Fantasy Baseball Roundtable: Disagreeing with second-half draft rankings

by Todd Zola, MastersBall.com on July 18, 2012 @ 17:50:45 PDT

 


Last week, the Knights and I shared our post-All-Star-break consensus position rankings. This week, I invited everyone to comment on the results:

Nick Minnix has some issues with a few players:

I think our cumulative ranking of Rickie Weeks is much too low. I explained why here. Basically, he heated up immensely right before the break, and I think that it was just a bit of foreshadowing. He's finally healthy, of body and mind.

In that blog, I was probably too hard on Chris Sale, but I'm still a little surprised at the optimism for him and Stephen Strasburg. I also believe that James McDonald has a ways to go before he's that dominant all season. I was panning him.

I'm not nearly as confident as others must've been that Fernando Rodney will maintain his pace ... for saves. The Rays are sellers, and that team was playing well above its head for a while. That's part of their M.O., but I don't expect them to hold it together and give Rodney enough chances to be so highly ranked.

I kind of used the opposite logic for Jonathan Papelbon, whom I'm surprised is so low in the cume rankings of ours. The Phillies have some important pieces back and may make a run, and the closer will wrap up any of those close W's.

Ryan Carey agrees and disagees:

I am higher on Matt Wieters than the panel is. He'd be a couple of spots higher on my board as would Carlos Santana. I think both players are due to start mashing baseballs, which is important, because both do not provide the elevated BA of some of the others on the list. I was all in on Santana this preseason (homer pick, it's true), but I believe he is showing signs of getting past some of the lingering injuries that have slowed him in the first half.

I would push both Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn down in my rankings at 1B. I think we've seen their best this year, and I'm not betting on repeats in the second half. Konerko doesn't fall as much in my book as Dunn, but I wouldn't pay for those first half stats. I would rather bank on young upstarts like Eric Hosmer finally turning it on or Paul Goldschmidt to really fully arrive.

Dustin Ackley isn't even ranked, but I think he should be, at the very least in place of Ryan Raburn whose name shouldn't even be mentioned. Ackley has really struggled this year, but the M's seem committed to him for the duration of the year. They recently moved him into the leadoff spot to try and get his bat going again. The kid still profiles as the same player he was in preseason, and I can easily see him being a top-15 second basemen for the next three months.

Man, took a look at third base and it is pretty stacked actually. Still, I think Will Middlebrooks not making the cut is a mistake. I would rather roster him than injury risks like Ryan Zimmerman. Kevin Youkilis in the top 10? Not on my list as I just don't have any faith that he will stay healthy and as such I'm not reaching that high for him. I am really interested in where Chase Headley will end up at the trade deadline, but actually the teams being mentioned aren't all that sexy. The most intriguing teams I've heard mentioned are Arizona and Cleveland. It would be interesting to see what he could do in the desert, and for the Indians he would provide a key right-handed bat they are lacking.

Has Derek Jeter already hit the wall? I think he may have and it's not going to get better. He'll still provide runs and a decent batting average, but I would drop him down a few notches on my board.

I am more bullish on Allen Craig and he'd be a guy I would draft over a bunch of the names directly above him.

I totally agree with Nick on Strasburg and Sale. Sale in particular has been a revelation for a lot of my teams, but you have to think the innings are going to catch up with him at some point. Strasburg likewise is going to miss a bunch of starts down the stretch, just when you need him most.

Nick responds:

I had Wieters and Santana a little higher as well. Their BAs will come around a bit, especially if they increase the power production.

I wonder a little about Dunn and Konerko, but they're OK. Have to disagree on Ackley, though, I'd be really concerned about him. He's looked pretty bad. Don't think he's a bust in the long run, and he may rebound, but I wouldn't be confident enough to draft him ahead of pretty much anyone on our list. Except Raburn, I guess, because Detroit is searching for an upgrade at second base. I wonder why they wouldn't concentrate all their efforts on pitching, though.

Yeah, interesting call, I was a little surprised that Craig wasn't a more popular pick. Playing time seems like an issue now that Lance Berkman is back, but Craig will be in there often enough, and the Cardinals may have a knack for creating PT avenues, at least this year.

