Fantasy baseball middle infield rankings

Fantasy baseball middle infield rankings

By David Ferris
CSNChicago.com

The following players qualify at a middle-infield position (if not multiple positions) in standard Yahoo! leagues. Rankings are based on a 5x5 scoring system (batting average, runs, home runs, RBIs, stolen bases).

1. Robinson Cano, Yankees
2. Ian Kinsler, Rangers
NOTE: Bat perked up in Anaheim series.
3. Jose Reyes, Marlins
NOTE: He's been active on the bases again.
4. Neil Walker, Pirates
NOTE: The unsung hero of this club.
5. Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
6. Brandon Phillips, Reds
7. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
8. Jason Kipnis, Indians
9. Emilio Bonifacio, Marlins
NOTE: Has eyes set on stolen-base crown.
10. Allen Craig, Cardinals
NOTE: No clear position, but man what a bat.
11. Elvis Andrus, Rangers
12. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
NOTE: Starting to heal up nicely, but might not be 100 percent.
13. Derek Jeter, Yankees
14. Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers
NOTE: A change of scenery at the right time.
15. Ben Zobrist, Rays
16. Danny Espinosa, Nationals
17. Michael Cuddyer, Rockies
NOTE: We expected more in the thin air.
18. Alcides Escobar, Royals
19. Rickie Weeks, Brewers
NOTE: Starting to produce at the expected level.
20. Starlin Castro, Cubs
21. Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks
22. Jose Altuve, Astros
NOTE: The last bat standing in Houston.
23. Josh Rutledge, Rockies
NOTE: Probably slides over to second if and when Tulo returns.
24. Ian Desmond, Nationals
25. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
NOTE: There's no need to rush him back.
26. Chase Utley, Phillies
27. Daniel Murphy, Mets
28. Jhonny Peralta, Tigers
29. Dan Uggla, Braves
NOTE: High fly-ball, high-strikeout hitters have extended slumps.
30. Rafael Furcal, Cardinals
31. Kyle Seager, Mariners
32. J.J. Hardy, Orioles
33. Howie Kendrick, Angels
34. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox
NOTE: Won't lose it for you, but not a lot of category punch.
35. Omar Infante, Tigers
36. Kelly Johnson, Blue Jays
NOTE: Production has fallen since the batting slot dropped.
37. Zack Cozart, Reds
38. Jordany Valdespin, Mets
39. Michael Young, Rangers
NOTE: Might be in trouble with Mike Olt around.
40. Trevor Plouffe, Twins
NOTE: It was a fun story before the thumb injury.
41. Alexi Amarista, Padres
42. Brandon Inge, Athletics
43. Dustin Ackley, Mariners
44. Jemile Weeks, Athletics
45. Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks
NOTE: A little passion wouldn't kill him.
46. Gordon Beckham, White Sox
47. Ryan Theriot, Giants
48. Mike Aviles, Red Sox
NOTE: Nicked up, losing time.
49. Darwin Barney, Cubs
50. Yunel Escobar, Blue Jays
51. Erick Aybar, Angels
52. Marco Scutaro, Giants
NOTE: Heady veteran, but stats were mostly Colorado driven.
53. Willie Bloomquist, Diamondbacks
54. Pedro Ciriaco, Red Sox
55. Elliot Johnson, Rays
NOTE: A typical Ray, a story out of nowhere.
56. Dee Gordon, Dodgers
57. Everth Cabrera, Padres
NOTE: Has nifty wheels but stuck in crummy batting slot.
58. Maicer Izturis, Angels
59. Ryan Roberts, Rays
NOTE: Joe Maddon's type of player.
60. Luis Cruz, Dodgers
61. Ruben Tejada, Mets
62. Brian Dozier, Twins
63. Robert Andino, Orioles
64. Jeff Keppinger, Rays
NOTE: Crushes lefties, but that's the short side of any platoon.
65. Andrelton Simmons, Braves
66. Yuniesky Betancourt, Royals
67. Jerry Hairston Jr., Dodgers
68. Mark Ellis, Dodgers
69. Steve Lombardozzi, Nationals
70. Jed Lowrie, Astros
NOTE: Good bat when healthy, but durability the constant concern.
71. Sean Rodriguez, Rays
72. Jamey Carroll, Twins
73. Cody Ransom, Brewers

Charles Tillman wrote a letter to his younger self and it will hit you in the feels

Charles Tillman wrote a letter to his younger self and it will hit you in the feels

Grab a pocket pack of tissues for this one.

Bears icon Charles Tillman released an emotional tell-all article on The Players' Tribune Thursday.

He starts off discussing how often he moved around as a kid with his dad in the Army and little things like learning cursive before delving into growing up in Germany and learning to communicate through sports.

It then moves on to the NFL Draft and coming up through the Bears with Lance Briggs, then jumping to the Super Bowl and what it was like to cover Calvin Johnson and Marvin Harrison.

