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The RotoWire 200: Mid-May Update

Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson is a co-founder of RotoWire and the only two-time winner of Baseball Writer of the Year from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He's also in the FSWA Hall of Fame. He roots for the Reds, Bengals, Red Wings, Pacers and Northwestern University (the real NU).

Doing a midseason set of rankings is tougher for me than all of the offseason/spring training rankings. How much emphasis do you put into a player's start, good or bad? I think it's human nature to want to believe in a player's breakout if you were already optimistic about him, and easier to be dubious if you weren't convinced beforehand. But if you do that, you miss out on the breakouts like Jose Bautista or Cliff Lee. I think that phenomenon is true on the downside as well - while many players aren't lucky and eventually "return to the mean," others stay unlucky and yet others fall off the cliff entirely. Another problem is that there are more injuries to account for, and putting a value on the player's absence becomes more difficult, especially given how often we're dealing with imperfect information on those injuries. Because of those factors, and because I frequently question how valuable in-season overall rankings are, I've resisted doing this exercise in-season. But there's been at least some demand from our readers to do a midseason set of rankings, so here we are. Once again, this list presumes a 5x5, 12-team mixed league that starts two catchers and does not have an innings-cap. There is a positional scarcity component applied for catchers and a lesser boost for shortstops. I'm setting these rankings as if I were drafting anew today - anything that the player has already done, through Sunday, would not count in such a hypothetical league.

