Brian, Closers, Rankings, Relievers

Brian’s Top 30 Closer Rankings and Projections for ’12


Craig Kimbrel is head of the class. But do you trust him to repeat last year's success?

Relief pitchers are often thought of as the “Kickers” of baseball, and there is a reason for this theory. For one, there are 30 closers in the league (maybe even more if you count “by committee” bullpens). If you’re in a 10 team league, there will be a throng of closers to be had, even into the late rounds (not every closer will be owned by the end of the draft). Closers also only fulfill one stat category (Saves), which means if you draft a closer with one of your top 10 picks, you’re going to be losing out on a lot of other categories.

That being said, I like to own one of the more renown closers as to avoid the headache of “chasing saves.” I won’t ever go out and draft the best closer, or the second best for that matter, but I like to have a guy on my team who is going to get me at least 30 saves and won’t be in jeopardy of losing his job.

There’s a reason I leave these rankings until last: without fail, every year, one or two closers lose their starting gigs in spring training due to injury or ineptitude. Already Joakim Soria and Ryan Madson are out for the year. Drew Storen is injured (hence his low ranking; he would be number five on this list otherwise). The jury is still out on guys like Jason Motte and Javy Guerra. The reason most leagues hold their drafts at the end of March is to avoid wasting picks on dead end closers.

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Brian, Rankings, Starting Pitchers

Brian’s Top 25 Starting Pitcher Rankings and Projections for ’12


Justin Verlander might not be Randy Johnson, but he pitched like it in 2011.

They say when you’re doing an auction draft, you should spend $180 on hitting, leaving only $80 for pitching. And the reasoning is simple: your hitters play everyday, while your starting pitchers are only going to pitch twice a week at most. In a head-to-head league, where a pitcher is only giving you between 6-15 innings a week, the impact isn’t very significant. Conversely, in a rotisserie league, where you’re compiling numbers all year round, and pitcher stats are valuable due to an innings limit, top-shelf pitchers are a hotter commodity. Regardless of the style of gameplay, there will always be pitching late in a draft. Not listed below are fantasy nuggets  like Vance Worley, Doug Fister, Johan Santana, Edinson Volquez, Hiroki Kuroda, and Clay Buchholz, who will be available near the end of your draft. Because of the ability to get talent late, you won’t need to get a handful of these top-25 pitchers. But it should be noted that ending a draft without at least 1-2 of these pitchers would be a detriment to your team. Having a few mainstays, a few sure things, is without question, the way you’ll win a championship.

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Brian, Projections, Rankings, Shortstop

Brian’s Top 12 Shortstop Rankings and Projections for ’12


Three clear stars at the top, but could there be other stars?

Hall of Fame manager Leo Durocher is quoted as saying, “Nobody ever won a pennant without a star shortstop.” This is a clear attempt by Durocher to claim he was a star during his playing days, as he helped the New York Yankees win the World Series in 1928. It’s unknown if his tone was serious when he spoke those words, though. Durocher was a .247 career hitter with a grand total of 24 home runs in 20 years as a player. Babe Ruth nicknamed him “The All-American Out.”

Regardless of Durocher’s lackluster playing career, his quote is mostly true: “Nobody ever won a fantasy pennant without a star shortstop.” It’s a position that is difficult to fill after the first five or six are off the board. It’s why you’ll see even marginal shortstop talent become overvalued in a fantasy draft. It’s one of those “musical chairs” positions; you don’t want to get caught without a good one. But while all the players on this list aren’t “stars”, a lot of them do things that could be considered star-worthy, especially for a shortstop.

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First Base, Jared, Player Profile, Third Base

Player Profile: Miguel Cabrera


Miguel could be on the field a lot this year due to Detroit's terrible infield defense. Finding a snack wherever he can will be crucial.

Benjamin Franklin once observed that the only guarantees in life are death and taxes. For reasons unknown, Franklin forgot to mention Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera is one of the most consistent sluggers in the game today and Franklin would surely take him #1 overall in his fantasy draft. [Editor’s Note: What would Ben Franklin name his team? The Franklin Hot Stoves? Been-Jammin’ Deborah Read? If you have any better ideas use the comments section].

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Butler, Player Profile, Shortstop, Third Base

Player Profile: Hanley Ramirez


"Juego al fútbol ahora."

At the start of spring training last season, Hanley Ramirez and former double-play partner Dan Uggla made a wager to see who would have the worst numbers come the All-Star break. It was determined that the loser would buy the winner a “surf and turf” dinner at Black Angus. Neither did at all well in the first half, but with the muscular Uggla hitting well below his weight on July 10, victory was his. He could almost taste the filet mignon and grilled prawns (additionally he would have a works baked potato, steamed broccoli, a Caesar salad with extra croutons, and maybe a nice Pinot Noir; Uggla envisions his meals to the finest detail). Ramirez saw the writing on the wall, and through a club-appointed interpreter, offered him double-or-nothing to extend the bet to the end of the season. Uggla looked at his own 43/15/34/.185 line and accepted the new terms, figuring his season was irretrievably in the toilet. By the end of September, however, Uggla was the hottest hitter in the NL, while Hanley hadn’t played in two months. Uggla felt so bad for Hanley that he upped the ante and treated him to dim sum at P.F. Chang’s.

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Brian, Feature, Head-To-Head, Poll, Roto

Rotisserie versus Head-to-Head (2012 version)


Every year, fantasy baseball grows in size, exposing more of the population to the sad, masochistic, stat-filled addiction that the strange few of us already know like the back of our hands. Usually, the first decision new managers have to face is which format they want to play under: rotisserie (roto) or head-to-head. My recommendation to new owners: join one of each because even though both are amazingly addicting, they’re remarkably different. I enjoy head-to-head formats better than rotisserie because I like the thrill of week-to-week drama. The rivalry aspect is also unique to head-to-head formats. But let’s not put the cart before the horse.

Before we delve into the differences, let’s make sure we don’t leave any stone unturned and quickly discuss the history of the “sport.”

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