Plenty of fantasy writers, magazines, websites, etc. offer rankings. Positional rankings. Top 10s. Top 20s. Rankings by statistical category.
Each set of rankings typically factor in a combination of past player performances, lineup protection, run support, stadium tendencies (hitters’ park vs. a pitchers’ park), injuries, opportunities for promotion, etc. However, the biggest part of any preseason fantasy ranking involves predictions, projections and overall guesswork.
Because of that, no two sets of fantasy rankings are alike. They’re like snowflakes. And, it is basically impossible to have the perfect set of rankings heading into your respective fantasy drafts.
But what if we broadened our scope? What if we took several of the most respected fantasy rankings for the 2011 fantasy baseball season and mathematically merged them into a “super” ranking? Wouldn’t that give us the best of all worlds?
So, like we’ve done in the past, www.chinstrapninjas.com has once again started to delve into the world of composite rankings. Composite meaning we meshed together some of the major rankings we all turn to on draft day.
The following list is the composite top 50 fantasy baseball players based on rankings from mlb.com, cbssports.com, espn.com, yahoo.com and cnnsi.com (Sports Illustrated). Be sure to work your way to the bottom of the page. For an interactive table, where you can compare rankings side-by-side, go here.
If you click on a player’s position in the list below, you’ll be taken to my personal ranking and analysis for that position. Another cool feature, as we try to help keep your preparation for fantasy baseball draft day as quick and painless as possible.
1. Albert Pujols, 1B. No surprise here. Overall top-ranked player by everyone outside of mlb.com. We discussed the Hanley vs. Albert for first overall last season. The argument stays basically the same for this year.
2. Hanley Ramirez, SS. Another no-brainer. Received one first-place ranking and seconds the rest of the way. I could, and soon will, make my case for Hanley first overall.
3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B. Off-field issues aside, Cabrera has proven to be a consistent on-field stud. Even a 13th ranking by espn.com doesn’t knock Cabrera off this pedestal.
4. Troy Tulowitzki, SS. Perhaps fueled by position scarcity concerns, Tulo needs to stay healthy and show consistency to produce well enough for a top four overall selection.
5. Evan Longoria, 3B. Some more discrepancies starting to show between rankings. His highest was fourth by espn.com, lowest was ninth at cbs.com. I’m not buying this high.
6. Ryan Braun, OF. A 10th ranking by cbs.com keeps Braun out of the top five, which is where I have him.
7 (tie). Joey Votto, 1B and Carlos Gonzalez, OF. Two young players with great careers ahead of them. Votto has long been a chinstrapninjas favorite. CarGo broke out in 2010. I personally think it would be silly not to expect some regression for Gonzalez. Not a lot but enough for me to pass at this spot.
9. Robinson Cano, 2B. Ranked as low as 11th by mlb.com and as high as fourth by cbs.com. I’m a huge Yankees fan and loved what Cano did last year but can’t bring myself to select him this high until I see another season of elite numbers.
10. Carl Crawford, OF. The move to Boston could put Crawford in a position to see yet another stat increase. However, 10th overall seems a little high. A ranking of third overall by espn.com inflated Crawford on this list.
11 (tie). David Wright, 3B and Roy Halladay, SP. Wright has produced as a third baseman for quite some time and was helped by a ninth ranking from mlb.com. Halladay is easily the best pitcher in baseball right now but didn’t receive anything higher than a ninth (from espn.com), illustrating across the board the importance of focusing on offense early in drafts.
13. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B. The transition from a pitchers park in San Diego to a more hitter-friendly environment at Fenway could mean big things from Adrian. As long as injuries don’t linger.
16. Mark Teixeira, 1B. A little low for Teixeira in my opinion, but some are nervous about his streakiness last year. ESPN has him at 22nd.
17 (tie). Alex Rodriguez, 3B and Felix Hernandez, SP. ARod has definitely seen a decline of late, but I’ll still take a gamble on his talent level alone if he falls to me. King Felix doesn’t have the track record, or enough run support, to deserve too early of a look.
19. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B. I love Zimmerman as much as I did last year. I still think he could finish the season as the top fantasy third baseman. He’s just not as cheap as he was last year around this time.
20. Matt Holliday, OF. It is interesting how well Holliday has produced from a consistency standpoint over the past several seasons and how little love he receives for it. Yahoo has him ranked as low as 27th overall. I’d dance a jig if I could get him in the middle of the third round.
21 (tie). Prince Fielder, 1B and Tim Lincecum, SP. Due to some erratic play in 2010, Fielder is becoming a sneaky value pick in the later second round. Lincecum finished last season strong and should continue to be a force on the mound.
23. Dustin Pedroia, 2B. Not a buyer at this point on Pedroia, partially due to his injury-shortened 2010 and partially to my own personal bias against anyone wearing red socks who typically works in the Boston area, making an illustration of myself for the whole finding objective rankings comment from above.
