Commentary

The Talented Mr. Roto's Top 200

Think position scarcity, people ... oh, and you still shouldn't pay for saves

Updated: January 28, 2011, 2:15 PM ET
By Matthew Berry | ESPN.com

Players are still changing teams, jobs are being figured out, injured guys are recovering, position battles are being anticipated ... fantasy baseball value changes all the time, no more so than in the preseason.

So with that said, here's my first set -- they will be changed many times -- of Top 200 rankings for the 2011 fantasy baseball season. As you look these over, keep in mind the following things:

• I based these on a standard ESPN 10-team, 5x5 mixed league. I ranked players in order of how I would draft them. As such, because ESPN standard leagues start just one catcher (not two), I greatly devalued them in the ranks. For example, in our recent mock draft, Geovany Soto and Miguel Montero both were taken in the 19th round. If I can get a catcher of that level in the 19th, I doubt I'd spend an early-round pick on one.

• I also greatly devalued starting pitching. There's an abundance of high-quality arms this year, and again, due to the shallow nature of ESPN standard leagues, you should be able to find solid starters both in the middle/late rounds and even on the waiver wire.

• I believe power is scarcer than speed, that outfield (because you play up to six of them) and shortstop are among the scarcer positions, followed by corner infield. Since I'm a big believer in position and category scarcity, I raised those players a bit. First base is deep, so those guys move down a bit in value despite their big numbers. Closers, of course, get no love from me because of the turnover at the position and the availability of them on the free-agent market, especially in shallow leagues.

• Finally, because of the depth of the free-agent pool in leagues this size, I tend to value high-upside, high-risk players more with the thought process being that if they don't work out, I can more easily replace them than if I were in a 12-team AL- or NL-only league.

So without further ado …

[+] EnlargeMiguel Cabrera
Rick Osentosk/US PresswireMiguel Cabrera finished 5th in the Player Rater in 2010.

1. Albert Pujols
2. Hanley Ramirez
3. Miguel Cabrera: If fantasy baseball profiles were written like People magazine headlines, his would have a picture of him jumping in the air for no apparent reason with a headline that reads "Conquering his demons … and opposing pitchers!"
4. Troy Tulowitzki: You see an injury-prone guy, I see a really ugly drop at SS after someone who hit 59 home runs over the past two seasons.
5. Ryan Braun: Power -- and outfielders -- is scarcer this year than you think.
6. Evan Longoria
7. Robinson Cano
8. Carl Crawford
9. Carlos Gonzalez: Even if he hits "only" .300, he's a worthy top-10 pick.
10. David Wright
