Thursday, March 6, 2014


Your first selection sets you up for the rest of your season and should be a franchise, super elite player who can only be stopped by unforeseen injury. He should be a slam dunk choice and a potential 3-4-5 player (.300BA/.400OBP/.500SLG%). A guy you can build your team around in your philosophy. The first rounds I am about to lay out are based on a cross section of information: RPV, age, health, situation and league type. Here are the first rounds from The Fantasy Baseball Black Book '14 based on these factors for 3 different formats in 2014:

(16 Teams; based on Points League RPV)
1. Miguel Cabrera +45% PTS RPV
2. Mike Trout +26% RPV
3. Paul Goldschmidt +25%
4. Clayton Kershaw +25%
5. Hanley Ramirez +25%
6. Robinson Cano +23%
7. Joey Votto +15%
8. Ryan Braun +8%
9. Adam Wainwright +20%
10. Max Scherzer +18%
11. Yu Darvish +10%
12. Andrew McCitchen +7%
13. Troy Tulowitzki +32%
14. Justin Verlander +5%
15. Chris Sale +5%
16. Dustin Pedroia +15%

      Cabrera is still the best there is with a +45% RPV and his 1B/3B dual eligibity gives you so much draft flexibity in the 2nd and 3rd rounds it's almost unfair. Trout is a points league machine and I rank him a very close second. It's not a knock on Trout, its just that in most points leagues you play only 3 outfielders, as opposed to roto formats that field 5 active outfielders. Early picks on the first round are about minimizing risk and maximizing value and Goldschmidt is clearly a player who contributes in every facet of the game. His age, ballpark and 3-4-5 slash are all big positives. Pitching being particularly deep this year, allows him to slide to the #3 spot.
Kersahw is super elite
among his elite peers.
      However, if you plan on using the RPV PITCHING ADVANTAGE STRATEGY I lay out in the Fantasy Black Book '14, then Kershaw should go 3rd overall. In points leagues, pitching matters a whole lot and if you want to start building an arsenal there is no better place to start than Clayton Kershaw. He is a +25% over the first 16 starting pitchers in the "ace tier", making him super elite among the elite. His RPV would be +63% if you measured him against the fantasy league average pitching pool as a whole, rather than just the top 16. Since it is generally accepted every team will have at least one ace pitcher, it's safer to rank him based off his RPV from within the top 16 group.
      Hanley comes in next, despite his obvious risk. You can't ignore the contract year and the fact he has posted seasons worthy of top 5 status before in his career. He is surrounded by talent and is poised for a big 
      year at a weak position. Cano will continue to lead the pack at second base and is safe than Hanley. You can of course go with the safe pick in cash leagues and the higher risk/reward in Hanley for leagues you 
      play for pride.

Votto makes it back up to the middle of this round from being at the bottom of the roto draft. The reason being, his on base skills will make him incredibly valuable regardless of his power totals. He doesn’t need to hit homeruns to win you weeks. I am very comfortable with Braun in the first round and in the top 10 of any format. He has way too much upside to let slide past this point based on his history of being a top 3 player. There are not a whole lot of 30/30 bats out there. Even though outfield is less of a priority, you can't ignore the upside. Next, come three starters that you can make a case for in any order. For my money, Wainwright has the best track record, Scherzer the best combo of strikeouts and wins and Darvish the explosive strikeout artist. Any of the three you should be thrilled to own. Check your league's scoring system and rank them accordingly.

McCuctchen is a great talent, but his points
league value may surprise you.
Andrew McCutchen is a strong, safe play and there is nothing wrong with that. Some may scream at him being this low, but it has to do with the depth of talent pool to active outfielders played ratio. It simply plays against him. Once "Cutch" is gone, is when the risk taking starts and Tulowitzki’s +37% RPV is too tempting to pass up. Again it is all about health not talent.  Verlander and Chris Sale are the next aces to go. Sale’s team hurts his value a bit and Verlander is coming off a down year, but both are still top pitchers. Edge to Verlander on track record.

The final slot goes to Dustin Pedroia based on his RPV. There are plenty of contenders including Edwin Encarnacion, Prince Fielder, Chris Davis, Adrian Beltre, David Wright, Evan Longoria, Adam Jones and Carlos Gonzalez. But the outfielder’s RPV is lower based on the necessary active player pool, and the production from upper tier first basemen is comparable. There are three third basemen worthy of discussion too. Pedroia edges them out as a second baseman at a position that “bottoms out” at a negative -26% RPV! That is the lowest of all other positions making second base a priority despite other options on the board.

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