- Matthew Berry, Fantasy
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Mom and Apple Pie.
The start of baseball brings around many American traditions but perhaps none as all encompassing as The List. From worst-dressed to hot new actresses to college basketball teams to mistakes that (insert politician/athlete/celebrity) has made to Letterman's famous "Top 10"; the people, they love the lists. Nothing is unlistable, which is on my list of top 10 words that don't exist but should.
Seriously, if you can think of it, there's a list about it. A quick Google search found me top 10 lists about bizarre college courses (Occidental College teaches "The Unbearable Whiteness of Barbie"), 10 things you should never discuss online (I somehow managed to avoid being on this list) and Top 10 ugliest female celebrities (Oddly, this list I made). Lists are no strangers to fantasy, of course, as our rankings are always among our most widely-read offerings.
So with the first pitch having been thrown just a few days ago, I figured it's as good a time as any to indulge in a tradition for both me and fantasy, my version of the ranking obsession: 10 lists of 10. I've done this for a few years now but this is my first 10 lists of 10 in the year 2010. Someone alert the guy in charge of stuff that doesn't actually matter to anyone.
I asked the gang that follows me on Twitter to make suggestions on lists they'd like to see and they came up with some great ones, the best of which I've incorporated below. If you see a percentage after a player's name, that's his ownership percentage in ESPN standard 10-team leagues. Some of these are baseball related, some of these are just for fun, but all in all, it's 10 lists ... of 10.
List 1: 10 current non-closers with a chance at 10+ saves
(suggested by @pkalinauskas and @jamesg22)
1. Brandon Lyon, RP, Houston Astros (40.4 percent): They're paying him closer money and Matt Lindstrom (57 percent, incidentally) has lost closer gigs before.
2. Scott Downs, Toronto Blue Jays (3.2 percent): Did you see Jason Frasor blow up on Opening Day? Have you ever owned Kevin Gregg? OK then.
3. Matt Thornton, RP, Chicago White Sox (9.6 percent): Threw all 10 of his pitches for strikes on Opening Day. And, of course, there's that whole Bobby Jenks-is-terrible thing I wrote about in Love/Hate.
4. Neftali Feliz, RP, Texas Rangers (30.8 percent): Love Frank Francisco but he has trouble staying healthy.
5. Mike Adams, RP, San Diego Padres (2.2 percent):It's not if Heath Bell gets traded, it's when.
6. J.P. Howell, RP, Tampa Bay Rays (1.2 percent): Was the closer toward the end of last season, and once he gets healthy he will be in line to be so again. Keep in mind, Rafael Soriano is on a one-year deal.
7. Juan Gutierrez, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks (1.2 percent): Had nine saves last year and Chad Qualls is not only coming off knee surgery, he is also on a one-year deal.
8. Jim Johnson, RP, Baltimore Orioles (0.1 percent): Another guy with saves last year, he actually got 10. They weren't pretty but Gonzalez is no sure thing, health-wise. Last year was the first he had pitched more than 55 innings in a season.
9. Esmailin Caridad, RP, Chicago Cubs (0.1 percent): Nate Ravitz loves this guy and we've talked about him a lot on the podcast.
Quick notes about list 1: I didn't include guys currently closing but that aren't expected to be the full-time guy when the "real closer" comes back like Chris Perez (49.5 percent), Ryan Madson (31.2 percent) or Franklin Morales (20.2 percent). Incidentally, I find this closer chart to be very helpful.
List 2: Ten prospects who have not been called up but that will make a difference this year.
(suggested by @kimkenetic)
1. Stephen Strasburg, SP, Washington Nationals
2. Brett Wallace, 1B/3B, Toronto Blue Jays
3. Chris Carter, 1B, Oakland A's
4. Michael Taylor, OF, Oakland A's
5. Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates
6. Aroldis Chapman, SP, Cincinnati Reds
7. Chris Tillman, SP, Baltimore Orioles
8. Carlos Santana, C, Cleveland Indians
9. Desmond Jennings, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
10. Justin Smoak, 1B, Texas Rangers
List 3: The first non-pitchers that I would pick up for each position that are available in at least 85 percent of leagues.
1. Chris Iannetta, C, Colorado Rockies (10 percent): 36 home runs the past two years, he's only 26 and I think he gets his average up this year to a you-can-live-with-it-for-a-catcher level of .250-ish.
2. Casey Kotchman, 1B, Seattle Mariners (1.4 percent): No Ryan Garko anymore and he opened up the season hitting in the three hole. As in, behind Ichiro Suzuki and Chone Figgins. He's a career .290 hitter with runners in scoring position. Just saying.
3. Sean Rodriguez, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays (7.9 percent): Absolutely crushed it in spring training, he started opening day for the Rays. There are other free agents at second base who will get more at-bats, but none have more upside.