11. Joey Votto: As I said, I'm a position-scarcity guy. Sure, Votto's all that and a bag of Canadian bacon, but 1B is so deep, I can't take him before now.
12. Adrian Gonzalez: Welcome to Fenway.
13. Chase Utley: One of the positives is he doesn't have to face his own pitching staff.
14. Roy Halladay: Pitching is so deep this year that I can't justify using a first-round pick on him.
15. Josh Hamilton: How many games will you get from him? I'll say 140, but then again, I'm a lover, not a fighter. Uh, I mean I'm an optimist …
16. Matt Holliday
17. Ryan Zimmerman
18. Kevin Youkilis: Ranked here because he'll also qualify at third base by the end of April, and there's not nearly as much depth there as at first base.
19. Alex Rodriguez: Consider this: 24, 18, 14, 4. Those are his steals over the past four seasons.
20. Felix Hernandez
21. Adam Wainwright
22. Nelson Cruz: See Hamilton, Josh.
23. Shin-Soo Choo: Money in the bank.
24. Prince Fielder
25. Cliff Lee
26. Matt Kemp
27. Dustin Pedroia
28. Mark Teixeira
29. Ryan Howard
30. Tim Lincecum
31. Jon Lester
32. Justin Upton: He's still only 23, and reportedly 100 percent healthy now.
33. Adam Dunn
34. Jose Reyes: Only our third shortstop, and already we have question marks.
35. Joe Mauer
36. Ichiro Suzuki
37. Andrew McCutchen: Monster year on the way. Monster.
38. Adrian Beltre
39. Jose Bautista: Was his 2010 season a fluke? Yes, but not nearly as much as you might think. Don't pay for 50 homers, but 35, with multi-position eligibility and a batting average that won't kill you, sounds right. Think Dan Uggla. Speaking of Uggla …
40. Dan Uggla: Not buying the jump in batting average in 2010.
41. Clayton Kershaw
42. Ubaldo Jimenez
43. CC Sabathia
44. Jayson Werth
45. Alex Rios
46. Victor Martinez: Would be higher if catcher wasn't so deep in a 10-team, one-catcher league.
47. Buster Posey: See Martinez, Victor.
48. Rickie Weeks
49. Hunter Pence
50. Zack Greinke: Fear the beer!
51. Kendry Morales: Gently touch home plate, kid. Gently.
52. Justin Verlander
53. Chris Carpenter
54. Andre Ethier
55. Jason Heyward
56. David Price: His "expected ERA" last year was 3.62. He's very good, but he's probably not sub-3.00 ERA good.
57. Martin Prado
58. Derek Jeter: I'm telling you, SS is ugly this year. I'm expecting double-digit steals and homers from Jeter, but not much beyond that. The key is the runs scored and the batting average, which hopefully will bounce back.
59. Justin Morneau
60. Jay Bruce
61. Cole Hamels
62. Jered Weaver
63. Brandon Phillips
64. Paul Konerko
65. Francisco Liriano
66. Dan Haren
67. Mike Stanton
68. Jacoby Ellsbury
69. Shane Victorino
70. Chris Young (D-backs): I'm a believer in his improved batting eye, and I said this last year, too.
71. Curtis Granderson
72. Ian Kinsler: Remember when I said I was an optimist about the health of the Rangers? Apparently I lied.
73. Colby Rasmus: Big year coming up for him.
74. B.J. Upton: Burn me once? Shame on you. Burn me every stupid season …
75. Elvis Andrus

