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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 projections. Click headings to sort.
2018 MLB Player Outlooks
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Mike Trout 
Los Angeles Angels  OF     #1 Overall

2018 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 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 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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Giancarlo Stanton 
New York Yankees  OF     #4 Overall

2018 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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Clayton Kershaw 
Los Angeles Dodgers  SP     #5 Overall

2018 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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Kenley Jansen 
Los Angeles Dodgers  RP     #37 Overall

2018 Proj:   65 G   66 IP   4 W  42 SV  103 K  1.64 ERA  0.73 WHIP  

Jansen is one of the best closers of this generation, if not the best. The 2017 season didn't end as he'd hoped -- Jansen allowed runs in three consecutive appearances and blew a save in the World Series -- but the right-hander was absolutely dominant throughout most of the year. He posted a 1.31 FIP (best among all pitchers with at least 50 innings) and 39.5 K-BB percentage while going 41-for-42 in save chances during the regular season. The walk rate was the lowest of his career and his swinging-strike rate was his highest mark ever, so while it seems impossible for him to get any better, the skills are elite and there aren't even any yellow flags entering his age-30 season. The team context solidifies Jansen as the top closer option on the board.

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Craig Kimbrel 
Boston Red Sox  RP     #51 Overall

2018 Proj:   63 G   62 IP   4 W  41 SV  106 K  2.18 ERA  0.87 WHIP  

His Red Sox career got off to a somewhat disappointing start in 2016, but Kimbrel returned to elite form last season. The right-hander tapped into a bit of extra velocity and that helped him boost his strikeout rate by more than two per nine to 16.4. Best of all, he dramatically lowered his walk rate, shaving it from a career-high 5.1 BB/9 to a career-low 1.8 BB/9. Kimbrel was hit hard at times -- he allowed a 39.1 percent hard-hit rate and 91.4 mph average exit velocity -- but that's not a big deal when you allow so few batted balls in play (110 batted-ball events). An uptick in velocity can sometimes be a precursor to injury, but Kimbrel has been incredibly durable throughout his career, and with the skills bouncing back, Kimbrel has a clear case to go ahead of every reliever not named Kenley Jansen.

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Roberto Osuna 
Toronto Blue Jays  RP     #101 Overall

2018 Proj:   69 G   68 IP   3 W  35 SV  81 K  3.04 ERA  0.90 WHIP  

Osuna produced arguably his best statistical season in 2017, churning out a 29.7 K-BB percentage that ranked seventh among all relievers while conceding only three homers, a notable development after he struggled to rein in the long ball during his first two seasons. While those numbers pointed to Osuna being a dominant endgamer, things didn't exactly play out that way anecdotally, as the 23-year-old blew 10 of 49 save chances and also battled anxiety issues, leading to speculation that he might be pulled from closing duties in early August after an especially rough stretch. Osuna righted the ship soon after and cemented himself as the Blue Jays' closer heading into 2018, but after the turmoil-filled season, it may not be wise to include him among the uppermost tier of closers. Even so, another hefty save total likely awaits Osuna, who should also be in store for a sizable improvement in the 3.38 ERA he delivered in 2017 if his fluky 59.5 percent strand rate aligns more closely with his 74.2 percent career mark.

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