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2016 Fantasy Baseball Rankings

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

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Our season-long projections are no longer updated for the current season as of September 14th – please note that the rankings on this page will be updated for the 2017 season in December.

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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. Youíre going to get what you pay for and thatís 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 ó 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 ó 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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Clayton Kershaw 
Los Angeles Dodgers  SP     #7 Overall

2016 Preseason Proj:   33 G   226 IP   20 W  0 SV  251 K  1.95 ERA  0.88 WHIP  

It had been 13 years since we had seen a pitcher strike out 300 or more in a season (Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in 2002), but Kershaw finished with 301 punchouts en route to winning 16 games with a 2.13 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. After posting sub-2.00 ERA seasons in 2013 and 2014, it's amazing to think some view 2015 as a disappointment for Kershaw, but that's what happens when expectations are sky-high. Kershaw's 11.6 K/9 was easily the best mark of his distinguished career, and as usual his control was excellent with a 1.6 BB/9. It's fair to wonder whether we have seen him peak, but Kershaw is only headed into his age-28 season, so he's firmly in his prime. Like all pitchers, there is always the possibility of a massive drop-off or some sort of arm injury, but few would give any other pitcher the title of "best in the game," making him a sure-fire 2016 first-round pick, particularly given the strikeout ability.

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Max Scherzer 
Washington Nationals  SP     #14 Overall

2016 Preseason Proj:   33 G   230 IP   18 W  0 SV  268 K  2.66 ERA  0.90 WHIP  

It's fair to say that the Nationals got their money's worth from Scherzer. After signing a massive seven-year, $210 million contract in the offseason, the former Tiger ace was utterly dominant in the first half, posting a 2.11 ERA and 0.78 WHIP while winning 10 games. His numbers slid a bit after the All-Star break, but Scherzer still finished the season with career-bests in innings, ERA, WHIP, strikeouts and walks. He also threw two no-hitters, missing a perfect game each time by one baserunner, and his 17-K, zero-BB performance in the second one ranks as one of the greatest starts of all time. The 31-year-old right-hander will have a hard time coming up with an encore, but he may not have to. If the Nats get better health from their offense and better play under new manager Dusty Baker, Scherzer could improve significantly on last year's 14 wins even if his other numbers erode.

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Gerrit Cole 
Pittsburgh Pirates  SP     #28 Overall

2016 Preseason Proj:   33 G   221 IP   18 W  0 SV  219 K  2.24 ERA  1.06 WHIP  

Cole appeared en route to an elite season in 2015 before a second half slowdown put a small damper on things. He went 13-3 with a 2.30 ERA and 1.12 WHIP leading up to the All-Star Game, only to go 6-5 with a 2.98 ERA and 1.06 WHIP the rest of the way (not exactly bad numbers). For whatever reason, the 25-year-old posted much better numbers during day games (10-1, 2.05 ERA) than at night (9-7, 3.00 ERA). He increased his slider usage from 12.1% to 21.2%, which enhanced his effectiveness, but keep in mind that pitchers who rely heavily on sliders tend to get hurt more frequently than those who donít. Aside from the increased slider reliance, there is no reason why Cole canít put together another outstanding campaign in 2016.

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