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2016 Fantasy Baseball Rankings

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

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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.

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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.

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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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Buster Posey 
San Francisco Giants  C/1B     #49 Overall

2016 Preseason Proj:   148 G   556 AB   .304 AVG  20 HR  91 RBI  1 SB  73 R  

Another year, another All-Star performance from Posey. He ranked first among all catchers in batting average (.318), RBI (95), OBP (.379), SLG (.470), OPS (.849) and WAR (6.1). Those who paid the steep price for him on draft day were rewarded with the best fantasy catcher in the game, especially in leagues that factor in OBP and SLG. He is able to sustain his elite performance with a less-than-intimidating supporting cast due to his patience at the plate (47.9 swing%) and high contact rate (88.0 contact%) when he does decide to swing. The knock on drafting top-tier catchers is the fact that they need a certain number of off days for rest. That isn't necessarily the case for Posey, who receives his "off days" playing first base, allowing manager Bruce Bochy to keep his legs fresh and his bat in the lineup. At age 28, there are no signs of him slowing down, and Posey should be treated as the top catcher in fantasy yet again.

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Jonathan Lucroy 
Texas Rangers  C     #181 Overall

2016 Preseason Proj:   137 G   504 AB   .284 AVG  13 HR  63 RBI  3 SB  65 R  

Last season was a down year from day one for Lucroy, who suffered a toe injury on a foul tip in April that cost him 38 games and later missed significant time due to a concussion. His full-season numbers look mediocre at .264/.326/.391, but after returning from the toe injury on June 1, Lucroy wasn't far off from the All-Star player he was in 2014. In his final 364 plate appearances, Lucroy hit .282/.342/.420 with 29 extra-base hits, including seven home runs. He's still a rock-solid contact hitter with good power for the catcher position, even if the shine of 2014 has dimmed a bit. Lucroy owned a .297/.359/.472 line over the previous three seasons before his brief dip in early 2015. At 30 years old, Lucroy should still have a couple of peak years left in him, and he's a good bet to return to form in 2016.

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Russell Martin 
Toronto Blue Jays  C     #198 Overall

2016 Preseason Proj:   118 G   415 AB   .253 AVG  18 HR  71 RBI  3 SB  66 R  

Martin's return to his native Canada was a success, as he topped 20 home runs for the first time in five years and posted his best run and RBI totals since his time with the Dodgers. Martin couldn't repeat his .290 average from 2014, but his power showed up in a big way in righty-friendly Rogers Centre, as Martin's .458 slugging percentage was his highest since 2007. Martin is a .257 career hitter, but he has topped .250 just once since 2010 and his days as a hitter for average are probably over. Selling out for power is often worth it at Rogers Centre, where Martin will ply his trade for the next four seasons and where he hit .243/.331/.477 with 13 of his 23 home runs in 2015. He should have loads of run and RBI chances once again in that scary Toronto lineup.

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