D.J. Short

Draft Strategy

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Abusing the Default Rankings

Friday, March 24, 2017

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Back by popular demand, welcome to this year’s edition of “Abusing the Default Rankings,” where I take a deep look at pre-draft rankings from Yahoo and ESPN to identify potential sleepers, busts, and late-round values.

For the most part, I think pre-draft rankings are useful and generally steer fantasy owners in the right direction. That’s especially true on the high-end starting pitchers. Things get a little murkier after that. This column is not meant as a criticism of these sites and the work that they do. As always, this is merely my opinion balanced against each site’s projections. Hopefully we find some value in the margins with this exercise, but what you choose to do with this information is entirely up to you. Heck, maybe you are able to take in enough information so that you can build your own consensus rankings.

I was happy with a number of players I recommended in last year’s column (Robinson Cano, Francisco Lindor, Zach Britton, Justin Verlander, J.T. Realmuto, etc.), but I also had my share of misses (Freddie Freeman and David Ortiz, among others). As I have said before, I’m not perfect, but neither are these rankings.

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These rankings are from the afternoon of Friday, March 24.

Editor’s Note: Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Baseball: Get in the game and create or join a league today.

Yahoo Rankings:

Players listed lower overall than expected:

15. Trea Turner
18. Carlos Correa
50. Jonathan Villar
52. Christian Yelich
61. Jacob deGrom
66. Dee Gordon
86. Jean Segura
136. Lance McCullers
144. Miguel Sano
154. Ken Giles
187. Alex Colome
193. Jose Peraza

I’m all in on Turner this year and I think his speed gives him a relatively safe floor even if you are skeptical about the power he showed last year … Corey Seager is a spot ahead of Correa and while I like them both, Correa’s across-the-board impact gives him the edge … Fun fact: Jonathan Villar finished as the No. 14 overall fantasy performer in Yahoo last year and was the top overall shortstop. This ranking builds in quite a bit of regression, maybe a little too much … Yelich blew away his previous career-high with 21 homers last season and I still think there’s room for growth, even though the ground ball rate is higher than you'd like to see … DeGrom is my No. 10 starting pitcher with what he’s shown this spring … While Gordon was mostly a disappointment last year (PED suspension and all), he still swiped 30 bases in just 79 games. He can win a category for you… Don’t be so quick to cast Segura aside after leaving Arizona … I’m not sure if you can bank on a healthy McCullers, but it shouldn’t hurt much to try in this spot … Sano took a step back last year, but I don’t think it would surprise anyone if he surpassed 30 homers in 2017 … Giles and Colome both have top-10 closer ability … Peraza has serious breakout potential now that he’s assured of regular playing time …

Players listed higher than expected:

20. Xander Bogaerts
35. J.D. Martinez
48. Adrian Beltre
81. Julio Teheran
90. Dustin Pedroia
96. Adrian Gonzalez
98. Albert Pujols
106. Aaron Sanchez
108. Jackie Bradley, Jr.
115. Felix Hernandez
124. Hunter Pence
125. Matt Harvey
128. Dallas Keuchel

Bogaerts is only two lower than Correa and finds himself one spot in front of Francisco Lindor. Not sure he deserves it after his rough second half last year. The Red Sox are also moving him down to the sixth spot in the order. If you need to be this aggressive on him, I’d rather wait on the likes of Villar, Trevor Story, and Segura…I’m not sure this ranking reflects Martinez’s foot injury, but he was lower on my list of outfielders even before that … I’m fully prepared for Beltre to make me look silly here, but he turns 38 in April and I’m not banking on him to repeat 30 homers … Teheran improved his control last season while matching his career-best strikeout percentage, but he fits more in the range of a top-30 starter than a top-20 option. We also don’t know how his new home ballpark is going to play … Pedroia thrived last season while playing in his most games since 2013, but I’m not willing to pay for a repeat as he moves into his age-33 season … This is much too early for Gonzalez given that he no longer stands out at the first base position. Don’t let the name recognition and past production cloud your thinking with him and Pujols, for that matter … Leading the AL in ERA while pitching in Toronto is no small feat, but Sanchez ranked 43rd among qualified starters in strikeout percentage last season … Bradley batted just .233 with a .727 OPS during the second half last season … Similar to A-Gon, I’m not sure the name recognition and past performance of King Felix and Pence reflects their current situations … Harvey and Keuchel are both major question marks after injury-riddled seasons …

