Fantasy baseball player scarcity - MLB

by Bryce McRae on February 4, 2010 @ 00:00:00 PDT

 


Fantasy baseball player scarcity: AL | NL | MLB

A quick overview of the depth at each position in mixed fantasy baseball leagues

A feel for where the abundance or dearth of worthwhile fantasy baseball players lies will help you determine when and where it's best to target those at certain positions and seek value in your fantasy baseball drafts.

Catchers

Depth: Intermediate | Distribution: Top-heavy

The three M's dominate this list: Joe Mauer (Minnesota Twins), Victor Martinez (Boston Red Sox) and Brian McCann (Atlanta Braves). If you want one of them, you'll have to pay dearly.

It isn't necessary, though - you can afford to take risks and cycle in mixed leagues. There are plenty of upside and bounce-back candidates (Geovany Soto, Chicago Cubs, for example) that can be had later.

Grabbing that top catcher might seem like a bigger worry in two-catcher setups. Lock at least one mid-tier starter up so you're not forced to go with the likes of Gerald Laird (Detroit Tigers) as your No. 1. Get No. 2 and avoid the run on upside catchers late, too.

First basemen

Depth: Deep | Distribution: Balanced

It's power heavy at this position. Sure, it'd be nice taking Albert Pujols (St. Louis Cardinals), but you don't need to invest that kind of money.

In a standard 12-team league? The Tampa Bay Rays' Carlos Pena typically rounds out the bottom 12 first sackers taken; he's a good bet to hit 30-plus homers. You can hold out a bit on the top few players at this position.

You may choose to be aggressive if you're in a league that recognizes both the 1B and CI positions. If that's the case, you'll want to make a play a bit sooner before the pool dips into the likes of the San Francisco Giants' Aubrey Huff or the New York Yankees' Nick Johnson.

Second basemen

Tampa Bay Rays 1B Carlos Pena
Pena will suffice at 1B for some

Depth: Intermediate | Distribution: Balanced

The top options - the Philadelphia Phillies' Chase Utley and the Texas Rangers' Ian Kinsler - are as close to sure things as you can get. Do you need them, though?

There's not a huge drop in talent among the next handful of options after those two. You can hold off for one of the next tier of second basemen, such as the New York Yankees' Robinson Cano or the Florida Marlins' Dan Uggla. Don't hold too long, though, if you want to draft reliability. The Chicago White Sox's Gordon Beckham will be eligible here, too, before too long.

Do you want to count on the likes of the Milwaukee Brewers' Rickie Weeks or the Atlanta Braves' Martin Prado? That wall will come up pretty fast. Again, risks are more easily taken in mixed leagues; this could be a position to take one at, although those choices are better left for your MI spot.

Third basemen

Depth: Shallow | Distribution: Top-heavy

The New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez is king here. After that? Few other players here don't have major question marks. You don't want to overpay ... but the reliable options are going to disappear quickly.

Some players in this middle third have eligibility at more valuable positions, so they become more attractive than they are at the hot corner. Do you feel comfortable with the Milwaukee Brewers' Casey McGehee (lack of track record) or the Atlanta Braves' Chipper Jones (injury-prone) as your starter?

Unless you snag one of the top options, you may have to take that chance. The pool here dries up quickly. In leagues with corner infielders, it'll be easier taking that shot on a first baseman than a third baseman, although there are a couple who may be due to break through.

Shortstops

Depth: Intermediate | Distribution: Balanced

The Florida Marlins' Hanley Ramirez has few questions. Following him, though, each of the top shorties has legitimate concerns. Do you want to bet on the New York Mets' Jose Reyes being and remaining healthy?

There are starters to be had in the middle tier - be it a somewhat reliable vet (Miguel Tejada, Houston Astros) or an exciting youngster (Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers). You can probably get away with avoiding some early options, although you'll miss out more serious boom potential.

