The FOX Fantasy department's first batch of 2017 fantasy baseball draft rankings were released over the past few weeks. We'll be updating them throughout spring training to account for injuries, lineup and depth chart changes.
Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman just missed the FOX Sports fantasy top 25 draft rankings. Lost in the franchise's roster rebuild was Freeman’s best season of his career in 2016. He banged out 34 homers with 102 runs and 91 RBI for a team that won only 68 games.
The American League MVP hit 29 homers, scored 129 runs, drove in 100, and stole 30 bases with a .441 on base percentage. Trout is Mr. Reliable in both MLB and fantasy worlds.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY SportsKevin Jairaj
Jose Altuve - 2B
Altuve averaged 38 stolen bases per season over the past five years, while his home run, runs scored and RBI numbers have increased in each of the past three. His fantasy versatility rank him among MLB's elite players.
Getty ImagesBillie Weiss/Boston Red Sox
Mookie Betts - OF
Besides his knack for bowling, Mookie Betts can also bang the baseball around the yard. He is a near lock for The 20/20 Club (homers/stolen bases) with a .300+ batting average this season.
The Diamondbacks' first baseman was one of only four players to finish with 20 or more HR, 30 or more stolen bases and 100 or more runs scored in 2016.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsMark J. Rebilas
Nolan Arenado - 3B
Not quite a household name yet, Arenado tied for the National League home run crown for the second straight season. He hit 42 dingers in 2015 and 41 last season. Fantasy owners love that thin Coors Field air.
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
Kris Bryant - 3B/OF
Yes, Kris Bryant hit 39 homers last season. And yes, he scored 121 times and drove in 102 runs, but would you believe his greatest feat may have been cutting back on strikeouts? The Cubs' third baseman struck out 30 percent of the time in 2015, but saw that dip to 22.6 percent last season. Patience at the plate is a virtue.
The typically durable Dodgers' ace missed 11 starts last season due to back issues. Despite this, Kershaw ranked in the top 10 in strikeout rate among pitchers with at least 140 innings pitched. In other words, when healthy, he's still nails.
Getty ImagesJim McIsaac
Josh Donaldson - 3B
One of the first big names to get nicked up this spring training, Donaldson will be sidelined 2-3 weeks with a calf strain. But that shouldn't hurt his fantasy draft stock.
He has averaged 39 homers, 122 runs and 111 RBI in two seasons with the Blue Jays.
Manny Machado - SS/3B
Machado has averaged 36 homers the past two seasons, but regressed in the speed category. After swiping 20 bases in 2015, Machado failed to steal a base last year on only three attempts.
Anthony Rizzo - 1B
Fantasy baseball owners love to embrace 3-year splits. So, here are Rizzo's:
The 33-year-old slugger actually saw his production improve as the 2016 season played out. He carried a .346 / .423 / .635 triple slash in the second half along with a 1.057 OPS (which is ridiculous). Miggy projects to hit 30 homers with 100 RBI and a .300 batting average in 2017.
Bryce Harper - OF
Harper endured the Barry Bonds' treatment in 2016 as he led the league in walk rate. So, his .243 batting average last season was a fluke. He’ll return to a .280+ hitter with plenty of power stats to justify his first round average draft position.
Mad Max averaged better than 11 strikeouts per nine innings pitched with an ERA under 3.00 last season. Scherzer has averaged better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings for five consecutive seasons.
Charlie Blackmon - OF
After spending six years in the Rockies' farm system, Blackmon made some noise late in 2013 and throughout 2014 to become a fantasy baseball staple in the outfield. He's a solid mix of power and speed - ripe for The 20/20 Club - who will leadoff and get to play half of his games at hitter-friendly Coors Field.
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Noah Syndergaard - SP
Draft him if you’re a fan of 3.00 or lower ERAs, sub-1.20 WHIPs and 10-11 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. The Mets’ offense could do him a favor with better run support in 2017.
Forgive us, but fantasy owners may second-guess guys who post career-best numbers at 33 years old. Cano hit 39 homers, scored 107 runs and drove in 103 with a .298 batting average last season. He had never hit more than 33 homers in 10 MLB seasons before 2016.
Corey Seager - SS
The reigning National League Rookie of the Year led all shortstops in two important advanced metric categories last season: line drive rate and hard hit ball percentage (39.7%). Seager's 23.9 line drive clip - an obvious sign of great contact - is best among everyday shortstops over the past three seasons.
Although his power numbers aren't to be ignored - 39 HR / season over the past five years - Encarnacion has produced at a lower clip away from the Rogers Centre. He hit two more dingers, but 40 points lower on the road in 2016. Now that Encarnacion is with Cleveland, owners will have to consider how much of his non-HR stats were a product of the home ballpark and lineup in Toronto.
Still only 22 years old, Correa experienced somewhat of a sophomore slump in the first half of the 2016 season as he only hit .260. The prospect bounced back in the second half with a .292 batting average and lower strikeout rate.
Getty ImagesJustin K. Aller
Ryan Braun - OF
Braun is one of only three players to produce 40 or more stolen bases and 50 or more homers over the past two seasons. Mike Trout and Paul Goldschmidt are the other two.
Chris Sale - SP
Don't let the 9.25 K/9 rate fool you. Sale posted fantasy-friendly numbers across the board after tossing a career-high 226 innings last year. His strikeout rate improved nearly 1.00 / 9 IP in the second half of 2016. Owners should expect Sale to trump his career-high 17 wins with better run support in Boston.
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY SportsKen Blaze
Corey Kluber - SP
Kluber has tossed 215 or more innings in three consecutive seasons. His 672 2/3 innings pitched ranked fourth among starting pitchers during that stretch. He's also averaged 9.91 strikeouts per nine innings inning pitched - sixth-highest in MLB.
Trea Turner- 2B/OF
The 23-year-old prospect swiped 33 bases in just 73 games last season. Plus, his 2B/OF position eligibility only strengthens his fantasy appeal.