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Relief Pitcher H2H Points Rankings - March Update

With the regular season, also known as the fantasy season, just a few weeks away, it's time for the RotoBaller staff to update our points rankings one last time. We end our review of the March update with a look at the bullpen for the relief pitcher position. While there is a lot of talent in the ninth, as well as many skilled hurlers ready to help in a setup capacity and strike if the opportunity to close opens up, there's no question that a three-headed monster rules the RP draft board. Don't forget to bookmark our famous Rankings Wizard where you can see all of our rankings for mixed leagues, points leagues, AL/NL only leagues, dynasty leagues, top 2018 prospects, dynasty prospects and more. You will also find our tiers, auction values, player news, stats, projections and more. You can easily download everything - oh, and it's all free! We hope you enjoy...  

Updated Head-to-Head Points League Rankings: Relief Pitcher

Ranking Tier Player Name Pos Auction $
1 1 Kenley Jansen RP 19
2 1 Craig Kimbrel RP 18
3 1 Aroldis Chapman RP 17
4 2 Corey Knebel RP 16
5 2 Roberto Osuna RP 15
6 2 Felipe Rivero RP 15
7 2 Cody Allen RP 14
8 2 Edwin Diaz RP 13
9 2 Wade Davis RP 13
10 3 Raisel Iglesias RP 12
11 3 Kenneth Giles RP 9
12 3 Alexander Colome RP 7
13 3 Brad Hand RP 7
14 3 Jeurys Familia RP 5
15 3 Sean Doolittle RP 5
16 3 Archie Bradley RP 5
17 4 Andrew Miller RP 4
18 4 Arodys Vizcaino RP 4
19 4 Hector Neris RP 4
20 4 Mark Melancon RP 4
21 4 Kelvin Herrera RP 3
22 4 Brad Brach RP 3
23 5 Dellin Betances RP 3
24 5 Alexander Reyes SP/RP 3
25 5 Shane Greene RP 3
26 5 Brad Peacock RP 2
27 5 David Robertson RP 2
28 5 Blake Treinen RP 2
29 5 Cameron Bedrosian RP 1
30 5 Brandon Morrow RP 1
31 5 Joakim Soria RP 1
32 5 Chris Devenski SP/RP 1
33 5 Greg Holland RP 1
34 5 A.J. Ramos RP 1
35 6 Jeff Hoffman RP 1
36 6 Fernando Rodney RP 1
37 6 Adam Ottavino RP 1
38 6 Addison Reed RP 1
39 6 C.J. Edwards RP 1
40 6 Kyle Barraclough RP 1
41 6 Chad Green RP 1
42 6 Brad Ziegler RP 1
43 6 Jhoulys Chacin SP/RP 1
44 6 Luke Gregerson RP 1
45 6 Keone Kela RP 1
46 6 Zach Britton RP 1
47 7 Mike Montgomery SP/RP 1
48 7 Ryan Madson RP 1
49 7 Jake Junis SP/RP 1
50 7 Jose Urena RP 1
51 7 Matt Bush RP 1
52 7 Juan Minaya RP 1
53 7 Hector Rondon RP 1
54 7 Yoshihisa Hirano RP 1
55 7 Seung-Hwan Oh RP 1
56 7 A.J. Minter RP 1
57 7 Nate Jones RP 1
58 7 Tony Watson RP 1
59 7 Brandon Maurer RP 1
60 7 Bradley Boxberger RP 1
61 7 Sam Dyson RP 1
62 7 Brandon Kintzler RP 1
63 7 Jim Johnson RP 1
64 7 Dominic Leone RP 1
65 7 Darren O'Day RP 1
66 7 Carter Capps RP 1
67 7 Pat Neshek RP 1
68 7 Shawn Kelley RP 1
Tier 1 Here is the aforementioned three-headed monster, with Kenley Jansen, Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman bringing the heat to shut down any hopes of a comeback by opponents. We don't have any questions here, but I do think that Jansen is going a bit too high and Chapman is going too low. Fear about Chapman's health, command and insane depth behind him in the 'pen make sense to me and that's why he's still third within the tier, but after the rotator-cuff inflammation and hamstring issue were behind him, he was phenomenal in September. He is a Tier-One asset.  Tier 2 While I hold that you are best off either grabbing an elite RP at value or waiting until later, these second-tier closers are all capable of putting up stats that make you wonder if you grabbed a Kimbrel or Chapman by mistake. Okay, that's a bit much because the raw strikeouts and job security isn't there like it is for those upper guys, but anyone who owned Corey Knebel or Felipe Rivero down the stretch knows what they're capable of. Roberto Osuna and Cody Allen likely have the safest floors given their track records and I'm not scared of Coors Field at all for Wade Davis. Edwin Diaz is the one who gives me pause, though. He lost his job last year, in case you've forgotten. He may have worked on his mechanics this offseason, but he and his 4.02 FIP are not in my RP1 circle of trust just yet. 

Tier 3

Raisel Iglesias should help make value with his multi-inning appearances. Ken Giles had a shaky offseason but still has the upside and team environment to be a top-five closer. Alex Colome tweaked his pitch mix in '17 and saw his K-rate fall from 31.4% to 20.6% (his SIERA jumped from 2.56 to 4.05), and could also be traded. He gets dunked in my rankings, so I doubt I get him anywhere. Brad Hand is a beast who finally has the ninth to himself and with that contract extension, he shouldn't be moved or demoted readily. Jeurys Familia should be okay given how he looked last September, but I'm still hesitant to lean on him or the Mets the in the middle rounds. I love Sean Doolittle and his 31.5% strikeout rate from last year, but I know the durability will scare everyone off. Archie Bradley blossomed in the bullpen, gaining enough confidence with a slight uptick in velocity perhaps to attack the zone more and cut his walk rate from 10.5% to 7.2%. He's not a fly-ball guy (29% in '17), but the humidor sure isn't going to hurt him.

Tier 4

I am being too harsh on Hector Neris, but my concern is that in points leagues you're going to suffer through his stints where the splitter just isn't splitting as well as he's used to and that ends up burning you more than standard roto-ers feel. Mark Melancon may simply be done after the forearm surgery headlined his multiple trips to the disabled list, but I'm willing to bank on AT&T Park (and that contract) helping him re-establish himself as a low-WHIP, low-variance, nearly-a-strikeout-per-inning kind of guy. SF is in a better spot now with Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria and should have opportunities for MM. 

Tier 5

The fifth tier could practically be named "Speculation World". Step right up and see if Cam Bedrosian is truly Mike Scoscia's closer! If Brandon Morrow winds up with the ninth and stays healthy long enough to make it worth your while! Seriously, his postseason workload makes for some additional fright factor there. How long will Zach Britton really be out, thus giving Brad Brach clear value? Can Dellin Betances rein in his control? Will Greg Holland sign somewhere as a closer? Will Fernando Rodney be shooting arrows into the Minnesota sky all season long? Pick and choose which darts you want to throw carefully, but I don't suggest investing more than two picks in this range. 

