We are only a week removed from the culmination of the 2012 postseason, and while the offseason is still in it’s most nascent stages, it is never too early to look towards the upcoming season. Below is my preliminary—and incredibly early—look at the top 300 fantasy baseball players for the 2013 season. Players are ranked by their expected value in standard 5×5 Rotisserie leagues. The list is slanted slightly towards 12-team leagues, but the ordering would stray very little in any other format.

### Ranking Methodology

I have created my own regression-based projections for well over 300 players, looking at a profusion of peripheral data to arrive at projections that I feel are reasonable, break-even points for each player. Back in August, I outlined my personal method for valuing players, called ‘roto points above average’ (rPAA), a method that is both quantitative and objective (outlined here and here). I use the same methodology in these rankings, with the sole exception that I am using my own projections instead of projections generated by ZiPS, which were used in the August rankings.

Once all players have been projected, positional adjustments are then made to account for dearth and abundance. Once this is completed, the values are set and a rough outline is created. My rankings do not reflect the precise ordering of players by projected roto point total, as my own subjectivity does move players up or down when the difference between them is merely fractions of a point.

### Understanding my personal biases

I tended to rank catchers, starting pitchers and relief pitchers slightly lower than where their projected roto point total suggested they should go. This is because these positions usually have less certainty with regards to health, and because the surface numbers of pitchers (ERA, WHIP, wins and saves) are more vulnerable to wild fluctuations due to random variation or team context rather than skill elevation or degradation. And with closers, roles are in constant flux, making values extremely mercurial, rendering closers more replaceable with shrewd waiver-wire manipulation.

Remember that while these rankings are reasoned and were contrived deliberately, I cannot claim to have dissected every player profile with a surgeon’s precision. In the coming months, I will delve deeper into plate discipline statistics, pitch-f/x data, and more individualized qualitative analysis. And, as always, roster moves, playing time expectations, closer roles, and injury status will become more salient in the coming months, inevitably affecting subsequent rankings.

I will update this list periodically throughout the offseason, but for now this is what my initial top 300 for 2013 looks like. Comments, critique, suggestions and questions are welcome.