1. Albert Pujols, 1B - Unless you believe that Pujols is hiding an injury, what are you most likely to go with - his track record, or his current homer drought? I'm still stubborn and will go with the track record.
2. Troy Tulowitzki, SS
3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
4. Joey Votto, 1B
5. Jose Bautista, 3B/OF - I once thought my projection (38 homers) and ranking (33) of Bautista were aggressive this spring - it turns out, they were awfully conservative. Has anyone actually gotten a Pujols-for-Bautista offer, and not just talked about it in the hypothetical sense? If so, did you take it?
6. Hanley Ramirez, SS - Ramirez has still been running even when not hitting for power, and now the power is slowly starting to trickle in.
7. Ryan Braun, OF
8. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
9. Robinson Cano, 2B
10. Evan Longoria, 3B - Remember, it's not about what the player has done so far, but what I think he's going to do the rest of the season.
11. Alex Rodriguez, 3B - I'm at least a little concerned about the recent buzz regarding A-Rod's hip. That's enough to knock him down a peg or two.
12. Mark Teixeira, 1B - There's still an abundance of first basemen at the top, which makes me at least a little queasy about the ranking.
13. Jose Reyes, SS - It's difficult to envision a plausible trade that would hurt Reyes. It's not as if the Padres are going to be buyers at the deadline.
14. Carlos Gonzalez, OF - Even with all the batting average problems that CarGo has had, he still has provided six homers and six steals. The nagging groin injury that he suffered this week looms, as it does with any player that needs stolen bases to be valuable.
15. Matt Kemp, OF
16. Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B - Youkilis has survived the carnage that's hit the third base position.
17. Roy Halladay, P
18. Tim Lincecum, P
19. Matt Holliday, OF
20. Prince Fielder, 1B
21. Ryan Howard, 1B
22. Andrew McCutchen, OF
23. Shin-Soo Choo, OF - A number of players in this bloc (McCutchen, Choo, Upton and Kinsler) haven't hit for average, but they've done enough otherwise to keep them close to their original ranking.
24. Justin Upton, OF
25. Rickie Weeks, 2B
26. Ian Kinsler, 2B
27. Victor Martinez, C - It's hard to go broke investing in Victor.
28. Jon Lester, P
29. Felix Hernandez, P
30. Clayton Kershaw, P
31. Jay Bruce, OF - Bruce illustrates how quickly a season can turn around.
32. Cliff Lee, P
33. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF
34. Mike Stanton, OF - It's not just that he's hitting them out frequently, it's how they're going out.
35. Josh Hamilton, OF - Both Hamilton and Cruz return from the DL on Monday.
36. Drew Stubbs, OF - Stubbs is still striking out a ton, but his owners are still getting the benefit of the bargain with seven homers and 14 steals.
37. Curtis Granderson, OF - Remember that oblique strain in spring training? Yeah, I don't either.
38. Carl Crawford, OF - Almost all of his low numbers are tied to a low BABIP - his CT rate is about the same, and the walk rate, while bad, isn't that far off his career norms. I thought I was comfortable reloading if given the chance, then I was offered Crawford for Drew Stubbs or Shin-Soo Choo, and I didn't want to pull the trigger. As the GPS might say, "recalculating."
39. Brian McCann, C
40. Nelson Cruz, OF - Coming off the DL Monday, but his past history of leg problems make this trip seem less innocuous.
41. B.J. Upton, OF
42. Dustin Pedroia, 2B - Pedroia's .80 CT rate isn't bad generally, but it's way down for him.
43. Jimmy Rollins, SS
44. Buster Posey, C
45. Paul Konerko, 1B
46. Adrian Beltre, 3B
47. Adam Dunn, 1B - The time to trade for Dunn is now, before it gets hot in Chicago.
48. David Wright, 3B - I have to downgrade Wright at least a little bit, even if he returns from the DL in 10 days, to account for the risk of re-injury.
49. Justin Verlander, P
50. Brandon Phillips, 2B
51. Cole Hamels, P
52. Carlos Santana, C
53. Hunter Pence, OF
54. Zack Greinke, P
55. Jered Weaver, P
56. Chris Young, OF - This is more like his 2009 season, but with more power. The average and steals should recover some.
57. Alexei Ramirez, SS
58. Colby Rasmus, OF
59. Andre Ethier, OF
60. Dan Haren, P
61. CC Sabathia, P
62. Jayson Werth, OF
63. Stephen Drew, SS - Abdominal strain early limited Drew's playing time and production, but that should be in the past by now.
64. David Price, P
65. Ichiro Suzuki, OF
66. Josh Johnson, P - Awesome when he's healthy, but once again he's on the DL.
67. Mariano Rivera, P - With all the high profile closer collapses and injuries, it's nice to remember that Rivera stands alone over time.
68. Lance Berkman, 1B/OF - The nagging injuries are starting to creep up for Berkman - how much will they hamper him going forward?
69. Ubaldo Jimenez, P - There's still a window to buy low, but it's starting to close.
70. James Shields, P - Pitcher with previous seasons of excellence dominates early after two bad years for him - why can't Shields be Cliff Lee?
71. Billy Butler, 1B
72. Dan Uggla, 2B - So far Uggla is doing a mean Aaron Hill impersonation, but I don't think that the average will stay that bad.
73. Elvis Andrus, SS
74. Heath Bell, P
75. Max Scherzer, P
76. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS - I completely missed the boat on this one, which is all the more aggravating because I was too high on him last year. He already has a career-high in homers before the end of May.
77. Brian Wilson, P - Currently dealing with a sore ankle, but missed very little time earlier with an oblique injury and has pitched pretty well after a patchy first week.