Ryan's turn:

Cleveland Indians C Carlos Santana
Santana due for better 2nd half

I hear you on Ackley, and even I am not suggesting he be bumped up that much, but Raburn begged for another name to be mentioned at 2B. The funny thing about Ackley, as well as other second-year guys like Hosmer and Lawrie, is we don't have the data to be able to say that they are "second half" hitters or not yet. Who knows? Maybe they all increase their production in the second half as their young legs refuse to wilt in the summer heat wave.

You are right about PT for Craig of course, but I think he gets five starts minimum a week going forward, which really isn't any different than a lot of players drafted at his level. Berkman can't be expected to play every day going forward either and Jon Jay will have to cede some PT to Craig as well. And don't forget that Carlos Beltran hasn't logged over 160 games since 2008. He's been a revelation this season and managed to avoid injury so far, but it's not the worst bet in the world that the inevitable DL stint still lies ahead. Even if he manages to stay healthy, the Cards are going to need to give him more days off as well.

Lawr Michaels with an explanation:

I am a huge Craig fan (he went to UC Berkeley) but I worry about his brittleness.

I am guilty of Raburn making the list, probably at the expense of Ackley. But, check out Raburn's second half totals over his career, especially in comparison to first half, and you will see why.

I am thinking next year will be the year Ackley gets it. Although sometimes I fear he may not be as good as we thought or hoped.

Ryan adds:

Since I've been pumping the Mariners second basemen it came to my attention that they have another name worth mentioning. Kyle Seager just picked up his 10th start at 2B for the M's, giving him added eligibility in most formats. He was a popular add in May, when he was hitting well, but has really scuffled of late. He is definitely more attractive as a potential MI target for the second half than as a 3B/CI.

Lord Zola's Wrap-Up:

I'll go through each position and pick out one player I feel is too high and one I sense is too low.

Catcher: There is simply no way Carlos Ruiz has a top-10 second half. Of course, if we did this in March, I would have said there was no way he would hit .350 and be a top-five guy the first half. Obviously, anything can happen, but probability suggests Ruiz will not maintain a .363 BABIP. On the other hand, I expect Carlos Santana to start clearing the fence and remind us why he was a top-three pick at the position in the spring.

First Base: I think we did a good job at first base and really can't find anyone too high. Eric Hosmer, on the other hand, has actually demonstrated better skills than last season but has nothing to show for it. His K% and BB% are better and he has hit the ball harder than in 2011. If he continues, the results will follow.

Second base: The Knights pretty much nailed this one as well, though I don't think Jason Kipnis will continue to run enough to keep him in the top three. This isn't as impactful a week later, but Neil Walker is my choice to better his ranking. He obviously won't keep up the present pace, but he hits in a run-producing spot in a lineup where Andrew McCutchen's presence is making everyone a better hitter.

Third base: I can't take issue with anyone being too high, perhaps I should have just asked for players ranked too low. I think Aramis Ramirez at 10 with finish a few spots higher.

Shortstop: The Roundtable seems to think what Ian Desmond is doing is for real. I'm not so sure. And would have him a few spots lower that the top spot. The guy I'd move into the top 10 is Marco Scutaro, who is quietly having a nice season in Colorado though his counting stats are not as plush as expected. I think that changes and he ends the season with double-digit homers and low-teens steals.

Outfield: If the Walker pick looks lame because he's had such a great week, then saying Andrew McCutchen will fall from the #2 spot should have some added oomph after the week he has had. Don't get me wrong, McCutchen is better than last season and has a new skills baseline. He's just not a .350 hitter with 40 HRs is all. The guy I'd move up is Justin Upton, though I am not sure if I am saying it because I want to or because I think I have to. Maybe the best way to say it is I am still a fan of Upton long-term, but admit to being wary he figures it out this season.

Starting Pitcher: Another wimpy pick, but I'm going with R.A. Dickey. I don't think he falls off the cliff, but the #4 pitcher is going to have a sub-3.00 post-break ERA and I don't think that will be Dickey. On the other hand, it could be Felix Hernandez who deserves more respect than his #8 ranking.

Closer: I learned a long time ago not to waste any of the fortunate brain cells that made it through my drinking years on evaluating closers.

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About Todd Zola, MastersBall.com

Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for fantasybaseball.com, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.

Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at MLB.com and SI.com, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums.

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