The RotoWire 200
This is our top 200 for 12-team, mixed-league drafts. Here's a few guidelines on how this list is compiled:
- I'm assuming it's a standard 5x5 league.
- Though it doesn't strictly hew to our projected auction values, it's pretty close. Occasionally draft dynamics will push a player up or down beyond what his stats are worth. To that end, these players are listed in order of where I think they should rank, without regard to ADP. To the extent that there are some early outliers, I've tried to note them in the comments. I do operate under the assumption of a 68-32 hitter-pitcher split in valuing the players.
- A player needs to have played at least 20 games at the position last year to qualify there this year, or if he was a minor leaguer it would be at the position where he played the most last year. Cuban players ... honestly, determining positions for them is a harder enterprise. I'm slotting them at where I think that they'll play.
- 200 isn't really that deep. We'll come out with a top 350 later on, but this version is going into the magazine, where 200 is a tidy number. In a similar vein, the format necessarily requires shorter comments. For more insight, read the player's outlooks, which are now up on the site.
1. Mike Trout, OF - A year ago there was a clear top three, with some debating whether Trout belonged in that trio. This year there's no doubt.
2. Miguel Cabrera, 3B - This will be Miggy's last year at third base, which might keep him healthier down the stretch.
3. Clayton Kershaw, P - How you choose to structure your team may vary, but this is what Kershaw is worth.
4. Andrew McCutchen, OF - If you crave reliability, McCutchen is your man.
5. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B - It's possible that Goldschmidt has another level in him, but we're not going there ... yet.
6. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF - A bad real-life contract doesn't make for a bad roto investment.
7. Carlos Gonzalez, OF - Even with all of his injury issues, CarGo has had four consecutive .295+ 20-20 seasons.
8. Chris Davis, 1B - Davis still whiffs a lot, but he consistently makes hard contact when he gets ahold of it.
9. Hanley Ramirez, SS - Ramirez is a volatile pick with an extremely high payoff if things go right.
10. Adam Jones, OF - Jones produces a steady baseline as long as you're not playing in an OBP league.
11. Yu Darvish, P - Darvish could really benefit from a revamped Rangers offense.
12. Bryce Harper, OF - What's more important to you - ceiling or floor?
13. Robinson Cano, 2B - How much do you discount for the move to Safeco Field?
14. Adrian Beltre, 3B - Beltre needs a couple more elite seasons to start entering HOF discussions.
15. Joey Votto, 1B - Votto is somehow still underappreciated by his own fanbase and/or local media.
16. Jason Kipnis, 2B - Are Kipnis's second half fades features or bugs? The bet here is the latter and thus correctable.
17. Ryan Braun, OF - Braun's placement here accounts for fewer stolen base attempts and games played.
18. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B - Try to get an update on E5's wrist rehab before pulling the trigger if you can.
19. Prince Fielder, 1B - The move to Texas couldn't have come at a better time for Fielder.
20. David Wright, 3B - Wright could go higher if recurring injuries to his hamstring weren't a concern.
21. Evan Longoria, 3B - The same could be said about Longoria, though in fairness he made it through 2013 unscathed.
22. Stephen Strasburg, P - Potentially a huge swing player, but just how likely is it that he wins just eight games again?
23. Alex Rios, OF - Rios actually stole at a higher rate in Texas than with the White Sox.
24. Jose Bautista, OF - Bautista has 55 homers the last two years despite playing in only 210 games.
25. Carlos Gomez, OF - Gomez's strikeout rate worsened in 2013, but playing time won't change once his BA drops.
26. Giancarlo Stanton, OF - Stanton is the rare player where the "lack of protection" argument carries significance.
27. Buster Posey, C - I'm a little concerned about attrition, but Posey is still my top catcher.
28. Cliff Lee, P - A ranking dilemma - do you slot a player where you have him ranked, or closer to where he should go?
29. Max Scherzer, P - What will Scherzer do for an encore in 2014?
30. Adam Wainwright, P - There are just as many volatile hitters now as there are pitchers, thus more pitchers in my top three rounds.
