Sunday, March 31, 2013

Jose Fernandez makes Marlins' Opening Day roster

Earlier in the month, the Miami Marlins sent their top prospect down to minors and it seemed unlikely that he would be on the team's Opening Day roster.

“I’ve been expecting it the last two weeks. I’m 20 years old. I can’t be upset. I can’t. It’s not a secret. I knew I was going to get sent down. I was waiting for it," Hernandez said when sent down to the minors, per Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.

“I know I’ve got to get ready for my [minor-league] season. I want to get my routine going. I knew they made the right call.”

Read more here:

Well, now it's time to get ready for the major-league season.

With injuries to pitchers Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez, 20-year-old prospect Jose Fernandez will begin the season on the big-league roster.

Per Spencer, Fernandez will make his big-league debut on Sunday against the Mets.

Hernandez is the No. 5 prospect on Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects list, No. 16 on Keith Law's Top 100 Prospects and No. 6 in Jonathan Mayo's prospect rankings for

Friday, March 22, 2013

Adam Eaton to miss 6-8 weeks with UCL sprain

Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder Adam Eaton will miss the next six to eight weeks with a left elbow UCL sprain, according to the team.

Expected to be the team's leadoff hitter, Eaton was hitting the ball really well this spring with his .390 average over 20 games.

"You know that I will work my butt off to get back in there," he tweeted. "It will be sooner than later."

Eaton is No. 73 on Baseball America's list of top 100 prospects and was No. 1 on Keith Law's list of Top 20 Impact Prospects for 2013.

2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings - Top 50 Outfielders

In the vast majority of fantasy baseball drafts this season, the first player selected is going to be an outfielder.  While that much is certain, the specific outfielder that goes first overall is much less of a lock.

Although Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera could make a strong argument that he should be the first overall pick, the decision for most fantasy owners will come down to Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun or Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout.

That said, it's like choosing between a Rolls Royce or a Bentley.  In other words, there's not really a wrong choice.

As the unanimous choice for American League Rookie of the Year, Trout finished second in the AL MVP voting behind Cabrera, the first triple-crown winner of my lifetime.  Not only did Trout get six of the 28 first-place votes over the triple-crown winner, he began the season in the minor leagues.

Despite playing his first 20 games of 2012 in the minors, the 20-year-old (now 21) made the most of his opportunity once he was called up.  Trout hit .326 with 30 home runs and 49 stolen bases in only 139 games.  In addition, he scored 129 runs and finished with 83 runs battted in.

Imagine what his stat line would have been had he started the year in Anaheim.

Adding in his minor league numbers, his 2012 totals over both levels were 150 runs scored, 31 home runs, 96 runs batted in and 55 stolen bases.

Like Trout, Braun is a player that will help fantasy owners in all five roto categories and both players had 30/30 seasons in 2012.  Trout had a 30/50 season; Braun actually had a 40/30 season.

In fact, Braun has back-to-back 30/30 seasons under his belt.

Since being called up in 2007, Braun has hit above .300 in all but one season (.285 in 2008) and .319 or better in four of those six seasons.  In addition, Braun has scored more than 100 runs in four consecutive seasons and driven in more than 100 runs in each of the past five seasons.

Perhaps he won't steal 30-plus bases for a third consecutive year, but Braun is a lock for a line of .300/100/30/100/20 with upside in all five of those categories.

Can CarGo Go For More than 145 Games?

In addition to Braun and Trout, several outfielders should go in the first round of drafts including Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.

The glass-half-full view with CarGo is that he has three consecutive 20/20 seasons despite playing 145 games or less in each of those seasons.

Of course, the glass-half-empty view is that he has averaged only 135.7 games per year over the past three years.

If healthy (or close to healthy) for a full season, Gonzalez can post a monster stat line.  Back in 2010 with 145 games played, he posted a career-best line of .336/111/34/117/26.

As a career .299 hitter, a lot would have to go right for him to approach the .336 average he had that season, but he certainly has a shot of repeating his production in the counting statistics if he can set a new career high in games played.

Onward and Heyward

After a disappointing and injury-plagued (shoulder) sophomore season in 2011, Atlanta Braves rightfielder Jason Heyward had a breakout season last year.

