Among the top 276 players in Fantasy Baseball from 2009, the hitters averaged .282 with 19 homers, 76 RBI, 78 runs, 11 steals and 427 Fantasy points. Among the 168 hitters in the dataset, 82 scored above the average.
The pitchers averaged 11 wins, a 3.71 ERA, 133 Ks, a 1.27 WHIP, seven saves and 406 Fantasy points (in CBSSports.com's new Head-to-Head standard scoring system). Among the 108 pitchers in the dataset, 49 scored above the average.
Catchers -- .266-14-60-53-3 (305 points)
It was easily the weakest position, shortest on power, run production or steals. Of the 24 players in the dataset -- the bare minimum active catchers in a standard league -- only the top 10 performed better than average.
Conclusion to draw: If you don't get one of that trio, wait a long, long time to bother filling this spot. After all, we always say catchers hit like pitchers.
First basemen -- .288-27-95-83-3 (483 points)
This was easily the deepest position, where you get the most power and run production. There were 30 1B-eligible players in the top 168 hitters last season, 14 of which scored better than average. Even with the size of that dataset, first basemen averaged the highest point total of any position.
While Albert Pujols is our No. 1 player overall, as many as five or six 1B-eligible players are candidates to pick in Round 1: Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira, Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Howard and perhaps the emerging speed-and-power surprise of Mark Reynolds. It used to be you could wait on first base because it was deep and level.
Conclusion to draw: Don't overrate position scarcity by passing on one of the elite here. The position remains deep, especially with some potential breakouts in the middle area like Joey Votto, Billy Butler and perhaps Chris Davis, but this position performed so far out in front of the rest, you will want to at least try to get one of those aforementioned first-round candidates.
Second basemen -- .284-18-76-85-13 (453 points)
For years, this position had been degraded as one of the weakest in Fantasy. Not anymore. In fact, it surprisingly, yet fittingly, came in second to first base last year.
It wasn't especially deep, though. Excluding DH, only shortstop had fewer eligible players appearing in our top 168 "active" hitters. Second base had just 21 in the dataset. Perhaps the exclusivity of the group helped keep the standards set so high. Just nine players exceed the standard, too.
Conclusion to draw: Getting one of those guys is a decent strategy, but we also have to point out that this remarkably strengthened position will make another move this year: It will get even better by becoming deeper. Gordon Beckham is moving here from third base, while Howie Kendrick, Rickie Weeks and the 2B-eligible Ian Stewart are great breakout candidates that we have ranked 10-12. That means, unless someone employs an ill-advised tactic to hoard the position, everyone in your league should have a pretty strong starting second baseman. It could lead you to wait on one yet again this year.
Third basemen -- .279-19-79-77-8 (418 points)
This was the most disappointing position in Fantasy, especially since we didn't get a full season of Alex Rodriguez, David Wright's homer total slumped to 10 and Ryan J. Braun's carryover 3B-eligibility expired going into last year. Mark Reynolds' breakthrough, Pablo Sandoval's first full season and Gordon Beckham's arrival helped keep it from being a disaster, though.
Even if it wasn't a strong position, it was fairly deep, with 25 players in the dataset. That number, bouyed by a Fantasy-high 10 multi-position eligibles, likely is the reason the standards are a bit depressed. Eleven of the players exceeded the average.
Conclusion to draw: Third base widely underperformed last year and could be a place to spot some undervalued buys this spring. Beckham is making that aforementioned moved to second base, but he retains 3B-eligibility on Draft Day. It will be very interesting to see what he produces in a full season. Also, the 2B/3B-eligible Stewart is going to get full-time duty, and we're not ready to give up on Alex Gordon making a huge breakthrough.
Shortstops -- .291-13-70-85-17 (439 points)
|Download a Draft Kit! | Join a Mock Draft!|
|Sign up to play FREE Fantasy Baseball|
Annually the thinnest position in Fantasy, shortstop remained that with just 18 players in our dataset, only eight of which outperformed the standards. The bar is set pretty high for the shortstop you should fill your roster with. Even though it is thin -- the lost season by Jose B. Reyes certainly didn't help either -- this position had the highest average, most steals and tied for the most runs scored.
You will find your table-setters here, which further explains the Fantasy-low homer and RBI standards. The lone impressive power guys here are the two we rank at the top, Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki. Hanley is our No. 2 overall to Pujols, while 'Tulo slots ahead of the returning Reyes as a second-rounder in most formats.
Conclusion to draw: Shortstop is a position to find the ever-coveted steals. Check that, the best position to do so. You can get boatloads of them from the young Alcides Escobar, Elvis Andrus and Everth Cabrera. If you're looking for power, this is not the place to look. If you find steals at second base or outfield and are in need of power, there are some potential sleepers that can get this position closer to Fantasy-average. Stephen Drew had a miserable year but could emerge as a top-five talent here, while J.J. Hardy could be revived by a change of scenery with the Twins perhaps. Alexei Ramirez and Jhonny Peralta could be rebound candidates, too. Those guys could hit some homers and drive in runs.
