Abusing the Default Rankings

D.J. Short
Dave Shovein recaps Justin Turner's walk-off homer to win Game 2 of the NLCS and previews Game 3 on the AL side in Monday's Dose

Postseason Dose: Turner Power

Dave Shovein recaps Justin Turner's walk-off homer to win Game 2 of the NLCS and previews Game 3 on the AL side in Monday's Dose

Follow @djshort and @Rotoworld_BB on Twitter.

Back by popular demand, welcome to this year’s edition of “Abusing the Default Rankings,” where I take a deep look at pre-draft rankings from Yahoo and ESPN to identify potential sleepers, busts, and late-round values.

For the most part, I think pre-draft rankings are useful and generally steer fantasy owners in the right direction. That’s especially true on the high-end starting pitchers. Things get a little murkier after that. This column is not meant as a criticism of these sites and the work that they do. As always, this is merely my opinion balanced against each site’s projections. Hopefully we find some value in the margins with this exercise, but what you choose to do with this information is entirely up to you. Heck, maybe you are able to take in enough information so that you can build your own consensus rankings.

I was happy with a number of players I recommended in last year’s column (Robinson Cano, Francisco Lindor, Zach Britton, Justin Verlander, J.T. Realmuto, etc.), but I also had my share of misses (Freddie Freeman and David Ortiz, among others). As I have said before, I’m not perfect, but neither are these rankings.

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These rankings are from the afternoon of Friday, March 24.

Editor’s Note: Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Baseball: Get in the game and create or join a league today.

Yahoo Rankings:

Players listed lower overall than expected:

15. Trea Turner
18. Carlos Correa
50. Jonathan Villar
52. Christian Yelich
61. Jacob deGrom
66. Dee Gordon
86. Jean Segura
136. Lance McCullers
144. Miguel Sano
154. Ken Giles
187. Alex Colome
193. Jose Peraza

I’m all in on Turner this year and I think his speed gives him a relatively safe floor even if you are skeptical about the power he showed last year … Corey Seager is a spot ahead of Correa and while I like them both, Correa’s across-the-board impact gives him the edge … Fun fact: Jonathan Villar finished as the No. 14 overall fantasy performer in Yahoo last year and was the top overall shortstop. This ranking builds in quite a bit of regression, maybe a little too much … Yelich blew away his previous career-high with 21 homers last season and I still think there’s room for growth, even though the ground ball rate is higher than you'd like to see … DeGrom is my No. 10 starting pitcher with what he’s shown this spring … While Gordon was mostly a disappointment last year (PED suspension and all), he still swiped 30 bases in just 79 games. He can win a category for you… Don’t be so quick to cast Segura aside after leaving Arizona … I’m not sure if you can bank on a healthy McCullers, but it shouldn’t hurt much to try in this spot … Sano took a step back last year, but I don’t think it would surprise anyone if he surpassed 30 homers in 2017 … Giles and Colome both have top-10 closer ability … Peraza has serious breakout potential now that he’s assured of regular playing time …

Players listed higher than expected:

20. Xander Bogaerts
35. J.D. Martinez
48. Adrian Beltre
81. Julio Teheran
90. Dustin Pedroia
96. Adrian Gonzalez
98. Albert Pujols
106. Aaron Sanchez
108. Jackie Bradley, Jr.
115. Felix Hernandez
124. Hunter Pence
125. Matt Harvey
128. Dallas Keuchel

Bogaerts is only two lower than Correa and finds himself one spot in front of Francisco Lindor. Not sure he deserves it after his rough second half last year. The Red Sox are also moving him down to the sixth spot in the order. If you need to be this aggressive on him, I’d rather wait on the likes of Villar, Trevor Story, and Segura…I’m not sure this ranking reflects Martinez’s foot injury, but he was lower on my list of outfielders even before that … I’m fully prepared for Beltre to make me look silly here, but he turns 38 in April and I’m not banking on him to repeat 30 homers … Teheran improved his control last season while matching his career-best strikeout percentage, but he fits more in the range of a top-30 starter than a top-20 option. We also don’t know how his new home ballpark is going to play … Pedroia thrived last season while playing in his most games since 2013, but I’m not willing to pay for a repeat as he moves into his age-33 season … This is much too early for Gonzalez given that he no longer stands out at the first base position. Don’t let the name recognition and past production cloud your thinking with him and Pujols, for that matter … Leading the AL in ERA while pitching in Toronto is no small feat, but Sanchez ranked 43rd among qualified starters in strikeout percentage last season … Bradley batted just .233 with a .727 OPS during the second half last season … Similar to A-Gon, I’m not sure the name recognition and past performance of King Felix and Pence reflects their current situations … Harvey and Keuchel are both major question marks after injury-riddled seasons …

Where the buzz guys are ranked:

54. Kyle Schwarber
65. Gary Sanchez
117. Andrew Benintendi
151. Michael Brantley
153. Julio Urias
160. Sean Manaea
167. Ryon Healy
180 Garrett Richards
182. Taijuan Walker
183. Keon Broxton
188. Eric Thames
211. Jharel Cotton
235. Greg Bird
279. Greg Holland
310. Yoan Moncada
438. Travis Shaw
560. Koda Glover
1201. Mitch Haniger

Schwarber’s ranking doesn’t look crazy in a format where he qualifies at catcher … For context, Sanchez is 10 spots behind Buster Posey and 13 ahead of Jonathan Lucroy … Schwarber, Posey, Sanchez, and Lucroy are the only catcher-eligible players in the top-100, which sounds about right … You are probably going to have to be aggressive to get Benintendi this year … Brantley is trending in the right direction after getting into Cactus League games this week … Urias could begin the year in extended spring training while Manaea could be the most fantasy-relevant starter on Oakland’s staff with Sonny Gray sidelined … After opting for stem cell treatment rather than undergo Tommy John surgery, Garrett Richards is hitting the upper 90s with his fastball this spring … The Brewers might be one of the worst teams in the majors this year, but they have no shortage of interesting fantasy pieces … Bird has proven his health with a monster spring and gets to play half of his games with the short porch in Yankee Stadium, so I'm intrigued … Holland and Glover have both built momentum as potential closer options this spring …

Who to scroll down for:

195. Joe Ross
201. Matt Shoemaker
203. Robbie Ray
227. Carlos Gomez
233. Josh Bell
240. Tommy Joseph
252. Kevin Kiermaier
255. Max Kepler
268. Neftali Feliz
272. Cam Bedrosian
285. Jarrod Dyson
312. Addison Reed
323. Gerardo Parra
403. Robert Gsellman
406. Chris Owings
599. Jose Reyes

Ross was limited to just 9 2/3 innings during the second half last year due to a shoulder injury, but I’m excited to see what he could do if he can stay healthy for a full season … Shoemaker had a 2.83 ERA and 121/17 K/BB ratio in 130 1/3 innings over his final 20 starts last year before a comebacker to the head ended his season. Fortunately, he’s back to full health now … Ray pitches in Arizona and the ERA and WHIP weren’t pretty last year, but he ranked fifth in the majors in strikeout percentage … Gomez hit .283 with eight homers and five steals in 33 games after joining the Rangers last season … Bell is projected to get the bulk of the time at first base in Pittsburgh this season … Joseph socked 21 homers with an .813 OPS in just 347 plate appearances as a rookie last season… We all know about Kiermaier’s defense, but he quietly made some nice strides offensively last season and looks like a bargain from this spot … Kepler’s rough finish likely knocked him out of the top 250, but I see someone who could reach 20 homers and 10 steals as soon as this year … Feliz upped his velocity and whiffs last season and should have a clear path to saves in Milwaukee, though there’s always the chance of a midseason trade … Bedrosian could run away with the Angels’ closer job with Huston Street on the mend while Addison Reed should be a steady source for early saves with Jeurys Familia expected to serve a suspension … Dyson is a one-trick pony, but he could see steady playing time in the Mariners' outfield and even hit high in the order … Parra makes for an interesting stop-gap option with David Dahl on the disabled list … Gsellman looks like the real deal after posting a 2.42 ERA down the stretch last season … Owings brings some interesting speed and multi-position eligibility while Reyes is expected to serve as New York’s regular third baseman and leadoff man with David Wright sidelined …

ESPN Rankings:

Players listed lower overall than expected:

9. Clayton Kershaw
15. Trea Turner
25. Noah Syndergaard
49. Rougned Odor
50. Yu Darvish
54. A.J. Pollock
67. Jacob deGrom
94. Edwin Diaz
97. Gary Sanchez
98. Anthony Rendon
114. Craig Kimbrel
129. Odubel Herrera
147. Lance McCullers
188. Jose Peraza

Sorry, I just can’t let Kershaw fall this far … Again, I understand those who might not be willing to pay based off half of a season, but I’m all in on Turner … Turner is ranked No. 4 overall in the Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide ... By the way, ESPN at least has Carlos Correa ranked ahead of Corey Seager … Syndergaard is ranked sixth among starting pitchers on ESPN compared to second on Yahoo … I wish Odor would show some more patience, but I think he’s a lot closer to Daniel Murphy and Brian Dozier at second base than this ranking would have you believe … Darvish is behind Chris Archer here, but I’m all about him as a top-10 starting pitcher in his walk year … Pollock is the No. 18 ranked outfielder on ESPN compared to No. 11 on Yahoo, so the price tag is a bit easier to handle if you are feeling a little gun-shy …  You already know how I feel about deGrom … After fanning 88 batters in just 51 2/3 innings last season, Diaz has the makings of a potential top fantasy closer. For the record, he’s ranked eighth among closers on ESPN … Buster Posey is ranked 38 spots higher than Sanchez here … Rendon deserves some more respect after his rebound 2016 season … Maybe Kimbrel isn’t included among the elite after the “worst” season of his career, but he’s still a top-10 closer … Southpaws have been an issue for Herrera, but he does a little bit of everything, including bat flips … McCullers is ranked lower here than he was on Yahoo and Peraza continues to stick out as a nice value …

