We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2013 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2013 Rays Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Jason Collette from The Process Report.

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You might’ve heard this guy’s name before as one of the guys I want in every league per my pitchers pairings post (say that fast 117 times!). So, how did it all start? Well, I was looking at Marco Estrada‘s peripherals and I fell in love. I couldn’t figure out what I was missing because it all looked so good. Like good good. Like Barefoot Contessa in a negligee with Jeffrey locked out of the house good. Like going to Supercuts and actually getting a super cut good. Like not having to spell out your name after you order a latte at Starbucks good. I will now blow your mind. For starters with 130+ innings, Estrada had the 7th best K-rate in the major leagues with a 9.30. That usually comes with a ton of walks or a top ten starter price tag. Estrada had the 14th best walk rate (1.89) in the major leagues. For K/BB, he had the third best rate in the majors behind only Cliff Lee and Kris Medlen. Not that these things can be done by petting a rabbit’s foot, but he was actually unlucky last year with a 3.64 ERA and a 3.48 xFIP. He had an above-average first pitch strike percentage, above-average with swings generated on pitches outside the strike zone and above-average percentage of swings and misses. In his career as a starter in 176 innings, he has a 8.85 K-rate and 1.99 walk rate. His peripherals match those of an ace. Estrada’s Down Side, “Are you choosing to ignore me or just not seeing it?” I don’t see any down side whatsoever. So what can we expect of Marco Estrada for 2013 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

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With the season growing eerily closer, I sit back today and examine the closer situations for some teams that aren’t as cut and dry as others. Some of these teams have a great situation if one guy can take the reigns and run with, the others, well, as the Fresh Prince said, “that’s not that simple.” So have a gander, minus the goose, at the closer situations that you will want to monitor for your upcoming drafts and who to be proactively drafting just in case.

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For most of you, been there, read this shizz already, but there’s Razzball newbies (Razzbabies?) that need some coddling occasionally. If you know PEDS, skip ahead into the comments and discuss my mustache. For the Razzbabies, c’mon here and let Uncle Grey burp you. Maybe I can get you to spit up everything you learned at ESPN. So, there’s a BRAN (Balanced Roster After Nine) Drafting Strategy by Rudy “The Fro Knows” Gamble. He’s also touched upon some fantasy baseball drafting tips. It’s a year or so old, but it’s timeless so when you read it don’t bother looking at the clock. There’s also a LIMA Plan (Low Investment Mound Aces) by Ron Shandler. There’s been a ZIMA Plan by Matthew Berry; it involves a lot of stumbling around, groping and the hiccups. There’s been a Punt One Category draft strategy. There’s been a Punt Two Categories draft strategy, which was conceived by a leaguemate of Punt One Category who just couldn’t stand being upstaged. And there’s the Forget When Your Draft Is So Your Team Is Autodrafted strategy. I love when my leaguemates use that one. Then there’s my fantasy baseball draft strategy, Performance Enhancing Draft Strategy or PEDS.

PEDS has five basic steps. If you follow these steps, you will place near the top in all of your leagues. No plan is foolproof because, unfortunately, they still have to play the games, but PEDS puts you in the best position possible to win coming out of your draft. Actually, this plan is foolproof and you should ignore the previous sentence that said no plan is foolproof. No sentence is foolproof, that’s more accurate. Okay, onto the steps:

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With the Razzball Commenter Leagues sign ups in full swing, we look at what last year’s RCLs showed us, i.e., this is the stats you need to win your fantasy baseball leagues. Across 577 12 team leagues, you would think you’d have some wide variations, but it’s amazingly close what you need in each category to do average vs. win. Some quick points upfront. There were 5 outfielders and one utility, so if you play in a Yahoo league with three outfielders and two utility, I’d expect more offense across the board. Not much, but some. There was a 180 games started max for pitchers. 6.5 is average in a 12 team league, not 6 because the last place team has 1 point, not zero. Finally, the RCLs are made up of guys that are probably more competitive than your casual fantasy baseball leaguemates, so if you can hit these benchmarks, you should be in good shape. Anyway, here’s what it takes to win a 12 team fantasy baseball league:

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Spaceman here, and I’ll be keeping tabs on spring training battles to watch by position, in each division. I’ll hopefully convey a common sense approach that assists with your draft prep and roster depth. If not, I’ll head back to my farm in Vermont to sprinkle grass on my pancakes.