4. Ian Desmond, SS, Washington Nationals (4 percent): He's got a shot at a 15/15 year with a decent average.
5. Troy Glaus, 3B, Atlanta Braves (11.8 percent): Health is the issue, of course, but he's playing first (hopefully less injury risk) while eligible at third. Folks forget he's just 33 and only a season removed from a .270/27 home run/ 99 RBI season.
6. Carlos Gomez, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (14.8 percent): Already has a combo meal (home run/steal in same game) and was 11 for 11 in steals during spring training (led the majors). The speed is very legit with the potential for very low double-digit homers and he's just 24.
7. Austin Jackson, OF, Detroit Tigers (13.6 percent): Batting leadoff, he had a great spring. There's a reason the Tigers traded Curtis Granderson, and he's a big part of it.
8. Skip Schumaker, 2B/OF, St, Louis Cardinals (8.1 percent): Another leadoff guy, he gets to hit in front of some guys names Pujols and Holliday. A career .300 hitter who has batted at least that and scored at least 85 runs each of the past two seasons. And he qualifies at second base, too. The perfect high-average fill-in guy who won't hurt you anywhere and will help in runs scored.
9. Clint Barmes, 2B, Colorado Rockies (9.6 percent): Did you know he hit 23 home runs last season? I didn't think so. Not for the batting average averse, but he can drive the ball and run a little bit, too.
10. Jhonny Peralta, SS/3B, Cleveland Indians (13.8 percent): At least 20 home runs in two of the past three seasons and more than 80 RBIs in two of the past three as well. He's batting fifth, which is a nice spot for any guy, even if it's on the Indians.
List 4: Top 10 numbers
(suggested by @ryanchatelain)
List 5: Top 10 potential fantasy zombies
(suggested by @willoneil)
Note: This is a phrase a listener of our football podcast came up with, and that we love. It was used to describe guys like Vernon Davis and Laurence Maroney last season; guys who were once fantasy relevant, left for dead after years of being unproductive and then had roared back to life out of nowhere. Scott Podsednik and Adam Kennedy are guys from last season who would qualify. This is a list of the baseball players who could potentially fit that description this year.
1. Fausto Carmona, P, Cleveland Indians
2. Barry Zito, P, San Francisco Giants
3. Jim Edmonds, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
4. Brad Penny, P, St. Louis Cardinals
5. Travis Hafner, DH, Cleveland Indians
6. Mark Kotsay, 1B/OF, Chicago White Sox
7. Eric Chavez, 3B, Oakland A's
8. Garrett Atkins, 3B/1B, Baltimore Orioles
9. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays
10. Rodrigo Lopez, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
List 6: Top 10 guys owned in more than 88 percent of leagues who should be the first guys cut if there's signs of trouble.
1. Scott Kazmir, SP, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (97.7 percent)
2. Vernon Wells, OF, Toronto Blue Jays (99.1 percent) (I know he's been red hot. He's still Vernon Wells.)
3. Russell Martin, C, Los Angeles Dodgers (93 percent)
4. Carlos Beltran, OF, New York Mets (99 percent)
5. Nate McLouth, OF, Atlanta Braves (100 percent)
6. Scott Sizemore, 2B, Detroit Tigers (94 percent)
7. Bronson Arroyo, SP, Cincinnati Reds (91.3 percent)
8. Brad Lidge, RP, Philapdelphia Phillies (88.6 percent)
9. J.J. Hardy, SS, Minnesota Twins (94.8 percent)
10. Michael Bourn, OF, Houston Astros (100 percent)
List 7: Top 10 unusable ideas for lists of 10, and my reasons why.
(suggested by @ajpanos)
1. Top 10 things Eagles fans have actually been satisfied with. Suggested by: @rasaveli. Unusable because: there aren't 10.
2. Top 10 ugliest photos of me. Suggested by: @jeffisrad. Unusable because: too many to choose from.
3. Top 10 scenarios that could result in a Pirates/Royals World Series. Suggested by: @one_eye_deer. Unusable because: Too implausible. Unless, of course, the other 28 teams fall victim to 28 separate misfortunes and are unable to finish the season. But that will never happen. Three misfortunes, that's possible. Seventeen misfortunes, there's an outside chance. But 28 misfortunes? I'd like to see that!
4. Top 10 hottest sportscasters. Suggested by: @rooker72. Unusable because: Inevitable awkward moment with Stuart Scott at the café when I don't put him on the list. Or, worse, when I do.
5. Top 10 things not to do in the men's room at work. Suggested by: @therealmarsek. Unusable because: How to choose only 10?
6. Top 10 women on Beverly Hills, 90210 that you wanted to date in the '90s. Suggested by: @quietpool. Unusable because: Don't need 10. The answer is all of them except Andrea.
