Fantasy Baseball 2014: Updating the Top 150 Big Board, Week 6

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Fantasy Baseball 2014: Updating the Top 150 Big Board, Week 6
John Minchillo/AP 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 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 Alex Cobb Rays SP
149 Everth Cabrera Padres SS 96
148 Sergio Romo Giants RP NR
147 Chris Archer Rays SP 132
146 Ian Kennedy Padres SP NR
145 Tim Hudson Giants SP NR
144 Jhonny Peralta Cardinals SS NR
143 Michael Cuddyer Rockies OF 130
142 Matt Adams Cardinals 1B
141 Michael Brantley Indians OF NR
140 Brandon Moss Athletics 1B/OF
139 David Robertson Yankees RP
138 Rafael Soriano Nationals RP
137 Joe Nathan Tigers RP
136 Wily Peralta Brewers SP
135 Nate Eovaldi Marlins SP NR
134 Zack Wheeler Mets SP
133 Martin Prado Diamondbacks 2B/3B/OF
132 Bryce Harper Nationals OF 113
131 Francisco Rodriguez Brewers RP 150
130 Billy Butler Royals UTIL
129 Shelby Miller Cardinals SP
128 Mike Morse Giants OF
127 Doug Fister Nationals SP 114
126 Brandon Belt Giants 1B 58
125 Hyun-Jin Ryu Dodgers SP 84
124 Billy Hamilton Reds OF 112
123 Carlos Santana Indians C/1B/3B 104
122 Charlie Blackmon Rockies OF
121 George Springer Astros OF
120 Shane Victorino Red Sox OF
119 Alex Gordon Royals OF 101
118 Carlos Beltran Yankees OF 98
117 Jean Segura Brewers SS 106
116 Brian McCann Yankees C 88
115 Anibal Sanchez Tigers SP 103
114 Austin Jackson Tigers OF
113 Matt Wieters Orioles C
112 Jonathan Lucroy Brewers C 99
111 Yordano Ventura Royals SP
110 Ervin Santana Braves SP 127
109 Justin Morneau Rockies 1B 126
108 Starlin Castro Cubs SS 123
107 Dee Gordon Dodgers 2B/SS 125
106 Alexei Ramirez White Sox SS 124
105 Glen Perkins Twins RP
104 Koji Uehara Red Sox RP
103 Ben Zobrist Rays 2B/SS/OF
102 Starling Marte Pirates OF 119
101 Melky Cabrera Blue Jays OF 118
100 Jay Bruce Reds OF 41
99 Ryan Zimmerman Nationals 3B 110
98 Josh Hamilton Angels OF 111
97 Jose Reyes Blue Jays SS
96 Matt Carpenter Cardinals 2B/3B
95 Jason Heyward Braves OF 85
94 Jose Altuve Astros 2B
93 Mike Minor Braves SP
92 Andrew Cashner Padres SP
91 Chase Utley Phillies 2B
90 Pedro Alvarez Pirates 3B
89 Allen Craig Cardinals 1B/OF
88 Aroldis Chapman Reds RP
87 Trevor Rosenthal Cardinals RP
86 Matt Kemp Dodgers OF
85 Brian Dozier Twins 2B NR
84 Nolan Arenado Rockies 3B 144
83 Mike Napoli Red Sox 1B
82 Desmond Jennings Rays OF 116
81 Matt Cain Giants SP
80 Jeff Samardzija Cubs SP 91
79 Greg Holland Royals RP
78 Kenley Jansen Dodgers RP
77 Craig Kimbrel Braves RP
76 Hisashi Iwakuma Mariners SP
75 Cole Hamels Phillies SP
74 Joe Mauer Twins C/1B 61
73 Victor Martinez Tigers UTIL 94
72 Elvis Andrus Rangers SS
71 Manny Machado Orioles 3B
70 Alex Rios Rangers OF
69 Jayson Werth Nationals OF
68 Anthony Rendon Nationals 2B/3B
67 Nelson Cruz Orioles OF
66 Sonny Gray Athletics SP
65 Michael Wacha Cardinals SP
64 Gerrit Cole Pirates SP
63 Julio Teheran Braves SP
62 Ian Kinsler Tigers 2B
61 Anthony Rizzo Cubs 1B
60 Jason Kipnis Indians 2B
59 Chris Sale White Sox SP
58 Homer Bailey Reds SP
57 Johnny Cueto Reds SP 77
56 Jon Lester Red Sox SP
55 Ian Desmond Nationals SS
54 Hunter Pence Giants OF
53 Yoenis Cespedes Athletics OF
52 Matt Holliday Cardinals OF
51 Josh Donaldson Athletics 3B
50 Yadier Molina Cardinals C
49 Buster Posey Giants C
48 Eric Hosmer Royals 1B
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 David Wright Mets 3B
40 Justin Upton Braves OF
39 Yasiel Puig Dodgers OF
38 Madison Bumgarner Giants SP
37 Shin-Soo Choo Rangers OF
36 Masahiro Tanaka Yankees SP
35 David Price Rays SP
34 Justin Verlander Tigers SP
33 Adrian Beltre Rangers 3B
32 Cliff Lee Phillies SP
31 Prince Fielder Rangers 1B 18
30 Zack Greinke Dodgers SP
29 Adrian Gonzalez Dodgers 1B
28 Felix Hernandez Mariners SP
27 Ryan Braun Brewers OF 48
26 Stephen Strasburg Nationals SP
25 Jacoby Ellsbury Yankees OF
24 Max Scherzer Tigers SP
23 Jose Abreu White Sox 1B
22 Albert Pujols Angels 1B
21 Chris Davis Orioles 1B
20 Yu Darvish Rangers SP
19 Hanley Ramirez Dodgers SS
18 Adam Jones Orioles OF
17 Adam Wainwright Cardinals SP
16 Jose Fernandez Marlins SP
15 Joey Votto Reds 1B
14 Evan Longoria Rays 3B
13 Robinson Cano Mariners 2B
12 Carlos Gonzalez Rockies OF
11 Edwin Encarnacion Blue Jays 1B
10 Freddie Freeman Braves 1B
9 Jose Bautista Blue Jays OF
8 Clayton Kershaw Dodgers SP 29
7 Giancarlo Stanton Marlins OF
6 Carlos Gomez Brewers OF
5 Troy Tulowitzki Rockies SS
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, seven players fell off the Big Board:

