Early 2018 Fantasy Baseball Rankings
The MLB playoffs are underway and we’ve got four great teams in the championship series, but it is never too early to take a peek at what we will be dealing with next season. Today, I’ll give you my up to date top 250 fantasy baseball players for next season. Within each tier, I’ll give you a note on a player who’s ranking might surprise you and why I’ve got them ranked as I do.
226 to 250
–Keep an eye on Teoscar Hernandez as a potential breakout asset next season. He performed admirably in 88 big league at bats with a .602 slugging percentage, but it is what he did in the minors as an overlooked prospect that should raise your eyebrows. In his last two seasons, he has swatted 28 homers and swiped 50 bags with a .286 batting average in 212 games. That is prorated to 21 HR, 38 SB over 162 games, and while we can’t expect him to carry over the same level of production, even a 20% hit would give him a season similar to Byron Buxton and Whit Merrifield who will be drafted in the top 120 picks.
–It is hard to believe that a 6’3″ lefty who has touched 100 MPH was able to go overlooked as a minor league prospect, but he was somehow barely scratching the top 100 in most lists when he made his debut as a 20-year-old despite carrying a 2.62 ERA and 147 Ks in just 123 innings this season. Luiz Gohara didn’t finish the season well, but he is the ultimate late-round lottery ticket for next season.
176 to 200
–Before being shut down for the season, Yasmany Tomas was less than mediocre for the Diamondbacks with a .241 BA, 8 homers and 32 RBI in 47 games. That happens sometimes to even the best players (just ask Anthony Rizzo and Manny Machado), and especially when one is suffering through an injury like Tomas. What most will forget before drafts, however, is that the Diamondbacks’ slugger turned into a star to close the 2016 season with a .294 BA, 18 HR and 49 RBI in the second-half, which if prorated to a full season, would give him 46 homers and 124 RBI, which with his .290+ BA would make him one of the game’s top fantasy assets. Granted, maintaining that for a full season is difficult, but he certainly has substantial potential.
151 to 175
–Lucas Giolito deserves special mention for having a Syndergaard-like ceiling, but plenty of people will be on him. Jesse Winker is the player who will slip under the radar despite being a former top 40 prospect then proceeding to rake in the majors after his debut. In 47 games, he batted .298/.375/.529, which if extended to a full season, compares favorably to George Springer and Andrew McCutchen. Now, he won’t steal more than a handful of bases, but even without it, he is likely to be vastly overlooked.
126 to 150
|133||Steven Souza Jr.||OF||TB||28|
–This is a little sneak preview at my favorite player to target in drafts next year. Dinelson Lamet’s ADP will be around 190 to undrafted, but I can assure you the experts throughout the industry will be all over him. After shredding the minor leagues (11.5 K/9, 3.23 ERA), he was called up and showed flashes of brilliance, but mostly struggled. Then, he stopped throwing his changeup and utilized his sinker to death. Wouldn’t you believe it, dominance followed. He strung together a 10-start run where he struck out 66 hitters in 59 innings with just a 2.44 ERA. The kid is oozing with breakout stuff.
101 to 125
–Everyone and their grandma knew Danny Salazar had front of the rotation stuff, but he had a rough first half thanks to a sore shoulder in June. When he came back, he was as good as ever, placing second in baseball with 12.8 K/9 over the second half and a 3.00 ERA. There is plenty of risk if you draft him, but the upside is that of a Cy Young winner, and I don’t throw that term around lightly.
76 to 100
|85||Lance McCullers Jr.||SP||HOU||24|
–Statcast has a metric used as a method to determine a player’s luck. called xwOBA-wOBA. Miguel Cabrera had his worst season ever, but it wasn’t because he is “done”. Rather, he continued to crush the ball. Sure, he took a step backward, but please consider that his xwOBA-wOBA was a whopping 0.060. Second through 4th place were all between 0.032 and 0.036, so his lack of luck was unprecedented. Sure, the metric isn’t perfect because it doesn’t account for shifts or speed, but with that sort of distinction between first and second, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize he is due for significant positive regression.
51 to 75
–Last season, Willson Contreras started slow to the point he was considered a bust. With that slow start coupled with his injury, many will forget the few weeks when everyone realized he was a breakout star. The young catcher, who was a previous top prospect, batted .305/.407/.586 in the second half and it was by no means a fluke, as he is a former top prospect who also tore up the minors. The batted ball stats suggest he is the real deal, and with few quality catchers on the market, you should be willing to spend up to acquire him.
26 to 50
–It is worth mentioning that if Shohei Otani were on the list, and he likely will be in a few months, he would rank between Springer and Donaldson. The player I’ve highlighted, however, is last year’s #1 overall prospect before his promotion. Alex Bregman was lousy to begin the season, with rumors that he would be sent back down to the minors. Then, he proceeded to go nuts, with a .990 OPS in July and August. He closed the year batting .315 in the second-half, which if prorated, would also come to 25 HR and 20 SB. Seeing that he has yet to come close to his ceiling, he is an excellent investment.
1 to 25
—Trea Turner has played 171 MLB games over the past two seasons and compiled 24 homers, 79 steals and 128 runs over that time with a .309 batting average. You can say what you want about his BABIP, but when you have speed to burn like Turner, BABIP virtually goes out the window. The kid is still just 24 years old, so his best years should still be ahead of him. If we get the privilege of seeing a full season, he just might pull a 1985 Rickey Henderson (24 HR, 80 SB, 146 R, .314 BA) which is arguably among the best seasons in fantasy baseball history. He is worthy of consideration at 1.1, but might even last into the second round.
Thanks for reading!