Fantasy Baseball Rankings 2013: Highlighting Most Valuable Players to Target

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2013

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 15:  Center fielder Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim runs to first base in a game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri.  The Royals defeated the Angels 3-2.  (Photo by Tim Umphrey/Getty Images)
Tim Umphrey/Getty Images

If last year's American League MVP debate taught us anything, it is that the word "value" has many different connotations. Yet, in fantasy, there are no real debates like that—you want to select the best player available, period. 

However, the definition of value in fantasy baseball should mean something to you. Do you want the one-dimensional power hitter, or the player who can impact the game in multiple ways without necessarily hitting 35-40 home runs?

These are the kinds of things that you should think about when drafting your team. Fortunately, we are here to help you out. Specifically, we are going to give you a ranking of the most valuable players to target in this year's draft. 


Most Valuable Hitter: Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels

The number of superlatives used to describe Trout last year grew to such ridiculous lengths that we were actually forced to ask James Lipton to come up with a new one. Here is what he gave us:

Even if Trout regresses a bit from his 2012 performance—which doesn't seem that far-fetched considering that he hit .326/.399/.564 with 30 home runs, 49 stolen bases, 129 runs and 83 RBI in 139 games while playing most of the season at the age of 20—he is still a fantasy monster. 

When you are drafting, especially high in the first round, you want a player who can impact the game in multiple ways. You want someone who will hit for average and power, and you want someone who can steal bases and score runs. 

Trout can do anything and everything on a baseball field, as he proved throughout his rookie season. He is going to be the best and most valuable fantasy player once again in 2013. There is no doubt about that. 


 1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
 2. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
 3. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
 4. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
 5. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees


Most Valuable Starting Pitcher: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers

Verlander is still the most exciting starting pitcher to watch because you know that he has the potential to strikeout 15 hitters whenever he steps on the mound. He is also becoming "old news" since he has been doing this for so long now. 

It is easy to appreciate a guy who can maintain such a high level of greatness for so long, but eventually, some people want to see something new and shiny. If you think that way, please stop watching baseball because we don't want you around. 

What Verlander has done in the last four years is incredible. He has thrown at least 224.1 innings in each season since 2009, posted an ERA no higher than 3.45—including marks that were well under 3.00 in the last two years—and struck out at least 219 hitters. 

Since this is fantasy baseball that we are talking about, I am obligated to mention wins. Verlander has won at least 17 games in each of the last four seasons. 

There is always a volatility to pitching in baseball, but Verlander has clearly established himself as the most reliable starter in fantasy over the last four years. He just keeps getting better and better. It also helps that, at the soon-to-be-age of 30, he is still in the prime of his career. 


 1. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
 2. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
 3. Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals
 4. David Price, Tampa Bay Rays
 5. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners


Most Valuable Relief Pitcher: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves

With Mariano Rivera still pitching, it is always going to take a truly special talent to supplant him as the most valuable relief pitcher in fantasy baseball. After two full seasons of domination, though, it is safe to say that Craig Kimbrel is the best relief option in baseball right now. 

Rivera may not have been the best relief pitcher in fantasy baseball for a long time because he wasn't putting up gaudy numbers compared to other closers, but he was always the most consistent at getting saves, providing strikeouts and a producing great ERA. 

Yet Kimbrel is a freak of nature. He has struck out 243 hitters in 139.2 innings pitched over the last two seasons. He has also saved 88 games, allowed just 75 hits, 25 earned runs and has a career ERA of 1.46. 

With Aroldis Chapman making the switch from the bullpen to the starting rotation—which is the right call for him and his team—Kimbrel really has no competition at the top right now. 

Even with all the volatility associated with relief pitchers, especially closers, it is hard to find a sound and logical reason right now to think that Kimbrel won't continue dominating hitters in the way that he has during the last two years. 


 1. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
 2. Jason Motte, St. Louis Cardinals
 3. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
 4. Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies
 5. Rafael Soriano, Washington Nationals


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