Tier 6

This next tier houses many of the fallback options to those other questions, with Britton, Carl Edwards Jr. and Addison Reed falling in line. I'm a fan of scooping one of Edwards, Reed, or Keone Kela late. Despite Texas' noncommitment to Kela as a player, his electric 33.8% strikeout rate with a healthy 3.26 FIP and 3.25 SIERA (2.79 ERA) give him top-10 RP upside should he oust the uninspiring Alex Claudio and pipe-dream Tim Lincecum

Tier 7

Here's where you'll find the closers that no one wants to own, but will if they've passed on SV value elsewhere in Joakim Soria and Brad Ziegler. Both could/should be shipped out by the Trade Deadline, but you'll get something out of them first...hopefully. Blake Parker was everyone's favorite to take the LAA closer role, but Scioscia gonna Scioscia. The talent is still there, so if/when Bedrosian gets hurt, it should be Parker who skyrockets in value. Dominic Leone would be a fun closer in St. Louis if they don't go with Gregerson or sign Holland. A.J. Minter is probably my favorite value late in drafts due to Arodys Vizcaino being inconsistent and Minter throwing absolute fire. Even if he doesn't get the ninth, the 24-year-old posted a ridiculous 40.6% strikeout rate in 15 big-league frames last season. He did have some control issues along the way (~6.0 BB/9 at Double- and Triple-A in '17) but the upside is absolutely worth it at this point.  

More MLB Rankings and ADP Analysis

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Outfield H2H Points Rankings - March Update

Welcome back RotoBallers. With the MLB season just a few days away, it's time to update our rankings and analysis to account for injuries, free agent signings, spring training risers/fallers and more. We continue our updated March rankings today with the outfield position. I, Nick Mariano, will break down each tier and provides analysis for which players might be overvalued or undervalued in fantasy baseball drafts. The position is unique in that many players have eligibility here that you are better off playing elsewhere on the diamond, but the option at OF remains. While the pool runs deep and you can assemble a 5OF corps late, this is not a place to fall behind in drafts. We'll look at all of the bats, big and small, and hit on the notables in each tier for your draft-day benefit and reflection. Don't forget to bookmark our famous Rankings Wizard where you can see all of our rankings for mixed leagues, points leagues, AL/NL only leagues, dynasty leagues, top 2018 prospects, dynasty prospects and more. You will also find our tiers, auction values, player news, stats, projections and more. You can easily download everything - oh, and it's all free! We hope you enjoy...  

Updated Head-to-Head Points League Rankings: Outfield (March)

Ranking Tier Player Name Pos Auction $
1 1 Mike Trout OF 48
2 1 Mookie Betts OF 42
3 1 Charlie Blackmon OF 41
4 1 Kris Bryant 3B/OF 39
5 1 Bryce Harper OF 37
6 1 Giancarlo Stanton OF 35
7 2 J.D. Martinez OF 32
8 2 Aaron Judge OF 32
9 2 George Springer OF 30
10 3 Marcell Ozuna OF 28
11 3 Cody Bellinger 1B/OF 27
12 3 Starling Marte OF 25
13 3 Justin Upton OF 25
14 3 Nelson Cruz OF 23
15 3 Rhys Hoskins 1B/OF 21
16 3 Dee Gordon 2B/OF 20
17 3 Andrew Benintendi OF 20
18 3 Khris Davis OF 19
19 4 Christian Yelich OF 19
20 4 A.J. Pollock OF 19
21 4 Domingo Santana OF 18
22 4 Tommy Pham OF 18
23 4 Andrew McCutchen OF 18
24 4 Yoenis Cespedes OF 17
25 4 Byron Buxton OF 17
26 4 Ryan Braun OF 17
27 4 Lorenzo Cain OF 16
28 5 Gregory Polanco OF 16
29 5 Billy Hamilton OF 16
30 5 Ender Inciarte OF 15
31 5 Adam Eaton OF 14
32 5 Shohei Ohtani SP/OF 13
33 5 Matt Olson OF/1B 12
34 5 Adam Jones OF 11
35 5 Whit Merrifield 2B/OF 11
36 5 Chris Taylor 2B/SS/OF 11
37 6 Adam Duvall OF 10
38 6 Ronald Acuna OF 10
39 6 Ian Desmond OF/1B 9
40 6 Steven Souza OF 9
41 6 Yasiel Puig OF 9
42 6 Brett Gardner OF 9
43 6 Nomar Mazara OF 9
44 6 Jay Bruce OF/1B 9
45 6 Michael Brantley OF 8
46 6 Ian Happ 2B/OF 8
47 6 Joey Gallo 3B/1B/OF 8
48 6 Manuel Margot OF 8
49 6 Michael Conforto OF 7
50 7 Corey Dickerson OF 7
51 7 Kevin Kiermaier OF 6
52 7 Scooter Gennett 2B/3B/OF 6
53 7 Marwin Gonzalez 1B/2B/3B/SS/OF 6
54 7 Odubel Herrera OF 6
55 7 Matt Kemp OF 5
56 7 Aaron Altherr OF 5
57 7 Eduardo Nunez SS/3B/2B/OF 5
58 7 Kyle Schwarber OF 5
59 7 Shin-Soo Choo OF 5
60 7 Mitch Haniger OF 5
61 7 Dexter Fowler OF 5
62 8 David Peralta OF 4
63 8 Carlos Gonzalez OF 4
64 8 Jackie Bradley OF 4
65 8 Mark Trumbo OF 3
66 8 Eric Thames 1B/OF 3
67 8 Eddie Rosario OF 3
68 8 Trey Mancini 1B/OF 3
69 8 Bradley Zimmer OF 3
70 8 Jason Kipnis 2B/OF 3
71 9 Michael Taylor OF 3
72 9 Josh Reddick OF 2
73 9 Stephen Piscotty OF 2
74 9 Avisail Garcia OF 2
75 9 Carlos Gomez OF 2
76 9 Nick Williams OF 2
77 9 Aaron Hicks OF 2
78 9 Max Kepler OF 2
79 9 Howie Kendrick 2B/OF 2
80 9 Chris Owings 2B/SS/OF 1
81 10 Hunter Renfroe OF 1
82 10 Brandon Belt 1B/OF 1
83 10 Kole Calhoun OF 1
84 10 David Dahl OF 1
85 10 Delino DeShields OF 1
86 10 Cameron Maybin OF 1
87 10 Jorge Soler OF 1
88 10 Scott Schebler OF 1
89 10 Jason Heyward OF 1
90 11 Melky Cabrera OF 1
91 11 Clint Frazier OF 1
92 11 Derek Fisher OF 1
93 11 Keon Broxton OF 1
94 11 Hunter Pence OF 1
95 11 Lewis Brinson OF 1
96 11 Gerardo Parra OF 1
97 11 Randal Grichuk OF 1
98 11 Joc Pederson OF 1
99 11 Jose Bautista OF 1
100 11 Kevin Pillar OF 1
101 11 Jose Martinez OF/1B 1
102 11 Dustin Fowler OF 1
103 11 Albert Almora OF 1
104 11 Victor Robles OF 1
105 11 Mallex Smith OF 1
106 11 Denard Span OF 1
107 12 Jacoby Ellsbury OF 1
108 12 Nick Markakis OF 1
109 12 Hernan Perez 2B/3B/OF 1
110 12 Teoscar Hernandez OF 1
111 12 Jarrod Dyson OF 1
112 12 Lonnie Chisenhall OF 1
113 12 Michael Saunders OF 1
114 12 Ben Zobrist 2B/OF 1
115 12 Brandon Nimmo OF 1
116 12 Mikie Mahtook OF 1
117 13 Travis Jankowski OF 1
118 13 Raimel Tapia OF 1
119 13 Alex Gordon OF 1
120 13 Brandon Drury 3B/OF 1
121 13 Melvin Upton Jr. OF 1
122 13 Jose Pirela OF/2B 1
123 13 Matt Joyce OF 1
124 13 Jake Bauers 1B/OF 1
125 13 Curtis Granderson OF 1
126 13 Jake Marisnick OF 1
127 13 Paulo Orlando OF 1
128 13 Yasmany Tomas OF 1
129 13 Jefry Marte 1B/OF 1
130 13 Eloy Jimenez OF 1
131 13 Robbie Grossman OF 1
132 13 Jesse Winker OF 1
133 13 Alex Dickerson OF 1
134 13 Brandon Moss OF 1
135 13 Leonys Martin OF 1
136 13 Matt Holliday 1B/OF 1
137 13 Ben Gamel OF 1
138 13 Abraham Almonte OF 1
139 13 Jorge Bonifacio OF 1
140 13 Blake Swihart C/OF 1
141 13 Danny Valencia 1B/3B/OF 1
142 13 Tyler Naquin OF 1
143 13 Jeremy Hazelbaker OF 1
144 13 Rajai Davis OF 1
145 13 Magneuris Sierra OF 1
  Tier 1 Here are your cornerstone OF pieces, with each player offering their own blend of "yeah, I can see him finishing as the No. 1 overall hitter" in their game. Mike Trout is the absolute best with his incredible floor and five-category production. I believe we just saw Mookie Betts' floor thanks to a woeful BABIP, and he still essentially produced a 25/25 season. He should leadoff and benefit from the added power behind him. Charlie Blackmon will continue to crush cold cans in Coors to the tune of 200 R+RBI, with the only question being whether it's from the leadoff spot or lower in the order. Kris Bryant may have disappointed in the power department after winning the N.L. MVP award in 2016, but he's a durable 26-year-old who possesses great contact, power and on-base tools to help you in points leagues. Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton can both blow the world away if they stay on the field (true of anyone, but their durability record instills more trepidation).

