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2018 Fantasy Baseball Rankings

RotoWire's fantasy baseball rankings for the 2018 MLB season.

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Player stats shown are 2018 Preseason projections. Click headings to sort.
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Mike Trout 
Los Angeles Angels  OF     #1 Overall

2018 Preseason Proj:   156 G   548 AB   .308 AVG  39 HR  97 RBI  26 SB  119 R  

For the first time in his career, Trout required a stint on the DL in 2017 after he tore the UCL in his left thumb in late May. He missed 39 games as a result of the injury, but showed no lingering effects of the ailment after returning to the lineup following the All-Star break. Over his final 67 games, Trout hit .285/.429/.552, with 17 homers, 36 RBI, 12 steals, and a 58:48 BB:K in 301 plate appearances, a pace that would have made him a 40-homer, 30-steal player over a full 162-game season. The per-game production was once again at an MVP level, and it's hard to believe that he's still just 26 years old. Since the second half of the 2017 season, the Angels have upgraded the supporting cast around Trout, and his run-production numbers could tick up slightly in 2018 as a result. Even if he's no longer the unanimous choice as the No. 1 overall pick in drafts, he's still on the short list of players in the conversation.

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Nolan Arenado 
Colorado Rockies  3B     #2 Overall

2018 Preseason Proj:   159 G   612 AB   .302 AVG  40 HR  135 RBI  2 SB  105 R  

For the third consecutive season, Arenado finished as a top-six fantasy earner among hitters. He's averaging 40 homers and 131 RBI over the past three years, and his batting average has seen steady growth as Arenado has learned to be more patient (9.1 percent walk rate last season) and work the ball the other way when he has to. There was a notable dip against right-handers in 2017, with his OPS against righties falling more than 100 points to .843, but his bounce-back against lefties more than made up for it. He remains a Gold Glove defender at third base, so he's on the field every day, plus he's productive away from Coors Field (.283/.355/.531 on the road last season). Arenado makes consistent contact, is just entering his age-27 campaign and his home park gives him an excellent floor for fantasy production. Thinking Arenado won't return first-round value again seems silly at this point.

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Jose Altuve 
Houston Astros  2B     #3 Overall

2018 Preseason Proj:   156 G   615 AB   .337 AVG  23 HR  84 RBI  31 SB  106 R  

Altuve proved that his 2016 power surge wasn't a fluke, matching his home-run total (24) from the previous year and setting new career bests with his entire slash line (.346/.410/.547) while improving his success rate on the basepaths (84.2 percent). For the fourth consecutive season, he led the American League in hits, despite his lowest total of plate appearances since 2012. A perennial All-Star and Silver Slugger Award winner, Altuve has played at an elite level annually since 2014, when fantasy owners were enthralled by his ability as a 50-steal contributor. An early-season spike in strikeouts in April was offset by three straight months with a K-rate under 10 percent, and while his season rate was up from 9.8 to 12.7 percent, whiffs are not an issue for him. As part of a Houston core that figures to remain intact for at least another two years, Altuve is positioned to once again make another run at being the best player in the game.

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Clayton Kershaw 
Los Angeles Dodgers  SP     #4 Overall

2018 Preseason Proj:   28 G   192 IP   17 W  0 SV  227 K  2.06 ERA  0.87 WHIP  

Even Kershaw wasn’t immune from the 2017 home run barrage as he recorded a HR/9 north of 1.0 for the first time, allowing 23 long balls, by far a career high. He also averaged just 6.5 innings per start, his first season below 7.0 since 2012. The lefty also missed over a month due to injury for the third time in the last four seasons. Still, Kershaw remains the top fantasy starting pitcher, though durability likely precludes him from top overall player consideration. He’s as dominant as ever, though his 2017 walk rate (1.5 BB/9) regressed back to career norms after his ultra-stingy 2016 campaign. While it’s tempting to overlook the issue as Kershaw’s health appears fine, back woes often hibernate; they rarely go away. Injury risk puts him atop a tier with fellow aces Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber and Chris Sale. The days of tossing 230-plus innings are likely over anyway, even if he stays healthy all year.

