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Q&A: Which MLB teams will provide the best fantasy production in 2013?

Question Submitted to RotoBaller >>

Name: Roy Billupss

Fantasy Baseball Question:  I am in a league in which team owners don't draft individual players, we each draft one entire MLB team. Each owner may then only start players from that team. From which real-life MLB teams can you build the best fantasy rosters? Please rank the top 6-8.

Player Pool: Mixed

# of Teams: 8-10

League Info and Categories: Standard roto

Roster Positions: Standard

League Host: Yahoo!

RotoBaller Detailed Analysis >>
Hi Roy,

Thanks for submitting your question to Rotoballer!

This is a really interesting question and a definite change of pace compared to our usual player-analysis questions. Your league sounds like a refreshing break from the grind of a daily league. Reminds me of this set-it-and-forget-it Ironman league I was in a few years back, where we couldn't make any add/drops the whole year. The lack of control was a nice change of pace, considering how much we sometimes anguish over daily lineup decisions!

Anyway, on to your question. Let's look at the top 2012 MLB teams from a fantasy stats standpoint and consider their player movement as well. If we rank all the teams in each category, and average the ranks, these are the top teams:

  1. Nationals: Remain largely unchanged - Harper is a year older, Strasburg is off his leash, acquired Haren, they're a good bet to repeat in the top slot or close to it.
  2. Angels: Acquired Hamilton, but they were already the top ranked offense. I think Weaver will have a down year, and Haren is gone, but their offense will carry their fantasy value. Good bet to finish anywhere from 2-5
  3. Yankees: Dynamite offense as always. A healthy CC, Hughes a year older, could see a slightly improved pitching staff. Could finish anywhere from 1-4.
  4. Rays: The second best pitching team in baseball in 2012, led by David Price. Moore is a year older, Cobb is a big sleeper, but they lost Shields - they'll be a top 5 pitching team again. Their offense was middle-of-the-pack but has upside-- IF Longoria and Jennings can stay healthy. The Rays too could finish anywhere in the top 5 but also as low as 7 if their bats don't stay healthy.
  5. Cardinals: Goodbye Kyle Loshe and Lance Berkman. Hello to...??? The Cards made few offseason moves, but do have some upside with Wainwright returning to form after Tommy John surgery, a full year of Allen Craig and prospects Oscar Taveras and Shelby Miller knocking at the door. The Cardinals always manage to stay competitive but I can't see them finishing in the 5 slot again. Look for a 7-9 finish.
  6. Rangers: Tied for the 3rd best offense, they've lost Hamilton and Napoli, and Cruz is a huge question mark. Even with Olt and Berkman playing big roles in '13, it's a good bet their offense will slip a bit. Their pitching will be mediocre, so look for a 7-10 finish
  7. Giants: 3rd in pitching in 2012, with a Lincecum rebound they could even surpass the Nats as the best rotation. A healthy Sandoval and resurgent Pence could push their offense up a bit. Look for a 4-7 finish.
  8. Brewers: Even after losing Fielder, the Brewers had the 2nd best offense in 2012. Their pitching was just ok, and they're depending on continued breakouts from Marco Estrada and Mike Fiers. Their offense and pitching could fall off in 13, making a finish outside the top 10 a possibility.
  9. Phillies: A bad season from Doc Halladay, and nearly a 0 win season from Cliff Lee, and they still finished with the 7th best pitching. They will climb the pitching charts and finish in the top 5 easily. A healthy Howard should boost their 19th best offense a bit. I like them to finish in the 6-9 range.
  10. White Sox: If Chris Sale can't repeat his ridiculous rookie campaign, and Peavy can't put together another great year, their 18th best pitching will definitely slip. Rios, Ramirez and Dunn are all over the map year-to-year, so the Sox offense could finish anywhere from 5th-10th. They will finish outside the top 10 as well.

The Reds, Braves and Athletics are all worth honorable mention on this list, coming in just behind the ChiSox. The Reds made a nice addition with Choo, and have a healthy Votto, hopefully a more consistent Bruce, and the breakout of Todd Frazier. Latos found the plate in the 2nd half, and Cueto established himself as a legit Ace.  Throw in Aroldis Chapman moving to the rotation, and the Reds seem poised to make a huge jump, so look for them to potentially finish in the 4-8 range and displace some of the teams from 2012's top-10. The Braves also got more exciting with the additions of Justin and BJ Upton, but they have a lot of question marks: Will Uggla and Hanson regain form? How will McCann and Beachy rebound from serious surgeries? Can Hudson keep it up? Can Medlen repeat? Too many question marks for my taste-- look for them to finish in the 9-13 range. Lastly, the Athletics, who surprised the hell out of everyone last year, were the most balanced of all these teams (lowest discrepancy between hitter and pitcher ranks), but there's really nothing that screams "big improvement". They would be extremely lucky to be lucky to finish in the top 10.


Net net bottom line: If you have one of the top three picks, the Nats, Angels and Yanks are the safest. Middle of the pack, your best bets are the Giants and Rays. After that, I like Cinci to make a big splash - they could be your sleeper if you pick late!

Hope this was helpful and thanks for your submission. Good luck!

- The RotoBaller Staff