2018 Outlook: Using Player Rater finishes -- Altuve topped the list in 2014 and finished second in 2016 and 2017 -- there's a compelling case for Altuve as the first pick off your draft board. By adding some pop to his offensive game in 2015, then enhancing that skill again in 2016-17, Altuve has become one of fantasy's most complete players -- not just in categorical Rotisserie terms but in any scoring format. Altuve's contact skills are elite and give him the best odds of a major-league-leading batting average. He batted 15 points higher than any other qualifier in 2017 and 22 points higher than any other player over the past four seasons combined (he hit .334 during that span). Altuve is also a consistently productive base stealer, even if he's no longer a potential league leader, and he's the only player in baseball who swiped at least 30 bags in each of the past six seasons. If you prefer the "balanced" approach to team building, Altuve is the best building block you'll find.
2018 Outlook: Arenado is an exceptional all-around baseball talent, whether you credit Coors Field for some of his offensive prowess or not. He has .280-34-102 numbers in his past 162 team road games, and Arenado is one of the top points-league hitters in all of baseball. An exceptional contact hitter with elite power who bats in the game's most hitter-friendly ballpark in a deep lineup, Arenado possesses the dream combination in that format. Those skills also grant him one of the highest statistical floors of any player, which make him a compelling, first-round Rotisserie building block. Over the past three seasons, Arenado has driven in 48 more runs than any other player, and his 120 homers during that time are only six shy of Nelson Cruz's major league lead. Entering his age-27 season, Arenado should provide similar production.
2018 Outlook: One of the few candidates for the major league stolen base crown who also possesses decent pop, Turner's fantasy impact is best illustrated by extracting his numbers in his past 162 regular-season games on the Nationals' active roster: 159 played, .308/.351/.500 rates, 24 home runs, 79 RBIs, 74 stolen bases, 122 runs scored. Those would be historic single-year stats, and while they overstate his potential due to including his unsustainable 2016 second half, even pacing his more realistic 2017 numbers over a full 162-game schedule would result in .284-18-72 with 74 steals and 120 runs -- still exceptional and Rotisserie first-round caliber. As Turner's rate stats have settled into more realistic levels, he has continued to show incremental growth as a hitter, alleviating his risk of being a bust, and his speed metrics are as strong as anyone's in the game. If there's any valid doubt about his numbers entering 2018, it's whether new Nationals manager Dave Martinez will give him the green light with the frequency that Dusty Baker did. Even as a 50-steal player, though, Turner would remain a Rotisserie building block, though he'd be more of a top-40 player in points formats due to the scoring system's tendency to devalue speed.
2018 Outlook: One of the most consistent players in baseball, Goldschmidt has averaged .304 with 30 home runs, 104 RBIs, 19 stolen bases and 101 runs scored the past five seasons. With the exception of his 2014 campaign, which ended 54 games prematurely due to a fractured left hand after Goldschmidt was hit by a pitch, he has rarely strayed far from those numbers annually. It's the steals that'll probably catch your eye, as Goldschmidt has stolen at least 15 bases in five different seasons -- an unusual feat for a first baseman. Only he, Jeff Bagwell and Rod Carew have that many such seasons since World War II, and that's a welcome bonus for Rotisserie managers who land Goldschmidt. He's a category-filler whose contact rate is better than your typical slugger's, which makes him a first-rounder in Rotisserie and a strong choice in points-based leagues as well, though he's more of a marginal first-rounder there, if only because the position becomes deeper in points-based leagues.
2018 Outlook: The torn left thumb ligament that cost him 42 of the Astros' games during the second half of last season was frustrating to his fantasy managers, but it also might have kept Correa's anticipated 2018 price tag within range of him becoming a relative value pick. He's sneaking up on people as a budding star in the on-field game -- though his playoff success did raise his profile there -- as well as the fantasy game. Before he got hurt, Correa sported the game's eighth-best batting average (.320), 10th-best on-base percentage (.397) and sixth-best well-hit average (.248). Correa also became only the second shortstop in history with three 20-homer seasons through his age-22 season, joining Alex Rodriguez, the player to whom he was most often compared at the time of his No. 1 overall selection in the 2012 amateur draft. Now just 23, Correa has first-round upside, yet he might sneak beyond that tier in drafts, which would make him a relative bargain.
2018 Outlook: In what was probably perceived by most as a "down" season, Bryant made some important skills advancements in 2017 that bode well for his chances of a return to MVP glory. Thanks to his career-best 76.6 percent contact and 19.2 percent strikeout rates, he boosted his stock dramatically in points-based leagues, in which even a smidge more luck on his fly balls could help him emerge as a top-10 overall performer. It was good news for Bryant's Rotisserie value, too, as such polish elevates his batting-average floor, giving him a realistic chance at a .300 batting average, 30 home runs or, in the best case scenario, both. In a way, Bryant seemed to trade some power for batting average and extra-base hits, in an era when most seem to be doing the opposite. Although he's probably no longer worthy of your first pick in the draft, Bryant is certainly still a building-block player worthy of your second pick, thanks to his high likelihood of returning value on your investment.
2018 Outlook: A rocky 2017 campaign coupled with the prospect of being traded during the season -- Machado is eligible for free agency at year's end -- has probably deflated Machado's perceived draft stock to the point that he'll be a potential value in most leagues, should he slip beyond the first 15 picks. Although he had a quiet first half of 2017 (.217/.289/.420), he roared back with a stunning, .296/.330/.516 second half in which his contact rate ranked among his best at any stage of his career. Machado's .259 batting average seemed extraordinarily unlucky, as he had a .265 BABIP despite posting the second-most hard-contact line drives in baseball, which means he could record a mark as many as 30 points higher with greater fortune on balls in play in 2018. He's also an underrated power source, having hit 121 home runs before turning 25 (that occurred last July 6), good for 25th in baseball history and fourth among primary third basemen. Machado's arrow is still pointing upward, and his request to play shortstop in the future coupled with the prospect of a trade -- potentially to a team with a need at that position -- only provides additional benefit in fantasy. He's a premier talent, and he could make a borderline first-round case in points-based leagues.
