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Thursday, March 7, 2013
Updated: March 27, 11:49 AM ET
Fantasy Baseball Top 200

By Matthew Berry
ESPN.com

So these are my rankings. Emphasis on the word "my." Specifically, these are my rankings incorporating my biases, theories and draft strategy this year for ESPN standard leagues. In other words, these rankings are tailored towards ESPN's default game, which means a 10-team mixed league with 5x5 rotisserie scoring, only one catcher, just three bench spots and one DL spot.

The Talented Mr. Roto

Under those parameters, I find it tough to take Buster Posey in the top 16, the way he is currently being drafted. His talent is unquestioned, it's just a matter of scarcity, or lack thereof. There are a lot of good catchers this year and you only need to start one. Also, while there may be lots of pitching available on the waiver wire for streaming, there is a start limit, so I'll take the risk on WHIP in exchange for Yu Darvish's huge advantage in strikeouts. Therefore, I'm higher on him than most.

If you've read me anytime in the past 14 years, you know I always say don't pay for saves. This year is no different. Now, don't pay for saves doesn't mean ignore saves, it just means I believe you can find quality at the position later in the draft and on the waiver wire, so I'm probably lower on closers in my overall ranks than most. They reflect how I (in general) draft. And why you'll never see Craig Kimbrel on my team, even though I agree he's the top closer; his ADP has him going late in the fourth round while I wouldn't touch him before the seventh.

As I intimated in my 100 Facts column, batting average isn't what it used to be. So I forgave (or didn't penalize as harshly) guys who hit in the .250s; while not helpful, it's not as hurtful as it was in the past. That said, I also gave favor to those who will hit for a high average. The guys who will get 500 or more at-bats and are capable of a .300 average are much more scarce these days, so I'm probably higher on some of those types than others (hello, Paul Konerko).

The other side of that is that despite pitching being deep, I didn't rank starting pitching with the idea that you can "wait on starters." You can, just understand you'll finish middle of the pack in pitching, if you're lucky. Because pitching is so deep, everyone will have a good staff. So you need a stud, if not two, to be at the top. The ranks reflect that.

I'm a position scarcity guy, so that played a factor in these ranks as well. For example, I'm higher on Jose Altuve than most, I am guessing, because I think he's the last guy I'd be comfortable with as my starting second baseman in a league this size. So, if I were in a draft and had waited, I'd probably reach for him (as evidenced in my ranks) because I don't like the options after him.

When I have players at the same position right next to each other, it's my way of saying I think they are all of equal value/risk and it's just personal preference there. Also, be sure to note the date up top. When the ranks are updated, we'll change the date. News happens fast and value changes all the time during spring training, so knowing when the most recent update to these are will help.

Finally and most important, use these rankings as a guideline. A loose guideline. Don't follow my ranks (or anyone else's) religiously. Every draft is different, team construction and needs are different; as my friends at "The League" would say, don't be a rankings slave.

And here we go.