Finding Value in ESPN Rankings

Well it seems the ESPN Rankings have finally been put up, so it’s time for me to criticize them!  I clearly know more than the people paid to do so.

ESPN ranks Lucroy #91 overall and #5 catcher, and as much as I love Lucroy, you should never take a catcher that early. Yeah #91 isn’t early but #5 at catcher means he’s going too early. I still like these three – Rasmos #145 and #10, Castro #168 and #11, and Gattis #241 and #13. And remember, drafting these guys allows you to drop them if they aren’t producing.

Albert Pujols is ranked #52 overall and #9 at 1B, which is just ridiculous. I mean it’s great for us, but how could they rank him so low?! At the 1B position he’s ranked below Eric Hosmer and Buster Posey, and if you start Buster Posey at 1B you deserve to lose buster (my lame attempt at name humor). Jose Abreu is ranked even further down at #159 and #19 for 1B on ESPN. And I still love Justine Morneau, who’s buried under more guys than the one hot girl at comic con. So yeah, draft him with your last pick and feel good about it.

Profar #147 and #13, Gyorko #156 and #14, and Rendon #240 and #18 are all players that will give you value ranked that low. I mean after the top 3 of Cano/Kipnis/Pedroia and unless Phillips/Zobrist/Altuve drop below their rankings during the draft, I’d avoid the rest of the guys in the top 12 and happily draft one of these undervalued guys.

Kung Fu Panda at  #137 and #15 overall can give you a nice return. Of course Aramis Ramirez is #9 on ESPN (someone I said Yahoo! ranked too low). If you can’t draft a top 4 3B early on, and unless Donaldson falls to the 6th round or 7th round, I’d avoid 3rd basemen not named Pedro Alvarez. At #101 and #10 and with 30 HR power, he’s a bargain…albeit he’ll kill you in average. But in H2H, he’s someone I’d target because AVG is so fickle on a week to week basis.  I’d avoid Lawrie and Machado unless they fall drastically. Machado is a player coming off major knee surgery and probably won’t start the season, who is a much better real life player than fantasy player, who hits a ton of double, which NEWS FLASH, don’t mean anything. They certainly don’t mean they’ll bound to translate to HRs next season, which is what every pro-Machado writer/player point to. And don’t even get me started on the throw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtjsegoEvJo IT WASN’T EVEN THAT IMPRESSIVE. I saw it live, and I can tell you everyone in the room knew the batter was watching the ball instead of running to 1st and Machado made the play close by not fielding it correctly the 1st time…okay I may have some issues with Machado, that was a decently long tangent. Just draft Kung Fu and hope that the weight loss rumors were true. 60% of the time they’re true every time.

Somehow Starlin Castro is ranked ahead of Jean Segura…granted it’s literally 1 spot above him, but that’s 1 spot too high! Segura ranked #73 isn’t exactly low, but seems like a steal to me. A category he’ll help you plenty in. Andrelton Simmons had 17 homeruns, but I wouldn’t draft him expecting him to come near that total again. Just saying, he’s on the Braves for his fantastic defense, not for his hitting. Jed Lowrie always hits well when he’s healthy, and surprisingly he was healthy throughout the entirety of 2013, but he’s still ranked #162 overall and #14 at SS…you’re not risking anything, and he’ll provide a ton of value at that spot. You can always pick Peralta at  #259 and #19 or go even older with the Captain at #23 and #not ranked cause he’s old. He’ll produce if he plays, he’s not in that lineup for his defense…the reverse Simmons? Plus he does have some tenure on the Yankees.

Jose Bautista at #47 overall seems a little ridiculous. I mean I know he isn’t the healthiest guy, but they rank Cargo #5 overall because his production outweighs his injury risk…so did they forget that with Bautista? The guy can hit. Good. He hit 28 HRs battling through *sigh injuries in a 450 at bat campaign. I’m trying to get Pujols and Bautista everywhere. I love these 2 more than Barney Stinson loves Teddy Westside. Jason Heyward #82 is ranked even lower on ESPN than on Yahoo! Tori Hunter, Christian Yelich, Nick Swisher, Colby Rasmus, Kole Calhoun, Austin Jackson, and Nick Castellanos are all ranked at least after #160 overall and could all provide plenty of value this year.

Francisco Liriano is buried at #197…this guy is an ace. Draft him and thank ESPN for ranking him so low. Then thank the Pirates pitching staff for making him an ace again. Michael Wacha is somehow ranked 50 spots below Shelby Miller…I’d suspect they’d give you about equal value this year, I tend to like Miller more because he was so effective earlier in the year before tiring and people tend to overestimate playoff performances because they’re fresher in our memories, but Wacha at #143 is pretty solid. I still love Cashner, he pitches in Petco, but he’s made of glass. Kuroda #158 is being overshadowed by newcomer Tanaka #95, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Kuroda performed better than his fellow new NY bomber. Youngsters Cingrani, Wheeler, Salazar, and Gray are all ranked between #172 – #182 and could all be studs this year. I’d actually prefer them in reverse order, but I’d be happy with any/all of them on my staff. Justin Masterson did strikeout 195 batters last year and he’s ranked at #194 this year. If only he struck out 1 less guy! Or ESPN just ranked him 1 spot lower. There’s a ton of value in SP this year. I noticed Travis Wood at #284, which seems low for a guy that had a 9 Win 3.11ERA 144K 1.15WHIP season. Am I missing something here? Ian Kennedy #287 and in Petco seems peculiar as well. He pitches in Petco?Check. He has an arm? Check. That’s all I need to know.

It’s tough to rank “steals” for the RP position because many of steals for the closer position are won during spring training. I guess if I had to say something, it would be that I would shocked if Rex Brothers wasn’t the closer for the Rockies, I’d be a lot more interested in Alex Wood if he’s a SP rather than a RP, and I want Melancon on my team for those cushy ratios, even if he’s not closing. And Trevor Rosenthal will give you Craig Kimbrel numbers for a much cheaper price…not that I would draft either.

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