Tier 2

J.D. Martinez should be able to put up Big Papi-type numbers at Fenway in this lineup. Ditto when he travels to hitter-friendly havens in Baltimore, Toronto and the Bronx. He's a dreamy second-round pick in all formats. Aaron Judge carries considerable risk, but I'm buying that most of his second-half slump was due to the shoulder issue on top of the bumps and bruises of one's first big-league season. That lineup and hitting environment is too good to pass up, and an OBP north of .400 should counter any negatives from the K rate. Then there's George Springer, who still can't figure out how to steal bases well, but has a 40-homer ceiling and can vie for 700 plate appearances and all the counting stats that come with that volume from atop Houston's lineup.

Tier 3

Asking Marcell Ozuna to repeat his 2017 would require some luck given how his .355 BABIP sat way above his .327 career mark, but if you can settle for a .280ish average then you should enjoy the stats that come from batting behind Dexter Fowler, Tommy Pham and Matt Carpenter. I acknowledge that Starling Marte batting third does help his stock, but I'm still very wary of his doing enough to justify a top-40 or 50 pick with such limited pop and the supporting cast.

Tier 4

Christian Yelich might deserve to be in the third tier, but I need to be totally bought into his power stroke being capable of 25 homers to do so. I'm perfectly fine with those willing to buy higher and won't be surprised at all if he dominates in Milwaukee, but the range of outcomes could still reasonably land him outside of the top-50. I don't like A.J. Pollock in the humidor with his durability woes to outperform a guy like Tommy Pham or Byron Buxton, and I'll happily take Lorenzo Cain later. I should probably knock both Ryan Braun and Domingo Santana down a bit more, but I'm okay with them going in the 80-90 range because their upside, should they reach 500-550 PAs, is very solid. Playing time is an issue though, whether it's for health concerns or just pure depth pushing them to the bench every so often.

Tier 5

Tier Five houses some accumulators, as Ender Inciarte and Adam Jones aren't supreme standouts but can deliver healthy totals from high in their batting orders. I'm not sure why everyone else is hanging Whit Merrifield outside of their top-130 given his legit 15HR/30SB skill set. I'm a bit worried about Adam Eaton's body holding up all year after missing 2017, especially with Washington's strong outfield depth, but if you believe he's play 150 games then you should take him at the front of this tier and ignore my cautiousness.

Tier 6

Speaking of caution, I'm completely out on Michael Conforto this year. That injury was so brutal to watch and my habit of adding on at least two weeks to an estimated timeframe for return gives me roughly two-thirds of a season from him. That's great and all if we could safely assume he and his swing are just as they were pre-injury, but I can't tell that. I'll let someone else gamble on this in '18. Adam Duvall is another guy I'm much lower on compared to my colleagues, as I want no real part of the four-man outfield rotation in Cincinnati. A cold spell from Duvall could see him the odd man out to Scott Schebler and Jesse Winker. I don't think any of them get completely edged out, but I'm not drafting a guy with only one real asset (power) inside my top-150 with PT concerns. Getting ABs is my rationale for knocking Ian Happ as well, but those with deeper benches should definitely move him up.

Tier 7

I'm almost 40 picks higher on Marwin Gonzalez than anyone else, but I think Yuli Gurriel's injury is huge for his getting everyday PT until the next guy gets hurt. He really doesn't need anyone to get hurt anyway (and I don't condone rooting for injury) since he's eligible everywhere except pitcher and catcher. You want pieces of Houston's lineup, especially one who can put up a .900 OPS while chipping in nearly 10 steals. I'm also highest on Thin Kyle Schwarber, Shin-Soo Choo and Dexter Fowler. Schwarbs has the power and plate discipline to be a star, though you probably want to sit him if he's playing against a southpaw. Choo and Fowler are boring vets, but Choo possesses a career walk rate of 12 percent alongside 20-homer and 10-steal performance in a lineup that could see him score nearly 100 runs again, while Fowler will be the beneficiary on the other side of the Ozuna talking point thanks to his own 12.7 percent career walk rate, non-zero speed and roughly 15-20 homers in his bat.

