Over the offseason we’ll take a look at each position on the diamond and see how the past season affected the positional rankings and where there might be some potential bounceback value picks going into next year’s drafts.
Rankings are the height of subjectivity, of course. Drafts are the expression of the subjective opinions of the different draftees, though, so lets see what we can learn by putting these players in their (subjective, fantasy-oriented) place.
Obviously, the biggest winner of 2009 was Troy Tulowitzki, who used a .344/.421/.622 second half to rise to the top third of the rankings. With only a 64% success rate on steals, and a speed score (6.6) that was far and away the best of his career, however, owners should probably not expect another 30/20 season next year and he may be overvalued despite his good power.
Sitting just below him is perhaps the biggest dropper of the year at the position, Jimmy Rollins. A career-low in BABIP (.253) suggests the batting average should bounce back. On the other hand, a six-year low in speed score (6.8) could be the harbinger of a decline in the 31-year-old. He still was successful on almost 80% of his stolen base attempts and still hits enough fly balls to muscle those home runs out. Rollins should be the value in that second tier next year.
The third tier is an interesting mix of the rejuvenated old (Derek Jeter) and the surprising young (Ben Zobrist and Jason Bartlett). Jeter has done this all before, but fantasy owners know that he’s not dependable when it comes to the counting stats you need in fantasy. At that point in the draft, it may be worth waiting a round or two and taking a shot that one of the young guys repeats his season. Personal opinion significantly determines how you organize this tier.
The next tier contains two men that disappointed this year, but given the fact that Alexei Ramirez is 29, it’s probably the slightly younger (26) Stephen Drew that should be picked ahead of him. Given Drew’s incredible oscillating OPS, next year may yet be a good year for him. Elvis Andrus is the upside play in the tier but he’ll cost the most, too.
The last tier is only for those determined not to reach for positional scarcity. It is not recommended for those in standard mixed leagues, even if Yunel Escobar shows some signs of developing mediocre power (fly balls increasing to 30% and HR/FB increasing to 10% in 2009).