The headline is a simple statement of fact that I think most everyone realizes, but few follow it as religiously as I do.
Players who score in multiple categories — the typical big 5 are average, homers, RBIs, runs and stolen bases — are going to be far more valuable than players who contribute greatly in only two or three categories. It’s important to keep that in mind when you’re fawning over scarcity at your draft.
In non-fantasy baseball, a five-tool player has power, speed, average, defense and a throwing arm, and these players are even more valuable in a fantasy league that recognizes defensive stats. For typical leagues, they are still the best players. You want to win, you need a couple five-toolers at infield spots and most of your outfielders should produce at least something in the five fantasy categories. Don’t reach for a marginal player at second base or shortstop because he’s the last one there if a legit 5-category monster is still available elsewhere.
According to my theory, Albert Pujols gets squeezed down the rankings because he won’t help you win steals. Do not ignore him, just make sure there’s not a more valuable player out there.
Hanley Ramirez is No. 1, David Wright is at 2 and Jose Reyes is at 3, followed by Grady Sizemore. If Chase Utley had no injury concerns he’d be in the top 5. I also push Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano up the list, same with Matt Holliday — even though he’s overvalued on a lot of lists this year.
In my 8-team mixed league fantasy baseball draft on Saturday, these were my first six picks:
- Grady Sizemore, OF — his average is a concern but an improvement to .280 with those numbers is worth it
- Ryan Braun, OF — Averages over two seasons: 15 steals, 35 homers, 100 RBIs, 90 runs, .301 average. Those are Pujols-lite numbers with steals mixed in.
- Brandon Phillips, 2B — undervalued all-tool second baseman. His only knock is his average. He’s not going to kill you, but it sure isn’t going to help either.
- Lance Berkman, 1B — Dude can rake, we know this. But he was 18-for-22 on stolen base attempts last year. Look it up.
- Nick Markakis, OF — Another guy that can rake. Had 10 steals last year, and got caught several times, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the young player’s steals increased a little.
- Matt Holliday, OF — Yes, I had OF4 this early in the draft, but he’s legit five tools and lasted way too long, even for an 8-team mixed league.
After those seven picks I started mixing in some pitchers, but took as many multi-category guys as possible from there on out.
I don’t pick Ichiro Suzuki, an overvalued steals and average-only player, and I don’t pick Adam Dunn who is a homers and RBIs-only type of player. If Alex Rodriguez was healthy, he’d be one of the top guys. His hip injury will probably hamper his running this year.
You could take more speed-heavy guys, more power-heavy guys or guys who fit the profile but score a lot of runs too. That’s the Ninja way to look at the best multi-category guys:
|More Speed||More Power||More runs||Sneaky cheap|
|Jose Reyes||Ryan Braun||C. Granderson||Bobby Abreu|
|Carl Crawford||Alfonso Soriano||Ian Kinsler||C. Granderson|
|Jimmy Rollins||David Wright||Jose Reyes||Nate McLouth|
|Brian Roberts||Lance Berkman||David Wright||Shane Victorino|
|Hanley Ramirez||Hanley Ramirez||Jimmy Rollins||Lastings Milledge|
|Cameron Maybin||Grady Sizemore||Dustin Pedroia||Matt Kemp|
|Shane Victorino||Alexei Ramirez||Hanley Ramirez||Corey Hart|
|B.J. Upton||Carlos Beltran||Grady Sizemore||Alexei Ramirez|
|Ian Kinsler||Matt Holliday||Ryan Braun||Elijah Dukes|
|Grady Sizemore||B.J. Upton||Nick Markakis||Torii Hunter|
|Brandon Phillips||Nick Markakis||Lance Berkman||Cameron Maybin|
|Matt Kemp||C.Granderson||Carlos Beltran||Jayson Werth|
|Bobby Abreu||Chase Utley||Alfonso Soriano||Cameron Maybin|
|Alfonso Soriano||Alex Rios||Bobby Abreu||Hunter Pence|
|Cameron Maybin||Jimmy Rollins||Brian Roberts||Kelly Johnson|
|Nate McLouth||Brandon Phillips||Carl Crawford||Adam Jones|
|Lastings Milledge||Hunter Pence||Nate McLouth||Delmon Young|
|Alexei Ramirez||Torii Hunter||Alex Rios||Chris Young|
|Carlos Beltran||Corey Hart||B.J. Upton||Johnny Damon|
|Alex Rios||Jayson Werth||Matt Holliday||Eric Byrnes|
It always pays to go beyond the cheatsheet. Check out players previous statistics and projections for this year and it could reap big rewards.
Who did I miss? Who shouldn’t be on the list? Is my theory cracked? Let us know in the comments.