31. Freddie Freeman, 1B - Is 24 the new 27, or does Freeman have more space to improve?
32. Jay Bruce, OF - Bruce has not had the proverbial next level, but could the power spike still arrive?
33. Felix Hernandez, P - So far King Felix has defied the velocity doomsayers, self-included.
34. Chris Sale, P - The biggest threat to Sale's value is the team context - consider him the AL's Cliff Lee.
35. Matt Kemp, OF - Kemp is a good gamble for an owner that already has two solid hitters before him.
36. Ian Desmond, SS - Remember when Danny Espinosa was going to take away Desmond's job?
37. Jose Reyes, SS - How much will Reyes run after a full offseason to rest his ankle?
38. Hunter Pence, OF - Nobody wants to pay for a hitter's career year, but only his stolen bases were out of line of his career numbers.
39. Troy Tulowitzki, SS - I don't bump up for positional scarcity among middle infielders, especially when they don't run.
40. Wilin Rosario, C - Rosario's defense remains so dreadful that the Rockies spent a good portion of the offseason looking for a catcher.
41. Dustin Pedroia, 2B - Unless you give second basemen a positional scarcity bump, Pedroia should not go in the second round.
42. Joe Mauer, C - Mauer's move to first base gives him a one-year bump, but watch him drop 50 spots in 2015.
43. Shin-Soo Choo, OF - Choo goes from one awesome offensive environment to an even better one in Texas.
44. Jean Segura, SS - Segura hit .241/.268/.315 in the second half. This rank might not get him and could still be too high.
45. Yasiel Puig, OF - Bonus points to the first opposing park that plays “I Can't Drive 55” in his first at-bat.
46. Madison Bumgarner, P - It's amazing that the Giants skipped one of his playoff starts in 2012 - Shelby Miller, take heart.
47. Jose Fernandez, P - Please Marlins, don't screw him up.
48. Starling Marte, OF - Eventually Marte could get moved out of the leadoff spot, but not in 2014.
49. Eric Hosmer, 1B - Hosmer improved almost immediately to the day that George Brett temporarily was the hitting coach.
50. Justin Upton, OF - Did the brothers feed off each others' midseason slumps?
51. Yoenis Cespedes, OF - Cespedes' likelihood to hit for average is quite shaky.
52. Allen Craig, 1B/OF - Craig could spend a lot of time in the outfield this year to make room for Matt Adams.
53. David Ortiz, DH - Ortiz almost always goes later than his true value because of his position.
54. Craig Kimbrel, P - The gap between Kimbrel and the other elite RP's has narrowed.
55. Mike Minor, P - Everything is trending in the right direction for Minor.
56. Matt Holliday, OF - Holliday's slow decline has been graceful so far, but he's missing more games than before and hitting for less power.
57. Carlos Santana, C/1B - Santana played some third base in Winter Ball and is catching less than ever.
58. Yadier Molina, C - At some point the Cardinals might have to think about having Molina catch less to avoid nagging injuries.
59. Albert Pujols, 1B - So far his recovery from foot surgery has gone smoothly, but he was already declining before it ruined his 2013 season.
60. Josh Donaldson, 3B - Donaldson might have a short peak, but he's in it right now for the next couple of years.
61. Kenley Jansen, P - Jansen is still improving across the board, notably with his control.
62. Justin Verlander, P - A mechanical change in September led to better velocity and results.
63. Zack Greinke, P - Greinke really put it all together after returning from the injury stemming from his brawl with Carlos Quentin.
64. Josh Hamilton, OF - Hamilton's strikeout rate was actually marginally better in 2013.
65. Matt Carpenter, 2B - Carpenter is moving to third base this year after the trade of David Freese.
66. Wil Myers, OF - Look for Myers' batting average to drop just a little this year, thanks to his high strikeout rate.
67. Jonathan Lucroy, C - Lucroy gets overlooked frequently when identifying the elite roto catchers.
68. Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF - Trumbo should benefit from the move to Arizona, but will be exposed playing the OF regularly.
69. Hisashi Iwakuma, P - It's remarkable that he was the last active pitcher to pitch in a game in 2012, given where he is now.
70. Jordan Zimmermann, P - Zimmermann has three straight years of allowing fewer than two walks per nine innings.
71. Greg Holland, P - Holland joined the elite closers in 2013, with a 103:18 K:BB in 67 innings.
72. Billy Hamilton, OF - Is Hamilton the next Vince Coleman, or the next Dee Gordon?
73. Kris Medlen, P - 2013 was not a bad follow-up season for Medlen, just not up to the other-worldly standard set the year before.
