Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Top 100 Players, Late Spring Training Edition
Time is ticking as spring training slowly fades away, leaving only a few days to squeeze in fantasy baseball drafts.
Most drafters have probably encountered several rankings. Just be sure that none are touting Mark Teixeira or Curtis Granderson as top-50 selections or still singing the praises of Adam Eaton as a sleeper.
With all the latest spring storylines in mind (not that the actual numbers in March affect many players ranked this high), let's take one last look at when to select some of baseball's brightest stars.
Here is an updated list of the top 100 players in fantasy baseball. Keep in mind that this order was tailored for rotisserie leagues.
Note: All statistics, unless otherwise noted, courtesy of FanGraphs.com
Wilin Rosario: Still don't have a catcher after the first 10 rounds? Don't panic. There are plenty of affordable options to obtain later, including Rosario and his enormous power upside batting in Coors Field.
Ryan Howard: Those daring enough to take Howard could steal 40 home runs at a sizable discount, but the batting average is a colossal concern after he struck out in 33.9 percent of his plate appearances last year.
Hanley Ramirez: Before tearing a ligament in his thumb that will sideline him for eight weeks, Ramirez sat tall in the top 20 overall. If your league possesses a disabled list or a deep bench, stashing the third base- and shortstop-eligible star could pay off.
David Freese: Freese was a late casualty to the rankings after being placed on the disabled list with a lower back strain.
Jeff Samardzija: It's certainly not going out on a limb to publicize Samardzija as a breakout candidate. After posting a 9.27 K/9 ratio and 3.55 FIP last season, it's safe to say the former wide receiver made the right decision by pursuing baseball.
Dan Haren: After a down year, it's not super promising to see Haren surrender seven homers with a 6.39 ERA during the spring. He could still redeem himself back in the National League and might be worth a shot in the dark as a No. 3 or 4 starter.
Jonathan Papelbon: It's nothing personal against Papelbon, but you're better off waiting until later to grab some closers. Only baseball's two fiercest relievers made the cut.
100. Paul Konerko: Konerko has averaged 32 home runs over the past three years while hitting .304. There are signs of deterioration, but he still holds value as a corner infielder. Don't let the old man fall too far.
99. Yadier Molina: Drafters will likely need to reach much higher to draft Molina after he set career highs with 22 home runs and 11 steals. Don’t bank on the 30-year-old duplicating either of those numbers.
98. Salvador Perez: It’s not wise to spend a high pick on a catcher in a league that only requires one, but if there’s a guy worth grabbing, it’s Salvador Perez. He made contact on a rousing 91 percent of his swings last season while notching 11 long balls through 76 games. Perez could easily finish 2013 as a top-five backstop.
97. Brandon Morrow: Morrow’s success all rests on his ability to remain healthy for a full season. He has decreased his walk rate three years in a row, making him an ideal No. 3 starter with ace upside. Another interesting factor to monitor is the R.A. Dickey effect. Research from Michael Salfino of The Wall Street Journal indicates that pitchers performed significantly better following Dickey, and Morrow is currently touted as the Toronto Blue Jays’ No. 2 starter.
96. Jake Peavy: When did Peavy become the old, dull pick? The oft-injured veteran is no lock to stay healthy, but he’ll outperform his draft value if he manages to last another full season.
95. Martin Prado: Prado’s fantasy appeal is highly contingent on the league. He’s third base- and outfield-eligible in all leagues, but certain formats boost his value upward by providing him usability at second base and shortstop. That could be enough to accept the high average but minimal power and speed (don’t bank on him swiping 17 bags again) numbers.
94. Eric Hosmer: His stats last year alone would banish him from consideration anywhere in the draft, but consider giving Hosmer a mulligan for his sophomore slump. His .255 BABIP helps explain the poor average, and the 23-year-old is still a veritable 25/15 threat.
93. Yovani Gallardo: At this point in his career, it is time to throw away the pipe dream of Gallardo morphing into an all-around fantasy ace. His ERA and WHIP won’t look spectacular, but no starting pitcher outside of the true studs strikes out 200 batters per season with the same regularity as Gallardo.
92. James Shields: When pitching at Tropicana Field, Shields has earned a 3.33 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. The 4.54 ERA and 1.29 WHIP on the road are much uglier. Losing Tampa Bay’s formidable defense could also present some trouble for Big Game James.
91. Johnny Cueto: Yes, he just won 19 games with a 2.78 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. But before crowning him as your fantasy ace, consider his 7.05 K/9 ratio that is more on par for a No. 3 or 4 fantasy starter.
