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.
Below is a ranking of 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 2013 or or 10 games in 2014.
With that out of the way, get ready to count down, starting with No. 150 and working all the way to No. 1.
Ins and Outs, On the Bubble, Risers and Fallers
This time around, only two players (J.J. Hardy and Francisco Liriano) fell off the Big Board.
The two newbies replacing them?
- Charlie Blackmon, who's spent the better part of April leading the majors in hitting while also notching five homers and seven steals
- Martin Perez, who is carrying a 26-inning scoreless streak
Because you're probably wondering about some players just outside the top 150, that list includes:
- Liriano, Tony Cingrani, Brian Dozier, Brandon Moss, Dee Gordon, Jed Lowrie, Nolan Arenado, Brett Lawrie, Lance Lynn, Angel Pagan, Kyle Seager, Coco Crisp, Chris Tillman and yes, MLB saves leader Francisco Rodriguez
Keep in mind: When a few players at the same position are coupled or bunched together—like David Robertson, Rafael Soriano and Joe Nathan, or Wilin Rosario and Salvador Perez—it means they're more or less in the same boat, with no clear favorite at the moment. 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 ranking placement.
This week, some of the biggest risers are:
- Jose Abreu (No. 64 to 40), Josh Donaldson (101 to 65); Carlos Beltran (105 to 73); Nelson Cruz (135 to 72); Anthony Rendon (95 to 75); Sonny Gray (119 to 94); Yordano Ventura (137 to 112); and Alex Wood (138 to 113)
Meanwhile, big fallers include:
- Chris Sale (No. 30 to 55); Matt Carpenter (46 to 88); Mark Trumbo (57 to 126); Allen Craig (72 to 93); Starling Marte (86 to 128); Pablo Sandoval (100 to 134); Salvador Perez (110 to 135); and Wilin Rosario (114 to 136)
Starting next week, the right-most column marked "+/-" on the Big Board will indicate a player who rose or fell in the rankings by at least 20 spots in either direction from the past edition.
|142||Alexei Ramirez||White Sox||SS|
|133||Melky Cabrera||Blue Jays||OF|
|130||Shane Victorino||Red Sox||OF|
|109||Koji Uehara||Red Sox||RP|
|105||Xander Bogaerts||Red Sox||SS|
|83||Mike Napoli||Red Sox||1B|
|78||Jose Reyes||Blue Jays||SS|
|63||Jon Lester||Red Sox||SP|
|55||Chris Sale||White Sox||SP|
|48||David Ortiz||Red Sox||UTIL|
|40||Jose Abreu||White Sox||1B|
|38||Dustin Pedroia||Red Sox||2B|
|24||Jose Bautista||Blue Jays||OF|
|17||Edwin Encarnacion||Blue Jays||1B|
Now that the season is nearly a full month in and most MLB teams and starting players have tallied about 25 games played, there's enough of a sample size to start to evaluate players more thoroughly.
Because this is still the very early stages, however, even one big/bad game or a series can make a player's stats—and stock—increase or decrease noticeably. In other words, don't get too caught up in crazy-good performances by unknowns or has-beens; nor should you fret too much over a proven stud who's still struggling. A lot still can change in a game or three.
For some perspective, think of where we are in the fantasy baseball season in fantasy football terms: Once April is done and teams have played about 30 games, that will be the fantasy football equivalent of roughly three weeks. If your first-round running back or second-round wide receiver were slumping through three games, you might be frustrated or even mad, but you wouldn't just go dropping or trading them away, would you?
Don't go taking such drastic measures in fantasy baseball, either.
This is the continuation of a writer-reader collaboration 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.