Players listed higher overall than expected:

8. Josh Donaldson
30. Carlos Gonzalez
52. Adrian Beltre
63. Ian Kinsler
66. Jose Bautista
70. Carlos Santana
85. Stephen Piscotty
88. Dustin Pedroia
89. Rick Porcello
96. Jackie Bradley Jr.
103. Marcus Stroman
109. Marcell Ozuna
112. Aaron Sanchez
131. Adam Duvall
132. Drew Smyly

You are splitting hairs with the top of the board sometimes, but I would put Kershaw and Bryce Harper ahead of Donaldson with confidence … Coors Field is nice, but I’d like to see more speed from Gonzalez in order to include him as a top-10 outfielder … I was happy to see Bautista stay in Toronto, but he’s a batting average and injury risk and doesn’t offer any speed … I already stated my case for resisting Beltre and Pedroia, as much as I like them as players, but Kinsler (who turns 35 in June) is in a similar boat … I’d be more comfortable with Santana’s ranking if we were talking about an on-base percentage format … Piscotty hasn’t earned this sort of aggressive ranking just yet … I look at Porcello, Stroman, and Sanchez similarly in that they pitch in the AL East and don’t stand out in the strikeout department. Chances are they will go higher than what I’m comfortable with, so I’m just looking for more upside at this point in the draft … By the way, I promise I don’t hate the Red Sox … Ozuna hit just .209 with a .609 OPS during the second half lat year … If this is what it takes to draft Duvall, I’m happy to look for This Year’s Adam Duvall instead … While leaving the AL East should help Smyly somewhat, fly balls and home runs remain a concern for him regardless of where he pitches…

Where the buzz guys are ranked:

80. Kyle Schwarber
97. Gary Sanchez
117. Andrew Benintendi
125. Michael Brantley
192. Keon Broxton
199. Sean Manaea
207. Taijuan Walker
211. Ryon Healy
212. Eric Thames
244. Julio Urias
252. Greg Bird
254. Garrett Richards
265. Jharel Cotton
273. Mitch Haniger
299. Yoan Moncada
318. Travis Shaw
386. Greg Holland
440. Koda Glover

This ranking looks about right for a non-catcher eligible Schwarber … Conveniently enough, Benintendi has the exact same ranking here as he does on Yahoo … You are going to have to be more aggressive to land Brantley in this applet, though some of the other trendier names are listed lower than they were on Yahoo, some significantly so … In Urias’ case, he’s almost 100 spots lower, which I think is appropriate given what his season/workload might look like …There’s the potential for a lot of value late in ESPN drafts, which I’ll get into more below… Haniger is on the rise after hitting .418 with 10 extra-base hits (including two homers ), three steals, and a 1.158 OPS over 17 games this spring … I wouldn’t be surprised if Moncada is someone we see within the first couple of months of the season …  Holland and Glover are again listed lower than they should be given what we know at this point of the spring…

Who to scroll down for:

178. Aaron Nola
183. James Paxton
189. Mike Moustakas
194. Jameson Taillon
195. Javier Baez
214. Tommy Joseph
242. Tim Anderson
245. Joe Ross
247. Jose Reyes
248. Max Kepler
276. Josh Bell
279. Cam Bedrosian
287. Jorge Soler
289. Chris Owings
300. Alex Cobb
356. Robert Gsellman
376. Tyler Saladino

Like I was saying above, I love the potential value you can get with starting pitchers here … Nola is apparently over his elbow issue and could be quite the bargain if he picks up from where he left off (2.65 ERA and 85/15 K/BB ratio in 78 innings over 12 starts) early last season … Paxton saw a major spike in velocity last season while posting a 3.79 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 over 20 starts … Health is the big question here, but they each have the ability to be top-25 starting pitchers … Taillon, who posted a 3.38 ERA and 85/17 K/BB ratio over 104 innings last season, isn’t far behind in that regard … Tons of upside to be had in the mid-to-late rounds … Moustakas broke out in 2015 and was showing some nice power early last season before his ACL injury, so don’t forget about him … You are going to have to watch Joe Maddon’s lineup card, but Baez’s power, speed, and multi-position eligibility makes him really interesting … I wish Anderson would take some more pitches (seriously, 13 walks in 431 plate appearances?), but I think there’s more to come here, especially on the speed front … Not giving up on Soler, even with the admittedly rough spring in Royals' camp … I’m excited to see what Cobb can do another year removed from Tommy John surgery … Cobb had a 2.82 ERA in 49 starts between 2013-2014 … Not a bad gamble for the 300th guy on the board … Saladino has shown some speed in the minors and could be a useful stopgap in a middle infielder spot until Moncada is deemed ready …

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