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Baseball Big Board: First basemen rule initial rankings

Brandon Funston
Yahoo Sports

The Big Board takes into consideration past returns, current performance and expected future gains in determining who should be included among the top 50 fantasy baseball players. Essentially, the Big Board is a cheat sheet designed for a fantasy owner who is planning to participate in a draft today. Yahoo! Sports Fantasy baseball default scoring settings (5x5) are used as the baseline for the Big Board.

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Big Board 50: Baseball
PlayerPos.vs ECRStock
1. Mike Trout OF 0 Has logged 3 seasons before his 24th birthday w/ averages of .311/31/97/118/33
2. Clayton Kershaw SP +2 Has 3 Cy Young awards (and 1 runner-up finish), all before his 26th birthday
3. Miguel Cabrera 1B,3B +3 Expected to be close to ready (ankle) by opening day, which is all we need to know
4. Andrew McCutchen OF -2 In prime age sweet spot (28) coming off 3 consecutive top 15 fantasy finishes
5. Paul Goldschmidt 1B 0 Was on his way to 2nd straight top 5 fantasy finish before breaking hand in early August
6. Jose Dariel Abreu 1B +2 DL stint kept him from reaching 40-HR plateau (36), but he and Stanton are the best bets to get there in '15
7. Giancarlo Stanton OF -4 A pure power play who has hit 154 career home runs before turning 25 - supporting cast in '15 should be better
8. Carlos Gomez OF -1 Career turnaround well past the fluke stage, averaging .277/22/66/82/37 over past 3 seasons
9. Jose Bautista 1B,OF 0 Health is the key as a full season in '14 landed him back in fantasy top 12 - avg. 45 HR per 162 games over past 5 seasons
10. Yasiel Puig OF +11 24-year-old Cuban missile oozes upside - a .300/25/15 line is a modest estimate for '15
11. Edwin Encarnacion 1B 0 Has hit 34+ HRs in 3 straight seasons while hitting .268 or better - rare slugger that doesn't whiff often
12. Anthony Rizzo 1B +2 Posting .928 OPS vs. LHP was a huge development for one of the top power plays in MLB
13. Adam Jones OF -3 The peripheral stats aren't always in his favor but can't argue the consistency - 4 straight campaigns hitting .280+ w/ 25+ HR
14. Robinson Cano 2B -1 Power dipped in SEA, but did hit 12 HR in final 97 games - was pitched around at career-high rate, but Nelson Cruz should help change that
15. Anthony Rendon 2B,3B +2 Easy to buy-in when you go from being one of the top hitting prospects in MLB to finishing top 20 in fantasy in 1st full season
16. Felix Hernandez SP -4 His 17 straight starts w/ 7+ IP and 2 ER or less in '14 deserved more attention - One of the safest ace SP picks in fantasy
17. Jose Altuve 2B +2 Top 5 fantasy finish in '14 for the pocket rocket, but he's really a two-cat specialist (56 SBs, .341 BA)
18. Josh Donaldson 3B +6 Gets a major park factor boost going from Oakland to Toronto, and orbiting Bautista and Encarnacion in the lineup won't hurt either
19. Adrian Beltre 3B -1 Like Cano, power #'s dipped in '14 (but BA still lofty) as he was pitched around due to lack of lineup support - Fielder return will help
20. Troy Tulowitzki SS 0 If you could guarantee 150+ games as a member of the Rockies in '15, would be No. 1 overall pick candidate - alas, neither is close to a certainty
21. Jacoby Ellsbury OF +6 Age is starting to get up there (31) but I'd bet on him being able to at least repeat his combined HR/SB totals from '14 (16/39)
22. Ian Desmond SS +4 Only 20/20 player for each of past three seasons; only top 5 fantasy shortstop for each of past three seasons
23. Chris Sale SP -8 Sale! This is how I show my love ... for a 25-year-old SP w/ the 2nd highest K/9 rate (10.76) in '14, not to mention a 2.17 ERA and 0.97 WHIP
24. Madison Bumgarner SP -2 25-year-old went 4-1 w/ 1.03 ERA in postseason after finishing as No. 8 SP in fantasy game during reg. season
25. Max Scherzer SP -9 Has gone 39-8 w/ avg. of 246 Ks over past 2 seasons - move to NL should lessen the drag on his ratios
26. Stephen Strasburg SP +5 Still waiting for that huge breakout season, but no reason '15 can't be the year given elite K rate (10.13) and improve command (1.80 BB/9) in '14
27. Hanley Ramirez SS +1 Never a smooth ride owning HanRam, but his .300/20/15 upside remains, as does his SS eligibility
28. Hunter Pence OF +7 Top 30 in fantasy each of past 2 seasons despite home park that kills offense - he's a bargain version of Adam Jones
29. Ryan Braun OF +4 Assuming his surgically-repaired thumb checks out (so far, so good), 25/15 is probably best-case scenario in '15 sans PEDs
30. Buster Posey 1B,C +4 As a reliable middle-of-the-order .300/20 HR hitter, Posey is easily the top backstop on the '15 market
31. Adrian Gonzalez 1B +8 Is going to be one of the cheapest routes to find a reliable .280, 25 HR, 100 RBI hitter
32. Albert Pujols 1B +4 Age (35) definitely a concern, but was No. 22 in fantasy in '14 and hard not to buy into another potential .280/25 HR/90 RBI return hitting behind Trout
33. Michael Brantley OF -10 Stars aligned for surprise top 6 fantasy finish in '14, but could easily envision his 20 HR/ 23 SB line regressing to 15/15 levels in '15
34. Bryce Harper OF +3 His ability to stay healthy has been more like a 32-year-old than a 22-year-old, but talent still too enticing to ignore
35. Justin Upton OF -3 Averaged a healthy 28 HRs over past 2 years, though might find it hard to reach 25 in '15 w/ the righty power suppressing Petco Park as his home
36. Prince Fielder 1B +20 Healthy now after neck injury cost him most of '14 season - before that he posted 25+ HRs in 8 straight seasons
37. David Price SP -8 271 Ks in '14 were the 2nd-most by a SP in the past 10 years - has 6 full season under his belt, and WHIP has improved every season
38. Zack Greinke SP 0 Has 15+ wins in 4 straight seasons (200+ Ks in 3 of those 4) - '15 is basically a contract year as he has an opt-out clause
39. George Springer OF +5 The crazy K rate is likely to keep his BA below .250, but a 35 HR/20 SB return is also well within the realm of possibility
40. Freddie Freeman 1B -15 His power has consistently been a letdown (18 HRs in '14) and the ATL offense was significantly downgraded this offseason
41. Corey Kluber SP -11 Surprise AL Cy Young winner in '14, and while nothing suggests it was a fluke, have to cap the price tag a bit for lack of track record
42. Adam Wainwright SP +8 Peripherals suggest he could be this year's version of Verlander '14, but w/ back-to-back top 15 fantasy finishes, he's a justifiable risk at this point
43. Cole Hamels SP +4 Near-lock for close to 200 Ks, 3.00 ERA, but landing outside top 70 SPs in run support past 2 seasons has crushed Wins (trade, please)
44. Yu Darvish SP -2 Top K artist among the SP crowd w/ a 11.22 K/9 mark over 3-year career, but '14 elbow issue has to be in back of your mind come draft day
45. Carlos Gonzalez OF -5 Former regular top 10 fantasy finisher coming off knee surgery and facing trade rumors - expected to be ready for opening day
46. Corey Dickerson OF -5 Finished top 40 in fantasy in his 1st MLB full season (131 games) - now looks entrenched as LF in always lucrative Colorado offensive environment
47. Jordan Zimmermann SP -2 Sharp boost in K rate (8.20) in '14 has boosted this control artist to the back end of the ace crop
48. Jon Lester SP +5 After an environment upgrade from BOS to OAK in '14, gets another boost in '15 w/ move to NL - 15 Wins, 200 Ks, 3.00 ERA are reasonable targets
49. Ian Kinsler 2B +6 Top 25 fantasy finish in '14 - Shedding durability question mark with 155+ games played in 3 of past 4 seasons
50. Evan Longoria 3B +9 Many key stat indicators took a wrong turn in '14, but still managed a respectable line (.253/22/91/83/5) - still under 30, so reasonable to bet on rebound

