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>> Read even MORE of RotoBaller's original 2013 fantasy baseball articles and analysis 

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...FANTASY BASEBALL RANKINGS

Jonathan Villar Rankings Debate: Comparing RotoBaller's Rankers

It's the fantasy baseball draft season. To us baseball nerds, few things are more exciting than arguing about player rankings. Today, we'll discuss and compare Jonathan Villar's RotoBaller staff rankings. He was ranked No. 17 overall by Brad Johnson, and No. 45 by Bill Dubiel. Throughout this series, we'll be using our February Staff Rankings to debate where to draft certain players. In cases where our writers had discrepancies, we've asked them to explain their rankings. These debates will provide us with some well-rounded analysis, and help identify undervalued/overvalued draft picks. Editor's note: Check out our previous rankings debates on Kyle SchwarberJose RamirezTrea TurnerJ.D MartinezNelson Cruz, Jose AbreuBryce Harper, and Carlos Martinez.  

2017 Draft Rankings Debate: Jonathan Villar

Brad Johnson's Rankings Analysis

His Overall Ranking: 17 I think we can safely agree that we expect less from Villar in 2017. If either of us thought there was a chance Villar could replicate his 19 home run, 62 steal campaign, we'd be ranking him as an easy first rounder - somewhere around Jose Altuve. Where Bill and I probably differ is in degree of expected regression. It's easy to pooh-pooh the power production because he looks like an archetypical burner. We expect these guys to pop a few accidental home runs while flying around the bases. Pause to look beyond the body type and the stolen base totals. Villar is a switch-hitter. As a righty, he bats with a strong foundation, generating plenty of pulled, fly ball power accompanied by high hard contact rates. As a lefty swinger, he has an all-fields approach with an emphasis on ground balls and up-the-middle contact. He can still put a charge in the ball, but he spends too much time bowling it on the ground. On the one hand, that helps him to produce his high BABIP and batting average. On the other hand, I think we'd all prefer a 40/40 threat with a .240 average. If Villar only faced left-handed pitching, he'd hit 30 home runs. Easy. Especially at Miller Park. Repeat after me - Jonathan Villar is a power hitter against left-handed pitching. Unfortunately, all those plate appearances against right-handed pitchers drag down the upside potential. Still, we're looking at about 200 plate appearances versus southpaws. That's eight home runs right there. Conservatively, let's say he only hits seven against righties. That's 15 home runs. And there's still a small chance Villar also learns to produce more lift. His weirdly successful platoon splits generate value in other ways. Most runners only steal second base. As a righty, 45 percent of his hits went for extra bases. From the left side, less than 32 percent of his hits were of the extra base variety. All those singles are stolen base opportunities. While I suspect he'll attempt fewer steals now that he's established himself as a star, another 40 swipes should be bankable. His run production lacked shine. The top of the Brewers lineup could be scary this year, but there's a lot of risk in play. Ryan Braun has to stay healthy. Eric Thames has to convert cleanly from the KBO. Keon Broxton's wrist is still healing. If it all comes together, there's upside for either over 100 runs or 100 RBI - depending on his role. The downside is a few tics less than what he produced last year. Last but not least, I love the opportunity to pick a 2B/SS/3B early in the draft. That confers so much flexibility in the mid- and late-rounds. While it's dangerous to overpay for utility, in this case, there isn't a steep opportunity cost. Brad's Note: As the editor of this article, I cheated and read Bill's analysis. Curiously, he projects nearly the same production as me. He just doesn't believe it's worth as much as I do. Per a calculator I use, a 95/15/65/40/.270 season would be worth about $25 - easily in the top 15 of hitter projections and top 20 overall. The steals alone are worth $14.  

Bill Dubiel's Rankings Analysis

His Overall Ranking: 45
Villar broke out in a very legitimate way in 2016, setting career highs in just about every offensive category. It's clear he has evolved into a much more complete hitter than what we saw for most of his Astros career, particularly when it comes to patience. He blew away his previous career high in walk-rate (11.6% in 2016), and I think that's something that he can sustain.
However, his dramatic increases in ISO and BABIP indicate that he's due for some regression in the counting stats. Villar popped 19 homers and 38 doubles in 2016, and while those new career highs are largely a result of him actually playing a full season for the first time, his .171 ISO is well above anything he’s ever posted at any point of his professional career. His .373 BABIP also indicates that his .285 batting average was probably a bit higher than what we can expect going forward, as that number is also higher than anything he’s ever posted in the pros. While he will likely improve upon his career averages, I don't see his significant strides forward in contact and power as the new standard.
Ultimately Villar made some very legitimate developments as a hitter in 2016, but to expect him to replicate all of the numbers or even improve on them seems overly optimistic. If we factor in some of the regression that he’s due for, I have Villar as a .270 hitter with maybe 85 runs scored, 60 RBI, 12-15 homers, and 55 stolen bases. He should definitely be considered a top-50 or top-60 fantasy asset, but to think he can produce a top-20 season seems unrealistic.

