line for a huge year with his lightning-quick bat.

Tier 2

4. Hanley Ramirez, LA - Probably slotted in at SS rather than 3B for most fantasy owners. Far from washed up, but can he really turn the last two years' performance around dramatically? BB% took a dive to 8.1% last year (11.4% in 2011), and that's rarely a good sign.
5. Jimmy Rollins, PHI - Four-point increase in his K% isn't a good sign, but he went for 23 HR and 30 SB, so the drop-off this year won't be huge.
6. Ian Desmond, WAS - Might regress a little, but .280 with a 20/20 HR/SB has quite a bit of value. Saw a slight improvement in his walk and contact rates.
7. Elvis Andrus, TEX - Hopefully he doesn't get too many tattoos during the season. Love the glove and his steals, but is the power ever going to come? I can see the Rangers dealing him for young pitching and going with Jurickson Profar at SS (more on him later).

Tier 3

8. Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE - Walks were up, strikeouts were down. That gives me confidence that he's about as safe as they come.
9. Ben Zobrist, TB - Also qualifies at 2B and OF, but chances are that you're drafting him to play infield.
10. Derek Jeter, NY-A - Ankle is a concern, but he certainly proved last year that he has something left.
11. Danny Espinosa, WAS - BB/K took a step back to .24 last year (from .34 in 2011), but an enviable source of HR and SB from a MI.

Best of the Rest

12. Alexei Ramirez, CHI-A - Ugh. Power took a huge drop and his BB% cratered to 2.6%. Could bounce back a bit, but we've probably seen his best.
13. J.J. Hardy, BAL - Reliable source of power at the SS position. .254 BABIP should mean his AVG recovers to the .260-.270 range, and given he's likely to move down in the order, 80+ RBI seem possible.
14. Alcides Escobar, KC - BB% stayed constant at a mediocre 4.2% and his K% increased, so not buying last year. Could regress and lose his job or take a step forward. Let someone else take a chance on the former.
15. Erick Aybar, ANA - Another candidate to hit 2nd in a stacked lineup, but guessing he hits at or near the bottom. Not a ton of upside here if the latter holds true.
16. Jean Segura, MIL - He'll end up on several of my teams given he's flying under the radar and has 10/30 ability.
17. Josh Rutledge, COL - Given his home park, there's plenty of upside here. Will qualify at 2B soon.
18. Hiroyuki Nakajima, OAK - Not sure he'll hit for average, but 15/15 ability is there.
19. Zack Cozart, CIN - Billy Hamilton moving to CF opens up the long-term SS job for Cozart. Expect power and a mediocre AVG.
20. Andrelton Simmons, ATL - This may seem low, but he could hit leadoff if gets closer to his 9.9% minor league BB% last year as opposed to his 6.6% big league number. Just not sure he's quite ready to be a top-15 guy.
21. Stephen Drew, BOS - One-year deal should provide plenty of motivation. That said, he's a Drew, so will the motivation really be there?
22. Marco Scutaro, SF - Now that he has a long-term deal, expect some regression. Okay, not fair, but there's little upside here.
23. Jhonny Peralta, DET - Failed to build off a career year by hitting .239, but .276 BABIP should turn around and get his AVG in the .260s to go with 15 homers.
24. Everth Cabrera, SD - Two homers AND he was tied to the Biogenesis PED scandal. That said, he has zero competition for SS at-bats and those steals are quite valuable, particularly in NL-only leagues.
25. Adeiny Hechavarria, MIA - He's a glove guy at this point, but in keeper formats, I'd take a chance on his offensive upside. Just don't expect much this year.
26. Jed Lowrie, OAK - We assume he'll play a lot, but at this point, injuries and a lack of a defined position drop him in these rankings.

Others

27. Luis Cruz, LA - Nice story, but Dodgers will be looking to fortify the left side of their infield at some point during the year.
28. Yunel Escobar, TB - Steady, but with little upside.
29. Rafael Furcal, STL - On the downside of his career, but still has the talent to hold off Pete Kozma if he's healthy.
30. Cliff Pennington, ARI - Will start for Arizona, at least until the team realizes he can't hit.
31. Ruben Tejada, NY-N - Should hit for AVG, but guys who can't hit for power or steal bases have little value.
32. Mike Aviles, CLE - Utility guy who should play a lot and hit a few homers.
33. Brandon Crawford, SF - Nice glove and good-looking sister, but can't hit.
34. Dee Gordon, LA - Top-10 guy if he could only win the job, hit leadoff, and get on base. All three are unlikely unless you're talking about Triple-A.

