Our 2020 Razzball leagues are in signup mode. Robot in Signup Mode, “I am entering contest to win Razzball t-shirt even though I’ve never seen a robot wear a shirt. Starting….” The Robot begins to peter out, “…New…Fad.” Oh no, the Razzball Robot has died! *screaming to heavens* What hath you forsaken me?! Heavens, “Focus on the ESPN rankings, you moron.” Wow, the heavens do not take well to histrionics. So, this year’s ESPN rankings are a tad goofier than I remember them, but maybe I just got smarter — Smarterened? Smartered? Became the smarts? Meh, I don’t know. What I do know is ESPN has Tim Anderson ranked 143rd overall and that made me cackle like a hyena for so long a group of white-jacketed asylum workers showed up at my house and tried to cart me away. Me singing to the tune of Pharcyde, “Can’t keep gettin’ carted awaaaaaaaaaay…Can’t keep gettin’ carted awaaaaaaaaaay…Can’t keep gettin’ carted awaaaaaaaaaay…” Any hoo! I’m clutchin’ my pearls like a Barbara Bush hologram and about to take out some ‘perts! *slowly, menacingly sharpens index finger for more incisive typing* I’m about to cut up somebody with words! Now let’s open a window and defenestrate ESPN’s 2020 fantasy baseball rankings. To the tune of Major Tom, I call this Major Dumb:

Standings there alone, the fantasy ‘ship is waiting
All rankings systems are go, are you sure?
Control is not convinced
But the computer has the evidence
No need to abort

The ESPN’s ranking sharts

Watching in a trance, the ESPN crew is certain
Nothing left to chance, all is working
Trying to relax, up in the capsule
“Joey Votto is ranked 149th,” jokes Major Dumb
The count goes on

Four, three, two, one
They have Josh Bell above everyone
Drifting, falling
Floating, weightless
Calling, calling Dumb

There’s so many straight whothunkits in ESPN’s rankings, I don’t even know where to begin. Let’s focus in on the top 20 1st basemen — aperture out; Instagram blur filter in; Wonder Twins activate in the form of a bust. *sees a Dolly Parton chest begin to form* No, no, no! Not that kind of bust. ESPN has Josh Bell 41st overall, which is hilariously misguided. Sure, the Pirates have hitting behind Bell, um, Jacob Stallings, and Bell just had a 2nd half of:  25/10/32/.233/0 but why inject common sense into this? Last year on our Player Rater, Bell was 42nd overall — those finks are stealing our data! How’sever, Bell had a 28.4% HR/FB in the 1st half last year, and zoomed back to earth in the 2nd half with a HR/FB% close to his career norm. Josh Bell will be drifting, falling…floating, weightless…calling, calling Dumb.

Then, take a gander at Joey Votto. Above Yasmani Grandal. No, the Fantasy Master Lothario isn’t a fan of drafting catchers high, but can you honestly imagine a scenario where Votto out-produces Grandal? Is it possible to twist your medulla oblongata enough to even imagine this? Are you demented enough to conjure this scenario in your brain?! Are you?! I’m not. More power to you if you are. Your melon just might be seedless, though. Want a good crack up? They have Yandy Diaz above Danny Santana. Why? I’m guessing for s’s and g’s. As I figured months ago, my Christian Walker sleeper is still making a ton of sense, since (almost stutterer!) they ranked him after…wait for it…oh, this is good…are you still there?…I promise you’re gonna love this…Walker is below Eric Hosmer! Hosmer, and his 56% ground ball rate, wouldn’t even rank himself above Walker! I need to move on, because I am forming an ulcer.

Second base is yuck, we’re now in orbit
Stabilizers up, ESPN thinks Merrifield runs perfect
Starting to collect requested data
“What will it effect, when is Altuve done?”
Thinks Major Dumb.

In my top 20 2nd basemen, I have Keston Hiura above Merrifield, as any rational fantasy baseball ‘pert would. It should not surprise you that ESPN does not. Know why? Same reason as last year and year before and year before that, in perpetuity. They rank for what they think you want to see. Here’s how ESPN thinks:  Players that are known commodities they rank high. They rank to avoid the least amount of waves. Case in point, I told you to draft Acuña 4th overall last year, they told you 18th overall. This year, they have Acuña ranked 2nd overall. As more people found out about Acuña, they moved him up. Last year, they ranked Adalberto Mondesi 106th overall (me: 20); Flaherty 83rd (55); Muncy 165th overall (71); Shane Bieber at 203rd (115) and they were high on Jo-Ram, Altuve, Severino, Syndergaard, Votto, Posey–If someone is a known commodity, they inflate their value. This year, they’re higher on Acuña, Muncy, Flaherty, Mondesi, Bieber and lower on the others (though, still too high on some of them). What changed?  The general public’s feelings shifted on these players. They regurgitate to you what you want to see if you’re the type to start your research the morning of your draft.