Kyle Schwarber Rankings Debate: Comparing RotoBaller's Rankers

It's the fantasy baseball draft season. To us baseball nerds, few things are more exciting than arguing about player rankings. Today, we'll discuss and compare Kyle Schwarber's RotoBaller staff rankings. He was ranked No. 45 overall by Jeff Kahntroff, and No. 74 by Nick Mariano. Throughout this series, we'll be using our February Staff Rankings to debate where to draft certain players. In cases where our writers had discrepancies, we've asked them to explain their rankings. These debates will provide us with some well-rounded analysis, and help identify undervalued/overvalued draft picks. Editor's note: Check out our previous rankings debates on Jose RamirezTrea TurnerJ.D MartinezNelson Cruz, Jose AbreuBryce Harper, and Carlos Martinez.  

2017 Draft Rankings Debate: Kyle Schwarber

Jeff Kahntroff's Rankings Analysis

His Overall Ranking: 45 Just as I used the example of the Pirates shopping Andrew McCutchen off a down year as a sign that they may not be believing in a major rebound, I feel the opposite with Schwarber: the Cubs have reportedly resisted many inquiries on him. They reportedly declined to discuss him for two and a half bargain years of Andrew Miller, but instead chose to deal a then top-20ish prospect (Gleyber Torres) and three others for half a season of Aroldis Chapman. To me, he meets the description of “you know it when you see it”; he has that “it” factor. The numbers back up the Cubs’ stance, as he has absolutely raked at every level despite only having four regular season at-bats beyond the age of 22: A Ball (all levels): .344/.428/.634/1.061 AA: .320/.438/.579/1.017 AAA: .333/.403/.633 MLB: .242/.353/.479/.831 Schwarber has played 85 games (including the postseason) with a .261/21/60/53/4 line. Projecting those numbers to 145 games for 2017, we get .261/36/102/90/7. At 24, he should be improving. Yet, he could face league adjustments and wear down later in the season after barely playing last year. Balancing these competing factors, .270/30/95/80/5 seems reasonable to me. It’s important to note that Nick and I don’t diverge that much on our rankings of Schwarber relative to the other top three catchers. While I have Schwarber first of four and he has Schwarber fourth of four, we both have them packed tightly together. I valued Schwarber and Posey at $23 and Lucroy and Sanchez at $22; Nick ranked all four within a 14-pick range. However, I have all four higher than Nick because I believe there is a ton of separation between these four and the rest of the catchers, and thus that they are highly valuable. But, because I have them ranked similarly, I would not reach for any of these four way ahead of the others; I’d seek the best value. If these four were grabbed too highly and I missed out, I would simply wait until the end of the draft for my catcher.  

Nick Mariano's Rankings Analysis

His Overall Ranking: 74 First of all, while we have similar bunching with the top four catchers in 2017, we differ in where they should be pegged as a class. His C1 is Schwarber, while I have him at C4. That’s less about Schwarber being “bad” than it is about the other three simply being preferable, but we’ll keep this analysis local to Schwarbs. Obviously, the Cubbies feel they have something special in Schwarber, and how could they not? He’s delivered at every level and then gave them a nice boost in 2015 even as he posted a 28.2% strikeout rate. He also posted a 42.3%/40.4%/17.3% flyball/groundball/line drive profile, which adds up to the mediocre .293 BABIP. We’re talking 5x5 leagues here, so that lovely OBP of his is irrelevant. While I believe that Schwarber has the capability to be a solid asset with 30 homers well within reach, I just see the holes in his swing as too much of a liability. Since we’re not really assessing him for his average, we’ll pull up his ISO chart: Now, it’s not a hard science that Schwarber hasn’t adjusted and learned how to effective hit the inside pitches, but we haven’t seen it. That inside streak of being 1-for-31 is not pretty. While comparing anything to Gary Sanchez's wild 2016 debut requires a grain of salt, one should note his plate coverage: While this raises questions about Sanchez digging too low below the zone, the main takeaway is how capable he was at covering much of the strike zone with his power. Eight of those nine zone sections are at least lukewarm, it isn't as though he looked lost against a whole portion of the plate like Schwarber. All-in-all, fantasy owners who get Schwarber in 2017 will likely be happy with things, but I'm not prepared to elevate him into the top 50 until he can either step up his batting average or improve on his vulnerability to the inside pitch.

2017 Keeper Values: Third Base Rankings - Tier Two

What's up RotoBallers. Welcome back to my series on keeper leagues. Today I'll be taking a look at third basemen keeper values for fantasy baseball (tier two)  for those of you deciding what players to keep for your teams. Keeper Value Rankings are intended for Keeper Leagues in which a fantasy owner must forfeit a designated draft round in order to keep a player into the up-coming season. These rankings are based on Keeper "Values". In the marketing world, Value can be defined as: the extent to which a good or service (player) is perceived by its customer (fantasy owner) to meet his/her needs or wants. For these specific rankings, 12 team, 5x5 scoring, 23 man roster, Rotisserie league settings were used. If you play in a custom league with non-standard configurations, are thinking of keeping a player not on this list, or want to compare players on your team, follow me on Twitter @RowdyRotoJB or contact me via the RotoBaller Chat Rooms. Editor's note: Be sure to also check out our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. It's already loaded up with tons of great rankings articles and draft analysis. Aside from our tiered staff rankings for every position, we also go deep on MLB prospect rankings, impact rookies for 2017, and dynasty/keeper rankings as well. Bookmark the page, and win your drafts.  

