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An Early Top 20 Fantasy Baseball Rankings for 2015

Too early to talk about fantasy baseball rankings for 2015? It’s never too early! The offseason is upon us, which means that these ranks could change in the next few months, but now is a good time for some initial ranks. Personally, I tend to be somewhat risk-averse in the first couple rounds of fantasy drafts. I’m more likely to go with the consistent, well-established player than the guy with high upside and the “potential” for a breakout year. I also tend to rely on the depth of pitching, so I am lower on the aces than most.

So here it is, enjoy!

20. Victor Martinez, 1B/DH, Free Agent

V-mart’s days behind the plate are over, but the soon-to-be 36-year-old free agent enjoyed a career year at the plate in 2014 with the Detroit Tigers. Looking at his career work, the 32 HRs in ’14 appear to be an aberration, but if he lands on a team (including Detroit) where he can serve as the primary DH/secondary 1B, there’s no reason to believe he can’t have a .300/20/95 season in 2015.

19. Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas Rangers

The normally sturdy third baseman had a rough beginning to 2014 due to some quad issues, but bounced back for a nice .324/19/77 season. At age 35, the dip in power is a slight cause for concern, but you’re not going to find many fantasy 3Bs (or real life 3Bs, for that matter) who are as productive and consistent as Beltre.

18. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, New York Yankees

While we probably won’t see Ellsbury get back to that magical 2011 form where he was a 30/30 HR/SB player, playing with the short porch in New York’s right field improved his power numbers quite a bit in 2014. He’s as solid a pick as there is in the second round of fantasy drafts.

17. Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros

Altuve’s league-leading .341 batting average in 2014 was a bit outrageous, considering it was about 60 points higher than his average in his previous 2+ years in the bigs. While he is a special player, a regression in his average, as well as his career-high 56 SBs, is likely. He should still be good for .300 and at least 35-40 SBs, though.

16. Ian Desmond, SS, Washington Nationals

Know how many players have gone 20/20 each of the past three years? Two. That’s it. One is former MVP Andrew McCutchen, and the other, as you may or may not have guessed, is Ian Desmond (Carlos Gomez would be the third if he hit one more HR in 2012). The only thing keeping him out of their class in fantasy is his relatively abysmal 2014 AVG of .255, though in the past he’s shown he can do better (.292 in ’12 and .280 in ’13). With Tulo’s health being a constant nag, Desmond is the clear-cut SS1 for me.

15. Robinson Cano, 2B, Seattle Mariners

We’ll go ahead and chalk up Cano’s relatively low 14 homers in 2014 to adjusting to a new team and ballpark. All he needs is about 5-7 more in 2015 and he’s back to the consensus 2B1.

14. Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B, Washington Nationals

This may be one of those “potential” picks I mentioned in the open, but a guy who has 20/20 skills, duel eligibility at premium positions, and hits near the top of a stacked lineup might not be that much of a reach at 14.

13. Felix Hernandez, SP, Seattle Mariners

Hernandez had the best season of his already fantastic career in 2014. Somehow after seven straight seasons of at least 30 starts and 200 innings, he continues to get better. At age 28, he is just entering his prime. Being the guy who always waits on pitching, putting a pitcher not named Kershaw in my top 15 says a lot about what I think of King Felix.

12. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs

Two surprise Anthonys! Like Rendon though, Rizzo may not be a stretch in the second round. The power is legit, the plate discipline has improved dramatically, and with a loaded farm and Joe Maddon at the helm, the Cubs look like a team on the rise, despite decades of Cub-ness.

11. Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

As I’ve mentioned a few times already, I tend to wait on pitching. If I had more space, I would get into detail about why I personally wouldn’t take Kershaw in the first round, but we’ll save that for another time. That being said, he’s the best pitcher in the world, and should be picked anywhere from 1-15.

10. Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto Blue Jays

Injuries have come and gone over the years for Joey Bats, but 2014 was his healthiest season in a while. He’s creeping up there in age at 34, but 30 homers and 100 RBIs is hard to come by these days. Bautista is a near lock for those numbers.

9. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays

Streaky? Yes. But over the past three seasons, only Miggy himself has more homers (113) than Encarnacion’s 112.

8. Adam Jones, OF, Baltimore Orioles

Jones seems to swing at everything but somehow manages to keep a respectable .280-ish AVG every year. He may not be a sexy pick in the first round, but you know you’re going to get that .280 to go with 30 homers and 85 RBIs with about 10-15 SBs thrown in there.

7. Jose Abreu, 1B/DH, Chicago White Sox

Yes, the power tailed off in the second half of the season, but I believe he is the kind of player with 40-50 homer potential (there’s that word again), now that he’s a “veteran” in the MLB. I wouldn’t bet on him hitting .317 again, however.

6. Carlos Gomez, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

I mentioned his consistency in homeruns and steals earlier. Not only have they been consistent, his power/speed numbers have steadily increased over the years, along with his plate discipline. Is this the year he goes 30/30?

5. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers

“Gasp! Miggy all the way down at 5!? This man’s insane!” Age catches up to us all, I’m afraid. I’m only half kidding; he’s still one of the best hitters in the game, but did show flashes of mortality with “only” 25 homers and a .313 AVG in 2014. Still a top 5 fantasy and real life player.

4. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks

A broken hand cut Goldy’s 2014 short, but seeing how it was somewhat of a “freak” injury, I don’t label him as an “injury risk”. He’s the rare first baseman who can contribute in all 5 categories.

3. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami Marlins

Deciding between Stanton and Goldy was one of the toughest decisions I had while making this list. Like Goldy, he suffered a freak injury, but his could be the kind that might affect his psyche, seeing as how he got blasted in the face with a pitch. Since there is no way we can predict those kinds of things, I’m choosing Stanton over Goldy solely because I think he can hit 5-10 more home runs than him.

2. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

A superstar in his prime. Think of the things he could do if he had better hitters around him (no offense Josh Harrison).

1. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels

He’s the best. Don’t get cute, take him #1. This is coming from a Pirates fan.


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