I have no idea if anyone at ESPN actually ranks people.  There’s talk of it.  Like, “Yo, Klara Bell, you do your rankings yet?”  “No, did you?”  Then Cockcroft makes farting noises with his armpit.  All I ever see at ESPN is consensus rankings.  I have to figure out how to do this “consensus” thing.  Talk about a nice way to avoid taking any blame for anything.  “Hey, man, sorry about Andrew McCutchen being ranked so high this year, but these are ‘consensus’ rankings.”  Let’s turn to a conversation between two random fantasy baseballers.  “Cockcroft has said he doesn’t like Cano this year.”  “But ESPN has him 34th overall.”  “Yeah, doesn’t apply when talking about Cockcroft.”  “So, when does it apply?”  “When talking about ESPN.”  “But Cockcroft is at ESPN”  “Yeah, still doesn’t apply.”  “Can you explain that?”  “Nope.”  Then heads explode.  Consensus rankings are done by committee.  Only thing ever done better by committee is jerk seasoning.  Now, while you might think ESPN’s rankings have a ton of jerk seasoning, they are just an indecipherable mess.  But why bring up all of this when I’m about to take a blowtorch to Yahoo’s 2017 fantasy baseball rankings?  Thanks for asking, clunky expositional question!  Yahoo has consensus rankings, but they also show their work.  Each ‘pert is accounted for in their rankings.  This is already much better than ESPN.  You can at least see what Pianowski, Funston, Behrens and Triple D are thinking individually.  This, of course, doesn’t mean I agree with all of their rankings, but at least I can point to how they came to their consensus.  Anyway, here’s where my 2017 fantasy baseball rankings differ from the 2017 Yahoo fantasy baseball rankings:

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Our 2017 Razzball Commenters Leagues are in full signup mode.  I even heard there were a few people from Anonymous that signed up!  They said, “To the world, I’m Anonymous, just another white man who sits in parking lots with binoculars watching women.”  Man, that Anonymous guy is depressing!  As we always do about this time, I eviscerate the haters and complicators!  I eviscerate the not-knowers and the over-knowers!  I eviscerate the ESPN goers and the garden hoers!  I overuse a word like eviscerate that I just learned!  I am the Fantasy Master Lothario (don’t abbreviate it) and I’ve come for your children!  See, because blog writing doesn’t pay so well, I’ve taken a second job as a bus driver, so I’m literally here for your kids.  Like a baller!  A shot caller!  An “I’m outside of Hot Topic at the maller!”  My eviscerating (I’m conjugating my new word!) today comes at the expense of ESPN and their 2017 fantasy baseball rankings.  To the tune of Kanye’s Runaway:

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As I begin to prepare my projections and rankings for the 2017 season, I like to look back on the previous season’s attempt to not only assess my work, but also to learn how I can do better next time. Projecting statistics in any sport is a tedious and arduous task. The variables, formulas and algorithms are constantly changing and if you don’t adapt with them, your results will lose their precision and accuracy. However, I’d like to make one point blatantly clear, projections are nothing more than calculated guesses. Some are better than the next, but none are even close to perfect.

Let’s see how I fared with my 2016 efforts. For all positions I will provide the following six numbers: projected points, actual points, projected rank, actual rank, projected points per plate appearance and actual points per plate appearance. I am including points per plate appearance because it helps put a player’s projections vs performance into perspective when they’ve missing time due to injury. For pitchers I’ve replaced points per plate appearance with points per start. I’ve also included a column showing the percentage by which my points projections were off. Any player with an “n/a” listed in this column is because that player spent at least 30 days on the disabled list.

Lastly, a quick note about the rankings listed in this post. These rankings are based purely on points. This season I plan to provide additional rankings that allow me to adjust them based on three important factors: intuition, gut and my sporadic conversations with Nostradumass.

