Pre-Draft Player Rankings

1 Mike Trout (LAA - CF)
Healthy
ADP: 2.2
CHG: 0.0
Depth: CF-1
G AB R HR RBI SB AVG
2014 Season 157 602 115 36 111 16 .287
2015 Projections 162 597 120 33 90 36 .323
3 Year Average 151 583 118 31 97 33 .312
Outlook: After finishing second in the MVP voting to Miguel Cabrera in each of the previous two seasons, Trout took home the hardware for what may have been his worst performance in the big leagues in 2014. His numbers weren't bad by any stretch of the imagination, as he tallied a career-high 36 home runs and a .939 OPS, but he led the American League in strikeouts while tallying a career-low batting average (.287) and on-base percentage (.377). The strikeouts in particular did not sit well with Trout, as he admitted that he swung at a lot of high pitches in 2014. However, it was actually Trout's contact rate on pitches in the zone that took a tumble last year, as he made contact on swings at pitches in the zone just 85.1% of the time, compared to an 89.0% mark in 2013. While the strikeouts are a bit concerning, it's difficult to bet against Trout having another monster season in 2015, considering what he accomplished despite a career-high 26.1% strikeout rate last season.
2 Giancarlo Stanton (Mia - RF)
Healthy
ADP: 3.9
CHG: 0.0
Depth: RF-1
G AB R HR RBI SB AVG
2014 Season 145 539 89 37 105 13 .288
2015 Projections 131 485 80 35 81 6 .285
3 Year Average 128 471 75 33 84 7 .276
Outlook: Following a season in which Stanton set or tied career-best marks in home runs, RBI, walks, stolen bases, runs scored and on-base percentage, the Marlins decide to lock up their 25-year-old franchise slugger with the largest contract ever handed to a baseball player. Stanton inked a 13-year, $325 million pact to stay in South Florida through his 38th birthday and will attempt to justify that investment immediately by providing a sufficient encore to the performance that landed him a second-place finish in the National League MVP voting in 2014. Stanton's season ended on a scary note, as he missed the final two weeks after getting hit by a pitch in the face and suffering multiple fractures. He is expected to be fully recovered well ahead of spring training. Stanton offers strong defense in right field while also delivering immense power and run production and showing continual advancement in his offensive game that now includes above excellent run totals and double-digit steal potential.
3 Andrew McCutchen (Pit - CF)
Healthy
ADP: 4.9
CHG: 0.0
Depth: CF-1
G AB R HR RBI SB AVG
2014 Season 146 548 89 25 83 18 .314
2015 Projections 155 571 92 24 80 20 .306
3 Year Average 153 575 98 26 88 22 .320
Outlook: A rib avulsion fracture forced McCutchen to the disabled list for the first time in his six big-league seasons, but he still suited up for 146 games in 2014. The 28-year-old batted .314/.410/.542 with 25 homers and 18 steals in 648 plate appearances, making his third straight appearance as an NL MVP finalist (he won in 2013). Opponents continue to pitch McCutchen carefully; his zone percentage (pitches thrown inside the strike zone) dropped for the sixth consecutive campaign to a career-low 42.2%, but the center fielder still found a way to put up big numbers. He led the NL with a .952 OPS and is primed for yet another big season in 2015.
