– Mike Zunino (SEA, C): He swings a lot, hits plenty of fly balls, and has nice raw power that has been his profile since being drafted in 2012. The Mariners offense is on the upswing and this 23-year-old offers nice power for a cheap price. The majority of his home runs (56.5 percent) and extra base hits (68.4 percent) have come with the bases empty. Improvement in contact rates could make him next statistical version of this year’s Carlos Santana.
– Freddie Freeman (ATL, 1B): Believe he has all the tools to become the next great first baseman. He’s in the lineup everyday and never gives away an at bat. I’m still buying the upside of this Braves lineup, thus giving him 100-run 100-RBI potential sooner rather than later. His ISO numbers suggest that a total of 25-plus home runs is obtainable, especially given his rising line drive percentage. The lefty has hit RHP well since he stepped into the majors and his power against lefties is developing. Would not be surprised at all if his 2015 numbers reflected those produced by Miguel Cabrera this season, more than justifying my ranking.
– Kolten Wong (STL, 2B): Other than Anthony Rendon, Wong is the favorite to land a job on most of my Fantasy squads in 2015. If nothing else, the power/speed combination is nice in the middle infield, but I’m holding out hope for much more than that. He profiled as a strong average hitter in the minor leagues, and his solid contact/line drive rates tell me that his current .257 batting average is his floor. A consistent spot in the lineup should help Wong’s overall comfort level and give him the opportunity to replicate Ian Kinsler’s 2014 season.
– J.J. Hardy (BAL, SS): Nagging injuries slowed Hardy from the get-go and he was never able to fulfill owners’ expectations in 2014, and I expect that disappointment to carry over to 2015 draft rooms. Yes, this past season wasn’t what you were expecting, but isn’t back-to-back-to-back seasons with plus positional power worth more than one rough season in which he couldn’t get healthy. He still plays in a favorable park as a member of a loaded lineup, not to mention that there were some positive trends to be taken from this season. His timing was off, but he did show better plate discipline for the third consecutive season and his line drive percentage continued to rise. He struggled against lefties and didn’t hit for much power at all, both of which had never happened during his stay in Baltimore, and I wouldn’t bet on happening again in 2015. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he was essentially 2014 Jhonny Peralta next season.
– Nolan Arenado (COL, 3B): We hype up every hitting prospect that comes through the Rockies organization, but somehow the public missed the boat on this defensive wizard. He’s a strong contact hitter who experienced a nice bump in ISO in his second full season, making him a well-rounded option at a position that is becoming exceedingly difficult to fill. Arenado made adjustments from his rookie season that resulted in more fly balls in 2014, a major plus for Fantasy owners. There is no denying the talent within this Rockies offense and I think there is a chance their third baseman leads the way from a yearlong Fantasy perspective when all is said and done next year. A 2015 season that follows the same trajectory as Josh Donaldson’s 2013 would not surprise me one bit, with the potential for even more if his teammates can stay on the field.
– Carlos Gomez (MIL, OF): I was wrong. Kind of. Heading into this summer, I wasn’t sold on Gomez being this generation’s Vladimir Guerrero, and while I still think that is a dangerous way to live (especially in head-to-head leagues), the counting numbers don’t lie. Sure, I was right in terms of his batting average dropping (he’s batting just .245 since the beginning of July), but he has managed to maintain value by swiping 16 bases (a number that could be higher considering he’s been caught seven times over that stretch) and still slugging over .400. He’s a good bet to set a career-high in swing percentage and a career-low in contact percentage, but given the quality of contact he makes (his line drive rate is on the rise for a third consecutive year) and the quantity of stolen bases (41.4 per 162 games over the last three seasons), he’s elite. The production will come in bunches, but it will come. For me, he is the only legitimate outfielder that has a chance to enter the 30/30 club next season, giving him a rare blend of skills that make an apt comparison impossible to find (think slightly lesser Mike Trout when he was batting leadoff).
– Stephen Strasburg (WAS, SP): If it’s not one thing it’s another with Strasburg. I’m a fan of chasing strikeouts when it comes to my rankings, something the Nats pitcher has proven more than capable of producing at an elite level, and with an xFIP that is nearly a run lower than his ERA, ratio improvement is due to happen in the near future. His control improved significantly this season, and if he can maintain that growth, I would expect to see his awful triple slash with runners on base (.281/.324/.434 as compared to his 2011-2013 slash of .239/.303/.356) to regress in a big way and make his ERA worthy of a fringe Top 5 pitcher. He also pitches in a weak-hitting division and has failed to record a win in nine quality starts this season. Strasburg is still just 26 years of age and I am still willing to pay for a season that looks like 2013 Adam Wainwright.
Catcher First Base Second Base Shortstop Third Base Outfield Starting Pitcher
Buster Posey Miguel Cabrera Robinson Cano Troy Tulowitzki Adrian Beltre Mike Trout Clayton Kershaw
Jonathan Luccroy Paul Goldschmidt Jason Kipnis Ian Desmond Anthony Rendon Andrew McCutchen Felix Hernandez
Salvador Perez Freddie Freeman Anthony Rendon Hanley Ramirez Kyle Seager Carlos Gomez Chris Sale
Yadier Molina Edwin Encarnacion Ian Kinsler Starlin Castro Nolan Arenado Giancarlo Stanton David Price
Evan Gattis Anthony Rizzo Jose Altuve Jimmy Rollins Josh Donaldson Adam Jones Stephen Strasburg
Yan Gomes Jose Abreu Dee Gordon Ben Zobrist Evan Longoria Carlos Gonzalez Yu Darvish
Matt Wieters Chris Davis Kolten Wong J.J. Hardy Josh Harrison Yasiel Puig Max Scherzer
Brian McCann Albert Pujols Daniel Murphy Jean Segura Matt Carpenter Bryce Harper Adam Wainwright
Wilson Ramos Prince Fielder Howie Kendrick Alexi Ramirez Pedro Alvarez Jose Bautista Madison Bumgarner
Mike Zunino Matt Adams Javier Baez Elvis Andrus Manny Machado Justin Upton Julio Teheran
Billy Hamilton Zack Greinke
Ryan Braun Mashairo Tanaka
Jacoby Ellsbury Jon Lester
Yoenis Cespedus Cole Hamels
Hunter Pence Corey Kluber
Nelson Cruz Matt Harvey
Michael Brantley Jordan Zimmerman
Matt Kemp Hisashi Iwakuma
Alex Rios Cliff Lee
Jason Heyward Johnny Cueto