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To say Daniel Murphy is a schmohawk transcends fantasy baseball.  Murphy said he disagrees with the gay lifestyle, but loves all people because he’s a Christian.  “What exactly is the gay lifestyle?” would’ve been the best followup question ever.  Daniel Murphy thinks for a moment, then thoughtfully says, “Dressing up in frilly crap, watching Queer as Folk reruns and eating D.”  Then, after a moment, “But I love all people!”  Or if a gay reporter said, “I’m gay and my lifestyle is watching sports, getting mustard on my old, brown tie, and I don’t even have Showtime.  Does my lifestyle bother you?”  Murphy pauses, then replies, “Yes, you eat D and I prefer ketchup on my hot dogs.  But I still love you.”  Every sport needs a bad guy, and that’s why baseball has everyone on the Yankees.  Daniel Murphy isn’t a bad guy, he’s just a douche, but, not that long ago, John Smoltz compared gay marriage to a person marrying an animal, so Murphy will probably be working Fox broadcasts in the near future, along with Pete Rose and A-Rod.  Fox:  We Hire Everyone MLB Asks Us Not To Hire.  Any hoo!  None of that matters for our purposes, or porpoises if dolphins are reading.  This is about what a schmohawk Murphy is for fantasy, that does matter for us.  Schmohawk lives matter!  Anyway, why is Daniel Murphy overrated for 2017 fantasy baseball?

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Way back in January, when the very first signs of ADP data sprouted out of the ground, I went down the rabbit hole, hoping to catch a glimpse of early signs of value. ADP at that point was more convoluted than forming an expectation for how much Pablo Sandoval would weigh coming into Spring Training, but since it was the only sign we had as to the ‘market’ rate for various players, I utilized it as much as I could.

James Paxton was the poster-boy of my early preseason eyebrow raise. He was going past the 200th overall pick with a maximum just outside of the 11th round. Paxton sits right now with an ADP around 192 overall according to NFBC data, with a max that has ticked up to 109 overall. Grey has Paxton as his 41st ranked starting pitcher and his 162nd overall player. Finally in the process of publishing my personal rankings, Paxton is my 27th overall starting pitcher and my 115th overall player, with still some finagling to bring that up even more if I feel so moved.

What Paxton accomplished last season was nothing short of fascinating. We see mechanical changes in pitchers a lot, but rarely do we see changes that cause such palpable success and subsequent expectations that aren’t afraid to project out that success. Fangraphs did a really nice dive into exactly what Paxton changed and why success followed. Simply put, Paxton reverted to his natural arm slot on the mound, opting to venture away from the ‘over-the-top’ motion he used that we’ve seen cause problems in the past – see Wacha, Michael. This slot helped him hone his command on the inner third of the plate to righties, opening up the outside of the plate to his insanely effective cutter/slider. Eno Sarris breaks this down in the piece linked above.

When I uncovered this story last season, I was wildly intrigued for one reason. A natural arm slot, logically to me, would mean less risk for injury. The DL is something Paxton hasn’t been able to avoid for most of his career, but if there was ever a storyline to give hope for health, I can’t think of a better one than him being more comfortable on the mound…

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Earlier this week I partook (a much fancier word than participated) in my first mock draft of the season. As most of you know I am much more of a points league player, but I have no issue going both ways. This draft, however, represented a less common fantasy baseball format known as the 5×5 head-to-head league. This was actually the first time I had even drafted for this format, and with barely an hour to prepare, I’m not sure how I feel about the results. In hindsight, had I had more time to calculate more precise player values for this league format I believe I would have applied a different strategy when selecting my players. While I obviously cannot go back and actually change my picks, I can imagine the results with a different outcome. After all, imagination is the essence of discovery.