Num | Player Name | Team | Position |
---|---|---|---|

1 | Miguel Cabrera | Det | 3B |

2 | Ryan Braun | Mil | OF |

3 | Mike Trout | LAA | OF |

4 | Matt Kemp | LAD | OF |

5 | Robinson Cano | NYY | 2B |

6 | Joey Votto | Cin | 1B |

7 | Albert Pujols | LAA | 1B |

8 | Carlos Gonzalez | Col | OF |

9 | Andrew McCutchen | Pit | OF |

10 | Justin Verlander | Det | SP |

11 | Jose Bautista | Tor | OF |

12 | Prince Fielder | Det | 1B |

13 | Josh Hamilton | Tex | OF |

14 | Adrian Beltre | Tex | 3B |

15 | Giancarlo Stanton | Mia | OF |

16 | Clayton Kershaw | LAD | SP |

17 | Evan Longoria | TB | 3B |

18 | Hanley Ramirez | LAD | SS/3B |

19 | Ian Kinsler | Tex | 2B |

20 | Stephen Strasburg | Was | SP |

21 | Buster Posey | SF | C/1B |

22 | David Wright | NYM | 3B |

23 | Jose Reyes | Mia | SS |

24 | Dustin Pedroia | Bos | 2B |

25 | Troy Tulowitzki | Col | SS |

26 | Jason Heyward | Atl | OF |

27 | Justin Upton | Ari | OF |

28 | Starlin Castro | ChC | SS |

29 | David Price | TB | SP |

30 | Matt Cain | SF | SP |

31 | Adrian Gonzalez | LAD | 1B |

32 | Felix Hernandez | Sea | SP |

33 | Edwin Encarnacion | Tor | 1B |

34 | Matt Holliday | StL | OF |

35 | Curtis Granderson | NYY | OF |

36 | Adam Jones | Bal | OF |

37 | Bryce Harper | Was | OF |

38 | Cliff Lee | Phi | SP |

39 | Brandon Phillips | Cin | 2B |

40 | Cole Hamels | Phi | SP |

41 | Jered Weaver | LAA | SP |

42 | Joe Mauer | Min | C/1B |

43 | Jacoby Ellsbury | Bos | OF |

44 | Jay Bruce | Cin | OF |

45 | B.J. Upton | TB | OF |

46 | Billy Butler | KC | 1B |

47 | CC Sabathia | NYY | SP |

48 | Ben Zobrist | TB | 2B/SS/OF |

49 | Alex Rios | CWS | OF |

50 | R.A. Dickey | NYM | SP |

51 | Aramis Ramirez | Mil | 3B |

52 | Mark Teixeira | NYY | 1B |

53 | Roy Halladay | Phi | SP |

54 | Aaron Hill | Ari | 2B |

55 | Jason Kipnis | Cle | 2B |

56 | Ryan Zimmerman | Was | 3B |

57 | Craig Kimbrel | Atl | RP |

58 | Corey Hart | Mil | 1B/OF |

59 | Shin-Soo Choo | Cle | OF |

60 | Ian Desmond | Was | SS |

61 | Brett Lawrie | Tor | 3B |

62 | Yoenis Cespedes | Oak | OF |

63 | Jimmy Rollins | Phi | SS |

64 | Zack Greinke | LAA | SP |

65 | Chase Headley | SD | 3B |

66 | Madison Bumgarner | SF | SP |

67 | Pablo Sandoval | SF | 3B |

68 | James Shields | TB | SP |

69 | David Ortiz | Bos | DH |

70 | Chris Sale | CWS | SP |

71 | Paul Konerko | CWS | 1B |

72 | Aroldis Chapman | Cin | RP |

73 | Michael Bourn | Atl | OF |

74 | Gio Gonzalez | Was | SP |

75 | Allen Craig | StL | 1B/OF |

76 | Adam Wainwright | StL | SP |

77 | Melky Cabrera | SF | OF |

78 | Yadier Molina | StL | C |

79 | Jose Altuve | Hou | 2B |

80 | Hunter Pence | SF | OF |

81 | Yu Darvish | Tex | SP |

82 | Carlos Santana | Cle | C/1B |

83 | Shane Victorino | LAD | OF |

84 | Alex Gordon | KC | OF |

85 | Kris Medlen | Atl | SP |

86 | Derek Jeter | NYY | SS |

87 | Michael Morse | Was | OF |

88 | Mat Latos | Cin | SP |

89 | Carlos Beltran | StL | OF |

90 | Asdrubal Cabrera | Cle | SS |

91 | Paul Goldschmidt | Ari | 1B |

92 | Elvis Andrus | Tex | SS |

93 | Max Scherzer | Det | SP |

94 | Jonathan Papelbon | Phi | RP |

95 | Kenley Jansen | LAD | RP |

96 | Matt Wieters | Bal | C |

97 | Desmond Jennings | TB | OF |

98 | Freddie Freeman | Atl | 1B |

99 | Yovani Gallardo | Mil | SP |

100 | Eric Hosmer | KC | 1B |

101 | Dan Haren | LAA | SP |

102 | Wilin Rosario | Col | C/1B |

103 | Johnny Cueto | Cin | SP |

104 | Neil Walker | Pit | 2B |

105 | Jason Motte | StL | RP |

106 | Mark Trumbo | LAA | 1B/OF |

107 | Carl Crawford | Bos | OF |

108 | Jordan Zimmermann | Was | SP |