90. Victor Martinez: Missing all of 2012 could make Martinez a coup for drafters in 2013. Not only does he get to hit alongside Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, but he will avoid the grinding toll of catching by serving as the regular designated hitter. That means fewer days off and more counting numbers for the 34-year-old.
89. Matt Wieters: While he’s yet to deliver on the massive potential that had scouts drooling over him during his tenure as a prospect, Wieters has settled in as a solid major league catcher. But if his 53 ADP from MockDraftCentral.com is any indicator of where he’ll go in drafts, stay far away.
88. Matt Moore: It’s all about upside for Moore. He will need to slash that 4.11 walk rate to become a high-quality starter, but an astounding second half showed his ceiling as an ace. Drafters who wait on starting pitching should consider gambling on Moore.
87. Hunter Pence: His double-digit speed vanished, he hit .254 last season, and calling AT&T Park home won’t do him any favors. Then again, Pence is a career .285 hitter whose past five home run totals of 25, 25, 25, 22 and 24 offer resounding reliability. You can do much worse from a third outfielder.
86. Alex Rios: Despite his power and speed, Rios’ numbers fluctuate too much to trust as a premier fantasy player. At the same token, don’t be afraid to snag a potential 20/20 option if everyone else is shying away for the same reason.
85. Josh Willingham: Is this paying for a career year? Maybe, but how far can you drop someone who’s crushed 64 homers during the last two years? Since Willingham is a boring pick and an injury risk, he can likely be obtained much later in drafts.
84. Jose Altuve: By far the most ownable member of the Houston Astros, Altuve can hit .290 and steal 30 bases, potentially leading all second basemen. After Altuve, the best options are aging big names coming off down seasons (Chase Utley, Rickie Weeks, Dan Uggla).
83. Michael Bourn: A speedy outfielder, on the other hand, is not as hard to locate. Bourn was a worthy game-changer when he was swiping 60 bags, but drafters can obtain a .275 average and 40-to-50 steals from Ben Revere or Brett Gardner later in the draft.
82. Carlos Santana: Power has never been the problem for Santana, so anticipate a return to the 25-homer range in 2012. His masterful plate discipline but low batting average make him a better real-life hitter than fantasy slugger. He’s another catcher who will find a team too early.
81. Roy Halladay: Prior to the spring, Halladay presented intriguing bounce-back potential. After seeing him leave a game in which he was clocked at 87 mph, investing in the 35-year-old, who saw his strikeout rate dip to 7.60 per nine innings, is much less appealing.
80. Pablo Sandoval: Be prepared to drag Sandoval down the cheat sheet if his injured elbow forces him to start the season on the disabled list. For now the ailment doesn't look too serious, but this is nothing new for a guy who has missed significant time over the past two seasons.
79. Freddie Freeman: It’s never a good sign when a player’s greatest assets are his RBI and run totals. Freeman will need to tally more than 23 homers to solidify himself at first base, and his 21.8 percent career strikeout rate will make it tough for him to match or exceed his .282 average from 2011. He’s good, but he has yet to show signs of greatness.
78. Jordan Zimmermann: This goes against my propensity to seek out high-strikeout hurlers, but Zimmermann is falling under the radar as an affordable No. 3 starter who could still morph into a top-tier starter. The 7.04 K/9 ratio is not very exciting, but he fanned over a batter per inning upon his MLB arrival, so he could still flourish. He’s Johnny Cueto with fewer walks and the possibility of more strikeouts.
77. Anthony Rizzo: Could we be setting ourselves up for another sophomore letdown a la Eric Hosmer’s epic collapse? For a guy who could hit .280 with 30 homers, take your chances. Counting his Triple-A tenure, Rizzo amassed 38 homers and 110 RBI last season.
76. Austin Jackson: His 16 homers and 12 steals are unflattering for such a high selection, but Jackson’s .300/.377/.479 triple-slash line sure looks pretty. Remember that he stole 22 bases in 2011 and 27 in 2010, so you could land a 15/20 outfielder with 100 runs.
75. Asdrubal Cabrera: That monster season two years ago? Yeah, that was a fluke. While he won’t regain that 25-homer power stroke, he should raise his counting numbers with Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher in Cleveland.
74. Kris Medlen: He’s not going to touch that crazy 1.57 ERA or 0.91 WHIP from an incredible summer that saw Medlen transform into Greg Maddux. But in 186 career innings as a starter, Medlen has registered a 2.86 career ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 165 strikeouts. Double his 2012 ERA and Medlen can still post gaudy numbers.
