Fantasy baseball rankings update
Breaking down post-trade-deadline winners, losers and rankings movers.
After a fizzler of a 2013 trade deadline -- referring to solely July 31 deals -- it was a welcome sight to see the 2014 deadline feature this level of activity.
We had the Boston Red Sox's fire sale: Jon Lester and John Lackey traded within hours of one another, in exchange for which the team picked up the intriguing bats of Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig. We saw the David Price trade rumors reach their conclusion, as he landed with the team that now has each of the past three Cy Young award winners in its rotation: The Detroit Tigers (Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer being the others). And we had other lesser names swapped during the trade-deadline period -- we'll define that as the time between the All-Star break and the 4 p.m. ET July 31 deadline for trades that don't first require the players involved to clear waivers: Martin Prado, Jake Peavy, Huston Street, Chase Headley, Joakim Soria, just to name five.
And now, with that deadline behind us, it's time to adjust our fantasy expectations going forward, as we do every week in this space. After all, it's not simply the players specifically traded whose values changed; sometimes it's the players around them affected by deals who moved in the rankings.
Today, let's present the full recap, every trade from July 15-31, identifying the winners and losers (merely from a fantasy perspective) and the resulting impact on their rankings. The full rankings, as always, can be seen at column's end.
These are listed in chronological order.
Winners: Holds-seekers, as Frasor's departure paved the way for Shawn Tolleson and Roman Mendez to pitch higher-leverage innings. Rankings impact: None, as all of these players fall well beneath thresholds for Rotisserie relevance; they're also marginal options in holds leagues.
Winner: Joaquin Benoit, who took over as the Padres' closer in Street's stead. Since the beginning of 2013, Benoit has a 1.96 ERA and 0.95 WHIP, both 10th-best among qualified relief pitchers, and during the 111 regular-season games in which he was his team's closer (those an estimate), he's 24-for-26 in save chances for a 92.3 percent success rate and 35-save pace over a 162-game schedule. Those are elite fantasy closer numbers, and that Benoit remained in San Diego beyond the July 31 deadline vastly increased his rest-of-year appeal. Loser: Joe Smith, who lost his closer's job as a result of Street's arrival, not that the move meant that Smith lost all fantasy value. After all, Smith is in the midst of an 18 1/3 inning scoreless streak, and our Player Rater judges his WHIP contribution the fifth-most valuable among pure relievers this season. The problem is that the Street trade converted Smith's saves potential into holds potential, and there's considerably less use for the latter in the majority of fantasy leagues. If your league values holds or ratio-helping middle relievers, Smith is worth keeping around. Otherwise, you should've cut him over a week ago. Rankings impact: Street improved by just five spots among relief pitchers, but Benoit soared 16 spots to 19th, on the strength of his underrated performance the past calendar year and a half. Frankly, Benoit could be a top-10 fantasy closer, about the only thing preventing it the possibility of an August waiver trade.
Winners: Headley, clearly, but also fantasy owners of starting pitchers scheduled to face the Padres in August and September. Addressing Headley, this isn't to say that his fantasy value will soar in New York -- that despite his .333/.375/.500 slash line in his first eight games in pinstripes -- but the move from San Diego's Petco Park to New York's Yankee Stadium was just about the most advantageous ballpark-to-ballpark jump a hitter like him could've made. Headley finished his Padres career a .243/.331/.372 hitter at Petco, homering once every 51.3 trips to the plate there. In every other ballpark in which he has played, he's a lifetime .287/.360/.445 hitter who has averaged a homer per 36.9 plate appearances. Switching leagues mid-year means an adjustment to a new slate of pitchers, and Headley's 2014-to-date numbers were about as poor as they could be. Still, the move at least gave him a chance of 9 1/2-week, corner-infield relevance even in shallow mixed leagues. Fantasy owners, meanwhile, should keep in mind that major league pitchers collectively have a 2.80 ERA and 68 percent quality start rate at Petco this season (their overall numbers are 3.78 and 53), and Headley's departure only further cements their worst-offense-in-baseball status. Losers: Solarte's minimal power will suffer at Petco, but any loss in home run/RBI value might be negated by more regular at-bats with the Padres. Rankings impact: Headley improved by five spots to 14th among third basemen, though one of the players he passed in the process was Ryan Zimmerman, out due to a hamstring injury that will sideline him more than a month.