74. Jered Weaver, P - Weaver's velocity continued in 2013. I would not want him to be my best starter.
75. James Shields, P - The Royals quietly improved behind Shields this offseason, offensively and defensively.
76. Cole Hamels, P - The Phillies could be truly dreadful behind Hamels this year.
77. Desmond Jennings, OF - Jennings has one big shortcoming - hitting fastballs against right-handers.
78. Jayson Werth, OF - Werth was remarkable over the second half in 2013, but we have to discount some for durability.
79. David Price, P - Price's velocity decline, DL trips last season and possibility of getting dealt lower his value.
80. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B - There's not much reason to believe that Gonzalez's 30-homer power is coming back.
81. Doug Fister, P - In light of how the rest of the offseason played out, Fister's trade made no sense from the Tigers' perspective.
82. Alex Gordon, OF - Gordon's batting average should improve by at least .15 points this year.
83. Elvis Andrus, SS - This might not get him, but without a positional scarcity bump he doesn't belong higher.
84. Jason Heyward, OF - Heyward finished strong after his penultimate injury - I could see his ADP rising in the spring.
85. Ian Kinsler, 2B - The trade to Detroit could slightly depress Kinsler production.
86. Salvador Perez, C - The only thing keeping Perez out of the catcher elite is the power, which could still come.
87. Brian McCann, C - McCann could really benefit from Yankee Stadium's short right-field porch.
88. Gio Gonzalez, P - This is about as good as it gets for Gonzalez, which isn't bad.
89. Michael Cuddyer, OF - The signing of Justin Morneau locks Cuddyer out of first base on most days.
90. Gerrit Cole, P - Cole was the Pirates' best pitcher down the stretch. It's a question of when he's an ace, not if.
91. Matt Cain, P - Cain was a fantasy assassin last year, but quietly was better the last two months.
92. Koji Uehara, P - This is a modest ranking - if you wanted to put him up with Holland, I wouldn't argue too vociferously.
93. Anibal Sanchez, P - Sanchez gave us a tiny scare with his shoulder, but then was dominant in the playoffs.
94. Aroldis Chapman, P - There's a small possibility he could start - new manager Bryan Price was an advocate of the idea last season.
95. Leonys Martin, OF - Martin could end up as a 15-homer, 40-stolen base player if all goes right.
96. Chase Headley, 3B - Headley is entering his walk year - a midseason trade could be a huge boost.
97. Hyun-Jin Ryu, P - Ryu gets precious little love in mock drafts, but he has good ratios on a winning team.
98. Trevor Rosenthal, P - Rosenthal has elite closer potential, but the return of Jason Motte could cloud that future.
99. Mat Latos, P - Latos had bone chips removed from his elbow at the end of the season, but he was able to pitch with them for two months.
100. Homer Bailey, P - Bailey is the rare starting pitcher that added velocity on his fastball five years into his career.
101. Masahiro Tanaka, P - Will Tanaka maintain such a low HR rate in MLB? That and his high 2013 workload are concerns.
102. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B - How the mighty have fallen. He could be a year away from moving to first base.
103. Brandon Moss, 1B/OF - Moss has now done it two years in a row - will anyone believe in him?
104. Matt Wieters, C - We should stop waiting for the Wieters breakout - this is who he is, which isn't bad.
105. Julio Teheran, P - The breakout has already started. This might not be high enough to get him.
106. Shelby Miller, P - For such a smart organization, the Cardinals' treatment of Miller in the playoffs was puzzling.
107. Casey Janssen, P - Closers with superb control like Janssen get a boost in my rankings.
108. Joe Nathan, P - Nathan keeps defying the odds - can he do it for multiple seasons in Detroit?
109. Hiroki Kuroda, P - Back for another under-the-radar year with the Yankees.
110. Derek Holland, P - Quietly had the year that everyone expected from him in 2012.
111. Jose Daniel Abreu, 1B - The fear of the unknown keeps the price on Abreu lower than this, but he could hit 30 homers.
112. Coco Crisp, OF - Crisp stole fewer bases than expected, but compensated by hitting for more power.
113. Kyle Seager, 3B - Seager's finish marred an otherwise excellent season. He might hit behind Cano this year.
114. Austin Jackson, OF - How much of a playoffs hangover will he have?
115. Curtis Granderson, OF - Granderson's rank is depressed both by his batting average and his fewer stolen base attempts.
