Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

Reality Check: Time to buy low on Kemp?

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

If you've poked around the Fantasy News page enough, you've probably come across our in-season rankings. If not, I'll save you the trouble by directing you straight to them.

Pretty cool, right?

They're new this year. Having relied on computers and algorithms to maintain one default set of rankings that didn't quite live up to anyone's standards in past seasons, we decided to reintroduce the human element this year. Now, Al Melchior, Nando Di Fino and I maintain our own separate rankings, listing the most relevant players at each position in the order we'd prefer to own them. As circumstances change throughout the season -- whether due to injuries, role changes or unexpected performances -- so do those lists, always with the rest of the season in mind.

It's a laborious undertaking, but it's an infinitely valuable one. Continually updating rest-of-season rankings will address just about any Fantasy question you have. They may not help you set your lineup from week to week -- for that, you have the Pitching Forecaster and Hit Parade -- but they'll help you make decisions for the long haul.

Want to know whether you should drop Ichiro Suzuki for Angel Pagan? My take is in the rankings. Want to know how much you should buy into Kelly Johnson's recent hot streak? Again, check the rankings. Want to know how low is too low for R.A. Dickey? That's right. The rankings tell all.

They may lack the context and exposition you'll find on Fantasy Baseball Today and in columns like this one, but they're quick, accessible and, generally speaking, up-to-date.

Of course, to get any sort of value out of them, you have to trust in the process. At least one reader -- we'll call him George -- does not. He made his feelings clear in a recent e-mail to me:

I generally like your analysis, but I can't believe that you three guys update your rankings regularly, or at all. For example, I see Matt Kemp is the No. 3 outfield for all of you. Kemp is on my team, so that's nice to see on one hand. But his season has been such a disappointment that surely he's due for a downgrade. And, as I said, that's just one example. What's up?

Nice to see we're making a difference.

What's up is subjectivity. It's the driving force behind any set of rankings and a big reason why we each maintain our own. Naturally, you won't agree with anyone's rankings player for player -- to do so would be downright spooky -- but if you want an informed opinion, ours should at least suffice.

Now, when opinions differ enough to create a sense of mistrust, that's obviously a problem, but I have a feeling your consternation over Kemp -- and presumably Josh Hamilton, Billy Butler, Rickie Weeks and Jimmy Rollins -- stems more from a difference in philosophy than anything else. Al, Nando and I, along with many other Fantasy Baseball analysts across cyberspace, subscribe to the idea that a high-end player who gets off to a slow start is still a high-end player.

Most Traded Players (as of 5/14)
Player Name # of trades
1. Josh Hamilton, OF, Angels 678
2. David Price, SP, Rays 537
3. Matt Cain, SP, Giants 490
4. Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers 446
5. B.J. Upton, OF, Braves 431
6. Cole Hamels, SP, Phillies 420
7. Stephen Strasburg, SP, Nationals 376
8. Gio Gonzalez, SP, Nationals 374
9. Jay Bruce, OF, Reds 371
10. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals 365

Why? We've seen it too many times before. We've poured over enough box scores, played out enough August stretch runs and suffered through enough Jay Bruce roller-coaster rides to recognize that, over the course of 162 games, a player's stats tend to normalize.

"He is what he is," you'll often hear us say. Translation: "Those numbers you're used to seeing from him remain the expectation for him, regardless of what he's doing right now." And that goes for players on both ends of the spectrum.

Obviously, that line of thinking doesn't apply over the entirety of a player's career. Most spend their first few years improving and their last few years declining. But once they reach a certain level of production, they tend to maintain it -- and nothing more than it -- throughout their prime.

Tell that to the guy who drafted Adrian Gonzalez and Tim Lincecum last year, right?

OK, fine. So you found a pair of exceptions. They happen from time to time, and I can't guarantee Kemp won't be one of them this year. But I'll give you a few examples of the countless other players who validated the worry-free approach just last year.

They're harder to remember because you'd never know of their slow starts by their final numbers. But they slumped all right, with many putting themselves in deeper holes than Kemp is in now.

You know everybody's golden boy, Paul Goldschmidt? He appeared destined for a return trip to the minors through his first 31 games last year, batting .218 with a .616 OPS. What about last year's No. 1 shortstop in Head-to-Head leagues, Jose Reyes? Through his first 29 games, he hit a measly .226.

Last year's No. 2 shortstop, Rollins, had it even worse. When he hit .225 with a .275 slugging percentage over his first 45 games, most assumed his tank was empty. Aramis Ramirez was in the same boat, batting .218 with a .656 OPS over his first 38 games. He went on to have arguably the best season of his career.

Albert Pujols, much like Hamilton, struggled in his early days as an Angel, batting .212 with a .573 OPS in his first 42 games last year. We all know how his numbers turned out. Giancarlo Stanton? Yup, everyone was freaking out about him last year, too, when he homered only once in his first 21 games. He ended up leading the majors in slugging percentage.

Check out our Fantasy Baseball podcast!
Stay a step ahead of your competition in 2014 by checking out our popular Fantasy Baseball Today podcasts. Adam Aizer, Scott White and Al Melchior will entertain you and help you dominate all season.
Latest episode | Subscribe!

Perhaps the most encouraging case for Matt Kemp owners, though, is that of Ryan Zimmerman. Yes, Kemp had shoulder surgery in the offseason, but judging from reports both then and now, Zimmerman's shoulder was a bigger impediment at this time last year. In fact, it had him hitting .218 with a .590 OPS on June 23 -- or about halfway through the season. Don't remember it that way? That's because after getting the cortisone shot that day -- his third of the season -- he hit .321 with a .967 OPS the rest of the way, bringing his numbers back to where they always are.