The Detroit Tigers acquired RP Joakim Soria from the Texas Rangers in exchange for RP Corey Knebel and SP Jake Thompson (July 23).
Winner: Neftali Feliz, who stepped in as the Rangers' closer in lieu of Soria. You might remember Feliz as the favorite to close for this team at the onset of spring training; he posted a 4.50 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in nine Cactus League appearances to lose the gig to Soria, then followed that up with a 4.58 ERA and six home runs allowed in his first 16 appearances for Triple-A Round Rock before finally seeming to recapture his form in his most recent eight outings there (0 earned runs, 1 hit, 9 K's). That it took Feliz additional time to fully recover from Tommy John surgery isn't unusual, so consider his recent performance -- including his 2.19 ERA in his first nine games for the big club -- an encouraging sign of potentially top-20 fantasy closer value. Losers: Joakim Soria, and arguably Joe Nathan, too. Soria absorbed an immediate hit; it was announced within minutes of the deal that Nathan would remain the Tigers' closer initially, despite the fact that Soria possessed the clearly better ERA (2.70-5.89), WHIP (0.87-1.53) and save conversion rate (89.5-80.0 percent) of the two. Soria has pitched poorly in setup duty since the deal, further hurting his stock, but his mere presence threatens Nathan's job security, as Nathan has pitched poorly enough at times this season that, had the Tigers owned a pitcher like Soria, they might have already made such a switch at an earlier date. Soria can be safely dropped in ESPN standard leagues, but in any format that affords larger benches, he's worth keeping around if only due to how poorly Nathan has pitched in 2014. Rankings impact: Feliz would be ranked among the top 20 fantasy relief pitchers today, after having been unranked previously, if not for two concerns, the first being his health history and the second his worst-record-in-baseball team. His August-September ceiling is in that group, but he's more wisely ranked 30th (26th if you exclude the four relief-eligible starting pitchers ranked ahead of him).
Winners: Morales, perhaps, if only because Safeco Field plays better for power to right field than Target Field, and he has a 26.1 home run/fly ball percentage on balls in play to right field since 2009, compared to just 8.0 percent to left field. Chris Parmelee and Chris Colabello should also receive extended looks between first base and designated hitter with the Twins, for those seeking to fill back-end AL-only roster spots. Losers: Former "future of the Mariners" youngsters like Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero, who no longer have first base/DH clear to squeeze in at-bats. They're probably at the point of needing fresh starts in new organizations before they'll again be fantasy-relevant (if they ever are). Rankings impact: Morales' ranking went practically unchanged, dropping from the 26th to 29th first baseman.
Winner: There really wasn't one, as while Capuano immediately joined the Yankees' rotation, he's a historically matchups-conscious pitcher who could subsequently be supplanted by an August waiver acquisition. Rankings impact: None; Capuano at best might be top-60 AL-only starting pitcher material.
Winners: Peavy was the clear one, primarily because of the competitive differential between the American League East and National League West's lineups. The five AL East teams have averaged 4.13 runs per game between them; the five NL West teams have averaged 3.96. In addition, since the beginning of 2009, Peavy has a 4.23 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 20.0 percent strikeout rate in 25 starts versus AL East foes; he has 3.63, 1.11 and 23.3 numbers in 13 starts against NL West teams during that time span. Consider it an increase in the number of meaningful matchups for him in mixed formats. As for the Red Sox, Peavy's departure effectively locked Rubby De La Rosa into their starting five -- he moved up from five to four -- and it opened up another (of three) long-term spot for any from the group of Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster and Brandon Workman. They are mentioned in their order of fantasy relevance, with De La Rosa slotting between Ranaudo and Webster of the quartet value-wise. Loser: Peavy's arrival, however, signaled the real prospect that Matt Cain's season is over. Cain was scheduled to visit with Dr. James Andrews, and his owners shouldn't expect much from him the rest of the year. Rankings impact: Peavy improved by six spots, to 85th, among starting pitchers, as he remains a pitcher in need of matchups maintenance. Cain, meanwhile, fell out of the top 90 starters.