116. Billy Butler, DH - Butler is back to being a DH-only in leagues that require 20 games to qualify at a position.
117. Michael Wacha, P - Wacha's late-season work is pumping his ADP higher than this.
118. Ben Zobrist, 2B/SS/OF - Zobrist just barely qualifies at shortstop still.
119. David Robertson, P - The heir apparent to Mariano Rivera - can Robertson stay healthy?
120. Andrew Cashner, P - The analysis of the Cashner-Rizzo trade has been turned on its head.
121. Alex Cobb, P - Cobb has a pretty high ceiling, though the AL East serves to puncture some of our optimism.
122. Jim Johnson, P - Johnson should thrive with the change of ballparks.
123. Jose Altuve, 2B - If you addressed stolen bases earlier in the draft, Altuve is the type of player you should downgrade by 40 slots.
124. Carlos Beltran, OF - While the ballpark change is great, don't count on Beltran as the DH that often - it's a crowded spot for the Yankees.
125. Brandon Belt, 1B - We're finally past the angst of Belt not getting regular playing time.
126. Christian Yelich, OF - How much will the league adjust to Yelich the second time around?
127. Steve Cishek, P - The one time in your draft when you can call out a Marlins Run.
128. Sergio Romo, P - Romo's heavy reliance on his slider has us a little concerned.
129. Marco Estrada, P - Estrada has maintained a high strikeout rate despite losing velocity. Can it last?
130. Pedro Alvarez, 3B - Alvarez is a good bet to hit 30 homers, but are you willing to pay the batting average cost?
131. Martin Prado, 2B/3B/OF - Prado's versatility once again bumps his value higher than where his raw stats would project.
132. Michael Bourn, OF - Watch to see how well Bourn is rehabbing his surgically-repaired hamstring this spring.
133. Anthony Rizzo, 1B - Burst on the scene as a rookie but gave a lot back in his second year.
134. Brett Gardner, OF - Gardner was the subject of trade rumors in the offseason, but remains with the Yankees at press time.
135. Chris Carter, 1B/OF - Carter is a poor man's Pedro Alvarez - high power, low average, but at a less valuable position.
136. Aaron Hill, 2B - Hill probably has one more season remaining at this level.
137. Rafael Soriano, P - Soriano fits the classic "Last Year's Bums" profile, except that he really wasn't all that bad.
138. Glen Perkins, P - Perkins might get more save chances than anticipated - Minnesota should be improved in 2014.
139. Kyle Lohse, P - Because the Brewers were out of it by midseason, it's easy to overlook how well Lohse pitched in the second half.
140. C.J. Wilson, P - Wilson has the occasional blowup outing, but the overall numbers have been pretty steady.
141. Victor Martinez, DH - Martinez is no longer catcher-eligible, but is also less of an injury-risk.
142. Wilson Ramos, C - Ramos was one of the best hitting catchers down the stretch last year.
143. Evan Gattis, C - Gattis will stick behind the plate for most of his playing time instead of playing the outfield with McCann gone.
144. Daniel Murphy, 2B - Where did the 23 stolen bases come from, and how likely are they to repeat?
145. Andrelton Simmons, SS - Simmons already makes good contact and hits for power. He's a .280 batting average away from stardom.
146. Jedd Gyorko, 2B - Gyorko hit 13 of his 23 homers in Petco. He could be a 35-homer guy in a neutral park someday.
147. Jon Lester, P - Lester gets hurt too much by his division to go much higher than this.
148. Nelson Cruz, OF - Still unsigned at press time - this rank presumes him hitting in a neutral ballpark.
149. Jonathan Villar, SS - Villar has 40-SB upside, though with the risk of getting sent down if he starts slowly.
150. Starlin Castro, SS - Castro has gone from being the Cubs' marquee player to one that's hearing footsteps from Javier Baez.
151. Lance Lynn, P - Lynn gets overlooked some because of the presence of Miller and Wacha.
152. A.J. Griffin, P - The A's offseason maneuvers ensure that Griffin is firmly ensconced in their rotation.
153. R.A. Dickey, P - Dickey lost 1.5 mph on his knuckleball last year - it was his velocity that made the pitch so special in 2012.
154. Josh Reddick, OF - Reddick played with a multitude of injuries in 2012 - he's a really good buy-low candidate.
155. Mike Napoli, 1B - That he remained in Boston bodes well for Napoli's value.
156. Brett Lawrie, 3B - Lawrie is a post-hype sleeper, now that he's turned in two bad years.
157. Alfonso Soriano, OF - This ranking presumes that the Yankees' outfield logjam will be resolved before the season begins.
