I spent the first 13 years of my life living in the state of Wisconsin. Even though, the last 18 years have been spent in California (in the middle of 49ers country), I took great pleasure in seeing the Green Bay Packers impose their will and do whatever they pleased against the Chicago Bears.
In the spirit of this, today I will be unveiling my Early Fantasy Baseball Rankings for 2015 . These are the 20 players that are most likely to dominate the opposition and help fantasy owners do the same to their competition.
20) Edwin Encarnacion 1B Toronto Blue Jays
Projection: .272/.363/.543 37 HR 90 RBI 80 R 6 SB
Encarnacion has been a top level power hitter over the last three years. He continued this trend last year, going yard 34 times despite missing 34 games. Even though he’s getting older, he’s still worthy of a high draft pick.
19) Adrian Beltre 3B Texas Rangers
Projection: .303/.370/.467 19 HR 90 RBI 85 R 3 SB
Beltre was one of the few players to actually stay healthy for the Texas Rangers last year. While he’s unlikely to go back to hitting 30+ HR a year, he’s still looks like a good bet to hit at least .300 and have plenty of opportunities to score & drive in runs.
18) Justin Upton OF Atlanta Braves
Projection: .282/.356/.519 32 HR 85 RBI 80 R 3 SB
While the days of getting 20 SB/year out of Upton have come and gone, he is coming off his third season in four years with at least 25 HR. The combination of Upton being 27 on opening day and that his HR/FB rate the last two seasons (17.9%) which is above his 14.9% career total indicates to me that he has a realistic chance of breaking his career high (31) of HR in 2015.
17) Adam Jones OF – Baltimore Orioles
Projection: .284/.313/.477 29 HR 90 RBI 80 R 8 SB
Despite his apparent inability to draw any walks (2.8% BB Rate in 2014), Jones continued to put up very consistent offensive numbers. He’s hit between .280 & .287 each of the last five years and is on track to hit at least 25 HR for the fifth consecutive year. This ranking assumes that batting average is used instead of OBP. If you are in a league that uses OBP instead of AVG, Jones would fall outside the top 20.
16) Victor Martinez 1B/DH – Free Agent
Projection: .302/.371/.452 17 HR 90 RBI 85 R 3 SB
I would be shocked if Martinez repeats his 32 HR explosion from last year as he had a 16% HR/FB rate in 2014 (compared to 7.3% and 7.2% in 2011 & 2013). With that being said, Martinez is still very valuable headed into 2015. He looks on track to hit at least .300 again.
15)—Freddie Freeman 1B – Atlanta Braves
Projection: .290/.373/.465 21 HR 90 RBI 90 R 3 SB
Freeman has been a consistent and reliable player since 2011 combining 20 HR power with a solid batting average.
14) Jose Abreu 1B – Chicago White Sox
Projection: .282/.354/.501 28 HR 100 RBI 70 R 3 SB
Abreu put opposing pitchers on notice by crushing the ball to the tune of 36 HR. While I think his 2015 numbers may fall short of 2014 (I’m not sure how sustainable his .356 BABIP & 26.9% HR/FB rate is), this doesn’t stop him from being a top 20 player.
13) Carlos Gomez OF – Milwaukee Brewers
Projection: .273/.352/.473 24 HR 75 RBI 90 R 30 SB
Gomez continues to demonstrate that blazing fast speed can be combined with power as he his 20+ HR for the second consecutive season. Considering that Ron Roenicke is still managing the Brewers, the stolen base opportunities should also continue to be plentiful in 2015.
12) Robinson Cano 2B – Seattle Mariners
Projection: .316/.381/.468 16 HR 85 RBI 80 R 10 SB
While Cano hit over .300 for the sixth consecutive season in his first year in Seattle, he also saw his HR total (14) drop to the lowest it’s been since 2008. While I think is HR total should rebound some in 2015, I think his 25+ HR days may be behind him. That being said he combines AVG & double digit power at 2B where both of these things are rare which keeps his value high.