Special Mention

Jurickson Profar, TEX - If the team announced today that he won a starting job, I'd draft him around #12 at his position in non-keeper formats.

Billy Hamilton, CIN - If he comes up this year, he might be SS-eligible depending on your league. Still expected to spend half the year or more in Triple-A.

If You're Really Desperate

Willie Bloomquist, AZ; Clint Barmes, PIT; Tyler Greene, HOU; Brendan Ryan, SEA; Pedro Florimon, MIN; Didi Gregorius, AZ; Eduardo Nunez, NY-A; Jason Donald, CIN; Pete Kozma, STL

Third Base

Cabrera is a top-three pick in all formats, with Beltre as an easy #2 ahead of Longoria and company. There aren't a lot of sure things in this group, but with guys like Middlebrooks, Moustakas, and Machado, the potential for hitting a lottery ticket by waiting to draft a third baseman is certainly there.

The Elite

1. Miguel Cabrera, DET - Is and should be in a category by himself.

Tier 2

2. Adrian Beltre, TEX - Yes, he can hit in years in which he is not an impending free agent.
3. David Wright, NY-N - Significantly cut down on the K's and should have a similar 2013.
4. Evan Longoria, TB - He's yet to have his career year, but expect him to be a first-time .900 OPS guy in 2013.
5. Ryan Zimmerman, WAS - Hoping his offseason shoulder surgery results in his first career .300-30-100 season.
6. Aramis Ramirez, MIL - Not the sexiest pick, but .290-25-100 seems to be a given.
7. Chase Headley, SD - 21.4% of his flyballs went for homers. That may get cut in half in 2013, so don't overdraft here.

Tier 3

8. Brett Lawrie, TOR - A bit of a post-hype sleeper.
9. Pablo Sandoval, SF - I care far less that he came to camp looking like Bartolo Colon. I care more about the BB% increase last year - 6.9% to 8.6%.
10. Hanley Ramirez, LA - You're likely slotting him at shortstop.
11. Mike Moustakas, KC - "Moose" is primed for a breakout. I think his 124:39 K:BB improves significantly this year. .280-25-100 is within reach.
12. Manny Machado, BAL - Massive upside, but he'll scuffle at times this year. Bump him up 10 spots in keeper leagues, if not more
13. Kyle Seager, SEA - Not the best hitter in his family (that's Corey Seager), but he's a safe pick.
14. Pedro Alvarez, PIT - Upside could be 35 homers, but AVG upside might be .250.
15. Will Middlebrooks, BOS - 70:13 K:BB in 75 games isn't good obviously, but has the talent to improve that ratio significantly and perhaps be a 30-100 guy THIS year.
16. David Freese, STL - 30-year-old World Series MVP has just one full season under his belt. Expect average production this year, nothing more.
17. Martin Prado, AZ - Just a terrible deal for the Diamondbacks, but Prado should be a solid No. 2 hitter and unspectacular fantasy performer.

