We continue down my pre2015 rankings. Once we reach the top 50 ranks, you will see players who are capable of being top 5 players, many who have previously been considered amongst the elite at one point or another, but but presently have at least one wart on their game. Lets get back to the ranks.
#54 Jonathan Lucroy, C, MIL
$21.09, 71 R, 16 HR, 75 RBI, 4 SB, .296 AVG, .835 OPS
Lucroy only played 103 games after missing time with a concussion and a toe injury. Between those injuries, he wasn't productive at all. Since his 2014 was MVP caliber, I'll give him a pass on 2015, and continue to rank him generously in 2016, as he's expected to be healthy in 2016, something he never was this year.
#53 Carlos Santana, 3B/1B, CLE
$21.21, 75 R, 24 HR, 83 RBI, 4 SB, .266 AVG, .846 OPS
Santana entered 2015 as a noncatcher for the first time in his fantasy career, and he simultaneously posted his worst offensive season. His batted ball profile was terrible. In 2015 he had his lowest line drive rate, highest infield fly ball rate of his career, while also seeing his grounders spike. This resulted in his first slugging percentage below .400 in his career, and a pitiful .231 average. He's going to take a big hit in my ranks, now that his positional versatility is gone as a 1B only.
#52 Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, NYY
$21.87, 90 R, 14 HR, 60 RBI, 43 SB, .278 AVG, .748 OPS
Ellsbury only played 111 games due to knee and hip injuries. Those are both scary injuries to have at age 32, while being a speed first player. Even more concerning is that his typically excellent batting average is on a three year downward trend, along with a matching 3 year downward trend in hard hit rate and contact rate. With the majority of his value riding on his ability to put the ball in play and then use his legs, I'll be dropping Jacoby lower in my 2016 rankings, as I don't think Ellsbury of old is coming back.
#51 Matt Kemp, OF, SD
$22.17, 75 R, 21 HR, 75 RBI, 11 SB, .282 AVG, .823 OPS
Matt Kemp was in the right place at the right time last year, reaching 100 RBI for the third time, and 20 homers for the 6th time in his career. What he actually did at the dish was less inspiring with a .265 average and a .755 OPS. His babip was 30 points below his career average, something I expect to be higher next season. I don't think 100 RBI is happening again on the Padres, but I do believe his batting average should be on the rise as his talent hasn't suffered from aging so far.
#50 Yoenis Cespedes, OF, DET
$22.44, 88 R, 23 HR, 97 RBI, 6 SB, .267 AVG, .790 OPS
Something that has been overlooked during all the Cespedes hype is the fantasy side of his season. He was having a perfectly respectable season during his first 100 games while on the Tigers, but it wasn't anything that was winning fantasy championships. His trade to the Mets resulted in a 2-month power showcase prior to free agency. As a longtime owner, I can vouch that Cespedes is one of the most talented players in baseball, but also inconsistent. There will be streaks like the one which he had for the Mets where he can single handedly win you matchups, and then he will evaporate for weeks at a time. He's also proven to be susceptible to the injury bug, as he is frequently either playing through something, or missing time. I've personally grown tired of owning him, but I can easily see the allure of Cespedes.
#49 George Springer, OF, HOU
$22.68, 91R, 31 HR, 89 RBI, 16 SB, .241 AVG, .804 OPS
Springer had concussion and wrist issues this year, and only played 102 games because of them. He had 16 homers, and 16 steals while on the field, making him an easy potential 20/20 candidate going into next season. While his season was abbreviated, he showed adjustments that many people wanted to see coming into 2015, mainly with chasing fewer pitches and making more contact, which ultimately resulted in a much better strikeout rate this season. Next year he'll be ranked in the top 50 again.
#48 Prince Fielder, 1B, TEX
#23.08, 76R, 21 HR, 87 RBI, 1 SB, .285 AVG, .839 OPS
Fielder seemingly rolled out of a hospital bed, and was back on the field this year hitting .300, and lowered his strikeout rate to an incredible 12.7%. More importantly, he played 158 games, allowing his owners to once again assume he is back to his healthy ways. His batted ball profile was similar to what he did in the past, so I'm optimistic about his future. I anticipate an improvement in power, with everything else remaining close to the same in 2016. I can see him going in the top 25 next year.
#47 Masahiro Tanaka, SP, NYY
$23.15, 174 K, 13 W, 3.355 ERA, 1.118 WHIP, 6.214 K/BB
Entering 2015 the Yankees let it be known that Tanaka was pitching with a partially torn UCL. He also missed some time around midseason with a forearm strain, leading me and many others to believe that sooner or later in 2015, he would be receiving Tommy John surgery. While he did have diminished velocity, he explained that he was trying to maintain his health, and made it through the full season. He posted a strong strikeout and walk rate, but now going into 2016, I question his future even more. I can't imagine a partially torn ligament could be any healthier after putting another 150 innings into it. Next year I'll let someone else be his owner, as I'm too fearful of his short term future. If that results in me missing another year of good starts, so be it.
