Ever since Yahoo starting hosting fantasy baseball, I can remember fondly clicking through the fantasy articles, using them judiciously to craft my rankings and evaluate my teams and trades alike. Since the Cafe opened, I have used the information Yahoo provides very little, but one item I would always go back to was Brandon Funston’s Big Board. Every week, or whenever Funston felt like doing some work, he ranked the top 50 fantasy players, with little blurbs about each player and indicators of whether the player was moving up or down the list, and where they ranked the previous week. In 2012, Funston has not updated the Big Board since the pre-season, so it seemed only fitting that the Cafe take over this task as well.
For this week, there are four rankers, who all graciously submitted their Boards. SaltyDog, JFG, Ender, and NikkiSix all put some solid time and effort into crafting a top 50, and NikkiSix even commented on all 50 of his top 50. You’ll see that some of the blurbs on the final list are the same ones that Nikki used himself. To craft the list, I simply converted the four lists into one, taking into account my own top 50, and drew up the list to my liking. For the most part, the list follows the collaboration of the four lists; I simply tweaked it here and there where it seemed appropriate. Without further ado, the first Top 50 Countdown of the 2012 Fantasy Baseball season.
|Love it or hate it, Reddick is on the list. His spot is hardly guaranteed, but you have to tip your cap to the first two months of production.|
|Hard to gauge his value right now, but he hasn’t done enough to fall off the list, yet.|
|Closers on top 50? Unheard of! But with the way things have gone for closers this season, you have to appreciate Kimbrel more than usual.|
|Hard to place him among the pitchers on this list, but I think this is where he belongs. Easy wins keep him afloat even in tough times.|
|Melky’s starting to get people to believe. His power isn’t overwhelming, but he hits enough HRs with his SBs, runs and average to be an incredible value.|
|Cruz has struggled, but his eight-RBI performance reminded everyone how good he can be. This could wind up being his lowest rank of the entire year.|
|Price is a stud who keeps getting better each year. He has settled into the top 10 pitchers, and could be there for 10 more years.|
|Tex makes the list solely on the strength of previous seasons. I’m crossing my fingers he’s off this list next time.|
|It looks like his RBI total will be well over 100 this season, and he’s playing even better in May than he did in April. — NikkiSix|
|There is some debate as to who the best pitcher on the Giants is, but I’ll take Cain every time. Consistent across the board, Cain is a solid ace.|
|Not producing the strikeouts that most people expected, but he’s pitching like an ace every time he goes out there. — NikkiSix|
|Greinke is infuriating to own, but he has as much talent as any pitcher in the game. At least you can always count on the Ks.|
|Is the resurgence real? Can he keep this pace up all year? Replacing Albert Pujols isn’t easy, but Beltran has exceeded every expectation. — NikkiSix|
|Jay Bruce hits home runs. I like guys that hit home runs.|
|My personal favorite, Gio is finally getting noticed now that he’s out of Oakland and into DC. Can you imagine the hype if he was a Yankee?|
|More HR and consistency everywhere else is the name of the game. His average can rebound a bit, and this guy is here to stay.|
|Many people aren’t huge fans of Reyes, myself included. He is going to have to pick it up across the board to stay in this spot, or on the list at all.|
|Batting average is suffering in May, but the power is still coming, and E5 is finally going to have that career year we’ve all been waiting for. — NikkiSix|
|Strasburg was one of the toughest to place on the board with questions abound, but one thing not in question is his talent.|
|Underrated? Not on the big board. Konerko tucks nicely into the 31st spot on the big board, safely in and more likely to move up than down.|
|Castro is one of the best young players in the game. If he were on another team, he could be a top 20 player with potential for more.|
|He’s had a recent rough patch but is still a true No. 1 starter for any fantasy team. — NikkiSix|
|Seems to miss a few games every year due to injury, but when he’s in, he’s a stud. — NikkiSix|
