Before the 2017 season begins, we will rank our top 15 fantasy players at each position for you. We might provide a projection. We might not. But take some notes, and if you’re lucky this will have you ready for the exam on draft day 2017. We start with everyone’s favorite, Shorstops.
1. Carlos Correa, Houston Astros
This is the year. We thought it was going to be last year that he showed us he was Alex Rodriguez 2.0, and he was simply solid. But our gut and intuition of doing this for nearly two decades tells us that this player will be the top shorstop in fantasy in 2017, and finally crack the top ten in all formats. The lineup he is in is just a bit deeper and another year seasoned. He’s not going to be as much of the focal point. He’s in the same great hitting park for offense. A .280/30/100 with 15 steals should be expected with confidence.
2. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
This could be the toughest number two in any positional ranking that we do. Machado will contend for the MVP – and was our pick to win the award last season. He’s entering just his age-24 season coming off a career-high .294 season. Steadily improving, he’s never been able to top a .900 OPS which would surprise some people. This is the year that the walks come back and he hits .300+ with improving power numbers to boot. After 20 steals in 2015, didn’t steal a single base in 2016. This keeps him from the top spot, but he’s a definite ‘1A’.
3. Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers
Our personal favorite. Has there ever been a player who has a slower heartbeat? Seems to play hard and grind at-bats whether his team is up eight runs or down the same amount. Absolutely never gives away an at-bat and doesn’t get himself out. In 184 career games he’s a .312 hitter with an .892 OPS. The park he plays in which is neutral is the only thing keeping him from the top spot. The Splendid Splinter himself would ask this young man if he ever smells burnt wood; he’s that good of a pure hitter. The average could slide back but the power will creep up. Seagers are steady in this line of work. A .290/33/90 line will do just fine, and he’s just so damn enjoyable to watch.
4. Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians
As a rookie we said he reminded us of Roberto Alomar at the plate and he went out and hit .313, following it up with a .301 in 2016. A fine power-speed potential guy, and we think a 20-20 season is coming. Should challenge for 60 extra base hits and be a lock to score 100 runs. His OPS will eventually settle into the .830-.850 range in peak seasons.
5. Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
Phenomenal pure hitter in a great park and great lineup. He’s overshadowed by Mookie Betts and Big Papi and he’s a quiet personality. He was hitting .350 in late June last season and we were convinced he could be the best hitter in the league at that time. He tapered off a bit down the stretch but still managed 21 home runs with 89 driven in. He stole 13 bases in a number that continues to climb. The 115 runs was a bonus of course and product of lineup strength. Nice .350 on-base guy who will continue to be a Derek Jeter type, carving out a solid career with many great years on the back of his baseball card. Still just 24 years old.
6. Jonathan Villar, Milwaukee Brewers
Speed is such a valuable commodity in today’s baseball (and fantasy). Villar stole 62 bases last season and was as aggressive on the paths as anyone in the game; getting caught an additional 18 times. We like that about him. As long as a guy just keeps on running. The 19 home runs and .369 on-base % with a .285 average combined with the steals is what won people leagues who owned Villar last season. If you owned him, you most likely picked him off the waiver wire. That discount is long gone, friends. Milwaukee’s lineup and park are underrated.
7. Alex Bregman, Houston Astros
One of those interesting guys in terms of positional eligibility. He’ll get a handful of starts at shortstop and had six last year in spelling Correa. He’s a laser show, drawing comparisons to Dustin Pedroia but he’s much bigger. An extremely slow start after his debut didn’t make his end numbers that pretty but you can clearly see the upside is there. Should have the Swiss-Army position eligibility to help matters.
8. Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies
Feels like he could be a lot of fun, but we need more data to learn who he truly is. He is just 97 games and 415 Major League plate appearances into his career. The book is still unwritten. Are we placing him too high based on this? Probably. Are we an advocate for getting Coors players onto your squad by any means necessary? Absolutely. K to BB ratio adds some concern, we think he is more of a .250 hitter than .272, but the power is probably real with 11 of the 27 home runs coming on the road despite a .235 road average. He could have probably went in the tier below but…. Coors.
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9. Aledmys Diaz, St. Louis Cardinals
Just 111 games and 460 plate appearances into his Major League career, but he’s a damn Cardinal and they work out. The K to BB ratio was a bit more friendly than you would expect out of such a young player. Had nice, surprising pop for a player who doesn’t play in a hitters park and didn’t have an abundance of protection around him in the St. Louis lineup. You could do a lot worse than Diaz as your shortstop. At worst, a solid floor.
10. Jean Segura, Seattle Mariners
Last year was the beautiful resurgence – and best year – of one of baseball’s most exciting players to watch. He would have been towards the elite if he had remained in the offensive incubator of Arizona’s park. However, he’s been traded to Seattle where they run a little less, score a little less, and generally seem to be happy to wait for more three-run homers. He’s a 30-40 steals player who probably isn’t going to hit 20 home runs again. The hit tool is what got us excited.
11. Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs
We don’t know why, but we just can’t seem to get excited about Addison Russell. Great park, exceptional lineup, and knocked in 95 runs last season. But something just seems to be missing, in our eyes. High pedigree, and who are we to say he can’t climb into the elite if he can curb the strikeouts down some and make a bit more contact. Kris Bryant did it. We will say .245/25/85, and he’s not much of a runner.
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12. Ian Desmond, Colorado Rockies
13. Troy Tulowitzki, Toronto Blue Jays
14. Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers
15. Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians
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