Fantasy Baseball 2017: Stat Predictons for the Top 10 Players Per Position

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2017

Fantasy Baseball 2017: Stat Predictons for the Top 10 Players Per Position

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    The start of spring training is still several weeks away, but it's never too soon to start planning for this year's fantasy baseball draft.

    With that in mind, ahead we've taken a crack at projecting the top 10 performers at each position, complete with a full prediction for what their rotisserie stats might look like during the upcoming year.

    • Rankings are based on 10- or 12-team mixed leagues with standard five-by-five rotisserie scoring (BA, R, HR, RBI, SB for hitters; W, ERA, WHIP, K, SV for pitchers).
    • To be eligible at a particular position, players must have played 20 games there in 2016. That's why you won't see Jonathan Villar among the second basemen or Trea Turner among the shortstops, even though that's where they're expected to play this coming year.

    So with that established, let's kick things off with catchers.

Catchers

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    Buster Posey /
    Buster Posey /Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    1. Buster Posey, SF
    (.305 BA, 19 HR, 84 RBI, 77 R, 3 SB)

    2. Gary Sanchez, NYY
    (.270 BA, 27 HR, 88 RBI, 66 R, 3 SB)

    3. Jonathan Lucroy, TEX
    (.288 BA, 18 HR, 78 RBI, 75 R, 4 SB)

    4. J.T. Realmuto, MIA
    (.282 BA, 12 HR, 51 RBI, 66 R, 11 SB)

    5. Willson Contreras, CHC
    (.272 BA, 17 HR, 71 RBI, 58 R, 5 SB)

    6. Salvador Perez, KC
    (.253 BA, 18 HR, 74 RBI, 52 R, 1 SB)

    7. Yasmani Grandal, LAD
    (.235 BA, 23 HR, 68 RBI, 53 R, 2 SB)

    8. Russell Martin, TOR
    (.232 BA, 19 HR, 60 RBI, 65 R, 6 SB)

    9. Evan Gattis, HOU
    (.247 BA, 25 HR, 66 RBI, 49 R, 1 SB)

    10. Stephen Vogt, OAK
    (.260 BA, 12 HR, 53 RBI, 61 R, 2 SB)

        

    Position Overview

    Buster Posey vs. Gary Sanchez will be a popular debate when it comes time to draft, but the top spot among backstops still belongs to Posey in seasonal leagues.

    As a .307 career hitter with a batting title to his credit, Posey is the best bet for batting average help at the position and he should also see plenty of RBI opportunities and come close to 20 home runs.

    While it's unlikely Sanchez duplicates the ridiculous home run pace we saw as a rookie (20 HR, 229 PA) over a full season, he still looks like the best power source and he too should have plenty of chances to drive in runs.

    Jonathan Lucroy will help in four categories as he's slated to hit fifth in a friendly offensive environment in Texas, while J.T. Realmuto batted .303 in a breakout season last year and looks like the only double-digit stolen base threat at the position.

    Evan Gattis, Salvador Perez, Russell Martin and Yasmani Grandal all provide power at the cost of batting average and Stephen Vogt should be a sneaky source of runs hitting out of the No. 2 spot in the Oakland lineup.

    Willson Contreras is the wild card after he hit .282 with 12 home runs and 35 RBI over 283 plate appearances as a rookie. He's now set to take over the bulk of the action behind the plate. After hitting .333 and .353 in his final two seasons in the minors, there's clear upside.

First Basemen

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    Paul Goldschmidt /
    Paul Goldschmidt /Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    1. Paul Goldschmidt, ARI
    (.306 BA, 29 HR, 107 RBI, 105 R, 25 SB)

    2. Anthony Rizzo, CHC
    (.299 BA, 37 HR, 117 RBI, 92 R, 7 SB)

    3. Miguel Cabrera, DET 
    (.321 BA, 32 HR, 110 RBI, 93 R, 0 SB)

    4. Joey Votto, CIN
    (.316 BA, 26 HR, 89 RBI, 99 R, 7 SB)

    5. Freddie Freeman, ATL
    (.303 BA, 31 HR, 101 RBI, 89 R, 3 SB)

    6. Daniel Murphy, WAS
    (.315 BA, 23 HR, 99 RBI, 91 R, 5 SB)

    7. Edwin Encarnacion, CLE
    (.258 BA, 33 HR, 111 RBI, 77 R, 1 SB)

    8. Hanley Ramirez, BOS
    (.279 BA, 24 HR, 103 RBI, 88 R, 5 SB)

    9. Wil Myers, SD
    (.262 BA, 25 HR, 76 RBI, 73 R, 21 SB)

    10. Jose Abreu, CWS
    (.281 BA, 28 HR, 89 RBI, 72 R, 0 SB)

        

    Position Overview

    After a 33-homer, 21-steal season in 2015 and a 24-homer, 32-steal season last year, Paul Goldschmidt has a chance to become the first 30/30 player at the first base position since Jeff Bagwell in 1999.