How My Keeper Valuation Formula Works

The Keeper Values are derived from my 15 step Keeper Valuation Formula. The product is a quanitative depiction of a players ability to meet/exceed fantasy owners needs based on the cost they payed for the player in the previous season (2016 ADP). The higher the score, the higher the return the fantasy owner will receive from the player, keeping him at his associated cost. Approaching Keeper selections with this "value" based attitude, will greatly increase the effectiveness of a fantasy owner's draft in a Keeper League.
TIER SCORE EXPLANATION
1 >75 Finders Keepers! These are the Elite Keeper Values. MUST BE KEPT.
2 50-75 Great Keeper values. Unless you have a full load of Tier 1 players, these guys need to be kept.
3 25-49 You are gaining value with these players, but not as much as your opponents are, potentially. Consider if your options are limited.
4 0-24 Break even point. Minimal value. Only consider if you have a large quantity of Keeper selections.
5 -99-0 Keeping these players will hurt your overall draft, as you are not adding any value. Dont waste a Keeper selection here.
6 <-100 The associated costs make it impossible to return any value, these players will ruin your draft. Stay far away.
 

2017 Top Third Basemen Keeper Values: #4-7

7. Kyle Seager, SEA (Seventh Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 51.95 For the sixth consecutive season, Kyle Seager has again improved his statistics at the plate. Seager often flies under the radar in fantasy due to third base being such a lucious position, but Seager has in fact been the 12th best player in the league over the past four seasons according to WAR. As was 2015, and 2014, 2016 was a career season for the third baseman. He set career highs in R (89), HR (30), RBI (99), BA (.278), OBP (.359), and of course SLG too (.499). He has now joined Robinson Cano, Josh Donaldson, Mike Trout, and Paul Goldschmidt as the only players in the league to hit at least 30 doubles and 20 HR in each of the past five seasons. He hit the ball harder than ever before (38.7 Hard%), he hit the ball to the opposite field more than ever (28.3 Oppo%), anything you want a hitter to do well, Seager did it in 2016. Not only is Seager constantly maturing at the plate, but he is also becoming an absolute gem in the field. His 15 defensive runs saved in 2016 tied him with Adrian Beltre for second best among third baseman. As if this all wasn't impressive enough, the dude is DURABLE. Last season he played more innings at the hot corner than any other player in the league, and since 2012, only Robinson Cano has played in more MLB games than Seager. He has it all. We could look at BABIP and HR/FB% and try to project where Seager could suffer regression, and blah blah blah. But career average comparisons don't mean squat if the hitter goes out and bests his previous self every season. If you are going to project Seager's 2017 stats, I suggest you start with last season as a baseline and work your way up. He hasn't shown that he is done growing as a hitter, and history tells us you'd be wrong otherwise.   6. Justin Turner, LAD (18th Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 66.08 It's quite amazing what a full season of at bats will do for a ginger. Justin Turner, a seventh round pick by the Reds in 2006, finally received that opportunity in 2016 and played a career high 151 games. After playing every infield position for the Dodgers in 2015, and having a solid year at the plate, Turner was rewarded with the starting role at the hot corner. It did not start off very well. Through June 6th, Turner was hitting .233 and slugging a measly .326 with three HR. But then, the breakout commenced. I noticed at the All-Star break as Turner strolled in as the 25th ranked third baseman, that his numbers were far too low and made this bold prediction that he would finish as a top 10 fantasy third baseman. He did not quite make it in the fantasy rankings, but he still hit .298/.349/.549 in his last 65 games with a .251 ISO and 141 wRC+. He finished the season with a 124 wRC+ that actually tied Arenado for seventh best at the position, so technically I was right. The 31 year olds final stat line was .275/.339/.493 with 79 R, 27 HR, and 90 RBI. 2016 was Turners first season with a GB/FB ratio under 1.00, and he hit a career high 37.6 Hard%, so the power output is understandable. He achieved these results by feasting on offspeed pitches. He owned the second best wSL (10.8) and eighth best wCB (7.1) in the league. Here is the SLG heat map comparisons between fastballs and offspeed pitches: Turner's 2016 is a very solid projection for what he will produce in 2017 if he can avoid the early season woes. He hits third in the Dodgers lineup sandwiched between Corey Seager and Adrian Gonzalez so the counting stats will be plentiful. Rotoballer agrees with me, and has him ranked as a sixth round pick in the pre-season rankings.   5. Nolan Arenado, COL (First Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 70.33 Over the past two seasons Arenado has averaged 41.5 HR, .573 SLG, and .286 ISO. He has led the NL and HR and the MLB in RBI in both seasons. In 2016, he played in a career high 160 games, and the career high batting statistics came flowing in. He scored a personal best 116 R, while setting a new high .294 BA and .362 OBP. He made great strides in his plate discipline, almost doubling his career BB% and cutting down on his swings outside the strikezone by more than six percent. He finished the 2016 season as the only player in the MLB to score 100 R, hit 40 HR, and knock in 100 RBI. This guy is an absolute monster. He set career highs with a 46.7 flyball percentage (sixth highest in the league) and 37.9 hard hit percentage, with both stats increasing every season since 2013. Arenado is a big time pull hitter, pulling the ball at a 45.7% rate, which works out perfectly for the power. When hitting the ball to leftfield last season, he hit 34 of his 41 bombs with the second highest pull ISO in the league. It goes without mentioning that Coors Field greatly enhances the long ball, and while Arenado did defy all odds last season by  hitting more HR away than at home, in 2016 he drank the cool-aid. At Coors, he hit 25 HR and 85 RBI with a 1.030 OPS and .334 ISO versus 16 HR and 48 RBI with a .832 OPS and .215 ISO. As you can see it was fairly drastic, but fantasy owners never complain when a hitter takes full advantage of that Colorado air. As I've said before, it is extremely difficult for a player to produce a strong score from the Keeper Valuation Formula with a first round draft pick. Usually it just makes more sense to release your big fish and try your luck at drafting him again in the first round the upcoming season. But with a player who has become so elite in fantasy such as Nolan Arenado, it is not wise to ever let go. Have you seen the Rockies lineup this year? 116 R and 133 RBI are childs play compared to what this man can produce in 2017.   4. Jake Lamb, ARI (23rd Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 72.53 How's about another breakout season? In Lamb's first full year in the bigs, he finished with a powerful 81 R, 29 HR, 91 RBI and .249/.332/.509 for the Diamondbacks. He was also 6-7 on the basepaths. He increased his BB% to 10.8, and more than doubled his 2015 ISO to .260. Lamb came out of the gate like a bat out of hell, owning the second highest ISO and SLG for the first half of the season with a 41.9 Hard%. But he also owned the leagues highest HR/FB% at the break, and it didn't take a genius to know that wasn't going to last forever. The 26 year old went on to own the third lowest WAR in the entire league over the second half of the season, but I'm going to chalk that up to first-full-season fatigue. Besides, that was not the only troublesome split to worry Jake Lamb owners from 2016. He also struggled away from Chase Field, a.k.a Coors Field Jr, as it finished right behind Coors as the second highest run producing park and right in front of it as the second highest HR heavy park. For the season, Lamb hit .231 with only 10 HR Away, with an OPS that was 200 points less than his home mark. The third baseman also struggled mightily against lefties, hitting a sad .164 BA, which was even five points lower than his (brief) career average. Despite all the question marks revolving Lamb heading into 2017 fantasy drafts, there is no questioning his ability to put the ball in the stands. His low line drive percentages and high strike out rate (25.9 K%) will ensure the BA never gets high enough to benefit your lineup, but the power can play in any league. His draft status from 2016 is the real driving force behind his stellar keeper value score, but if you want to free up your early round draft picks by keeping a potential stud in the later rounds, Lamb is your man. The dude can RAKE against RHP, and in daily roster moves leagues, that can carry serious value.   RotoBaller pre-season rankings slot Lamb as an eighth round value in 2017.     Keeper Value Articles:  Catcher Rankings: Tier 1 Catcher Rankings: Tier 2 Catcher Rankings: Tier 3 First Base Rankings: Tier 1 First Base Rankings: Tier 2 First Base Rankings: Tiers 3-4 Second Base Rankings: Tier 1 Second Base Rankings: Tier 2 Second Base Rankings: Tier 3 Third Base Rankings: Tier 3