Not only did he play a career-high 158 games, but the J-Hey Kid set career highs in hits (158), home runs (27), runs scored (93), runs batted in (82) and stolen bases (21).

Heyward is expected to move to second (from third) in the batting order this year so it's likely that he scores a few more runs but drives in the same or maybe fewer runs.

Only 23 years old and as a former top prospect, Heyward should continue to improve his overall game and fantasy production.

A Teenager No More

At only 19 years old, Washington Nationals phenom Bryce Harper won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2012.

Like Trout, Harper made his big league debut last season on April 28th and for the (not quite) full season, he hit 22 home runs and stole 18 bases.  In addition, he finished fifth in the league in runs scored (98).

Harper carries positive momentum with him as he enters his second season.

In his final 12 regular-season games last year, he hit .415 with three home runs, eight runs batted, 11 runs scored and five steals.  In 19 games this spring, Harper is hitting .396 with three home runs, eight runs, 12 runs batted in and two steals.

While we may be a season or two away from the day that Harper becomes a perennial MVP candidate, he has all the physical tools and virtually unlimited potential.  With Trout's monster season as a 20-year-old last year, maybe we're not as far away as some would think.

Here are my top 50 fantasy outfielders (based on Yahoo! eligibility):

1. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
2. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
3. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
4. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
5. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies
6. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
7. Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels
8. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
9. Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves
10. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
11. Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves
12. Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers
13. Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals
14. Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox
15. Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
16. Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds
17. Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals
18. Allen Craig, St. Louis Cardinals
19. Yoennis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics
20. Shin-Soo Choo, Cincinnati Reds
21. Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays
22. B.J. Upton, Atlanta Braves
23. Alex Rios, Chicago White Sox
24. Michael Bourn, Cleveland Indians
25. Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay Rays
26. Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees
27. Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals
28. Melky Cabrera, Toronto Blue Jays
29. Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles Angels
30. Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers
31. Nick Markakis, Baltimore Orioles
32. Martin Prado, Arizona Diamondbacks
33. Carl Crawford, Los Angeles Dodgers
34. Shane Victorino, Boston Red Sox
35. Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers
36. Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants
37. Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers
38. Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers
39. Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins
40. Ichiro Suzuki, New York Yankees
41. Ben Revere, Philadelphia Phillies
42. Mike Morse, Seattle Mariners
43. Norichika Aoki, Milwaukee Brewers
44. Michael Cuddyer, Colorado Rockies
45. Alejandro De Aza, Chicago White Sox
46. Angel Pagan, San Francisco Giants
47. Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox
48. Nick Swisher, Cleveland Indians
49. Dexter Fowler, Colorado Rockies
50. Brett Gardner, New York Yankees

For a second opinion, check out Duncan Sanford's outfielder rankings. (Or view our consensus third basemen rankings here.)

Other positions: C - 1B - 2B - 3B - SS - OF - SP - RP

To keep track of our updates, follow us on Twitter @EDSBaseball, LIKE us on Facebook and/or add us to your Google+ circle.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Hanley Ramirez (thumb) to miss eight weeks

Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez injured his right thumb in the World Baseball Classic and was sent for an MRI yesterday.

The results were not good.

"The MRI on Hanley Ramirez's right thumb indicates that the ligament that stabilizes the thumb was torn," the team's statement said, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. ". . . Dr. Steve Shin, a sports medicine hand specialist at Kerlan Jobe, will perform the surgery. Hanley will have the thumb immobilized for three weeks and is expected to return to competition in approximately eight weeks."

Eligible as both a shortstop and third baseman in fantasy leagues, I have lowered Ramirez in both of my rankings.

View my rankings here: Shortstop rankings - Third Base rankings

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hanley Ramirez to have MRI on thumb

Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez injured his right thumb while diving for a ground ball as the Dominican Republic won the World Baseball Classic over Puerto Rico last night.

After suffering the injury in the third inning, HanRam stayed in the game but he left the game after the fifth inning.

"I don't think it's bad," Dominican coach Alfredo Griffin said, per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.

Ramirez, who was seen wearing a splint, will have an MRI on his thumb on Wednesday.