73. Alex Gordon: A better real-life player than fantasy pick, Gordon hits doubles and mans the outfield with aplomb. If his 8.5 percent HR/FB ratio rises closer to his career 10.0 percent rate, he’ll approach 20 home runs again as part of an exciting offensive nucleus in Kansas City.
72. Brett Lawrie: Yet another third baseman starting the season hurt. Lawrie will start the season on the disabled list with an injured rib cage, but he is not expected to miss more than a week. Before the injury, Lawrie contained all the goods for a high-risk, high-reward move that could win leagues. If anything, a short trip to the DL could eliminate some of that peril by significantly lowering his draft cost.
71. Carlos Beltran: Many fantasy enthusiasts are scared off by a lackluster second half during which he hit .236. Does that mean we should forget about the first half where Beltran looked like the superstar of old? Trade away a few homers for a few ticks up on his batting average, and his overall season is repeatable.
70. Elvis Andrus: A guy who’s logged at least 145 games in each of his major league seasons is a breath of fresh air at an unstable position. Andrus could finish as a top-five shortstop by revisiting his 30-to-35 stolen base total from previous years.
69. Joe Mauer: He’s a catcher who can hit .320. That’s valuable, but 10 homers and single-digit steals for someone who’s going rate lies in the fifth round? No thanks. Even this ranking feels too high.
68. Chris Sale: Sale jumped from tossing 71 innings in 2011 to 192 last year. His second-half deterioration does not support his case for enduring the workload increase. I’m not sold on Sale this season.
67. Ike Davis: His ankle is healed, the mysterious Valley fever is no longer a concern, and Ike Davis is ready to go off in 2013. If you can overlook his dreadful opening months last season, a major steal could be yours by drafting a 35-homer threat in the eighth round.
66. Aroldis Chapman: It seldom works this way, but keeping Chapman as the closer is a major boon to his fantasy value. The fact that he’s only one of two relievers on this list should show that drafting relievers early is not advisable, but a flamethrower with 122 strikeouts through 71.2 innings cannot be ignored.
65. Jason Kipnis: Imagine where Kipnis would rest on this list had it been assembled last June. He hit 11 home runs and stole 19 bases during the first three months, but managed just three dingers and 12 steals in the final three. No matter how he does it, nobody can complain if the second baseman provides another 14/31 campaign.
64. Aaron Hill: So Hill is a middle infielder who just hit .302 with 26 homers and 14 steals, and that’s really good. But come on, this is a man who followed a phenomenal 2008 season by hitting .205 the next year. You can’t blame anyone for having doubts.
63. Yu Darvish: Many rankers like Darvish much more, positioning him as a top-10 starter who will throw his name into the Cy Young race. He recorded a 10.4 K/9 ratio and 3.29 FIP, but the 4.19 BB/9 rate could hinder him from meeting those lofty expectations.
62. Mat Latos: Latos will probably never compete for a Cy Young, but his floor is considerably lower than that of Darvish, Sale, Medlen or Moore. So far a 3.48 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 185 strikeouts represents his down year, which makes Latos an ideal No. 2 fantasy starter.
61. Max Scherzer: On second thought, chasing upside is fun. So when it comes to Scherzer—who had a league-leading (among pitchers not named Justin Verlander) 231 strikeouts and walked just 15 batters during his final 11 starts—it’s easy to push the risk aside and take the plunge.
60. R.A. Dickey: Show me someone who knows what to expect from Dickey going forward, and I’ll show you a liar. It seemed inevitable that drafters would grab him early, expecting another Cy Young campaign, but instead everyone is assuming that Dickey’s success was a fluke. His knuckleball landed him a 3.28 ERA in his three years as a Met, so the only concern is whether the major strikeout bump is here to stay.
59. Ian Desmond: This is a steal if he puts forth another 25/20 season, but it’s not too plausible for someone who accumulated 22 total homers from 2009-11. His high strikeout percentage (20.7) and low walk percentage (5.5) also make his .292 average unlikely to maintain.
58. CC Sabathia: Having tallied 200 innings or more in each of the past six seasons, Sabathia is as durable as they come. Call it irrational, but it seems the bottom is going to eventually fall off on the 32-year-old workhorse. Wouldn’t it make sense to happen during the season when every other Yankee is already on the disabled list?