Outfielders -- .281-19-74-80-15 (433 points)
Annually the deepest position in Fantasy because there are so many to go around, outfield comprises more than 35 percent (at least 5 of 14) of your Rotisserie hitting roster. It made up for over 39 percent of our dataset with 66 players. It makes sense, then, its standards are closest to the overall numbers for hitters.
There were plenty of disappointments (Grady Sizemore, Josh Hamilton and Carlos Quentin) but also ample breakthroughs to counter-balance (Matt Kemp, Jacoby Ellsbury, Adam Lind, Andre Ethier and 2B-OF Ben Zobrist and Jayson Werth).
While deep in options, the quality of your Fantasy outfield can still greatly impact your team. After catcher and second base, it is the most top-heavy position. Only 29 outfielders outperformed the position average.
Conclusion to draw: Don't assume you can fill your Fantasy roster at the expense of outfield, filling them all with potential breakouts and sleepers. Sure, there are plenty of good players that could become great, but you want to get a good piece of the top 30 (actually just 29 last year). They generate a large portion of your team's run production after first base. One advisable thing to do with the depth of the outfield position is to fill it with players that balance your needs from what you get at the other positions. Outfield is the one position with a little bit of every thing. If you already drafted power in the infield, stock up on steals and table-setters to fill out your outfield. It is a position of wealth and specificity deep into the ranks; use that to your advantage.
Designated hitters -- .255-28-95-70-0 (425 points)
You might be surprised to note that just two DH-only players made into our top 168 "active" hitters dataset: David Ortiz and Hideki Matsui. Surprisingly, Vladimir Guerrero, who loses OF-eligibility, didn't even qualify due to an injury-plagued year.
Conclusion to draw: Really you should consider the standard for DH options to be all the hitters combined, which we outlined above as .282-19-76-78-11 (427 points). If you are slotting a DH-only guy, therefore blocking that spot from being a flex position, you want him to exceed the DH standards. If you are slotting an extra position player as your DH, you will want him to exceed the overall hitters' standards.
Starting pitchers -- 12-3.80-149-1.28-0 (410 points)
Rotisserie leagues don't differentiate pitchers as starters or relievers, but we wanted to add this analysis for our Head-to-Head readers. There were 84 starting pitchers in the top 108 "active" pitchers in our dataset, which accounts for all of the nine-man staffs in a 12-team standard league. Of those 84 starter-eligibles, 39 outperformed the average.
It is notoriously said pitchers don't provide great bang for their buck in Rotisserie leagues, but that is partially due to the shear number of them and their year-to-year volatility.
Conclusion to draw: That 39 above is an important number, because you want to get a chunk of the top 40 starting pitchers on your staff, specifically the top 30. After that the dropoff becomes pretty severe in terms of quality production across the board.
Relief pitchers -- 4-2.94-71-1.17-30 (358 points)
Just 26 relief-eligible pitchers made it into our dataset. We are not suggesting that is the only number of relievers that should be owned on Draft Day, though. Heck, there are 30 teams with an opening-day closer.
There are many relievers worth owning for different reasons in different league types. Some make saves Fantasy gold. Some value holds. Some make middle relievers useful to impact ERA and WHIP.
It is also pretty deep. Our data showed 15 of the 26 relievers performing at better than position-average. No other position had over half of its players in our dataset (58 percent) performing better than average. First base was a distant second in that regard, with 47 percent of its "active" players in our dataset performing above league average.
Conclusion to draw: Starters widely outperformed relievers and only catcher makes less of an impact on your Fantasy production than a relief pitcher. You can wait to get your relievers, but don't wait until after 15 are gone. It is also interesting to note, neither of the two SP/RP-eligible swing men that made the top 108 last year -- J.A. Happ or Clayton Richard (Joba Chamberlain wasn't good enough to make the cut even) -- scored better than the position average. Basically, Head-to-Head owners don't want an SP-eligible reliever slotted as one of their starting pitchers.
The relief pitcher is a commodity position. It relies heavily on save chances. Find the pitchers/teams that generate the most of them. Last year's top five were: Seattle, L.A. Angels, L.A. Dodgers, Florida and San Diego (surprisingly). The bottom five were: Toronto, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Oakland and Cincinnati/Baltimore (tied).
You can e-mail us your + / - Ratings tool comments or questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com. Be sure to put + / - Ratings in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state. Be aware, due to the large volume of submissions received, we cannot guarantee personal responses to all questions.