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.
|128||Brett Lawrie||Blue Jays||2B|
|124||Mike Napoli||Red Sox||1B||99|
|103||Jose Reyes||Blue Jays||SS||114|
|86||Koji Uehara||Red Sox||RP|
|84||Melky Cabrera||Blue Jays||OF|
|65||Alexei Ramirez||White Sox||SS||75|
|56||Dustin Pedroia||Red Sox||2B|
|53||Jon Lester||Red Sox||SP|
|46||David Ortiz||Red Sox||UTIL|
|34||Chris Sale||White Sox||SP|
|26||Jose Abreu||White Sox||1B|
|8||Edwin Encarnacion||Blue Jays||1B|
|7||Jose Bautista||Blue Jays||OF|
Ins and Outs
This time around, five players fell off the Big Board:
- Martin Prado: While his numbers aren't bad (.263 BA, 26 R, 2 HR, 25 RBI), there's only so much value to be placed on his second base/third base/outfield versatility.
- Rick Porcello: Just when it looked like he'd turned the corner (for about the 47th time), Porcello went and had two terrible starts in a row.
- Wily Peralta: Unless we're talking about his performance relative to preseason expectations, he's been good but far from great.
- Nate Eovaldi: His early-season dominance has waned just enough to make him have to earn his way back onto the Board.
- Mark Teixeira: He's sitting out at least a few games to try to rest a cranky wrist that keeps acting up on him.
The five newbies replacing them, highlighted on the Big Board, are:
- Oscar Taveras: You might've heard that this consensus top-five prospect made his MLB debut Saturday—and hit a homer in his second at-bat (highlight fun below).
- Pablo Sandoval: He hasn't quite been Edwin Encarnacion- or George Springer-hot, but the Panda has hit really, really well the past two weeks: .381 batting average, 14 runs, six home runs and 17 RBI.
- Ian Kennedy: He climbed back on after falling off last week, and one gets the feeling that might happen quite a few times this year.
- Chris Archer: Allowing only two runs on 12 hits with 23 strikeouts over your last 17.2 frames is a good way to get back on Board.
- Kyle Seager: Nothing Seager does in fantasy really stands out, but his overall production (.253 BA, 21 R, 8 HR, 33 RBI, 2 SB) is solid enough to remain on the fringes of—and occasionally on—the top 150.
On the Bubble
Because you're probably wondering about some players just outside the top 150, disregarding those who fell off this week, that list includes:
- Mat Latos, John Lackey, Rajai Davis, Christian Yelich, Josh Beckett, Xander Bogaerts, Adam Lind, Adam LaRoche, Jonathan Papelbon, Joakim Soria, Angel Pagan, Neil Walker, Aaron Hill, Jimmy Rollins, Todd Frazier, Lance Lynn, Torii Hunter and Alex Gordon.
Keep in mind: When a few players at the same position are bunched together—like starting pitchers C.J. Wilson, Tim Hudson and Tyson Ross—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.
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:
- Scott Kazmir: Doubts will always remain about Kazmir's health, but the guy ranks in the top 15 in the majors in ERA (2.36) and top 10 in WHIP (0.96).
- Jose Reyes: Stealing 11 bases in May is enough to give Reyes a bump. Hitting atop the Jays lineup could send him even higher if he can take his own game up a notch.
- Corey Kluber: Ladies and gents, here's your MLB strikeout leader entering the month of June. Seriously!
- Brandon Moss: Only eight players have more than his 13 homers, and only four players have more than his 46 RBI.
- Alexei Ramirez: Hitting .329, Ramirez already has surpassed his six homers from all of 2013 and is about on pace to match last year's career-high 30 steals.
- George Springer: His seven-homers-in-seven-games stretch at the tail end of May? Wow. And although Springer has but one stolen base so far, don't forget that he nabbed 30-plus in his two full minor league seasons.
- Jason Kipnis: The second-/third-round pick is back and needs to make up for some lost time spent on the disabled list.
- Jose Altuve: He's leading the majors with 77 hits and second with 20 steals.
- Julio Teheran: The very top tier of fantasy starting pitchers is a tough one to crack, but Teheran and his 1.83 ERA (third best), 0.93 WHIP (fifth best) and 7.1 K/9 (but 8.9 in May!) are making a damn good case to gain entry.
- Nelson Cruz: The new Oriole is doing his best Chris Davis impersonation, leading the majors in both homers (20) and RBI (52) entering June. Jeez.
Meanwhile, the big fallers dropped because of the following:
- Carlos Santana: His concussion knocked him out—and nearly knocked him off the Board.
- Ervin Santana: Apparently, it was a rough week to have the surname Santana.
- Yordano Ventura: Somehow, he's only expected to miss one start after leaving his last one early with elbow soreness—or so the Royals claim.
- Mike Napoli: After being hampered by a finger injury for about a month, Napoli finally hit the disabled list. Let's see how that impacts his power once he's back.
- Joe Mauer: Another week, another drop for the onetime fantasy stud who just hasn't done much at all in 2014 (.267 BA, 27 R, 2 HR, 15 RBI).
- Matt Kemp: With a hot week or two, Kemp could rocket up the ranks, but it's starting to feel like it's just not going to happen for the former fantasy stud this year.
- Eric Hosmer: When he was hitting .320, Hosmer's one homer was annoying but tolerable. Now that he's south of .280, that same one homer—and mere 24 runs, 23 RBI and no steals—just can't be overlooked.
- Jay Bruce: We said last week when we bumped him up the Board upon his return that Bruce would have to produce, and he hasn't.
- Evan Longoria: The Rays have the AL's worst record through May, and Longoria's fantasy value is going down with the ship.
In case you haven't noticed, it's June already.
Here's hoping you either drafted or managed to acquire one of this seasons' biggest surprise/breakout performers—like Nelson Cruz, Johnny Cueto, Jose Altuve or George Springer.
If not, though, try to target some of the many, many injured stars (i.e., Josh Hamilton, Ryan Zimmerman, Brandon Belt, Nolan Arenado, Bryce Harper) with the hope that they'll come at a discounted rate and can return to their usual productive ways soon.
Otherwise, keep tabs on the top prospects who are about to be called up between now and the middle of June. Now that Oscar Taveras and Marcus Stroman are up, you'll want to make a play for fellow top youngsters like Gregory Polanco, Andrew Heaney, Jonathan Singleton, Taijuan Walker and Eddie Butler. They may not work out, but it's always fun to try to catch lightning in a bottle.
At this stage of the season, that could be your best bet for improving your club without having to make a big trade.
To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11