Fantasy Baseball 2014: Updating the Top 150 Big Board, Week 3

Jason Catania@@JayCat11MLB Lead WriterApril 20, 2014

Fantasy Baseball 2014: Updating the Top 150 Big Board, Week 3

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    With the 2014 baseball season going full tilt, the fantasy version of the sport needs all kinds of attention. Like, every-week attention—lest we fickle owners get frustrated and cranky, and that just isn't good for anyone.

    With that in mind, it's time for the weekly update of the Big Board. Now that games are underway and fantasy drafts are over, the focus shifts toward evaluating players' values based on the remainder of the season.

    Think of it as your security blanket in an otherwise insecure world.

    On the pages that follow is a ranking of—count 'em—the top 150 players from now until the end of September. With opinions and circumstances changing since the last iteration, including player performances, transactions and injuries, a refreshing is in order.

    Before getting to that, though, some housekeeping is needed, as this lengthy list of the top talents comes with a few key qualifications. First, everything is based on 10- or 12-team mixed leagues with standard 5x5 rotisserie scoring for hitters (BA, R, HR, RBI, SB) and pitchers (W, ERA, WHIP, K, SV).

    Second, lineup construction accounts for 22 active roster positions, consisting of: one each for catcher, first base, second base, third base, shortstop, corner infield, middle infield and utility, along with five outfielders and nine pitchers.

    And third, to be eligible at a particular position, players must have played at least 20 games there in either 2013 or 2014.

    With that out of the way, get ready to count down, starting with No. 150 and working all the way to No. 1.

Nos. 150-126

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    150David RobertsonRPYankees
    149Rafael SorianoRPNationals
    148Joe NathanRPTigers
    147Mat Latos SPReds
    146Francisco LirianoSPPirates
    145Alex CobbSPRays
    144Alexei RamirezSSWhite Sox
    143 Andrelton SimmonsSSBraves
    142Zack WheelerSPMets
    141Yovani GallardoSPBrewers
    140Michael PinedaSPYankees
    139Melky CabreraOFBlue Jays
    138Alex WoodSPBraves
    137 Yordano Ventura SPRoyals
    136Domonic BrownOFPhillies
    135Nelson CruzOFOrioles
    134Aramis Ramirez3BBrewers
    133Billy ButlerUTILRoyals
    132Shane Victorino OFRed Sox
    131Austin JacksonOFTigers
    130Desmond JenningsOFRays
    129Matt Adams1BCardinals
    128Matt WietersCOrioles
    127Chris ArcherSPRays
    126Ervin SantanaSPBraves


    News and Notes

    • This time around, Danny Salazar, Chris Tillman, Jedd Gyorko, Kyle Seager, Justin Masterson, Torii Hunter, Jason Grilli, Sergio Romo and Addison Reed fell off the Big Board in what was the biggest shakeup to this point.
    • The nine newbies are: Alexei Ramirez, Andrelton Simmons, Yovani Gallardo, Yordano Ventura, Shane Victorino, Chris Archer, Ervin Santana, George Springer and Anthony Rendon.
    • Because you're probably wondering which players are just outside the top 150 looking in, they are Tillman, Gyorko, Tony Cingrani, Brandon Moss, Lance Lynn, Archie Bradley, Angel Pagan, Brett Lawrie, Nolan Arenado, Dee Gordon, Jed Lowrie and Jhonny Peralta.
    • Brandon Moss, Aaron Hill, Yovani Gallardo, Jhonny Peralta and Jered Weaver, as well as some others like Tony Cingrani, Dexter Fowler and Shane Victorino, who may rejoin the ranks once he returns from his hamstring injury.
    • Keep in mind: When a few players at the same position are coupled or bunched together—like Zack Wheeler, Yovani Gallardo and Michael Pineda—it means they're more or less in the same boat, with no clear favorite. That can, and will, change as more information, news, injuries and performance come to light. But for now, when players are grouped, consider their value to your team based more on specific category need than overall value.

Nos. 125-101

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    125Doug FisterSPNationals
    124Brandon Phillips2BReds
    123George SpringerOFAstros
    122Josh HamiltonOFAngels
    121Ryan Zimmerman3BNationals
    120Shelby MillerSPCardinals
    119Sonny GraySPAthletics
    118Starlin CastroSSCubs
    117Hisashi IwakumaSPMariners
    116Jose Altuve2BAstros
    115Billy HamiltonOFReds
    114Wilin RosarioCRockies
    113Mike MinorSPBraves
    112 Koji Uehara RPRed Sox
    111Glen PerkinsRPTwins
    110Salvador PerezCRoyals
    109Jonathan LucroyCBrewers
    108 Aroldis ChapmanRPReds
    107J.J. HardySSOrioles
    106Michael CuddyerOFRockies
    105Carlos BeltranOFYankees
    104Martin Prado2B/3B/OFDiamondbacks
    103Jeff SamardzijaSPCubs
    102Xander BogaertsSSRed Sox
    101Josh Donaldson3BAthletics