57. Craig Kimbrel: Mere mortals should not be able to register a 1.01 ERA and 16.66 K/9 ratio. Drafters who take the leap on Kimbrel will gain a huge advantage at the reliever spot, but as a result miss out on a high-quality everyday hitter or a starter who can pitch 140 more innings.
56. Aramis Ramirez: Those nine steals are a blip, but Ramirez’s .300/25/100 effort was very real. The 34-year-old has smashed at least 25 homers in eight of the last nine years, and he only played 82 games in that outlier season.
55. Jered Weaver: The strikeout rate keeps dropping, depreciating to 6.77 K/9 last season. Weaver also posted a 3.75 FIP hardly reminiscent of a fantasy ace. He’s a No. 2 fantasy starter wrongly cast as a top-tier pitcher.
54. Desmond Jennings: Those 13 home runs and 31 steals came in a season most owners labeled a disappointment. The 26-year-old still poses a 20/40 threat down the line if all goes according to plan.
53. Gio Gonzalez: Pitchers with subpar control rarely remain on the top for long. Gonzalez needed a .267 BABIP and a league-low 5.8 percent HR/FB ratio to gash his WHIP down from 1.32 to 1.11 with a sub-three ERA. Expect the WHIP to climb higher.
52. B.J. Upton: He hits a lot of home runs. He steals a lot of bases. His average will probably fall in the .240s again. You know what you’re signing up for here.
51. Allen Craig: At age 28, Craig has still yet to play more than 119 games in a major league season. If he stays healthy, fortunate drafters will receive 25-to-30 homers and 100 RBI alongside a cushy .300 average.
50. Jacoby Ellsbury: Let’s not forget that Ellsbury stood in a league of his own in 2011, hitting .321 with 32 homers, 119 runs, 105 RBI and 39 steals. Even putting aside the fact that he only played 74 games, Ellsbury posted a putrid .271/.313/.370 line with four homers and 14 swipes. Ellsbury could produce first- or second-round numbers at a fifth-round cost, but that pick could just as easily prove to be a colossal bust.
49. Billy Butler: After years of questioning his power merits, Butler finally gave the fantasy world what they were waiting for. But can he hit 29 home runs again? Considering he hit the least amount of fly balls in his career, it’s safer to project 20-to-25 long balls this time around.
48. Adam Wainwright: His strikeouts, walks, ground-ball rate and FIP were all identical to his production before going under the knife for Tommy John surgery. So why the 3.94 ERA? It took Wainwright a while to get re-situated, and a career-worst .315 BABIP did not help his cause. The ace from 2009 and 2010 should resurface in 2013.
47. Brandon Phillips: Boring, but Brandon Phillips offers steady production across the board at a scarce position. Those 18 homers and 15 steals won’t win your league, but you’re not going to look back on selecting Phillips with regret.
46. Shin-Soo Choo: Speaking of boring Reds hitters with decent numbers everywhere but nothing amazing anywhere... Before sighing at a .283 hitter with 16 homers, consider the effects of moving to Cincinnati. The line-drive hitter could slash a few more sharp liners over the fence while scoring 100 runs atop of the Reds’ batting order.
45. Jimmy Rollins: Through 12 MLB seasons, Rollins has stolen at least 30 bases 10 times. Even if he hits .250 again, it’s worth it for a reliable 15/30 shortstop.
44. Zack Greinke: After a false alarm that allowed brave drafters to snatch Greinke at a bargain, the Dodgers’ well-paid ace returned to action and is ready to start the season. Moving back to the National League in a spacious ballpark should help Greinke’s ERA mirror his consistently lower FIP.
43. Ryan Zimmerman: Zimmerman fended off disaster by turning a sluggish start into one of baseball’s hottest finishes, hitting .319 with 17 homers after the All-Star break. If he can ever stay on the field for a full season, look out.
42. Ben Zobrist: When a guy holds eligibility at second base, shortstop and the outfield, and proves himself as a solid source of 20 homers and double-digit steals, drafters should probably target him. In this age of dominant pitching, a .270 average is no longer a detractor, but just average.
41. Adam Jones: The belief of never playing for a career year causes some skepticism here, but Jones could be settling into his prime at age 27. There are, however, a handful of elite outfielders fighting for prime real estate on the fantasy big board.
40. Yoenis Cespedes: Here’s one of those many stud outfielders. Cespedes needed merely 129 games to compile 23 homers and 16 steals, and most of the damage was inflicted during a monster second half. The Cuban does not make it through the second round in some drafts.
