Fantasy Baseball 2015 – Top 10 Player Projections By MHB & Co.

Fantasy baseball studs Buster Posey, Clayton Kershaw, and Mike Trout.

I can’t believe it, but the Major League Baseball season is already winding down. Postseason play will be here before we know it! Crazy how time flies…

That said, my fantasy baseball team’s season has been long and grueling. My guys have their eyes on the calendar, praying for September 28th to arrive, as they limp towards the finish line.

Anyway, the idea to get a few participants together and project 2015’s Top 10 fantasy baseball players was submitted to MHB by one Mr. Clark Meshey (who recently contributed to MHB’s KISS draft). The kicker – to compare and contrast with ESPN’s 2015 projected list when it’s released before the start of the 2015 season. Pretty cool stuff in my opinion.

So I recruited a few committed fantasy managers from the league I play in to contribute. With this objective in mind: To each project what they believe to be 2015’s top 10 fantasy players (with some commentary as to why) and see how each projection stacks up against ESPN’s pre-rank list when it’s released late February/early March.

Some of the analysis refers to stat categories in our 8×8, 16 team rotisserie league. Here are those categories:

Hitters – Runs, Doubles, Triples, Home Runs, Runs Batted In, Stolen Bases, Strikeouts, and On-Base Percentage
Pitchers – Quality Starts, Home Runs Allowed, Strikeouts, Complete Games, Earned Run Average, Walks/Hits Per Inning, Saves, and Holds

Without further ado, here are MHB & Company’s 2015 Top 10 fantasy projections!

Name, Position (Age entering 2015 season)
Clark Meshey Matt Riggleman Doug Nilsen Matt Horn
Mike Trout, OF (23) Mike Trout, OF (23) Clayton Kershaw, SP (27) Mike Trout, OF (23)
Andrew McCutchen, OF (28) Andrew McCutchen, OF (28) Miguel Cabrera, 1B (32) Clayton Kershaw, SP (27)
Miguel Cabrera, 1B (32) Paul Goldschmidt, 1B (27) Mike Trout, OF (23) Andrew McCutchen, OF (28)
Giancarlo Stanton, OF (25) Miguel Cabrera, 1B (32) Robinson Cano, 2B (32) Paul Goldschmidt, 1B (27)
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B (27) Jose Bautista, OF (34) Jose Bautista, OF (34) Jose Abreu, 1B (28)
Clayton Kershaw, SP (27) Giancarlo Stanton, OF (25) Carlos Gomez, OF (29) Miguel Cabrera, 1B (32)
Troy Tulowitzki, SS (30) Edwin Encarnacion, 1B (32) Troy Tulowitzki, SS (30) Troy Tulowitzki, SS (30)
Yasiel Puig, OF (24) Clayton Kershaw, SP (27) Adrian Beltre, 3B (36) Edwin Encarnacion, 1B (32)
Jose Bautista, OF (34) Jose Altuve, 2B (24) Giancarlo Stanton, OF (25) Carlos Gomez, OF (29)
Victor Martinez, 1B (36) Jose Abreu, 1B (28) Jonathan Lucroy, C (28) Jacoby Ellsbury, OF (31)

image(2)MH: I had to whittle my list from around 20 players down to 10 names. One thing I did notice about that first group… In 2015, first base will be back!

Goldy, No-way-Jose Abreu, Miggy (who will lose his 3B for next season), Encarnacion… Just off the cusp on my total top ten players also included Buster Posey [who’d most people would (and should) play at catcher], and Anthony Rizzo. Top 50 will probably still include Pujols, A. Gon, and Freeman too. There was a cloud of uncertainty over 1B’s heading into the 2014 draft room. 2015 – those clouds will be long gone!

Anyway, about my list… Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw (and I want to include McCutchen too, but he’s just off this tier) are the best players in baseball. They’re also the best players in fantasy baseball – easy 1, 2 for me. I know some will argue about taking a pitcher that high, but Kershaw’s impact tilts the scales in a way few (if any) players can.

McCutchen at 3 for me due to his contributions across the board – certainly in the prime of his career. If the players around him develop even more, he could be that more dangerous.

4, 5, and 6 – my first base clump. Pujols started his decline in his year 31 season. I saw the same happen with Miggy in 2014. Not necessarily a skill demise. But when the injuries start to linger longer than they used to, and affects your overall power numbers like that, it’s a cause for concern. That’s why I have Goldy and Abreu ranked higher than Cabrera. Obviously, I still have faith in Miggy, but his time in the top 10 could theoretically be ending in the near future. Plus, the loss of 3B eligibility for Cabrera hurts the value a bit as well. All three of these hitters are elite middle of the order power sources.