    That's enough to separate him from the rest of the pack at a position filled with elite options.

    Miguel Cabrera shows no signs of slowing down heading into his age-34 season, while Anthony Rizzo, Joey Votto and Freddie Freeman are all as safe of picks as anyone to anchor your offense.

    Rizzo has the best supporting cast of the group, Cabrera and Votto are both locks to be a significant asset in the batting average department and Freeman will no doubt benefit from a full season of Matt Kemp protecting him in the lineup

    Edwin Encarnacion will now be hitting fourth in a stacked Cleveland lineup. The move from the Rogers Centre to Progressive Field shouldn't hurt his power numbers much, if at all.

    Wil Myers is a sneaky source of steals after a 28/28 season, Hanley Ramirez should have a good chance of reaching 100 RBI for the second year in a row and Jose Abreu has settled in as a steady contributor since his monster rookie season in 2014.

    While Daniel Murphy has first base eligibility after playing 21 games there last season, he carries more value at second base. Then again, considering how deep the second base position is, he'll likely be slotted at first on more than a few fantasy rosters.

Second Basemen

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    Jose Altuve /
    Jose Altuve /Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

    1. Jose Altuve, HOU
    (.328 BA, 19 HR, 84 RBI, 107 R, 33 SB)

    2. Trea Turner, WAS
    (.304 BA, 15 HR, 69 RBI, 101 R, 57 SB)

    3. Robinson Cano, SEA
    (.302 BA, 33 HR, 104 RBI, 98 R, 2 SB)

    4. Daniel Murphy, WAS
    (.315 BA, 23 HR, 99 RBI, 91 R, 5 SB)

    5. Rougned Odor, TEX
    (.268 BA, 28 HR, 93 RBI, 84 R, 11 SB)

    6. Brian Dozier, MIN
    (.255 BA, 29 HR, 85 RBI, 82 R, 15 SB)

    7. Jean Segura, SEA
    (.287 BA, 17 HR, 68 RBI, 100 R, 27 SB)

    8. Ian Kinsler, DET
    (.280 BA, 22 HR, 76 RBI, 90 R, 12 SB)

    9. Dee Gordon, MIA
    (.273 BA, 5 HR, 48 RBI, 89 R, 48 SB)

    10. Matt Carpenter, STL
    (.268 BA, 23 HR, 84 RBI, 97 R, 2 SB)

        

    Position Overview

    With a 24-homer, 96 RBI season last year, Jose Altuve has become a bona fide five-category fantasy threat. Even if his power numbers drop a bit, he's still a serious contender for the AL batting title and another 30-plus steal season, making him an obvious first-round pick with No. 1 overall upside.

    Trea Turner will have triple position eligibility (SS, OF) by the first month of the season, even though he'll be taking over as the everyday shortstop for the Nationals. He's ranked highest as a second baseman, and his mix of speed, average, power and run-scoring potential should make him a second-round pick.

    The best bet for the classic .300 BA, 30 HR, 100 RBI season is undoubtedly Robinson Cano, and the additions of Jean Segura and Jarrod Dyson to the top of the Seattle lineup should mean even more RBI chances.

    Brian Dozier (42 HR) and Rougned Odor (33 HR) might both be in for a bit of regression in the power department, but both are still elite power options at the position. Daniel Murphy and Ian Kinsler are safe bets for solid production across the board once again.

    The aforementioned Segura might be the toughest player to peg, as his big 2016 season was propped up by a .353 BABIP and an abnormally high 13.5 percent HR/FB rate. Still, he's a legitimate power/speed threat and he'll pick up SS eligibility as well.

    Matt Carpenter is another player who will carry triple position eligibility (1B, 2B, 3B). The St. Louis Cardinals' addition of Dexter Fowler means he'll likely be hitting in the No. 3 spot in the lineup this year, so expect more RBI and few runs.

    Dee Gordon is the top stolen base threat at the position, though Jonathan Villar will pop in with second base eligibility after the season starts.