7. Top 10 people with a better chance at Anne Hathaway. Suggested by: @direkobold. Unusable because: Isn't it pretty much everyone?
8. Top 10 reasons ESPN should fire me. Suggested by: @jaggyman7. Unusable because: They already have their own list, actually.
9. Top 10 fantasy team names. Suggested by: @TPus17. Unusable because: I don't want to give my employer reason to turn said list to a Top 11.
10. Top 10 things that didn't get asked at Tiger's news conference. Suggested by: me, actually. Unusable because: No way I was getting away with that list.
List 8: Ten cheap speed guys available in at least 90 percent of leagues.
(suggested by @ccmccandles)
1. Scott Podsednik, OF, Kansas City Royals (6.4 percent): He's not on the roster for his light-tower power.
2. Coco Crisp, OF, Oakland A's (6.2 percent): On the DL now but back soon.
3. Cameron Maybin, OF, Florida Marlins (5.6 percent): Had 81 steals in four minor league seasons.
4. Kazuo Matsui, 2B, Houston Astros (3.0 percent): At least 19 steals each of the past three seasons.
5. Chris Getz, 2B, Kansas City Royals. (0.9 percent): Quietly had 25 steals last season.
6. Emilio Bonifacio, SS/3B, Florida Marlins (0.8 percent): His lack of consistent playing time is actually a positive for your batting average.
7. Tony Gwynn, OF, San Diego Padres (0.7 percent): He'll play most days. His dad was pretty good.
8. Willie Bloomquist, SS/OF, Kansas City Royals. (0.4 percent): Another quiet 25 steals last year, he will qualify (and play) all over.
9. Willy Taveras, OF, Washington Nationals (0.4 percent): Not sure who this is more insulting to, Willy or the Nats, but only Willie Harris is in front of Taveras.
10. Eric Young Jr., 2B, Colorado Rockies and Desmond Jennings, OF, Tampa Bay Rays (both 0.5 percent): Both in Triple-A currently, but both will be up this year and both can flat-out fly.
List 9: Ten guys on the DL to keep.
(suggested by @ryanpeet)
Guys that are worth the roster spot even though you are getting nothing out of them now. Non Jose Reyes/Carlos Beltran obvious guys.
1. Ted Lilly, SP, Chicago Cubs
2. Huston Street, RP, Colorado Rockies
3. Lance Berkman, 1B, Houston Astros
4. Gil Meche, SP, Kansas City Royals
5. Joe Blanton, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
6. Erik Bedard, SP, Seattle Mariners
7. Freddy Sanchez, 2B, San Francisco Giants
8. Coco Crisp, OF, Oakland A's
9. Alex Gordon, 3B, Kansas City Royals
10. Kerry Wood, RP, Cleveland Indians
List 10: My 10 favorite sports movies lines
(suggested by @BritWhit)
1. "Let them play! Let them play!" -- The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training
2. "Sweep the leg!" -- The Karate Kid. (copyright Bill Simmons)
3. "Juuuuuuuust a bit outside." And, after the guy says nothing, "he's not the best color guy in the business for nothing, folks." -- Major League
4. "Well, Nuke's scared because his eyelids are jammed and his old man's here. We need a live ... is it a live rooster? We need a live rooster to take the curse off Jose's glove, and nobody seems to know what to get Millie or Jimmy for their wedding present. Is that about right?" (pause) "We're dealing with a lot of s*." (pause) "OK, well, uh ... candlesticks always make a nice gift and uh, maybe you could find out where she's registered and maybe a place-setting or maybe a silverware pattern. OK, let's get two! Go get 'em." -- Bull Durham
5. "You grimaced." "My shoulder doesn't hurt, Gus." "How long has it been hurting?" "Perry wants me to start tomorrow." "You gotta be kidding. You're not doing it. No way. It's the end of a Sh*&%# season ... It's a throwaway, Billy. It means nothing." "Not to the Red Sox." -- For Love of the Game
6. "So we finish the 18th and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, 'Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.' And he says, 'Oh, uh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.' So I got that goin' for me, which is nice." -- Caddyshack
7. "Listen, Lupus, you didn't come into this life just to sit around on a dugout bench, did ya? Now get your ass out there and do the best you can." -- The Bad News Bears
8. "There's one thing I want you to do for me. Win. Win!" -- Rocky II
9. "I'm above the law!" -- Kingpin
10. "People will come, Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh ... people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come." -- Field of Dreams.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- has you, yes, you, as No. 1 on his list of favorite readers. No, really. Don't tell the others. He is the creator of RotoPass.com, a Web site that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his Cyberfriend
Matthew Berry presents a hundred thoughts neatly organized in 10 lists of 10, from closers-in-waiting to callups to players to watch for to DL'd players to hold on to.