2018 Outlook: Just how good is he? Since his big league debut on July 8, 2011, Trout is the only player in baseball to bat .290 with at least 180 home runs and 100 stolen bases. He has blown those thresholds away, in fact, with .307-201-165 numbers in those categories despite contributing little in 40 games in his 2011 debut season. He also managed at least a .290 batting average, 25 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 2017 -- the only player who can claim that -- despite missing 39 games after tearing the UCL in his left thumb in May, with batting average (.306) and homer (33) totals that far exceeded those thresholds. Now 26, Trout is coming off a season of personal bests in practically every rate category and a pro-best 78 percent contact rate. He's the safest cross-format fantasy pick in the game, and Trout stands an excellent chance of capturing the Player Rater's top spot for the first time since 2012.
2018 Outlook: After his MVP-caliber 2016, Betts' 2017 might be labeled a disappointment in fantasy terms. It's an unfair characterization as, despite a 54-point regression in batting average and 94-point drop in OPS, Betts managed a 26th overall finish on the Rotisserie Player Rater. In fact, he finished as the No. 8 hitter in terms of fantasy points. The latter feat is testament to Betts' remarkable contact ability, as his 88 percent mark was seventh among qualifiers, backed by a 5.6 percent swinging-strike rate that was fifth. He seemed strangely unlucky on batted balls last season; his .268 BABIP was historically low for a player with his skill set, which means that among the building-block-ranked players, he could be a relative bargain if people misjudge him off of raw 2017 returns. Betts is one of the few players in the game with legitimate .300-plus batting average and 25/25 skills, so expect some degree of rebound in 2018.
2018 Outlook: One of the most familiar names in the on-field as well as the fantasy game, Harper best fits the "risk/reward" label of any hitter in baseball. He has an MVP (2015) on his résumé, and he was on track for another in 2017 before severely bruising his knee in mid-August, which cost him 42 games. Harper scored the most fantasy points among hitters in 2015 and was fifth in 2017 before getting hurt. That 2017 missed time, however, as well as other DL stints in his career, cannot simply be glossed over, as Harper has been sidelined for nearly 20 percent of his team's games since his big league debut in 2012. Harper's all-out style of play does put him at risk, but his immense talent is also understandably tantalizing. He's now 25 years old, in the prime of his career, so the urge to draft Harper in the first round is probably more valid than not. How lucky do you feel?
2018 Outlook: There's always danger in chasing last year's numbers, especially historic numbers. Blackmon set a record for RBIs by a leadoff man (103 of his 104 were out of the leadoff spot) and finished two shy of the record for home runs from that spot in that lineup (37). Also, his 387 total bases paced the majors by 10 over Giancarlo Stanton. In the process, a lot of things went right for Blackmon: His .371 BABIP was second among qualifiers and unusually high even by Rockies standards, that number kicked up to .385 in what was a torrid second half (.348/.429/.627, 21 homers), and Blackmon hit a scorching .383 with runners in scoring position to account for the lofty RBI total. Still, Blackmon's hitting skills are improving, as he set career bests in isolated power (.270) and well-hit average (.229), and Coors field does alleviate the danger of extreme regression. If there's a worry about his 2018, it's his waning stolen base trends, as a .300-30-85, 115-runs player stakes more of a first-round claim with 15-plus steals than one with fewer stolen bases. Regard Blackmon as a building-block type, but don't get carried away chasing his 2017.
2018 Outlook: Baseball is just better when its biggest stars stay completely healthy. Stanton, who missed only one game in 2017 due to injury (for hamstring cramps in late May) set career bests in games played (159) and plate appearances (692), giving him an expanded opportunity to display his best-in-baseball raw power. Display it he did: Stanton hit 59 home runs in one of the worst home run environments in baseball in Miami, capturing the National League's MVP award in the process. Don't entirely attribute it to good fortune, though, as Stanton's adjustment to a closed stance also helped him post a career-best 73 percent contact rate, making him a much more complete slugger. For an encore, he gets to flash those same skills in one of the most homer-friendly environments in baseball, having been traded to the New York Yankees in December. Stanton is in a dream circumstance, and while his prospects of repeating couldn't be much better, it's important to remember that he has missed 20.1 percent of his teams' games in his career. There's risk here, but the power upside is monstrous.
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: Inexplicably, after putting forth one of the most productive second halves of 2017 of any player in baseball, Martinez lingered on the free-agent market deep into February, before finally signing with the Red Sox. During said second half, Martinez managed the game's best slugging percentage (.751), isolated power (.445), home-run rate (11.3 percent of his plate appearances) and wOBA (.472), his 31 home runs trailing only Giancarlo Stanton, thriving in one of the game's most hitting-friendly environments following his mid-season trade to the Diamondbacks. While Martinez's power metrics are destined to naturally regress, as that half-year was historic and practically impossible to repeat, and Fenway Park's Green Monster could convert a handful of his homers into extra-base hits, what he loses in that department he could gain in terms of runs/RBIs/plate appearances by joining a loaded lineup. He's capable of a batting average anywhere from .275-.300, and 30-plus-homer power, assuming he can stay healthy enough to accrue the at-bats to get there. Martinez is well worth an early-round pick.