#46 Matt Holliday, OF, STL
$23.48, 82 R, 21 HR, 84 RBI, 4 SB, .284 AVG, .837 OPS
Quad injuries resulted in Holliday only playing 73 games, and a career low .410 slugging percentage. Entering his age 36 season, and in a 6-year decline in his slugging percentage, he's become a riskier asset. While Holliday is typically a horse who plays the full season, his question marks have grown, and that isn't ideal when you're one of the oldest players in baseball. The high note I'll leave on is that when some players age, it starts becoming more obvious that they are behind the game, Holliday's batted ball profile remained strong, and his discipline was better than it had been in years past. Maybe he isn't as fast or strong as he was earlier in his career, but he is not sacrificing what he has grown on the mental side of the game to make up for whatever physical issues he has had.
#45 Justin Upton, OF, SD
$23.54, 87 R, 23 HR, 87 RBI
Upton is where I draw the line between being an excellent player and a star. He posted a .250 average, along with 26 HR, 19 SB, and a .790 OPS. So while all of those stats combined are very good, he failed to reach 20/20, and he failed to have an .800+ OPS, both being thresholds that many affiliate with star players. But with the lack of a star caliber quality, he brings across the board production. It comes in streaks, but it's worth it at the end of the year. Also, something to consider is that him being a free agent this offseason would likely put him in a better home park next season, allowing his power to play up more.
#44 Aroldis Chapman, RP, CIN
$23.62, 130 K, 4 W, 42 SV, 2.057 ERA, .886 WHIP, 4.815 K/BB
Chapman was a fantasy beast yet again. Going by strikeout rate, he is the greatest strikeout pitcher of all time. I'm not sure I need to make any more of a case for him to be the first reliever taken.
#43 Joey Votto, 1B, CIN
$23.70, 82 R, 19 HR, 59 RBI, 5 SB, .289 AVG, .903 OPS
The lowest ranked batter with a projected .900 OPS is reached, and it turned out to be almost 100 points below what he did. Votto continued to be the hitter with the best plate discipline in baseball, and with a full healthy season, he mashed his way into his owners hearts, along with being third in MVP voting. Next year I expect him to be an elite producer yet again.
#42 Albert Pujols, 1B, LAA
79 R, 26 HR, 93 RBI, 5 SB, .274 AVG, .802 OPS
Pujols has had serious foot issues the past few years, and has had surgery this offseason. Despite being hobbled, he managed a 40 homer season, and proved to be worth the investment any owner made in him. Next year I'm hoping he can be fully healthy, and while I don't expect vintage Pujols, I wouldn't be surprised if a healthy version of him could hit .280 again.
#41 Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU
$24.10, 80 R, 7 HR, 50 RBI, 46 RBI, .307 AVG, .758 OPS
Altuve doesn't pack the punch of anyone else ranked above him, but his ability to play a ton of games, pile up hits, and constantly steal bases has made him impossible to ignore. This year he did hit 15 homers, which does make him useful in that department, but that was likely his least valuable stat on the scorecard. While making R and RBI projections are dangerous, next year I expect the Astros offense to be improved with more Springer and Correa, along with whomever they sign this offseason. Altuve could threaten 100 R next season, and pairing that with a .300 average, 10 homers, and 40 steals makes him unique and very valuable.
#40 Corey Kluber, SP, CLE
$24.85, 236 K, 15 W, 3.205 ERA, 1.192 WHIP, 4.214 K/BB
Kluber posted a 9-16 record, showing the fickle nature of wins in fantasy, and why nobody should play with them over quality starts. Kluber pitched 222 great innings, recording 245 strikeouts, while walking fewer than 2 per 9 innings. Statistically speaking, Kluber wasn't as good as he was in 2014, but he was an excellent pitcher. His batted ball profile was strong, especially when you consider how few batters were even putting the ball in play compared to the average pitcher. If you're looking at a major outlets projection in 2016, they'll all likely be lower on Kluber, because of his wins being skewed by 2015, which gives a great opportunity to buy Kluber at a lower price than what he deserves.
As said earlier, this list was a pile of stars who due to one reason or another, have lost their shine. Many of them were hurt again, and continued to hurt their value, but all of them will be redrafted in fantasy again in 2016. If you have any questions about the ranks feel free to comment below, or ask me on twitter @jackcecil1. Below are the rankings from everyone #300-40.
|42||Albert Pujols||LAA||1B, DH||23.86|
|50||Yoenis Cespedes||DET||OF, DH||22.44|
|53||Carlos Santana||CLE||3B, 1B, DH||21.21|
|67||Ryan Zimmerman||WSH||3B, OF||18.6|
|70||Chris Davis||BAL||1B, 3B||18.35|
|73||Nelson Cruz||SEA||OF, DH||17.94|
|83||Todd Frazier||CIN||3B, 1B||15.81|
|99||Brandon Moss||CLE||1B, OF||14.36|
|100||Mark Trumbo||ARI||1B, OF||14.23|
|131||Adam Lind||MIL||1B, DH||10.91|
|133||Ben Zobrist||OAK||2B, SS, OF||10.79|
|141||Martin Prado||MIA||3B, 2B||10.14|
|143||Steve Pearce||BAL||1B, OF||10.05|
|159||Billy Butler||OAK||DH, 1B||8.54|
|165||Josh Harrison||PIT||OF, 3B||8.06|
|185||Shin-Soo Choo||TEX||OF, DH||6.21|
|223||Carlos Beltran||NYY||OF, DH||3.9|
|242||John Jaso||TB||C, DH||3.07|
|281||Michael Morse||MIA||1B, OF||-0.01|
|292||Asdrubal Cabrera||TB||SS, 2B||-0.55|
|293||Danny Santana||MIN||SS, OF||-0.76|