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Fantasy Baseball 2014: Updating Top 150 Big Board Post-All-Star Break

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

  • Andrew Cashner: The injury-prone right-hander has remained just that after a hot start that had owners everywhere hoping he could avoid such a fate.
  • Michael Wacha: At this stage, even getting Wacha, who's dealing with a rare stress reaction in his right elbow, back on the mound for more than a handful of starts might be as good as it gets.
  • Jonathan Singleton: The rookie has more talent than someone hitting .182 with a 36.4 percent strikeout rate, but he's clearly going through a major adjustment period in his first taste.
  • Jean Segura: Forget fantasy here, and just send Segura plenty of positive thoughts and prayers in reality.
  • Angel Pagan: He just can't get past a back injury that has kept him out since June 14 and is expected to keep him out into August, per Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News.
  • Yadier Molina: He wasn't having the fantasy season we've come to expect, and now surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb will leave Molina on the sideline until late August. At least.
  • Masahiro Tanaka: Even though his partially torn elbow ligament has been prescribed another month-plus of rest, chances are he'll have to go under the knife; and even if he doesn't, we won't know until late August, and Tanaka still might not be 100 percent. So from No. 16 overall to off the Board.

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

  • Alex Gordon: He's not particularly adept in any one area, but Gordon's been, as usual, a steady performer who can contribute to all five hitting categories.
  • Zack Wheeler: Even with one absolute dud (6 ER in 2.0 IP on June 25), Wheeler has a 3.07 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 59 strikeouts in 58.2 innings over his past 10 starts.
  • Khris Davis: The batting average might not help much (.250), but it's hard to ignore 16 homers and 50 RBI anymore.
  • Aramis Ramirez: When Ramirez is healthy, he's always been productive. And, well, he's healthy.
  • Salvador Perez: He may fall short of reaching his 79 RBIs from 2013, but Perez is on pace to set new bests in runs (39), doubles (17), homers (11) and, hey, he even stole his first base this year.
  • Mark Teixeira: The wrist is a constant concern, but Teixeira's 17 home runs and 48 RBI prove he can still hit 'em out.
  • Christian Yelich: In his first full season, Yelich has very quietly put up some strong fantasy numbers: .276 BA, 52 R, 8 HR, 31 RBI, 11 SB—even while missing two weeks to injury in June.

Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press
Healthy again, Christian Yelich (right) has it in him to hit a handful of homers and steal 10-plus bases the rest of the way.

 

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:

  • Kole Calhoun, Mark Trumbo, Howie Kendrick, Marcell Ozuna, Lance Lynn, Jason Hammel, Jose Quintana, Jered Weaver, Erick Aybar, Alex Wood, Rajai Davis, Kevin Gausman, Jake Odorizzi, Jake Arrieta, Jake McGee, Cody Allen, Mark Melancon, Steve Cishek, Joakim Soria

Keep in mind: When a few players at the same position are bunched together—like pitchers Matt Cain, Alex Cobb and Tim Hudson—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:

  • Matt Adams: After yet another home run Saturday, Adams has nine homers and 26 RBI in 31 games since getting off the disabled list in mid-June.
  • Cliff Lee: He is finally ready to return; he'll start Monday against the San Francisco Giants, according to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly. If he's close to being the usual Cliff Lee, this could be a big boost for owners who've been without him since May 18.
  • Pablo Sandoval: Remember when Sandoval was killing your batting average with a sub-.200 mark into mid-May? Well, he's up to .280 on the year, to go with 12 homers, 43 RBI and 44 runs. 
  • Manny Machado: It seems even the All-Star break couldn't cool off Machado, who smashed a homer in the first game of the second half for his sixth in his past 14 games.
  • Jeff Samardzija: Hey, any starting pitcher who goes from the Chicago Cubs to the Oakland Athletics is going to win some games, which still matters in fantasy.
  • Carlos Gonzalez: Cautious optimism here, as CarGo has recovered from surgery to remove a tumor in his thumb, but let's see how it impacts his performance going forward.
  • Garrett Richards: After matching King Felix pitch for pitch on Friday (highlights below), it's time we all start considering Richards (11 W, 2.47 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 9.2 K/9) a borderline No. 1 starting pitcher for fantasy purposes.
  • Billy Hamilton: In 42 games since the start of June, Hamilton has hit four homers and driven in—get this—28 runs while hitting .312. He's no longer just a base stealer.
  • Anthony Rizzo: With 22 homers already, Rizzo is just one shy of his career high set last year, and his total is in the top five in the sport.

Meanwhile, the big fallers dropped because of the following:

  • Allen Craig: Now that Matt Adams is playing regularly while hitting for more power and rookie Oscar Taveras is once again in the picture, Craig's playing time has dipped after his production already had. 
  • Matt Kemp: If Kemp still wants to be a starting center fielder, maybe he should show he can do better than a .265 average, eight homers and five steals.
  • Joey Votto: Sure, Votto might be back at some nebulous point in the future this year, but he wasn't doing anything even when he was playing, and that quad injury doesn't seem to be getting any better.
  • Corey Dickerson: With Carlos Gonzalez back, Dickerson has seen his PT dry up, which is a shame, because he deserves a better fate, even on a Rockies team with about 17 outfielders.
  • Gerrit Cole: A sore right back/shoulder area has been plaguing Cole for the past month or so, and while he's eligible to come off the disabled list July 20, Jenn Menendez of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports there are no indications he's ready to do so.
  • Mike Minor: After missing the first month of 2014, Minor has fallen back into some early-career problems, namely being too hittable (10.8 H/9) and homer-prone (1.5 HR/9).
  • Elvis Andrus: He does have 50 runs and 20 stolen bases, but that's the entirety of Andrus' fantasy value, and with the surrounding lineup falling apart, who knows if the runs will continue.
  • Shin-Soo Choo: In case you weren't sure the Texas Rangers—owners of the worst record in MLB these days—were completely done, Choo and his .186/.256/.292 line since June 15 joins Andrus on this list of Board droppers.
  • Alex Rios: Oh, and Rios and his—count 'em—four homers, too.

Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press
Could an ankle injury be the reason Shin-Soo Choo has gone just 21-for-113 (.186) since June 15.

Wrapping Up

Are you refreshed after a few days off during the All-Star break? I hope so, because the next month is when the dog days set in, both in real and fantasy baseball.

Also coming up in both versions of the sport? The trade deadline, which hits on July 31 in MLB and thereabouts in most fantasy leagues.

In other words, make sure you do your due diligence when it comes to evaluating your roster's position holes and category needs, and then make a move or two that will address those.

At this point, trades are your best chance to improve your club going forward, primarily because the best waiver-wire adds and top-tier prospects are owned everywhere. To make a major impact, you'll need to look at other rosters as a way to better your own.

And as much as it might be painful, you should start ignoring the names of your players and focusing instead on their numbers. If that means trading—or even cutting—someone you're a fan of or had high hopes for, then so be it.

 

Statistics are accurate through July 19 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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