Troy Tulowitzki @ 7. If anyone noticed anything in 2014, it should have been that SS production was kinda horrible all around. EXCEPT for Tulo. Unfortunately, the catch with Tulo is the health risk/scare/whatever other description that fits the bill here… He is the sole fantasy super-stud at this position. Stay healthy already!

Edwin Encarnacion had a season’s worth of production during the 2014 season in a 6 week span. Anyone who can do that is automatically a top 10 pick in my book.

Carlos Gomez may be a hot head. And I might not like him so much. But when it comes to fantasy, I can’t ignore his production anymore. This dude is a 25-25, possible 30-30 threat. Gomez and McCutchen are probably the only players on the radar with that potential. Trout too, if and when he decides to run again. Trout can do what he wants to do whenever he wants to do it…

Ellsbury was the toughest call to include in the top 10. Jose Bautista and Robinson Cano were the two dudes he notched out. He was ranked pretty high by ESPN heading into 2014 and I didn’t agree with it. But he put up a very solid season during a up-and-down season for the Yankees as a whole. His pure hitting skills, ample power, and base-path prowess can be a lethal combo. In a post-Jeter Yankees line-up next season, Jacoby Ellsbury will step in and step up.

image(1)DN: 1) Clayton Kershaw: So much better than all other starters…most valuable draft pick for that reason.

2) Miggy Cabrera: As far as safe bets for super production, he’s the safest along with Trout, but with half the strikeouts. Still the man.
3) Mike Trouser Trout: Not enough SB’s to put him past Miggy.
4) Robinson Cano: 2B is kind of a desert for production.
5) Jose Bautista: Reliable on base with power combos aren’t as plentiful as 10 years ago.
6) Carlos Gomez: Helps pretty much every category.
7) Troy Tulo: Infinitely better than all other SS’s but has safety record similar to Sam Jackson/Mr. Glass in Unbreakable.
8) Adrian Beltre: 3B is kind of a desert for production, too.  He’s not that old, probably the last year he will put up great stats but I said that 2 years ago and he’s still dominating.
9) Mike/Giancarlo Stanton: Kills your strikeouts and has no one to knock him in, but great otherwise.
 10) Jonathan Lucroy: Huge catcher production is rare.  Doubles and RBI’s galore.  I’d rather bank on that then risk a top 10 pick on Abreu, Rizzo, Puig, Nelly Cruz or any of the other unproven regression candidates.  Tulo is worth a gamble, but 1B/OF isn’t worth a risky top 10 choice.
image(1)MR: 1. Mike Trout – OF
The guy is currently the highest ranking position player on our league’s player rater, he’s young, and relatively stable. Stability AND upside – atop a World Series-caliber lineup equals money in the bank for 2015. 1 and not that close.
2. Andrew McCutchen – OF
I thought Kutztown Swag was a little wild taking this guy over Miggy in 2014, but now he looks like a genius. There aren’t many true 5 category monsters in the game today, let alone those still young enough to get better. Combine that with that fact that our league biases a little towards speed – and you have an easy 2 overall choice.
3. Paul Goldschmidt – 1B
I think people may find this one surprising – but here’s my case – power, age, and OK speed. Again – our league biases towards speed a little – and the fact that this guy is still young enough to improve, ranked 36 despite missing alot of time, and should be 100% by gameday 2015, has me backing this up. Goldy: at 3 in 15.
4. Miguel Cabrera – 1B
It’s hard to discount guys too far who show amazing plate discipline, have won the triple crown, and have a track record of monster power: even if they are starting to show a little breakdown. For our league, the lack of steals is a problem, but with the potential to lead the league in 3 major stat categories AND not strike out much..I have to go Miggy 4.
5. Jose Bautista – OF
For an OBP league like our’s – Bautista is MONEY IN THE BANK. You have a power hitter who doesn’t strike out much and doesn’t swing at bad stuff. He even runs a little and isn’t super old.
6. Giancarlo Stanton – OF
Broken face notwithstanding – Stanton showed MAJOR gains in OBP especially this year – and most importantly durability. It’s not that easy to find power bats – let alone those capable of hitting 50 homers. Dude’s young too – this is the year he becomes consensus top 3. K’s are the only thing keeping him down this far.
7. Edwin Encarnacion – 1B
Another 50 homer bat who doesn’t strike out much and gets on ALOT. He was streaky this year, got a fluke injury, and still managed to display a season’s worth of awesomeness numbers-wise. Safe bet here.
8. Clayton Kershaw – P
This one is tough for me – but the guy is on another level – and with his age, and propensity to go long into games to meet our CG requirement – this is only pitcher I would consider inside the top 40.
9. Jose Altuve – 2B
I’m going to get a lot of flack for this one – but out of the 2 speedster, out of nowhere guys – Altuve’s story seems more believable. Over 200 hits, lots of XBH, A little power and 50 stolens isn’t something you find everyday. Speed plays in our league, and safe OBP,  huge speed is tough to come by. I’m in.
10. Jose Abreu – 1B
Have you seen what this guy’s done? Sure there’s been a little bit of pitchers adapting now, but geez. Again, a High average, high power, minimal K profile – buy now.
Near Misses –
SS – Troy Tulowitski – Big Power, No Health, Numbers usually there anyway
2B – Robinson Cano – The OBP,  lack of Ks, tons of ABs, hard to find that with THAT many at bats. Actually hit more homers at home than away, so could rise?
2B – Dee Gordon – This all comes down to how much you believe here. The fact that the guy went from not being able to hit to being one of best players pound for pound on our rater is impressive, and he’s young enough for more. I couldn’t pick him, but with that level of output from a middle infielder – the case could be made. Wouldn’t do it in a standard league though
OF – Jacoby Ellsbury – He profiles the same, with a longer track record, as the guys above here. Only the fact that he’s an OF keeps him lower for me. He’s capable of more power than the big speed guys too – though I’d say a lower OBP than Altuve.