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On the Bubble: Craig Kimbrel, Atl, RP; Aroldis Chapman, Cin, RP; Matt Kemp, SDG, OF; Todd Frazier, Cin, 1/3; Starling Marte, Pit, OF; Brian Dozier, Min, 2B; Billy Hamilton, Cin, OF; Kyle Seager, Sea, 3B; Nolan Arenado, Col, 3B; Joey Votto, Cin, 1B; David Ortiz, Bos, 1B; Mookie Betts, Bos, 2/O; Yoenis Cespedes, Det, OF; Victor Martinez, Det, 1B; Christian Yelich, Mai, OF; Jason Kipnis, Cle, 2B; Dustin Pedroia, Bos, 2B; Dee Gordon, Mia, SS; Jose Reyes, Tor, SS; Kenley Jansen, LAD, RP; Greg Holland, KC, RP; Dellin Betances, NYY, RP; Johnny Cueto, Cin, SP; Matt Harvey, NYM, SP; Alexander Cobb, TB, SP; Nelson Cruz, Sea, OF; Matt Holliday, StL, OF; Jason Heyward, StL, OF; Charlie Blackmon, Col, OF; David Wright, NYM, 3B; Pablo Sandoval, Bos, 3B; Jorge Soler, ChC, OF; Chris Davis, Bal, 1B; Julio Teheran, Atl, SP

Note: "vs. ECR" compares my rank to the Expert Consensus Rank (ECR) as compiled by FantasyPros.

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