Welcome to the first installment of "Tale of 20 Teams", a series of articles that will try to capture the current fantasy baseball landscape by using the rosters from 20 current teams as its foundation. The focus of these articles will be to analyze current roster movement and player performance for nearly all players that would be rostered in a standard Redraft 5X5, 10 Team ESPN League Format.
Twenty teams were chosen because it seemed like a manageable number of teams that should still provide for a large sample of players and distinct roster decisions. The breakdown of the leagues are as follows: 9 Roto/11 H2H, 6 Auction Draft/14 Snake Draft.
We will start with the Middle Infield and identify who ended up on these teams from a cumulative perspective. I tried to draft for value at nearly every opportunity while going a little more starting pitcher heavy than most; after all pitching wins championships. ESPN utilizes 25 man rosters with slots for C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, 1B/3B, 2B/SS, OF, OF, OF, OF, OF, U, 9 Pitchers, and 3 B.
Remember, just because someone is rostered (more often) than someone else does not mean I think they will be more productive. These were all real drafts so I tried to take the best player available while accounting for both the player’s position and team needs. Some minor roster manipulation has already occurred. So lets get started by looking at the Middle Infield, where mid-to-late round value often prevailed over big names.
Felipe Lopez – 2B Eight 40%
Jose Lopez – 2B Seven 35%
Mike Aviles – 2B/SS Seven
Ian Kinsler – 2B Six 30%
Felipe Lopez, Really???
The first three names on this list all fit the same profile; solid average, decent Run/RBI potential, and a bit of speed and/or pop. Felipe Lopez particularly intrigues me as he is hitting lead-off in a potent lineup, has produced in the past, and was drafted in the last 3 rounds; sounds like my kind of MI.
Jose Lopez has 20HR/.300 avg in the bag with potential for top 5 production at 2B. He is 25, hits in the middle of the order, and has an ADP of 141 (which means he gets drafted after Placido Polanco). Mike Aviles had a great average as a rookie last year, has multi-position eligibility, and contributes (modestly) in all categories.
Ian Kinsler has all the potential to be a top 10 player overall, but needs to stay healthy. I didn’t reach for him, but he was there for the taking in the Third Round and seemed like solid value as he is still improving, hits for power with speed (easy 20/20), and fronts one of the best lineups in a true hitters paradise.
Stephen Drew – SS Four 20%
Chase Utley – 2B Three 15%
Dustin Pedroia – 2B Three
Robinson Cano – 2B Three
All of these guys can hit.
Stephen Drew is a solid contributor who many tab as the breakout candidate at SS this year. He should finish in the top 5 at SS and has plenty of power.
Chase Utley and Dustin Pedroia are MVP-type players who fill all 5 categories at 2B. People say that what we saw last year is Pedroia’s ceiling, but I disagree, since he has exceeded expectations at every level and has won the ROY, Gold Glove, and MVP awards before he turned 26. That is the beginning of a Cooperstown-type career as he will continue to be the heart and soul of one of the most recognizable franchises in sports for years to come. Utley has been the benchmark for 2B for the past few years and is poised for another All-Star campaign with the World Champions.
Robinson Cano had a down year last year and is a serviceable second baseman (especially if you have speed elsewhere) that should hit for a good average with solid power and run producing numbers in that lineup.
Jose Reyes – SS Two 10%
Mark DeRosa– 2B/3B/OF Two
Alexei Ramirez – 2B Two
Emilio Bonifacio – 2B Two
Jason Bartlett – SS Two
Khalil Greene – SS Two
Miguel Tejada – SS Two
A little bit of everything in this group.
From a top 3 player overall last year, Jose Reyes, to the first game hero, Emilio Bonifacio, potential seems to be the best word in describing these guys. Alexei Ramirez will soon be getting SS eligibility and has the potential for a 20/20 season. The aforementioned Bonifacio appears to have some speed and is hitting lead-off for the better-than-most realize Marlins.
Mark DeRosa has the all important Swiss-army knife like eligibility and is coming off a rock solid season. Jason Bartlett provides some speed late in the draft or on the wire and should be producing runs as well. Jose Reyes is a true category stuffer with his ability to swipe bases, produce runs, and hit for increasing power.
Khalil Greene and Miguel Tejada have contributed solid power in the past and should have something left and seem to be solid value where you can get them. Greene’s move out of Petco and behind Pujols should do wonders for his overall line.
Hanley Ramirez – SS
Brian Roberts – 2B
J. J. Hardy - SS
Rafael Furcal – SS
Orlando Cabrera - SS
Elvis Andrus - SS
Cristian Guzman – SS
Most of these guys have speed to burn.
Hanley Ramirez, a true 5 category superstar, is regarded as the best player today and I was able to land him only once. J.J. Hardy has the tools to be great but does need to increase his consistency.
Brian Roberts and Rafael Furcal (if healthy) will steal and score runs with the best of them but were often drafted higher than I was prepared to. Cabrera, Andrus, and Guzman have a short leash and will need to produce to stay rostered.
Second Base – B. Phillips, D. Uggla, H. Kendrick, P. Polanco, R. Weeks, K. Johnson
Shortstop – J. Rollins, D. Jeter, T. Tulowitzki, M. Young, J. Peralta, R. Theriot, Y. Escobar
Thanks for reading, the next article on Corner Infielders will be up soon. I look forward to hearing your opinions so feel free to offer suggestions as well as ask for advice. I am really excited about the possibilities of this series as it should provide for a creative and unique format to analyze fantasy sports.
I realize the season has already begun, but thought it best to introduce the players in this manner before detailing specific roster decisions, although I would be happy to discuss what is going on now in the comments below as I have been busy keeping up with early season trends. (Aaron Hill anyone???)