4 Miguel Cabrera (Det - 1B, DH)
Healthy
ADP: 5.4
CHG: 0.0
Depth: 1B-1
G AB R HR RBI SB AVG
2014 Season 159 611 101 25 109 1 .313
2015 Projections 157 588 109 37 121 2 .337
3 Year Average 156 596 104 38 128 3 .329
Outlook: For most players, a slash line of .313/.371/.524 with 25 homers, 191 hits, 109 RBI, 101 runs and an All-Star berth would be considered a career-defining campaign, but for a back-to-back AL MVP award winner, it was considered a down year. Cabrera undoubtedly took a slight step back in 2014, as his .895 OPS was the lowest since he joined the Tigers in 2008. His ISO dropped to .211, which was the lowest since his 2003 debut season. On a positive note, Cabrera continued to hit the ball on a line most of the season, posting a career-best 24.8% line-drive rate while also posting a contact rate above 80.0% for the seventh consecutive season. He also finished the regular season on a tear, hitting .379/.409/.709 with eight homers and 18 RBI in September. There were some obvious reasons for Cabrera’s statistical dip. The Tigers' slugger saw his HR/FB rate dip to a career-low 14.0%, well below the 23.0 and 25.4% he posted in 2012 and 2013, respectively. He also dealt with a lingering bone spur in his ankle for much of the season, which eventually led to offseason surgery in late October. Cabrera’s surgery was more serious than anticipated, as he had two screws inserted to stabilize a stress fracture in the navicular bone. He won’t be evaluated again until late January, and depending on those results, his availability for Opening Day could be in question. Assuming Cabrera makes a full recovery by spring training, he’ll remain one of the premier options at first base as he enters his age-32 season.
5 Paul Goldschmidt (Ari - 1B)
Healthy
ADP: 7.7
CHG: 0.0
Depth: 1B-1
G AB R HR RBI SB AVG
2014 Season 109 406 75 19 69 9 .300
2015 Projections 139 512 87 24 85 13 .293
3 Year Average 138 507 87 25 92 14 .296
Outlook: Last season was a mirror image of 2013 for the fantasy stud in terms of his batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. That is where the good news ends. Goldschmidt missed 51 games with a broken hand and was unavailable to owners for the final two months of the season. At the point of his injury, his RBI total was just 55 percent of what it was in 2013 because the team around him was rather awful. With a full season, he would have likely matched his stolen base total from 2013 and swiped at least 10 bases for a third straight season, as a first baseman. Even for a young player, Goldschmidt’s skills are stable. His strikeout rate is slightly below league average, but he offsets that with a well-above-league-average walk rate. He doesn’t get himself into trouble chasing pitches and in a time where offense is tapering off, this guy flat out rakes. Goldschmidt is first-round material again in 2015.
6 Clayton Kershaw (LAD - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 5.6
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2014 Season 21 3 0 198.3 239 1.77 0.86
2015 Projections 20 5 0 216.0 231 2.08 0.95
3 Year Average 17 7 0 220.7 233 2.04 0.94
Outlook: What could Kershaw possibly do to improve upon his three straight ERA and WHIP titles with a pair of Cy Youngs and a second-place finish in between? Surely, he can’t get better, so even though you can expect greatness, it’ll likely be regressed from 2013. Well, not exactly. Left with the seemingly impossible task of one-upping himself, Kershaw somehow did just that and then some, winning titles in the aforementioned categories, including career-bests in each, as well as his third Cy Young and his first NL MVP. And all of that despite missing April and failing to reach the 200-inning mark. At this point, it would be foolish to suggest he can’t possibly best himself yet again. How about a 1.00 ERA? He is the unquestioned best pitcher in the game and a surefire first-rounder regardless of league size and format.
7 Jose Abreu (CWS - 1B, DH)
Healthy
ADP: 9.0
CHG: 0.0
Depth: 1B-1
G AB R HR RBI SB AVG
2014 Season 145 556 80 36 107 3 .317
2015 Projections 151 574 82 37 99 2 .312
3 Year Average 145 556 80 36 107 3 .317
Outlook: Things could not have gone much better for Abreu in his first MLB season. The Cuban expat entered the year with some questions about whether his swing would hold up to advanced pitching, but Abreu displayed an advanced work ethic that made the transition nearly seamless. He raced to 29 home runs before making the AL All-Star squad, and finished his Rookie of the Year campaign leading the majors with a .581 slugging percentage. He proved himself to be more than just a slugger in the second half, hitting .350 after the break. He swings more than you would like and misses more than he should, so it would not be a surprise to see his average suffer a bit in 2015 if he can not sustain his .356 BABIP. However, his power should continue to rank him in the upper echelon of AL first basemen in 2015, and he should have a spot in the heart of the White Sox's order for several years to come.
