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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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.
2018 Outlook: Coming off a magical 2016, LeMahieu predictably regressed to the mean -- not that that should ever be construed as damning. His .388 BABIP and 8.9 home run/fly ball percentage both returned to his previous/career norms, with the result being an effective "2016 sandwich," with his 2015 and 2017 looking eerily similar. LeMahieu is one of the most talented contact hitters with patience in the game, so he's a rock-solid bet for a .300-plus batting average and .360-plus on-base percentage, which will fuel a hefty runs scored total as a top-third-of-the-order Rockies hitter. The problems are that he doesn't contribute a whole lot else and his speed metrics declined sharply last season. LeMahieu is an excellent points-based league pick, a top-five capable second baseman with top-50 overall potential there (as well as any league that rewards walks/on-base percentage), and he's only a round or two less valuable than that in Rotisserie leagues.