  • Yovani Gallardo: He's been fine since his hot start but nowhere near as hot as he was during that stretch.
  • Kyle Seager: At this point, Seager needs a couple more big weekends like the one he had at April's end to stay on the Big Board.
  • Xander Bogaerts: His .364 OBP is great in real life. His .252 average, one homer and five RBI aren't so great in fantasy. Bogaerts feels like the kind of youngster who will "click" at some point, but it hasn't happened yet.
  • Mark Trumbo: Hey, sometimes when you're injured for another month-plus, it's easy to lose ground.
  • Brandon Phillips: His fantasy value has officially cratered. No longer can Phillips be relied on for much more than double digits in the HR category.
  • Martin Perez: So much for that 26-inning scoreless streak, eh?
  • Alex Wood: Despite a dynamite start to his first full season, Wood has been shifted to the bullpen to accommodate the return of Gavin Floyd—at least, apparently, for now, as Cory McCartney of Fox Sports South reports. If the Braves' plan to limit the lefty's innings is real, then he could jump back on the board.

Elise Amendola/Associated Press
Despite immense potential, Xander Bogaerts' actual production is no longer Big Board-worthy.

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

  • Sergio Romo: Currently second in baseball with 12 saves, Romo's given up all of three runs and 10 baserunners in his 16.1 innings.
  • Ian Kennedy: He hops on in the wake of a seven-inning, one-run, 12-strikeout gem this past week, which brought his season totals to a 3.12 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 10.3 K/9. He's been revitalized as a Padre.
  • Tim Hudson: The Energizer Bunny of pitchers, Hudson has been waaaaay better than you think with a 1.99 ERA and a ridiculous 0.74 WHIP. This won't last, but he's in a great spot in San Francisco, so enjoy his production while it does.
  • Jhonny Peralta: The .240 average has been rising steadily (.375, 12-for-32 this month) and the eight homers are no joke, especially from shortstop.
  • Michael Brantley: He's always been a better-in-real-life player, but perhaps Brantley is changing that by coming into his own? With seven homers and 30 RBI (fourth-most in MLB) already, he's well on his way to surpassing his career highs of 10 and 73, set last year.
  • Nate Eovaldi: Saturday night's start was the first in which he didn't go at least six innings, and his 48-to-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio (in 50.1 frames) says this 24-year-old breakout arm is very much for real.
  • Brian Dozier: He might be a sell-high candidate, but there's no more ignoring Dozier's pop-speed combo that has him looking like a lock for a 25-25 season, if not more.

Mark Duncan/Associated Press
Brian Dozier is one home run shy of becoming the first player to reach double digits in both homers and steals.