39. Madison Bumgarner: Should a few shaky postseason outings erase two years of excellent production? Usually not, but sliders making up 39 percent of his pitches last season raises a potential red flag.
38. Matt Cain: After years of piling up commendable results, Cain cemented his status as a true fantasy ace by upping his strikeout total to 193. That’s more than enough for a hurler with a career 3.27 ERA.
37. Bryce Harper: The 20-year-old phenom could easily obliterate this ranking. Harper could record a 30/20 season, thus purchasing a home in the first round for the next decade. He could also suffer through growing pains that keep his massive upside at bay, since he is, you know, still 20 years old.
36. Jay Bruce: It’s always wise to chase power early in the draft, and Bruce is fresh off his second straight season with more than 30 round-trippers. He has also increased his home run total the past three seasons, so the 25-year-old (who turns 26 during the season’s opening week) could inch closer to the 40 plateau.
35. Cliff Lee: If there’s any justice in baseball, Lee will win 24 games after notching just six victories despite his pristine 3.16 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. Well, around 15 would do just fine.
34. Paul Goldschmidt: This ranking almost assumes that Goldschmidt advances to new heights in 2013. But if he taps into the immense power upside shown throughout the minors and his major league debut in 2011, a 30/15 season from a .280 hitter is in the realm of possibility. That’s sure nice from a late-third, early-fourth rounder, and most owners can wait until the fifth or sixth to snag him.
33. Edwin Encarnacion: It took a while before accepting Jose Bautista’s emergence as a legit power hitter, so writing off Encarnacion as a fluke could prove foolish. Still, he has seen 500 plate appearances in four seasons since 2005 and sported a previous career high of 26 homers. Don’t buy in completely, but don’t expect him to blow up in flames either.
32. Starlin Castro: Castro’s .315 BABIP was much lower than prior rates, so revisiting a .300 average is feasible. But will he continue to receive the green light despite getting caught 13 times last year?
31. Cole Hamels: No longer living under the shadows of Lee and Halladay, Hamels is making his presence felt as a true ace. He’s started more than 30 games for five years running.
30. Dustin Pedroia: Not the most exciting early pick, Pedroia presents five-category production at second base. Some might want to slap the injury-prone label on him after a brief DL stint last year, but it didn’t stop him from swiping 20 bases with 15 bombs.
29. Jason Heyward: There’s certainly a scenario in which Heyward finishes the season as a top-10 fantasy asset. The 23-year-old is a four-category stud, but he strikes out too much (152 last year) to foresee him hitting much higher than .269. His walk rates have also regressed in every season since arriving in Atlanta.
28. David Price: In terms of strikeouts and walks, Price performed nearly identically to his 2011 rates. Aside from some better fortune in the win column, Price took the next step to elite by increasing his ground-ball rate from 44.3 percent to 53.1, which paid a major role in shrinking his ERA to 2.56.
27. Buster Posey: If this is too late to acquire Posey, then so be it. While he’s the undisputed champion at catcher, he’ll need to hold up at a physically demanding position and hit .336 again to justify a second-round selection.
26. Adrian Gonzalez: So everyone is abandoning ship on Gonzalez. Once an amazing power asset, the 30-year-old hit a career-low 18 homers last season. Since the veteran has transformed into a .300 hitter through slapping more liners, sending 25 balls over the fences would carry him back to stud status.
25. Matt Holliday: Holliday falls into the fourth round in many leagues, so don’t feel pressured to abide by this aggressive ranking. For someone who wants steady production in the early stages of the draft, Holliday is a prime target.
24. Troy Tulowitzki: Some drafters have the stomach to risk a first-round selection on Tulowitzki staying healthy for 150 games. If he does, he’s easily the top shortstop in baseball and possibly a top-five player overall. Those are monster ifs, though.
23. Justin Upton: Here’s to hoping every other fantasy manager takes the Arizona Diamondbacks philosophy of chasing “gritty” players while you claim the best ones. The 25-year-old has already posted seasons worthy of first-round consideration twice, and his downside of 17 homers and 18 steals is not too shabby, either.
22. Stephen Strasburg: He’s unleashed, but does that mean there are no limitations in place for the priced arm? Strasburg’s season will not end early this time around, but it’s also hard to see him tossing well over 200 innings like the other premier aces. The upside is limitless for the 24-year-old who just earned an 11.13 K/9 rate, but it might take another year for him to join the first tier.