The Los Angeles Dodgers acquired 2B Darwin Barney from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for a player to be named later (July 28); Cubs acquired SP Jonathan Martinez as the player to be named later (July 30).
Winner: Arismendy Alcantara, who has made 10 of his first 16 career starts at second base and became substantially more likely to remain in the major leagues as a full-time player (chances which improved following the Cubs' subsequent Emilio Bonifacio trade). A 12/25, .330-on-base capable player (over a 162-game schedule), Alcantara effectively vaulted from NL-only to mixed-league asset with this deal. Rankings impact: Few players improved in the rankings by as much as Alcantara did; he went from unranked to the No. 17 second baseman.
Winners: Valencia, an AL-only/daily-league option, should be somewhat more attractive a play at homer-friendly Rogers Centre than at Kauffman Stadium, while Christian Colon might receive enough at-bats as a backup infielder for the Royals to warrant a pickup if you're in an AL-only league and need speed. Rankings impact: Valencia didn't receive enough of a bump, despite his being an ideal platoon partner for Juan Francisco, to warrant a ranking in mixed leagues.
Winner: If anyone can cure what ails Masterson this season, it's the Cardinals. They call a pitching-friendly ballpark their home, and they've made a history of squeezing good years out of ground ball-oriented pitchers: Jason Marquis, Joel Pineiro and Jake Westbrook stand out as three in the past decade. Masterson's health is the question; if he's healthy he'll help NL-only owners and warrant matchups consideration once more in shallow mixed leagues. As for the Indians, Masterson's departure paves the way for youngsters like Danny Salazar and T.J. House to receive more extended opportunities, restoring them to the AL-only radar. Losers: Carlos Martinez, who was recently returned to the bullpen, was considerably less likely to return to the rotation following both this and the subsequent John Lackey trades. Rankings impact: Masterson rejoined the top 90 starting pitchers, checking in exactly 90th, though like Peavy, he'll require a good amount of matchups consideration going forward.
The Chicago Cubs acquired SP/RP Felix Doubront from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for a player to be named later (July 30).
Winners: The aforementioned Ranaudo, Webster and Workman, all of whom have greater chances at remaining at the major league level and perhaps earning starts during the season's final two months with one more veteran off the roster. The team should smartly give Ranaudo an extended look, as it appears that they will beginning on Friday. Losers: Doubront might steal starts from Tsuyoshi Wada and Kyle Hendricks once he returns from the DL. Rankings impact: None of these starters made the top 90 -- though Ranaudo was closest -- and Wada and Hendricks, who might've been on the fringe, only fell further from the cut.
The Oakland Athletics acquired SP Jon Lester, OF Jonny Gomes and cash from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for OF Yoenis Cespedes and Oakland's second pick in the competitive balance compensation B round in the 2015 Draft (July 31).
Winners: Both of the primary names involved, granted to a small degree, but the players who benefitted most are the platoon-type options in the Athletics' first base/outfield/designated hitter mix, especially Stephen Vogt. For Lester, the move to Oakland grants him both increased run support and a more spacious home ballpark in which to work -- bear in mind that O.co Coliseum is an extreme pitchers' park thanks to possessing the most spacious foul territory in the game -- and it cements his status as a top-15 fantasy starting pitcher the remainder of the year. As for Cespedes, going the opposite way grants him a more favorable hitting environment, as he swapped the Coliseum for Fenway Park's short left-field fence, which might help pad a few points of batting average and could be an attractive target if he chooses to adapt his swing for additional power. Vogt should figure more prominently into the Athletics' matchups plans following the deal; this team can (and probably will) choose from a pool of Brandon Moss, Vogt, Josh Reddick, Coco Crisp, Sam Fuld, John Jaso and Alberto Callaspo to fill those five lineup spots regularly, with Moss, Crisp and Reddick the most likely to play every day in that order. In a daily fantasy league, this is a plus, because if there's any team that maximizes its daily matchups, it's the Athletics. Losers: Whomever loses out among the Athletics' fourth/fifth starters, Jason Hammel or Jesse Chavez, as they now must duke it out for the fifth-starter gig alone. Hammel's performance thus far for the Athletics might make it a seemingly obvious call -- he has a 9.53 ERA and 2.12 WHIP in four starts for the team -- but Chavez hasn't pitched all that much better recently, his July ERA 5.20, and Chavez is the one whose stamina would be more fairly questioned of the two in the final two months. After all, he has pitched 38 1/3 more innings this season than last (majors and minors combined), and he's four frames shy of his professional high for a single year (129 2/3, in 2012). Neither pitcher belongs in a fantasy lineup right now -- certainly not until the identity of the fifth starter is known -- but Hammel seems the wiser one to stash on the bench of the two, in the hopes he'll contribute something in August or September. Rankings impact: Lester was already due a rankings boost, so what was going to be a No. 14 rank among starting pitchers improved to 12th, making him as attractive as anyone in the position's second tier. Cespedes, meanwhile, was also due to rise before the deal, and what was going to be a No. 17 ranking improved to 15th among outfielders. Both Athletics starters plummeted: Hammel slipped from 41st to 82nd (about half of that a result of the deal, the other half his recent performance), Chavez from 67th to 88th.