Carlos Martinez Rankings Debate: Comparing RotoBaller's Rankers

It's the fantasy baseball draft season. To us baseball nerds, few things are more exciting than arguing about player rankings. Today, we'll discuss and compare Carlos Martinez's RotoBaller staff rankings. He was ranked No. 73 overall by Harris Yudin, and No. 105 by Nick Mariano. Throughout this series, we'll be using our February Staff Rankings to debate where to draft certain players. In cases where our writers had discrepancies, we've asked them to explain their rankings. These debates will provide us with some well-rounded analysis, and help identify undervalued/overvalued draft picks. Editor's note: Check out our previous rankings debates on Jose RamirezTrea TurnerJ.D MartinezNelson Cruz, Jose Abreu, and Bryce Harper.  

2017 Draft Rankings Debate: Carlos Martinez

Harris Yudin's Rankings Analysis

His Overall Ranking: 73 Martinez sits eighth in all of baseball over the last two years (min. 350 IP) in ERA with a 3.02 mark. He is one of just five pitchers — Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta are the others — to post an ERA of 3.10 or lower in each of 2015 and ’16. While 3.10 is a relatively arbitrary number, it does equate to roughly 15 pitchers per year— in other words, SP1-caliber players. Even with a slight regression in the strikeout department last year, his 21.5% K rate was still clearly above average. For the most part, his batted ball splits remained the same from 2015 (his hard hit percentage ticked up despite a drop in line drive percentage), and his batting average against fell to .232. Martinez’ fastball ranked seventh in MLB with 19.5 runs above average, his slider 24th with 6.2. Only Scherzer and Justin Verlander had more success with that combination. You have Martinez ranked 34 spots below Masahiro Tanaka, who, over the last two seasons, has a lower strikeout rate, a lower strand rate, a greater fly ball tendency, a higher HR/FB ratio and a higher hard hit percentage. It’s not that Martinez belongs anywhere near the top tier, but he has developed into a reliable fantasy starter worthy of a draft selection in the sixth or seventh round. A 25-year-old with a strong arsenal of pitches, two great seasons under his belt and a winning team around him is certainly a guy I’m willing to trust as an SP2.  

