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: Between Cody Bellinger's historic season and Seager's missed postseason time due to a back injury, the shortstop might have slipped beneath the radar in terms of star-caliber fantasy picks. Seager's sophomore year, however, wasn't really much less statistically impressive than his 2016 Rookie of the Year season. His underlying skills all seemed to improve: more walks, more hard contact, fewer ground balls, fewer bad swings on pitches outside the strike zone. In short, Seager was the young shortstop who didn't have the eye-popping 2017, yet possesses comparable skills to any of the elite players at his position. He's a legitimate early-round pick and a building block for those in dynasty leagues.
2018 Outlook: A three-homer, 10-RBI performance in his 25th game on April 30 sparked what was an eventual career year for Rendon, who set personal bests in batting average (.301), home runs (25), RBIs (100), on-base percentage (.403), slugging percentage (.533), doubles (41) and walks (84), while appearing in more than 145 games for the third time in the past four years. In the process, he continued to show growth in his batted-ball distribution -- significantly more fly balls and fewer ground balls -- as well as his hard-contact rate. Rendon, who begins the season at 27 years old, is in the prime of his career and is a worthy early-round pick who could warrant top-25 consideration in points-based leagues.
2018 Outlook: After struggling early in his sophomore season, Bregman took a significant step forward during the second half of 2017, batting .315/.367/.536 with 11 home runs and 44 RBIs. In the process, he made noticeable gains hitting right-handed pitching while boosting his contact rate to 84.6 percent and well-hit average to .188. Those improvements bode well for his ability to fill the batting average and power categories. What's more, Bregman snuck in 30 games at shortstop while Carlos Correa was sidelined, giving the youngster coveted dual-position eligibility (third base being his usual position). If you're looking for a breakthrough candidate, Bregman is a wise pick-up, a top dynasty-league target and a surefire early-round pick in redraft formats.
2018 Outlook: He's as consistent a power source as they come -- the only player in baseball to have hit at least 30 home runs in each of the past six seasons -- and possesses one of the keenest batting eyes in baseball. He's one of only three players with at least a 10 percent walk rate and no more than a 20 percent strikeout rate while qualifying for the batting title in each of the past six seasons (also Joe Mauer, Carlos Santana). These skills make Encarnacion one of the most attractive picks in points-based leagues, but he's also a viable early-round pick in rotisserie leagues, where his status as a heart-of-the-order hitter in a potent lineup helps. Now 35, Encarnacion's best years are probably behind rather than ahead of him, but expect the aging curve to be gentler on him than most thanks to his plate discipline.
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: Although his final 2017 numbers had the look of an age-influenced down year, Donaldson roared back with a .281/.401/.604, 25-homer second half that restored his status as a strong early-round pick. In his defense, the early-season DL trip that cost him 38 team games was the first such stint in his career, and the calf issue was probably responsible for some of his lackluster June and July numbers. At the same time, Donaldson is now 32 years of age and subject to increasing age- and injury-related risk, which makes him a weaker building-block pick in an era when many 25-and-under players are breaking through as the game's newest stars. Don't write him off just yet, but keep those risks as well as the prospect that he could be traded into a less homer-friendly environment in mind when considering Donaldson.
2018 Outlook: Come for the steals, stay for the unexpected power! Andrus' 20 homers last season were more than double his total in any previous pro campaign, and three more than he had in the prior three years combined. Digging deeper into the numbers, his unexpected power seemed entirely fueled by luck on fly balls, his 10.4 home run/fly ball percentage more than double his career rate (nope, it's not the baseballs), and his 88 RBIs seemed more dependent upon his having made 137 of his starts as either a No. 2 or 3 hitter, unusual spots for him compared to in the past. Even with that in mind, Andrus appears as consistent a fantasy pick as any in the game, a player you can select in the early rounds if you believe in his power, but a wiser early-to-midround selection if you don't. But before you decide, remember this: It's really his batting average and steals that you want.
2018 Outlook: That's two consecutive healthy seasons for Myers, who struggled to stay on the field in his first three big-league seasons, and in 2017, he showed a definite move towards injecting more power into his game. He boosted his fly ball rate by more than seven percent and his well-hit average by 32 points, things that might soon make him a contender for the home run crown if he didn't call such a pitching-friendly ballpark his home. Myers is also one of the rare first base-eligibles who brings speed to his game -- he's one of only four in history to have multiple 20/20 seasons -- which is an added bonus for those trying to fill the category on the cheap, and it helps ease worries about his middling-to-low batting average. He'll move to the outfield following Eric Hosmer's arrival, though, meaning multi-position eligibility early in the year. Myers should again return top-100 rotisserie value, making him a strong early-to-mid round pick, though he whiffs a bit too often to elevate him into that class in points leagues.
