Well it’s that time of year: fantasy baseball time. The Duke of Fantasy is back with the rankings for 2015. Just like last year, I am basing my rankings on a category league — and not a points-based or roto league. To give you a little insight on how I did last year in my two leagues, I made the championship in both and won one … SO LISTEN UP!!!
- Mike Trout, OF, Angels: He is the clear No. 1. Does everything, including hitting for power and is on a team that should see some success.
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B/DH, Tigers: His homers were down last year, but he’s poised to continue to be a stud in that lineup.
- Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates: This is the highest I’ve ever ranked him, and for good reason. He can do everything, including adding a little pop.
- Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins: Incredible power, great numbers last year even after missing the end of the season after getting his face smashed with a fastball.
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks: Has been a top player last few years. Last year was hurt and missed most of the season.
- Jose Abreu, 1B/DH, White Sox: Earned Rookie of the Year. Has lots of power and average doesn’t suffer. Should only get better.
- Jose Bautista, OF, Blue Jays: Had a nice bounce-back year after an injury-plagued year. Should continue to drive in runs in the lineup and ballpark.
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs: Good player with pop. Interesting team with some key additions. Should improve from last year’s numbers.
- Edwin Encarnacion, 1B/DH, Blue Jays: Very consistent, every year I keep saying he might tail off but hasn’t.
- Carlos Gomez, OF, Brewers: I think this is my first player ranked higher because of the category-based league. He does everything, including stealing bases. Has a high ceiling.
- Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros: Another player ranked higher due to the category-based league setting. Steals bases and second base has a huge drop-off after the first three guys in my opinion.
- Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies: This fucker. He is a stud and is the best overall shortstop in the game by far. Too bad he can’t stay on the field. Buyer beware.
- Robinson Cano, 2B, Mariners: Tops at second base position. Does everything well. His home run numbers dropped a lot due to the ballpark he is now in, but they should go up a little with some key players protecting him this year.
- Michael Brantley, OF, Indians: He was my midseason surprise last year and he continues to surprise me. Hopefully he can keep it up if you take him early. Does everything as well.
- Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays: Had a nice year. Trailed off in the second half. Now that he’s in Toronto with a better lineup and a hitter-friendly park he could be due an uptick.
- Adam Jones, OF, Orioles: Another all-around talent. Stolen base numbers were low last season, but he can increase them.
- Victor Martinez, DH/1B, Tigers: Old Man River. Had a great year last year. Is in an incredible lineup. Hopefully he is ok after offseason knee surgery. Was listed as day-to-day at last check.
- Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B, Nationals: Had a breakout year. Another player who can do everything on a good team in a weak division.
- Jacoby Ellsbury OF, Yankees: Had a nice rebound year after the previous injury-ridden one. Steals were down, but that could change and he’s much more valuable in a category league.
- Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers: Has all the tools and all of the potential. Question is, can he deliver on it? High-risk/high-reward player.
- Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers: Was last season his first year clean? Had a down year mostly due to injuries. Had some hot spots during the season.
- Brian Dozier, 2B, Twins: Does everything well and is ranked high due lack of depth at his position.
- Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers: Old Man River 2.0. Is a very good player. Lineup is looking different this season. Power numbers were down, but average was good. In that ballpark power numbers can get back up.
- Hanley Ramirez, SS, Red Sox: This mutt. Another stud when he is in the lineup. On a contending team. Can be a risky play though.
Justin Upton, OF, Padres: He made the cut. Nice numbers last year with the Braves. Padres seem to be a team on the rise. Power numbers shouldn’t dip in the big ballpark because Atlanta has a large park as well.
Three comeback players to consider are: Joey Votto, 1B, Reds; Braun; and Goldschmidt. If you go by my rankings, Goldschmidt would be the clear favorite.
Some key snubs: Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves; Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals; Albert Pujols, 1B/DH, Angels; Evan Longoria, 3B, Rays; Carlos Santana, 3B/1B/DH, Indians;
Votto; Buster Posey, C/1B, Giants.
No catchers made it on my list for the simple fact that I don’t value catchers unless they are clear studs that would make a difference on your roster.
- Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: Clearly the best pitcher in baseball the last few years. Some rankings have him going Top 5 overall, which is unheard of.
- Felix Hernandez, Mariners: Stud, consistent pitcher who will get Ks. Team is improving, which should help his wins.
- Chris Sale, White Sox: I have him higher than most mainly because of his Ks.
- David Price, Tigers: Stud pitcher on a good team with a good staff as well.
- Max Scherzer, Nationals: Has been a K machine. New team, good team in a big ballpark and weak division doesn’t hurt.
- Corey Kluber, Indians: Has been very good the last two years. He forced himself on this list.
- Stephen Strasburg, Nationals: Stud pitcher with incredible staff. Should have continued success.
- Johnny Cueto, Reds: Was healthy last year and showed how good he really is.
- Jeff Samardzija, White Sox: I have him ranked a little higher than most, once again due to the Ks.
- James Shields, Padres: He might be my biggest surprise on this list. I like him and on a new team, huge ballpark, and an improving team. I think he can be the man.
With only a list of 10 there are a lot of snubs here. I won’t list them except for San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner. He was a stud last year and has another ring for it. But for me he pitched a ton of innings, which could give him issues this year.
Comeback Pitcher of the Year: Matt Harvey, Mets. Was incredible before he had Tommy John surgery. Let’s see how he does.
As closers go, good luck. With injuries and players losing their roles due to bad play I think it’s a crapshoot. My advice: don’t worry about it too much, draft them later and there will be guys available throughout the year who emerge for you to pick up.