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Baseball Big Board: Upton on the up-and-up

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.

Big Board 50: Baseball
PlayerPos.StockComment
1. Mike Trout OF   0 Disruptive, game-changing force - Fantasy or reality, he's my No. 1
2. Paul Goldschmidt 1B   0 Current No. 1 the the Y! game - he's equal or better than Trout in all 5 cats, which is crazy considering how good Trout has been
3. Miguel Cabrera 1B,3B   0 A "modest" start for Miggy still equates to a pace for .333/34/106/87
4. Bryce Harper OF  +26 When you consider his vast talent, you can't consider his hot start to be remotely flukey - the next hurdle is to show us some prolonged health
5. Giancarlo Stanton OF  +3 The power is there, but the BA (.228) is ugly - hope, however, comes in the form of a career-low BABIP (.257) and a lofty 21% Line-Drive Rate
6. Anthony Rizzo 1B  +9 Go figure: He's hitting LHP at a .400-plus clip and he's top 20 in SBs (9)
7. Andrew McCutchen OF  +4 Has put concerns to rest about his left knee by closing May out in classic 'Cutch fashion - .378, 5 HR, 3 SB, 17 RBI, 13 R in past 23 games
8. Justin Upton OF  +18 In what was expected to be toughest home hitting environment of career, currently only player projected to finish with a line of at least .300/30/100/100/30
9. Josh Donaldson 3B  +9 He was top 30 past two years in the tough home confines of Oakland - in the more offensive-friendly Toronto, he's taken his bat to new heights (No. 3 in Y!)
10. Nelson Cruz OF  -1 MLB HR leader (18) has also hit .343 in his past 324 MLB at bats (postseason included)
11. Hanley Ramirez OF,SS  +1 Hasn't been all roses in Boston (BA lagging a bit, healthy has been spotty and he's not running), but his SS tag is a huge boost considering depth issues there
12. Todd Frazier 1B,3B  +32 Keeps legitimizing last year's breakout campaign as he ranks 6th in Total Bases and is 2nd to only Donaldson in Extra-Base Hits - on pace for .280/53/102/112/20
13. Prince Fielder 1B  +28 Royal returns: AL hit leader has also been a top 5 fantasy bat over the past month
14. Jose Abreu 1B  -10 He's been solid (No. 89 in Y!) if not the power spectacle we expected - but he had 2 months in '14 with 10 HRs, so we know that switch can get flipped in a hurry
15. Clayton Kershaw SP  -10 Best K/9 rate (11.4) of career, to go with the worst luck indicators (BABIP, LOB%, HR/FB, etc) - I think we're all still willing to cut the 3-time Cy some slack
16. Max Scherzer SP  -6 As expected, nasty in the AL, nastier in the NL (No. 9 hitters are 1-for-27 vs. Max)
17. Ryan Braun OF   -- Predictions of his demise (yes, the Yahoo staff gets to share in that blame) were greatly exaggerated - No. 4 in Y! for the past month
18. Kris Bryant 3B   +13 From his MLB debut (April 17) to present (June 1), there have been only 12 hitters better than him in the roto arena
19. Nolan Arenado 3B  +3 Everyone's favorite breakout candidate is doing just that, so far - No. 29 in Y! game (thru June 1), thanks to 6 HR in past 8 games
20. Carlos Gomez OF  +15 Since his return from a sore hammy, he's been everything we thought he was - 4 HR, 5 SB in May to go with rock solid run production
21. Jose Altuve 2B  -1 One of MLB's most trustworthy 3-category studs is right on his usual track to start '15, plus he's 3rd among 2Bs in RBI (25)
22. Felix Hernandez SP  -6 Last year's "King" of the Ultra Quality Start (7+ IP, 2 ER or less), already has 7 of those in his 1st 11 outings of '15
23. Matt Harvey SP  +1 He's had back-to-back rocky starts, but it's still easy to get dreamy about Harvey and his 96 mph average fastball and divine K/BB ratio (6.45)
24. Michael Brantley OF  -- The No. 6 player in the Y! game last year is performing a respectable '15 encore (top 70 in Y! game) despite a wonky back
25. Adrian Gonzalez 1B  -6 After leading MLB in extra-base hits for the first several weeks of the season, A-Gon's power has hit a dry spell ( 1 XBH in past 14 games)
26. Edwin Encarnacion 1B  -9 On pace to hit 37 HRs, which is his average over the past 3 seasons - for that reason, we must grin-and-bear his current 1-for-24 slump
27. Jose Bautista 1B,OF  +2 His 7 HR are a bit disappointing but with a solid .863 OPS, patience still looks like it will lead to a virtuous path for Joey Bats owners
28. Jason Kipnis 2B   -- With top 50 fantasy finishes in '12 and '13, and a current spot at No. 16 in '15, I think we can write off last year's disaster as nothing more than a bad experience
29. Adam Jones OF  -23 He followed up an awesome April with a cruddy May, but we know by now that he'll end up right around .280/25/90/90/10 when all is said and done
30. Joey Votto 1B  -23 A subpar May has slowed his feel-good '15 comeback story roll, but at least he ended it on a high note (HR in 2 of past 3 games)
31. Dee Gordon 2B  -6 Continues to gain our trust as a 3-category stud from the premium 2B position (the No. 1 offensive roto player if counting just BA, Runs and SBs)
32. Starling Marte OF  +2 The HR/FB rate is silly (37%) and completely unsustainable, but he'd have top 25 roto offensive numbers even if you excluded his 10 HRs
33. Zack Greinke SP   0 The next time he fails to deliver a Quality Start will be the 1st time in '15 - he's 10-for-10 in the QS cat, and 17-for-18 going back to last season (playoffs inc.)
34. Corey Kluber SP    -- Last year's AL Cy has found his '14 form once again - he's on a sick punchout roll over past 4 starts (50 K, 2 BB in 32 IP)
35. Gerrit Cole SP    -- Since the '14 AS break, he's 12-3 with a 2.55 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and a 10.1 K/9 in 19 starts
36. Troy Tulowitzki SS  -23 With, by far, the worst BB/K rate (0.13) of his career, you have to wonder if the unknowns about where his future employment will be are messing with his head
37. Albert Pujols 1B  +11 A slow start was not out of the ordinary for Pujols, but his 10 HRs in the past 28 games shows that he's still the Pujols we thought he was
38. Chris Sale SP  -17 His nasty stuff has produced a top 5 SwingingStrike% (14.0) and it's been prominently on display of late - 10+ Ks in 3 of past 4 outings
39. Kolten Wong 2B    -- A top 50 roto commodity, thus far, as he's contributing in all 5 roto categories - in past 127 games ('14 postseason included) has hit .281 with 20 HRs and 16 SBs
40. Aroldis Chapman RP  -3 Speed kills - Thanks to an average 99.5 mph fastball, no pitcher (20 IP min.) has a higher K/9 rate (15.31)
41. Buster Posey 1B,C  +8 .919 OPS in May puts his season numbers right on track with what we've come to expect - .300, mid-20s home runs, 80-plus RBI, etc
42. George Springer OF    -- Rare power/speed blend, and he's been trending up since a rough April - BA is ugly (.224) but this is where fantasy gets it wrong as anyone would take his .350 OBP
43. Manny Machado 3B    -- Has over 1,300 MLB ABs logged and he's still just 22 years old - on pace for 26 HR/23 SB, and there's no denying he has the talent to sustain it
44. Freddie Freeman 1B  -12 Having another solid-steady campaign despite little lineup protection - he's seen the 6th-fewest percentage of fastballs among qualified hitters
45. Brian Dozier 2B    -- Ranks 3rd in the league in Runs and Extra-Base Hits, and only Kipnis has a higher OPS (.849) among 2Bs
46. Matt Carpenter 3B    -- He's going to hit for average and score runs, this we know - that he's added power (on pace for 54 doubles, 25 HR) makes his Big Board case much easier
47. Hunter Pence OF    -- He's been a top 25 offensive fantasy commodity in 4 of past 5 seasons so, as long as he's back on the field, I'm taking him in the top 50 if drafting today
48. Johnny Cueto SP  -20 We'll have to see how he looks after sitting out 2 weeks (elbow inflammation), but he's earned the benefit of the doubt after 4 straight seasons with a sub-3 ERA
49. Yasiel Puig OF   -26 Cuban Missile close to putting long-lingering sore hammy behind him as he's expected to start a rehab assignment this week
50. Anthony Rendon 2B,3B   -14 The No. 16 overall fantasy player in the '14 Y! game is nearing his '15 debut - he's currently on a rehab assignment (knee, oblique)

