Fantasy Baseball 2013: Ranking the Shallowest Positions, Who to Draft There

Reece BrasslerContributor IIIFebruary 19, 2013

Fantasy Baseball 2013: Ranking the Shallowest Positions, Who to Draft There

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    Fantasy baseball is a game of quandaries, and draft day is no exception.

    Any number of superstars taken in the first two rounds could serve as the foundation of a championship fantasy lineup, but that doesn't mean position scarcity should be overlooked.

    In 2012, for instance, 36 outfielders finished the season ranked in the top 100 players in standard Yahoo! leagues.  On the flip side, only three catchers managed the same designation.

    This means, in a 10-team league, each manager could legitimately secure three top 100 players in the outfield, while only three managers could tout a top 100 player at catcher.

    That's not to say you should reach for a catcher or forgo drafting an outfielder in the early rounds, it's merely an observation that forces fantasy owners to look beyond the statistics.

    So, what positions should you prioritize come draft day 2013?  

    I'll break down the ever so important positions of scarcity and who you should target at each to win your fantasy league.

Starting Pitcher

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    Starting pitcher is one of the most overlooked positions of scarcity in fantasy baseball.  

    While 62 hitters finished ranked in the top 100 in standard Yahoo! leagues, only 25 pitchers accomplished the same feat.

    What's more, only 15 of those pitchers ranked in the top 100 players during the 2011 season as well, further suggesting a lack of proven commodities at starting pitcher.

    To achieve fantasy success, lock down at least one top-tier starter in the opening rounds, understanding a plethora of hitters await.

    Here's a list of my top starting pitchers by tier:

    Tier 1

    Clayton Kershaw

    Justin Verlander

    Stephen Strasburg

    David Price

    Cole Hamels

    Matt Cain

    Gio Gonzalez

    Jered Weaver

    Felix Hernandez

     

    Tier 2

    Cliff Lee

    Roy Halladay

    Johnny Cueto

    Chris Sale

    R.A. Dickey

    Madison Bumgarner

    CC Sabathia

    Jordan Zimmerman

    Mat Latos

    Kris Medlen

    Zack Grienke

    Yu Darvish

    Adam Wainwright

     

    Tier 3

    Jake Peavy

    James Shields

    Hiroki Kuroda

    Matt Moore

    Max Scherzer

    Yovani Gallardo

    Tim Lincecum

    Dan Haren

    Ian Kennedy

    Josh Johnson

Third Base

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    Third base is a position that seems loaded due to big names at the hot corner, but that couldn't be further from the truth.  

    Only nine players breached the top 100 in 2012, leaving those who wait on a third baseman to gamble with David Freese's health or Manny Machado's youth.

    While track record isn't everything in fantasy baseball, I usually stick to proven commodities at positions of scarcity.  I find that paying the premium for guys like Pablo Sandoval or Aramis Ramirez keeps me from pulling out my hair when faced with starting Pedro Alvarez.

    Here are my top third basemen by tier:

    Tier 1

    Miguel Cabrera

     

    Tier 2

    Adrian Beltre

    Evan Longoria

    David Wright

     

    Tier 3

    Hanley Ramirez

    Pablo Sandoval

    Ryan Zimmerman

    Brett Lawrie

    Chase Headley

    Aramis Ramirez

     

    Tier 4

    Martin Prado

    Mark Trumbo

    Michael Young

    Will Middlebrooks

    Kyle Seager

    David Freese

    Pedro Alvarez

    Mike Moustakas

    Todd Frazier

    Manny Machado

    Kevin Youkilis

     

    Tier 5

    Marco Scutaro

    Chris Johnson

    Alex Rodriguez

    Trevor Plouffe

    Matt Carpenter

Second Base

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    Emerging talents Jason Kipnis and Jose Altuve have deepened the player pool at second base, but the position is still as important as ever.

    Only eight second basemen finished the 2012 season ranked in the top 100, and only two finished in the top 50.

    Needless to say, second basemen have never been more scarce, despite the talent that seems to be emerging at the position.

    Here are my top second basemen by tier:

    Tier 1

    Robinson Cano

     

    Tier 2

    Dustin Pedroia

    Ian Kinsler

    Jason Kipnis

    Brandon Phillips

    Martin Prado

    Aaron Hill

    Jose Altuve

    Ben Zobrist

     

    Tier 3

    Rickie Weeks

    Dan Uggla

    Chase Utley

    Danny Espinosa

    Kyle Seager

     

    Tier 4

    Neil Walker

    Howie Kendrick

    Emilio Bonifacio

    Daniel Murphy

    Kelly Johnson 

    Dustin Ackley

Shortstop

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    With Hanley Ramirez struggling and Troy Tulowitzki injured, levels of scarcity at the shortstop position were at an all-time high in 2012.

    Unfortunately, the crop doesn't look much more promising this year, as managers who wait to draft shortstops won't even have the privilege of selecting veterans like Jimmy Rollins and Derek Jeter late due to their unexpected success last season.

    This will inevitably leave many managers scrambling to pick between Erik Aybar and Alexei Ramirez on draft day.  

    Talk about a head-scratcher.  Don't let that be you.

    Here are my shortstop ranks by tiers:

    Tier 1

    Troy Tulowitzki

    Hanley Ramirez

     

    Tier 2

    Jose Reyes

    Starlin Castro

    Jimmy Rollins

    Ian Desmond

     

    Tier 3

    Elvis Andrus

    Asdrubal Cabrera

    Martin Prado

    Ben Zobrist

    Danny Espinosa

     

    Tier 4

    Erik Aybar

    Alcides Escobar

    J.J. Hardy

    Everth Cabrera

    Zack Cozart

    Jed Lowrie

    Andrelton Simmons

    Marco Scutaro

    Alexei Ramirez

Catcher

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    At last we reach the shallowest position of all: catcher.

    As mentioned in the introduction, there were only three catchers in the top 100 of the final rankings for Yahoo! standard leagues.

    Drafting a catcher is always a tricky proposition.  You don't want to reach for a guy simply because there aren't many great players at the position, but you also don't want to end up with a rotation of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Russell Martin all season.

    The good news is, despite being the most shallow position, catcher is loaded with more talent than ever in 2013.

    The emergence of Wilin Rosario and Salvador Perez along with the return of Victor Martinez should provide at least six or seven solid options at the backstop.

    Here are my catcher rankings by tiers:

    Tier 1

    Buster Posey

     

    Tier 2

    Yadier Molina

    Joe Mauer

    Victor Martinez

    Wilin Rosario

     

    Tier 3

    Mike Napoli

    Carlos Santana

    Matt Wieters

    Miguel Montero

    Carlos Ruiz

    Salvador Perez

     

    Tier 4

    Jesus Montero

    Jonathan Lucroy

    Alex Avila

    A.J. Pierzynski