Tier 8

It's crazy how far Carlos Gonzalez has fallen, but I'm still in on him before the 200s start to come around. He may be one streaky guy, but this is still a season-long ranking approach and I am okay gambling on the late hot streak that saw him slash .327/.411/.591 from Aug. 2 until the end of the '17 season. I'm here for Eddie Rosario 2.0. I believe in Dave Rowson and the hitting improvements that he helped both Rosario and Jorge Polanco integrate into their game, so reach a round or two if you want. I'm also buying this pair of Clevelanders, with Bradley Zimmer's power/speed ceiling and Jason Kipnis' healthy swing both providing avenues to fantasy production in a star-studded lineup. Tier 9 I don't want to make Stephen Piscotty's down year all about his ailing mother, but I really do buy into those things affecting play and we've seen him be much better than this. I think a similar thing burnt out Travis Shaw, who was dealing with a sick infant, throughout 2017 for his home games since he visited the hospital often in his non-game time. I worry a bit about Piscotty being stuck in the six-hole, but I can see him being moved up to three quite easily should he reclaim even just his 2016 form. Aaron Hicks is another guy who would really benefit from your having a deeper bench, as he's a force when in the lineup, but it's quite the crowd in New York. Hopefully, Aaron Boone is wise and gets him around 450-500 PAs. Points leaguers won't need to sweat his low line-drive rates as much as roto owners worry over batting average, as Hicks' walk rate soared to over 14 percent last season and should allow him to chip in more readily (let alone be standing on base for when the moonshots get launched behind him). Tier 10 The CarGo signing really does dampen David Dahl's potential, but I think Dahl is still ahead of Raimel Tapia when it comes to playing time thanks to his defense. The offensive environment is beyond ideal in Denver, but his own health and the playing time hurdles make for a risky proposition. I'd much rather take a steady contributor like Brandon Belt or Kole Calhoun, where you aren't getting some lofty ceiling that you can dream about, but you have a solid stat line that you can practically book. Belt does have the concussion issues, but a walk rate around 15 percent and a steady stream of extra-base hits float his points-league value when on the field. Calhoun should enjoy hitting in a lineup that has no real weak point, and is likely the biggest beneficiary of the right-field wall being trimmed in height. Tier 11 At this point, you pretty much know you're taking a serious risk. Someone like Jason Heyward could certainly bounce back and it wouldn't surprise us that much, but most of these guys are longshots in some form. I do think that Randal Grichuk will end up crushing it in Toronto, but you can see that some folks disagree with me! I'll this more as an opportunity to stump for the two guys that I ranked but no one else did. Dustin Fowler was a touted prospect in the Yankees system who hit 13 homers and stole 13 bags in just 70 Triple-A contests before getting called up last season. Of course, his season-ending knee injury in the first inning of his MLB debut quieted all that buzz. He's now in Oakland where he'll compete with Boog Powell for playing time in centerfield, but I think he wins out often and puts the power/speed combo on display in the leadoff slot. Albert Almora has the kind of glove that will keep him in the lineup, but without big power or speed he'll just be a solid batting average with good counting stats in a potent lineup. Oh, and you're going to want to get Victor Robles before he hits the Majors. Tier 12 Nick Markakis remains an afterthought, but his steady bat will continue to churn out doubles as Atlanta's next generation rises around him. You're buying the at-bats here. Mikie Mahtook is another solid asset who should see plenty of playing time in Detroit this year, though he was higher on my list when it looked like he'd lead off more than Leonys Martin. Alas, he has 15/10 talent with an average that could actually help you (.275-.280 range), which is a steal this late. Tier 13 This is where you'll find the dart throws like the aforementioned Leonys Martin holding down the leadoff slot for Detroit, or Jesse Winker really making a name for himself in that Cincinnati OF rotation, or Yasmany Tomas forcing his way back into a starting lineup (be it in Arizona or elsewhere). Obviously, Jorge Bonifacio can be ignored. I really like Brandon Drury as an early buy in drafts. Let him contribute just like he will for the Yankees: a placeholder early who gets the job done, but when you find a buzzy waiver add (your version of Gleyber Torres or Miguel Andujar) then you can bench him. Jake Bauers hit 13 homers and stole 20 bases in 575 Triple-A PAs last season and could find himself spelling C.J. Cron at first and DHing often if Brad Miller continues to woo the Mendoza Line.  

More MLB Rankings and ADP Analysis

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Starting Pitcher H2H Points Rankings - March Update

We are getting closer and closer to the first pitch of the 2018 MLB season. Spring training is in full swing which means we are right in the thick of draft season. If you have a draft coming up soon, make sure to use our rankings for all league types. Regardless of the platform or scoring, we have every set of rankings you would need to draft a championship team. In this article, I will be discussing the updates to our starting pitcher rankings for points leagues. We have had some movement after late free agency signings and trades. Whether you are like me and wait on pitcher to focus on value you, or your like to stock your rotation with top talent, I will break down all the tiers so you can find the best options for your team.  

