Fantasy Baseball: Ranking the Yankees – No. 6, SP Masahiro Tanaka


Feb 17, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) throws the ball to first during a defensive drill as the Yankees work out at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

The popularity of fantasy baseball is growing every year.  Whether you are a fantasy baseball veteran in multiple leagues each season, someone who plays casually or completely new to the game, there is a lot to know before creating your fantasy squad.

The New York Yankees often boast plenty of fantasy options, and this year is no different after some huge additions this winter. You can look at a player’s value on the field and how they help the Yankees a certain way, but should take a different approach when analyzing their fantasy value.

Fantasy players should take into account the size of their league, position eligibility, league scoring settings, position scarcity, injury history, playing time, ballpark and many other factors when determining whether a player is a prudent pick and when (or how much to spend) to draft them. As always, keep in mind who you are drafting with. If you are in a league with a ton of Yankee fans, you’re probably going to have to overpay for Yankee players.

When taking a look at the top Yankees, there are a few stark differences in fantasy values with some. A few years ago, guys like C.C. Sabathia and Carlos Beltran were some of the first few players taken in drafts. Now the two veterans can be had for cheaper, but can still provide plenty of value. Some players are more valuable than they ever have been thanks to new roles on the team, and some are making their debuts on the fantasy scene.Over the next two weeks we’ll take a look at the top 10 most valuable Yankees in fantasy baseball. Counting down from 10 to 1, we’ll take an in-depth look at each player, what they can provide this year and when you should add them to your team. We continue our list with the sixth most valuable Yankee in fantasy baseball:

Masahiro Tanaka, SP (Auction Value – $11)

A name heard over and over again online, in the papers and on television this winter was Masahiro Tanaka. The next big thing from Japan was making his way to the states, and he was linked to a myriad of teams throughout the process.

But in the end, it was the big, bad Yankees who swept in with the biggest offer for 7-years and $155 million on top of a $20 million posting fee. It’s a big risk committing that kind of money to a guy who has never thrown a pitch in the major leagues, but it was apparently a risk the Yankees were willing to take. Now the question is: is it a risk you are willing to take for your fantasy team?

Much like the Yankees had to throw a ton of money at Tanaka, fantasy owners will likely have to do the same. In early auction drafts, the excitement and potential you get with Tanaka is coming with a price. He has gone in the range of $10 to $13 in early drafts, and in snake drafts is being taken as a top-100 player.

With a career 2.30 ERA, 1.108 WHIP and 1,238 strikeouts in seven seasons in Japan, it’s easy to see why Tanaka got the money he did. With early reports from Spring Training and a quote from Yankee catcher Brian McCann saying that Tanaka “is as good as advertised” after his first bullpen session, the price right now may even be increasing. Value will fluctuate based on developments throughout the spring, but if you want Tanaka on your fantasy team, you are going to have to pay no matter when your draft is.

The upside is there, but the risk that comes from dealing with an unknown and a guy who has to adjust to Major League Baseball is great. As far as Yankees go, you could take Hiroki Kuroda or C.C. Sabathia for half the price, but they also don’t have the ceiling Tanaka has at this point. There are many young pitching options out there available for less of a commitment, so you may want to shy away from Tanaka. But the risk-reward scenario is tempting for many. If you really want Tanaka, go and get him, but be prepared to pay.

No. 10 – Ivan Nova, SP

No. 9 – Mark Teixeira, 1B

No. 8 – Brett Gardner, OF

No. 7 – Hiroki Kuroda, SP

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