The Oakland Athletics acquired OF Sam Fuld from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for SP Tommy Milone (July 31).
Winners: Ahhh, now Cespedes' inclusion in the previous trade makes sense, not that Fuld was the winner here. Milone is: He's a command-specialist soft tosser who traded one pitching-friendly venue (O.co Coliseum) for another (Target Field), but in the process recaptured a rotation spot. AL-only owners should add him; there will be matchup opportunities to be had. Loser: The aforementioned Billy Burns, who was returned to the minors with Fuld on board, but again, the Athletics are considerably more matchups-oriented going forward, so Burns' odds of big-league at-bats are better today. Rankings impact: None, Milone isn't quite worthy of a top-90 starting pitcher spot yet.
The St. Louis Cardinals acquired SPs John Lackey and Corey Littrell and cash from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for 1B/OF Allen Craig and SP Joe Kelly (July 31).
Winners: Both Lackey and Craig, as the pitcher landed in the pitchers' park, the hitter in the more hitting-friendly environment. Lackey's interleague track record -- 3.07 ERA in 38 career games (37 starts), 2.61 ERA in six starts in 2013-14 -- scratches the surface of the impact, while the fact that there have been fewer home runs hit at Busch Stadium this season (64, tied with Washington's Nationals Park; Busch also ranked third-from-the-bottom in 2013 with 108) covers another sizable chunk. He's the big-ticket league-changer for NL-only owners to target with their FAAB (Free Agent Acquisition Budget) dollars/waiver priority; the hoard-your-dollars strategy paid off this time. That's not to say Craig isn't big-ticket in his own right, just that Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and Chase Headley have already switched leagues and drained AL-only FAAB budgets. Craig might be the second-best fantasy add of the four, as a player who seemed apt to adapt his swing to hit more for line drives/the gaps at home, rather than power in road games. At Fenway Park, perhaps he'll return to his former pull-hitting ways -- he hit 44 percent of his balls in play to left field from 2010-13, but only 33 percent so far this year -- and the chance that the park switch alone will help makes him worth the pickup (or trade in a mixed league). Given the choice, I'd prefer him to Headley if I'm banking on rebound extent following their league-switching trades. Oscar Taveras could have been the biggest winner of all as a result of the deal, if we could trust that Cardinals manager Mike Matheny would play him every day the rest of the year. It'd be smart to, and maybe Taveras can realize .280-6 HR potential in the final two months if he finally gets at-bats; he hasn't started more than four consecutive games since his July 1 recall. He's well worth a pickup on that chance. Losers: Jackie Bradley Jr. is the obvious one in the long haul, as the Red Sox picked up two outfielders on Thursday -- Cespedes the other -- and will presumably play Craig in left field, Cespedes in center and Shane Victorino in right when all three are healthy. To a lesser extent, though, Mike Carp and Daniel Nava suffered, returning to lesser-used bench roles, and for a few minutes on Thursday it appeared that Brock Holt might be relegated to utility duty. Thankfully, that didn't last (see further below). Kelly, meanwhile, loses some matchups appeal, as there'll be fewer to trust in the AL East (and in Fenway) than there might have been in Busch Stadium and the NL Central. He's a worthwhile AL-only stash for those purposes, but don't count on much. Rankings impact: While the week-over-week change appears minimal -- he moved up from 33rd to 32nd among starting pitchers -- Lackey's value stabilized as a result of the deal. A more compelling case can now be made that he's worth top-30 starter status, and that's enough to keep him active every time out. Craig, meanwhile, moved up from 27th to 22nd among first basemen, while Taveras improved from the No. 90 to No. 71 outfielder.
