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2017 Fantasy Baseball Rankings

RotoWire's fantasy baseball rankings for the 2017 MLB season.

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Player stats shown are 2017 Preseason projections. Click headings to sort.
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Mike Trout 
Los Angeles Angels  OF     #1 Overall

2017 Preseason Proj:   158 G   567 AB   .307 AVG  34 HR  99 RBI  21 SB  115 R  

It's possible we haven't seen Trout's best season yet. Granted, this can be said of all 25-year-old players but no others have been putting up MVP-caliber campaigns since they were 20, winning in 2014 and again in 2016. Most impressive is that Trout's strikeout and walk rates have improved each of the last two years, further cementing the league's best floor. The concern over dwindling steals was assuaged last season as Trout swiped 30 for the first time since 2013. His power dropped, but when 29 homers is a disappointment, the bar is set high. The outfielder is a lock for over 100 runs, averaging 116 the past five seasons while a threat to drive home 100 teammates. Others are legitimately in the conversation but pegging Trout with the first overall pick or spending top auction dollars is absolutely warranted. No one else has the combination of his super-high floor...with upside.

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Mookie Betts 
Boston Red Sox  OF     #2 Overall

2017 Preseason Proj:   153 G   633 AB   .311 AVG  25 HR  106 RBI  22 SB  112 R  

The 24-year-old with the slight frame slashed .318/.363/.534/.897 last season -- all career highs -- and cleared the 30-homer mark for the first time in his career. He finished four steals shy of being a 30-30 player, a mark he's likely to threaten in 2017. Betts collected many accolades as a result -- second in the MVP voting, a first-time All-Star, a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger. The forecasts for Betts had him hitting for power, but 31 homers was not in the tarot cards. Unlike his previous season, there were no down periods; Betts hit .266 in April and warmed up as the weather did, hitting .368 in July and .378 in August. It was during those warm-weather months that manager John Farrell dropped him from leadoff to third and fourth in the order, where his bat drove in 39 runs in 48 games. The Red Sox will miss David Ortiz, but Betts has emerged as an unlikely middle-of-the-order presence.

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Clayton Kershaw 
Los Angeles Dodgers  SP     #3 Overall

2017 Preseason Proj:   30 G   210 IP   19 W  0 SV  248 K  2.14 ERA  0.86 WHIP  

Despite missing two months with a back injury -- specifically, a herniated disc -- Kershaw finished as the No. 6 pitcher last season in terms of earned 5x5 fantasy value. He was more dominant than ever when on the mound, posting an otherworldly 172:11 K:BB in 149 innings (65:2 K:BB in May). His 15.3 percent swinging-strike rate would have tied Max Scherzer as the best among qualifiers had he logged enough innings to qualify, and Kershaw's command and control reached unprecedented levels as he shaved his walk rate to just two percent. There were no noticeable lingering effects from the back injury upon his return in September (0.86 ERA) and he looked plenty strong into late October as he carried the Dodgers on said back to the NLCS. Entering his age-29 season, Kershaw still looks very much in his prime and remains worthy of a first-round pick, if not top-five overall.

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Nolan Arenado 
Colorado Rockies  3B     #4 Overall

2017 Preseason Proj:   158 G   610 AB   .290 AVG  42 HR  117 RBI  1 SB  107 R  

Arenado managed to one-up himself yet again and at just 25 years old, it seems like sky's the limit. The All-Star smashed a league-leading 41 home runs, drove in 133 runs and even reached the century mark in runs scored. He managed to cut down on his strikeouts and draw twice as many walks as he did the previous season. As one would imagine, the third baseman's numbers were better at Coors Field than away from it (1.030 OPS at home vs. .832 OPS on the road), but 16 home runs, 48 RBI and 48 runs scored away from Denver is certainly nothing to scoff at. The Gold Glover is a lock to be a first-round draft pick. Even if doesn't replicate his 2016 campaign to a tee, Arenado will be a highly valuable asset in 2017 and for years to come.