Best of the Rest

18. Mike Olt, TEX - Right NOW, wouldn't you rather roll the dice on Olt's upside than draft guys like Kevin Youkilis? This ranking could go up eight spots or down 10 by Opening Day depending on Olt's projected playing time. If he wins a job, bump him up five spots.
19. Todd Frazier, CIN - Hit just .181 in September, but Scott Rolen probably isn't coming back. Frazier's floor: .260-20-60. Ceiling?: .275:25-80
20. Michael Young, PHI - New ballpark shouldn't hurt, and .801 September OPS is encouraging. He should be fairly reliable.
21. Lonnie Chisenhall, CLE - A bit of a post-hype sleeper.
22. Kevin Youkilis, NY-A - This should be fun to watch. He won't hurt you, but the upside is limited.
23. Josh Donaldson, OAK - Regular at-bats could mean .260-15-60, but the upside is limited.
24. Chris Johnson, ATL - The lack of plate discipline hurts, but he is a better option than Juan Francisco.
25. Jordan Pacheco, COL - Sketchy at best given the competition from Chris Nelson and Nolan Arenado.
26. Chris Nelson, COL - Also qualifies at second base. Supposedly the favorite for the third base job, so given it's Coors, he's a bit of a sleeper. For him, an .810 OPS last year was a breakout.
27. Trevor Plouffe, MIN - Hope the .220 ISO holds up and the .245 BABIP was a fluke. If both are true, he's a top-15 third base, but I am a bit skeptical. The 78% contact rate needs to increase.
28. Pedro Ciriaco, BOS - Can hit for AVG and had 16 SB in 76 games last year, but still fighting Brock Holt for a spot on the roster.
29. Matt Dominguez, HOU - He's the likely starter, bug 3.5% BB% last year suggests he's not the long-term answer.
30. Alberto Callaspo, ANA - If he winds up hitting second in that lineup, bump him up 6-7 slots here.
31. Ryan Roberts, TB - Super utility guy. Could provide ST value in the event of an injury.
32. Luis Cruz, LA - Not that optimistic here, but I'll get a look at him in Arizona later this month.
33. Nolan Arenado, COL - Looking pretty good this spring, but Triple-A still likely.
34. Jeff Keppinger, CHI-A - AL-only owners only need apply.
35. Matt Carpenter, STL - Could win second-base job.
36. Alex Rodriguez, NY-A - You know your stock has fallen when you're ranked behind Jeff Keppinger. Keeper leaguers should hold onto him if it makes sense given the format of your league, but I doubt he's on too many of my rosters this year.

If you're really desperate:

Ian Stewart, CHI-N; Wilson Betemit, BAL; Juan Francisco, ATL; Greg Dobbs, MIA; Placido Polanco, MIA; Luis Valbuena, CHI-N; Eric Chavez, AZ; Jack Hannahan, CIN; Matt Davidson, AZ; Ryan Wheeler, COL; Joaquin Arias, SF; Kevin Frandsen, PHI; Juan Uribe, LA

Outfield

You could easily see half of the first 10 picks being from this group. As always, lots of depth here.

The Elite

1. Ryan Braun, MIL - Doesn't get any safer, PED concerns aside.
2. Mike Trout, ANA - You simply don't do THAT and regress that much. I wouldn't argue with him at #1 overall.
3. Matt Kemp, LA - Still top-5 material, but with a little risk.
4. Andrew McCutchen, PIT - Just a beast.
5. Jose Bautista, TOR - Expect a rebound to 40+ homers. Jose Reyes will help RBI total.

Tier 2

6. Justin Upton, ATL - He'll be a man on a mission this year. A top-10 fantasy performance should surprise no one.
7. Carlos Gonzalez, COL - OPS down in each of the last two years, but a healthy Tulo would go a long ways.
8. Bryce Harper, WAS - Is going to push for the HR and MVP titles at some point. 2013 might be a bit early, but the upside is obviously huge. #5 on this list in keeper formats.
9. B.J. Upton, ATL - You'll love the 20 homers and 30 steals, but can he get on base like he used to? It's very possible given his youth and that Braves lineup.
10. Adam Jones, BAL - Would be a superstar in a larger market. Underrated.
11. Jay Bruce, CIN - 40 homers at some point seems inevitable, but is he anything more than a .260 hitter? I don't see it.
12. Josh Hamilton, ANA - Back-to-back out-of-nowhere signings by the Angels. Hamilton should easily be a 40-120 guy if he can stay healthy.
13. Giancarlo Stanton, MIA - Free Giancarlo! As good a bet as anyone for 50 homers.

