Billy Butler leads the group of AL hitters whose bats can prove to be very valuable in a fantasy lineup
Opening Day is less than three weeks away, meaning the fantasy baseball season is quickly approaching. Drafts are going across the country, and probably the globe, and Athlon Sports' annual Baseball Preview magazine is available on newsstands everywhere.
Besides providing our comprehensive Fantasy Baseball Big Board, we also have our positional rankings, courtesy of Bruce Herman, straight from our magazine for you to peruse, utilize and scrutinize as we get ever so closer to hear those beloved words, "Play ball!"
A: FRANCHISE PLAYER — You need one to compete, two to win, three to dominate.
B: CAREER YEAR — Veteran with a strong possibility of delivering his best season.
C: SLEEPER — Could be a great acquisition at a price or draft slot below his true value.
D: ROADBLOCKED — Rank has been lowered because there is no current opportunity to play regularly.
E: DECLINER — Expect moderately to significantly worse stats than in 2012.
F: INJURY RISK — Has had a recent injury that could affect performance.
G: INVESTOR’S SPECIAL — Top prospect whose immediate impact may be minimal.
Batting stats are expressed AVG-HR-RBI-R-SB
Athlon Sports' 2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Designated Hitter
1. Billy Butler, Royals
Butler has done a superb job of transitioning into a home run hitter without compromising high batting averages. His .313-29-107 triple crown components were matched by only Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. Eighty-two players scored more runs, because he can be timed by the Mayan Calendar.
2. Victor Martinez, Tigers (F)
After forfeiting 2012 to a knee, catching days are probably over. Martinez’s bat is magical, however — batting title- and RBI crown-contention magical. Gives away a dozen or so homers to Butler, but everything else is comparable.
3. David Ortiz, Red Sox (F)
So who’s your Papi? The one who floundered at .244 from 2008 through April 2010, or the one who’s hit .303 since? Either way, the power has never flagged. Missed most of the second half with an Achilles injury, and his age (37) and girth make such things a recurrent risk.
4. Adam Dunn, White Sox
A .204 AVG and 222 SOs get you the Comeback Player of the Year Award? No secret here: Dunn is a love-hate fantasy player who, since 2004, has been out-homered by one player (Albert Pujols) and out-batting-averaged by — count ’em — 951.
5. Mark Trumbo, Angels (E)
Dunn lite. Circles 30 homers, but because he got into hitter’s counts only 25.2 percent of time (the majors’ lowest rate by a cavernous margin), saw his AVG dive 102 points after mid-May.
6. Lance Berkman, Rangers (F)
Remains very dangerous, but lack of conditioning makes him even more susceptible to injury than your run-of-the-mill 37-year-old.
7. Carlos Pena, Astros
Another all-or-nothing type who’s beginning to age out of “all.” Pena’s .234 AVG is easily the lowest in history for a first baseman with 5,000 plate appearances. Playing in Houston makes 25 HRs doable.
8. Adam Lind, Blue Jays
Went .305-35-114-93 in 2009, but has been so lost since then that he was temporarily minorized in 2012. Hit .296 with moderate power when he got back.
9. Jason Bay, Mariners (F)
Similar descent as Lind’s, but with even deeper valleys. Fresh start and closer left field target in modified Safeco give him a fighting chance to figure it out.
2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Big Board
2013 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers and Busts: Infield
2013 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers and Busts: Outfield
2013 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers and Busts: Starting Pitcher
2013 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers and Busts: Relief Pitcher
2013 Fantasy Baseball: Closer Grid
2013 Fantasy Baseball Deep Sleepers
Fantasy Baseball Studs to Avoid in 2013