There's nothing too terribly exciting once you get into the middle-infield candidates, but talent doesn't drop as quickly as most positions. There are a few players with legit upside, like J.J. Hardy (Minnesota Twins) and Alcides Escobar (Milwaukee Brewers).

Outfielders

Depth: Intermediate | Distribution: Balanced

One of the deeper offensive positions generally. Avoid spending a pretty penny on multiple top options. The New York Yankees' Curtis Granderson and the Baltimore Orioles' Nick Markakis are available outside the first few rounds. Plenty of value at this position, too. (Say hello to the Los Angeles Dodgers' Andre Ethier or again to the Chicago Cubs' Alfonso Soriano).

Pick your spots. In the middle rounds you'll find high-ceiling players like Jay Bruce (Cincinnati Reds) and Alex Rios (Chicago White Sox). After this area, however, the excitement for value dwindles rapidly. Options like the Milwaukee Brewers' Corey Hart and the Florida Marlins' Cameron Maybin exist, but there are plenty of dull choices.

There are plenty of end-gamers, though. It's another reason to hold off on filling your outfield and instead build it by focusing on the value in the middle. Go for the body punch, not the knockout, right away.

Designated hitters

Arizona Diamondbacks SP Brandon Webb
Webb is one of many possible values

Depth: Shallow | Distribution: Top-heavy

Only three DHs are worth the trouble: Vladimir Guerrero (Texas Rangers), David Ortiz (Boston Red Sox) and Hideki Matsui (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim). A couple of others hold minor intrigue. Their inflexibility will hinder your lineup because the lineup spot is a place for creaky vets with declining skills. Draft them at value only.

Starting pitchers

Depth: Deep | Distribution: Balanced

Pitching can always be found, especially starting pitching. In straight drafts, you may want to lock up a No. 1 starter that's reliable, but it's not a necessity. It may not be worth it to you to overpay for a Tim Lincecum (San Francisco Giants) or Zack Greinke (Kansas City Royals) in the first few rounds.

Undervalued hurlers such as Brandon Webb (Arizona Diamondbacks) should be cheap and might turn out to be a solid No. 2 option. Some expect Carlos Zambrano (Chicago Cubs) to bounce back a bit. Like Mark Twain's, reports of their deaths might have been greatly exaggerated. David Price (Tampa Bay Rays) and Scott Kazmir (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) present great potential at a fraction of their former costs.

Of course, you can go even deeper here. Young arms (from Brett Anderson, Oakland Athletics, to Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals and well beyond) can be had later. Pitchers always emerge in the free-agent pool during the season. Don't invest too heavily in the top end.

Relief pitchers

Depth: Intermediate | Distribution: Top-heavy

There are maybe a dozen or so "sure thing" closers with relatively few concerns about their performance: from the New York Yankees' Mariano Rivera at the top to the Chicago White Sox's Bobby Jenks at the other end. There are plenty of choices with varying degrees of reliability sprinkled in. Many have the ability to outperform the top names.

Question marks abound later. You may make sure you lock up a top option and then choose a couple of low-priced arms later. You could hold off until early in the middle rounds and put together a couple of solid second-tier picks with a good deal of job security, like Huston Street (Colorado Rockies).

Few low-end options seem enticing. Given the volatility at this position, it's something that can be overcome, though. It's just another reason to wait. Taking a key setup man on the doorstep (The Cleveland Indians' Chris Perez? The Boston Red Sox's Daniel Bard?) is a decent late-game play. Ratio relievers can be found once the season starts.

Fantasy baseball player scarcity: AL | NL | MLB

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About Bryce McRae

Bryce McRae is a Managing Editor with KFFL and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1999. He joined KFFL as a volunteer writer in March 2005 before becoming a Hot off the Wire Analyst in March 2006. He began working in his current capacity in September 2008. His work has appeared on fantasy sports sites such as Yahoo! and CBS Sportsline as well as in print. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a B.A. in History and U.S. Studies.


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