24 (tie). Ryan Howard, 1B and Kevin Youkilis, 3B. I know he is more streaky, but if I can get a player of Ryan Howard’s ilk at the end of the second round, why again isn’t Hanley Ramirez the consensus top overall pick? Youkilis? Just repeat everything I wrote about Pedroia at No. 23.
26. Joe Mauer, C. Seems that the major sites are starting to realize the silliness of thinking about Maurer in the first round. In fact, three of the three used had him ranked lower than 30th. I’ll still snag my catcher later.
27. Cliff Lee, SP. The move back to the NL back to Philly and its well-endowed offense will only help Lee, who is dominant when he’s happy.
28. Jose Reyes, SS. A ranking of 36th by ESPN and 44th by SI means Reyes is nearing the realm of draft-day value. Health is the only concern.
29. Matt Kemp, OF. One of the toughest guys to peg if you look at the variance between rankings. That’s because people are still trying to understand why he struggled so badly at times last year. He’s ranked as high as 21st (by ESPN) and not even mentioned in the top 50 for cbs, while falling to 46th for SI.
30. Nelson Cruz, OF. Speaking of health, Cruz is the poster child for what injuries can do to a player’s value. He rakes when on the field but can’t seem to keep himself there.
31. Jose Bautista, 3B. The 54 home runs last year, you’d think, would put him higher on this list. But like some of us at chinstrapninjas.com expect, the other rankings suggest a regression is in store for Bautista in 2011.
32. Justin Upton, OF. There is no doubt Upton is uber-talented, but inconsistency can scare away many fantasy owners. He isn’t even ranked in the top 50 by SI. I’ll definitely give him a shot at the right price.
33. Shin-Soo Choo, OF. Another casualty of the SI top 50 (probably because their rankings lean heavily on the pitcher side of things), Choo is still a five-category threat that seems to get little love by some on draft day.
34. Buster Posey, C. Interesting that Posey finds himself ahead of all catchers not named Mauer on this list, especially since mlb.com ranked him outside of their top 50. Hype can be a powerful thing, and while I expect Posey to have a stellar career, I also think it would be silly not to expect some growing pains this year.
35. Ian Kinsler, 2B. Yet another player who could be a first rounder if injury concerns weren’t circling him like vultures over roadkill. Big-time reward/risk option.
36. Dan Uggla, 2B. He doesn’t have Kinsler’s upside, but he also is much more reliable in covering your backside if you take him on draft day, especially on a maturing and talented Braves roster.
37. Josh Johnson, SP. Another interesting ranking. I have Johnson much lower than other pitchers you’ll find later in this list. Two sites (mlb.com and cbs.com) have him in their top 30. More of my thoughts can be found here.
39. Jon Lester, SP. See Josh Johnson two spots ahead of him? Lester is one of the pitchers I’d place higher. He would have gotten there if he wasn’t so low on both mlb.com’s and cbs.com’s lists.
40. C.C. Sabathia, SP. Not ranked in the top 50 by three of the five sites used in this experiment, Sabathia gets this high thanks to a 19th overall ranking from SI.
41. Andrew McCutchen, OF. Two sites don’t rank him in the top 50; three sites have him in the 30s. Which is how he winds up in the middle. Could be a sign of possible value?
42. Clayton Kershaw, SP. The last player on this list to be ranked in the top 50 by each of the sites used, Kershaw definitely saw a decent amount of fluctuation between sites.
43. Jason Heyward, OF. Last year’s rookie sensation enters his sophomore campaign with high expectations. Usually a sign of impending disappointment in fantasy circles, so this ranking seems pretty solid considering.
44 (tie). Justin Morneau, 1B and Adrian Beltre, 3B. Who says first base isn’t deep this year? Just be sure that Morneau’s concussion is in his rearview mirror before spending too much on him this spring. Beltre should enjoy hitting in Arlington, as long as he can stay healthy.
46. Adam Dunn, 1B. He’s the Rodney Dangerfield of fantasy baseball. No one can hold a candle to the consistent power numbers he produces, he has shown some progress in his batting average the past two seasons and finds himself on a much more talented roster this season. Again, I ask, why isn’t Hanley Ramirez the first overall player?
47. Ubaldo Jimenez, SP. The season-ending numbers were impressive despite the roller coaster ride getting there. Way too talented to last too long on draft day.
48. Jimmy Rollins, SS. If this were a draft order, getting Rollins at the end of the fourth round isn’t a bad consolation prize for a shallow position, as long as he can rebound at least somewhat to Rollins pre-2010.
49. Kendry Morales, 1B. Ditto to everything said above about Justin Morneau, except replace the word “concussion” with “leg.” There are some reports that suggest Morales could miss the season opener. We’ll see.
50 (tie). Justin Verlander, SP and Derek Jeter, SS. Yet another pitcher from a glut of second-tier starters that will produce very well and prove that you don’t need to spend a pick in the first round or second round on pitching. Jeter’s skill set has diminished for sure, but he still produces better than others at his position.
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