78. Ben Zobrist, 2B/OF
79. Tommy Hanson, P
80. Michael Young, 3B
81. Roy Oswalt, P
82. Shaun Marcum, P
83. Jonathan Papelbon, P
84. Starlin Castro, SS
85. Francisco Rodriguez, P
86. Brett Anderson, P
87. Neftali Feliz, P - Going through some rough times right now.
88. Alexis Rios, OF - Another White Sox hitter in the "let's hope it heats up soon" crowd.
89. Shane Victorino, OF - You never like seeing a leg injury for a player that relies so heavily on his wheels.
90. Martin Prado, 2B/3B/OF
91. Pablo Sandoval, 3B - Could be off the DL in two weeks, but will he hit for power once he returns? Usually it takes longer for players coming back from broken hamate bones.
92. Jason Heyward, OF - Just hit the DL with his shoulder injury that he can't seem to shake.
93. Matt Joyce, OF
94. Carlos Pena, 1B
95. Matt Cain, P
96. Josh Beckett, P
97. Chase Utley, 2B - Coming back Monday - what sort of player will he be?
98. Nick Swisher, OF
99. Carlos Marmol, P
100. Trevor Cahill, P
101. Adam Jones, OF
102. Aramis Ramirez, 3B - Still just one homer, but 12 doubles and he's hitting for average at least.
103. Yovani Gallardo, P
104. Chad Billingsley, P
105. Huston Street, P
106. Joakim Soria, P - I'm really worried about the drop in his strikeout rate and the spike in his walk rate.
107. Matt Wieters, C
108. Mat Latos, P
109. Ricky Romero, P
110. Logan Morrison, OF - Six homers so far - I think he has 20-homer potential.
111. Neil Walker, 2B
112. Carlos Beltran, OF - Still not running, but the bat is just fine.
113. Howie Kendrick, 2B - Finally fulfilling promise, but now this hamstring problem could scuttle that start.
114. Geovany Soto, C - Soto was hitting more like he was in 2009 than last year before he hit the DL.
115. Michael Bourn, OF
116. Gaby Sanchez, 1B
117. Derek Jeter, SS - Is he the negative version of Bautista?
118. Carlos Quentin, OF
119. Mitch Moreland, 1B
120. Jason Kubel, OF
121. Michael Pineda, P
122. Nick Markakis, OF - The theory was that his numbers would improve with Brian Roberts in the lineup, but even before Roberts got hurt that was wrong.
123. Justin Morneau, 1B - Just two homers on the year - it was recently revealed that he needed a second cortisone shot for his neck two weeks ago.
124. Miguel Montero, C
125. Jaime Garcia, P
126. Gio Gonzalez, P
127. Chris Carpenter, P
128. David Ortiz, DH
129. Clay Buchholz, P
130. Bobby Abreu, OF
131. Drew Storen, P
132. Corey Hart, OF
133. Seth Smith, OF
134. Alexi Ogando, P
135. Francisco Liriano, P - Two good starts in a row - is he turning the corner? He was actually dropped in some leagues earlier this season - check to make sure that isn't the case now in your league.
136. Casey McGehee, 3B
137. Rafael Furcal, SS
138. Brett Gardner, OF
139. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B - Out until mid-June with his abdominal injury.
140. Joe Mauer, C - (Knee) Mauer is still on the DL, and there's no guarantee that he'll hit for power once he returns.
141. Ian Desmond, SS
142. Dan Hudson, P
143. Kelly Johnson, 2B - I hate the strikeout rate, but still love the other skills he brings to the table. Consider this a vote of confidence.
144. Jordan Zimmermann, P
145. Vladimir Guerrero, DH
146. Tim Hudson, P
147. J.J. Putz, P
148. Colby Lewis, P
149. Coco Crisp, OF
150. John Axford, P
151. Ike Davis, 1B - (Ankle) Probably about 10 days away from returning.
152. Grady Sizemore, OF - Sizemore is on the DL now, but it looks like it'll be a short-term absence.
153. Ryan Dempster, P
154. Brandon Morrow, P - Plenty of strikeouts, but still plenty of volatility.
155. Michael Brantley, OF
156. Torii Hunter, OF
157. Madison Bumgarner, P
158. Jose Valverde, P
159. Matt Garza, P
160. Wandy Rodriguez, P
161. Jose Tabata, OF
162. Alfonso Soriano, OF
163. Chris Perez, P
164. Jonathan Sanchez, P
165. Jeremy Hellickson, P
166. Juan Pierre, OF
167. Anibal Sanchez, P
168. Ricky Nolasco, P
169. Aubrey Huff, 1B
170. Leo Nunez, P
171. Adam Lind, 1B - Now qualifies at first base. He was on-fire before the back injury.
172. Jeff Francoeur, OF - On one hand, he's always had a dead-cat bounce with his new team, and he's 27 years old. On the other, well, he's Jeff Francoeur.
173. Francisco Cordero, P
174. Placido Polanco, 3B
175. Alex Gordon, OF
176. Travis Hafner, DH
177. Cameron Maybin, OF
178. Eric Hosmer, 1B
179. Erick Aybar, SS
180. Jhonny Peralta, SS/3B
181. Craig Kimbrell, P
182. Bud Norris, P
183. Brian Matusz, P
184. Dexter Fowler, OF
185. Kurt Suzuki, C
186. Hiroki Kuroda, P
187. Homer Bailey, P
188. Austin Jackson, OF
189. Chone Figgins, 2B
190. J.P. Arencibia, C
191. Russell Martin, C
192. Mark Reynolds, 3B
193. J.J. Hardy, SS
194. Jed Lowrie, 2B/SS/3B
195. Mike Aviles, 2B/3B
196. Melky Cabrera, OF
197. Andrew Bailey - Should be back soon, and it looks like Brian Fuentes won't provide much of a threat.
198. Pedro Alvarez, 3B - I think he's still a buy-low candidate, not a guy to drop out of the top 200. Currently on the DL with a quad injury.
199. Chris Iannetta, C
200. Brandon Belt, 1B

Dropping Out (in no particular order):

- Gordon Beckham, 2B
- Brandon Lyon, P
- Adam LaRoche, 1B
- Ian Stewart, 3B
- Travis Snider, OF
- Ryan Franklin, P
- Miguel Tejada, SS
- Kendrys Morales, 1B
- Jonathan Broxton, P
- Vernon Wells, OF
- Joe Nathan, P
- Philip Hughes, P
- Ryan Raburn, OF
- Delmon Young, OF
- Jorge Posada, C
- Brian Roberts, 2B
- Raul Ibanez, OF
- Ervin Santana, P
- Andres Torres, OF
- John Danks, P
- Angel Pagan, OF
- Denard Span, OF
- Jason Bay, OF
- John Buck, C
- Ted Lilly, P
- Aaron Hill, 2B
- Carlos Lee, OF
- Michael Napoli, C
- Jorge De La Rosa, P
- Michael Cuddyer, OF/1B