109 | Nelson Cruz | Tex | OF |

110 | Mike Napoli | Tex | C/1B |

111 | Ian Kennedy | Ari | SP |

112 | Josh Willingham | Min | OF |

113 | Ernesto Frieri | LAA | RP |

114 | Matt Garza | ChC | SP |

115 | Austin Jackson | Det | OF |

116 | Tim Lincecum | SF | SP |

117 | Matt Moore | TB | SP |

118 | Salvador Perez | KC | C |

119 | Sergio Romo | SF | RP |

120 | Dan Uggla | Atl | 2B |

121 | Victor Martinez | Det | C |

122 | Alexei Ramirez | CWS | SS |

123 | Andre Ethier | LAD | OF |

124 | Hiroki Kuroda | NYY | SP |

125 | Ichiro Suzuki | NYY | OF |

126 | Joe Nathan | Tex | RP |

127 | Doug Fister | Det | SP |

128 | Ike Davis | NYM | 1B |

129 | Glen Perkins | Min | RP |

130 | Miguel Montero | Ari | C |

131 | Jake Peavy | CWS | SP |

132 | Martin Prado | Atl | 3B/OF |

133 | Jayson Werth | Was | OF |

134 | Tom Wilhelmsen | Sea | RP |

135 | Lance Lynn | StL | SP |

136 | Alejandro De Aza | CWS | OF |

137 | Josh Johnson | Mia | SP |

138 | Matt Harvey | NYM | SP |

139 | Adam LaRoche | Was | 1B |

140 | Marco Estrada | Mil | SP |

141 | Brett Anderson | Oak | SP |

142 | Fernando Rodney | TB | RP |

143 | Alcides Escobar | KC | SS |

144 | Brian McCann | Atl | C |

145 | Chase Utley | Phi | 2B |

146 | Rickie Weeks | Mil | 2B |

147 | Carlos Gomez | Mil | OF |

148 | Nick Swisher | NYY | OF |

149 | Josh Rutledge | Col | SS |

150 | Jon Lester | Bos | SP |

151 | Will Middlebrooks | Bos | 3B |

152 | Tommy Hanson | Atl | SP |

153 | Drew Storen | Was | RP |

154 | Anthony Rizzo | ChC | 1B |

155 | Greg Holland | KC | RP |

156 | Tim Hudson | Atl | SP |

157 | Jeff Samardzija | ChC | SP |

158 | Ryan Howard | Phi | 1B |

159 | Shaun Marcum | Mil | SP |

160 | C.J. Wilson | LAA | SP |

161 | Coco Crisp | Oak | OF |

162 | Adam Dunn | CWS | 1B |

163 | Erick Aybar | LAA | SS |

164 | Grant Balfour | Oak | RP |

165 | J.J. Putz | Ari | RP |

166 | Angel Pagan | SF | OF |

167 | Michael Cuddyer | Col | 1B/OF |

168 | A.J. Burnett | Pit | SP |

169 | David Freese | StL | 3B |

170 | Danny Espinosa | Was | 2B/SS |

171 | Kyle Lohse | StL | SP |

172 | Nick Markakis | Bal | OF |

173 | Wade Miley | Ari | SP |

174 | Alex Rodriguez | NYY | 3B |

175 | Ben Revere | Min | OF |

176 | Jon Niese | NYM | SP |

177 | Jaime Garcia | StL | SP |

178 | Chris Davis | Bal | 1B/OF |

179 | Ryan Dempster | Tex | SP |

180 | Rafael Betancourt | Col | RP |

181 | Edwin Jackson | Was | SP |

182 | Mike Moustakas | KC | 3B |

183 | Joel Hanrahan | Pit | RP |

184 | Manny Machado | Bal | 3B |

185 | Josh Beckett | LAD | SP |

186 | Howie Kendrick | LAA | 2B |

187 | Jarrod Parker | Oak | SP |

188 | Alex Cobb | TB | SP |

189 | Matt Harrison | Tex | SP |

190 | Carlos Ruiz | Phi | C |

191 | Casey Janssen | Tor | RP |

192 | Ryan Vogelsong | SF | SP |

193 | Jason Kubel | Ari | OF |

194 | Jim Johnson | Bal | RP |

195 | Josh Reddick | Oak | OF |

196 | Anibal Sanchez | Det | SP |

197 | Brett Gardner | NYY | OF |

198 | Huston Street | SD | RP |

199 | Addison Reed | CWS | RP |

200 | J.J. Hardy | Bal | SS |

201 | Brandon Morrow | Tor | SP |

202 | Torii Hunter | LAA | OF |

203 | Chris Capuano | LAD | SP |

204 | Rafael Soriano | NYY | RP |

205 | Lorenzo Cain | KC | OF |

206 | Wilton Lopez | Hou | RP |

207 | Jason Hammel | Bal | SP |

208 | Justin Ruggiano | Mia | OF |

209 | A.J. Griffin | Oak | SP |

210 | Andrew Bailey | Bos | RP |

211 | John Axford | Mil | RP |

212 | Kendrys Morales | LAA | 1B |

213 | Everth Cabrera | SD | SS |

214 | Ted Lilly | LAD | SP |

215 | Marco Scutaro | SF | 2B/SS |

216 | Yasmani Grandal | SD | C |

