Fantasy Baseball 2014: Updating the Top 150 Big Board, Week 7

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Fantasy Baseball 2014: Updating the Top 150 Big Board, Week 7
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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, 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 Ian Kennedy Padres SP
149 Martin Prado Diamondbacks 2B/3B/OF
148 Tim Hudson Giants SP
147 Tyson Ross Padres SP NR
146 Scott Kazmir Athletics SP NR
145 Alex Cobb Rays SP
144 Wily Peralta Brewers SP
143 C.J. Wilson Angels SP NR
142 Michael Cuddyer Rockies OF
141 Jhonny Peralta Cardinals SS
140 Rick Porcello Tigers SP NR
139 Carlos Santana Indians C/1B/3B 123
138 Sergio Romo Giants RP 148
137 Mark Teixeira Yankees 1B NR
136 Daniel Murphy Mets 2B NR
135 Brett Gardner Yankees OF NR
134 Howie Kendrick Angels 2B NR
133 Shelby Miller Cardinals SP
132 Nate Eovaldi Marlins SP
131 Brett Lawrie Blue Jays 2B NR
130 David Robertson Yankees RP
129 Rafael Soriano Nationals RP
128 Michael Brantley Indians OF 141
127 Mike Morse Giants OF
126 Joe Nathan Tigers RP 137
125 Francisco Rodriguez Brewers RP
124 Bryce Harper Nationals OF
123 Andrew Cashner Padres SP 92
122 Ben Zobrist Rays 2B/SS/OF 103
121 Brandon Belt Giants 1B
120 Brandon Moss Athletics 1B/OF 140
119 Brian McCann Yankees C
118 Jean Segura Brewers SS
117 Jonathan Lucroy Brewers C
116 George Springer Astros OF
115 Shane Victorino Red Sox OF
114 Billy Hamilton Reds OF 124
113 Ervin Santana Braves SP
112 Gio Gonzalez Nationals SP 47
111 Jose Reyes Blue Jays SS 97
110 Jason Heyward Braves OF 95
109 Doug Fister Nationals SP 127
108 Garrett Richards Angels SP NR
107 Homer Bailey Reds SP 58
106 Anibal Sanchez Tigers SP
105 Matt Cain Giants SP 81
104 Allen Craig Cardinals 1B/OF 89
103 Aroldis Chapman Reds RP 88
102 Trevor Rosenthal Cardinals RP 87
101 Justin Morneau Rockies 1B
100 Hyun-Jin Ryu Dodgers SP 125
99 Yordano Ventura Royals SP 111
98 Matt Carpenter Cardinals 2B/3B
97 Mike Minor Braves SP
96 Starlin Castro Cubs SS
95 Dee Gordon Dodgers 2B/SS 107
94 Glen Perkins Twins RP 105
93 Koji Uehara Red Sox RP 104
92 Pedro Alvarez Pirates 3B
91 Mike Napoli Red Sox 1B
90 Desmond Jennings Rays OF
89 Alexei Ramirez White Sox SS 106
88 Charlie Blackmon Rockies OF 122
87 Matt Kemp Dodgers OF
86 Ryan Zimmerman Nationals 3B 99
85 Jay Bruce Reds OF 100
84 Josh Hamilton Angels OF 98
83 Jeff Samardzija Cubs SP
82 Starling Marte Pirates OF 102
81 Nolan Arenado Rockies 3B
80 Melky Cabrera Blue Jays OF 101
79 Jose Altuve Astros 2B 94
78 Greg Holland Royals RP
77 Kenley Jansen Dodgers RP
76 Craig Kimbrel Braves RP
75 Chase Utley Phillies 2B 91
74 Joe Mauer Twins C/1B
73 Elvis Andrus Rangers SS
72 Manny Machado Orioles 3B
71 Hisashi Iwakuma Mariners SP
70 Eric Hosmer Royals 1B 48
69 Ian Desmond Nationals SS 55
68 Alex Rios Rangers OF
67 Jayson Werth Nationals OF
66 Anthony Rendon Nationals 2B/3B
65 Julio Teheran Braves SP
64 Sonny Gray Athletics SP
63 Michael Wacha Cardinals SP
62 Gerrit Cole Pirates SP
61 Anthony Rizzo Cubs 1B
60 Ian Kinsler Tigers 2B
59 Cole Hamels Phillies SP 75
58 Jason Kipnis Indians 2B
57 Yoenis Cespedes Athletics OF
56 Wil Myers Rays OF 43
55 Joey Votto Reds 1B 15
54 Chris Sale White Sox SP
53 Jon Lester Red Sox SP
52 Matt Holliday Cardinals OF
51 Nelson Cruz Orioles OF 67
50 Victor Martinez Tigers UTIL 73
49 Brian Dozier Twins 2B 85
48 Yadier Molina Cardinals C
47 Buster Posey Giants C
46 Hunter Pence Giants OF
45 Jordan Zimmermann Nationals SP
44 James Shields Royals SP
43 Prince Fielder Rangers 1B 31
42 Dustin Pedroia Red Sox 2B
41 David Wright Mets 3B
40 Justin Upton Braves OF
39 Justin Verlander Tigers SP
38 Madison Bumgarner Giants SP
37 Shin-Soo Choo Rangers OF
36 David Ortiz Red Sox UTIL
35 Johnny Cueto Reds SP 57
34 David Price Rays SP
33 Masahiro Tanaka Yankees SP
32 Adrian Beltre Rangers 3B
31 Cliff Lee Phillies SP
30 Adrian Gonzalez Dodgers 1B
29 Stephen Strasburg Nationals SP
28 Zack Greinke Dodgers SP
27 Jacoby Ellsbury Yankees OF
26 Felix Hernandez Mariners SP
25 Albert Pujols Angels 1B
24 Jose Abreu White Sox 1B
23 Josh Donaldson Athletics 3B 51
22 Ryan Braun Brewers OF
21 Max Scherzer Tigers SP
20 Chris Davis Orioles 1B
19 Adam Jones Orioles OF
18 Yasiel Puig Dodgers OF 39
17 Yu Darvish Rangers SP
16 Adam Wainwright Cardinals SP
15 Hanley Ramirez Dodgers SS
14 Evan Longoria Rays 3B
13 Robinson Cano Mariners 2B
12 Carlos Gonzalez Rockies OF
11 Clayton Kershaw Dodgers SP
10 Edwin Encarnacion Blue Jays 1B
9 Freddie Freeman Braves 1B
8 Jose Bautista Blue Jays OF
7 Giancarlo Stanton Marlins OF
6 Carlos Gomez Brewers OF
5 Andrew McCutchen Pirates OF
4 Troy Tulowitzki Rockies SS
3 Paul Goldschmidt Diamondbacks 1B
2 Miguel Cabrera Tigers 1B/3B
1 Mike Trout Angels OF