    News and Notes

    • On the comeback trail from elbow inflammation and a strained lat, Doug Fister pitched in extended spring training this week and could be back by mid-May, per Adam Kilgore of the The Washington Post.
    • This week brought the debut of top prospect George Springer, who has real swing-and-miss tendencies that could keep his batting average in the .240-.260 range in the majors. But he also could pull off a 20-20 season despite missing the first two weeks. The upside here is tremendous.
    • Hisashi Iwakuma's recovery from a finger injury continues to progress: He threw 35 pitches in a recent simulated game and is cleared to head out on a rehab assignment, as Ryan Divish of The Seattle Times reports. If all goes well, he could be back after four or five outings.
    • Mike Minor is just about done with his rehab assignment, per David Friedlander of the Gwinnett Daily Post, after going six innings Saturday at Triple-A. The lefty is expected to be activated this coming week, perhaps as soon as Wednesday. 
    • Aroldis Chapman is expected throw his first bullpen session since that scary comebacker to the face suffered in spring training. There's no timetable yet for a return, but mid-May appears to be a possibility.

Nos. 100-91

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    100Pablo Sandoval3BGiants
    99Jean SeguraSSBrewers
    98Ben Zobrist2B/SS/OF
    97Alex GordonOFRoyals
    96Manny Machado 3BOrioles
    95Anthony Rendon 2B/3BNationals
    94Victor MartinezUTILTigers
    93Anibal SanchezSPTigers
    92Johnny CuetoSPReds
    91Chase Utley2BPhillies


    News and Notes

    • Anybody else notice that Jean Segura—who has only one walk and has been caught stealing more times (four) than he has been successful (three)—just doesn't look right?
    • Manny Machado, recovering from offseason knee surgery, made it into his first extended spring training game Saturday, going 2-for-4 with a double and a walk, per Eduardo Encina of the The Baltimore Sun. Expect a rehab stint soon and a return in early May, assuming there are no setbacks. It won't be long now.
    • Anthony Rendon takes a ginormous bound from outside the Big Board into the top 100. The second-year stud has been battering baseballs with a .324 average, 11 extra-base hits and 14 RBI through 18 games. Eligible at both second and third base, he should have been ranked last week.
    • Johnny Cueto pitched the game of his life this week—a shutout with 12 whiffs—but maybe that just makes him a perfect sell-high candidate?
    • Few, if any, have been better than Chase Utley to this point. But he, too, might be best used by his owners as a trade chip, given the age and injury history.

Nos. 90-81

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    90Andrew CashnerSPPadres
    89Michael WachaSPCardinals
    88Hyun-Jin RyuSPDodgers
    87Anthony Rizzo1BCubs
    86Starling MarteOFPirates
    85Matt KempOFDodgers
    84Mike Napoli1BRed Sox
    83Pedro Alvarez3BPirates
    82Brian McCannCYankees
    81Trevor RosenthalRPCardinals


    News and Notes

    • Michael Wacha jumps into the top 100, as he's carried over his great end-of-2013 performance and clearly separated himself from other promising, second-year starters like Zack Wheeler and Danny Salazar.
    • Aside from that eight-run blowup in his third outing, Hyun-Jin Ryu has been dynamite, surrendering—get this—zero runs in 26.0 innings with only 11 hits and a 23-6 K-BB ratio. Wow.
    • Starling Marte continues to show that he can succeed despite his raw approach—his 28 strikeouts are the most in the NL—as he's hitting .274 with 13 runs and seven swipes. With but five extra-base hits (one homer), though, the power has been missing, and he might struggle to match his 12 homers from last year.
    • Mike Napoli became, like, the 17th player in the past two weeks to suffer a hand/finger-related injury from diving into a base, but he's played the past three games.
    • Pedro Alvarez's .116 BABIP is laughably low—the worst in the majors, in fact—but it's promising that more than half of his 11 hits have left the park already. A third straight 30-plus homer mark looks likely. And the .162 average should pick up eventually, at least to the point where he's not wrecking your team in that category.

