Positional Rankings: Shortstop

Throughout the next couple of days I will be adding player capsules to some of the players ranked to help justify a particular rank.

  1. Hanley Ramirez
  2. Troy Tulowitzki
  3. Jean Segura – Second half numbers are not as predictive as full season numbers, so don’t let Jean’s poor second half deter you from valuing him as a top-5 SS at the very least. He should see an increase in runs scored as he will be hitting near the top of the Brewers lineup the entire year in 2014 and will have Ryan Braun hitting behind him for the whole season too. Segura should come close to 10/40/.290 and should easily be inside my top-25 overall.
  4. Ian Desmond
  5. Everth Cabrera – Cabrera shaved 8.6% off of his K% from 2012 to 2013. He also trimmed his SwStr% substantially which gives me confidence that he can maintain most of his contact rate gains. Over the past two seasons Cabrera has stolen 81 bases in 884 PAs. On a per 650 PA basis, that equates to 59.6 steals. If he comes close to that many PAs this year, his floor SB floor should be pretty high. I conservatively projected him for a line of 83/5/53/49/.263  in 660 PA, which puts him in the top-5 and gives him some upside to do more.
  6. Jose Reyes
  7. Elvis Andrus
  8. Ben Zobrist
  9. Brad Miller – Good contact skills, good hit tool and high minor league BABIPs indicate a high batting average floor. Always maintained high a BB% in the minors and should lead off for the Mariners, in my opinion. He is a really good bet to reach double digits in HR and SB with a chance to go 15/15. All three projection systems on Fangraphs really like him too. Miller will end up on most of my teams this year.
  10. Xander Bogaerts
  11. Starlin Castro
  12. Asdrubal Cabrera
  13. J.J. Hardy
  14. Andrelton Simmons
  15. Alexei Ramirez
  16. Jimmy Rollins
  17. Derek Jeter
  18. Jed Lowrie
  19. Jonathan Villar
  20. Erick Aybar
  21. Alcides Escobar
  22. Jordy Mercer
  23. Jhonny Peralta
  24. Zack Cozart
  25. Yunel Escobar

Positional Rankings: Third Base

Throughout the next couple of days I will be adding player capsules to some of the players ranked to help justify a particular rank.

  1. Miguel Cabrera
  2. Adrian Beltre
  3. David Wright
  4. Evan Longoria
  5. Ryan Zimmerman
  6. Josh Donaldson
  7. Aramis Ramirez
  8. Kyle Seager
  9. Pedro Alvarez
  10. Xander Bogaerts
  11. Manny Machado
  12. Brett Lawrie
  13. Martin Prado
  14. Pablo Sandoval
  15. Chris Johnson
  16. Todd Frazier
  17. Nolan Arenado
  18. Chase Headley
  19. Will Middlebrooks
  20. Matt Dominguez
  21. Mike Moustakas
  22. Cody Asche
  23. David Freese
  24. Kelly Johnson
  25. Trevor Plouffe

Positional Rankings: Second Base

Throughout the next couple of days I will be adding player capsules to some of the players ranked to help justify a particular rank.

  1. Jason Kipnis 
  2. Robinson Cano – New ballpark and worse lineup support should move him out of the top-10 and towards the late teens for me. Still really good, really reliable and still has a really high floor, just not a top-10 player anymore unless that lineup overproduces.
  3. Dustin Pedroia
  4. Ian Kinsler
  5. Jose Altuve
  6. Aaron Hill
  7. Jedd Gyorko
  8. Ben Zobrist
  9. Matt Carpenter
  10. Daniel Murphy
  11. Chase Utley
  12. Brandon Phillips – Stole just 5 bases in 2013 and is penciled in to hit second this year for the Reds, so his fluky 103 RBI in 2013 should’t be approached in 2014. Phillips is aging, and without the SB totals he used to produce, he might have trouble finding the top-10 among second basemen.
  13. Martin Prado
  14. Anthony Rendon
  15. Brian Dozier
  16. Jurickson Profar*
  17. Howie Kendrick
  18. Omar Infante
  19. Neil Walker
  20. Kolten Wong
  21. Jed Lowrie
  22. Scooter Gennett
  23. Kelly Johnson
  24. Dustin Ackley
  25. Dan Uggla

Positional Rankings: First Base

Throughout the next couple of days I will be adding player capsules to some of the players ranked to help justify a particular rank.