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Kris Bryant 
Chicago Cubs  3B/OF     #5 Overall

2017 Preseason Proj:   157 G   595 AB   .291 AVG  37 HR  107 RBI  11 SB  114 R  

If there were any doubts about Bryant's ability to ascend to MVP levels of production following an impressive debut in 2015, the uncertainty was erased by the performance in his sophomore campaign. Bryant trimmed the fat from his 30.6 percent strikeout rate as a rookie to 22.0 percent last season, pushing his batting average up 17 points by swinging-and-missing less often, and by making contact on pitches outside the strike zone at an increased rate. It's hard to believe, but Bryant's raw power could push his home-run total even higher, though the pitcher-friendly tendencies of Wrigley Field are on the short list of things working again him (22 of his 39 homers came on the road). In addition to his step forward at the plate, Bryant's defense at third base has improved to the point where he's become an asset with the glove, quelling concerns about a full-time move to another corner spot for the foreseeable future.

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Nelson Cruz 
Seattle Mariners  OF/DH     #19 Overall

2017 Preseason Proj:   155 G   594 AB   .278 AVG  39 HR  97 RBI  2 SB  89 R  

Many fantasy players have expected Cruz, who turned 36 in July, to lose power. Keep waiting: He topped 40 home runs for the third straight season. Considering his infield flyball rate was his lowest since 2012, he's getting plenty out of his hits in the air. Proving age ain't nothing but a number, he ranked third with a 26.2 percent HR/FB (none below 20.4 since 2012) and second in average exit velocity (96.2 mph, per MLB Statcast). His hard contact and high walk rates say his recent batting averages look real, but his age and batted-ball splits say to be more realistic with something closer to his .275 career clip. Safeco Field hasn't hurt him; he's hit 17 homers at home in each of the last two years, and 15 in 2014. Fantasy players drafting him solely for power won't be disappointed with expectations of 30 homers. The vet still has tools for a top-50 fantasy season, but lower his floor a bit with another year gone.

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Edwin Encarnacion 
Cleveland Indians  1B/DH     #29 Overall

2017 Preseason Proj:   150 G   557 AB   .264 AVG  36 HR  101 RBI  1 SB  88 R  

With free agency looming, Encarnacion managed to put together his most productive campaign at the age of 33. In his 12th major league season, the slugger piled up career highs in runs (99), hits (158), extra-base hits (76), RBI (127) and walks (87) while tying his career-best mark of 42 home runs. His 19.7 percent strikeout rate was his worst mark since 2009, but of the eight players with 40 home runs last year, only Nolan Arenado posted a lower strikeout rate (14.8 percent), so he remains excellent at making contact relative to his contemporaries. Nelson Cruz's move from Baltimore to Seattle serves as a recent example of how the importance of a home ballpark can often be overstated when talking about the elite sluggers in the game. Encarnacion's move to Cleveland in the offseason might provide a similar narrative, as Progressive Field skewed more favorably for both runs and power than Rogers Centre did in 2016.

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Kendrys Morales 
Toronto Blue Jays  DH     #58 Overall

2017 Preseason Proj:   149 G   549 AB   .282 AVG  26 HR  97 RBI  0 SB  73 R  

Morales reached the 30-homer mark for the second time in his career, last accomplishing the feat in 2009. His doubles total, however, dropped precipitously, suggesting the designated hitter benefitted from the mystery causing baseballs to leave the yard at a record pace last season. The rest of Morales' skills were in line with his career levels, save for the increase in HR/FB% responsible for the power surge. Unfortunately for Morales, despite the added homers, his runs and RBI were tempered as his teammates collectively struggled. Morales, who will turn 34 near midseason, has amassed over 600 plate appearances in three of the past four seasons. As a switch hitter with stable skill set, there's no reason to be wary of a fall-off. He'll no doubt come at a discount because he's only eligible at a utility spot, again yielding a positive return on investment for those willing to sacrifice roster flexibility. With a move to Toronto as a free agent this offseason, Morales could tack on 20 to 30 combined runs and RBI with relative ease, and the more favorable home park significantly improves his chances of approaching 30 home runs again.

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