imageCM: Trout is where he belongs because of his WAR. He steals, hits triples, homers, and has a good OBP. I do believe he’ll work on not striking out as much for next year. He could probably pitch too.

McCutchen proved again this year that he’s a solid player in every batting category. His only downfall is the players around him, which keeps his numbers lower than they should be.

Miguel Cabrera is producing.. But not producing as well as last year. I think he’s becoming injury prone, and this may hurt his numbers for the rest of his career. Plus, I don’t like him…

Stanton is having a stellar year, and comes back next year putting up more homers and doubles. The Marlins lineup is more experienced and will also raise his numbers.

Kershaw. No commentary necessary. He gets you enough CG alone to win the category.

Tulo plays at Coors Field. We don’t know where he’ll be next year, or the year after, but he’ll always produce. He’s got an eye for the ball and is a great athlete. He reminds me of Mike Trout.

Puig proved that he’s good enough to be a top 10 player. He has too many threats around him in the lineup to not see mistakes over the plate (unlike Cutch).

Joey Bats continues to perform well every year. It’s time for him to get taken really early. Number 9 is even a stretch to me. I think he could possibly be a top 6 or 7. He drives in runs and has a killer OPS. He’ll do it again next year.

I had to go with Victor here. He’s always had the potential, and I think he’s finally figured out the long ball. The guy doesn’t strike out, and he walks a ton. Even though he doesn’t hit triples (or steal much), he’s worth a top 10.

 ***The contributors opinions are solely their own. I’d like to thank each of them for their time and thoughts.***

Be sure to check back when ESPN releases their 2015 fantasy baseball pre-ranks!

11 replies to “Fantasy Baseball 2015 – Top 10 Player Projections By MHB & Co.

  1. Great article all – glad to see the input. Gotta’ say some of these rankings are wild to stoke the fires..

    Doug – 2nd base – ‘a desert for production?’. 2nd base is insanely deep now. Not that Cano is a bad player, but the position is DEEP..too deep to warrant Cano that high in our league. He’s not even the most productive 2B for our purposes. And don’t get me started on a 1st round catcher..geez..

    Clark – Puig?! – Have you watched baseball at all the last few months?! Good lord the dude has been completely lost. Great talent for sure but not something to build your team around.

    Horn – Abreu at 5?! Damn..that’s a lot of faith for my dollar. High average, above avg. power dudes are all over the top 10 for a good reason, but I can’t see the case taking him over encarnacion, bautista or even miggy at this point. He’s cooled down considerably (though the ultimate line is still great no doubt). He’s also just not as good a hitter as Cabrera, Bautista, Encar – as noticed by the lack of walks/k’s..that will catch up to him. Top 10 – not 5.

    Com’on what do you all think – get on this…

  2. On a lighter note – I like the Ellsbury and Car-Gom inclusions on these lists – I think I may have missed the boat with those guys – especially ellsbury. If I had to re-rank, I may include ells over altuve for sheer track record. I actually think I’m a little too high on Stanton given the high K totals – but I do believe he’ll continue to improve – as evidenced by the much improved OBP.

    1. In defense of me slotting Abreu @ 5 in front of Miguel Cabrera:

      Abreu has 35 jacks on the season to date and literally missed the back half of May. April was his worst month for BA but still hit 10 homers. His worst power months were August and September so far (2 HR’s in each month) but his BA is over .325 in both, with an OBP over .400 during that Aug/Sept stretch. Dude is a straight powerhouse who will be 28 next season. He’s more so in his prime years than Cabrera.

      Miggy is great, no doubt. But him being that great, the need for the Tigers to play him if/when injured is present. Just look at his 2014 campaign to date. I hope he bounces back, but I think I’d rather bank on the younger versatile power bats of Goldy and Abreu first at this point.