8 Jose Bautista (Tor - RF, DH)
Healthy
ADP: 10.1
CHG: 0.0
Depth: DH-1
G AB R HR RBI SB AVG
2014 Season 155 553 101 35 103 6 .286
2015 Projections 115 412 72 27 67 5 .262
3 Year Average 122 446 82 30 80 6 .265
Outlook: Bautista bounced back from two injury plagued seasons in 2014, playing 155 games – his highest total since 2010 – and bolstering his slash line to an elite .286/.403/.524. At 34, it's fair to wonder if his days of reaching the 40-homer plateau are over, but Bautista has hit 35 homers while driving in 100 runs and scoring 100 runs in each of his last three healthy seasons. A closer look at his body of work last season reveals that he may be able to sustain his gains in the batting average department, as departed hitting coach Kevin Seitzer helped Bautista beat the shift with more consistency, pushing his BABIP from .259 in 2013 to .287 last season. The results was the second highest batting average (.286) of his career, which paired with his power and the quality of the lineup around him, give him a fair shot at a fourth 35-100-100 campaign.
9 Carlos Gomez (Mil - CF)
Healthy
ADP: 12.0
CHG: 0.0
Depth: CF-1
G AB R HR RBI SB AVG
2014 Season 148 574 95 23 73 34 .284
2015 Projections 136 527 93 26 66 42 .296
3 Year Average 144 508 82 22 66 37 .278
Outlook: Gomez contributed across the board last season, finishing no lower than 57th in the league in any of the five standard categories. He took over the leadoff job last season and performed particularly well in the role, finishing ninth in the league in runs and eighth in the league in stolen bases. His defense fell off a bit last season, but he will be entering his age-29 campaign and has finished each of the last two seasons with an OPS comfortably north of .800, so expect him to be among the top hitters in fantasy drafts in 2015.
10 Felix Hernandez (Sea - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 10.4
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2014 Season 15 6 0 236.0 248 2.14 0.92
2015 Projections 16 12 0 225.0 223 3.14 1.14
3 Year Average 13 8 0 224.0 229 2.73 1.06
Outlook: Hernandez posted the lowest ERA and WHIP in the American League last season since Pedro Martinez in 2000, and the third-lowest opponent OBP (.243) in the designated hitter era. He also led the AL in BAA (.200) and quality starts (27) and was the only pitcher to finish in the top five in IP (236), strikeouts (248), K/BB (5.39), K/9 (9.46), GB/FB (1.35) and FIP (2.62). In 13 no-decisions, he had a 1.88 ERA. He also set a major league record with 16 consecutive starts of at least seven innings and two or fewer runs allowed. And yet, it wasn't enough to win him his second AL Cy Young Award. Go figure. Hernandez might not be historically great again this year, but he should turn in another typical Felix season, dominating throughout the season as he did last year when he posted a 1.66 September ERA. A better offense should give more run support, too, resulting in more wins.
11 Anthony Rizzo (ChC - 1B)
Healthy
ADP: 16.8
CHG: 0.0
Depth: 1B-1
G AB R HR RBI SB AVG
2014 Season 140 524 89 32 78 5 .286
2015 Projections 129 481 72 25 67 4 .283
3 Year Average 129 489 68 23 69 5 .264
Outlook: Though the Cubs have a lot of young offensive talent, many of them with prodigious power, most struggle to get on base. Not so with Rizzo, who drew 73 walks last year and finished with a team-high .386 on-base percentage. Oh, and he also led the team in home runs, RBI, runs, slugging percentage, and OPS. Despite all the young players coming up at the ranks at seemingly every position, the Cubs don't have a can't-miss prospect at first base (the closest thing to it is Dan Vogelbach), meaning Rizzo's job is safe. Once those other young hitters start getting on base, expect the 25-year-old Rizzo to start racking up 100-RBI seasons.
