Fantasy Baseball 2014: Updating the Top 150 Big Board, Week 5

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Fantasy Baseball 2014: Updating the Top 150 Big Board, Week 5
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

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, which focuses on evaluating players' values over the rest of the season. 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.

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

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.

Bleacher Report's Top 150 Big Board
RANK PLAYER TEAM POSITION(S) LAST
150 Francisco Rodriguez Brewers RP
149 Kyle Seager Mariners 3B
148 Alex Cobb Rays SP
147 Martin Perez Rangers SP
146 Brandon Moss Athletics 1B/OF
145 David Robertson Yankees RP
144 Nolan Arenado Rockies 3B
143 Rafael Soriano Nationals RP
142 Joe Nathan Tigers RP
141 Zack Wheeler Mets SP
140 Wily Peralta Brewers SP
139 Yovani Gallardo Brewers SP
138 Mark Trumbo Diamondbacks 1B/OF 126
137 Matt Adams Cardinals 1B 126
136 Brandon Phillips Reds 2B 124
135 Xander Bogaerts Red Sox SS 105
134 Billy Butler Royals UTIL
133 Shelby Miller Cardinals SP 118
132 Chris Archer Rays SP 122
131 Alex Wood Braves SP 113
130 Michael Cuddyer Rockies OF 106
129 Martin Prado Diamondbacks 2B/3B/OF 110
128 Mike Morse Giants OF
127 Ervin Santana Braves SP
126 Justin Morneau Rockies 1B
125 Dee Gordon Dodgers 2B/SS
124 Alexei Ramirez White Sox SS 142
123 Starlin Castro Cubs SS 144
122 Charlie Blackmon Rockies OF 137
121 George Springer Astros OF
120 Austin Jackson Tigers OF
119 Starling Marte Pirates OF
118 Melky Cabrera Blue Jays OF 133
117 Shane Victorino Red Sox OF 130
116 Desmond Jennings Rays OF 129
115 Yordano Ventura Royals SP
114 Doug Fister Nationals SP
113 Bryce Harper Nationals OF 32
112 Billy Hamilton Reds OF
111 Josh Hamilton Angels OF
110 Ryan Zimmerman Nationals 3B
109 Matt Wieters Orioles C 120
108 Koji Uehara Red Sox RP
107 Glen Perkins Twins RP
106 Jean Segura Brewers SS
105 Matt Carpenter Cardinals 2B/3B 88
104 Carlos Santana Indians C/1B/3B
103 Anibal Sanchez Tigers SP
102 Ben Zobrist Rays 2B/SS/OF
101 Alex Gordon Royals OF
100 Jose Altuve Astros 2B
99 Jonathan Lucroy Brewers C
98 Carlos Beltran Yankees OF 73
97 Jose Reyes Blue Jays SS 78
96 Everth Cabrera Padres SS 76
95 Mike Minor Braves SP
94 Victor Martinez Tigers UTIL
93 Allen Craig Cardinals 1B/OF
92 Chase Utley Phillies 2B
91 Jeff Samardzija Cubs SP
90 Andrew Cashner Padres SP
89 Pedro Alvarez Pirates 3B
88 Brian McCann Yankees C
87 Aroldis Chapman Reds RP 107
86 Trevor Rosenthal Cardinals RP
85 Jason Heyward Braves OF
84 Hyun-Jin Ryu Dodgers SP
83 Hisashi Iwakuma Mariners SP 111
82 Matt Kemp Dodgers OF
81 Matt Cain Giants SP
80 Mike Napoli Red Sox 1B
79 Greg Holland Royals RP
78 Kenley Jansen Dodgers RP
77 Johnny Cueto Reds SP
76 Jayson Werth Nationals OF
75 Craig Kimbrel Braves RP
74 Nelson Cruz Orioles OF
73 Cole Hamels Phillies SP
72 Elvis Andrus Rangers SS
71 Manny Machado Orioles 3B
70 Anthony Rendon Nationals 2B/3B
69 Alex Rios Rangers OF
68 Sonny Gray Athletics SP 94
67 Michael Wacha Cardinals SP 81
66 Julio Teheran Braves SP
65 Gerrit Cole Pirates SP
64 Ian Kinsler Tigers 2B
63 Anthony Rizzo Cubs 1B
62 Jon Lester Red Sox SP
61 Joe Mauer Twins C/1B
60 Hunter Pence Giants OF
59 Yoenis Cespedes Athletics OF
58 Brandon Belt Giants 1B
57 Jason Kipnis Indians 2B 25
56 Chris Sale White Sox SP
55 Josh Donaldson Athletics 3B 65
54 Homer Bailey Reds SP
53 Yadier Molina Cardinals C
52 Buster Posey Giants C
51 Matt Holliday Cardinals OF
50 Ian Desmond Nationals SS
49 Eric Hosmer Royals 1B
48 Ryan Braun Brewers OF 31
47 Gio Gonzalez Nationals SP
46 Jordan Zimmermann Nationals SP
45 James Shields Royals SP
44 Dustin Pedroia Red Sox 2B
43 Wil Myers Rays OF
42 David Ortiz Red Sox UTIL
41 Jay Bruce Reds OF
40 Yasiel Puig Dodgers OF
39 Madison Bumgarner Giants SP
38 Shin-Soo Choo Rangers OF
37 David Wright Mets 3B
36 Masahiro Tanaka Yankees SP
35 Zack Greinke Dodgers SP
34 Justin Upton Braves OF
33 Adrian Beltre Rangers 3B 19
32 David Price Rays SP
31 Justin Verlander Tigers SP
30 Cliff Lee Phillies SP
29 Clayton Kershaw Dodgers SP
28 Max Scherzer Tigers SP
27 Stephen Strasburg Nationals SP
26 Jose Abreu White Sox 1B 40
25 Albert Pujols Angels 1B 34
24 Adrian Gonzalez Dodgers 1B 35
23 Felix Hernandez Mariners SP
22 Yu Darvish Rangers SP
21 Jacoby Ellsbury Yankees OF
20 Adam Wainwright Cardinals SP
19 Edwin Encarnacion Blue Jays 1B
18 Prince Fielder Rangers 1B
17 Chris Davis Orioles 1B
16 Carlos Gonzalez Rockies OF
15 Hanley Ramirez Dodgers SS
14 Adam Jones Orioles OF
13 Jose Bautista Blue Jays OF 24
12 Joey Votto Reds 1B
11 Evan Longoria Rays 3B
10 Jose Fernandez Marlins SP 23
9 Troy Tulowitzki Rockies SS
8 Robinson Cano Mariners 2B
7 Freddie Freeman Braves 1B
6 Giancarlo Stanton Marlins OF
5 Carlos Gomez Brewers OF
4 Andrew McCutchen Pirates OF
3 Paul Goldschmidt Diamondbacks 1B
2 Miguel Cabrera Tigers 1B/3B
1 Mike Trout Angels OF

