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2016 Fantasy Baseball Rankings

RotoWire's fantasy baseball rankings for the 2016 MLB season.

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2B

Our season-long projections are no longer updated for the current season as of September 14th – please note that the rankings on this page will be updated for the 2017 season in December.

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2B
MLB Rankings for Roto Leagues
Player stats shown are 2016 Preseason projections. Click headings to sort.
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Mike Trout 
Los Angeles Angels  OF     #1 Overall

2016 Preseason Proj:   158 G   580 AB   .317 AVG  40 HR  101 RBI  18 SB  108 R  

How does one write anything new about the best player in the game today? He has scored 100 or more runs in every full season in which he has played and has driven in at least 90 runs in the last three seasons despite the challenges in front of him and behind him in the lineup. He does strike out above the league average rate, but fell a duck snort or two shy of hitting over .300 for the third time in four seasons. There is the issue of his stolen base total declining each of the past four seasons, but that has been offset by the growth in power production. Seriously, there is nothing we could put into this block that could or even should stop you from using the first overall pick on him or dropping $40-plus on him in an auction format. You’re going to get what you pay for and that’s his true value.

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Paul Goldschmidt 
Arizona Diamondbacks  1B     #2 Overall

2016 Preseason Proj:   158 G   559 AB   .313 AVG  35 HR  115 RBI  17 SB  105 R  

Simply put, Goldschmidt is the best first baseman in fantasy baseball. Few players combine batting average, power and speed the way Goldy does. In 2015, his batting average was good for third in the National League, his 33 home runs placed fifth in the circuit, the 118 RBI were second in the NL and he chipped in 21 stolen bases (14th in the NL). All of this came as Goldy played in 159 games, a year after he played in just 109 games due to a hand injury. At just 28 years old, Goldschmidt is in the early stages of his peak years, so his production should remain at this level for a while. Owners may find it hard to pass on the likes of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper with a top-two pick, but Goldschmidt deserves consideration there, and he will come off the board in the first five picks in almost all mixed league drafts.

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Bryce Harper 
Washington Nationals  OF     #3 Overall

2016 Preseason Proj:   155 G   538 AB   .322 AVG  38 HR  97 RBI  7 SB  112 R  

After a couple of injury-plagued seasons, Harper's status as the Next Big Thing was in serious jeopardy, but he stayed healthy in 2015 and proceeded to post numbers far beyond anyone's expectations. When names like Babe Ruth and Ted Williams come up as comps for what Harper accomplished as a 22-year-old MVP last year, it's fair to say he had a pretty good campaign. His biggest improvement came not when he swung the bat, but when he didn't. Harper racked up 124 walks in 153 games after recording 155 free passes in 357 games during his first three seasons, with opposing pitchers often deciding their best course of action was simply to avoid giving him anything to hit at all. As he continues his development, Harper could start putting up walk totals that haven't been seen since Barry Bonds. Harper gave him a three-season head start, but he's now right back in the conversation with Mike Trout as the best young outfielder in the major leagues.

4 4 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 3 1
Josh Donaldson 
Toronto Blue Jays  3B     #4 Overall

2016 Preseason Proj:   158 G   611 AB   .286 AVG  38 HR  115 RBI  4 SB  111 R  

Donaldson earned his first American League MVP award behind a brilliant season in Toronto, in which he set career highs in home runs (41), runs scored (122), RBI (123), and OPS (.939). The move from Oakland's cavernous coliseum to the homer-happy Rogers Centre led to by far the best power production of Donaldson's career. Donaldson was a fine .263/.343/.487 hitter on the road, but he hit a blistering .330/.398/.647 in Canada, where he clubbed 24 of his 41 homers. Donaldson has been a great hitter for a few years now — since 2005, only three players have multiple seasons of 20 home runs for Oakland: Jack Cust, Brandon Moss, and Donaldson. In other words, even though Donaldson had a career year, it wasn't that far above what we already knew he could do. He will be the engine in the Blue Jays' lineup again next year, and there is no reason he can't repeat this effort.