Were any of those resurgences unbelievable or miraculous? For a while there, Zimmerman seemed like a lost cause, but otherwise, not really. They were just the realization of the inevitable. They were exactly what should happen over the course of 162 games.

Given the disparity between their seasons so far, Kemp's final numbers might actually be worse than, say, Justin Upton's, but again, these are rest-of-season rankings. What has already happened shouldn't matter nearly as much to Fantasy owners as what will happen. Judging by his ability and track record, Kemp's chances of producing a .300-plus batting average and 30-plus homers the rest of the way are simply too high for me to sell him short now. And probably higher than Upton's, I might add.

Maybe if the slump continues for another two or three weeks, my perspective will change ever so slightly. I do make some changes at this stage of the season, having already moved Upton and Bryce Harper ahead of Hamilton in the outfield. But they were all in the same range to begin with. With Upton and Harper still young and developing, a hot start for them indicates progress. Plus, perception factors in. I could get more for Upton or Harper than Hamilton on the trade market right now, and my rankings should reflect that.

But they shouldn't reflect streaks, whether good or bad. Streaks happen for every player over the course of the season. The ones that happen earlier don't carry any more weight.

When I make a change to the rankings, it should be cautious and calculated, and it should last. If it's something I'll have to undo two weeks later, after you've already potentially acted on it, then I've done you a disservice. That's how I approach it, anyway. And judging by some of Al's and Nando's rankings, they're even more cautious than I am.

Now, I won't claim our rankings are perfect. They contain 476 names, so the occasional player will slip through the cracks. And I'm guessing the top half at each position gets more attention than the bottom half just because it's easier to form opinions on those guys.

But enough thought and effort go into these rankings that you can trust they're what they claim to be. And if we hold up our end of the bargain, they'll do more for you than a thousand Reality Check columns will.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Report: Braves outfielder Justin Upton 'will be moved'
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:31 pm ET) The Braves are looking to trade outfielder Justin Upton, and sources have indicated it’s only a matter of time before he is dealt.

“Justin Upton will be moved,” said another team executive, per the New York Post.

However, if any team is going to trade for Upton, the price will not be cheap. Reports have shown the Braves are asking for more in return than what they received for Jason Heyward.

Upton will make $14.5 million in 2015 and then become a free agent. In 2014, Upton hit .270 with 29 home runs and 102 RBI.

Rangers' Yu Darvish will have an MRI on injured elbow next week
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:18 pm ET) The Rangers have pushed back the date of starting pitcher Yu Darvish's MRI on his right elbow to next week, according to the Dallas Morning News. Darvish is expected to start a throwing program in December, depending on the results of that exam. 

Report: Reds considering dealing high-priced veterans
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:26 am ET) The Reds are considering lowering their payroll by trading top position players, including slugging outfielder Jay Bruce, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

The team has made no secret of its desire to give up one of its starting pitchers, including premier talents such as Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos. But the Reds are also discussing possible swaps involving two-time All-Star right fielder Jay Bruce, major league sources have told Rosenthal.

The Reds have $75.5 million committed in 2015 and could try to vault back into playoff contention behind a healthy Joey Votto and Bruce. But it might not be a viable financial option. They spent $114 million on payroll last year and are projected to be at $120 million next season. Trading Bruce and one starting pitcher would reduce that figure significantly - Bruce alone will be owed $12 million.

One problem with that tactic is that the Reds would be trading an undervalued Bruce coming off a poor season in which he batted .217 with 18 home runs. However, the power-desperate Padres are reportedly inteterested in obtaining Bruce.


Rays finalize 40-man roster
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:56 am ET) The Rays have finalized the 40-man roster on Thursday.

The team designated Cole Figueroa, Michael Kohn and Jose Molina for assignment, freeing up space on the roster. The team then added Matt AndrieseRyan Brett , Grayson Garvin, Mikie Mahtook  and Justin O’Conner to the 40-man roster. 


Rays send Joel Peralta to Dodgers
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:52 am ET) The Rays and Dodgers made a four player deal on Thursday in order to finalize 40-man rosters.

Tampa Bay is receiving pitcher Jose Dominguez and Greg Harris. Los Angeles will receive Joel Peralta and pitcher Adam Liberatore . Peralta is the most well-known of the bunch. The 10-year veteran posted a 4.41 ERA over 63 1/3 innings with the Rays last year. 


Angels designate Alfredo Marte for assignment
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:47 am ET) The Angels have designated outfielder Alfredo Marte for assignment on Thursday.

The team claimed Marte off waivers from the D-Backs in October. He appeared in 44 major-league games last season, hitting .170 over 106 at-bats. 


Rangers shore up 40-man roster
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:43 am ET) The Rangers have made changes to the 40-man roster.

The team purchased the contracts of Jorge Alfaro , Hanser Alberto, Jerad Eickhoff and Luke Jackson . All four players will now be protected from the Rule 5 draft. In order to make room on the 40-man roster, the team designated outfielder Jim Adduci for assignment. 


Astros add Michael Feliz to 40-man roster
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:40 am ET) The Astros have added pitcher Michael Feliz to the 40-man roster.

The 21-year-old Feliz was a late addition to the roster. He posted a 4.03 ERA over 102 2/3 innings at Class A last season. Feliz struck out 111 batters.


Angels acquire Daniel Robertson from Rangers
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/20/2014) The Angels have acquired outfielder Daniel Robertson from the Rangers for a player to be named later or cash.

The 29-year-old got a taste of the majors last season. He hit .271/.333/.333 over 177 at-bats with Texas. 


Padres shore up 40-man roster
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/20/2014) The Padres have altered their 40-man roster.

The team purchased the contracts of Tayron Guerrero, Taylor Lindsey and Alex Dickerson . In order to make room for those adds, the team designated both Blaine Boyer and Yeison Ascensio for assignment. 


 
 
 
Rankings