  1. Paul Goldschmidt
  2. Chris Davis
  3. Prince Fielder
  4. Edwin Encarnacion
  5. Joey Votto
  6. Freddie Freeman
  7. Jose Abreu – There is little for me to analyze statistically here, so I am deferring most of my projection to the projection systems, and the projection systems love Abreu. Scaling the Oliver, Steamer and ZiPS projections to 650 PAs, their average projected 5×5 line for Abreu is: 93/36/97/5/.274. That projection would grade out just above my projection for Prince Fielder this year and would likely make Abreu a top-15 player. I don’t feel comfortable being that aggressive on Abreu since he is more of an unknown than nearly every other fantasy relevant player, but as the seventh first baseman, don’t think that you are paying for his upside, there might be first round potential here.
  8. Eric Hosmer
  9. Albert Pujols
  10. Mark Trumbo
  11. Adrian Gonzalez
  12. Allen Craig
  13. Brandon Belt – A new grip led to a strong surge in the second half of 2013 for Belt where he posted a .396 wOBA and, perhaps more importantly, a 19.8% strikeout rate and a .199 ISO. I rarely advise looking at second half splits to identify fantasy sleepers and busts, but when a player makes an adjustment mid-season and proceeds to have the best three months of his career, I think it merits more consideration. Belt is projected to hit third for the Giants this season which should allow him to post strong R and RBI numbers. Despite being ranked as my number 13 first baseman, I still think Belt has earned himself a spot at the back end of the Eric Hosmer tier.
  14. Anthony Rizzo
  15. Brandon Moss
  16. Matt Adams
  17. Justin Morneau
  18. Adam Lind
  19. Mike Napoli
  20. Mark Teixeira
  21. Nick Swisher
  22. Corey Hart
  23. Kendrys Morales*
  24. Chris Carter
  25. Yonder Alonso

Positional Rankings: Catcher

Throughout the next couple of days I will be adding player capsules to some of the players ranked to help justify a particular rank.

  1. Buster Posey
  2. Wilin Rosario – Will play first base more this year. Should eclipse 500 PAs for first time in career. Easily the number one catcher on a per PA basis last season and there is little reason to think his per PA numbers will fall off at all this year.
  3. Joe Mauer
  4. Yadier Molina
  5. Brian McCann
  6. Jonathan Lucroy
  7. Carlos Santana – The consensus ranks Santana 2nd among catchers, but I think he is overvalued there. From 2011 to 2013 his average fly ball distance (in feet) has dropped from 284.6 to 280.8 to 274.9. His FB% has also dropped in three straight seasons from 43.9% in 2010 all the way down to 35.7% in 2013. Santana has averaged 636 PAs per season over the past three years, so playing third base really isn’t going to get him in the lineup more this year. He is still easily a top-10 catcher, but drafting him as a top-3 catcher is a pick based on hope rather than expectations.
  8. Matt Wieters
  9. Salvador Perez
  10. Wilson Ramos
  11. Evan Gattis 
  12. Jason Castro
  13. Miguel Montero
  14. Yan Gomes
  15. AJ Pierzynski
  16. Russell Martin
  17. Devin Mesoraco
  18. Wellington Castillo
  19. Jarrod Saltalamacchia
  20. Travis d’Arnaud

Very short introduction to my ranking method

In the near future I will post a more detailed outline of my ranking method, but here is the abridged version.

Step 1: Analyze player profiles to come up with projections for the following stats:

For Hitters: PA, HBP, SF, SB, BB%, K%, LD%, GB%, FB%, IFFB%, HR/FB%, IFH%, BABIP.

This results in a projection for AB, HR, BA, OBP.

For Pitchers: IP, W, SV, HBP, K%, BB%, LD% GB%, BABIP, LOB%, HR/FB%.

This results in a projection for SO, ERA, WHIP, K/9, BB/9, HR/9.

Step 2: Look at team depth charts to estimate where players will be hitting in lineups and adjust R and RBI projections accordingly. Admittedly, these are somewhat arbitrary projections, but I do use research published on Razzball to help me estimate the effect of lineup spot on R and RBI production.

Step 3: Once I have a projection, I use ESPN’s average stats per roto point data to determine how much of each stat a team needs to move up one roto point in the average league. This is how I weight each stat to come up with an aggregate score for each player. Other people use methods based on standard deviations, but when tested against my method, both methods yield extremely similar values.

Step 4: Now I adjust for positional scarcity and combine my positional rankings into an overall ranking. These are my rankings based on my projected values.

Step 5: Finally, I will subjectively move guys up or down slightly if their projected values are somewhat close or if I trust one projection over another. I may also factor in replacement value if I expect that a player will make a trip to the DL.

To come up with my projections I look at statistics like SwStr%, F-Strike%, other plate discipline statistics and PITCHf/x data to help project K% an BB%. I also use metrics like park adjusted xBABIP based on my projected batted ball profiles to help project BABIP and average fly ball distance and ISO to help project HR/FB rates. I do my best to understand correlations between peripheral statistics and fantasy statistics to make the most educated projections I can. I may, however, be aggressive on some players’ projections if the peripheral data suggests a pronounced increase or decrease in value may be coming.

As mentioned in the introductory sentence, in the future I should be posting a more detailed version of how I come up with all of my projections.