(photo courtesy of Mike McCann's Field of Fotos)
CF pre-rankings are available here.
GREEN = on my keeper team.
1. Jose Bautista: There is concern that the wrist surgery he sustained last season might have affected his power, but he's still projected to attain these ridiculous numbers. He's hitting in a better lineup so that should equal more RBI opportunities. He's supposed to reach an OPS of .948 per ESPN. Plus wrist injury or not, his BB:K should remain one of the best in the games.
2. Justin Upton: He's ranked very high on many "experts'" list at this position, but it's his projected OPS that we calculated (.820) that drops him down to this spot. He still remains a very attractive option in traditional Roto-leagues where his speed/power combo can potentially net a 25/25 season or even more if he can cut back on his whiffs.
3. Giancarlo Stanton: This guy is all power! We project him at a .955 OPS and he's supposed to hit a homerun in every 12.45 official at bats. However, he needs to be more patient at the plate before we move him to the top spot.
4. Jason Heyward: The way I see it, Heyward is Upton's clone. The difference is that Justin Upton has the potential to exceed his counting stats' projections plus Upton has a slightly better on-base% and a bit more patient than Heyward (doesn't say much, but we're talking about a "game of inches.") Heyward is a solid 25/20 guy.
5. Ben Zobrist: We've marveled about Zobrist's game throughout the preseason: the versatility the patience at the plate, the good power/speed combo. He's a very steady player and a solid pick in any league.
6. Jay Bruce: There's only reason why you would pick this guy: POWER! He'll most likely hurt Roto-leaguers' batting average and in points' leagues, the strikeouts will drive you nuts, but keep in mind that he can reach a respectable on-base% of .343. 35 homers and .858 OPS still makes Bruce a great source of power.
7. Bryce Harper: Harper will show that he can hang permanently in the big leagues as he enters his second season. He's still learning the big league game, but can still be a 25/25 guy.
8. Allen Craig: .850 OPS is what makes Craig worth a risk despite a history of injuries. He stayed healthy last season and produced big time numbers. Impatience at the plate is made up by a solid contact rate that has many thinking that he can flirt with a .300 batting average again.
9. Shin-Soo Choo: If he stays healthy and can supply a bit more power, Choo could be a 20/20 player. His power has sort of dip as he's projected to hit one home run in every 30.8 at bats and SLG% of .441. Nevertheless, he's supposed to be a line-drive hitter anyway. If he can maintain a high rate of line drives, Choo can be a steal at the RF position.
The rest of the field:
- Mark Trumbo (Power is the name of his game, but he'll drive you crazy in other categories).
- Hunter Pence (Solid power and a solid contact provides a solid batting average)
- Andre Ethier (.814 OPS makes him someone to look out for in drafts)
- Carlos Beltran (injury and age concerns. Miserable 2nd half, but might be worth the risk for the right price as he's projected to get an OPS of .868, per ESPN)
- Nelson Cruz (Can provide adequate power, but on-base% is terrible)
- Nick Swisher (new team, but should still reach close to 25 homers and and OPS of .800+. He's projected to strikeout more this season, however).
- Chris Davis (I really don't like this guy, but there's always room in fantasy baseball for guys who can hit 30 home runs on any given season. If you can't stomach the strikeouts and low on-base% (like yours truly), then feel free to pass on this guy)
- Nick Markakis (His counting stats won't "wow!" anyone, but his patience and great on-base% makes him relevant in fantasy circles)
- Torii Hunter (20 homers and a .780+ OPS might make him a useful RF in most leagues)
Keep an eye on:
- Wil Myers (Baseball America's #1 Prospect. Just a matter of when?)
- Norichika Aoki (A pesky hitter who can drive pitchers crazy. His speed can net him 20+ steals. Not much on power, however).
- Corey Hart (He will be recovering from knee surgery and won't be ready until May. Players who aren't expected to be healthy by Opening Day are usually not worth drafting, but this guy might be an exception, especially if you can afford to keep him on Injured Reserve or if you have great depth already. 25 homers and .835 OPS can still help many teams, no matter the fantasy format).