Nick Mariano's Rankings Analysis

His Overall Ranking: 105 I think Carlos Martinez is a very good real-life pitcher. I just think his fantasy value is standing on some shaky ground. His 30-16 record over the last two seasons can’t be ignored, as St. Louis wins games and CarMart puts them in a good position to do so. He had a 3.01 ERA in 2015 and a 3.04 mark in ’16 while lowering his WHIP from 1.29 to 1.22. So, what’s not to like? Martinez has been refining his command, which has resulted in a lower BABIP each season, but it’s taking away from the strikeout potential that made him special. His promising 24.4% K-rate dropped to 21.5% last season, as his swinging-strike rate dropped below 10% to 9.4%. I accept that Martinez’s respective offerings allow him to outperform his metrics a bit, and even leave room for a rebound with Ks, and that’s why I have him around my 100th slot. He still walks too many for my taste without elite strikeout stuff. No. 73 is a simply a bridge too far for me. Harris is actually closest to Martinez’s NFBC ADP of 69.83, for the record. Actually, he's about 30 slots higher than me (and a few others) on many pitchers like Danny Duffy, Danny Salazar and Rick Porcello. I'll remember this on draft day! Anyway, about those metrics. While his ERA stayed close to an even 3.00, his fielding-independent metrics do not support the consistency. While part of that is due to relying more on balls in play and strong movement, it’s still troubling as his 3.97 SIERA—which incorporates the kind of contact a pitcher allows as well as being a park-adjusted metric—is Martinez’s worst mark (3.61 FIP, 3.81 xFIP). His SIERA was 3.44 in 2015, so that figure jumping over half of a run raises some red flags. Until Martinez either gets that BB/9 rate below three or proves capable of sustaining a BABIP below .300, I’m just not going to be the one to buy in. I respect those who do, but it won't be me.

2017 Keeper Values: Third Base Rankings - Tier Three

What's up RotoBallers. Welcome back to my series on keeper leagues. Today I'll be taking a look at third basemen keeper values for fantasy baseball (tier three)  for those of you deciding what players to keep for your teams. Keeper Value Rankings are intended for Keeper Leagues in which a fantasy owner must forfeit a designated draft round in order to keep a player into the up-coming season. These rankings are based on Keeper "Values". In the marketing world, Value can be defined as: the extent to which a good or service (player) is perceived by its customer (fantasy owner) to meet his/her needs or wants. For these specific rankings, 12 team, 5x5 scoring, 23 man roster, Rotisserie league settings were used. If you play in a custom league with non-standard configurations, are thinking of keeping a player not on this list, or want to compare players on your team, follow me on Twitter @RowdyRotoJB or contact me via the RotoBaller Chat Rooms. Editor's note: Be sure to also check out our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. It's already loaded up with tons of great rankings articles and draft analysis. Aside from our tiered staff rankings for every position, we also go deep on MLB prospect rankings, impact rookies for 2017, and dynasty/keeper rankings as well. Bookmark the page, and win your drafts.  

How My Keeper Valuation Formula Works

The Keeper Values are derived from my 15 step Keeper Valuation Formula. The product is a quanitative depiction of a players ability to meet/exceed fantasy owners needs based on the cost they payed for the player in the previous season (2016 ADP). The higher the score, the higher the return the fantasy owner will receive from the player, keeping him at his associated cost. Approaching Keeper selections with this "value" based attitude, will greatly increase the effectiveness of a fantasy owner's draft in a Keeper League.
TIER SCORE EXPLANATION
1 >75 Finders Keepers! These are the Elite Keeper Values. MUST BE KEPT.
2 50-75 Great Keeper values. Unless you have a full load of Tier 1 players, these guys need to be kept.
3 25-49 You are gaining value with these players, but not as much as your opponents are, potentially. Consider if your options are limited.
4 0-24 Break even point. Minimal value. Only consider if you have a large quantity of Keeper selections.
5 -99-0 Keeping these players will hurt your overall draft, as you are not adding any value. Dont waste a Keeper selection here.
6 <-100 The associated costs make it impossible to return any value, these players will ruin your draft. Stay far away.
 