[+] EnlargeJosh Johnson
Steve Mitchell/US PresswireBeware: There could be another injury lurking in Marlins pitcher Josh Johnson's future.
76. Josh Johnson: Stephania Bell says there are major injury concerns here. Given how deep starting pitching is this year, that risk just keeps dropping him in my rankings.
77. Tommy Hanson
78. Brian McCann
79. Michael Young
80. Matt Cain
81. Roy Oswalt
82. Jimmy Rollins
83. Joakim Soria: Perhaps you've heard this before, but I don't pay for saves.
84. Billy Butler: One of these years …
85. Max Scherzer
86. Yovani Gallardo
87. Ted Lilly
88. Mat Latos: Love him, but I'm concerned about a significant innings increase from last year.
89. Aramis Ramirez
90. Casey McGehee
91. Delmon Young
92. Wandy Rodriguez: His second-half numbers: 6-2 record, 2.19 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 117 strikeouts in 107 innings pitched.
93. Corey Hart
94. Alexei Ramirez
95. Jonathan Sanchez: 2008: 5.01 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 157 strikeouts. 2009: 4.24 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 177 K's. 2010: 3.07 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 205 K's. See a pattern there?
96. Mariano Rivera
97. Brian Wilson
98. Neftali Feliz
99. Pedro Alvarez: I'm "all in" on Pedro.
100. Drew Stubbs: He hit seven homers in September and ended up with the quietest 20/30 season in baseball history. Hit .241 on the road last year (versus .268 at home), but I'm still buying. He's my answer to this question: Who could become this year's Carlos Gonzalez?
101. John Danks
102. Shaun Marcum
103. Clay Buchholz
104. Heath Bell
105. Aaron Hill
106. Brian Roberts: Quietly stole 10 bases in the second half after a lost first half of the season.
107. Gordon Beckham: The poster child for a guy with a lot of talent who underperformed last year, but who I still sort of like. You're about to see a decent number of these guys in this next little bit.
108. Stephen Drew
109. Ben Zobrist: Another Gordon Beckham All-Star, or "GBAS" for short.
110. Matt Garza
111. Chad Billingsley
112. Tim Hudson
113. Michael Bourn
114. Juan Pierre
115. Brett Gardner
116. Carlos Marmol
117. Jonathan Papelbon
118. Torii Hunter
119. Kelly Johnson: The opposite of Gordon Beckham. A guy who exceeded expectations last year, but who I think wasn't entirely a fluke. A Jose Bautista All-Star, or "JBAS."
120. Angel Pagan: Another JBAS.
121. Adam Jones
122. Pablo Sandoval: GBAS.
123. Chone Figgins: GBAS.
124. Adam Lind: GBAS.
125. Aubrey Huff: Pay for .280/20/80, and anything beyond that is gravy. He's nothing sexy, but he's better than you think.
126. Brett Anderson
127. Phil Hughes
128. Brandon Morrow: You know about the strikeouts, but his expected ERA last year was 3.35.
129. Carlos Santana
130. Mark Reynolds
131. Carlos Quentin
132. David Ortiz: He's a PIHFNRR (player I hate for no rational reason).
133. Rafael Furcal: Another PIHFNRR.
134. Vernon Wells: PIHFNRR.
135. Carlos Lee
136. Francisco Rodriguez
137. Geovany Soto
138. Rajai Davis
139. Gio Gonzalez
140. Daniel Hudson
141. Hiroki Kuroda: Always underrated.
142. Ricky Romero
143. Colby Lewis
144. Jeremy Hellickson
145. Andres Torres: Another JBAS.
[+] EnlargeGrady Sizemore
Jerry Lai/US PresswireWere Grady Sizemore's major struggles in 2009 and 2010 a result of poor health? Hmm.
146. Grady Sizemore: Consider this: .290, .277, .268, .248, .211. Forget the health risk, which is significant, but those are his batting averages the past five years. In fact, I might even be too high on him here in the 15th round. I'll consider him a "PIHFVLR" (player I hate for very legitimate reasons).
147. Howard Kendrick
148. Ryan Dempster
149. Huston Street
150. Nick Swisher: My vote for having the hottest wife in baseball. Kudos, Nick.
151. Bobby Abreu
152. Nick Markakis: Been in my "hate" section for a few years now. Have yet to regret it.
153. C.J. Wilson
154. Jose Valverde
155. Jonathan Broxton
156. Chris Perez
157. Andrew Bailey
158. Johnny Cueto
159. Brian Matusz
160. Jhoulys Chacin
161. Ricky Nolasco
162. Trevor Cahill
163. Vladimir Guerrero: He's gotta find a team, right? Right?
164. Jorge De La Rosa
165. Brett Myers
166. Francisco Cordero
167. Drew Storen
168. John Axford
169. Johan Santana
170. Madison Bumgarner
171. Miguel Montero
172. Mike Napoli
173. Carlos Pena: He'll either finish way higher or way lower than this.
174. Derrek Lee: See Pena, Carlos.
175. Ian Stewart
176. Gaby Sanchez
177. Manny Ramirez
178. Logan Morrison: Friend of the podcast!
179. Denard Span: GBAS.
180. Jaime Garcia
181. Ian Desmond
182. Travis Snider
183. Jordan Zimmermann
184. Ryan Franklin
185. J.J. Putz
186. Joe Nathan
187. Starlin Castro: Just make sure your league doesn't count defense.
188. Gavin Floyd
189. Ike Davis
190. Matt Wieters
191. Neil Walker
192. Kurt Suzuki
193. Jorge Posada
194. Adam LaRoche
195. Mitch Moreland
196. Carlos Beltran
197. Josh Beckett
198. Jose Lopez
199. Placido Polanco
200. Fernando Rodney

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is already set to revise this. He is the creator of RotoPass.com, a website that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off. He is a charter member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his cyberfriend

• Senior Fantasy analyst for ESPN
• Member, FSWA and FSTA Halls of Fame
• Best-selling author of "Fantasy Life"