ASK ROTOMAN: May I Please Have a Top 250 Please

Dear Rotoman:

I appreciate your magazine the experts picks and pans ..strategy ideas…etc. You guys set the bar. I would like to offer an addition to your magazine for ’15. How about a cheat sheet that is perforated that can be torn out to use at drafts? Or at least a centralized location  for rankings and dollar values for easier reference.

Thanks and continued good stuff!

“EZ Tear”

Dear EZ:

the250-copyThanks for writing. I got a fair number of requests for a Top 250 or Top 300 cheat sheet last year, enough that I seriously considered adding the feature this year. But after careful consideration I just couldn’t do it. Here’s why:

First off, there is the matter of format. What rules should apply to the list? The Big Prices in the Guide are a buyers guide for only-league Rotisserie players, but they have the virtue of identifying and ranking players for 12 and 15 team roto, and 8 and 12 team ESPN leagues, and 12 and 20 team Yahoo leagues. List players by position and you have a fair rank order.

But each of these leagues would have a somewhat different Top 250 because league depth changes the values of the rare talents at each position relative to the polloi, the easily replaced guys, which will change the ranking order a little, depending on the size of the league.

The categories matter, too, of course. Everybody has different scoring rules. I play in a 12-team AL 4×4 league, a 12-team NL 5×5 league that uses OBP, a 15-team mixed 5×5 league that uses OBP, and a 20 team Yahoo 5×5 league. Each of these leagues would have a different Top 250, even before we factor in the reserve and FAAB rules in each league (which also change values).

And then there is timing. The fact of the matter is that the 2014 Guide closed on December 9th, 2013. The rankings and values in the Guide, as in all the print magazines, are a valiant attempt to keep up with events before they happen. That’s why so much of the Guide is given over to the player profiles, which address each player’s past history and intrinsic talents.

Those life details are the elements that will help us make up our minds about each guy as the spring proceeds. I do my best to make the best values for all players in the Guide, but realistically we all have to know that much is going to change. Ryan Dempster is going to take a year off, Cory Leubke is going to have another TJ. Etc etc.

I use the Guide all through the preseason to remind myself about what we all said about players, to help me fine tune my player evaluations as the news changes a player’s role or team or makes me rethink his skills.

In this context, making a fixed Top 250 in December seems not only quixotic, but misleading. To tell you the truth, as we approach March 1st and the start of the exhibition season, it still doesn’t make much more sense to me, for all those category and format reasons. But enough people have asked that I think I’ve come up with a solution.

When I post the March 6th projections and prices update for owners of the Guide, I’m going to create some sort of one-page position-by-position ranking of players. This will be a one-page updated version of the Draft At A Glance charts in the Guide.

I will still suggest that you use the provided spreadsheet to create your own list of bid prices based on your league’s rules and your own evaluation of players. Isn’t that the fun of the game? But I’m happy to offer up mine at that point, for your entertainment pleasure.


Ps. I’m reminded, however, of a day when the lists in the Guide were used in a real draft.

It was a draft Major League Baseball Advanced Media held to launch the MLB network. This was maybe 2000 or so. There were 10 or so experts (I was a columnist at and a few regular guy contest winners, drafting a bar on the Bowery in Manhattan that had deep pod-like booths for weekend night mating reason. I ended up sitting in a booth with Craig Leshen, one of the regular guys. Craig is a nice guy and he knew his stuff, but he also used the Draft at a Glance pages in the Guide throughout the draft to help him choose players.

Because of the need to take breaks throughout the draft, to film segments for the MLB network, it got late and patience started to get short. At some point MLBAM announced that the winner of this draft-and-hold league would win $2000, which got our attention.

Needless to say, perhaps (for why else would I be telling this story), the season started and Craig’s team got out to an enormous lead. One it did not relinquish all season (though it was telling how, over the course of the season, without transactions, the teams that got off to bad starts improved, and the teams that got off to good starts did worse, a prime example of regression to the mean).

For Craig, it was money and glory, just a little of the latter which reflected on the Fantasy Baseball Guide.