2018 Outlook: Following a historic rookie season, what will Judge do for an encore? He enjoyed one of the most prolific power years in baseball history, setting a rookie record with 52 home runs that tied him for third by any player age 25 or younger. Judge's supporting metrics even back up his repeat prospects: He led the league in the Statcast metric "Barrels," which measures batted-ball events that provide the maximum outcome (.500-plus batting average and 1.500-plus slugging percentage), with 87, and he had the longest average fly ball distance (332.3 feet). Still, pitchers seemed to figure Judge out during the second half of the season as well as the postseason. His three-true-outcomes (home run, strikeout or walk) approach subjected him to streakiness and a low batting average, making him a slightly less attractive pick in points-based leagues. He's due some regression and could be overvalued given how prolific his 2017 campaign was, but he's also likely to once again be one of the best power sources in baseball and a particularly excellent pick in leagues that utilize on-base and/or slugging percentage instead of batting average.
2018 Outlook: With the exception of his stolen base total, Springer's arrow seems to be pointing upward in every aspect of his offensive game. In 2017, he set career highs in almost every offensive category, despite appearing in 22 fewer games than in the season before. Then he broke through on the national stage when he earned World Series MVP honors. In the process, Springer made much more consistent contact than he had at any stage of his pro career, increasing his chances of a repeat performance. The sole criticisms to be had are that his stolen base total and rate have each of the past two seasons and that he hits more ground balls than your typical power hitter -- somewhat limiting his power ceiling -- but neither is enough to bump him out of the early rounds.
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: After a 2016 marred by an 80-game suspension for PEDs, Gordon rebounded to his previous norms last season, flashing similar contact and speed metrics to his excellent 2014 and 2015 seasons. Though he's entering his age-30 season, his Statcast speed metrics have shown no signs of decline, and the Mariners have made several moves in the past year-plus that hint at their desire for more aggressiveness on the basepaths. Gordon shouldn't have much trouble repeating his 2017 numbers, giving him a great chance at a fourth career season inside the top 11 overall on the Player Rater, but keep in mind that speed-oriented players like this have much less value in points leagues. To that point, he has never finished higher than 71st in fantasy points in his career, making him more of a midrounder in that format.
2018 Outlook: Though Upton's power output appears to be on the rise, remember that his rates have risen concurrently with the league's overall increase. Keeping that in mind, Upton's annual numbers have been remarkably consistent, as he has a five-year average of .261/.341/.483 slash rates, 30 home runs and 12 stolen bases, rarely straying far from any of those stats in any individual season. He also finished 2017 on a high note, a good sign considering his late-season trade to the Angels, batting .282/.373/.594 with 20 homers in 71 second-half games. This might be Upton's peak, but even if it is, those numbers support his candidacy as an early-round selection, especially considering the Angels' offensive additions could help pad his RBIs and runs-scored totals.
2018 Outlook: A very good player in many regards -- contact ability, hard contact, patience and speed -- Yelich could do himself a world of good statistically by elevating his launch angle in an attempt to inject more power into his game. Since his July 23, 2013, big league debut, his 60.1 percent ground ball rate is the third highest among players with at least 1,000 plate appearances. In his defense, he has shown incremental gains in that area, most notably the 52.2 percent ground ball rate he exhibited in the second half of 2017. And then there's his January trade to the Brewers, which moved him from one of the worst parks for left-handed power (Marlins Park) to one of the best (Miller Park), plus dropped him into the heart of a much more productive lineup. Yelich has long been a popular breakthrough candidate in fantasy who hasn't yet taken that big step, but he still possesses a skill set that should place him among the 50 best players in the game by season's end ... if not better.
2018 Outlook: No player in history has gotten off to the kind of home run barrage that Hoskins did so early in a career, as he hit 18 home runs in his first 34 big league games, five more than any other player through that many career contests. That helped make him one of the most impactful players in fantasy in the season's final two months, though pitchers did seem to begin to figure him out in September, as he batted .227 with a 64.8 percent contact rate in his 28 games in the month. So which version of Hoskins is the real one? The answer is probably somewhere in between, as his combination of lofty fly ball and hard-contact rates makes him a legitimate candidate for a home run title, but his hit tool remains somewhat in question. Expect some streakiness from Hoskins, but he's still a strong early-round pick, especially in points-based leagues where his patience is a plus.
2018 Outlook: Though it might seem like he broke through in a significant way in 2017, the truth is that Ozuna planted the seeds in the early stages of 2016. Before he injured his wrist in late June 2016, he had posted similar numbers in terms of batting average, isolated power, hard-contact rate and ground ball rate as he did in 2017 as a whole. Still, Ozuna's .355 BABIP indicated that he enjoyed a good amount of fortune on balls in play, so regression in that department seems inevitable. Now with the Cardinals, he'll call a similarly pitching-friendly environment his home while batting in the heart of a talented, perhaps underrated lineup. He shouldn't have much trouble remaining a top-50 player overall regardless of format.