Updated Head-to-Head Points League Rankings: Starting Pitchers

Ranking Tier Player Name Pos Auction $
1 1 Clayton Kershaw SP 43
2 1 Max Scherzer SP 35
3 1 Chris Sale SP 34
4 1 Corey Kluber SP 34
5 2 Madison Bumgarner SP 30
6 2 Stephen Strasburg SP 29
7 2 Noah Syndergaard SP 28
8 2 Jacob deGrom SP 27
9 2 Luis Severino SP 26
10 2 Zack Greinke SP 25
11 2 Carlos Martinez SP 22
12 2 Yu Darvish SP 21
13 2 Justin Verlander SP 20
14 2 Carlos Carrasco SP 20
15 2 Robbie Ray SP 19
16 3 Chris Archer SP 18
17 3 Aaron Nola SP 18
18 3 James Paxton SP 17
19 3 Dallas Keuchel SP 17
20 3 Jake Arrieta SP 17
21 3 Jose Quintana SP 16
22 3 Masahiro Tanaka SP 16
23 3 Lance McCullers SP 15
24 3 Rich Hill SP 15
25 3 Gerrit Cole SP 15
26 4 Alex Wood SP 15
27 4 Shohei Ohtani SP/OF 14
28 4 David Price SP 13
29 4 Zack Godley SP 13
30 4 Jon Lester SP 13
31 4 Luis Castillo SP 12
32 4 Jose Berrios SP 12
33 4 Sonny Gray SP 11
34 4 Kyle Hendricks SP 11
35 4 Michael Fulmer SP 11
36 4 Luke Weaver SP 10
37 5 Johnny Cueto SP 10
38 5 Danny Duffy SP 9
39 5 Marcus Stroman SP 9
40 5 Jonathan Gray SP 7
41 5 Garrett Richards SP 7
42 5 Gio Gonzalez SP 7
43 6 Jameson Taillon SP 7
44 6 Jordan Montgomery SP 6
45 6 Charlie Morton SP 6
46 6 Jimmy Nelson SP 5
47 6 Drew Pomeranz SP 5
48 6 Trevor Bauer SP 5
49 6 Michael Clevinger SP 5
50 6 Dylan Bundy SP 5
51 6 Taijuan Walker SP 5
52 6 Kenta Maeda SP 4
53 6 Cole Hamels SP 4
54 6 Aaron Sanchez SP 4
55 6 Danny Salazar SP 4
56 6 Lance Lynn SP 4
57 7 Patrick Corbin SP 4
58 7 Jeff Samardzija SP 3
59 7 Tyler Chatwood SP 3
60 7 Kevin Gausman SP 3
61 7 Chase Anderson SP 2
62 7 Sean Manaea SP 2
63 7 Jake Odorizzi SP 2
64 7 Michael Wacha SP 2
65 7 Blake Snell SP 2
66 7 Julio Teheran SP 2
67 7 Rick Porcello SP 2
68 7 Eduardo Rodriguez SP 2
69 8 Ervin Santana SP 2
70 8 J.A. Happ SP 1
71 8 Alexander Reyes SP/RP 1
72 8 Jacob Faria SP 1
73 8 Felix Hernandez SP 1
74 8 Anthony DeSclafani SP 1
75 9 Tanner Roark SP 1
76 9 Alex Cobb SP 1
77 9 Zach Davies SP 1
78 9 Lucas Giolito SP 1
79 9 Hyun-Jin Ryu SP 1
80 9 Steven Matz SP 1
81 9 Luiz Gohara SP 1
82 9 Vincent Velasquez SP 1
83 10 German Marquez SP 1
84 10 Miles Mikolas SP 1
85 10 Marco Estrada SP 1
86 10 Dinelson Lamet SP 1
87 10 Collin McHugh SP 1
88 10 Chris Devenski SP/RP 1
89 10 Reynaldo Lopez SP 1
90 10 Josh Hader SP 1
91 10 Ivan Nova SP 1
92 10 Joe Musgrove SP 1
93 10 Daniel Straily SP 1
94 10 Chris Stratton SP 1
95 10 Chad Kuhl SP 1
96 11 Carlos Rodon SP 1
97 11 Matt Shoemaker SP 1
98 11 Junior Guerra SP 1
99 11 Michael Foltynewicz SP 1
100 11 Jerad Eickhoff SP 1
101 11 Brandon Woodruff SP 1
102 11 Tyler Glasnow SP 1
103 11 CC Sabathia SP 1
104 11 John Lackey SP 1
105 11 Matt Harvey SP 1
106 11 Tyler Anderson SP 1
107 11 Jhoulys Chacin SP/RP 1
108 12 Adam Wainwright SP 1
109 12 Kyle Freeland SP 1
110 12 Ariel Miranda SP 1
111 12 Adam Conley SP 1
112 12 Mike Montgomery SP/RP 1
113 12 Ian Kennedy SP 1
114 12 Jake Junis SP/RP 1
115 12 Kendall Graveman SP 1
116 12 Matt Boyd SP 1
117 12 Robert Stephenson SP 1
118 12 Wei-Yin Chen SP 1
119 12 Jordan Zimmermann SP 1
120 12 Daniel Norris SP 1
121 12 Nate Karns SP 1
122 12 Sean Newcomb SP 1
123 13 Amir Garrett SP 1
124 13 Mike Fiers SP 1
125 13 Kyle Gibson SP 1
126 13 Matt Andriese SP 1
127 13 Zack Wheeler SP 1
128 13 Carson Fulmer SP 1
129 13 Doug Fister SP 1
130 13 Jaime Garcia SP 1
131 13 Shelby Miller SP 1
132 14 Tyson Ross SP 1
133 14 Andrew Triggs SP 1
134 14 Julio Urias SP 1
135 14 Miguel Gonzalez SP 1
136 14 Jason Hammel SP 1
137 14 Walker Buehler SP 1
138 14 Matt Moore SP 1
139 14 Josh Tomlin SP 1
140 14 Michael Kopech SP 1
141 14 Robert Gsellman SP 1
142 14 Trevor Cahill SP 1
143 14 Wade Miley SP 1
144 14 Homer Bailey SP 1
145 14 Tyler Skaggs SP 1
146 14 Mike Leake SP 1
147 14 Brandon Finnegan SP 1
148 14 Jason Vargas SP 1
149 14 A.J. Puk SP 1
150 14 Daniel Mengden SP 1
Tier 1 There really should be a tier above this with Clayton Kershaw by himself. He is almost always going to be the first pitcher off the board. The only thing you need to really worry about is that troublesome back injury that keeps popping up, but I don’t draft while worrying about injuries. If you draft Kershaw, you know what you will be getting. Max Scherzer, Chris Sale and Corey Kluber slot right in behind him. All are great starters that will contribute to all categories. They will rack up the strikeouts, pitch deep into ballgames and will keep the WHIP down. If you are one that likes to take pitching early, make one of these guys your first or second pick. Depending on the format, Kershaw will go off the board in the mid to late first round, or early second, and the rest of these guys will go in the second round. If you miss out for some reason, don’t worry, there are plenty of options coming up.   Tier 2 I picked Madison Bumgarner to be the ace of my staff in The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational. I just love the consistent performance he brings to the table. He had a fluke injury last year, but this was the first season since 2011 that Bumgarner didn’t have at least 31 starts in a season. It was also the first time he posted an ERA over 3.00 since 2012. He doesn’t get nearly enough attention out on the west coast. Also, he will only be 28 this season. Plenty of miles left in that arm. Carlos Martinez had what appeared to be a down year in 2017, but was it really a down year? I had a chance to talk about him at length on the Champions Analysis Podcast when we did our AL and NL Central Preview Mock Draft. For a third straight season, his innings pitched increased and he topped the 200-strikeout threshold for the first time. The problem with Martinez last season was a case of the long ball. Martinez gave up a career-high 27 home runs and was plagued by a bullpen that let him down far too often. The Cardinals bullpen allowed 35% of inherited runners to score last season, tied for fourth-most in the majors. Robbie Ray was one of my favorite stashes heading into last season, and he came through in a big way. Back to back 200-K seasons but Ray was finally able to limit opponent’s hits. He did have the same amount of strikeouts but in less innings pitched. He even posted a near-identical FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching) which shows a pitcher’s ability to limit walks and home runs but increase strikeouts. If the humidor does what it’s supposed to in Arizona, Ray could be looking at a decrease in home runs as well. Except him to build on last season.   