Eligible at shortstop (second in my rankings) and third base (third in my rankings), Ramirez may be knocked down a spot or two at those positions depending on his status.

Stay tuned ...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Aroldis Chapman wants to be the Reds closer

If it were up to Aroldis Chapman, he would be the Reds closer -- and not a starter.

“Truthfully, I would like to be a closer, but that’s not in my hands,” per John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

“In the beginning when I started closing, it was something I didn’t know about,” he said. “But as I started throwing and getting into the late part of the game – when the game is more exciting – I kind of liked it. The adrenaline goes up. I would like to be in that situation. But that’s something I can’t control.”

Speaking of control, he struggled with his command on Saturday as he threw nine consecutive balls and 17 pitches without getting an out at one point.

One scout said of Chapman to ESPN's Buster Olney, "For me, he's got one major league quality pitch.  His fastball. His other pitches aren't major league caliber."

As Olney notes, "... a short reliever can be successful with one pitch, but it's very rare that a starting pitcher can thrive with any fewer than two."

It makes too much sense for the Reds to move Chapman back to the closer role, but I'm not sure that general manager Walt Jocketty will see it that way.

Stay tuned ...

2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings - Top 20 Shortstops

Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is one of the game's most productive players on a per-game basis.

Based on his career numbers, he averages 103 runs scored, 102 runs batted in, 28 home runs and 13 steals in 162 games.

That said, how close will he come to playing 162 games?

Since he played a career-high 155 games in 2007, Tulowitzki has played at least 125 games in only two of the past five seasons.  Last year, he played his fewest games (47) since his rookie season.

With Tulo, that is the dilemma.

Currently he is the 19th player off the board in fantasy drafts based on average draft position data from Mock Draft Central.  If he plays 150 or so games, he'll be a steal.

If you draft Tulowitzki, make sure you have an adequate back-up plan for if/when he misses time.

The Other Rockies Shortstop (in Fantasy)

When it comes to fantasy sports, eligibility at multiple positions for the players on your roster is never a bad thing.

Provided he can stay healthy for a full season, Tulowitzki is the Rockies' everyday shortstop and Josh Rutledge will be the team's second baseman to open the year.  That said, Rutledge spent more time at shortstop in 2012 than second base, and therefore has eligibility at both relatively thin positions.

In the minors and big leagues combined last year, Rutledge hit 21 home runs and stole 21 bases.

While I don't expect a 20/20 year in his first full big league season, a 15/15 season for Rutledge seems more than likely.  If you use his big-league numbers of eight homers and seven steals in 73 games last year, he was on pace for 18 home runs and 16 stolen bases.

Likely to hit second in the lineup in front of Tulo, Rutledge will have a shot at scoring 90 runs.  Considering he plays half of his games at Coors Field, it's also reasonable to expect him to hit close to .275 like last year.

After the top 12 or so (fantasy) shortstops are off the board, Rutledge is a solid option to target later in your draft.  His ADP is currently 252 overall (via Mock Draft Central).

Another 20/20 season for HanRam

Speaking of eligibility at multiple positions, Hanley Ramirez has position eligibility at third base as well.  While shortstop is a shallower position than third base, the flexibility is an added bonus for owners that draft HanRam.

While Ramirez once stole 51 bases in back-to-back seasons and hit a career-high 33 homers in 2008, he is unlikely to come close to either number.  That said, he should repeat as one of the few shortstop-eligible players to post another 20/20 season.

Ramirez has stolen 20-plus bases every season since 2006.  Meanwhile, he has 20-plus homers in five of the past six seasons.  The only exception was 2011 when he played just 92 games and hit 10 home runs.

In addition to Ramirez, Washington's Ian Desmond and Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins were the only other players eligible at shortstop to have 20/20 seasons last year.

From 2006 to 2010, Ramirez has a BABIP of at least .327 each season and hit .300-plus in four of those five seasons.  In 2011 and 2012 (before the trade to the Dodgers), Ramirez had a BABIP of only .275 and .271, respectively, with the Marlins.

Assuming that his BABIP is closer to his rate with the Dodgers last year (.319), Ramirez should see his average bounce back to the .280 range (or perhaps a bit higher).