Third Basemen

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    Kris Bryant /
    Kris Bryant /Rob Tringali/Sportschrome/Getty Images

    1. Kris Bryant, CHC
    (.290 BA, 43 HR, 115 RBI, 120 R, 10 SB)

    2. Nolan Arenado, COL
    (.288 BA, 40 HR, 123 RBI, 102 R, 3 SB)

    3. Josh Donaldson, TOR
    (.284 BA, 34 HR, 106 RBI, 107 R, 5 SB)

    4. Manny Machado, BAL
    (.295 BA, 35 HR, 103 RBI, 99 R, 6 SB)

    5. Adrian Beltre, TEX
    (.291 BA, 28 HR, 98 RBI, 87 R, 1 SB)

    6. Kyle Seager, SEA
    (.273 BA, 27 HR, 97 RBI, 88 R, 3 SB)

    7. Jonathan Villar, MIL
    (.252 BA, 13 HR, 55 RBI, 76 R, 36 SB)

    8. Matt Carpenter, STL
    (.268 BA, 23 HR, 84 RBI, 97 R, 2 SB)

    9. Todd Frazier, CWS
    (.233 BA, 33 HR, 89 RBI, 79 R, 14 SB)

    10. Alex Bregman, HOU
    (.275 BA, 22 HR, 83 RBI, 77 R, 9 SB)

        

    Position Overview

    Kris BryantNolan ArenadoJosh Donaldson and Manny Machado will all come off the board in the first round of drafts and they represent the clear top tier at the third base position.

    Bryant (OF) and Machado (SS) have the added value of dual eligibility, while Arenado is still the best bet for a 40 HR, 120 RBI season. Donaldson will miss sharing the lineup with Edwin Encarnacion, but it shouldn't cut into his numbers aside from perhaps costing him a few runs scored.

    Leading off the next tier is the ageless wonder, Adrian Beltre. We're predicting a slight downturn from his .300 BA, 32 HR, 104 RBI line from a year ago as he enters his age-38 season, but no one would be surprised to see him duplicate that performance.

    Kyle Seager turned in his first 30-homer season a year ago and remains one of the most underrated players in the game, while Matt Carpenter ranks highest at third base among his three eligible positions.

    Speedster Jonathan Villar played 42 games at third base so he's eligible here. Even with considerable regression in the batting average and power department, he's still an elite stolen base option.

    Todd Frazier should see his batting average rebound a bit from the .225 mark he posted a year ago and is still a safe bet for another 30-plus homer season and double-digit steals.

    Take your pick for the No. 10 spot, but we'll go with the upside of Alex Bregman over guys like Maikel Franco, Miguel Sano, Justin Turner, Evan Longoria and Anthony Rendon.

Shortstops

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    Manny Machado /
    Manny Machado /Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    1. Manny Machado, BAL
    (.295 BA, 35 HR, 103 RBI, 99 R, 6 SB)

    2. Corey Seager, LAD
    (.302 BA, 25 HR, 90 RBI, 101 R, 3 SB)

    3. Carlos Correa, HOU
    (.277 BA, 27 HR, 101 RBI, 87 R, 14 SB)

    4. Xander Bogaerts, BOS
    (.298 BA, 20 HR, 91 RBI, 95 R, 10 SB)

    5. Francisco Lindor, CLE
    (.296 BA, 18 HR, 77 RBI, 90 R, 17 SB)

    6. Jean Segura, SEA
    (.287 BA, 17 HR, 68 RBI, 100 R, 27 SB)

    7. Jonathan Villar, MIL
    (.252 BA, 13 HR, 55 RBI, 76 R, 36 SB)

    8. Trevor Story, COL
    (.261 BA, 29 HR, 87 RBI, 79 R, 11 SB)

    9. Addison Russell, CHC
    (.265 BA, 24 HR, 93 RBI, 78 R, 5 SB)

    10. Aledmys Diaz, STL
    (.286 BA, 15 HR, 66 RBI, 87 R, 6 SB)

        

    Position Overview

    Manny Machado will be back at third base this coming season with a healthy J.J. Hardy, but after playing 45 games at shortstop last season he's an easy choice for the top spot at the position in fantasy.

    Corey SeagerCarlos CorreaXander Bogaerts and Francisco Lindor are almost interchangeable for the No. 2 spot, as all four offer huge upside and the potential for more than they showed a year ago.

    Seager is probably the safest pick, Correa has the highest ceiling, Bogaerts is the most proven of the group and Lindor has the best power/speed profile.