Tier 3 This tier includes a couple of my favorite young arms in the game. Aaron Nola and James Paxton also took a step forward in 2017, much like Ray. The only thing holding Paxton back is his health. He has not been able to stay healthy to this point in his career. Last year was a career high with 136 innings pitched, and even then he had injury issues. Command can be an issue at times as well. 15 wild pitches led the league and an increase in walks per nine innings, up from 1.8 in 2016 to 2.4 in 2017. If he could stay healthy, he could catapult into Tier 2. Nola is winning this offseason just like the Phillies. Not only have they been one of the most active teams, making moves in order to win now, but have signed two of the biggest free agents in Carlos Santana and Jake Arrieta. Nola will now get a chance to learn from former Cy Young winner Arrieta and will not have the pressure of needing to be the ace of a young staff. Nola will be the Opening Day starter, but having the veteran presence of Arrieta could pay huge dividends as Nola will know he has support. A young pitcher trying too hard can cause issues sometimes and while I think Nola has everything needed to be special, the Phillies are ready to win now. More experience in the clubhouse is good for all. Man, will anyone benefit from a change of scenery more than Gerrit Cole? He went from being the ace of a team looking to rebuild and look towards the future, to the third starter for the defending champion Houston Astros. If you play in a league that takes wins into account, Cole is going to get a lot of those this season. Gone are the days of facing another team's ace (he will now leave that to Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel). He just hasn’t been the same since his breakout 2015 campaign, but a new home, a new team and a chance at a championship can help bring that back.   Tier 4 There is a lot of risk in this tier. The face of this risk, is one of the most intriguing players in all of baseball, Shohei Ohtani, who has been linked to arm problems since he signed with the Angels. We don’t know how much is true, but the Angels have publicly addressed the rumors and even said they were aware of them. David Price was a mess last season. Not only was he battling injuries, but he was calling out Red Sox Nation and being labeled as a clubhouse nuisance by others. Even though he has been close, he hasn’t had an ERA over 4.00 since 2009 and still hovers right around that K/9 of 9.00. I wouldn’t draft him to be your ace, or even SP2. But he could be a nice bargain for those of you that decide to wait and skip on pitching early. Michael Fulmer has been very good since being acquired by Detroit in a deal for Yoenis Cespedes. His rookie season was not one anticipated by many, including those in Detroit. Fulmer didn’t have the same success in his sophomore season, which was contributed to a lack of strikeouts. Even though Fulmer increased his innings pitched by 4.1, he saw his strikeouts drop by 18. Elbow surgery cost him the end of the 2017 season, but he should be back. There was no structural damage, but he has had some issues with soreness this spring. Keep an eye on his status while drafting.   Tier 5 One of my favorite values is included in this tier. Garrett Richards has been devalued after two injury-plagued seasons, but I think he will finally bounce back with a healthy 2018. He worked his way back with a few decent outings to close out the campaign last year. He has put an emphasis on refining his curveball. If this guy is available late in your draft, buy in.   Tier 6 Taijuan Walker is another Diamondbacks pitcher who will benefit from changes out west this season. The former top prospect of the Mariners has settled in nicely during his first full season with Arizona. Truthfully, leaving Seattle was best for Walker. There were many comparisons between him and former teammate Felix Hernandez, and that is a lot to live up to. In Arizona, he can just be himself and continue to grow. The best part of being in Arizona is the staff he is surrounded by. He doesn’t need to come up and be the next ace. Another step forward is in order this season.   Tier 7 This tier includes two of my favorite bounce back candidates for 2018. My first bet is on Giants Jeff Samardzija. Even with an awful season, Samardzija still struck out 205 batters. He still has all of the stuff to make hitters swing and miss, he just gave up the third highest hit total in his career. He plays in an excellent hitter’s park, so you have to think his defense let him down some last year. The Giants have added Evan Longoria, Andrew McCutchen and Austin Jackson to help that defense. A healthy team behind Samardzija means a rebound season. One thing you always heard about the Giants, was their ability to win every other year. If you believe in things like that, then you believe Julio Teheran will also bounce back this season. Since his first full season in 2013, Teheran posted his lowest K/9 and highest BB/9 this past season. He will only be 27 this season, but the biggest question is whether he will be with the Braves all year. Teherans name has been coming up in trade talks for well over a year now. Players like that make me nervous, due to the uncertainty of their situation during the biggest stretch of the season. Regardless, if he gets his home run total down, his ERA could come back to the low three range and could be a great value this late.   Tier 8 I like Vincent Velasquez a lot more than most, but he was one guy I really liked coming up with the Astros. When he is on, he has some of the best pure stuff in the game. Last year was a complete disaster though. He wasn’t missing bats, giving up way too many hits and walking too many. I blame it on injuries, though. You could tell something wasn’t right all season. His K/9 fell from 10.4 to 8.5, which signals to me injuries were to blame. The key to growing as a young starter is finding consistency, whether with your delivery, pitches or routine. You can’t find that when you deal with injuries. If he can stay healthy, the consistency will come.  

