Fresh Start

Hope everyone had a great off-season. This blog is going to hopefully see a lot more action this year, so get ready.

I want to kick it off with a variety of rankings over the next few weeks, that I’m still working over and constantly kicking around and adjusting. Like most people, even the most educated fan isn’t sure about some of the position battles this early in Spring Training, so you’ve got to make a **** educated guess. I’ve been participating in some Mock Drafts and even a few regular drafts here and there, and I plan on adding some comments from some of those later this week.

However, I’m going to start with some rankings. I’ve been diligently working on my AL-Only ones as of late. I want to point a few things out. These are 4×4 rankings. I do discount those guys who are heavy in runs; if that’s one of a certain player’s most valuable attribute, he’s going to get bumped down. For example, Derek Jeter. Consistent, yes. Productive, check. But without his runs, what makes this guy any better than Carlos Guillen? You could argue for either, really. So keep that in mind. Secondly, AL-Only is a big part of this. You’ll see I have Brian Roberts marked down on a discount. Well, anyone who sees the Orioles finishing any better than fourth in the East is probably a fanatic or a fool. GM Andy MacPhail has made it clear he’s not afraid to pull the Trigger, and it’s easy to see how Roberts could be a big ticket before the deadline come July. With that, here’s the infield rankings.

I plan on releasing DH/Outfield rankings later this week, either seperately with another post or with pitchers. Note that multiple eligibility is based on 20 games played last year, which covers almost any possibly format your league has, and that way you don’t have to go checking whatever magazine or rankings you have to see if your league fits. A "+" next to a player indicates I have him as a good target/value player. Here we go, complete with auction values/ranges:

Catcher

Victor Martinez 21-23 (1B) +

Kenji Johjima 9-10 +

Joe Mauer 13-14

Jorge Posada 9-10

Ramon Hernandez 5-6

Jarrod Saltalamacchia 4-5 +

A.J. Pierzynski 3-4

Mike Napoli (4) +

Jason Varitek (3)

Pudge Rodriguez (2) —

Notes: You’ll notice for some of these positions I didn’t rank a full 12 players, etc. Why? If you’re stuck with something worse, you’re facing certain doom at that position. It’s probably a position where you want a reliable player, because the average player replacing him would kill you. The catcher position, particularly in the

AL

, is no different. Why do I have Mauer valued at more and yet ranked below Johjima? Well, are you a gambler or a conservative? If you think Mauer stays healthy, he’ll put up that kind of value. If not, Johjima seems like a lock. I think

Napoli

and Salty are the quality sleepers here, but Pudge seems like the candidate to keep declining; his lack of walks and declining production in the second half scare me off.

1B

Justin Morneau 26-27

Carlos Guillen 23-24 (SS) +

Victor Martinez 21-22 (C) +

Paul Konerko 20-21

Carlos Pena 17-18

Alex Gordon 17-18 (3B) +

Nick Swisher 15-16 (OF)

Ryan Garko 13-14 +

Casey Kotchman 11-12 +

Kevin Youkilis 11-12

Lyle

 

Overbay

9-10 +

Aubrey Huff 9-10 (DH) +

Richie Sexson 9-10

Jarrod Saltalamacchia 7-8 (C)

Daric Barton 6-7 +

Mike Lamb 6-7 (3B) ++

Matt Stairs 5-6

Kevin Millar 4-5

Ben Broussard 4-5

Brad Wilkerson 3-4

Ross Gload 3-4

Dan Johnson 2-3

Notes: Morneau stays No. 1 here by default, but I’m not convinced the batting average rebounds all the way; his BABIP and other peripherals show no signs. Upon first glance this position is stunningly weak this year, but some bargains can be found.

Martinez

might not be a bad way to go, and even better due to flexibility. Gordon seems like a sure bet to improve based on his second-half strides, and Overbay appears to be a risk worth taking to rebound. If you’re looking to draft late or go cheap, Lamb seems like a great bet as a corner infielder. The fact that he’s hit lefties as well as he has as a Southpaw himself bodes well for adequate ABs.

2B

B.J. Upton 25-26 (OF) ++

Robinson Cano 22-23 +

Ian Kinsler 22-23 +

Brian Roberts 15-16

Howie Kendrick 14-15

Aaron Hill 11-12 +

Dustin Pedroia 11-12

Mark Ellis 10-11

Placido Polanco 10-11 —

Asdrubal Cabrera 6-7

Danny Richar 5-6

Jose Lopez 3-4

Mark Grudzielanek 3-4

Brendan Harris 1-2 –

SS

Carlos Guillen 23-24 (1B) +

Derek Jeter 22-23

Michael Young 21-22

Edgar Renteria 16-17

Julio Lugo 14-15 +

Jhonny Peralta 13-14 +

Orlando

Cabrera 11-12

Yunieski Betancourt 10-11 +

Jason Bartlett 9-10

David Eckstein 7-8 +

Brendan Harris 3-4 (2B)

Notes: I only ranked about 10 guys here accurately for a reason: I don’t feel at all confident about anyone afterward, sans Harris assuming he wins the job in

Minnesota

.

Lugo

‘s abnormal first-half last season should mean that he’s available at a bit cheaper than he should be, and with his vision corrected after surgery, Peralta assumedly will post production similar to 2005. Betancourt or Eckstein are good lower-round/priced picks for

AL

owners, but I wouldn’t tread any deeper into the shortstop pool than them.

3B

Alex Rodriguez 41-42 +

Miguel Cabrera 33-34

Adrian Beltre 22-23 +

Chone Figgins 21-22

Alex Gordon 17-18 (1B) +

Mike Lowell 16-17

Hank Blalock 13-14

Evan Longoria 13-14

Scott Rolen 12-13 +

Eric Chavez 8-9

Akinori Iwamura 7-8

Mike Lamb 6-7 (1B) ++

Melvin Mora 6-7

Josh Fields 6-7

Casey Blake 2-3

So there you go. The rest is coming later this week. Enjoy, and comments welcome as usual.

Notes: You can make the argument A-Rod is worth a few extra dollars, but I wouldn’t break the bank for more than $45 for this year’s No. 1. Cabrera’s value would be more if he were batting third in the lineup, but hitting fifth might shave a dollar or two off of some at-bats that he might otherwise receive. I was prepared to take a gamble possibly on Eric Chavez a few weeks ago, but every word I hear about the guy makes me more cautious every second about thinking about it. Fields is the wildcard here; once we get word on who wins the job or if Crede is traded, make your judgment. No question he has the ability to hit 25-30 home runs if he gets full-time PT, so adjust accordingly in that case.

Notes: If you’re in a typical 5×5 league, this position is stronger. A lot of guys here who score runs, but once you get past the top, it gets shallow very fast. We here a lot of talk in Spring Training about guys adding pitches or claiming to steal more, but if you want to believe positive things about one guy it’s got to be

Upton

. His average may not be what it was last year, but here’s a guy who can go 30/30 potentially, and he’s currently slotted to hit cleanup. I’d bid/draft as aggressively on him as anyone. Already gave an explanation on Roberts…Aaron Hill is a nice player to grab in the middle; I nabbed him on the cheap in an auction last year, and he produced surprisingly for a guy who contributed in little else than average previously. His gap power finally translated and he’s a good bet to get you your money again, albeit at a higher value. A lot of magazines or sources project Asdrubal Cabrera to steal somewhere near 15 bags this season; I’m not seeing it, and I’d let someone else gamble on him until he proves his worth.

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