Winners: Brewers pitchers, Brewers pitchers, Brewers pitchers, as Parra's 43 Defensive Runs Saved since the beginning of 2013 are second-most among outfielders (Jason Heyward has 46). That's not to say that Matt Garza, Yovani Gallardo et al are bound to rise numerous spots as a result, but each gains some ratio stability with Parra behind him. It's also a plus for Ender Inciarte and David Peralta, both of whom should receive regular at-bats with the Diamondbacks and could help round out NL-only rosters. Losers: Parra himself, but also his probable left-field partner, Khris Davis. Davis, a respectable .234/.306/.429 hitter in 22 games in July, stands to lose the most value following the deal. Rankings impact: The No. 92 outfielder last week, Parra slipped further from the top 90 this week, while Davis' ranking dropped from 44th to 65th among outfielders.
Winners: One bat removed from the Padres' cluttered outfield helps the rest; Will Venable, Seth Smith, (ugh) Jeff Francoeur and -- when healthy and eligible for restoration to the roster -- Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin each gets a small boost in playing time. Almonte could figure into the mix, though, in which case little changed at all. Still, it seems probable that Venable and Smith will play the most. Loser: Denorfia represents another right-handed bat to push the aforementioned Montero and Smoak out of the picture. Rankings impact: Denorfia might be a top-50 AL-only outfielder, but he's beneath the cutoff for mixed-league relevance and is a smarter daily- than weekly-league play.
Winners: Orioles starting pitchers, if only because Miller's addition strengthened an already-sound bullpen. Miller could also pick up a few additional holds with the Orioles, if your league rewards for them. Rodriguez, a good prospect, could also be a factor for the Red Sox, if not later this year, then in 2015. Rankings impact: Neither player would make the cutoff in traditional Rotisserie scoring.
Winners: Brock Holt and possibly also Xander Bogaerts. The Cespedes and Craig acquisitions seemed to push Holt into a little-used bench role, but with Drew gone, Bogaerts could shift back to shortstop to clear third base for Holt regularly. Having a regular spot at which to play might be a good thing for Holt in his quest to keep up his solid play. The same could be said for Bogaerts, a .294/.386/.430 hitter as a big-league shortstop but only a .184/.222/.295 hitter as a third baseman; if you genuinely believe that the position was stunting his growth -- I believe it could've contributed, but doesn't entirely explain it -- then you liked this move. Drew, meanwhile, should play second base for the Yankees, giving him additional position flexibility once he meets the 10-game ESPN threshold there. Losers: Brian Roberts, designated for assignment by the Yankees following the trade. Rankings impact: Drew's ranking didn't change much despite the move to Yankee Stadium, which boosts lefty power, but he'd belong in the 24-28 range at second base once he qualifies there.
As part of a three-team trade, the Detroit Tigers acquired SP David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays, the Seattle Mariners received OF Austin Jackson from the Tigers, and the Rays got SP/RP Drew Smyly and SS Willy Adames from the Tigers and 2B Nick Franklin from the Mariners (July 31).