Tier 3

14. Allen Craig, STL - Also 1B-eligible of course. A bit of a late-bloomer, but his numbers are legit.
15. Jason Heyward, ATL - Hitting second helps runs total and gives him more AB's, but it will limit his RBI.
16. Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS - A huge contract year wouldn't be a surprise at all.
17. Yoenis Cespedes, OAK - He's only going to get better. Best Cuban hitter ever.
18. Alex Gordon, KC - Tough first two months, but walks and strikeouts trended in the right direction. Does need to improve vs. LHP.
19. Matt Holliday, STL - No longer runs much, but .290-25-90 seems a given.
20. Michael Bourn, CLE - Ballpark shift might hurt a little.
21. Melky Cabrera, TOR - The skepticism has me wanting to buy.
22. Alex Rios, CHI-A - BABIP increase of course helped, but walks were down and strikeout rate was up. Expect some regression.
23. Josh Willingham, MIN - Simply put, he's a pure hitter.
24. Desmond Jennings, TB - 31 steals last year and he'll open as the leadoff guy, but .314 OBP will have to improve for him to be a top-15 OF. 8.2% BB% was down from 2011's 10.8%.
25. Shin-Soo Choo, CIN - Hitters' park, solid OBP guy, and he hits for some pop. Free agent-to-be should be in line for a 20/20 year.
26. Chris Davis, BAL - Also qualifies at 1B, where he will play this year. Strikes out a lot, but last year's 6.6% BB% was a career-best.
27. Hunter Pence, SF - Time in the Bay Area didn't go well, but should be in line for a solid free agent season.
28. Austin Jackson, DET - BB% up from 8.4% to 10.9%. Hard to not be encouraged there.
29. Nelson Cruz, TEX - PED issue is a concern, but he should still rake.
30. Ben Zobrist, TB - Guessing he won't be used as an OF much.
31. Torii Hunter, DET - Will regress, but the lineup will help.

Best of the Rest

32. Mark Trumbo, ANA - Drop-off is a concern, but he's young and still developing.
33. Angel Pagan, SF - Contract won't end well, but he will be OK.
34. Nick Swisher, CLE - Love that the Indians are making a run. Hunch here is that he won't drop off much, if at all.
35. Carlos Beltran, STL - Hard to doubt him given last year, but he's obviously aging.
36. Alfonso Soriano, CHI-N - Hopefully you don't draft him in an OBP league.
37. Shane Victorino, BOS - Should have a little left in the tank.
38. Coco Crisp, OAK - Can't believe he's still running this much. Should play in more than 120 games this year, and that will offset the SB age-related decline.
39. Josh Reddick, OAK - Second half was REALLY ugly. Expect regression.
40. Curtis Granderson, NY-A - Injury drops him significantly, as does an inability to hit for AVG.
41. Ben Revere, PHI - Sleeper source of steals. He could be a 0/50 guy.
42. Norichika Aoki, MIL - Surprisingly solid season. Expect more of the same.
43. Cameron Maybin, SD - Some growth last year, as K% cut from 22% to 19.6%. Hit .283 after the break, so that's encouraging.
44. Jayson Werth, WAS - Wrist still not 100%. Could post solid numbers, but don't overdraft.
45. Alejandro De Aza, CHI-A - Has surprisingly (to me) turned into a solid leadoff man. Could go 10/30.
46. Ryan Ludwick, CIN - Two years and $15 million says the Reds are confident he can repeat. They are right.
47. Carl Crawford, LA - This is a tough one. Likely has already peaked, but if the elbow is sound, he should be better than the 2011-12 Crawford.
48. Michael Saunders, SEA - Nothing in his profile suggests he'll hit for AVG anytime soon.
49. Dayan Viciedo, CHI-A - Power is legit, but last year his walk and K rates regressed. Has changed his batting approach this spring, but we need to see results before buying in.
50. Starling Marte, PIT - Likely an Opening Day starter, but 50:8 K:BB needs to improve quickly. Still, the SB potential is intriguing.
51. Brandon Moss, OAK - Well that was a surprise. Likely playing 1B only this year, but the power is real and he showed more plate discipline last year.
52. Jason Kubel, AZ - Power and strikeouts both jumped. Expect a small amount of regression.
53. Andre Ethier, LA - This seems low, but he needs to hit lefties, right?
54. Justin Ruggiano, MIA - Those numbers won't hold up over a full year and the back is a concern, but the late-bloomer should still post solid numbers given that he's a full-time guy now.
55. Mike Morse, SEA - Don't exactly love the new park. A big drop-off is likely given his 3.7% BB%. He won't exactly be hitting between Miguel Cabrera and Ryan Braun.
56. Nick Markakis, BAL - Might be the ideal No. 2 hitter given that his power hasn't developed and he has a solid batting eye.
57. Martin Prado, AZ - Play him at third base...please.
58. Michael Cuddyer, COL - Love the park, don't like the 2012. Could see a mini-rebound.

Special case

Wil Myers, TB - Off to a 4-for-17 start this spring. He'll open in Triple-A, but a June debut seems likely.

Oscar Taveras, STL - He'll open in the minors, but if he's hitting well and someone gets hurt...

Next week: pitching.