    The next tier down is headlined by Jean Segura, who played 23 games at shortstop last year and is now set to take over in an everyday capacity there after being traded to the Seattle Mariners. While his batting average and home run totals seem likely to decline, he'll be setting the table for a loaded Seattle lineup.

    Jonathan Villar again represents the best speed threat at this position, earning him a spot ahead of the young trio of Trevor StoryAddison Russell and Aledmys Diaz, who all have their shortcomings, despite considerable upside.

    After never hitting more than 20 home runs in a season in the minors, the jury is still out on whether Story can sustain his 27-homer, 415-plate appearance pace from a year ago. Then again, Nolan Arenado never hit more than 20 homers in the minors and he's doing just fine.

    Russell has the highest ceiling of that trio and is capable of jumping into the Seager/Correa/Bogaerts/Lindor tier with another step forward. He hasn't proven himself to be at that level yet, though, and until he does he carries some level of risk.

    As for Diaz, his final numbers looked great last year (.300 BA, 17 HR, 65 RBI, 71 R), but he hit just .257 with four home runs and 13 RBI in the second half.

Outfielders

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    Mike Trout /
    Mike Trout /Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    1. Mike Trout, LAA
    (.308 BA, 32 HR, 107 RBI, 115 R, 24 SB)

    2. Mookie Betts, BOS
    (.311 BA, 28 HR, 105 RBI, 105 R, 25 SB)

    3. Kris Bryant, CHC
    (.290 BA, 43 HR, 115 RBI, 120 R, 10 SB)

    4. Bryce Harper, WAS
    (.283 BA, 31 HR, 111 RBI, 102 R, 17 SB)

    5. Charlie Blackmon, COL
    (.304 BA, 22 HR, 81 RBI, 104 R, 28 SB)

    6. Trea Turner, WAS
    (.304 BA, 15 HR, 69 RBI, 101 R, 57 SB)

    7. Starling Marte, PIT
    (.288 BA, 17 HR, 61 RBI, 88 R, 36 SB)

    8. Ryan Braun, MIL
    (.297 BA, 30 HR, 88 RBI, 80 R, 12 SB)

    9. George Springer, HOU
    (.273 BA, 27 HR, 82 RBI, 95 R, 16 SB)

    10. Nelson Cruz, SEA
    (.271 BA, 36 HR, 103 RBI, 92 R, 2 SB)

        

    Position Overview

    Mike Trout remains the best five-category threat in baseball and the clear No. 1 choice in any format, but Mookie Betts has narrowed that gap after taking his power production to a new level last season.

    After serving more as a catalyst in 2015 while tallying 18 home runs and 77 RBI, Betts slugged 31 home runs and drove in 113 last year while moving into a run-production role.

    Kris Bryant will be outfield-eligible after playing 69 games there last season, and his lack of stolen base production puts him at the head of the second tier.

    Charlie Blackmon and Trea Turner are both clear five-category threats worthy of selections in the first round, while Bryce Harper looks like an obvious bounce-back candidate after a trying 2016 season where he saw his fair share of bad luck (.264 BABIP).

    Starling Marte picked up a nice bump in batting average (.287 to .311) and stolen bases (30 to 47) last season but saw his home run total dip from 19 to nine. The middle road in all three categories would still make him a top-10 outfielder.

    Ryan Braun provides a bit more power and batting average, while George Springer will score more runs and steal a few more bases, so take your pick between those two based on category need.

    Slugger Nelson Cruz rounds out the top 10 as he looks for a fourth straight 40-homer campaign, ahead of guys like J.D. Martinez, Carlos Gonzalez, Christian Yelich and Yoenis Cespedes.

    The wild card at this position is A.J. Pollock, who was a fantasy superstar in 2015 when he hit .315 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, 111 runs scored and 39 steals, before playing just 12 games due to injury last year. Don't reach, but don't let him slide too far.

Starting Pitchers

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    Clayton Kershaw /
    Clayton Kershaw /Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    1. Clayton Kershaw, LAD
    (17 W, 2.11 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 267 K, 0 SV)

    2. Max Scherzer, WAS
    (18 W, 2.58 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 259 K, 0 SV)

    3. Corey Kluber, CLE
    (20 W, 2.66 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 235 K, 0 SV)

    4. Noah Syndergaard, NYM
    (17 W, 2.55 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 238 K, 0 SV)

    5. Chris Sale, BOS
    (19 W, 2.87 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 222 K, 0 SV)

    6. Madison Bumgarner, SF
    (16 W, 2.63 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 217 K, 0 SV)

    7. Jon Lester, CHC
    (17 W, 2.91 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 205 K, 0 SV)

    8. Justin Verlander, DET
    (16 W, 2.94 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 211 K, 0 SV)

    9. Johnny Cueto, SF
    (16 W, 3.04 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 198 K, 0 SV)

    10. Jake Arrieta, CHC
    (16 W, 3.12 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 199 K, 0 SV)

        

    Position Overview

    Are questions about the long-term health of Clayton Kershaw's back reason enough for him to fall behind Max Scherzer as the first pitcher off the board?