More MLB Rankings and ADP Analysis

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Updated Draft Rankings and Player Tiers

Below are RotoBaller's 2018 fantasy baseball rankings, tiers and auction dollar values for the 2018 MLB season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find:

Top Shortstop Prospect Rankings - 2018 Impact Rookies for Fantasy Baseball

Welcome back, RotoBallers. I'll be breaking down impact prospects by position. Today I'm bringing you my top 10 shortstops - MLB prospect rankings for the 2018 fantasy baseball season. As expected, shortstop is far and away the deepest list of infield prospects. This tends to be the trend every season given that it is typically the most athletic infield prospects. These prospects are all found in top 100 prospect lists from notable websites like MLB Pipeline and Baseball America, and all will either have abundant playing time, are expected to be absolute mashers at the plate or both. Many of the shortstop prospects listed will move off the position and play other roles in the big leagues, but all of these players at least have a shot to man the spot in 2018. Some are also going to be considered longshots to make the majors this season, but should at least appear on the list given the immense upside the player possesses. So without any further ado, here are the top 10 shortstops for 2018 redraft leagues.  

Top 10 Shortstops Prospects for 2018 Fantasy Baseball

1. Gleyber Torres (NYY, AAA) Stats: (from AAA) 139 PA, .273/.367/.496, 5 HR, 5 SB, 12.2% BB%, 15.1% K% ETA: Early May This is Torres’ third appearance on a prospect list this preseason. Torres can play all three of second, third and shortstop and could see time at all three at the big-league level. Shortstop is the least likely of the three given the presence of Didi Gregorious, but it is still worth noting that should anything happen to Gregorious, Torres is the immediate solution. Torres has an incredibly balanced approach at the plate, combining patience with a propensity for consistently driving the ball with authority into the gaps. His power has not translated into as much over-the-fence pop as some have expected, but he is still only 21 years old and scouts think he just needs to add a little bit of loft to become an annual 20-homer hitter. He does not have enough speed to really be considered a threat on the bases, but he might add a steal here and there. Torres is considered one of the top prospects in baseball and would warrant owning in all leagues once he receives the promotion to the majors. 2. Franklin Barreto (OAK, MLB) Stats: (from AAA) 510 PA, .290/.339/.456, 15 HR, 15 SB, 5.3% BB%, 27.6% K% ETA: Early May Barreto’s skillset lends itself to a lot of fantasy hype. Though undersized, he has shown plenty of power and speed, leading some to envision the 5-foot-10 middle-infielder as a future 20/20 hitter at the dish. Barreto also possesses a plus hit tool that stems more from his ability to drive the ball than it does from his ability to make contact. Barreto did not look super sharp last season with strikeout rates near 30 percent in the minors and above 40 percent in the majors. However, it is important to note he just turned 22 years old in February and is the youngest player on this list to have already had major-league at-bats. His fantasy upside is tantalizing, and the playing time will come once he starts to put everything together a little bit more. Some view him at second base longterm given his average instincts and the rise of Jorge Mateo, but his bat will profile very well at either position. It shouldn’t take him long to reach the majors on a rebuilding Oakland Athletics team despite both Marcus Semien and Jed Lowrie showing both having posted solid seasons in 2017. He would be worth adding in most leagues given his fantasy-friendly profile. 3. Nick Senzel (CIN, AA) Stats: 235 PA, .340/.413/.560, 10 HR, 5 SB, 11.1% BB%, 18.3% K% ETA: Early July The fact Senzel is even mentioned as a shortstop now is just a testament to his incredible athleticism and the excitement the Cincinnati Reds have to get him to the majors. Though he is a natural third baseman, the presence of Eugenio Suarez in the big leagues has forced the Reds to consider moving Senzel to shortstop in an effort to get his bat into the big-league lineup. It is probably not his longterm home, but Jose Peraza is a much easier player to move past than Suarez. Senzel has done nothing but hit since he was drafted, flashing one of the best hit tools in the minors combined with plus power. Despite the fact many expected him to slow down as he matured, Senzel has maintained above-average speed and could be able to post something like 20/10 seasons given a full season of work. The reason he is as low on this list as he is comes from the presence of Suarez at third, Scooter Gennett at second, a crowded outfield and the chance Peraza does enough to keep Senzel at bay for a long enough time. Senzel will certainly debut this season and has the chance to be a special fantasy producer, and when he does, he will be worth owning in all leagues. It is just a matter of when he is promoted and what position he plays. 4. J.P. Crawford (PHI, MLB) Stats: (from AAA) 556 PA, .243/.351/.405, 15 HR, 5 SB, 14.2% BB%, 17.4% K% ETA: Opening Day A prospect that is essentially guaranteed a starting role on Opening Day typically ranks much higher on a list like this. But Crawford does not have the most exciting fantasy profile. While his plate discipline and defense both are impressive tools, he has not been able to routinely post high batting averages or steal many bases despite above-average speed. He did start to hit for a bit more power in 2017, but the most important tool will have to be his hit tool if he hopes to stay in the majors and have much of a fantasy impact. He will also bat near the bottom of the order, which will not help his counting stats in the 2018 season. Crawford is ranked highly by evaluators, but owners should understand that while he comes with guaranteed playing time, he might not be the most exciting prospect to own. Still, the upside is there for a hitter with a .280-plus batting average and 15-plus home runs who could move up the order if he hits. But Crawford has not shown that upside yet and until he does, he remains a worthy own online in 14-plus-team leagues. 5. Nick Gordon (MIN, AA) Stats: 578 PA, .270/.341/.408, 9 HR, 13 SB, 9.2% BB%, 23.2% K% ETA: Early June Gordon was originally going to be closer to the bottom of this list, but the suspension of Jorge Polanco for 80 games is a major game-changer for his value. At first it looked like he might have to wait until August or even September to receive a promotion, but now there is only Eduardo Escobar in his way and Gordon is probably better suited to be the everyday shortstop whereas Escobar is best utilized as a utility player. Gordon is not a particularly dynamic hitter, lacking both plus power or plus speed. But he is an above-average hitter with the ability to hit 10 home runs or a few more and will add a few stolen bases as well. He is also a slick defender, which doesn’t help fantasy owners beyond just making him a more complete player player ready to receive a promotion to the majors. His skillset does not make him a great own in shallow leagues, but could be valuable in 14-plus-team and other deep leagues. 6. Willy Adames (TB, AAA) Stats: 578 PA, .277/.360/.415, 10 HR, 11 SB, 11.2% BB%, 22.8% K% ETA: Early June Adames is a tough player to figure out. The tools have always appeared to be pretty loud, but he has never produced too much in the power and speed departments. For the past two seasons, he has sat consistently in double-digits with both home runs and stolen bases while waling at a high rate and posting a .270-plus batting average. For Adames, that is probably about what to expect at least for a while. There is a chance he becomes a future 20/20 shortstop, but there is also a chance he always underwhelms. In redraft leagues, he has enough fantasy upside though for owners in 12-plus-team leagues to take a chance on him if he gets a shot at playing time. The Rays’ depth in the infield will make it tough for him to crack the roster for a while, but his youth and potential mean he could force his way onto the roster if he excels in 2018. 7. Christian Arroyo (TB, MLB) Stats: 135 PA, .192/.244/.304, 3 HR, 1 SB, 5.9% BB%, 23.7% K% ETA: Early May Arroyo made an absolute mockery of Triple-A pitchers in 2017, slashing .396/.461/.604 with four home runs and a pair of stolen bases in 25 games before receiving a promotion to the big leagues. He struggled in his brief cup of coffee before being injured and missing the rest of the season. Entering 2018, he will not break camp with the big-league club, but now in Tampa, he has a better shot to receive playing time than he did with San Francisco. His profile is not the most exciting for fantasy purposes given his lack of speed and average power, but his hit tool is one of the best in the minors and hitting for a high average should not be an issue. Arroyo has also started to show more progress with power and might be able to be a solid home-run contributor. He looks a lot like a younger Matt Duffy, and that is probably his ceiling. But when Duffy is healthy, he is a solid fantasy contributor and Arroyo could be too. If he finds regular playing time, which could be a challenge, Arroyo could be a solid add in 12-plus-team leagues. For now though with several infielders blocking him in the majors, he is probably just a waiver guy until he finds a role. 8. Jorge Mateo (OAK, AA) Stats: 287 PA, .296/.357/.521, 8 HR, 24 SB, 8.4% BB%, 22.6% K% ETA: Early August Mateo has the potential to be an absolutely explosive fantasy producer in the big leagues. His 80-grade speed will put him in contention for the league-lead in stolen bases every season and his power has started to come along to the point where he could add a few more home runs than most speedsters, possibly reaching as high as 15. Mateo has to answer some questions about his hit tool, however. His plate discipline leaves a lot to be desired and though his average was high in 2017, a BABIP of .364 and strikeout rate north of 20 percent hint at possible regression. At 22 years old, he is still very young and seems likely to spend most of the season in the minors developing that hit tool. The good news is that Billy Hamilton has remained a strong fantasy asset despite a lack of a hit tool or power, and while Mateo is not nearly as fast, he has more power and a better hit tool than Hamilton. He is a stronger bet to remain at shortstop than Barreto too and the pair could be the Athletics’ double-play combination in September and at the start of 2019 if they both show the necessary improvements this season and Lowrie and Semien are both moved. 9. Brendan Rodgers (COL, AA) Stats: 164 PA, .260/.323/.413, 6 HR, 0 SB, 4.9% BB%, 22.0% K% ETA: September If there were a clear path to playing time for Rodgers, he would likely be the top guy on this list. He possesses a plus hit tool and above-average power, both of which will play extremely well in hitter-friendly Coors Field. Rodgers does not take too many walks, but he balances it out by making plenty of contact and rarely striking out. Still, his plate discipline will need to improve and he could certainly look better at Double-A than he did in 2017. He also is blocked at both second base and shortstop by D.J. LeMahieu and Trevor Story, respectively. An injury, however, could free him up for a call up to the majors, as might another down year from Story. Rodgers has an uphill battle for playing time in 2018 and it is likely 2019 is the season he should be on more redraft prospect lists. For now though, owners should keep tabs on the talented prospect and be ready to jump if it looks like he will get a promotion to the majors. 10. Fernando Tatis (SD, AA) Stats: (from A+) 518 PA, .281/.390/.520, 21 HR, 29 SB, 14.5% BB%, 23.9% K% ETA: September Simply put, there is not better dynasty player on this list than Tatis. His skillset of plus-plus power and above-average speed with a plus hit tool makes him an incredible dynasty asset, and the fact he’ll be 19 for all of 2018 and has already reached Double-A only makes him more exciting. However, he appeared in just 14 games for Double-A San Antonio and probably needs more time spent there in order before he can even reach Triple-A. His rapid ascension through the minors means that it should not be put past him that he could force the Padres to promote him in 2018, but given service time concerns with his youth makes it unlikely he’ll see the big leagues this season. Still, his dynamic skillset means he at least needs to be on everyone’s fantasy radar.  

