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 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: 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: 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: 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.
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.