Reyes Moves to the AL East

Moving to the American League, Jose Reyes will be playing with his third team in the past three seasons.  For Reyes, that is good news.

With all of their offseason moves, the Toronto Blue Jays have one of the most potent lineups in all of baseball.  As the table-setter for an explosive offense, Reyes will have an opportunity to score a lot of runs provided he stays healthy.

Coming into the 2013 season, Reyes has averaged 110 runs scored over 162 games.  Since 2009, however, Reyes has played close to that number only once (last year).  From 2009 to 2011, Reyes missed at least 29 games per season and a total of 191 games during that span.

Although he is a career .291 hitter, Reyes won the NL batting title (.337) in 2011.  The only other season he hit above .300 was his rookie year (2003).

Provided he stays healthy for 150 games or so, which is no lock considering his injury history, Reyes should hit around .290 with 100 runs scored and 40 steals.

Here are my shortstop rankings for the 2013 fantasy baseball season (based on Yahoo! eligibility):

1. Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
2. Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Jose Reyes, Toronto Blue Jays
4. Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs
5. Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals
6. Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays
7. Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers
8. Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies
9. Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians
10. Martin Prado, Arizona Diamondbacks
11. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
12. Josh Rutledge, Colorado Rockies
13. Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals
14. Andrelton Simmons, Atlanta Braves
15. J.J. Hardy, Baltimore Orioles
16. Erick Aybar, Los Angeles Angels
17. Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals
18. Marco Scutaro, San Francisco Giants
19. Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox
20. Everth Cabrera, San Diego Padres

For a second opinion, check out Duncan Sanford's shortstop rankings. (Or view our consensus shortstop rankings here.)

Other positions: C - 1B - 2B - 3B - SS - OF - SP - RP

To keep track of our updates, follow us on Twitter @EDSBaseball, LIKE us on Facebook and/or add us to your Google+ circle.

Friday, March 15, 2013

David Wright shut down 3-5 days with rib-cage strain, could miss weeks

New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said that the team's third baseman David Wright will be shut down for three to five days due to his rib-cage strain, per Anthony Rieber of Newsday.

That does not mean Wright will be ready for Opening Day.

"Anything about his condition for Opening Day right now I think would be speculative," Alderson said. "Is it possible that he'll be out for a period of time? Sure. But what we know right now is he's going to rest for three to five days and we'll see what happens."

As manager Terry Collins notes, if past history's any indication, Wright could miss a month.

"We saw it with [Daniel Murphy]," [manager Terry] Collins said. "Murph's been out a month. Last year, David had it. He missed a month. Jason Bay missed a month. I'm trying to be optimistic, and knowing that this kid's as tough as he is . . . I'm sure it'll be two, three weeks."

If Wright is not ready to go for the start of the season, Collins said Justin Turner will replace him at third base.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings - Top 20 Third Basemen

Coming off a historic season, Detroit Tigers Miguel Cabrera is clearly the top fantasy third baseman and arguably the top player in fantasy baseball in 2013.

Not only did Miggy set career highs in home runs (44) and runs batted in (139), but he became the first player to win the triple crown since Carl Yastrzemski won it more than 40 years ago.  He led all of baseball in homers and RBIs and was second in batting average (.330) behind only San Francisco's Buster Posey, who won the NL batting title with a .336 average.

As a lifetime .318 hitter, Cabrera has hit .320-plus in seven of the past eight seasons with the exception being 2008 when he hit just .292.

With the exception of his rookie season (2003) when he played only 87 games, Cabrera has driven in 100-plus runs every year and has at least 125 RBIs in three of the his five seasons in Detroit.  He also has scored at least 109 runs in each of the past three seasons.

While he's unlikely to repeat as a triple crown winner, Cabrera is one of the most dangerous and consistent hitters in the game and should continue to put up MVP-caliber numbers that fantasy owners can take to the bank.

Monster Second Half for Headley

San Diego's Chase Headley has been a consistent source of stolen bases at a position that typically lacks speedsters.  With double-digit steals in the past four seasons, Headley tied his career high with 17 steals last year.  Of all third base-eligible players, only Hanley Ramirez had more steals (21).