12 Troy Tulowitzki (Col - SS)
Healthy
ADP: 13.7
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SS-1
G AB R HR RBI SB AVG
2014 Season 91 315 71 21 52 1 .340
2015 Projections 129 476 92 28 77 1 .328
3 Year Average 88 314 59 18 54 1 .315
Outlook: The star-crossed Tulowitzki certainly justified his high-round sticker price through mid-July, as he led the majors with a Bondsian 1.035 OPS to accompany his usual slick defense at shortstop. Even on a Rockies squad headed for a losing season, he was still a leading MVP candidate behind what was shaping up to be a career year, but such talk would come to an end by early August. A supposedly minor thigh injury was viewed as a temporary setback for Tulowitzki, but he was later diagnosed with a torn labrum in his left hip, ending his season after 91 games. Tulowitzki is expected to be at full strength for the spring, but given that he’s missed at least 30 games three seasons in a row, those who invest in him certainly need a reliable insurance option on hand. Furthermore, the Rockies’ acknowledgement this offseason that they would entertain trade offers for the shortstop adds a wrinkle into Tulowitzki’s valuation in the event he lands in a more hitter-neutral park, as an unconscionable .417/.497/.748 line at Coors Field weighed heavier than normal into his numbers in 2014.
13 Edwin Encarnacion (Tor - 1B, DH)
Healthy
ADP: 15.8
CHG: 0.0
Depth: 1B-1
G AB R HR RBI SB AVG
2014 Season 128 477 75 34 98 2 .268
2015 Projections 144 525 89 37 99 8 .272
3 Year Average 140 516 86 37 104 7 .273
Outlook: The Home Run Parrot was out in full force once again in 2014 as Encarnacion hit at least 34 home runs for a third consecutive season, despite playing in just 128 games. He fell two shy of equaling his 2013 home run total in nearly 80 fewer plate appearances. Encarnacion takes plenty of walks and rarely strikes out, and when he puts the ball in play, he is trying to smoke it to the left side as nearly all of his home runs in recent seasons have been to left field. He has low BABIPs because he is often overshifted, but Encarnacion still hits for a good average because of the amount of balls he hits over the fence that no shift can prevent. He is a two category stud, three if you play in an OBP league, and contributes in four categories. With a talented lineup around him and a hitter-friendly home park, Encarnacion is a safe early investment on draft day.
14 Robinson Cano (Sea - 2B)
Healthy
ADP: 14.6
CHG: 0.0
Depth: 2B-1
G AB R HR RBI SB AVG
2014 Season 157 595 77 14 82 10 .314
2015 Projections 162 624 90 25 95 7 .316
3 Year Average 159 609 88 25 94 7 .314
Outlook: Cano's power was the subject of much debate last offseason after he signed a 10-year deal with the Mariners. But he actually showed more power at Safeco Field than on the road with nine homers and a .470 SLG at home in 37 fewer at-bats than on the road (five home runs, .440 SLG). Still, his homers and doubles were the fewest since 2008. As for his average, he simply picked up where he left off in New York, batting .314 for the second year in a row. He also struck out in just 10.2% of his plate appearances, a five-year low. Cano's RBI count dropped by 25 thanks to his offensively inferior new team. Perhaps that changes this year with the addition of Nelson Cruz to the lineup. With Cruz hitting behind him, it shouldn't take much for Cano to surpass 100 runs scored again. If nothing else, pitchers can't simply pitch around Cano as they too often did last season (his 9.2% walk rate was the second highest of his career).
15 Buster Posey (SF - C, 1B)
Healthy
ADP: 16.2
CHG: 0.0
Depth: C-1
G AB R HR RBI SB AVG
2014 Season 147 547 72 22 89 0 .311
2015 Projections 141 534 71 19 82 0 .313
3 Year Average 148 532 70 20 88 1 .314
Outlook: While Posey did not quite rebound to an MVP level in 2014, he returned more rotisserie value than any catcher and finished sixth in the NL MVP voting. Posey has displayed remarkable durability since his freak injury in 2011, appearing in at least 147 games each of the last three seasons, and he didn't hit below .250 in any month of the 2014 campaign. He struggled in the postseason (.558 OPS) and especially in the World Series (4-for-26), but Posey was one of the main reasons why the Giants earned a wild card birth in the first place, and of course San Francisco won it all regardless. Against right-handers, Posey hit .314/.366/.478, up from .283/.362/.431 a year before, and he was red-hot down the stretch in the regular season, finishing with a .978 OPS in the second half. Sure, his walk rate was down more than two percent (from 10.1% to 7.8%), but Posey again improved his strikeout rate (to 11.4%) and has proven to be an extremely consistent offensive contributor. He'll be just 28 at the start of the 2015 campaign and is still the clear choice for first catcher off the board.
