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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.

3 3 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 2 1
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 wasnít 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. Heís 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 itís tempting to overlook the issue as Kershawís 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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Max Scherzer 
Washington Nationals  SP     #6 Overall

2018 Preseason Proj:   33 G   215 IP   17 W  0 SV  273 K  2.72 ERA  0.93 WHIP  

For the fourth time in the last five seasons, Scherzer posted an ERA below 3.00 and a WHIP below 1.00 while throwing 200 or more innings. Since the start of the Expansion Era in 1961, only four other pitchers have matched that level of dominance (Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, Juan Marichal and Sandy Koufax), and no pitcher has delivered five seasons at that level. Scherzer nearly fell short with his workload in 2017, as a series of minor injuries in the second half cost him time. Fortunately, none of the injuries (neck, calf, hamstring) were to his arm. Skills wise, he's showing no signs of slowing down as he rolls through his early 30s, as his 34.4 percent strikeout rate (12.0 K/9) was a career-high while opposing hitters hit a meager .176 against him. Further refinement of the changeup has given Scherzer yet another plus weapon for his arsenal, and as long as he's healthy, his eventual decline should be a very graceful one. He'll be among the first few pitchers off the board again in 2018.

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Corey Kluber 
Cleveland Indians  SP     #12 Overall

2018 Preseason Proj:   31 G   210 IP   17 W  0 SV  249 K  2.79 ERA  0.97 WHIP  

Despite missing most of May with lower-back discomfort, Kluber won the American League Cy Young Award and joined Max Scherzer and Jeff Samardzija as the only pitchers to toss more than 200 innings in each of the last four seasons. Kluber shattered career bests in both strikeout (34.1) and walk (4.6) percentages, resulting in his lowest ERA ever. While back issues often resurface, thereís doesn't seem to be any real reason to be concerned about Kluber. The righty threw at least seven frames in 19 of his 29 outings. Of the 10 shorter efforts, three were in April as he battled blisters, one was his only May start when his back began barking, two were the games right after he came off the disabled list in June while another was his last start of the season as he was readying for the playoffs. Kluberís skills and reliability place him among the elite, warranting first-round consideration in leagues that push pitching.

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