Nos. 80-71

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    80Greg HollandRPRoyals
    79Kenley JansenRPDodgers
    78Matt CainSPGiants
    77Cole HamelsSPPhillies
    76Jose ReyesSSBlue Jays
    75Alex RiosOFRangers
    74Jason HeywardOFBraves
    73Everth CabreraSSPadres
    72Allen Craig1B/OFCardinals
    71Carlos SantanaC/1B/3BIndians


    News and Notes

    • Cole Hamlels is expected to make his season debut on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The fact that he's back so soon after arm trouble plagued him this spring is a great sign and gives him plenty of time to return to top-20 starter status.
    • Jose Reyes returned to action after missing two weeks with (yet another) hamstring injury that felled him one at-bat into the season. Get him back into your lineups—you know, while you still can—and hope he hits and perhaps runs enough.
    • Jason Heyward, Allen Craig and Carlos Santana have been brutal to own in the early going. Don't trade 'em away at their lowest, and don't cut 'em either. Just sit tight. That said, if you have another option to plug in their place while they figure things out, go for it.

Nos. 70-61

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    70Craig KimbrelRPBraves
    69Julio TeheranSPBraves
    68Jayson WerthOFNationals
    67Elvis AndrusSSRangers
    66Gerrit ColeSPPirates
    65Jon LesterSPRed Sox
    64Jose Abreu1BWhite Sox
    63Yadier MolinaCCardinals
    62Joe MauerC/1BTwins
    61Ian Kinsler2BTigers


    News and Notes

    • Craig Kimbrel's bout with shoulder soreness kept him from a save opportunity this week and probably scared the pants off owners who spent a fifth-round pick on him. However, the top closer in baseball appears to be OK—even if he did give up three hits and two earned in his first outing in a week Saturday.
    • Kimbrel's Braves teammate Julio Teheran threw a complete game shutout to beat Cliff Lee during the week. It doesn't get any better than that.
    • Elvis Andrus quietly has been hitting (.304 BA) and running (8 SB), and he should start seeing an uptick in his runs scored once Adrian Beltre returns and Prince Fielder starts slugging.
    • Jon Lester gets no love in fantasy circles. Here, though, we recognize his talents and great start: 2.17 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 29-4 K-BB in 29.0 innings pitched.

Nos. 60-51

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    60Hunter PenceOFGiants
    59Brandon Belt1BGiants
    58Homer BaileySPReds
    57Mark Trumbo1B/OFDiamondbacks
    56 Masahiro Tanaka SPYankees
    55James ShieldsSPRoyals
    54Jordan ZimmermannSPNationals
    53Matt HollidayOFCardinals
    52Yoenis CespedesOFAthletics
    51Yasiel PuigOFDodgers


    News and Notes

    • Brandon Belt is tied with a bunch of others atop the home run rankings with six, a number he didn't reach in 2013 until May 20—a full month from Sunday's date. He's also hitting .310. What's not to like?
    • Homer Bailey's ugly first three starts are concerning, except they're not. He's getting whiffs (10.7 K/9) and grounders (51.1 percent) but has been extremely unlucky on batted balls, with a .429 BABIP and six of his 10 fly balls allowed going for home runs. Be. Patient.
    • So do you believe in Masahiro Tanaka yet?
    • Yasiel Puig falls this week, because he hasn't been of much use to this point, and it's fair to question just how much the recent reports of his harrowing defection from Cuba could be a distraction.

Nos. 50-41

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    50 Wil MyersOFRays
    49David OrtizUTILRed Sox
    48Zack GreinkeSPDodgers
    47Gio GonzalezSPNationals
    46Matt Carpenter2B/3BCardinals
    45Jay BruceOFReds
    44Justin UptonOFBraves
    43Buster PoseyC/1BGiants
    42Eric HosmerOFRoyals
    41Albert Pujols1BAngels


    News and Notes

    • Boy, Wil Myers owners must be breathing a sigh of relief after Saturday night's two-homer outing.
    • Justin Upton has been among the hottest hitters in the sport the last 10 days. Just to put some numbers on it, he's 15-for-33 with five homers and 12 runs and RBI apiece. He did the same hot-start thing last April before fading, but he needs to be recognized while he's smoking.
    • Speaking of hot hitters, Albert Pujols has smashed all six of his home runs in his past 10 games, bringing his career total to 498. Who thinks he joins the 500 club this week?

Nos. 40-31

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    40Adrian Gonzalez1BDodgers
    39Clayton KershawSPDodgers
    38Ian DesmondSSNationals
    37Shin-Soo ChooOFRangers
    36Dustin Pedroia2BRed Sox
    35Madison BumgarnerSPGiants
    34Ryan BraunOFBrewers
    33David Wright3BMets
    32David PriceSPRays
    31Jose Bautista OFBlue Jays


    News and Notes

    • Clayton Kershaw is set to throw a simulated game Sunday, per Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times. That's a big step in his return from a strained muscle in his back, but the Cy Young winner is still a few weeks out, and that's assuming there are no setbacks. The Dodgers will be careful here, given Kershaw's importance to their playoff hopes for 2014 and franchise going forward.
    • For all his fantasy value, Dustin Pedroia sure gets nicked up, if not outright injured, quite a bit, huh? It seems like he escaped a serious malady with his recent wrist problem, but will it impact his performance?
    • Honestly, you could rank Ryan Braun No. 10, No. 50 or No. 100. His right-thumb injury could be the sort of chronic problem that never goes away and severely limits his numbers. He's managed to fit in a few big games here and there, though, including his two-homer effort Saturday. One gets the feeling that he'll find a way to be productive.
    • Jose Bautista has been climbing up the ranks since preseason, so this is merely just pointing out that he's once again a fantasy force with MLB bests in homers (six) and walks (21).