Back at ground control there is a problem
Look at starters, not responding
“Hello Major Dumb, are you receiving?
Turn the thrusters on to draft an ace, we’re standing by.”
There’s no reply
Four, three, two, one
Luke Weaver below everyone
Drifting, falling
Floating, weightless
Calling, calling Dumb.

In their top 300, they have Luke Weaver ranked 300th. I will now list a few starters they have above him:  Marco Gonzales, Wade Miley, Jeff Samardzija, Domingo German (who has to serve an 80-game suspension — you can’t even make this shizz up), Reynaldo Lopez–Whoa, whoa, WHOA! They have Reynaldo Lopez ranked above a ton of guys since they have him ranked in the top 240 overall, and they have an arrow pointing up by his name. I wonder if gravity works backwards in Bristol. Let’s take me out of the equation, they have Reynaldo Lopez ranked above Julio Urias. On Rudy’s auction rankings, he has Urias as the 64th pitcher off the board and Reynaldo as the 83rd, an overall difference of about 70 spots, and I think that’s optimistic on Reynaldo! Moving on while I still have a few gaskets which haven’t yet blown. ESPN has Lucas Giolito 22nd overall starter, and below Shohei Ohtani. Even if you are an Ohstani, that’s almost as ludicrous as Ludacris’s acting career. Actually, oh and this is really rich, they have Severino and Ohtani above Giolito. Two guys who combined for 12 IP last year and Giolito, who was the 13th best starter last year. *weighing on hands* 12 innings total…13th best starter…Yup, about even. *steams wrinkles out of shirt from steam coming out of my ears*

On a less-Major Dumb tip, here’s a chart of the biggest values from ESPN to me (Thank you!) and the players that ESPN overrates (No thank you!). A small note, since I did this chart a few days ago, ESPN has already adjusted their rankings, so some of these might be a little off, but it goes to show you the influence I’m having on them.  They so shook, y’all!


Player Grey’s Ranking ESPN’s Ranking Overall Difference
Trevor Story 5 15 10
Fernando Tatis Jr. 10 43 33
Jose Ramirez
11 22 11
Pete Alonso
15 30 15
Adalberto Mondesi 20 76 56
Matt Olson 21 63 42
Keston Hiura
43 83 40
Lucas Giolito
46 101 55
Chris Paddack 53 82 29
Jorge Soler 54 94 40
Max Muncy 57 100 43
Yu Darvish 59 122 63
Ramon Laureano
62 99 37
Tim Anderson 66 143 77
Sonny Gray
68 159 91
Jose Berrios 81 135 54
Oscar Mercado
86 152 66
Luis Robert
87 113 26
Brandon Woodruff 102 153 51
Dinelson Lamet 103 198 95
Hyun-Jin Ryu
107 144 37
Zac Gallen
110 175 65
Jake Odorizzi
113 286 173
Hunter Dozier 130 222 92
Scott Kingery 136 189 63
Danny Santana 140 205 65
Marcus Stroman 151 unranked
J.D. Davis
152 259 107
Jo Adell 197 unranked
Joe Musgrove 205 unranked


Player Grey’s Ranking ESPN’s Ranking Overall Difference
Gerrit Cole 17 7 10
Alex Bregman 16 9 7
Jose Altuve 30 21 9
Aaron Judge
37 23 14
Charlie Blackmon 71 24 47
Chris Sale
74 35 39
Giancarlo Stanton 72 36 36
Kris Bryant
83 39 44
Josh Bell
98 41 57
Joey Gallo
84 45 39
Paul Goldschmidt
76 50 26
Nicholas Castellanos 91 59 32
Tommy Pham
85 61 24
Andrew Benintendi 115 66 49
Carlos Correa
147 67 80
Whit Merrifield 94 72 22
Shohei Ohtani 125 92 33
Will Smith (RP) 225 98 127
Lorenzo Cain
267 106 161
Jean Segura 215 129 86
Justin Upton 272 139 133
Joey Votto 386 149 237