Author

 

Ins and Outs

This time around, 10 players fell off the Big Board:

  • Everth Cabrera: Even with his first homer and seventh and eighth steals of the season this past week, he's been more or less useless.
  • Chris Archer: He threw five scoreless innings but did so while walking a tightrope—and walked five more batters, giving him 15 in his last 20.1 frames.
  • Matt Adams: At this point, his fantasy value is propped up entirely by his .304 average, which in turn, is propped up by his .373 BABIP.
  • Zack Wheeler: He's the Archer of the NL—a talented but wholly unreliable right-hander who needs to show some consistency before he can jump back on the Board.
  • Billy Butler: OK, time for the Board to get off the Butler bandwagon. A .227 average to go with one homer and 15 RBI just won't cut it.
  • Alex Gordon: On the bright side, Gordon's been a bit better than Butler (.250 BA, 16 RBI). On the downside, he joins his Kansas City Royals mate on the outs.
  • Carlos Beltran: Already slumping down to a .234 average, Beltran hit the disabled list last week with a bone spur in his elbow, and there's a possibility he faces surgery.
  • Austin Jackson: He's been fine. But fine isn't always good enough.
  • Matt Wieters: His ailing elbow finally pushed him to the disabled list, undercutting his hot start and leaving questions about whether he'll be the rare position player to require Tommy John surgery.
  • Jose Fernandez: Let's all haz a sad.

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Billy Butler hasn't been much of a designated "hitter" this year.

The 10 newbies replacing them, highlighted on the Big Board, are:

  • Tyson Ross: He makes his Big Board debut for being very good overall (5 W, 2.81 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 8.3 K/9) and particularly money at home (3 W, 1.59 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 9.5 K/9).
  • Scott Kazmir: The Oakland A's starter got ejected early Saturday, but still has been great (5 W, 2.39 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 7.3 K/9).
  • C.J. Wilson: One of the steadier starters around, Wilson also is occasionally brilliant, like he was Saturday with his complete game shutout in which he garnered as many strikeouts as baserunners (seven).
  • Rick Porcello: Even with the strikeouts dipping back to previous levels (5.6 K/9), his 7 W, 2.91 ERA, 1.00 WHIP will do.
  • Mark Teixeira: He's on one of his hot streaks: Six homers and 14 RBI in 15 games this month.
  • Daniel Murphy: With a .320 average, 28 runs and nine steals, he's slowly proving that last year's breakout was for real.
  • Brett Gardner: Hitting leadoff agrees with Gardner, who racked up three steals and even knocked a pair of dingers while scoring seven times this week.
  • Howie Kendrick: Hitting fourth in the potent Los Angeles Angels order lately, Kendrick already has topped his steals total from 2013 with nine. He does this tease each year, though, it seems.
  • Brett Lawrie: One more game at second base and Lawrie will have 10, making him a 2B/3B-eligible 25-homer candidate hitting amid one of baseball's best lineups.
  • Garrett Richards: Each of the fireballing righty's past five starts have been quality, and his overall numbers (4 W, 2.42 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 9.6 K/9) indicate this is a breakout in progress.