2017 Top Third Basemen Keeper Values: #8-12

12. Ryon Healy, OAK (23rd Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 25.16 Why aren't more people talking about Ryon Healy? In Healy's first 72 Major League games, he hit 13 HR with a .305 BA for the Athletics. The 13 HR gave him an impressive 27 total bombs in 2016 combined with two levels of the minors. The previous third round pick finished the season top five among rookies in BA and ISO (.219). He has no ability to draw walks, with a 4.2 BB% that was unfortunately conisistent with his statistics in through the minors, but the guy can hit a baseball. In addition to his 13 HR, Healy also yanked 20 doubles, producing a sexy .524 SLG. The .352 BABIP in the small sample last season is obviously pointing to BA regression over the course of a full MLB season, but he's been hitting crazy BABIPs for a while now. During his stops in AA and AAA last season, he posted .398 and .369 BABIPs respectively, and posted a .341 BABIP over the full season in AA in 2015. So don't expect the 2017 dip to be excessive, because as I said before, the guy can hit. As I was studying Healy and his statistics, I couldn't help but keep comparing him to a 24 year old version of Evan Longoria, without the elite defense of course. I mean, look at these comparisons for BA, SLG, ISO, and K%. Healy's future may be on the other side of the infield, GM David Forst suggested the majority of Healys 2017 playing time will be at first base or designated hitter, but at the plate we could have a (very slightly) poor man's Evan Longoria. I'll take a chance on that with a late round draft pick.   11. Eduardo Nunez, SFG (23rd Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 31.69 Taking advantage of receiving a full season's worth of AB for the first time in his career, Eduardo Nunez turned the opportunity into his first All-Star appearance and a 16/40 season. Nuni caught everyone by surprise right out the gate, exploding for 12 HR and a .836 OPS heading into the mid summer classic. The second half was less-than-stellar, but he still finished with a cool .288 BA and found himself on a championship contender out in San Francisco. Don't let the second half woes fool you into thinking AT&T Park sapped his fantasy value away. In just 21 G in the bay, he hit .307 with two HR. The 16 HR seem just a tad over-achieving for Nunez, even though he owned a HR/FB% that was less than one point higher than 2015. The speed is real, and I think that spacious AT&T Park will play to his strengths very well as he owns a top 25 contact percentage. His new lineup spot is definitely a downgrade from hitting atop the lineup in Minnesota, hitting seventh with Mac Williamson or Jarrett Parker and the pitcher covering his back, which could be why RotoBaller has him sitting in the 15th-16th round range. Still, there is plenty of room for returned value with that speed and modest pop.   10. Adrian Beltre, TEX (Seventh Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 32.37 I'll admit, there were times over the past two seasons when I for sure thought Adrian Beltre's fantasy relevance was finally hanging up it's cleats. But of course the soon to be 38 year old continues to defy father time, and he did it in a big way in 2016, having quite possibly the best season he's had in five years. He hit 32 HR, 104 RBI, and slashed .300/.358/.521. Contrary to what we usual see out of hitters, Beltre has been striking out even less as he approaches 40, cutting his K% in both the past two seasons. Beltre is just consistently brilliant at the plate. But just like we saw in 2015, it took the future hall of famer half a season to get the body warmed up last year. Over the second half of the season, hitting .323 with 20 HR, 1.000 OPS, and a beatly .293 ISO. His 162 wRC+ was fifth best in the league after the All-Star game. So whatever you do, do not trade Beltre after he gets off to a slow start this year. His ADP was insanely low for his own standards last year, due to a "down" year in 2015 while playing with a torn ligament in his thumb, which is good news if you landed him in your keeper league.   9. Anthony Rendon, WAS (Eighth Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 32.70 In 2014, Rendon exploded onto the fantasy baseball scene hitting 21 HR with 17 SB and leading the league in R, finishing in fifth place in MVP voting. In 2015 a knee injury caused him to miss half the season. There were plenty of concerns heading into last season's fantasy drafts on the durability of said knee, but Rendon rewarded the owners that took the chance. He finished 2016 with a .270/.348/.450 line adding 20 HR and 12 SB. With Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy hitting in front of him, he knocked in a career high 85 RBI and still scored 91 R. His overall numbers, including batted ball and plate discipline, were similar enough to those of his breakout 2014 campaign to say the knee problems are safely behind Rendon. What fantasy owners would love to see from Rendon this year, to take that next step forward at the plate, would be more power against southpaws. He only hit one HR off a LHP in 2016 (.143 ISO), and only three in 2014. It seems he has had awful luck with the split, however. He hit a miniscule 2.8 HR/FB% versus lefties, while hitting 41.9% flyballs with a 34.9 Hard%. I think this changes in 2017, which could add some serious fat to his HR totals. The good news is that he already started the improvements over the second half of 2016. Here are the heat maps from before and after the All-Star break to prove it:   8. Evan Longoria, TB (10th Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 40.87 At this point in Evan Longoria's nine year career, he's looking to hit the ball as hard as possible, and nothing else. In the fantasy baseball world, we have no issue with that. In 2016 Longo smashed a career high 36 HR and 98 RBI, his most since 2011. His .248 ISO was also the highest he's posted since 2011. They weren't all over the fence, however. He also ranked in the top 10 in league with 41 doubles, producing a .521 SLG. The man just ain't got time for groundballs anymore. He hit his lowest GB/FB ratio ever (0.68), and hit the fifth highest flyball percentage in baseball. Longoria went up to the plate looking to swing, and was sitting on the cheese. He posted personal high swing percentages, and became a top 10 fastball hitter with an impressive 27.8 wFB (first SLG heat map). The downside to the new approach was a career low in contact percentage, career high swinging strike percentage, a rather sad 0.29 BB/K ratio, and negative values against all offspeed pitches (second SLG heat map). You can't have it all, I guess. If this approach at the plate carries over into 2017, the HR totals will absolutely be returning. He hit a 36.3 Hard%, and turned only 15.15% of his flyballs into homers, a number that he's topped five times in his career. The other certainty about Longoria is his durability. He has played at least 160 games for four consecutive seasons, playing more games than any other major league hitter over that span. His ADP dropped significantly in 2016 drafts after hitting a combined 43 HR in '14 and '15, along with the mediocre BA we have become accustomed to seeing from him. But if the HR keep piling up, the 31 year old will be quite a bargain at this price.     Keeper Value Articles:  Catcher Rankings: Tier 1 Catcher Rankings: Tier 2 Catcher Rankings: Tier 3 First Base Rankings: Tier 1 First Base Rankings: Tier 2 First Base Rankings: Tiers 3-4 Second Base Rankings: Tier 1 Second Base Rankings: Tier 2 Second Base Rankings: Tier 3