Author

Ins and Outs

This time around, eight players fell off the Big Board:

  • Aramis Ramirez: A 0-for-25 stretch dropped his average from .347 into the .260s—and dropped Ramirez off the top 150 entirely.
  • Pablo Sandoval: With a batting average on balls in play near .200, the Giants third baseman has been unlucky, but at some point, it's about actual production actually happening.
  • Salvador Perez: He got off to a slow start last season, too, so there's still hope, but Perez needs to pick up his sub-.250 average and RBI production.
  • Wilin Rosario: He's not taking advantage of Coors Field so far, and the concern over Rosario's wacky second half when he walked just once (!) and had a .385 BABIP (!) is growing.
  • Michael Pineda: Pine tar-gate, a 10-game suspension and a strained lat muscle that will keep him out even longer? Toodles, Mike.
  • Andrelton Simmons: All that contact (3 BB, 4 K) is nice, but even in the Braves' productive lineup, Simmons still was in single digits in runs and RBI entering the weekend.
  • Mat Latos: He's taking his rehab slow, per Mark Sheldon of MLB.com, but it's a little too slow for Latos to stay on the Big Board. For now.
  • Domonic Brown: Unless he has another incredible May run in him—he smacked 12 homers a year ago this month—fantasy owners are left to wonder what, exactly, Brown can do for them.

Uncredited/Associated Press
A pine tar hickey cost Michael Pineda 10 games, but his ensuing lat strain cost him a spot on the Big Board.

The eight newbies replacing them, highlighted on the Big Board, are:

  • Francisco Rodriguez: The MLB saves leader still hadn't surrendered a run through his first 14 saves. 
  • Kyle Seager: A huge previous week/weekend (8-for-15, 5 HR, 11 RBI) gets Seager back on board the board.
  • Brandon Moss: Not a sexy option, but he's on his way to another 25- to 30-homer year, and the high strikeout rate of years past has abated.
  • Nolan Arenado: Rockies hitter, part one.
  • Wily Peralta: In just his second full season, this hard-throwing righty gets overlooked, but the only reason Peralta isn't 6-of-6 in quality starts is that he went five frames in his first outing.
  • Mike Morse: He tends to be streaky, but he's on a hot one at the moment with 11 hits, four homers and 10 RBI in his past eight games.
  • Justin Morneau: Rockies hitter, part two.
  • Dee Gordon: The MLB steals leader won't hit over .300 all year, but 50-plus steals looks likely as long as Gordon doesn't collapse. That and 2B/SS eligibility make him a Big Boarder.

David Zalubowski/Associated Press
With an OPS north of 1.000 entering the weekend, new Rockie Justin Morneau is enjoying hitting at Coors Field.

 

On the Bubble

Because you're probably wondering about some players just outside the top 150, not including those who fell off this week, that list includes:

  • Brett Lawrie, Jed Lowrie, Adam Eaton, Christian Yelich, Daniel Murphy, Scott Kazmir, Marco Estrada, Tim Hudson, Evan Gattis, Kyle Lohse, Brian Dozier and Coco Crisp.