It was Headley's power production, however, that was noteworthy.

Headley, who turns 29 this season, hit nearly as many home runs in 2012 as he had hit in the rest of his career combined.  Before last season's career-high 31 home runs, Headley had never hit more than 12 in any season.

In addition to shattering his career high in homers, Headley drove in an NL-high 115 runs, which is more than 50 RBIs higher than his previous career high (64) set in 2009 as well.

While he had a solid first half, Headley was as dominant as any hitter in the second half.  In 75 games after the All-Star Break, he hit .308 with 23 home runs and 73 runs batted in.

Can he carry that type of momentum over into the 2013 season?

Breakout Year for Alvarez

After a solid debut for Pittsburgh Pirates third base prospect Pedro Alvarez in 2010, he could not have frustrated fantasy owners much more than he did in 2011.

As a rookie, Alvarez, the second overall pick in the 2008 draft, hit 16 home runs with 64 runs batted in with a fair (but not great) .256 average in 95 games.

Not only did he hit below the Mendoza Line in his second season (.191), but the slugger hit a mere four home runs in 262 big-league at-bats in 2011.  He spent 42 games in the minors that season.

From a batting average standpoint, Alvarez hit much better from June to October (.259) last year than he did in March through May (.205).

While he will never win any batting titles, Alvarez had the type of power production last year that many expected in 2011.  He finished the year with 30 home runs and 85 runs batted in, both of which were career highs.

Some More Third Basemen Notes:

After an injury-shortened 2011 campaign, New York Mets third baseman David Wright played 156 games and had a strong all-around season in 2012.  Hitting above .300 for the first time since 2009, Wright hit 21 home runs, stole 15 bases, scored 91 runs and drove in 93 runs.  As much as any other third baseman, he's a strong contributor in all five roto categories.

Baltimore's Manny Machado is one of the game's top young players and won't turn 21 until early July.  With tremendous promise, Machado played 51 games last season and should be the Orioles everyday third baseman in 2013.  Unless you're in a deep or AL-only league and need to start Machado, he provides plenty of upside as a bench guy.

Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria is my second-ranked third baseman, but the obvious concern is durability with Longoria.  Playing a total of only 207 games in the past two years combined, his 162-game pace over that span is for 37.57 home runs and 120.52 runs batted in.  Of course, the question is how many of those 162 games will he miss?

In his first season with the Brewers, Aramis Ramirez hit 27 home runs, scored 92 runs to go along with 105 runs batted in, all of which are four-year highs.  In addition, he hit .300 for a second consecutive season.  After stealing a total of nine bases from 2003 to 2011, Ramirez stole a career-high nine bases last season alone.

Here are my third basemen rankings for the 2013 fantasy baseball season (based on Yahoo! eligibility):

1. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
2. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
3. David Wright, New York Mets
4. Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers
5. Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers
6. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals
7. Chase Headley, San Diego Padres
8. Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers
9. Brett Lawrie, Toronto Blue Jays
10. Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants
11. Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles Angels
12. David Freese, St. Louis Cardinals
13. Martin Prado, Arizona Diamondbacks
14. Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates
15. Will Middlebrooks, Boston Red Sox
16. Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals
17. Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners
18. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
19. Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds
20. Marco Scutaro, San Francisco Giants

For a second opinion, check out Duncan Sanford's third basemen rankings. (Or view our consensus third basemen rankings here.)

Other positions: C - 1B - 2B - 3B - SS - OF - SP - RP

To keep track of our updates, follow us on Twitter @EDSBaseball, LIKE us on Facebook and/or add us to your Google+ circle.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mark Teixeira (wrist) out 8-10 weeks

When New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira "felt a pop" in his wrist while swinging off a tee on Tuesday, it was estimated that he would miss at least 10 days.

Not only will miss 10 days, but he will miss much more than that.

Diagnosed with an ECU tendon sprain, Teixeira will miss the next eight to ten weeks, according to Bryan Hoch of

It's unclear who will move to first base.  While new addition Kevin Youkilis can play first base, he's filling in at third base for Alex Rodriguez, who will be out until July.