More 2018 MLB Prospects Analysis

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Ronald Acuna Rankings Debate - Comparing RotoBaller's Rankers

We continue our series of articles debating the overall ranking of some of the most fantasy-relevant players of the 2018 baseball season. This time around, it's a player that has seen some of the biggest ADP variation among all outfielders in the league. RotoBaller's expert writers have come up with our consensus rankings for mixed leagues, but that doesn't mean we agreed on everything. In this space, we'll hear from rankers with the biggest differences of opinion on a well-known player and have them defend their position against each other. Today, we discuss Atlanta Braves rookie Ronald Acuna. Nick Mariano is a believer in the young phenom, whereas Pierre Camus isn't ready to take the leap. Let's get ready to rumble!  

2018 Draft Rankings Debate - Ronald Acuna

Rank Tier Player Position Kyle Nick Pierre Jeff Harris Bill
204 12 Ronald Acuna OF 147 149 200 178 128 188

Nick Mariano's Ranking: #149 overall

Let me start out by saying that I’ve brought my Acuna fever down a bit since we submitted this round of rankings, but I still have him within the top 150 and am one of the highest staffers on him. I’m a bit worried that this debate could easily boil down to “I believe Acuna will get 450 plate appearances this year” versus “I believe he’ll only get 300...or maybe fewer.” I don’t want to put words in Pierre’s mouth and assume his reasons for being bearish, but it’d be disingenuous to not address his playing time scenarios. We can all likely find common ground that Acuna will not be in Atlanta’s starting lineup on Opening Day. We’ve seen it with every top prospect to grace the game lately, as teams work the system to gain an extra year of control over a budding star. The question becomes whether he is called up after a few weeks, or sometime in June after the Super 2 deadline has passed. As I’ve said in other pieces, the 100-125 pick range is where I’m okay taking on risk, and a 20/20 phenom like Acuna is worthy of being that risk pick. Steamer projects him for 431 PAs, while ZiPS is giving him 594. Those represent the minimum and maximum PAs, but all other major ones (Depth Charts, The Bat, ATC) give him at least 530, with everyone agreeing on ranges between 15-20 HRs and 20-30 SBs with an average in the .270s. Maybe it’s the having roughly 500 PAs above High-A ball that has you leery? I’d get that, but he’s been absolutely dominant every step of the way and hitting 16-for-39 (.410/.511/.745) with four homers and four steals in Spring Training is only confirming that. No, Spring Training isn’t “changing” my views on him, but I feel a tad more comfortable in leaning into the growth shown last season. Is it that he’s only 20? That’s cool, and it’s fair point given the comps to Kris Bryant and his ascension considering KB was 23, but I’m just judging what’s on the field. Yes, he will need to show he can adjust once big-league scouts and pitchers start seeing him every single day. But he’s displayed elite talent and an ability to adapt/learn about new surroundings very quickly as he’s risen through the ranks. My biggest worry doesn’t even directly involve him. The Braves might slow-roll Acuna because Dansby Swanson’s performance has given GM Alex Anthopoulos PTSD. That’s right, Dansby, this is your fault! One other little nugget: In today’s world where everyone wants the “next big thing”, Acuna would be one of the biggest trade chips you could possess. It doesn’t sway my rankings much, but I do consider these angles. The bottom line is that you want this talent on your team.  

Pierre Camus' Ranking: #259 overall

Basically this debate boils down to the fact that Acuna may not even reach 300 plate appearances this year. But for the sake of argument, let's also assume he may not immediately come into the league and dominate right away either. I won't debate Acuna's talent, because that would be downright silly. He's not only the top-ranked prospect in all of baseball by many publications, but he's tearing it up in spring training with a .432/.519/.728 slash line, four homers, 11 RBI, and four steals in 44 at-bats. If you're playing in a dynasty league, empty your wallets or reach as high as you want for him. I can't say I'd do the same, but I certainly wouldn't blame you. This isn't a dynasty debate, however, and we have to consider what he'll bring to the table in 2018 alone. Let's start with playing time, which is sure to be the biggest factor. The Braves aren't a team with a glut of talented outfielders blocking potential playing time. RosterResource currently lists Preston Tucker as the starting left fielder. Really? How could Acuna not start the season with the big club? Easy - they want him around longer. Without getting into the details of the Super 2 deadline, just know that it would behoove the Braves long-term to let Acuna crush in the minors for two months rather than find his way in the majors. If this were a contending ballclub, it might be a different story, but the Braves have little chance to be a playoff team and their youth in the pitching rotation reflects that. They have to think about next year if they want to do right by their fans. As Nick alluded to, the Braves might be gun shy about throwing Acuna into the fire right away regardless of service time. Watching players like Dansby Swanson, Rio Ruiz, Aaron Blair, Sean Newcomb, and others struggle mightily after being rushed up too soon should give them pause, after all. Acuna could be the exception, but he has only one season of experience above Single-A and less than 1,000 total at-bats at any level in the minors. Can't-miss prospects don't always hit right away, as you may know. Remember last year's #1 prospect, second baseman Yoan Moncada? What if he parlays some actual MLB experience into a breakout season? He's available nearly 20 spots later, according to NFBC ADP data, and plays a position in which it's much more difficult to find offensive production. I'm not betting against Acuna turning into a stud at some point, because everything I see points in that direction. I'm just not willing to sacrifice a dependable OF2 in this year's draft for half a season of possible production.  

More 2018 MLB Ranking Debate Articles

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