158. Alejandro De Aza, OF - De Aza is an underappreciated player both by the White Sox and in fantasy.
159. Chase Utley, 2B - The peak years aren't coming back, but still a fun player to watch.
160. Jimmy Rollins, SS - Rollins' batting average has been better than .252 just once in the last five years.
161. Jason Castro, C - Look for Castro's batting average to decline with an expected BABIP correction in 2014.
162. Kole Calhoun, OF - Trumbo's trade opens the door for Calhoun to play every day.
163. Pablo Sandoval, 3B - Sandoval's ISO dropped to a career-low .139 in 2013.
164. Everth Cabrera, SS - What's going to happen to Cabrera's batting average upon returning from suspension?
165. Angel Pagan, OF - How much will Pagan run this year, following a year lost due to a big hamstring injury?
166. Grant Balfour, P - What did the Orioles' doctors see? Still unsigned at press time.
167. A.J. Burnett, P - This ranking assumes that Burnett will re-sign with the Pirates eventually, though he's suggested that retirement is also an option.
168. Johnny Cueto, P - Will Cueto's adjustment in his delivery keep him healthy after multiple injuries in 2013?
169. Dillon Gee, P - Gee's knuckle-curve bodes well for future success.
170. Jason Grilli, P - Grilli's DL stint and the presence of Melancon are the reasons for Grilli being this low.
171. Ernesto Frieri, P - Frieri flirted with losing his role as the closer but then finished the season on a high note.
172. Jonathan Papelbon, P - That the Phillies are looking to trade him after two years speaks volumes.
173. Alex Guerrero, 2B - Fear of the Unknown, Part II. Even using a pretty strong regression from his Cuban stats, Guerrero looks promising.
174. Aramis Ramirez, 3B - Ramirez is still trying to recover from the right knee injury that ended his 2013 season.
175. Bartolo Colon, P - Colon could be an ideal fit in the NL East.
176. Matt Garza, P - One of the many starting pitchers whose contract status was held while waiting for Tanaka to sign.
177. Matt Moore, P - The walk rate went up and Moore also led the league in wild pitches.
178. Torii Hunter, OF - Old and boring, but even with some regression Hunter should be a four-category player.
179. Shane Victorino, OF - Victorino gave up switch-hitting toward the end of the season, with good results.
180. Alexei Ramirez, SS - Ramirez's stolen bases make him a better hitter in roto than in real life.
181. Dexter Fowler, OF - Fowler's trade was pretty confusing from the Rockies' perspective.
182. Brandon Phillips, 2B - Don't be fooled by last season's RBI - the decline phase is already here.
183. Manny Machado, 3B - Machado is recovering from knee surgery and is at risk of missing Opening Day.
184. Nolan Arenado, 3B - Slotting Arenado here is betting on the come that the power kicks in some this year.
185. Domonic Brown, OF - Walk rate isn't everything, but Brown didn't improve there at all, and faded badly in the second half.
186. Kendrys Morales, 1B - Morales' rejection of the Mariners' qualifying offer has left him in limbo - nobody wants to give up the pick to sign him.
187. George Springer, OF - My favorite candidate for AL Rookie of the Year.
188. Brad Miller, SS - Miller had 25 extra-base hits in half a season with the Mariners as a rookie.
189. Ervin Santana, P - Santana follows a lot of writers in the industry on Twitter - who knows, he may follow you too!
190. Francisco Liriano, P - Can Liriano do it again this year? In early drafts, he's been as early as 106 and as late as 215.
191. Addison Reed, P - Reed's flyball tendencies might hurt him in Arizona.
192. Tony Cingrani, P - Cingrani's strikeout rate will go down as he becomes more pitch efficient, but he's starting at a high point.
193. Danny Farquhar, P - Farquhar has already paid dividends from the Ichiro trade.
194. Rick Porcello, P - Porcello thanks his lucky stars every five days for the Tigers' infield realignment.
195. Matt Adams, 1B - The big risk with Adams is if Allen Craig can't handle playing the outfield.
196. Adam LaRoche, 1B - LaRoche still has 20-25 homer power in a good lineup.
197. A.J. Pierzynski, C - The move to Boston could hurt him - LH power tends to go down in Fenway.
198. Danny Salazar, P - The departure of Kazmir ensures Salazar a spot in the rotation.
199. Sonny Gray, P - Gray had surgery to repair a broken left thumb, but should be ready to go by spring training.
200. Xander Bogaerts, 3B - Check your league's eligibility rules. We have him as 3B-eligible only right now.