 

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:

  • Kyle Seager, Rajai Davis, Angel Pagan, Christian Yelich, Mat Latos, John Lackey, Marco Estrada, Justin Masterson, Salvador Perez, Neil Walker, Torii Hunter, Joakim Soria, Huston Street and Jonathan Papelbon.

Keep in mind: When a few players at the same position are bunched together—like starting pitchers Tim Hudson, Tyson Ross, Scott Kazmir, Alex Cobb, Wily Peralta and C.J. Wilson—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 performances 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.

Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press
Joakim Soria only has seven saves, but his 2.57 ERA, 0.57 WHIP and 12.2 K/9 have him on the verge of joining the Board.

 

 

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:

  • Cole Hamels: Despite starting the year on the DL with shoulder problems and throwing 133 pitches in his previous gem of an outing, Hamels pitched incredibly well Saturday night for his 100th career win.
  • Brian Dozier: Ladies and gentlemen, your first player to reach double digits in homers and steals. Yes, really.
  • Victor Martinez: A case could be made that V-Mart, who's leading the AL with a .336 average, has been the most consistent hitter in the sport this year.
  • Jon Lester: On Friday, he pitched almost as well as Max Scherzer, whom Lester has matched in whiffs (73 each) and is nearly as good in WHIP (1.10 vs. 1.03).  
  • Nelson Cruz: Currently tied for second in the majors with 12 homers, the injury-prone Cruz has been doing his typical production-per-game routine.
  • Josh Donaldson: Any hitter who has 10 homers and 34 apiece in runs and RBI—and is healthy—merits a move up.
  • Johnny Cueto: His success through nine starts is undeniable (1.25 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 9.5 K/9). It's also inexplicable (.160 BABIP, 99.5 LOB percentage). Those latter two numbers are tops in baseball. By a lot.
  • Yasiel Puig: He might not have gotten off to the same otherworldly start he did in 2013, but Puig's second season has been about as impressive as his first, thanks to his 16-game hitting streak during which he's batting .409 with six homers and 21 RBI. 

Meanwhile, the big fallers dropped because of the following:

  • Carlos Santana: By now, it's OK to move on. If you haven't already.
  • Andrew Cashner: Get ready for a run of injured arms, led off by a guy who has a long injury history and whose elbow is barking. Uh oh.
  • Gio Gonzalez: The lefty's last two outings had been bad, and now we may know why: He's on the DL with shoulder inflammation.
  • Homer Bailey: He looked to be settling down...until his blowup on Saturday at Philadelphia (6 ER, 3.2 IP) pushed his ERA back above 5.00.
  • Eric Hosmer: One homer and 18 RBI from a first baseman isn't nearly enough. And he's not even running (0 SB) or scoring runs (17 R), either.
  • Joey Votto: His May slump (.209 BA, 4 R, 2 RBI) turned into a potential disaster with news that his quad strain could mean a DL stint. Starting to feel like a lost season for this former fantasy stud.
  • Prince Fielder: Just when he was starting to hit a little, a herniated disc in his neck could become a big problem if it doesn't go away quickly. 

Mark Duncan/Associated Press
If you want to give up on Carlos Santana and his .156 average, we won't blame you.

 

The Wrap-Up

Has one or more of your stars gotten hurt this season? Wait, rephrase that: Have you been playing fantasy baseball this season? Because if the latter is true, then so is the former.

With injuries and/or DL stints claiming all of (deep breath) Chris Davis, Adrian Beltre, Clayton Kershaw, Joey Votto, Ryan Braun, Bryce Harper, Jason Kipnis, Jose Fernandez, Chris Sale, Jay Bruce, Gio Gonzalez, Ryan Zimmerman and now Jose Abreu—forget anyone???—at some point along the way, you should be happy if your team is still standing at this stage of the season. 

Owners everywhere are crying "uncle!"

When you possess more players on the real-life DL than you can fit on your fantasy one, it's time to make some hard decisions—and cuts, if necessary. That's especially true if your club is floundering in the bottom half of the standings right about now.

Roster upkeep and maintenance is key to making the long climb back to relevance, even more so because in this pitching-dominated era, every single hit, run, homer, RBI and steal matters. You can't afford to let too many go to waste.

If you're reeling and dealing with a M-A-S-H unit, weigh the injured players' ETAs against their fantasy value once healthy and keep only those who will be no-brainer starters by, say, mid-June.

It's a painful process. In more ways than one.

 

Statistics are accurate through Saturday, May 18, and 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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