 

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:

  • John Lackey, Justin Masterson, Rajai Davis, Angel Pagan, Daniel Murphy, Christian Yelich, Mat Latos, Scott Kazmir, Salvador Perez, Marco Estrada, Dillon Gee, Garrett Richards, A.J. Burnett, C.J. Wilson, Brett Lawrie, Jed Lowrie, Torii Hunter and Mark Teixeira.

Keep in mind: When a few players at the same position are bunched together—like starting pitchers Wily Peralta, Nate Eovaldi and Zack Wheeler—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.

John Minchillo/Associated Press
Another strong start or two and Garrett Richards could be Big Board bound.

 

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:

  • Francisco Rodriguez: He's still leading the majors in saves, still hasn't given up a run, still striking out more than a batter an inning. Who saw this late-career resurrection coming?
  • Ervin Santana: Hes 5-for-six in quality starts, has a 1.99 ERA and 43 whiffs in 40.2 innings.
  • Dee Gordon: With an MLB-best 24 steals—including three more Saturday—Gordon is just about lapping the field.
  • Ryan Zimmerman: Injured player nearing return part one.
  • Josh Hamilton: Injured player nearing return part two.
  • Nolan Arenado: If a 28-game hitting streak won't bump you up in the ranks, then simply hitting amid the ridiculous Rockies lineup will.
  • Jeff Samardzija: Since when does a 1.45 ERA—second-best in baseball!—equal not only zero wins but also three losses? That limits Samardzija's value, but everything aside from W's is dandy.
  • Victor Martinez: Arguably the steadiest hitter around, V-Mart also should be gaining first base eligibility soon in most leagues (eight games there so far), which will make him easier to utilize and more valuable, too.
  • Johnny Cueto: OK, Johnny, we're done fighting you and your MLB-best ERA (1.43) and MLB-best WHIP (0.73).
  • Ryan Braun: His owners will be happy to hear the injury-prone star, recovering from a strained right oblique, is expected to come back this week, per Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. Going forward, his owners will be happy if Braun can stay healthy for more than a few weeks at a time.
  • Clayton Kershaw: This is how you do a return from a month-plus on the disabled list: seven scoreless innings with nine strikeouts and zero walks. Welcome back to being the top pitcher on the Big Board, Clayton.

 Meanwhile, the big fallers dropped because of the following:

  • Everth Cabrera: On-base percentage isn't a traditional fantasy category, but if Cabrera doesn't improve his .286 mark, he's going to struggle to be of any use in the stolen-base department, which is his primary value.
  • Chris Archer: His 4.91 ERA and 1.36 WHIP make Archer bench-worthy right now, but his 2.93 FIP suggests he's actually been throwing much better than the results. Let's give him another chance to prove it.
  • Michael Cuddyer: Owners have to be getting frustrated that Cuddyer's hamstring is keeping him from joining the hit parade going on in Colorado.
  • Bryce Harper: For now, he stays, but it feels like Harper could be dropped off the Big Board, considering he's not making it back until July. We won't blame you if you drop him in shallow formats.
  • Doug Fister: Giving up seven runs on nine hits in only 4.1 frames in your first start after missing six weeks? That's a good way to drop.
  • Brandon Belt: Another good way to drop? Getting hit by a pitch and breaking your left thumb, as Belt did over the weekend. He's expected to miss six weeks, per Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area.
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu: The southpaw, dealing with shoulder inflammation, only just started a throwing program, as Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reports. Figure on the Dodgers to be conservative here.
  • Carlos Santana: Disappointing fantasy catcher, part one.
  • Brian McCann: Disappointing fantasy catcher, part two.
  • Jay Bruce: News of his knee surgery came down just after last week's Big Board went live, so Bruce gets knocked down this time around for being out into June.
  • Prince Fielder: Slowly but surely, Fielder is starting to come around (.846 OPS in May), but a little too slowly and a little too unsurely for him to remain a top-30 fantasy option.

 

The Wrap-Up

This is a tricky time of the season. On one hand, it's still early enough that one big week can change the tenor of a player's season, as Edwin Encarnacion proved by smashing four homers and driving in eight runs. But by the middle of May, which is where we are already, owners need actual production to be happening or they risk falling too far behind in the standings.

By now, you should have an idea of your fantasy squad's strengths and weaknesses—both position-wise and category-wise—so start assessing and sending out some trade offers to address any legitimate areas of need. In particular, take advantage of opportunities to deal from excess.

If you're stuck with a proven stud who's still struggling, though, you should probably stay stuck with him for now. Giving such a player away as punishment for his transgressions to date is going to mean you get all of the pain and none of the payoff.

Be patient. But be active, too.

 

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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