Keep in mind: When a few players at the same position are bunched together—like outfielders Charlie Blackmon, George Springer, Austin Jackson, Starling Marte, Melky Cabrera, Shane Victorino and Desmond Jennings—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.

Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
If Brett Lawrie, the Blue Jays' regular third baseman, gains second base eligibility, that gives his stock a nice boost.

 

Risers and Fallers

The right-most column marked "LAST" on the Big Board indicates a player who rose or fell in the rankings by at least 10 spots in either direction from the previous edition. Similar to the new additions, players who saw their value improve by that margin are highlighted.

Here are the reasons for some of the biggest risers this week:

  • Charlie Blackmon: At some point the production will slow—he's not going to be the best player in fantasy baseball, obviously—but Blackmon can do a bit of everything and has shown as much for more than a month now.
  • Desmond Jennings: He's not flashy, but Jennings has settled in as a very useful third or fourth outfielder with the potential to approach 20 homers and steals while also scoring 80-plus runs. To top it off, he's been hot of late.
  • Matt Wieters: He's fooled us before with his pedigree and hot stretches, and his batting average isn't going to finish anywhere near where it is now (around .350), but Wieters has an idea at the plate, hits for power and is surrounded by a boffo lineup.
  • Aroldis Chapman: The Reds closer was clocked in the triple digits during his first rehab outing as he continues to recover from being struck in the face by a comebacker. Chapman could have his job back in a week or so.
  • Hisashi Iwakuma: OK, so his first outing against the lowly Astros Saturday wasn't exactly worth writing home about, but Iwakuma did pitch well and efficiently (81 pitches in 6.1 frames). Expect him to be an SP3 once he gets his bearings soon enough.
  • Sonny Gray: The second-year starter was absolutely studly in a complete game shutout of the Rangers in their own park. That'll get you elevated yet again.
  • Jose Abreu: Setting rookie records for homers (10) and RBI (32) in the month of April is a good way to keep climbing the chart.
  • Jose Bautista: It might've taken a while, but the belief in Bautista is back to full force as the former two-time home run king has been bashing baseballs all spring training and regular season so far.
  • Jose Fernandez: Because, honestly, Fernandez is too consistently dominant not to be the No. 1 fantasy pitcher at this point.

Meanwhile, the big fallers dropped because of the following:

  • Xander Bogaerts: One of the very elite prospects around entering the season, he just hasn't translated his patient approach into fantasy production at the premium shortstop position—yet.
  • Shelby Miller: ICYMI Miller's underlying underlying numbers—6.20 FIP is nearly twice his 3.15 ERA—suggest he's a sell-high guy. Fast. 
  • Alex Wood: After a stinker against the Marlins (10 H, 7 R) a week after a gem against them, the second-year southpaw needs to return to his previous performance level to maintain his spot in the rotation with Gavin Floyd on the verge of coming back.
  • Bryce Harper: News that he'll be out, perhaps until July, due to surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament injured during a head-first slide makes Harper all but irrelevant. Dropping him off the Big Board seemed like a bit much, but that outcome is a possibility next time.
  • Matt Carpenter: Following his breakout 2013, Carpenter was a candidate for regression, and the only thing he's doing to help owners right now is scoring runs (23). Otherwise, his .256 average, 10 RBI, one homer and one steal are drags on many a roster.
  • Everth Cabrera: News of a sore knee over the past week makes this speedster, whose value derives from his stolen-base ability, a much riskier player to rely on (only 4 SB), especially since the club he leads off for is currently the worst offense in baseball.
  • Jason Kipnis: A strained oblique will cost Kipnis anywhere from three to five weeks, and given the nature of that injury, it would be wise to anticipate the longer end of the spectrum. That could keep him out through mid-June. Ooof.
  • Ryan Braun: Health hasn't come easy for Braun this season, huh? He's been hampered by a chronic thumb injury and now hits the disabled list due to a a strained oblique. Braun's strain may not have him out quite as long as Kipnis, but his reliability factor is dropping. 
  • Adrian Beltre: He made it back from his strained quad in the minimum number of days, but now Beltre needs to put up more than the minimum number of statistics to get back in the good graces of owners who drafted him with their first or second selection.

Ben Margot/Associated Press/Associated Press
A strained oblique is likely to keep Jason Kipnis out for most, if not all, of May.

 

The Wrap-up

Now that the first month is over, the fantasy standings are starting to matter more and player performances—both good and bad—carry a little extra weight.

That said, a lot still can change in any given week, or even weekend. It's hard not to fall for the hitter or pitcher who's making you look like a genius for drafting him late (or picking him up off waivers); but it's worse to give up on a proven talent who hasn't yet hit his stride or gotten untracked yet.

Go ahead and be fascinated by overperformers and frustrated by underperformers, but don't make any silly decisions based on 30 games.

 

Statistics come from Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs, except where otherwise noted.

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

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