2018 Outlook: Only three players in baseball scored more fantasy points (using ESPN's standard format) than Votto in 2017, and they were all pitchers: Corey Kluber, Chris Sale and Max Scherzer. It was the third consecutive year in which Votto was a top-10 overall performer in that format, and his elite combination of patience, contact and power makes him one of the most desirable picks there, as well as in sabermetrically angled scoring systems. Toss in the fact that he possesses arguably the most balanced splits -- whether lefty/righty or home/road -- and Votto's statistical floor is as high as anyone's in fantasy. He's the rare first baseman worthy of an early-round pick in Rotisserie leagues, despite having spent the majority of his career playing for noncontenders.
2018 Outlook: A fractured wrist suffered in mid-May cost Freeman 44 games and threw him off track of what was an MVP-caliber campaign at the time. He was hitting .341/.461/.748 with 14 home runs when he went down. To his credit, Freeman put up top-75 seasonal numbers using either Rotisserie or points-based scoring despite the significant missed time, even posting .282/.370/.518 numbers with five home runs in 29 September games -- a month during which he admitted he was playing through weakness in the left wrist. Although he might not feel like one -- playing for a rebuilding Braves team might have something to do with it -- Freeman is a premier talent in fantasy baseball, as capable of batting .300-plus as he is of hitting 30-plus home runs. Considering that the Braves' new ballpark plays a bit better for left-handed power than its predecessor, Turner Field, Freeman's power ceiling might in fact be even greater now.
2018 Outlook: Many players adjusted their launch angles in 2017 in hopes of boosting their home run outputs, but few exhibited as dramatic a shift in approach as Lindor. Previously a speedy on-base specialist, he shaved nearly 10 percent off his ground ball rate and elevated his launch angle by 6 degrees from 2016 to 2017 -- more than doubling his homer total and adding nearly 100 points of isolated power in the process. Better yet, he did this with no drop in contact or walk rate, a sign that with greater fortune on balls in play, he could reach .300-30 status. Lindor is also one of the more underrated baserunners in the game despite modest stolen base totals, and his outstanding defense will assure him maximum playing time, which only bolsters his fantasy value. He has become a true building-block player in points-based leagues, and he has the skills to be a five-category Rotisserie star as well. Don't let him sneak beyond the second round in your league.
2018 Outlook: About as consistent a player as there is, Rizzo has batted .281 with an average of 32 homers, 106 RBIs and 96 runs scored over the past three seasons, never deviating by more than 11 points of average, one home run, five RBIs or three runs scored. Rizzo also possesses one of the best batting eyes in the game, as one of only five players to qualify for the batting title in 2017 while walking more often than he struck out. That helped propel him to a top-20 finish in fantasy points. Now 28, Rizzo is one of the safest early-round selections you'll find.
2018 Outlook: Already one of the best contact hitters in the game -- his 88.6 percent mark the past two seasons was third out of 131 players with at least 1,000 plate appearances -- Ramirez added some pop to his game in a breakthrough 2017. That was, in large part, due to a nearly 5 percent rise in his fly ball rate and nearly 2-degree rise in his average launch angle, things that bode well for his prospects of repeating a .300-plus average and 20-plus homers. Ramirez's skill set makes him low-risk, and he's one of the few in the game who brings dual infield position eligibility to the table -- second and third base -- but he probably isn't the top-15 overall Rotisserie or top-10 point performer he was a year ago. Expect mild regression, but don't let him slip more than couple rounds in your draft.
2018 Outlook: While his rookie campaign was somewhat overshadowed by Aaron Judge's historic numbers, Bellinger's year wasn't much less excellent. Bellinger set a National League rookie record for home runs (39), with supporting fly ball and hard-contact metrics comparable to the rookie year rates of Ryan Braun, Kris Bryant and Judge, when looking exclusively at players of this century. Like Judge, though, pitchers seemed to adapt to Bellinger late in the regular season and in the postseason, and if you watched the World Series, you witnessed his weakness for breaking pitches down and in. Scouts have long felt that Bellinger's power is greater than his hit tool, so he might be a streaky type, subject to a low batting average but with a homer total that contends for the league lead. Expect some regression, but his skill set supports his candidacy for an early-round pick, which is slightly stronger in Rotisserie than points-based leagues.
2018 Outlook: Regression to the mean meant Dozier went from 42 to 34 home runs from 2016 to 2017, but his offensive numbers remained excellent, as did his underlying skills, earning him a place within the top 35 fantasy players, whether using rotisserie or points-based scoring. He's an extreme fly baller, with his high launch angle providing him great odds of a third consecutive season leading his position in home runs, even if his batting average is middling. What's more, Dozier is a capable base stealer, posting double-digit totals in each of his five full seasons in the majors, further bolstering his value. He's one of the safest picks you'll find at second base and worthy of an early-round pick.
2018 Outlook: He tends to be overlooked as a member of a rebuilding White Sox team. Abreu has not only adapted well to the U.S. game but has quietly become one of the most consistent players in fantasy baseball. He's one of three players in history to bat at least .290 with 25-plus homers and 100-plus RBIs in each of his first four big league seasons, joining Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols, and he did it while improving his contact rate in each of those years. Abreu also possessed balanced home/road splits, which bodes well should the team decide to trade him midseason. He might not -- and should not -- be one of the top players on your draft board, but he's one of the safest available selections after the top names are gone.