      Everyone in my top 5 is younger than 30 – on purpose.

      Big reason Bautista (34) and Beltre (36) didn’t crack my top 10. Not that they aren’t deserving or have the track record, but at some point, the production will taper off. AKA Beltre this season. He’s still a top 3 3B option.

      When I read these lists, Doug’s list is the one I found myself disagreeing with the most.

      3B isn’t what it used to be (I’ve struggled at 3B ALL this year) and Beltre is a reliable dude, but a top 10 pick for a dude who will be 36, and might not hit the 20 homer plateau this year. Risky. Not to mention he doesn’t run.

      Cano is nice. But again, if the power isn’t at least hitting the 20ish-plateau for a dude who isn’t known for SB’s (even though he cracked 10 stolen’s this season), he shouldn’t be within the top 5. Def a top 20 player though. And then Lucroy… I don’t even think I have to address that, it’s just nonsense.

      I totally agree with you Rigg about Yasiel Puig – he has no business being included within the 2015 top 10.

      From when Puig came up last year at the beginning of June to the end of May this season, he was a wrecking ball. Just devastated pitchers. Since then, he’s been feast or famine (mostly famine). Though, he’s picked back up in September here.

      For me Puig is that looming wildcard in the 2nd or 3rd round (Bryce Harper too) who can end up putting top 15ish type numbers up.

  3. Great review buddy – valid point on the Abreu thing. Part of me is anti-Abreu because I think there’s just too small a track record to justify the location pick – but I think his strikeout to walk is troublesome – but only in the sense that it’s unorthodox to walk that low a times, but still have a good OBP overall – though Beltre has been doing it for years. Re: Cabrera – you’re starting to sell me a bit on the Mig decline being larger than most people are giving cred for.

  4. I was going to put McCutchen number 10, was halfway through writing my explanation for putting him so low compared to what I figured you guys and espn would and then decided to leave off a champion fantasy player from the state of Pennsylvania in favor of a first round catcher was too much fun. You can cross out Lucroy and put in McCutchen as my actual pick…if I draw 10th overall next year I won’t be selecting a catcher.

    As someone who put up with David Wright’s failed season and found no other alternatives I stand by my Beltre placement. Money in the bank from 3B is worth a high pick…because it’s a wasteland these days past the top 3-4 guys.

  5. And I don’t get the Goldschmidt love. I mean every year you can get Encarnacion or Adrian Gonzalez in the 3rd or 4th round and get the exact same production minus 10 SB’s or so. I really don’t see him getting way way better unless he has a better team around him to get more R’s and RBI’s…not likely in 2015 in Arizona.

  6. Puig will kick it back into gear again. Everything around him will help him produce.. He does everything! He might lack a high OBP, but it’s high enoughto not kill your catagory! Does no one have faith in Victor next year? He’ll be 1B egible! Taking Lucroy at 10 wouldn’t be bad in my eyes either. His numbers are good enough to be a top 15. Who cares what his position is…

  7. Guys that hit ‘like Encarnacion & A Gon’ AND steal 20 bases – AND are young enough to get better…Where a player plays doesn’t mean anything – see ‘Stanton, Giancarlo’.

    As for Puig – the fact that there is question whether or not ‘Puig will kick it back into gear’ is reason enough NOT to take him in the first round.

    And Lucroy/Victor – great players sure – but they’re not even top 10 in our league this year – what’s left for them to do? Catcher is so freakin’ deep burning that pick up there is a waste, though I agree position isn’t THAT important. Posey’s the best catcher anyway..

    Guys – load up on catchers, old men, and unprovens next year early…sounds like a solid strategy to me..

  8. Clark – Do you actually follow/use WAR for your player assessments pre-draft? Or was that just a sexy term to throw into the Trout description?? LOL

    About catchers – I would say Posey (in my opinion) should be the 1st one off the board next season, but Lucroy is a clear 2. Yadi Molina floating around up there also in terms of top catchers.

  9. Catcher is really deep right now. It’s crazy how deep considering how shallow it was only a few years ago…and how many different guys you could put in your “top 3 catchers” for next year.

    I disagree somewhat with the whole “take someone who will get better” thing in the first round. First round is your chance to take a safe-bet superstar and where you don’t need to rely on upside quite so much. From there you want to try to find the guys who will improve, but when you have a top 10 pick you have the option to find a guy who is on top and will hopefully stay on top. (Why I’d take a Miggy or Encarnacion over a Goldschmidt…though that thought process killed me in my first round pick this year, I stand by it).

  10. I’m with ya a little there Doug – re: the wanting to lock down a safe pick in the 1st round. To me though, Goldy, McCutch….those guys have done it enough to have pretty predictable basements. So, that being said I feel like they’re trustworthy anchors. That is one reason I wouldn’t consider Puig though – despite his definite potential of top 10-dom.

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