217 | Chris Perez | Cle | RP |

218 | Drew Stubbs | Cin | OF |

219 | Todd Frazier | Cin | 1B/3B |

220 | Alfonso Soriano | ChC | OF |

221 | Homer Bailey | Cin | SP |

222 | Brandon Moss | Oak | 1B/OF |

223 | Steve Cishek | Mia | RP |

224 | Jesus Montero | Sea | C |

225 | Daniel Murphy | NYM | 2B |

226 | Jeremy Hellickson | TB | SP |

227 | Carlos Marmol | ChC | RP |

228 | Norichika Aoki | Mil | OF |

229 | Jon Jay | StL | OF |

230 | David Murphy | Tex | OF |

231 | Justin Morneau | Min | 1B |

232 | Phil Hughes | NYY | SP |

233 | Dustin Ackley | Sea | 2B |

234 | Dexter Fowler | Col | OF |

235 | Emilio Bonifacio | Mia | OF |

236 | Mariano Rivera | NYY | RP |

237 | Wandy Rodriguez | Pit | SP |

238 | Trevor Bauer | Ari | SP |

239 | Jarrod Saltalamacchia | Bos | C |

240 | Chad Billingsley | LAD | SP |

241 | Tyler Colvin | Col | 1B/OF |

242 | Pedro Alvarez | Pit | 3B |

243 | Mark Buehrle | Mia | SP |

244 | Jean Segura | Min | SS |

245 | Trevor Cahill | Ari | SP |

246 | Frank Francisco | NYM | RP |

247 | Drew Smyly | Det | SP |

248 | Cameron Maybin | SD | OF |

249 | Kevin Youkilis | CWS | 3B |

250 | Kelly Johnson | Tor | 2B |

251 | Andrew Cashner | SD | SP |

252 | Shelby Miller | StL | SP |

253 | Rajai Davis | Tor | OF |

254 | Hisashi Iwakuma | Sea | SP |

255 | Chris Young | Oak | OF |

256 | Colby Rasmus | Tor | OF |

257 | Mark Reynolds | Bal | 1B |

258 | Zack Cozart | Cin | SS |

259 | Starling Marte | Pit | OF |

260 | Logan Morrison | Mia | OF |

261 | Jonathan Lucroy | Mil | C |

262 | Tyler Clippard | Was | RP |

263 | Brandon Belt | SF | 1B |

264 | Michael Fiers | Mil | SP |

265 | Matt Joyce | TB | OF |

266 | Joaquin Benoit | Det | RP |

267 | Dayan Viciedo | CWS | OF |

268 | Bobby Parnell | NYM | RP |

269 | Mike Minor | Atl | SP |

270 | Omar Infante | Det | 2B |

271 | Jose Valverde | Det | RP |

272 | Tommy Milone | Oak | SP |

273 | Brian Wilson | SF | RP |

274 | Garrett Jones | Pit | 1B/OF |

275 | Carlos Quentin | SD | OF |

276 | Ryan Ludwick | StL | OF |

277 | Vinnie Pestano | Cle | RP |

278 | J.P. Arencibia | Tor | C |

279 | Cody Ross | Bos | OF |

280 | Jhonny Peralta | Det | SS |

281 | Kyle Seager | Sea | 3B |

282 | David Robertson | NYY | RP |

283 | James McDonald | Pit | SP |

284 | Russell Martin | NYY | C |

285 | A.J. Pierzynski | CWS | C |

286 | David Hernandez | Ari | RP |

287 | Jed Lowrie | Hou | SS |

288 | Andrelton Simmons | Atl | SS |

289 | Johan Santana | NYM | SP |

290 | Wilson Ramos | Was | C |

291 | Michael Brantley | Cle | OF |

292 | Junuchi Tazawa | Bos | RP |

293 | Jason Vargas | Sea | SP |

294 | Ryan Doumit | Min | C/OF |

295 | Justin Maxwell | Hou | OF |

296 | Lucas Harrell | Hou | SP |

297 | Sean Marshall | Cin | RP |

298 | Alex Avila | Det | C |

299 | Brandon McCarthy | Oak | SP |

300 | Jake McGee | TB | RP |

mrcar said...

Early indeed! Any fear a rookie like Billy Hamilton might be overlooked?

Josh said...

Good list. Wonder about Brian Wilson and Soria (Romo seems high). Also, for better or worse, someone will nab Profar among the top 200 based on potential alone… (even if he only comes up in August)

Eric said...

No excuse for not having Tulo in the top 25. Lost any credibility after seeing that.

John said...

If he could stay on the field…

Andrew said...

after his crazy 2nd half performance, you still don’t like Chris Tillman

Jesse Sakstrup said...

@mrcar: If Hamilton begins the year in the majors, I think he would rank higher than Dee Gordon did last year. Hes still got a few things to work on, though.