16 Anthony Rendon (Was - 3B, 2B)
DL15
ADP: 22.1
CHG: 0.0
Depth: --
G AB R HR RBI SB AVG
2014 Season 153 613 111 21 83 17 .287
2015 Projections 132 510 78 14 57 8 .276
3 Year Average 126 482 76 14 59 9 .278
Outlook: Rendon's first full season in the majors was a resounding success. Not only did he begin to shake off the "injury-prone" label that had dogged him since college by playing in 153 games, he cranked out 21 home runs, swiped 17 bases on 20 attempts and slashed .287/.351/.473 while playing above-average defense at both second and third base and collecting a Silver Slugger Award at the latter position. Now established as one of the more exciting young players in baseball and a franchise cornerstone for the Nationals, the 24-year-old will likely settle in as the club's long-term solution at third base, with Ryan Zimmerman's ongoing shoulder issues forcing a move across the diamond. It's always possible, however, that the Nats could eventually acquire a third baseman and shift him back to the keystone. As ridiculous as it may seem, given Rendon's hit tool, plate discipline and developing power from the right side, Edgar Martinez comparisons aren't entirely out of line. The kid is legit.
17 Adam Jones (Bal - CF)
Healthy
ADP: 19.7
CHG: 0.0
Depth: CF-1
G AB R HR RBI SB AVG
2014 Season 159 644 88 29 96 7 .281
2015 Projections 160 641 99 29 90 11 .285
3 Year Average 160 648 97 31 95 12 .284
Outlook: Jones remains one of the most consistent players in baseball, parlaying his tools into a sixth straight year of five-category production. While he has always been able to produce without drawing walks, Jones took fewer free passes than ever in 2014 (2.8% BB%). Fortunately, he didn't show any change in his strikeout rate, fanning at a 19.5% clip compared to a 19.4% career mark. Perhaps of some concern, Jones had a .709 OPS against right-handed pitching in 2014, but he offset that slide by demolishing left-handed pitching to the tune of a 1.003 mark. Even if he's unable to return to his pre-2014 norms against righties, Jones' durability and placement in the heart of the Baltimore lineup should make his decline a gradual one. The track record will place Jones among the league's top outfielders on draft day as a safe high-priced target. Don't be fooled, as there is actually some risk here as Jones approaches age 30 in August.
18 Jose Altuve (Hou - 2B)
Healthy
ADP: 20.8
CHG: 0.0
Depth: 2B-1
G AB R HR RBI SB AVG
2014 Season 158 660 85 7 59 56 .341
2015 Projections 161 638 84 7 49 49 .335
3 Year Average 152 621 76 6 49 41 .306
Outlook: Altuve turned in a remarkable season for Houston, earning the second All-Star nod of his young career en route to winning the AL batting title with a .341 average. The 24-year-old led the majors with 67 multi-hit games and 225 hits, which far surpassed Craig Biggio's club record of 210 hits in a single season. Altuve's success at the plate can be attributed to an improved approach, which saw his contact rate (92%) rise by six percent and his strikeout rate (7.1%) dip significantly compared to the year prior. Altuve's .414/.566/1.013 slash line against lefties was particularly impressive, and while he only slightly improved his walk rate (5.1%), he terrorized opponents on the basepaths with an AL-leading 56 steals. His 86 percent success rate on stolen base attempts may prove to be an outlier, however, considering his success rate for his career coming into last season was 73.5 percent. While it might be wise for fantasy owners to anticipate regression from Altuve this season, there's no denying his value as an elite source of steals who will score plenty of runs and get on base at a healthy clip.