Nos. 30-21

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    30Chris SaleSPWhite Sox
    29Max ScherzerSPTigers
    28Justin VerlanderSPTigers
    27Cliff LeeSPPhillies
    26Stephen Strasburg SPNationals
    25Jason Kipnis2BIndians
    24Freddie Freeman1BBraves
    23Jose FernandezSPMarlins
    22Jacoby Ellsbury OFYankees
    21Troy TulowitzkiSSRockies


    News and Notes

    • Cliff Lee owners, repeat after me: I will not worry about Cliff Lee.
    • Stephen Strasburg dips a few pegs, mainly because he's still more than occasionally enigmatic. The upside once he gets rolling, though, is scary: He could be the top pitcher in fantasy.
    • OK, I admit it: I may have been light on Freddie Freeman in the preseason when I tagged him as a regression candidate and couldn't quite push him into the top 30. Maybe he really is this good, so consider this top-25 placement a make-good. It doesn't mean I don't still have my doubts, but I can't be blind to his production, either.
    • Jose Fernandez had that one-start hiccup last week, but he was back to his double-digit strikeout ways last time out, marking his first of 2014. He also went a season-high seven innings, and if he can start pitching deeper into games, his fantasy value only improves with more of everything, including opportunities for wins.

Nos. 20-11

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    20Felix HernandezSPMariners
    19Adam WainwrightSPCardinals
    18Yu DarvishSPRangers
    17 Giancarlo StantonOFMarlins
    16Adrian Beltre3BRangers
    15Bryce HarperOFNationals
    14Hanley RamirezSSDodgers
    13Joey Votto1BReds
    12Adam JonesOFOrioles
    11Evan Longoria3BRays


    News and Notes

    • Felix Hernandez, Adam Wainwright and Yu Darvish have been out-of-this-world great to kick things off. Don't ever doubt them. Ever.
    • Giancarlo Stanton has homered and RBI'd his way into the top 20, which means he just might be making good on all that potential as a 40-homer, 100-RBI masher for the first time in his career.
    • The fact that Adrian Beltre was against his disabled list stint—as he indicated to the media after the news broke—is a good indication that he's likely to be back once eligible. It's always a challenge when one of your top picks is on the shelf right away, but all you can do is wait.
    • Bryce Harper is just the type of guy who would respond to being benched for lack of hustle with a monstrous, I'll-show-you kind of week. Let's see how he reacts.
    • Congrats to Evan Longoria on becoming the Tampa Bay Rays' all-time leading home run hitter!

Nos. 10-1

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    10Edwin Encarnacion1BBlue Jays
    9Carlos GonzalezOFRockies
    8Prince Fielder1BRangers
    7Carlos GomezOFBrewers
    6Robinson Cano
    5Chris Davis1BOrioles
    4Andrew McCutchen  OFPirates
    3Paul Goldschmidt 1BDiamondbacks  
    2Miguel Cabrera1B/3BTigers
    1Mike TroutOFAngels


    News and Notes

    • The top 10 doesn't change from last week, as top hitters like Edwin Encarnacion, Prince Fielder and Robinson Cano finally started doing some damage. Stay the course: They will get better.
    • Chris Davis falls into the same category as a slugger off to a slow start, but try not to get too panicky. That Orioles lineup is deep and potent, and once Manny Machado gets back, it will get even better.
    • Andrew McCutchen hasn't done a ton, but there's a sense that a hot streak is just bubbling beneath the surface. For the reigning NL MVP, who has an NL-high 15 walks, it might just be a matter of getting some more pitches to hit.
    • Miguel Cabrera certainly hasn't performed like a consensus top-two fantasy pick so far, huh? While that's obviously frustrating, it only means he's going to turn it on and turn things around even bigger. And soon.
    • Mr. Trout stole a pair of bases this week, so we can't pester him about that anymore.


    This is the continuation of a writer-reader team effort that's intended to take your opinions and perspectives into account, so let 'er rip in the comments below. Which rankings do you disagree with and why? Which players not included absolutely need to be on the Top 150 Big Board, and which ones would you kick to the curb? How's the top 10? The top 25?

    To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11.