"He provides flexibility," [GM Brian] Cashman said (of Youkilis). "The problem is, if you move Youk, we need someone to play third. Youk can do first, it's a layup, he's great at it. But we'd need a third baseman, that's the problem."

In addition, the Yankees lost Curtis Granderson earlier in spring training to a broken forearm that will sideline him for a 10-week stretch as well.

With the update in status to Teixeira's injury, I've moved him down to No. 17 in my fantasy baseball first basemen ranks.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

FanDuel Freeroll: Free Entry, $1k in Prizes

At the end of February, we suggested that you give FanDuel a try and specifically join one the three FanDuel leagues we set up for Opening Day.

Perhaps our plea fell on deaf ears.

Well, the fine folks at FanDuel have made an offer you can't resist: $1,000 in prizes, free entry into their contest.

With their freeroll, assemble a team (based on salary cap) that finishes among the top 202 entries and win a cash prize.  First place is $100, but total prizes are $1,000.

What are you waiting for?  Sign up now.

2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings - Top 20 Second Basemen

Not only is he a talented and consistently productive player, but New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano is both of those things at a fantasy position relatively scarce of such players.

As an example, the 12th-best batting average among qualified second basemen last year was .259.  Only five of them had 20-plus home runs and six had more than 75 runs batted in.

While the position is a decent source of stolen bases, many of the top base-stealers at the position either had a low batting average or little power production (or both).  Seven second basemen stole 20-plus bases and only one of that group hit .260-plus with double-digit home runs: Boston's Dustin Pedroia.

With the exception of stolen bases, Cano is elite in all four other categories of standard 5x5 rotisserie leagues.  Stealing just three bases in 2012, Cano actually stole eight bases in 2011.  If he steals close to that number again, just consider it gravy.

Last year, Cano hit .313 with 33 home runs and 94 runs batted in, all of which led second basemen.  In addition, he scored 105 runs, which tied him with Ian Kinsler of the Texas Rangers.

Going forward, he remains a lock to be the leader or very close to the leader in those four categories at the position.

Over the past four seasons, Cano has the following minimums: .302 average, 25 home runs, 103 runs scored and 85 runs batted in.  When it comes to power numbers, those four-year lows actually occurred four seasons ago.  He has averaged exactly 30 home runs and 107 runs batted in the past three seasons.

As a career .308 hitter, Cano has had only two seasons below .300: .297 (2005) and .271 (2008).  Looking at his pre- and post-All Star splits since 2009, however, he never hit below .296 in any of those eight splits.  Not only is he consistent year after year, but he is also consistent within the year.

Last but certainly not least, Cano is durable.  Over the past six years, he has never missed more than three games in any season and has missed a total of only 12 games during that span.

At a position with many question marks, Cano is the surest of sure things.

Phillips: A Lock for 18-15 (or Better)?

Although it was six seasons ago, Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips has a 30-30 season under his belt.  While he's been a consistent source of both home runs and stolen bases, you should expect about half those numbers in 2013.

Since 2006, Phillips is only one stolen base (in 2011) shy of having seven consecutive seasons of 15-plus home runs and 15-plus stolen bases.  After three straight 20-20 seasons (including the 30-30 season) from 2007 to 2009, Phillips has failed to reach 20 of either in the past three seasons.

From 2010 to 2012, he has hit exactly 18 home runs each year and has stolen 16, 14 and 15 bases, respectively, during that timeframe as well.  Phillips is a solid five-category contributor at the position with a three-year average line of .285/93/18/73/15.

While he has held relatively steady in stolen bases, his number of attempted swipes has continued to drop.  Over the past four years, here are his number of attempted steals: 34 (2009), 28 (2010), 23 (2011) and 17 (2012).

Can Utley Stay Healthy For a Full Season?

From 2005 to 2009, Phillies second baseman Chase Utley was as good as it gets at second base.  During that five-year stretch, he hit .301 and averaged 111 runs scored, 29 home runs, 101 runs batted in and 15 stolen bases.

Since then, however, he's been a shell of his former self.

Utley has played in a total of 301 games over the past three seasons with those numbers dropping each season: 115 (2010), 103 (2011) and 83 (2012).