@Josh: Romo is ranked as if he will begin the year as the closer, but I only projected him for 26 saves. His contributions in ERA and WHIP move him above some of the closers that I have projected for more saves. If Brian Wilson is healthy to begin the year, or if there is any uncertainty to whether Romo is the closer or not, then there is no need to take him that high. We will learn a lot in the coming months.

@Eric: Tulo is at #25, and where you take him is mostly contingent on risk-tolerance. If he stays healthy for 125 games, he will produce top-25 value or higher, but any less than that and you are probably losing value—if he plays 150 games, he is a steal there. Perhaps you could make a case why Tulo should be significantly higher, outlining why the reward far outweighs the risk, rather than making a condescending post about the entire list over the ranking of just one player.

@Andrew: You could definitely make a case for Tillman as a top-300 player, or maybe even a bit higher than that, but he was a bit fortunate to have a .221 BABIP in 2012. Being that he is a flyball pitcher, he should be able to keep a BABIP lower than league average, but his career BABIP is .280 and his batted ball profile deviated little in 2012 from his career averages. His xFIP and SIERA each had his ERA over 4.00, but since he is a heavy flyball pitcher, he should outperform his DIPS some, in the way that a Matt Cain or Jeremy Hellickson does, but that still leaves a worry of heavy regression.

We can take solace in his significant velocity spike and in his moderate swinging strike rate uptick, so there looks to be some room for some more strikeouts as his BABIP comes back up, but I did factor this into my projection. I think he will strikeout over 7.0 per 9 for the first time in his career. There is little difference between pick 250 and 300 in terms of expected value—drafting Tillman anywhere in that range would certainly be defensible, and maybe a bit higher if you believe strongly in him.

Scott said...

Surprised you ranked Dunn that low. Even though he faltered during the last 6 weeks, and his avg is poor, 80+ runs and 90+ RBI’s that late in the draft is a steal.

Jesse Sakstrup said...

Possibly, but his batting average is a serious issue. He has struck out nearly 35% of his at PAs over the past two seasons, so a return to the days when he hit .240+ looks unlikely (I have him projected to hit .225). Even with 87 runs, 41 HR, and 96 RBI he finished 161 (21st among 1B) on ESPN’s player rater, and since he only has 1B eligibility, he wasn’t even the 161st most valuable player when positional value is taken into consideration. You may not completely agree with ESPN’s player rater, but my formula valued him similarly and my projections have him as a corner infielder in a 12-team league.

If you play in a league where owners draft power early and stolen bases can be had at a bargain, or easily found on the waiver wire, then his contributions are a bit more valuable, but not all leagues are like that. I would have no issue with anyone who wanted to take him in the 110-130 area, but drafting a guy like that restricts what you can do in other areas of the draft unless you ignore batting average and hope for the best—batting average is a category where you can have more success with that strategy than other categories, it should be mentioned.

Jesse Sakstrup said...

@Milby: Yeah I like him a lot. He could go 15/15 with a reasonable average. If it becomes clear that he will play everyday, he will move up a bit higher, too.

Milby said...

Looks like you are buying into Rutledge in a big way. I am too, but was surprised to see you felt the same way.

Jeff Gross said...

Looks good at first glance, though I think Starlin Castro is ranked a little high. Also think Edwin is a round or 2 too high as well, but thats just cause I dont 100% buy into his 2012. Here’s to hoping Kinsler bounces back major!

Jerry said...

I recognize Jeter had a fatastic rebound season in 2012 – amazing at the age of 110, but how long ca he continue being reasonably productive? Even now he is only strong in 2 categories (BA and runs), yet he still ranked as the 7th top ss in baseball on your list and the 86th best player overall. Is this expecting too much from Father Time?

Jesse Sakstrup said...

@Jerry: If Jeter doesn’t fall off completely, I think he will justify that draft position, and will probably be a value. Last year he had a line of 99/15/58/9/.316, which was good for 45th on ESPN’s player rater (which doesn’t give him credit for playing SS) and my formula rated him similarly. I think it is unfair to call Jeter a two category player since the SS position is still among the shallowest positions of all. His runs and batting average would be strong at any position and the other three categories aren’t complete albatrosses in relation to the majority of other shortstops. I am projecting some regression in every category for next year (95/11/54/9/.299), but seeing as the shortstop position is still pretty shallow, I think taking Jeter inside the top 90 is not only justified, but there is also potential profit at that spot.

It is completely understandable and defensible for someone to pass on Jeter at that draft spot if they are worried about a complete collapse.