2017 Fantasy Baseball Tiered Rankings: Relief Pitchers (February)

I don't care whether you've got snow on your lawn or not. All clubs have reported to Spring Training, which means it's springtime for all. We’ve been bringing you our February rankings updates over the past couple of weeks, and today we wrap up the series with our 2017 relief pitcher fantasy baseball rankings. This round of rankings features picks from Kyle Bishop, Nick Mariano, Bill Dubiel, Brad Johnson, Harris Yudin and Jeff Kahntroff. Today Nick will examine relievers, which is always an intriguing exercise with where people feel comfortable taking the elite closers and how strong ratio non-closers are viewed. Editor's note: Be sure to also check out our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. It's already loaded up with tons of great rankings articles and draft analysis. Aside from our tiered staff rankings for every position, we also go deep on MLB prospect rankings, impact rookies for 2017, and dynasty/keeper rankings as well. Bookmark the page, and win your drafts.  

2017 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Relief Pitchers (February)

 
Ranking Tier Player Position Brad Kyle Nick Bill Harris Y Jeff Auction $
1 1 Aroldis Chapman RP 58 67 57 56 66 65 20
2 1 Kenley Jansen RP 61 65 62 61 65 64 20
3 1 Zach Britton RP 66 69 63 62 60 67 19
4 2 Craig Kimbrel RP 90 104 110 112 84 93 15
5 2 Edwin Diaz RP 113 98 101 100 95 94 15
6 2 Seung-Hwan Oh RP 131 93 97 96 94 92 15
7 2 Roberto Osuna RP 104 99 122 123 121 96 13
8 2 Mark Melancon RP 138 108 123 125 83 97 12
9 2 Kelvin Herrera RP 98 109 127 127 123 109 12
10 2 Wade Davis RP 182 133 170 109 76 112 10
11 3 Kenneth Giles RP 170 132 159 160 96 95 10
12 3 Alexander Colome RP 144 121 168 169 122 111 9
13 3 Andrew Miller RP 129 122 176 176 108 133 8
14 3 Cody Allen RP 130 129 166 167 143 110 8
15 3 Dellin Betances RP 150 130 177 177 132 169 7
16 4 Jeurys Familia RP 190 167 172 172 144 132 7
17 4 David Robertson RP 163 145 209 209 179 130 6
18 4 A.J. Ramos RP 205 193 181 181 178 131 6
19 4 Francisco Rodriguez RP 180 165 226 226 177 126 5
20 5 Tony Watson RP 216 257 250 250 180 177 3
21 5 Sam Dyson RP 230 199 276 276 215 176 3
22 5 Cameron Bedrosian RP 249 190 282 282 216 175 2
23 5 Neftali Feliz RP 228 228 298 2
24 5 Raisel Iglesias SP/RP 221 203 348 348 276 170 2
25 5 Shawn Kelley RP 236 250 292 292 296 213 2
26 5 Addison Reed RP 184 220 337 337 332 215 2
27 6 Adam Ottavino RP 225 281 288 288 333 214 2
28 6 Brandon Maurer RP 261 217 294 294 407 212 2
29 6 Joaquin Benoit RP 280 233 363 363 236 2
30 6 Jim Johnson RP 276 265 331 331 396 237 2
31 6 Fernando Rodney RP 281 323 323 323 394 216 2
32 6 Glen Perkins RP 316 266 347 347 395 239 2
33 6 Arodys Vizcaino RP 356 350 339 339 334 238 2
34 6 Nate Jones RP 301 279 341 341 433 284 1
35 6 Ryan Madson RP 343 285 344 344 297 453 1
36 6 Sean Doolittle RP 335 254 350 350 465 355 1
37 6 Felipe Rivero RP 255 451 1
38 6 Matt Strahm RP 354 354 352 1
39 7 Hector Neris RP 346 379 343 343 372 356 1
40 7 Brandon Kintzler RP 347 366 332 332 408 357 1
41 7 Carter Capps RP 330 312 357 357 436 358 1
42 7 Chris Devenski SP/RP 422 292 364 364 348 478 1
43 7 Kyle Barraclough RP 364 288 381 379 435 454 1
44 7 Hector Rondon RP 375 340 369 368 492 359 1
45 7 Ryan Dull RP 348 358 358 446 432 1
46 7 Jeff Hoffman RP 404 1
47 7 Jeanmar Gomez RP 380 418 415 448 360 1
48 7 Cody Reed RP 406 1
49 7 Andrew Bailey RP 349 378 446 445 364 456 1
50 7 Chad Green RP 413 401 1
51 7 Corey Knebel RP 336 434 452 1
52 7 Keone Kela RP 385 459 1
53 7 Matt Bush RP 396 358 431 428 466 455 1
54 7 Ty Blach RP 497 362 362 472 1
55 7 Darren O'Day RP 424 1
56 7 Tyler Thornburg RP 386 400 397 491 458 1
57 7 Grant Dayton RP 427 1
58 7 Jhoulys Chacin RP 471 471 382 398 1
59 7 Hyun-Jin Ryu RP 440 428 1
60 7 Huston Street RP 390 402 499 496 447 372 1
61 7 Luke Gregerson RP 403 479 1
62 7 Santiago Casilla RP 468 431 1
63 7 Daniel Hudson RP 464 1
64 7 Will Harris RP 472 467 461 1
65 7 Trevor Rosenthal RP 453 482 1
66 7 Steven Brault RP 469 1
67 7 Derek Law RP 470 1
68 7 C.J. Edwards RP 474 1
69 7 Andrew Cashner RP 478 1
70 7 Michael Lorenzen RP 485 477 480 1
71 7 Zach Eflin RP 496 494 1
72 7 Brad Ziegler RP 500 497 1