2018 Outlook: Previously one of the most free-swinging hitters in the game, Schoop flashed more patience in 2017, cutting his chase rate (swing rate at nonstrikes) by nearly 8 percent, the second-largest improvement among qualifiers. The result was a 26-point increase in batting average and 43-point increase in well-hit average, fueling his significant step forward in terms of fantasy value. That said, Schoop's power metrics didn't seem to support a full repeat, as his Statcast numbers were middling and his average fly ball distance ranked in the league's bottom quarter, and he did seem to enjoy some good fortune on balls in play. Expect some regression in his rotisserie numbers, but Schoop's overall improvements should still keep him as an early-round pick and one of the more desirable second basemen on your draft board.
2018 Outlook: After a 39-homer outburst in 2016, Cano regressed to his usual norms, his 23 home runs landing within two of his five-year average and .280 batting average just 19 points shy of said yearly average. Predictably, in his age-34 season he exhibited increasing struggles against left-handed pitching, which snowballed during the second half of the year (.160 average). Cano appears to be aging gracefully, and while he's probably not going to exceed his 2017 numbers by a significant amount, he's consistent enough year over year to remain a top-10 second baseman in Rotisserie leagues, and an even more attractive pick in points-based leagues due to his high contact rate. His durability, which might begin to wane soon, is also a great asset: His 784 games played in the past five seasons is fifth-most in the majors.
2018 Outlook: It's hard to fathom how a 28-year-old who had 4.8 wins above replacement and was a top-30 fantasy player overall in 2017 lingered on the free-agent market into February, but Hosmer finally found his team in the Padres, inking what at the date he signed was the winter's largest deal in terms of total years and money. Hosmer's skill set has been a matter of sabermetric -- and therefore fantasy baseball -- debate in recent years, as his 56.2 percent ground ball rate for the past three seasons (12th-highest among 232 players with at least 1,000 trips to the plate) makes it difficult to envision him exceeding (or even repeating) the 25 home runs he had in each of his past two seasons. He has seemingly managed his way into the Player Rater's top 50 in three of the past five years, thanks to a high contact rate (16.3 percent strikeout rate in his career), enough health, a prime lineup spot driving his run-production numbers (runs and RBIs) and the ability to contribute a handful of steals. In San Diego, Hosmer will get a small home-run bump -- Petco is no longer a contender for the league's worst power park since the fences were moved in -- but the overall pitching-friendly environment will probably cause him to spin his wheels. He could sneak his way into the top 10 among first basemen, but his limited upside from there makes him more of a mid-round, corner-infield type than a centerpiece of your team.
2018 Outlook: An all-or-nothing slugger, Sano's 470 strikeouts through his first 310 career games were the most by any player in history through that many games, but his 71 home runs were 12th-most. He's also capable of drawing a walk, making him a three-true-outcomes player subject to streakiness and a mediocre batting average -- probably sub-.250. With some of the best Statcast power metrics, including average exit velocity on fly balls and line drives as well as Barrels, Sano's league-leading power potential is unmistakable. The problem is that players like this are more commonplace nowadays, and therefore less valuable than they were a half-decade ago. He also could be subject to league discipline for an off-the-field incident, so keep tabs on the news. Sano is a solid dynasty pick and an early-to-midround selection in Rotisserie redraft formats, though his poor contact rate makes him a bit less valuable in points-based scoring.
2018 Outlook: While Posey's annual numbers might seem solid though not spectacular, it's his consistency and high-volume role that's so appealing in fantasy. He has finished 49th, 47th, 131st and 130th on the Player Rater the past four years, but those also represent four of the seven such seasons with a finish of 131st or better by any catcher in those four years. Posey has also led all catcher-eligibles in plate appearances in two of those four years while averaging 602 across those four, something that's most advantageous in points-based leagues and Rotisserie formats that start two catchers or have 15-plus teams. While his power metrics are slowly declining and he's now 31 years old, he should again be one of the most trusted picks at his position, with the question being this: How important is it to you to get a reliable catcher? The case can be made he warrants a top-40 pick in leagues in which the replacement pool is thinnest, but in standard ESPN leagues, in which streaming catchers is a valid strategy, the case can be made he's not even one of the three best at his position or a top-100 pick.
2018 Outlook: Though his final 2017 numbers experienced a downturn, it's important to remember that at the time Bogaerts was hit in the wrist by a pitch in June, he was performing along the lines of his 2016. His hit tool is his strength, fueling a solid batting average, but due to a ground-ball rate that routinely hovers just beneath 50 percent, it's unclear when or if he'll ever develop greater power. Bogaerts does enough to fill the prominent Rotisserie categories, earning him a place among the top 10 fantasy shortstops regardless of format, but until he shows more skills growth it's wise to simply expect more of the same.