Winners: Three of the four players in the deal, by varying degrees. Price was the most notable name to change hands this trade-deadline season, and the move from the Rays, who averaged 3.9 runs per game with him, to the Tigers, who averaged 4.7 runs per game before acquiring him, should benefit him if for no other reason than he'll receive consistently good run support. But did anyone really not consider him front-of-a-fantasy-staff material beforehand? Smyly benefited from both the move to the more pitching-friendly Tropicana Field, and to a team that has a strong track record developing young pitching (Price one of their numerous such examples). He'll slide immediately into their rotation and, like many Rays pitchers in recent memory, could enjoy excellent home splits that make him a lock-in for home games and a strong matchups play on the road, before perhaps taking a bigger step forward in 2015. Franklin, meanwhile, could factor into the Rays' second-base picture right away, affording Ben Zobrist the opportunity to fill in at either outfield corner or designated hitter. AL-only owners should stash Franklin on that hope, as the power/speed man is a .294/.392/.455 hitter with 9/9 numbers in 75 games for Triple-A Tacoma. Losers: Jackson, unfortunately, as while he'll provide a boost to a left-handed heavy Mariners lineup, his surrounding corps won't be as strong as what the Tigers had, meaning somewhat less runs/RBI potential. Mariners outfielders in general lose out; James Jones, a .106 hitter in 12 games since the All-Star break, might be Triple-A bound. Rankings impact: Price's move from fifth to third among starting pitchers, while a small one, might be the most instantly recognizable change in the rankings this week. Neither Jackson nor Smyly moved significantly, while Franklin isn't quite yet deserving of a top-30 spot among second basemen.
The New York Yankees acquired 3B/2B/OF Martin Prado from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for C Peter O'Brien and either a player to be named later or cash (July 31).
Winners: There are fewer of them than you might think. Prado's numbers shouldn't suffer in New York, but if you're of the belief that his value will improve, remember that he has disappointed this season, he's not a natural power hitter to exploit Yankee Stadium's favorable measurements and he'll need to adapt to both a new league's set of pitchers as well as a probable shift to right field. The Diamondbacks could always shift Nick Ahmed or Didi Gregorius to third base, but it appears that Andy Marte -- remember him? -- will be the one to immediately slide into Prado's third-base spot. Losers: Ichiro Suzuki, who had ridden a hot start in part-time duty into more regular right-field at-bats recently, will likely return to the bench. He's again a cut candidate except in the deepest of AL-only leagues. Rankings impact: Prado's ranking among third baseman didn't really change, he's still 18th, down one spot.
The Miami Marlins acquired SP Jarred Cosart, 2B/OF Enrique Hernandez and OF Austin Wates from the Houston Astros in exchange for OF Jake Marisnick, 3B Colin Moran, SP Francis Martes and Miami's competitive balance pick in the 2015 Draft (July 31).
Winners: Cosart and Marisnick both wound up in more favorable circumstances; Cosart because he escaped the more hitting-oriented American League for a pitching-friendly venue in Miami and the National League, Marisnick because he'll probably slide in as the Astros' regular center fielder (at least until George Springer heals, though Springer could move to right field). Cosart's home/road splits show the possible benefits: He has a 4.50 ERA in 12 career starts at Minute Maid Park, but 2.96 in 18 starts everywhere else. He also threw quality starts against both the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals this season, so the argument could be made that he's a sneaky NL-only pickup now. Marisnick, unfortunately, is more glove than bat at this stage of his career, though he's capable of stealing a base every now and then. Losers: No one of major consequence; Robbie Grossman and Marc Krauss will return to the bench once Fowler and Springer return. Rankings impact: Cosart missed the top-90 starter cutoff, but with the move he didn't miss by much. Extend the rankings to 100 and he'd be in there, and that's a very likely starter in any NL-only format.
The Atlanta Braves acquired 2B/OF Emilio Bonifacio and RP James Russell from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for C Victor Caratini.
Winners: The aforementioned Alcantara -- this assured him a wide-open second base picture for the rest of the year -- and perhaps Javier Baez in the long haul, as the Cubs could always dabble with him at second base later in the year, moving Alcantara to the outfield. Losers: Either Tommy La Stella or B.J. Upton, or worse, both, depending upon how the Braves plan to use Bonifacio. Expect them to treat Bonifacio as a true utilityman, meaning the playing-time hit might be equally absorbed between those two. Rankings impact: Bonifacio didn't miss the top-30 cutoff at second base or top-90 at outfield by much, though excluding him from either list was an easier call following the trade into a more clear utility role.
Tristan H. Cockcroft's top 250 "going-forward" rankings
For a detailed rankings breakdown by position, click here.
|* Overall rank including all positions. Tristan's rankings are based upon a standard, mixed Rotisserie league with 5x5 scoring. Position eligibility is determined based upon a minimum of 20 games or the position the player appeared at most in 2013, or a minimum of 10 games in 2014. Players' listed ages are as of our publishing date (Regularly Wednesdays).|