21. Josh Hamilton: How does a guy who crushed 43 homers with 128 RBI keep falling down the rankings? He has always struggled to stay on the field, and nobody wants a guy who hit .202 over the course of two months as his or her team's building block. Despite aligning with Albert Pujols and Mike Trout, shifting from the Ballpark in Arlington to Angel Stadium could rain on his power numbers.
20. Felix Hernandez: His late-season swoon and drop in velocity have some avoiding King Felix at all costs. This is a guy who has made 30 starts every season of his career and recorded more than 220 strikeouts in three straight years, so let’s not plummet him too far down the list.
19. Jose Reyes: With Ramirez hurt and Tulowitzki due to get hurt soon enough, Reyes is the top shortstop by default. While he’s certainly not made of steel either, he has logged at least 125 games in all but one season since 2005.
18. David Wright: He’s Captain America, not Iron Man. Team USA’s prime contributor pulled out of the World Baseball Classic with a left intercostal strain, but Wright is "optimistic" about suiting up on Opening Day (via MLB.com's Anthony DiComo). Many are worried about his lopsided split stats, but it’s relieving that he cut a soaring strikeout rate that plagued him since the Mets moved to Citi Field.
17. Ian Kinsler: Power and speed at second base. Although the results are occasionally erratic, Kinsler has reached 30/30 heights twice before.
16. Evan Longoria: Longoria looked poised for a tremendous season before hamstring woes interfered. Taking Longoria presents more risk than the ideal second-rounder, but his superstar ceiling is hard to ignore.
15. Adrian Beltre: As everyone around him comes with warning precautions, Beltre is as sturdy as they come. The third baseman is improving in his elder years and is now an established .290-.300, 30-homer option.
14. Jose Bautista: Witnessing Bautista belt five homers during spring training is an encouraging sign that his wrist is fine. He could deliver a 40-homer season in the heart of a refurbished Blue Jays offense.
13. Justin Verlander: The argument is constantly floated around that pitching is too deep to target an ace. While drafters should devote most early picks to hitters, the quantity of decent pitchers raises the value of the dominant aces who can make a solid staff exceptional. Verlander, who has made at least 30 starts in every season of his career, is more durable than most hitters available at this junction of the draft.
12. Clayton Kershaw: Kershaw’s not bad, either. The 25-year-old has registered a sub-three ERA in four straight seasons alongside a career 9.29 K/9 ratio. Pitching in the NL awards him the tiebreaker over Verlander.
11. Giancarlo Stanton: Yes, Miami’s offense around Stanton is dreadful. But his RBI total should not be an issue if he hits 45 home runs, which is doable for the man with a .608 slugging percentage last season.
10. Prince Fielder: Don’t get swept up with position scarcity in the first round. Grab a reliable hitter with a high floor and plenty of power to offer. Fielder fits that mold to a tee.
9. Albert Pujols: His home runs, runs scored, steals, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage have all slipped every season from 2009 onward. Count on him bucking the trend this year with Hamilton and Trout around, and Pujols’ disappointing season is still pretty good for normal people’s standards.
8. Carlos Gonzalez: The case for Gonzalez is tricky. While he has missed multiple games in past seasons, it hasn’t stopped him from netting three consecutive 20/20 campaigns.
7. Joey Votto: When he’s on his game, Votto is the best pure hitter in baseball behind Miguel Cabrera. Now that he is fully healed, Votto should regain his power stroke and provide 25-30 bombs to complement an average well above .300 and possible double-digit steals.
6. Andrew McCutchen: Expect his .327 average to fall as his .375 BABIP regresses to the mean. As for the power, he’s a 26-year-old who has heightened his power totals every year, so he’s still good for 25-to-30 homers.
5. Robinson Cano: Want low risk from your first-rounder? Cano has missed a mere 12 games in the past six years. You’ll get over the lack of speed.
4. Matt Kemp: Kemp was well on his way to notching around 40 homers again before a hamstring injury sidelined the five-category stud.
3. Mike Trout: A .326 average, 30 homers and 49 steals is not enough to warrant the No. 1 spot for Trout? He’s a transcendent talent, but the power could drop considering his minor league high of 17 homers, and a dip in his .386 BABIP will lead to a more reasonable average.
2. Miguel Cabrera: He hit .330 with 44 home runs, 139 RBI, 109 runs and a .999 OPS. What more needs to be said about Cabrera?
1. Ryan Braun: There’s no greater five-category player in fantasy baseball. Over his career, Braun has averaged 33 homers, 106 RBI, 102 runs and 21 steals while only batting below .300 once. Don’t let the Biogenesis investigation scare you off.