19 Max Scherzer (Was - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 15.7
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2014 Season 18 5 0 220.3 252 3.15 1.18
2015 Projections 16 12 0 215.0 256 2.96 1.11
3 Year Average 18 5 0 207.3 241 3.26 1.14
Outlook: Scherzer backed up his 2013 Cy Young campaign with another stellar season for the Tigers. He finished 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA and 1.18 WHIP while setting career-highs in strikeouts (252) and innings (220.1). His 2.91 FIP was right on line with the 2.89 FIP posted in 2013, but Scherzer didn’t have as much luck with BABIP (.325) this time around. Scherzer continued to rely heavily on his fastball, which setup his changeup, slider and a curveball he used more than in past seasons. The 30-year-old righty hit free agency in the midst of his prime. For a starting pitcher his age, Scherzer has a surprising light workload of 1,239 innings, and he has proven to be very durable the last few years. He'll move to the NL after signing a seven-year deal with Washington. He should be among the strikeout leaders once again with the Nationals and a topnotch option to lead any fantasy staff.
20 Adrian Beltre (Tex - 3B, DH)
Healthy
ADP: 22.8
CHG: 0.0
Depth: 3B-1
G AB R HR RBI SB AVG
2014 Season 148 549 79 19 77 1 .324
2015 Projections 148 578 84 27 78 0 .310
3 Year Average 155 595 87 28 90 1 .319
Outlook: The future Hall of Famer (yeah, we said it) finally started to show a bit of decline in 2014. While he hit over .295 for a fourth consecutive season, his power numbers fell off as he failed to hit at least 25 home runs for the first time in five seasons. The drop in home runs led to a drop in runs batted in for a fourth consecutive year, and marked the first time since 2009 that the third baseman failed to drive in at least 90 runs. The time missed early in the season with a quad strain was partly to blame, but he’s also 35 and father time always wins out in the end. In Texas, he’s still going to be a strong three category player at third base, but the days of 30 homers and 100 runs driven in are likely behind him. He has been an elite fantasy third baseman for many years, but he is now downshifting into the next tier.
21 Yasiel Puig (LAD - RF, CF)
DL15
ADP: 24.7
CHG: 0.0
Depth: --
G AB R HR RBI SB AVG
2014 Season 148 558 92 16 69 11 .296
2015 Projections 128 482 85 18 52 12 .315
3 Year Average 126 470 79 18 56 11 .306
Outlook: After bursting onto the scene as a rookie in 2013, expectations were sky high for Puig in his second big league campaign. Somehow, there was an air of disappointment in what turned out to be a 5.1-fWAR season. Even with a variety of ailments that included thumb, head, hip, hand, and hamstring injuries, Puig logged 148 games last season, but it's fair to wonder if his reduced power was as much the function of playing at less than full health as it was the result of the league figuring out how to pitch to him. Overall, Puig showed improved plate discipline (10.5% BB%, 19.4% K%), but a late-September slump carried over to the postseason and Puig was placed on the bench for the Dodgers' season-ending loss to the Cardinals after he struck out eight times over 12 at-bats to begin the NLDS. Just 24, Puig's ceiling remains very high, but he still shows the occasional lack of polish despite regular flashes of brilliance that suggest he'll be an MVP candidate in the near future.
22 Ian Desmond (Was - SS)
Healthy
ADP: 27.1
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SS-1
G AB R HR RBI SB AVG
2014 Season 154 593 73 24 91 24 .255
2015 Projections 149 589 80 24 82 23 .284
3 Year Average 147 569 74 23 81 22 .274
Outlook: Once again, Desmond ranked among the elite in terms of fantasy production from a middle infielder, turning in his third straight 20-20 season while racking up a career-high 91 RBI, but it was actually a bit of a down year for him. An ugly strikeout total (183, another career-high), driven primarily by more swings and misses on pitches outside the strike zone, led to a big drop in his batting average even as the rest of his batting profile remained relatively consistent. Desmond turns 30 in September and isn't likely to become more selective at the plate, so his days of making a positive contribution in batting average could be behind him, but hitting in the middle of a potent Nationals lineup should continue to supply him with plenty of offensive opportunities. If you're a believer in the big-contract-year theory, note that Desmond will become a free agent after 2015, although with no one ready in the system behind him, expect the Nats to make a big push to get him signed.