|A consistent middle infielder who offers something in every category and is on one of the best offenses in baseball. — NikkiSix|
|Bourn has hit five HRs now this season, more than doubling his career total. Add in his elite SB numbers and you have a top fantasy performer.|
|Adam Jones starts this list at No. 25, but the sky is the limit for this young man. Watch him climb this list as the season moves along.|
|Starting to settle in to an annual top-five pitcher, his division and offense should help keep him swimming in wins and good numbers if healthy.|
|Got off to a slow start but is proving his worth over the last month. Always a top 10 outfielder when healthy. — NikkiSix|
|K/9 and wins are as high as ever to add to the stellar ERA/WHIP. — NikkiSix|
|Steady performer in a bit of a down year. He should end up with nice numbers, but he is a little below the elite now.|
|Sometimes switching leagues takes a bit to get used to. (Pujols anyone?) Prince will get there.|
|Stanton does what he does, and no one ranked him too far from 20th. He’s a rock.|
|Pittsburgh keeps his fame in check, but no one can hold down his 5×5 production; the guy gets it done.|
|Some ranked him high, some quite a bit lower, but the fact remains he is a great hitter that has been producing for years.|
|Leadoff man on the best offense in baseball. He should lead the league in runs and go 20/30. — NikkiSix|
|One ranker didn’t believe in J-Up, but I doubt he falls below this rank the rest of the season; he’s too good.|
|Could have been much higher but got buried in one ranking. Reliable for HR/R/RBI, but Avg and lack of SB keep him in check|
|Only below the next two hitters because top pitchers are plentiful this year.|
|Just below Hanley, another elite hitter with a slow start that has found his stroke recently.|
|Hanley/Cano/Kershaw all ranked nearly identical, Hanley gets the nod with his proven track record.|
|Started off miserably slow, but with E5 mashing behind him, Bautista is seeing more good pitches and hitting them out of the park.|
|Tulo is starting to hit a bit more now, and once that second half rolls around, he is an elite performer.|
|Picking up where he left off last year proving he’s the best pitcher in baseball. — NikkiSix|
|Basically Braun-lite, Votto just keeps producing his top notch numbers each season.|
|Probably the most difficult guy to rank, because he could be back to No. 1 within a week if he continues his hot streak.|
|Incredible 5×5 production and half his games at Coors Field earn him a spot ahead of King Albert.|
|Hottest hitter in the majors this year, and couldn’t ask for a better situation. — NikkiSix|
|As reliable as they come, and is right on track to put out another stellar season. — NikkiSix|
|Could easily move back to No. 1 once he returns from the DL. Only the injury kept him from being No. 1 now.|
|Gets the nod at No. 1 based on consistency and reliable five-category production.|
Here are the next guys up for spot on the Countdown in two weeks:
David Ortiz, B.J. Upton, Dan Haren, Rafael Furcal, Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Santana, Tim Lincecum, Ben Zobrist, Adam Dunn, Brandon Phillips, Shane Victorino, Elvis Andrus, Dan Uggla, Matt Wieters, Madison Bumgarner, Jake Peavy and Mike Napoli.
Before you have a heart attack, we didn’t forget these guys; we’re just waiting out their injuries or ailments:
Roy Halladay, Evan Longoria, Jacoby Ellsbury, Pablo Sandoval.
Thanks again to those who ranked, and especially NikkiSix for all the comments. I’ll probably be doing this every 10 to 14 days, so players will have enough time to warrant moving around. Next time it would be great to have more rankers, so don’t be shy!
I can’t forget about SaltyDog, who is basically doing a lot of the math for this article while being an ideas guy for me to bounce things off. His contribution is invaluable, and I couldn’t have done this without him.
James is a 23-year-old accountant who spends most weekdays from 4-10 watching/tracking baseball and trolling the Cafe. He is also a golfer who is struggling to cope with the 110 degree heat in Las Vegas. If you ever come out here and want to hit the links or play some poker just let him know, and he is always game for a little side action. You can find James posting on the cafe as rjforlife.
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