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One word about this top 100 for 2017 fantasy baseball, before I give you another 5,000 words.  I’m going to avoid repeating myself from the position rankings in the 2017 fantasy baseball rankings.  If you want to know my in-depth feelings about a player, then you need to go to his positional page, i.e., the top 20 1st basemen for 2017 fantasy baseball, the top 20 outfielders for 2017 fantasy baseball, the top 20 Gucci handbags for 2017– Ah, I almost got you.  This post is meant to give you an idea where guys from different positions are in relation to each other.  Since this post is only the top 100, there’s more players where this came from.  416 more, to be very exact.  Next up, there will be a top 500 that will go to 516.  Then, after that, there will be a top 7,500, then a top 25,000, then a top 600,000, until we end up with a top kajillion in April.  Or maybe I’ll stop at the top 500.  Yeah, that makes sense.  Not to get all biblical on you, but this is the gospel.  Print it out and take it to Mt. Sinai and it will say, “Win your 2017 fantasy baseball league, young prematurely balding man.”  Projections were done by me and a crack team of 100 monkeys fighting amongst themselves because there were only 99 typewriters.  Somebody please buy Ling-Ling his own typewriter!  Anyway, here’s the top 100 for 2017 fantasy baseball:

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OPS leagues are greatest! So now you know.  Or at least act like it.  Coming off a 2016 with all the homers (even guys like Didi Gregorius) hit, now is the perfect time to jump in and join! OPS incorporates walks like OBP does, and adds in slugging percentage to make a super sexy combo, not unlike Emily Ratajkowski and Instragram.

OPS leagues are all about home runs and power guys. So speed guys, well, they’re tolerated. High average guys, well, they’re okay, as long as they hit triples. In that spirit I encourage every one of you to join an OPS league; once you do, you’ll never go back. I’ll have an OPS league to join if you want to try one with the info at the bottom (so you have to read, or at least scroll; I swear it’s worth it).

Now the 2017 season is basically almost upon us. It snuck up on me; month long new years hangover, I wasn’t even thinking about baseball, and then, I logged on to Razzball and there it was, Grey’s top 10 for 2017…and just like that, I was back! And there’s no time to waste!

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Even though it’s barely February, I thought it was time to put together some very early pre-projections rankings for points leagues. I’m not a big fan of early rankings because so much can change between now and draft day, but why not give it a go. I never understood how people could buy those fantasy baseball magazines they sell at the newsstand. They are printed months in advance, and the content is easily outdated by the time you read them. I guess with the internet now those have seen a drastic drop in sales, but I can’t tell you how many guys used to pick one up on the way to the draft and use that as their holy grail.

I found these gems in a box in my basement!

Personally I dislike online drafts. Don’t get me wrong, they are convenient and, at this point, a necessity, but they take way too much of the preparation out of the process. I miss the days when I had to show up live with a Trapper Keeper containing the research I had done over the last four weeks. Players organized by position using folder tabs, handwritten cheatsheets, a set of highlighters and, of course, one of those magazines I just sh*t on just because I felt I had to. Now you can log into your league’s online draft site ten minutes before your draft and it has all the players laid out for you with rankings, projections and average draft position. What used to take weeks of hard work and determination has now been reduced to something many take for granted. What I hate the most is that a player isn’t going to slip by someone because they missed them when doing their research, or they forgot to write their name down when they were transferring their notes from a page of scribble to a much neater sheet of players. Now when it’s your turn it pretty much shows you who you should pick. With that all said I realize that the days of live drafts has come and gone. They are just not realistic anymore. My primary points league has participants spread out all over the country. Does California still count? Aren’t they pushing for secession? That’s about as good of an idea as drafting Yordano Ventura with your first round pick! Too early?

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Our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings are humming right along.  The last post, the top 20 1st basemen for 2017 fantasy baseball, was the longest post ever written on the internet by a relatively sane person.  The post before that, top 20 catchers for 2017 fantasy baseball, was the longest post ever written by a relatively insane person.  Incredibly, these are the same person.  Glass half sane, glass half crazy, nah mean?  So, without further hubbub on the tomfoolery, the top 20 2nd basemen for 2017 fantasy baseball was shallow like how Altuve likes his pool water as recently as two years ago, but that was not the case last year, and almost rivaled 1st basemen for depth.  So, that’s the same again this year, right?  Well, let’s see about that.  As always, my projections are included and I mention where I see tiers starting and stopping.  Anyway, here’s the top 20 2nd basemen for 2017 fantasy baseball:

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