Fantasy Baseball 2014: Updating the Top 150 Big Board at Midseason

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Fantasy Baseball 2014: Updating the Top 150 Big Board at Midseason
Associated Press
With a .316 average, 57 runs, 21 homers and 60 RBI, Giancarlo Stanton continues to be a fantasy beast worthy of the top 10.

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

  • Howie Kendrick: His hot start was just that—a start—and Kendrick has gone back to being a useful but not impactful fantasy second baseman/middle infielder.
  • C.J. Wilson: He's still having a solid year all around (3.70 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 8.4 K/9) but June wasn't great (5.46 ERA).
  • Adam Lind: He's worth starting at utility or first base (on a fill-in basis) because his .338 average plays up in the Blue Jays lineup, but Lind remains a platoon player with limited upside.
  • Xander Bogaerts: Just when it looked like the rookie was about to go bang, he went bust: .140/.182/.258 with a 27-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in June.
  • Joe Mauer: Even going 14-for-36 (.389) during a modest nine-game hitting streak couldn't save Mauer from falling off amid the worst season of his career.
  • Shelby Miller: A superficially solid season—a 3.75 ERA but a 4.76 FIP—took a turn for the worse when he had to leave his last start with a back injury.
  • Brett Lawrie: He's out until at least late July after breaking a finger via a hit-by-pitch, which you can watch below.

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

  • Corey Dickerson: While playing regularly in June after Carlos Gonzalez went down, Dickerson has hit .333 with 16 runs, four homers, 17 RBI and three steals in 23 games.
  • Devin Mesoraco: His second crazy-hot stretch of 2014—a homer in five straight games from June 19 to June 24—puts Mesoraco on the Board for the first time.
  • Sean Doolittle: On Saturday, he actually blew his first opportunity—and gave up his first run—since taking over at closer in mid-May for the team with MLB's best record, but Doolittle's digits in that time are still ridiculous: 20.0 innings pitched, five hits, one earned run, a 32-1 K-BB ratio and 10 saves.
  • Matt Adams: Doubts remain about a guy with a 51-7 K-BB ratio, but his performance since coming off the disabled list—.328 batting average, 10 runs, six home runs, 16 RBI in 16 games—has to be acknowledged.
  • Josh Beckett: So the 34-year-old is pitching over his head (3.78 FIP); the actual numbers (2.11 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 8.5 K/9) are Board-worthy.
  • Jonathan Papelbon: Remember when everyone said Paps was done after he blew his first save chance of 2014 by allowing three runs while getting but one out back on April 2? Well, he's thrown 30.0 frames since then—and allowed just two runs.
  • Adam LaRoche: He won't reach the 30 homers and 100 RBI he managed back in 2012, but LaRoche's 11 and 43 so far are plenty good, and so is his .308 average.

 

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:

  • Dallas Keuchel, Mark Teixeira, Christian Yelich, Salvador Perez, Steve Cishek, Joakim Soria, Lance Lynn, Alex Gordon, Khris Davis and Marcell Ozuna

Keep in mind: When a few players at the same position are bunched together—like outfielders Angel Pagan, Starling Marte, Brett Gardner and Jason Heyward—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:

  • David Price: You've seen this, right?
  • Todd Frazier: Heading into 2014, Frazier seemed like just another corner infield option, but after three months of surprising across-the-board production (.284 BA, 51 R, 17 HR, 46 RBI, 11 SB), we may be looking at the top fantasy third baseman.
  • Yoenis Cespedes: Sure, a few more steals would be nice—Yo has only one—but his 47 runs, 14 homers and 55 RBI provide big boosts in those categories, and his average is up to .272.
  • Jay Bruce: Over the past 10 days, Bruce has found it by hitting .457 with two homers, nine runs and nine RBI during a nine-game hitting steak, the last four of which have been multi-hit efforts.
  • Bryce Harper: You've seen this, too, right? Out since late April with a torn ligament in his thumb, Harper has been ripping it up on his rehab assignment and could be back as soon as this week.
  • Billy Hamilton: All of a sudden, Hamilton's 36 steals are only six behind Dee Gordon, and he's hit .333—with three homers and 17 RBI—in June.
  • Gregory Polanco: OK, so he's gone 0-for-9 the past two games. Polanco still has at least one hit in all but four of his first 18 big league games, to go with 14 runs, two homers, 10 RBI and four swipes.
  • Garrett Richards: The 26-year-old's breakout continues, as Richards' ERA (2.76), WHIP (1.12) and K/9 (8.8) are in the top 15 among all starters.
  • Justin Verlander: Two quality starts in a row isn't quite enough to buy all the way back in, but the 16 strikeouts over those 13.0 innings certainly is a promising sign Verlander is on his way to regaining top-30-starter status, thanks to his mechanical adjustments.
  • Nolan Arenado: Having begun his rehab assignment, Arenado should make it back to Colorado—and fantasy lineups—right around Independence Day.

Meanwhile, the big fallers dropped because of the following:

  • Andrew Cashner: On his second DL stint of 2014 and getting harder and harder to rely on, Cashner might be the Rich Harden for this generation of fantasy owners.
  • Michael Wacha: A stress reaction in one's shoulder just sounds painful, so expect the Cardinals to handle their prized second-year pitcher very, very carefully.
  • Yadier Molina: A .279 average from Molina, who hit .313 from 2011 to 2013, has everyone wondering what exactly happened to the real-life MVP candidate who used to be in the running for fantasy's best backstop.
  • Matt Holliday: Yikes—our third Cardinal in a row. Holliday's production so far (.267 BA, 40 R, 5 HR, 39 RBI) looks like something you might find floating around your waiver wire these days.
  • Carlos Gonzalez: His recovery from finger surgery is going to be a slow go, and with the Rockies falling out of the playoff picture with a 7-19 June, there's no motivation to get CarGo back before he's absolutely ready. That may be August.
  • Alexei Ramirez: Before his one-homer, two-RBI effort on Friday, Ramirez hadn't managed a single one of either since—get this—May 26. (Seriously, dude went a full month without a home run or a run batted in.)
  • James Shields: Very quietly, Shields has been mediocre—at best—in 11 outings since the start of May: 4.77 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 5.8 K/9.
  • Dustin Pedroia: No. 65 overall actually might be too high for Pedroia, whose 44 runs scored is saving an otherwise dismal season (.268 BA, 4 HR, 27 RBI, 2 SB).
  • David Wright: His 2014 wasn't all that hot to begin with, and now Wright is dealing with a sore rotator cuff that kept him out over the weekend. He will be re-evaluated on Monday.

 

Wrapping Up

In case you haven't noticed, this week marks the midway point in the 2014 season, as teams will have surpassed the 81-game threshold.

On one hand: Wow—that was fast, huh? But on the other: 81 more games is still a long way to go—and a lot of time to lose or make up ground in your league.

By now, there's a good chance at least a few of your fellow owners have checked out, probably those who are at or near the bottom of the standings. But please: Don't join them.

After all, if you're in good shape, you need to maintain your edge. But even if you're not, the whims of your competition just means you'll be facing less of a climb back into the race.

Whether you've been waiting for a stud like Harper to get back, planning a blockbuster trade to shake things up or expecting some underperformers to finally start, you know, performing, it's time for that second (half) wind.

 

Statistics are accurate through June 28, and come from MLB.comBaseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com, except where otherwise noted.

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

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