    We'll say no, but that's something you'll have to ask yourself if you're targeting a pitcher in the first round.

    Corey Kluber and Noah Syndergaard appear to have a bit of a leg up on the rest of the elite arms in terms of strikeouts, and both seem like reasonable bets to post a sub-3.00 ERA and win 15-plus games playing on presumptive contenders.

    There will be plenty of pressure on Chris Sale as he joins the Boston Red Sox, but betting against a sub-3.00 ERA and another 200-plus strikeout season seems unwise.

    Madison Bumgarner and Jon Lester are as steady as they come and also incredibly durable, making them both more than capable of being the ace of a championship fantasy squad.

    How much do you trust the bounce-back performance of Justin Verlander?

    He ranked in the top 10 in all four categories last year with 16 wins (10th), a 3.04 ERA (10th), a 1.00 WHIP (third) and 254 strikeouts (second), so he could rank a few spots higher if you're not scared off by his 2014 and 2015 seasons.

    Johnny Cueto and Jake Arrieta round out the top 10 ahead of David Price, Yu Darvish, Chris Archer, Stephen Strasburg, Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco and Kyle Hendricks.

Relief Pitchers

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    Aroldis Chapman /
    Aroldis Chapman /Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    1. Aroldis Chapman, NYY
    (2 W, 1.75 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 108 K, 37 SV)

    2. Kenley Jansen, LAD
    (3 W, 1.88 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 105 K, 40 SV)

    3. Edwin Diaz, SEA
    (3 W, 2.29 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 99 K, 38 SV)

    4. Wade Davis, CHC
    (2 W, 2.18 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 87 K, 41 SV)

    5. Craig Kimbrel, BOS
    (3 W, 2.65 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 95 K, 39 SV)

    6. Roberto Osuna, TOR
    (4 W, 2.33 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 85 K, 37 SV)

    7. Zach Britton, BAL
    (3 W, 2.31 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 76 K, 40 SV)

    8. Andrew Miller, CLE
    (6 W, 1.78 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 110 K, 11 SV)

    9. Mark Melancon, SF
    (3 W, 2.51 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 66 K, 35 SV)

    10. Seung Hwan Oh, STL
    (3 W, 2.68 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 75 K, 34 SV)

        

    Position Overview

    How high do you draft Andrew Miller in a league that doesn't reward holds?

    That will be the biggest question on the relief pitcher side of things, and considering he has the potential to post a sub-2.00 ERA, sub-1.00 WHIP and 100-plus strikeouts while still picking up double-digit saves, he slots in just behind the elite closer options here in the No. 8 spot.

    Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen are the clear top tier among closers, though they could be joined by Edwin Diaz if he matches his rookie performance.

    The Seattle Mariners' young flame-thrower posted a 2.79 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 88 strikeouts in 51.2 innings while converting 18 of 21 save chances.

    Wade Davis and Craig Kimbrel will both see a ton of save chances pitching for two of the World Series favorites, though Davis comes with some injury concerns and Kimbrel has not been quite as sharp since leaving Atlanta.

    Those two will both likely post a higher strikeout total than Roberto Osuna, though he's no slouch in that department after posting a 10.0 K/9 rate last season.

    Zach Britton authored one of the greatest single-season performances ever by a relief pitcher a year ago, which means he's probably going to go too high in most drafts. Some level of regression seems inevitable, and he's not quite an elite strikeout option among closers.

    Miller slots in behind that group, and just ahead of Mark Melancon, who should pile up saves with the San Francisco Giants but will likely sit in the 8.0 K/9 range.

    Seung Hwan Oh earns the final spot in the rankings, ahead of Cody Allen, Ken Giles, Kelvin Herrera and Jeurys Familia.

    Familia would be a top-10 option if not for the time he's expected to miss due to a likely suspension stemming from a domestic violence incident this offseason.

        

    All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com, unless otherwise noted.