The Top 12 Fantasy Baseball Picks ... of 2015
There's still time to sign up for a 2014 fantasy baseball league. Once that's done, it's time to take a very, very early look at the first round of 2015 drafts.
Have you wrapped up your drafts and auctions for the 2014 fantasy season? If not, what are you waiting for? If so, you have a whole season in front of you as you try to pull the right strings to bring a title home.
That makes this the perfect time to look ahead to the 2015 draft season. Let's decompress from months of preparation to take a first look at 2015.
2015 First-Round Cheat Sheet
1. Mike Trout , OF, LAA
Of the eight players most similar to Trout through the age of 21 according to Baseball-Reference.com, seven are Hall of Famers. That list includes Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Frank Robinson, Jimmie Foxx, Al Kaline, Hank Aaron and Orlando Cepeda.
2. Miguel Cabrera , 1B, DET
Cabrera may lose his 3B eligibility next season, but that won't stop him from being a top-two pick. He's still only 30 years old, and if he can remain healthy over the next decade, he's a serious candidate to rewrite the record books and go down maybe as the greatest hitter who ever lived.
3. Andrew McCutchen , OF, PIT
McCutchen won the NL MVP last season despite seeing a slight decline across the board in his stats. You get the feeling that in a Trout-less league McCutchen would get a little more attention on a national scale, and maybe it'll come this year if he posts another .300/.400/.500 season.
4. Paul Goldschmidt , 1B, ARI
This young slugger is likely to have another great season and assure that 2015's top four looks much like 2014's top four. How much of 2013's gains will he hang onto this year? The answer to that question will be the difference between a place early in the first round or near the one-two turn.
5. Adam Jones , OF, BAL
There's nothing wrong with Jones from a fantasy perspective, but the man with the plain name doesn't garner the same respect of a Trout or McCutchen. One more outstanding season should be enough to get him in the fantasy top five.
6. Clayton Kershaw , P, LAD
Many fantasy owners are hesitant to take a starting pitcher early, but Kershaw has been a rock over the last several seasons. Any injury, however minor, could cause his draft value to sink, but I'll bet on good health yet again in 2014.
7. Bryce Harper , OF, WAS
Harper has been inching his way up towards Trout territory in the past couple draft seasons, though the production hasn't quite matched that lofty status. Could this be the year it happens? I say so -- this will be his first .300-average, 30-homer season, good enough to get him in the middle of the first in 2015.
8. Troy Tulowitzki , SS, COL
Hanley Ramirez was phenomenal last season, but if he regresses as expected, it'll leave Tulowitzki the best option at an always dicey position in 2015. If Tulowitzki can reclaim even a handful of steals this season, it'll help boost his value into top-eight discussion next season.
9. Carlos Gonzalez , OF, COL
Gonzalez could slot anywhere from three down based on how his health is throughout this season. If he does wind up staying relatively healthy, the owner that nabs him at eight overall will be thinking he or she is getting a steal.
10. Chris Davis , 1B, BAL
Davis is less of a batting average threat than the batters ahead of him, but he hits enough bombs to make up for it. I don't think he'll hit 53 home runs again, but 40-plus should be enough to earn a slot in the back-half of the first round next season.
11. Stephen Strasburg , SP, WAS
I generally wouldn't expect to see more than one pitcher in the first round, but after Strasburg posts a Cy Young-caliber season in 2014, an owner near the end of the first will want to pick him up before anyone else can and be satisfied with one of a number of hitters that falls to the early second round.
12. Hanley Ramirez , SS, LAD
Even if Ramirez suffers some regression, his ability to slot in at a scarce fantasy position should give him enough value to stay in the first round. Unless Jose Reyes bounces back in a huge way this year, there will be an enormous dropoff at the position after the top two come off the board.
Robinson Cano , 2B, SEA; Jose Fernandez , SP, MIA; Joey Votto , 1B, CIN; Freddie Freeman , 1B, ATL.
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