Where the buzz guys are ranked:

54. Kyle Schwarber
65. Gary Sanchez
117. Andrew Benintendi
151. Michael Brantley
153. Julio Urias
160. Sean Manaea
167. Ryon Healy
180 Garrett Richards
182. Taijuan Walker
183. Keon Broxton
188. Eric Thames
211. Jharel Cotton
235. Greg Bird
279. Greg Holland
310. Yoan Moncada
438. Travis Shaw
560. Koda Glover
1201. Mitch Haniger

Schwarber’s ranking doesn’t look crazy in a format where he qualifies at catcher … For context, Sanchez is 10 spots behind Buster Posey and 13 ahead of Jonathan Lucroy … Schwarber, Posey, Sanchez, and Lucroy are the only catcher-eligible players in the top-100, which sounds about right … You are probably going to have to be aggressive to get Benintendi this year … Brantley is trending in the right direction after getting into Cactus League games this week … Urias could begin the year in extended spring training while Manaea could be the most fantasy-relevant starter on Oakland’s staff with Sonny Gray sidelined … After opting for stem cell treatment rather than undergo Tommy John surgery, Garrett Richards is hitting the upper 90s with his fastball this spring … The Brewers might be one of the worst teams in the majors this year, but they have no shortage of interesting fantasy pieces … Bird has proven his health with a monster spring and gets to play half of his games with the short porch in Yankee Stadium, so I'm intrigued … Holland and Glover have both built momentum as potential closer options this spring …

Who to scroll down for:

195. Joe Ross
201. Matt Shoemaker
203. Robbie Ray
227. Carlos Gomez
233. Josh Bell
240. Tommy Joseph
252. Kevin Kiermaier
255. Max Kepler
268. Neftali Feliz
272. Cam Bedrosian
285. Jarrod Dyson
312. Addison Reed
323. Gerardo Parra
403. Robert Gsellman
406. Chris Owings
599. Jose Reyes

Ross was limited to just 9 2/3 innings during the second half last year due to a shoulder injury, but I’m excited to see what he could do if he can stay healthy for a full season … Shoemaker had a 2.83 ERA and 121/17 K/BB ratio in 130 1/3 innings over his final 20 starts last year before a comebacker to the head ended his season. Fortunately, he’s back to full health now … Ray pitches in Arizona and the ERA and WHIP weren’t pretty last year, but he ranked fifth in the majors in strikeout percentage … Gomez hit .283 with eight homers and five steals in 33 games after joining the Rangers last season … Bell is projected to get the bulk of the time at first base in Pittsburgh this season … Joseph socked 21 homers with an .813 OPS in just 347 plate appearances as a rookie last season… We all know about Kiermaier’s defense, but he quietly made some nice strides offensively last season and looks like a bargain from this spot … Kepler’s rough finish likely knocked him out of the top 250, but I see someone who could reach 20 homers and 10 steals as soon as this year … Feliz upped his velocity and whiffs last season and should have a clear path to saves in Milwaukee, though there’s always the chance of a midseason trade … Bedrosian could run away with the Angels’ closer job with Huston Street on the mend while Addison Reed should be a steady source for early saves with Jeurys Familia expected to serve a suspension … Dyson is a one-trick pony, but he could see steady playing time in the Mariners' outfield and even hit high in the order … Parra makes for an interesting stop-gap option with David Dahl on the disabled list … Gsellman looks like the real deal after posting a 2.42 ERA down the stretch last season … Owings brings some interesting speed and multi-position eligibility while Reyes is expected to serve as New York’s regular third baseman and leadoff man with David Wright sidelined …

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D.J. Short is a Rotoworld senior baseball writer and hosts the Rotoworld Baseball Podcast. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.
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