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Beating Yahoo Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Infield Projections

CraveOnline takes a look at the infield rankings between Yahoo Sports, among others.

Beating The Yahoo Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Infield Projections

“We’re not that much smarter than we used to be, even though we have much more information. And, that means the real skill now is learning how to pick out the useful information from all this noise.” – Nate Silver

Nate Silver is a brilliant analyst and a real rogue in the data mining scene. Everybody laughed at him when he predicted the Presidential election last year. While he works in political polls, his words are wise when it comes to fantasy baseball.

Today we'll be helping you get beyond the noise and find the useful information. Below are a few players that are ranked out of sync when it comes to Yahoo.

Today we look at infielders:

 

Erick Aybar, SS, Los Angeles Angels  L.A. Angels

Yahoo ADP – 181
Yahoo Rank – 177
ESPN Rank – 123
CBS Sports – 122
ZiPS/Fangraphs – 60
SB Nation – 21 (SS only)

I’ve found myself punting on the shortstop position quite a bit in mock drafts. I simply haven’t liked the value of return on whomever is available. Instead, there are a few great choices near the bottom of the shortstop rankings. While Josh Rutledge’s (deserved hype) and Jean Segura’s speed get taken early, you still have an across the board no-risk Erick Aybar available to you.

He’s projected to come close to repeating his .290 AVG, 67 runs, 48 RBIs, and 20 SB. He has no pop but does have a chance to hit leadoff, which will jump his run totals. Because he is a low-end shortstop, I don’t recommend taking Aybar as early as ESPN suggests, but keep an eye on which opponent needs a shortstop around the 16th round and start planning. Aybar is no savior but his Angel status will be a heavenly boost.

 

Matt Wieters, C, Baltimore Orioles  Baltimore Orioles

Yahoo ADP – 90
Yahoo Rank – 89
ESPN Rank – 57
CBS Sports – 29
ZiPS/Fangraphs – 26
SB Nation – 5 (C only)

The inner nerdy analyst in me absolutely loves Wieters. Across the board, Yahoo has almost all catchers ranked higher than ESPN. The top guys are ranked similar, but everyone else Yahoo favors greatly. For example, Willin Rosario has an ADP split of 185/103, favoring Yahoo, and Jesus Montero has a split of 212/161. Wieters is the one exception. ESPN has him ranked over 30 spots higher.

Wieters use to have a reputation of not fulfilling his God-like hype. After a few years, we know what to expect. And, guess what? It’s not that horrible for the catcher position. He’ll hit .250 and give at least 20 HRs. Wieters is injury-free and doesn’t platoon.

 

Chase Headley, 3B, San Diego PadresSan Diego Padres

Yahoo ADP – 64
Yahoo Rank – 64
ESPN Rank – 45
CBS Sports – 63
ZiPS/Fangraphs – 27
SB Nation – 8 (3B only)


Chase Headley put up MVP numbers last year and would have been a solid lock if he had a first half that was even close to his second. The analytical speaking-heads say he’ll regress despite Petco’s fences coming in. Per Bill James, he is projected to hit .278 with 85 runs, 88 RBIs, 18 HRs and 11 SB. There is a reason ESPN has Headley ranked 20 spots higher. He lacks the injury/fat risks that come with comparable talents such as Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez and Ryan Zimmerman.

He has already busted out, unlike the hope of Brett Lawrie, and he is more well-rounded than Aramis Ramirez (but less ‘round’ than Panda). 

 

Brandon Phillips, 2B, Cincinnati RedsCincinnati Reds

Yahoo ADP – 69
Yahoo Rank – 67
ESPN Rank – 43
CBS Sports – 80
ZiPS/Fangraphs – 69
SB Nation – 7 (2B only)


Age is an age-old question when it comes to fantasy sports. At what point does a middle infielder fall apart? It is a valid concern for Phillips, who is 32 years old. However, few players have been as consistent as Phillips.

He won’t steal as many bases as he has in the past. He had 15 swipes last year, down from career high of 32. However, his other numbers are steady. For example, in the past four years, his OPB has been between .321 and .353, his strikeout rate between 11.6 percent and 12.7 percent, and his weighted batting average has been between .325 and .353. Low variance and solid numbers across the board is a great value. Keep in mind that ESPN is the only one ranking Phillips so much higher at 24 spots. Proceed with caution.

Of course, all of this goes out the window if you believe Yahoo is better at rankings than all of the other sites that we've listed. But, you’ll notice there is more consensus with non-Yahoo sites. Treat Yahoo as the outlier and take advantage.

Brian Reddoch is a CraveOnline reporter and rabid fan of all teams Seattle. You can follow him on Twitter @ReddReddoch and at www.facebookcom/craveonlinesports.com.