23 Hanley Ramirez (Bos - SS, LF)
Healthy
ADP: 25.9
CHG: 0.0
Depth: LF-1
G AB R HR RBI SB AVG
2014 Season 128 449 64 13 71 14 .283
2015 Projections 119 459 72 19 75 14 .294
3 Year Average 124 452 68 19 73 15 .285
Outlook: A laundry list of injuries -- shoulder, calf, oblique, and hand -- limited Ramirez to 128 games in 2014, and it's fair to wonder just how many of his 512 plate appearances came at a level close to 100 percent health. With free agency on the horizon, Ramirez had every incentive to try and tough it out and prove that his injury-riddled seasons in 2011 and 2013 were truly behind him. Instead, his defense at shortstop regressed further, and he slugged just .411 in the second half. Overall, his performance at the plate was acceptable, as he led qualified shortstops in OPS (.817) and wOBA (.362) while providing double-digit home runs (13) and steals (14) for the ninth consecutive season. Ramirez has struggled to stay healthy over the better part of the past four seasons, but he'll remain shortstop eligible despite the expected move to left field with Boston, and there is some justifiable optimism about his power returning as he just one year removed from a career-high .293 ISO in 2013.
24 Freddie Freeman (Atl - 1B)
Healthy
ADP: 31.0
CHG: 0.0
Depth: 1B-1
G AB R HR RBI SB AVG
2014 Season 162 607 93 18 78 3 .288
2015 Projections 160 594 93 20 86 2 .278
3 Year Average 152 566 91 21 94 2 .290
Outlook: Considered by many to be a top-five fantasy option at first base entering 2014, Freeman finished outside of the top-10 in roto value at the position despite playing a full 162 games. He provided early returns on the eight-year, $135 million extension the Braves gave him in the offseason, batting .333/.409/.594 with six homers in April, but Freeman hit above .277 in just one of the season's final five months after not hitting below .291 in any month of the 2013 campaign. Freeman improved his walk rate by more than two percent (from 10.5% to 12.7%), but his strikeouts were up slightly, and his ISO fell again to .173. His numbers against lefties also declined, going from .287/.367/.397 in 2013 to .260/.358/.398 last season, and his contact rate dipped close to two percent (from 77.5% to 75.8%). The 25-year-old's drop in power, from an already below-average level relative to most first basemen, may scare many off, but his HR/FB rate was down more than three percent from 2013, lending hope to the idea he can easily return to the 20-plus homer threshold in 2015. Further, Freeman has proven very durable, playing in at least 147 games in four straight seasons, and he's locked into the three-hole in the Atlanta order. The profit margin is intriguing, but owners will want to make a conscious effort to make up for the lost power by compensating at other positions.
25 Corey Kluber (Cle - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 26.0
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2014 Season 18 9 0 235.7 269 2.44 1.09
2015 Projections 11 8 0 158.0 171 3.23 1.16
3 Year Average 10 6 0 148.7 153 3.27 1.20
Outlook: Kluber showed devastating secondary stuff throughout 2013 which hinted at a breakout, but his fastball command lagged behind meaning he was no sure thing. Understanding that, Kluber shifted from a four-seamer to a two-seamer and actually gained velocity, giving him a reasonable fastball offering to set up the elite secondaries, the best of which was an incredible curveball that was arguably baseball’s best pitch in 2014. The .241 OPS-against was the best for any single pitch with 150 batters faced and the .091 AVG was second to only Dellin Betances’ breaking ball (.075). It’s hard to believe that Kluber could get better, but if he began commanding his two-seamer like the breaking pitches, then his 2.35 FIP might be in reach. Batters still hit .304 on the two-seamer, but hitting .172 on the rest of his pitches mitigates that damage. He has improved his fastball OPS yearly, down to .821 last year. Another jump could stifle an ERA dip. Even with a backslide in ERA, he’s still a Tier-1 asset.
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