Note: The "Stock" column above reflects the changes in a player's ranking from the previous Big Board update (April 23).

Dropped Out: Jacoby Ellsbury, NYY, OF (DL); Stephen Strasburg, Was, SP (DL); Adam Wainwright, StL, SP (DL); Adrian Beltre, Tex, 3B (DL); Corey Dickerson, Col, OF (DL); Mookie Betts, Bos, 2/O; Robinson Cano, Sea, 2B; Billy Hamilton, Cin, OF; David Price, Det, SP; Ian Desmond, Was, SS; Matt Kemp, SDG, OF

On the Bubble (bolded names represent the top 10 players that missed a Big Board nomination)

Corners: Eric Hosmer, KC; Stephen Vogt, Oak; Alex Rodriguez, NYY; Kyle Seager, Sea; Evan Longoria, TB; Chris Davis, Bal; Adrian Beltre, Tex, 3B (DL)

Middles: Robinson Cano, Sea, 2B; Mookie Betts, Bos; Jhonny Peralta, StL; Dustin Pedroia, Bos; Ian Kinsler, Det; Jose Reyes, Tor; Devon Travis, Tor (DL); Howie Kendrick, LAD; Marcus Semien, Oak

Outfielders: A.J. Pollock, Ari; Brett Gardner, NYY; Joc Pederson, LAD; Matt Holliday, StL; J.D. Martinez, Det; Yoenis Cespedes, Det; Charlie Blackmon, Col; Lorenzo Cain, KC; Steven Souza, TB; Wil Myers, SDG (DL); Jacoby Ellsbury, NYY, OF (DL); Corey Dickerson, Col, OF (DL)

Starters: Jacob deGrom, NYM; Cole Hamels, Phi; Madison Bumgarner, SF; David Price, Det; Chris Archer, TB; Sonny Gray, Oak; Michael Pineda, NYY; Dallas Keuchel, Hou;  Carlos Carrasco, Cle;  Jake Arrieta, ChC;  Jon Lester, ChC; Trevor Bauer, Cle;  James Shields, SDG; Danny Salazar, Cle; Tyson Ross, SDG; Francisco Liriano, Pit; A.J. Burnett, Pit; Carlos Martinez, StL; Stephen Strasburg, Was, SP (DL); Jose Fernandez, Mia (DL)

Relievers: Andrew Miller, NYY; David Robertson, ChW; Craig Kimbrel, SDG; Dellin Betances, NYY; Drew Storen, Was; Trevor Rosenthal, StL; Huston Street, LAA

* This Big Board was made possible using the expert rankings tool on FantasyPros.

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