Tillman even provides a fascinating take on how being a new dad affected his play on the field because he was so tired and stressed.

It was refreshing to hear a player talk like that. In everyday life, you hear all the time about first-time parents being exhausted and stressed, but now one of the most elite athletes in the world — whose job is exclusively in the public eye and his performance is dissected weekly by millions — is saying the same thing.

He discusses how he got past that stress and at this point, you're nearly halfway through the article and it's easy to think this is just like any other athlete's story.

But then Tillman gets serious and the story turns heart-wrenching.

The man affectionately known as "Peanut" takes us into the hospital room as he and his wife are told their young daughter, Tiana, may not make it through the night.

Tillman recounts the gripping tale behind how his family very nearly fell apart and how they climbed back to where they are today.

Give it a read. It's a fantastic snapshot into the career of one of the best Bears players ever, but also into the life of one of the truly great people to ever put on the orange and navy.

As the NBA evolves, Bulls' Taj Gibson, Robin Lopez experiment with 3-pointers

As the NBA evolves, Bulls' Taj Gibson, Robin Lopez experiment with 3-pointers

Taj Gibson began working on his 3-point shot as early as this past offseason. That work in the gym from beyond the arc continued into training camp, the preseason and eventually the regular season.

The eight-year veteran didn't attempt his first 3-pointer until the 21st game of the season, and that came in the final minute as the Bulls trailed by nine against the Pistons. Gibson's 27-foot heave from the left wing was off, and he proceeded to play the next 17 games without attempting another.

But recently Gibson had a conversation with head coach Fred Hoiberg, who knew the 31-year-old power forward had been putting in additional time to work on his corner 3-pointers. Hoiberg told Gibson he believed in his corner 3-pointer and that he'd allow the Bulls' forward to shoot them in games.

On Jan. 10, Gibson took a pass from Rajon Rondo midway through the first quarter and hoisted a 3-pointer from the left corner. He connected, marking just the second made 3-pointer of his career, and his first since the 2010-11 season.

Between triples Gibson, always a reliable midrange shooter, attempted and missed 22 3-pointers. But with the added practice time and confidence, and a blessing from his head coach, Gibson believes the 3-pointer can become an asset, going as far to say he’d like to shoot two triples per game.

There is, however, one aspect of the shot still standing in his way.

"When you get out there you never really realize how far it is until you're lined up and the crowd is like, 'Shoot it!'" Gibson said after Thursday's practice at the Advocate Center. "Your teammates are behind you, but it's fun. Hopefully (I) look forward to trying to make some in the future."

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Gibson attempted two more triples in Saturday's win over the Hornets and another in Sunday's win over the Grizzlies. All three were off-target, but just seeing Gibson step into the attempts and fire with confidence was a sight for sore eyes on a Bulls team lacking from outside.

Through the season's first half the Bulls rank last in both 3-point field goal percentage (31.7 percent) and 3-pointers made (6.4 per game). Their 276 total made 3-pointers as a team are less than two pairs of teammates (Houston’s Eric Gordon and James Harden, 301; Golden State’s Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, 283).

The Bulls' expected top 3-point shooters – Nikola Mirotic, Doug McDermott and Denzel Valentine – have combined to go 114-for-350, or 32.5 percent. Starters Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade haven’t fared much better, albeit on fewer attempts, while Chicago's trio of point guards have made 29 percent of their 144 3-point attempts. Simply put, there's ample opportunity to see what Gibson can do from deep without messing up the team's current perimeter shooting.

"It's something that he worked on a lot in the offseason. So yeah if he's open in the corner we want those shots," Hoiberg said. "It’s obviously a huge part of today's game. The 3-point shot, to have multiple players that can stretch the floor out there, those teams are really hard to guard."

Gibson's not the only Bulls big man experimenting. Robin Lopez said he, too, has been working on his outside shot in practice. Gibson joked that Hoiberg hasn't yet given Lopez permission to fire away from deep, while Hoiberg cracked that Lopez might be jealous of the 5.2 3-pointers his twin brother, Brook, is attempting this season in Brooklyn.

Lopez, like Gibson, has always had a dependable midrange shot. Per NBA.com, his 44.4 field goal percentage on midrange shots is fifth among centers this season.

"That’s something I've been working on more this season. I don't know if it's game-ready yet. That's more of a confidence issue," said Lopez, who added he's been working with assistant coach Pete Myers on the shot. "I think the way the NBA is going, I don't see why not. If Brook can do it, I definitely can."

Lopez is 0-for-5 from distance in his nine-year career, including 0-for-1 with the Bulls this season. But the defensive-minded center knows the ever-changing NBA game now includes teams wanting to get as many perimeter shooters on the floor at once. If he and/or Gibson can eventually be part of that, he knows the difference it could make.

"I think it's wonderful for the game. I think there's a real premium on skill at all positions on the court. I think that's going to continue. You're going to have more skilled and more talented big men," he said. "There's always a new breed of big men right around the corner."