  Reliever Rankings Analysis: The Tiers Tier 1 There’s little that needs to be said about these three, as Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Zach Britton have all established themselves as dominant stoppers that are longshots to let you down. One shouldn’t be banking on an ERA below one out of Britton, but he’s delivered totals under two each of the last three seasons. With more than a strikeout per inning and a hilarious 80% groundball rate in tow, he belongs with the elite. Tier 2  This tier houses players that anyone should feel comfortable owning as their RP1, but each is just a tick behind the first class due to small, but not ignorable, reasons. Craig Kimbrel saw his control falter, but we might write a bunch of that off to his knee injury. Edwin Diaz and Seung-Hwan Oh both looked amazing, but it was their first season. Roberto Osuna just turned 22 despite having two strong years under his belt, but just doesn’t offer that extra strikeout flair that Diaz and Oh bring. Mark Melancon certainly doesn’t have that, but he’s a consistent force and now gets to close in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. The biggest piece here is that now Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis will both get to close with Davis’ trade to the Cubs. I likely have Herrera too low, but at least we all have him in the top 10. The skills are there, especially after he improved his K% from 22.4% to 30.4% while chopping his walk rate from 9.1% to 4.2%. Even if he gives back a little of that, this is a great arm who finally has the opportunity. Meanwhile, drafting Davis just comes down to a matter of trust in his elbow. I’m letting others take it, but there’s severe upside there. Tier 3 The third tier bequeaths our first non-closers into the rankings, though Andrew Miller may still mix-and-match into the ninth inning to chip in some saves alongside his dominant ratios and Ks. Dellin Betances probably won’t have that chance, but is pretty damn good in his own right—especially if Joe Girardi continues to trot him out there for around 80 innings. Alexander Colome stepped up for Tampa Bay after Brad Boxberger went down, but few predicted a 1.91 ERA and 1.02 WHIP with a wild 31.4% strikeout rate (11.28 K/9). While it can be tough to trust a guy after only one year--especially on a team that doesn't like driving value up--Colome's skill set should allow him to remain a solid closer even as his 93% strand rate regresses a bit from last season. Tier 4 Jeurys Familia has been fantastic on the mound, but there’s no ignoring the potential suspension looming. Baking a possible 30-game suspension into your rankings seems wise, but if he ends up not missing any time then the profits will be there. David Robertson presents an interesting case due to the trade rumors and his slip in command last season (12% walk rate, blah), but this is a guy who does have a strong track record and would likely close wherever he went. This is what has really pushed Nate Jones (Tier 6) into draft consideration. Tier 5 The fifth tier is for the speculators and sharps, as it’s led by two arms that don’t profile as closers. Tony Watson and Sam Dyson have been firefighters for a while now, but neither have overpowering stuff. Instead, they’ve relied on inducing weak contact and a heavy diet of grounders, respectively. They aren’t bad choices and may get overlooked for more exciting, traditional closing options. There aren’t many of those left at this point, of course, but banking on Cam Bedrosian or Raisel Iglesias potentially winning their jobs would nab people a talented closer who could produce more than a strikeout per inning instead. Tier 6 Adam Ottavino deserves love, even with Greg Holland in the picture. Colorado’s own Agent Zero was sharp in his return from Tommy John surgery last season, and it seems unlikely he’ll be ousted by a new guy who missed all of ’16. Brandon Maurer, Jim Johnson and Fernando Rodney should all open 2016 as closers, with my trust in them holding down the job for at least the first half of the season reflected in that order. Joaquin Benoit could step into the job for Philadelphia should Jeanmar Gomez (Tier 7, whomp) falter. Did I type “should”? I meant when.

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