5 5 1 1 1 1 2 1 2 1 3 1
Nolan Arenado 
Colorado Rockies  3B     #5 Overall

2016 Preseason Proj:   155 G   601 AB   .290 AVG  38 HR  119 RBI  1 SB  101 R  

Arenado broke out in 2015 and rode his sweet swing to a National League-leading 42 home runs and 130 RBI and his first All-Star appearance. And although Arenado was a far superior overall hitter at Coors Field (.960 OPS compared to .835 on the road), he actually hit 22 of his 42 home runs on the road. Additionally, he is an impatient hitter, and his aggressiveness was particularly exploited on the road (.296 OBP). However, his combination of good contact skills, big-time power and 81 games per year at Coors Field make him a surefire first-round pick in drafts this year. Arenado has also steadily increased his flyball rate every year in the majors — a key factor in his power explosion. Only four third basemen hit 30 home runs in 2015 and only three managed 100 RBI, so even if Arenado cannot match last year's breakout performance, he will finish high on the leaderboards.

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Jose Altuve 
Houston Astros  2B     #11 Overall

2016 Preseason Proj:   155 G   647 AB   .320 AVG  14 HR  63 RBI  40 SB  91 R  

Altuve reached the 200-hit milestone for the second straight year in 2015, but ended up finishing second in the category overall behind fellow second baseman Dee Gordon (205 hits). The three-time All-Star and 2015 Gold Glove winner still had a phenomenal season, hitting .313/.353/.459 with 15 home runs and 66 RBI — both career highs — over 638 at-bats. The 25-year-old led the AL with 38 stolen bases despite finishing with 18 fewer steals than he had the year before. It seems fair to say his 86 percent success rate on stolen-base attempts in 2014 was an outlier, as that rate fell back to 74.5% last season, which is more in line with his career average. Most will continue to draft Altuve in the first couple rounds as an elite source of steals, batting average and runs, and he could solidify himself as a perennial first-round pick if his power continues to develop.

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Robinson Cano 
Seattle Mariners  2B     #30 Overall

2016 Preseason Proj:   158 G   619 AB   .297 AVG  22 HR  93 RBI  6 SB  83 R  

Cano helped torpedo the Mariners season last year with a near three-month slump that made him look like he was already washed up in the second year of his 10-year deal. From June 22 onward, he hit .319/.371/.529 for a .901 OPS and 19 home runs. Cano's walk, strikeout and contact rates all took big hits, skewed in part by his early woes, but he finished with seven more homers than in 2014 and only three fewer doubles. Despite the awful start, his 21 homers still ranked second in the majors among second basemen. For the second year in a row he hit better at Safeco Field than on the road. Cano's impact on the offense was dramatic. On June 21, Seattle ranked 27th in OPS and 28th in runs. In the span of his run, they ranked fourth and ninth, respectively. Cano played most of September with a sports hernia that required offseason surgery (and still hit .305 with seven homers in the month) but is expected to be ready for spring training.

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Dee Gordon 
Miami Marlins  2B     #31 Overall

2016 Preseason Proj:   156 G   642 AB   .305 AVG  3 HR  41 RBI  57 SB  94 R  

Gordon went from someone people could not draft ahead of Billy Hamilton to someone that has already gone in the first round of offseason expert drafts. Stolen bases have become more precious than water in a desert these days, so Gordon challenging 60 on an annual basis makes him very valuable. He enhanced his value batting .333 and scoring 88 times for a bad offensive team thanks to his ability to put himself in scoring position at the drop of a hat. He rarely walks, but he also makes a lot of contact thereby forcing defenses to make a great play to get him out. As long as he slashes and dashes at the top of the lineup, he’s going to be a fantasy asset. If the Marlins can get better bats behind him and Stanton can stay healthy for a full season, 100 runs is a lock. A .300/60-steal/100-run season would make him a top-10 overall player in 2016.

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