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Giancarlo Stanton 
New York Yankees  OF     #5 Overall

2018 Preseason Proj:   150 G   552 AB   .274 AVG  52 HR  118 RBI  1 SB  105 R  

Stanton's highlight-reel blasts and career 13.4 HR/AB rate have long made him a chic early-round fantasy pick, with owners willing to bet on the unmatched power he could bring over a full season of good health. That gamble paid massive dividends in 2017 with the oft-injured outfielder, who hadn't played more than 125 games in five of his previous seven campaigns, avoiding the DL entirely and swatting an MLB-best 59 homers. Stanton also capitalized on the improved talent around him in the Miami lineup to compile 132 RBI and 123 runs, placing him first and third, respectively, in baseball. A six-point drop in strikeout percentage (to 23.6 percent) also offered optimism that the .281 batting average he submitted last season may be sustainable. Although Stanton's injury history makes him a riskier investment than other stars, he'll move into a much more hitter-friendly environment for his home games and benefit from a deep supporting cast in the lineup around him in 2018 and beyond after he was traded to the Yankees in December.

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Gary Sanchez 
New York Yankees  C     #50 Overall

2018 Preseason Proj:   127 G   493 AB   .282 AVG  34 HR  93 RBI  1 SB  79 R  

Coming off one of the most spectacular debuts, especially for a catcher, projecting Sanchez's power for 2017 was a challenge. As it turned out, using his MLEs (major league equivalencies) did the trick nicely. Sanchez's 40 percent HR/FB mark from 2016 fell to a still outstanding, but more sustainable 25 percent. If there was a downside to Sanchez's 2017 season, it was tying Yasmani Grandal for the league lead with 18 passed balls. However, blocking pitches is down on a receiver's list of skills and Sanchez fared much better with the more important framing and throwing metrics. Still, with a new skipper in the Bronx, Sanchez's high passed ball total, along with his well-publicized woes with throws to the plate in the playoffs, could result in him seeing more time at designated hitter. Fortunately, for fantasy owners, that's a good thing, assuming he still catches 20 games, which he should. Sanchez is the clear top fantasy backstop and a top-30 overall player. Drafting him in the early rounds is more a question of strategy than valuation.

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Buster Posey 
San Francisco Giants  C/1B     #132 Overall

2018 Preseason Proj:   144 G   520 AB   .308 AVG  14 HR  76 RBI  5 SB  71 R  

Posey remains the best pure-hitting catcher in the major leagues, but his fantasy appeal has been dinged in recent seasons by steadily declining power and a depletion of talent around him in San Francisco. In a season that saw record home-run totals, Posey managed 12 long balls 568 plate appearances, marking his third consecutive season of decline in that department. He hit just three homers at home and now has a total of 16 homers at AT&T Park over the past three seasons. His strikeout and walk rates were nearly identical from 2016, with Posey posting stellar marks of 11.6 percent and 10.7 percent, respectively, but the counting totals suffered as the Giants posted the second-lowest run total in the National League. He's still worthy of a lofty investment, but Posey is now clearly behind Gary Sanchez at the catcher position, and the likes of Willson Contreras and J.T. Realmuto are closing the gap behind Posey.

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Willson Contreras 
Chicago Cubs  C     #133 Overall

2018 Preseason Proj:   137 G   459 AB   .283 AVG  22 HR  82 RBI  3 SB  65 R  

Although he was limited to just 117 games last season, mainly due to a hamstring injury which cost him almost a month, Contreras still finished as a top-six catcher in standard formats. He posted a mighty healthy .223 ISO, which would have been a top-50 overall mark in baseball had Contreras logged enough plate appearances to qualify, and he improved both his strikeout (22.9 percent) and walk (10.5 percent) rates from his already strong marks as a rookie. The 25-year-old barrels the ball up consistently and he hits same-handed pitching well, as evidenced by his .273/.347/.486 career line against righties (.292/.379/.514 against lefties). Contreras has established himself as a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat in a good offense, and his ability to play the outfield and first base in a pinch helps pad his counting totals a little more than other starting catchers. Buster Posey may go ahead of Contreras in a lot of drafts, but Contreras could outproduce the veteran in 2018.

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