Fantasy Baseball: Power Ranking the Top 10 MLB Players for the 2015 Season
It's never too late to start thinking about next year's fantasy baseball draft...or the draft four years from now.
This takes "wait 'til next year" to a whole new level.
Whether you're in a dynasty league, trying to see who you could add on the cheap this offseason or you're just a fantasy sports junkie, hungry for as much information as you can get, this list will give you your fix.
10. David Price
How about just a liiiiittle home cookin' for the first of the top 10?
Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price was born and raised in the same small Tennessee as me, but that connection has still never led to me having him on one of my fantasy teams.
It's not because he's not good enough, though. He's just too expensive.
In 2010, Price earned a 2.72 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 196 strikeouts and 19 wins, good for second place in the AL Cy Young voting.
While 2011 has been less than an exciting sequel to that campaign, his current peripheral stats far exceed those of last year—1.14 WHIP, 8.73 K/9 compared to 8.11 K/9 and 2.14 BB/9 compared to 3.41 BB/9.
Price has been worse this season primarily because of his inability to keep the ball in the park. In 2010, it was 13.91 innings per home run, while in 2011, it has been 8.87, far worse.
As he gets older and gains more experience, this will become less of a problem.
By 2015, Price will only be 29 years old and will still sport tremendous peripherals, while also keeping his home run total low. This will keep his ERA small and win-loss record strong.
The sky's the limit if Price is playing for a stronger offensive team by then.
9. Hunter Pence
I'm a Hunter Pence fan. Just take a look at my article archives for the proof. That doesn't make his ranking on this list any less legitimate, though.
It does, however, hinge on the fact that he remains with the Philadelphia Phillies for the next four years, at least.
I don't see how that would be too much of a problem, considering he has batted .342 with two homers and seven RBI since joining the Phillies just nine games ago.
In 2015, Pence will be 33 years old, certainly at the end of his prime, but also certainly a bona fide star that's comfortable in a hitter's park.
Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley will all be at least 35 years old and Pence will be the focus of the Phillies offense, driving in Shane Victorino and Domonic Brown.
8. Justin Verlander
Justin Verlander has absolutely arrived as one of the top five fantasy pitchers in the game today.
In 2015, the Detroit Tigers ace will be nearing the end of his three- to four-year run as a fixture at the top of the draft at age 32, similar to Roy Halladay's current status.
His game is a powerful one, leading me to believe that he'll have to either develop some pitches that aren't so strenuous on his arm, or throw fewer innings in the future to ensure that he's still able to help your team win in the fantasy playoffs.
But Verlander's workhorse attitude is probably strong enough to help him continue throwing 100 miles per hour at the end of games in four years as he is now.
7. Prince Fielder
Prince Fielder is likely to be playing in a larger market, making more money after the 2011 season.
I think he's a top-10 2015 player regardless, but if he lands somewhere that's friendly to his huge lefty swing, he could really take off.
The Milwaukee Brewers first baseman will be 31 in 2015, the same age as this year's highest-rated first baseman in the fantasy draft, Albert Pujols.
Fielder has been all over the board with his home run totals and batting average over the last four seasons, ranging from 32 to 50 and .261 to .299 on them respectively.
Finding some consistency with those stats will help fantasy owners have confidence in investing a first-round pick in him later.
6. Ryan Braun
Though he and Prince Fielder are teammates on the Milwaukee Brewers now, I only expect Ryan Braun to still be on the team in 2015.
No matter, he seems to love it there.
What Fielder lacks in the way of consistency, Braun makes up for and more. He batted over .300, hit at least 30 home runs and knocked in over 100 RBI in three out of his four major league seasons.
He also is an accomplished base stealer, averaging 16.6 steals per year, though he seems to have gotten even better at it this year since he already has 20.
In 2015, Braun will be 31 years old, and I see his game being similar but better than that of Matt Holliday.
5. Andrew McCutchen
Andrew McCutchen has been an impressive outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates since the first day he stepped onto the field. He is comfortable at the plate using power, as well as on the basepaths with speed.
That kind of combination spells fantasy gold in 2015.
He has already hit 15 homers this year and stolen 17 bases. His RBI total thus far in 2011 already is a new career high even while his .272 batting average is slightly under his career mark.
It's clear that McCutchen and the Pirates are still looking for the best way to utilize his power and speed, but at age 24, that's just fine. By 2015, we'll know exactly what that is.
He's already a perennial 20/20 contender, and has the ability to reach 30/30 every once in a while.
4. Clayton Kershaw
How old is Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodger fans aren't allowed to answer)?
Folks, he is 23 years old. I couldn't believe it when I was researching for the 2011 fantasy baseball draft. He's already one of the best pitchers in the game, fantasy and reality.
He reached the 200-strikeout mark for the first time in his young career in 2010 and is fast on his way to doing that again this year. He is second in the majors right now behind Justin Verlander by only two strikeouts.
His WHIP is a career-best 1.04 this year, and his 13 wins is pretty impressive considering he plays for one of the NL West's worst teams.
Kershaw's ERA hasn't been above three since his rookie year. He'll be a mere 27 years old in 2015 with a ton of experience. Quite simply, he'll be the top pitcher in fantasy baseball.
3. Matt Kemp
Matt Kemp is putting together the best season of his career, combining his power and speed to form the ultimate fantasy hitter. Andrew McCutchen times three, in other words.
Kemp will be 30 years old in 2015, an established fantasy leader with no fewer than two 30/30 seasons under his belt.
The real upside with Kemp is his ability to bat at or above .290 and perhaps join the ultra-exclusive 40/40 club that includes only four players.
Kemp, like several other players on this list, needs to more consistency in his numbers if he wants to be the third overall player in the 2015 draft. If he can, I definitely would spend my top-five pick on him.
After reading the last two slides, it does make you wonder why the Los Angeles Dodgers can't get their act together.
2. Troy Tulowitzki
Troy Tulowitzki is the king of the second half of the baseball season.
The Colorado Rockies shortstop averages .252 pre-All-Star Break and .332 post-All-Star Break over the past three seasons. By 2015, Tulowitzki, then 30, will be able to avoid the slow starts that have plagued his career thus far.
For him to make good on this prediction, Tulowitzki doesn't even have to be a stellar first-half performer, just a simple average-to-above-average fantasy shortstop.
With the recent slide of Hanley Ramirez, the future of the shortstop position in fantasy lies in Coors Field.
1. Justin Upton
The top fantasy player in 2015 will be Justin Upton of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Every year, I expect Upton to finally be 25 or 26 years old, but like Clayton Kershaw, Upton has made his mark on the major leagues already and is just 23.
Upton has graced the highlight reel with his deep bombs and sweet swing already, but has been hindered early on with minor injuries here and there. Obviously, he'll need to avoid those in the future.
Upton can hit 40 home runs in a year and rack up over 110 RBI once he matures. Fifteen to 20 stolen bases is almost a give with his athleticism, and he is working on bringing his career .277 average up by hitting over .300 in two of the last three seasons.