Now that he's healthy (or at least healthier) and participating in spring training games for the first time since 2010, Utley should give fantasy owners (much) more in 2013 than he has recently.

While owners should not expect numbers close to the 2005-2009 range, it's possible that he comes close to a 20-15 season if things go well.

Here are my second basemen rankings for the 2013 fantasy baseball season (based on Yahoo! eligibility):

1. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
2. Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers
3. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
4. Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds
5. Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays
6. Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians
7. Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks
8. Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers
9. Dan Uggla, Atlanta Braves
10. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
11. Martin Prado, Arizona Diamondbacks
12. Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
13. Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates
14. Josh Rutledge, Colorado Rockies
15. Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals
16. Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners
17. Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels
18. Dustin Ackley, Seattle Mariners
19. Marco Scutaro, San Francisco Giants
20. Jurickson Profar, Texas Rangers

For a second opinion, check out Duncan Sanford's second basemen rankings. (Or view our consensus second basemen rankings here.)

Other positions: C - 1B - 2B - 3B - SS - OF - SP - RP

To keep track of our updates, follow us on Twitter @EDSBaseball, LIKE us on Facebook and/or add us to your Google+ circle.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Aramis Ramirez getting MRI on knee today

After injuring his left knee while sliding yesterday, Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez is scheduled to get an MRI today, per Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The glass-half-full view is that there appears to be no swelling, which probably rules out the ACL.  But Ramirez says he isn't sure if the injury is serious.

"I don't know; I've never had knee problems before, so I don't know what to expect," Ramirez said. "It doesn't feel too good right now, but the good thing is it's not swelling at all. It's just sore."

"According to what our doctors said, they felt pretty good yesterday when they examined him," manager Ron Roenicke said. "I feel pretty good about it. There's not a lot of swelling in there. Hopefully it's what we think it is, and he'll just be out a couple days."

Not only did Ramirez hit .300 in back-to-back seasons, but he hit 27 home runs with 92 runs and 105 runs batted in, all of which were four-year highs, in his first season with the Brewers.  In addition, he set a career high with nine steals.  He had more than two steals in only one other season (five in 2001).

In our consensus fantasy baseball rankings, Ramirez is our ninth-ranked third baseman.

2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Top 30 First Basemen

Before signing a mega contract with the Angels last offseason, Albert Pujols was "El Hombre" and "machine-like" during his 11 seasons with the Cardinals.

Even though he added some steals to his game more recently, he was a lock for a line of .300/100/30/100.  In fact, he only missed 100 runs once (99 in 2007), 100 runs batted in once (99 in 2011) and a .300 batting average only once (.299 in 2011).

With the switch to the American League in 2012, things did not start nearly as well for Pujols.  In his first 27 games and 114 plate appearances, Pujols was homer-less.  In addition, he had only five runs batted in and nine runs scored during that 27-game span.

Despite his slow start, Pujols ended up with respectable year-end numbers.  He drove in 105 runs, but he set career lows of .285 average, 30 home runs and 85 runs scored.

The biggest concern with Pujols as we head into the 2013 season is his recovery from offseason knee surgery.  He initially suffered the injury in August, but he has told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times that "if the season started tomorrow, I'd be playing, but there's no reason to push it."

With the team's offseason addition of Josh Hamilton to an already-potent lineup, Pujols will have more opportunities to score runs and drive in runs and I expect a bounce-back season.

More Blues for Gonzalez Owners in 2013?

The 2012 season was one that first baseman Adrian Gonzalez would like to forget.

Traded near the end of the season back to his home-state Dodgers, Gonzalez hit a home run in his first at-bat.  Unfortunately, he hit only two more in his other 144 Dodger at-bats last season.

Gonzalez felt as though his swing never felt right last season and attributed that to "trying too hard."

That said, he closed the season with a 15-game hitting streak, the longest by any Dodger in 2012.  Looking ahead to 2013, will Gonzalez bounce back?

Based on this report from Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, it appears that Gonzalez is in great shape.  Provided he doesn't try to do too much in 2013, Gonzalez has the potential to provide fantasy owners a huge discount in 2013.