11) Buster Posey C/1B – San Francisco Giants
Projection: .318/.376/.502 24 HR 75 RBI 90 R 1 SB
Posey had a monster season which went a long way towards the Giants winning their third title. As Posey will still only be 28 by Opening Day, Posey should continue being far and away the most valuable Catcher in Fantasy.
10) Anthony Rendon 2B/3B – Washington Nationals
Projection: .287/.358/.459 18 HR 90 RBI 95 R 10 SB
While Rendon spent the majority of time at 3B, he did put in 28 games at 2B this year which helps his value. Rendon came into 2014 as a promising but unproven player that you could take a flyer on in the late round. It’s safe to say that’s not going to happen again in 2015.
9) Jose Altuve – 2B Houston Astros
Projection: .323/.357/.423 7 HR 60 RBI 85 R 38 SB
Altuve may not be tall in stature, but he is very tall in Fantasy value. While I don’t think he’s going to repeat his .341 AVG and his power contributions are negligible at best, he should be a safe bet to stay healthy, hit at least .300 and give you 35-40 SB
8) Felix Hernandez SP – Seattle Mariners
Projection: 19 W 2.42 ERA 0.99 WHIP 240 SO
Hernandez is coming off the most dominant season in what has already been a very successful career. While his ERA will likely creep up from his 2.14 total of last year, 240 SO and an ERA below 2.50 is still reasonable things to expect.
7) Jose Bautista OF – Toronto Blue Jays
Projection: .274/.386/.494 33 HR 100 RBI 100 R 6 SB
Bautista does come with some risk due to age (34 years old) and health (missed 70 games in 2012 & 44 games in 2013). However, his bat has shown no signs of slowing down. Also, he did get through last season healthy and even in seasons such as ’12 & ’13 where he missed time that didn’t stop him from at least hitting 25+ HR.
6) Clayton Kershaw SP – Los Angeles Dodgers
Projection: 18 W 2.16 ERA 0.972 WHIP 226 SO
Personally, I tend to shy away from drafting Pitchers very early in the draft. However, the way that Kershaw & Hernandez have dominated and embarrassed opposing hitters, it at least makes me entertain the thought of drafting a pitcher early, which in itself is an accomplishment.
5) Andrew McCutchen OF – Pittsburgh Pirates
Projection: .306/.401/.525 23 HR 85 RBI 90 R 16 SB
McCutchen continued to impress in 2014, hitting at least .300 for the third consecutive season and putting up at least 20 HR/15 SB for the fourth consecutive season. He looks on track to repeat these numbers in 2015.
4) Paul Goldschmidt 1B – Arizona Diamondbacks
Projection: .282/.380/.496 25 HR 105 RBI 95 R 14 SB
Goldschmidt’s season was shortened due to an injury attained while being hit by a pitch. On the health standpoint, this appears to be a fluke and he should be ready to be a top 5 player in 2015. In addition to putting up elite AVG/HR numbers, Goldschmidt should also contribute in the speed category.
3) Giancarlo Stanton – OF Miami Marlins
Projection: .287/.396/.560 38 HR 105 RBI 95 R 7 SB
Stanton also had his season truncated by being hit by a pitch. Even though Stanton has been a top level player for a few years, it is possible we haven’t even seen him at his best as he barely turned 25 on November 8.
2) Miguel Cabrera – 1B Detroit Tigers
Projection: .308/.378/.514 27 HR 115 RBI 100 R 3 SB
While the 25 HR he hit last year is closer to what I think Cabrera will produce going forward (compared to the 30+ HR he hit the previous 7 years), Cabrera is still a must-have fantasy option. Despite the drop in power, he still can be counted on to hit .300 and being in the middle of a strong Tigers lineup means plenty of opportunities to score and drive in runs.
1) Mike Trout – OF Los Angeles Angels
Projection: .283/.376/.562 36 HR 105 RBI 110 R 22 SB
Mike Trout is a once in a generation player and tops the very competitive field for the #1 ranking going into 2015. He’s barely 23 but has already displayed the ability to hit for average, power, steal bases and is in a loaded Angels lineup which ensures that he helps in the Runs Scored & RBI categories. Considering how young he is, it’s crazy to think how good he can get once he reaches his peak.
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