Blue Jays

2B Starter: Toronto brought Emilio Bonifacio over in Jeffrey “Expo Killer” Loria’s Miami fire sale, right after signing Maicer Izturis to a 3-year deal. So who’s playing 2B up in Canada? They haven’t committed to either, but G.M. Alex Anthopoulos appears to see Boni in a Utility role. Possibly taking over for Colby Rasmus in CF, should he struggle early on. Probable outcome: With the inside track to 2B, Izturis takes it, giving the Jays options in the OF should Melky Cabrera not perform off the juice. Izturis won’t provide much fantasy value outside of the deepest of leagues or as a late round MI flyer due to the improved offense around him. Whereas Boni should have an impact in leagues of any type, with his perennial base stealing and a nice position eligibility.

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Trying to find a worthwhile steals guy in an OPS league is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. But who looks for needles in haystacks anymore (sorry Amish readers)? A better comparison would be trying to find a sane prediction out of Matthew Berry’s bold predictions. In all seriousness, Mr. Berry is as talented a writer as I am experienced at being a fantasy baseball league commissioner. Speaking of which, y’all should sign up to be in a Razzball Commenter League and even be a league commissioner, which you could add on your resume (you can even add me as a reference). One more plug: some of the Razzball writers just began a mock draft. You should follow along at #RazzballMock (I’m @votetomjacks if that wasn’t already obvious). It’ll be the bee’s knees. Let’s get the buzz going! Anyway, if you’re wondering how it feels trying to get steals in an OPS league, I suggest you read A Tale of Two SAGNOFs. Essentially, there are very few steals guys that won’t hurt you too much in the OPS category, which makes these players that much more valuable. Did I mention that this article was inspired by a few awesome commenters in last week’s article? Now I did. My fellow Razzballers, here is a batch of 30+ steal players that won’t hurt you (too much) in OPS leagues:

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Having already covered my Top 25 Fantasy Baseball Prospects for 2013, I thought I’d expand our scope a bit and take a look at 25 more who could offer fantasy value this year. Again, predicting for arrivals is an inexact science, and there’s plenty of time between now and opening day for circumstances to change. No doubt, this list is missing some prospects who’ll surface in the bigs and make an impact in the fantasy game a la 2012 Kyle Seager. Likewise, there’ll be plenty of duds here too. Anyway, here’s how I see the next 25 2013 fantasy baseball prospects:

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So the title has a bit of superlative in it. What was I gonna say, the most kinda good fantasy baseball team? You’ll get over your scoffing, I have faith in you. This is the best 2013 fantasy baseball team that I can put together when drafting from my top 100 for 2013 fantasy baseball and top 400 for 2013 fantasy baseball. Honestly, I could draft another 25 teams from those lists, and they’d all be different, but equally terrific… Well, one of the twenty-five would only be almost terrific, but it would be really hard to tell which one that is. If I took Votto in the 1st round, everything after it would change. For this exercise, I’m taking Swiggy first, because, well, I have him first overall. Until pick 100, I’m taking one guy somewhere in every twelve picks. It would be nice if I was in a league where someone drafted Strasburg, Verlander and Kershaw in the first round and I was able to take Votto in the 2nd round, but since Miggy and him are in my first 10 picks, according to the rules I’ve set up for myself, I can’t take them both. Then, as we all know, once you get into the 100′s, there’s wide gaps between ADP and where players are actually taken. People tend to look at team need over value. So for this exercise, once I get to pick #101, I’m going to pick two players every twenty picks. Finally, because there is so much latitude in the last 200, I gave myself free reign to fill up my team. Throughout the draft, I also gave myself the ability to reach to a lower draft pick, but not reach forward. It should still be my ideal team… Or not. Let’s see, shall we? Bee tee dubya, this team is 5×5, one catcher, 5 OFs, MI, CI, 1 UT, 9 P, 3 Bench, just like the Razzball Commenter Leagues that are signing up still. (Yes, we need commissioners. I’m shooting for 60 leagues, but we need your help! Wow, I just sounded like FDR.) Also, if you’re feeling especially industrious, VinWins started a thread of War Room teams in our fantasy baseball forums. Anyway, here’s the best 2013 fantasy baseball team:

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Much like Christmas, the expert fantasy baseball draft season keeps creeping earlier and earlier from arguably the best day of the year.* So ten days post-groundhog, we had our first draft of the year in what happens to be our most well-esteemed expert league – the 15-team mixed league LABR draft (click link for full draft results) run by Steve Gardner of USAToday.com/USA Today Sports Weekly.

* especially if you’re Jewish and Christmas just means Chinese food + going to the movies with the atheists, eastern religioners, and Christian families that can’t manage a whole day at home together as a family).

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