Feeling lucky?

Dunn: You Know What to Expect

Chicago White Sox first baseman and designated hitter Adam Dunn had a season to forget after signing a free-agency deal with the club in 2011.

An extremely productive power hitter, Dunn had 38-plus homers each year and drove in 100-plus runs in six of the previous seven seasons.  Not only was he productive, but there was minimal variability in his power production.

After hitting 46 homers in 2004, Dunn hit exactly 40 home runs for four consecutive years and then 38 homers in back-to-back seasons before joining the White Sox.  In addition, he had 100-plus runs batted in six times during that seven-year span.  The lone exception was a 92-RBI season.

While he was never going to win a batting title, Dunn's batting average was not as much of a negative in the recent past before getting to Chicago.  He hit .260-plus in three of the four previous seasons.

Virtually nothing went right in 2011.

Not only did he hit a career-low .159 (.064 vs. LHP) and strike out a career-worst 35.7 percent of the time, his power production evaporated.  For the first time in his career, he had a single-digit HR/FB ratio (9.6 percent).  His previous career low of 17.8 percent was set as a rookie in 2002.  It has been 20-plus percent in every other year of his career.

Last year, Dunn's HR/FB ratio skyrocketed to a career-high 29.3 percent as he hit 41 home runs and drove in 96 runs.  More than 37 percent of his base hits were round-trippers.

While Dunn's power production returned and his batting average jumped 45 points, the bad news is he still hit only .204, the second-lowest of his career.

Drafting Dunn will give you an affordable source of power production, but draft accordingly to compensate for the damage he will do your team's batting average.  With an average draft position of 162 (19th among first basemen) from Mock Draft Central, Dunn won't be your starting first basemen unless you're in a deep league or sustain injuries.

But let's say you have someone else like Philadelphia's Ben Revere (ADP: 189) on your bench.  Like virtually all base-stealers, Revere stole a large majority of his bases (31 of 40) last year when facing righties.  If I owned both Dunn and Revere as possible utility options, I would alternate them based on which player was facing a right-handed starter that night.  If they both were, then I'd go with whichever stat I needed more (steals or homers).

The Real Deal or a Fluke Season for Encarnacion?

Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion broke out in a big way in 2012 shattering his previous career highs with 42 home runs and 110 runs batted in over a career-high 151 games.  In addition, he scored 93 runs and stole 13 bases, both of which are career bests.

In his previous two seasons combined, Encarnacion hit a total of 38 home runs and drove in 106 runs over 230 games and 813 at-bats.  Previous single-season career highs for Encarnacion were 26 home runs (2008), 76 runs batted in (2007) and 75 runs scored (2007).

With all of the team's offseason moves, the Blue Jays will continue to score runs and Encarnacion will have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs.

From my perspective, however, I will always be skeptical about a breakout season that occurs in a player's eighth season in the big leagues.  Not that I expect him to revert to pre-2012 production, the chance that he duplicates his 2012 numbers is extremely low.

For 2013, I see a season of 30 home runs, 80 runs batted in and a .270 average for Encarnacion.  Based on his average draft position of 21 (via Mock Draft Central), I'll pass and let someone else in my leagues take the chance that Encarnacion comes closer to his 2012 numbers than I expect.

Here are my 2013 fantasy first basemen rankings:

1. Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels
2. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
3. Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers
4. Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers
5. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
6. Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays
7. Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals
8. Allen Craig, St. Louis Cardinals
9. Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees
10. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
11. Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
12. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
13. Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians
14. Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals
15. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
16. Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles Angels
17. Ike Davis, New York Mets
18. Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies
19. Mike Napoli, Boston Red Sox
20. David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox
21. Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox
22. Kendrys Morales, Seattle Mariners
23. Michael Cuddyer, Colorado Rockies
24. Adam LaRoche, Washington Nationals
25. Dustin Ackley, Seattle Mariners
26. Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox
27. Nick Swisher, Cleveland Indians
28. Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins
29. Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
30. Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds

For a second opinion, check out Duncan Sanford's first basemen rankings. (Or view our consensus catcher rankings here.)

Other positions: C - 1B - 2B - 3B - SS - OF - SP - RP

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