You've been planning your draft strategies all offseason and it all comes down to the heat of the moment when you lock in your picks. My Top 300 Fantasy Baseball Rankings will help you build your championship team! This article will explain the criteria used in the rankings, analyze some of the more controversially ranked players, and provide strategies for other league formats.
These rankings are for an ESPN standard league: both AL and NL players, Rotisserie 5x5 scoring (AVG, HR, RBI, SB, R -- W, SV, ERA, WHIP, K), and 12 teams with 25 roster spots (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, MI, CI, OFx5, Ut, SPx6, RPx3, BNx3),
Here's the the main factors I consider for the players:
60% - 2017 stats
20% - Track Record
10% - Health/Age
5% - Ballpark/Lineup Protection
5% - Position Value
Before taking a closer look at specific players, I'll give an overview of the important themes.
First, I decided to rank starting pitchers very aggressively. The landscape for pitchers has taken a turn for the worse when it comes to depth. The top tier of pitchers, especially the Big 4 (Kershaw, Scherzer, Sale, Kluber), will still put up monster numbers, but there is a sheer drop off after that. Considering how risky pitchers compared to position players, some people are staying away from drafting pitchers until late rounds. The way I see it, its more important now more than ever to get 2-3 reliable top tier pitchers early on. Even the middle tier pitchers are more important because the drop off to the lower tier occurs much earlier on. High quality innings are gonna be harder to come by than ever, so think about prioritizing pitchers this season.
Secondly, I only put 3 catchers in my top 100 and only 4 total in the top 200. Do not waste time drafting catchers not named Gary Sanchez, Buster Posey, and Willson Contreras. You will be able to find a decent catcher with regular playing time in the last round of the draft, so if you don't happen to get one of the top 3, don't sweat it.
Lastly, there are a lot of young players ranked generously on this list. I believe that watching a young player break out on your team is one of the best feelings you can experience playing this game. If you believe in the potential of a prospect or a second year player, I say go all in. Especially in later rounds, it's much more exciting to go for the risky upside pick than the boring veteran who always puts up the same, lackluster numbers.
Now for the individual player break downs. If you want me to do a break down or a particular player, let me know on twitter or facebook @beattheshiftBP.
Noah Syndergaard (#25 overall, #6 SP)
The 25 year old opening day starter for the Mets has a bright future ahead of him. He missed most of last year with lat injury and the fact that he regularly hits 100 mph isn't reassuring that he'll remain healthy. When he's on the field, however, he is lights out. He's a safe bet to strike out close to 30% of batters he faces with a low ERA and WHIP. The quality of his stuff is beyond almost any other pitcher and the fact that he commands his pitches so well in the strike zone makes him a high upside pick even in the 3rd round.
Dee Gordon (#52 overall, #5 2B)
Having the 6th best fantasy player in 2017 according to ESPNs Player Rater outside my top 50 seems like an oversight. I personally prefer not to use an early pick on a player who's value comes almost exclusively from stolen bases. He will be adding OF eligibility this season with Seattle, so the versatility helps him. I expect him to keep stealing bases and scoring runs with his new team, but there are still many other all around contributors I'll take ahead of him.
Luis Castillo (#65 overall, #19 SP)
I am very high on Castillo after what he did last season. In just under 90 innings, he struck out 98 batters, had a 1.07 WHIP, and held opposing hitters to a .198 AVG. Also, his ground ball rate was an unbelievable 58.8%. He throws 97+ mph, but he also has great feel for his slider and changeup for a young player. He is a must own in my opinion.
Marwin Gonzalez (#90 overall, plays like every position)
The Astros utility man is not getting the love he deserves. He led the best offensive team in our generation in RBI last year. Of course, thats not going to happen again, but it shows how important he is to that lineup. He has power, he'll swipe some bases, and most importantly is just a really good hitter. He had a .303 AVG which appears to be fueled by a .343 BABIP, but he had a .907 OPS too, which is a better measure of his skill as a hitter. Also, its so nice owning a player eligible at 4 positions.
Charlie Morton (#110 overall, #31 SP)
Another criminally underrated Astro. 26% K rate, 51% GB rate, and a 1.19 WHIP. Those are not flukey numbers. Morton made significant changes with the Astros by enhancing his spin rate and velocity. I expect a similar season from Morton in 2018 and I wouldn't be surprised if he had better ERA luck.
Shohei Ohtani (#142 overall, #41 SP)
The 23 year old Japanese prodigy is not making a good showing in Spring Training so far. I am not worried that he won't be able to adjust, but I am worried that the Angels will start him off in the minors for some fine tuning. He has so much talent that once he gets comfortable here, he could be a top 20 SP. Who knows, he could also adjust on the offensive side quicker than we think and be a threatening 2 way player this year. Its just a matter of when at this point. I have him ranked around the same place I would for any other top prospect due to come up early in the season. Assuming he will be in the majors by May if not at the start if the season, he will be a fun player to own.
Ronald Acuna (# 158 overall, #42 OF)
He is this year's Kris Bryant. The Braves have a spot warmed up for him and he has torched every level of the minors. His spring training performance is also reminiscent of Bryant's, although spring training numbers mean nothing. In terms of performance , expect at worse Mike Trout Lite and at best Mike Trout.
Blake Snell (#193 overall, #57 SP)
I have been a Snell fan for a while. In 2015 he blew threw all levels of the minors as quickly and ruthlessly as any player I've ever seen. The problem was he kind of hit a wall at the big league level, still getting strikeouts and not having an atrocious ERA, but mainly with walks. Last year he brought his WHIP down from 1.62 to 1.33, but his strikeouts declined a bit. He is always one tick away from being a top tier pitcher because his fastball curveball combo is so good. I think being a bit more settled in and not starting the season in AAA will help him put it together.
More break downs coming soon!
Also coming soon!