Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I'm not as down on the ESPN fantasy baseball offerings as most. Even the much-maligned Matthew Berry's outlandish claims are often endearing and occasionally insightful. While ESPN seems to specialize in offering news that's already apparent to 95% of informed fantasy owners, they do provide a nice panoply of resources.

So, you can imagine my excitement at seeing their recently posted "updated" positional rankings. Sure, we're only a month and a week into the season (if you ignore the BoSox/A's series in Japan), but by now those rankings should have shifted quite a bit, right? Players can turn things around, but we certainly know more about Andruw Jones then we did in March, for example.

Even better, instead of a "top 300," which is almost impossible to analyze because it doesn't take into account league variations, ESPN was kind enough to separate their rankings by position. Unfortunately after looking them over, there are some serious head-scratchers. If you can find an owner who actually trusts ESPN, you need to start offering him trades immediately.

In no particular order, here are thirteen perplexing decisions which require a further explanation from the Eastern Seaboard Sports Network:

1.) In what alternate universe is Joe Mauer a more valuable fantasy commodity than Geovany Soto? Are you telling me that if every single league redrafted, Joe Mauer would be selected ahead of Soto in more than 1% of them? Joe Mauer has zero home runs and zero stolen bases. Soto is making his insane AAA season look like a career progression rather than a fluke.

2.) Jorge Posada is the seventh-ranked catcher. I mean, c'mon. Are they even trying? Maybe they mean to say that the catcher position is so bereft of talent you're better off not playing anyone. At least they have Doumit at eighth.

3.) Joey Votto is less valuable than Ryan Garko. Yeah ... I don't think so. I was real high on Garko coming into the year, but let's call it like it is: Votto, Kotchman, and Conor Jackson were the youngsters to get. Votto is also multi-position eligible and in 10 less at-bats has outperformed Garko in every fantasy category, including "cool last names that end with the vowel "o."

4.) Robinson Cano is currently the 899th ranked player in Yahoo. ESPN ranks him ahead of players such as Dan Uggla (batting .270ish, seven home runs). What will it take for the Cano-love to stop?

5.) Howie Kendrick is the eighth most valuable second baseman? Try trading him to anyone in your league for Kelly Johnson, Yunel Escobar, Dustin Pedroia, or any one of a half a dozen 2B'ers picked up at the end of drafts. Good luck.

6.) Chone Figgins didn't make the list as a second baseman. These rankings are dated May 6th. Chone has seven starts at second base and 20 appearances. In what percentage of leagues is he not 2B eligible? Maybe I should give ESPN the benefit of the doubt, but it looks like an oversight.

7.) I'm not sure what's happening with A-Rod, so I'll give his placement at No. 3 amongst third basemen a pass (if you think he's coming back soon, buy low). But .215, 680ish ranked Ryan Zimmerman is at No. 8? Ahead of Edwin Encarnacion, Adrian Beltre, and Alex Gordon? A thousand times, NO.

8.) Jorge Cantu didn't make the cut at third base. Ian Stewart, Josh Fields, and Andy LaRoche did. None of those players are in the major leagues.

9.) Derek Jeter is the sixth most valuable fantasy shortstop. You heard it from ESPN, so it must be true. Go trade him for Michael Young, Miguel Tejada, or Edgar Renteria immediately.

10.) Vladimir Guerrero over Manny Ramirez and Curtis Granderson?

11) Pat Burrell behind, oh, I don't know, 10 other outfielders. But let's cherry pick and point out Corey Hart and Hunter Pence at 19 and 24 while Pat the Bat is at 27.

12.) J.J. Putz is at the seven spot for relief pitchers. If you can find somone who will trade you Joakim Soria or Matt Capps for him (or about a half dozen other closers), do it.

13.) Justin Verlander is the 16th ranked pitcher. I'm not even going to bother explaining why there is no way Verlander is the 16th most valuable starting pitching commodity in Major League Baseball ... and perhaps not even in the American League.

Back to the drawing board, ESPN.


Guancous said...

I disagree with your findings. Garko is a way cooler name than Votto.

Anonymous said...

are the yahoo rankings better or worse? is there another site with better (free) rankings?

Mike Bock said...

Yahoo's are math based. espn's the only one I've seen redo rankings this early.

waters96 said...

rotoworld just issued new May rankings. I bet if you took a look at them, you'd have a few choice comments as well.

Any chance you'd do some new rankings.

Mike Bock said...

I'm waiting until the All Star break for a re-rank special.

Steve Lorenz said...

These are their rankings for what they think things will be like at the end of the season. I don't particularly care for them either, but they are taking a player like Verlander and saying "From here on out, Verlander will be the 16th most valuable fantasy pitcher". Again, there are still holes in the rankings, but if you look at it the way it was meant to be looked at, it might seem at least partially logical