All-Fantasy team posts numbers to be remembered
Every championship fantasy team needs a superstar to provide difference-making numbers while a deep cast of complementary players fills in around him. Each member of our 2015 All-Fantasy Team proved to be the game-changing asset at his respective position. No matter the acquisition cost for these players, they provided a return that could have keyed a Yoo-hoo shower.
Catcher: Buster Posey, Giants
Posey dominated the competition at his premium position, finishing among the top-two catchers in batting average (.318), RBIs (95) and runs (74). While the 28-year-old does not possess elite power, he can be counted on to hover around the 20-homer mark while logging a heavy workload and making a major difference in all other areas. Posey will be among the safest third-round selections in 2016 drafts.
First baseman: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs
It is rare for the top fantasy first baseman to not post a massive home-run total, but Goldschmidt led a deep group at his position this season by being arguably the best five-category asset in the game. The 28-year-old ranked among the top-five first basemen in all five standard categories, and his high-level production has put him in the discussion to have his name called first in 2016 drafts. Fantasy owners may want to temper their stolen-base expectations for Goldschmidt in the coming season, as 16 of his 21 steals came prior to the All-Star break.
Second baseman: Dee Gordon, Marlins
The speedster edged fellow spark plug Jose Altuve for the top spot at the keystone position. Despite a brief stint on the disabled list, Gordon led the Majors with 58 steals this season. A poor career walk rate caused some fantasy owners to expect the 27-year-old to regress in 2015, but he took his game to another level, leading the Senior Circuit with a .333 average. With an impressive ability to use his legs to collect singles and steals, Gordon is likely to challenge the more-heralded Altuve for second-base supremacy once again next season.
Third baseman: Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays
Joining an elite Blue Jays' lineup that works at a hitter-friendly home park did wonders for the fantasy value of Donaldson, who led all American League hitters in RBIs (123) and runs (122). One of baseball's best hitters against left-handers, the 29-year-old made major strides vs. righties this season. One of the sport's most durable players, Donaldson will merit consideration for the top pick in 2016 drafts if he is once again united with the likes of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki.
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox
Perhaps no player made a more surprising ascension to top spot at his position this season than the 23-year-old Bogaerts. Despite seeing his home run total drop from 12 to seven, he was one of the top-two contributors among shortstops in batting average (.320), runs (84) and RBIs (81). One of baseball's most talented youngsters, Bogaerts could be even better next season if he makes strides with his power stroke. Astros phenom Carlos Correa made an impressive run at the top spot in fewer than four months of Major League action, and the 21-year-old could run away with this title next season.
Outfielder: Bryce Harper, Nationals
Arguably the top fantasy asset at any position this season, Harper made the largest contribution of any outfielder in batting average (.330) and runs (118), while also ranking among the leaders with 42 homers. By compiling 124 walks this season, the 22-year-old gave opposing hurlers little choice but to challenge his potent bat in key situations. Likely at the outset of a multi-year run of memorable fantasy production, Harper is the early favorite to hear his name called first in the majority of 2016 drafts.
Outfielder: A.J. Pollock, D-backs
After giving fantasy owners a taste of a breakout season during an injury-affected 2014 campaign, Pollock waged a full-scale ascension to the top tier at his deep position this time around. With the plate skills to hit .300 and smack 20 homers -- and the wheels to swipe 40 bases -- the 27-year-old boasts a similar skill set to Carl Crawford during his peak years. Batting in a lineup that includes Goldschmidt and rising talents such as Ender Inciarte and David Peralta, Pollock has the support he needs to be involved in plenty of run scoring. Pollock deserves first-round consideration in 2016 drafts.
Outfielder: Mike Trout, Angels
The first overall pick in virtually every 2015 draft, Trout continued to demonstrate some of the premier plate skills in baseball by hitting .299 with 41 homers across 575 at-bats. An August slump (.218 batting average, one homer across 101 at-bats) kept the 24-year-old out of the discussion for the top fantasy asset this season, but he is still in play as the initial pick in 2016 drafts. After swiping 82 bases across the 2012-13 seasons, the outfielder has compiled just 27 steals across the past two campaigns. Because he is no longer a five-category difference-maker, Trout could be permanently surpassed by the likes of Harper and Goldschmidt.
Starter pitcher: Jake Arrieta, Cubs
By going 12-1 with a 0.75 ERA and a 0.73 WHIP across 15 second-half starts, Arrieta broke through and stole the headlines from the Dodgers' dominating duo of Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. The 29-year-old held opposing batters to a .148 batting average during the second half, and he allowed a total of two earned runs across his final nine starts of the season. While Kershaw will be the first starter off the board in virtually all 2016 drafts, Arrieta can offer an excellent case to also warrant first-round consideration.
Starter pitcher: Kershaw, Dodgers
Wise fantasy owners stuck with Kershaw when he possessed a 3.86 ERA at the end of May and enjoyed a 1.45 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP across his final 23 starts of the season. By boosting his K/9 rate to 11.6, the left-hander became the first pitcher since 2002 to reach the 300-strikeout mark. With a 1.92 ERA since the outset of the 2013 season, Kershaw should be the first starter selected in every 2016 draft. Even with a deep pool of available pitchers, the 27-year-old's dominance makes him a viable option to also be selected in front of every hitter.
Reliever: Mark Melancon, Pirates
Pitching for a postseason-bound Pirates squad, Melancon was handed 53 saves chances this season. Despite posting a below-average strikeout rate for a stopper, the 30-year-old converted 51 of those opportunities and posted an impressive 2.23 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP. Despite his 2015 excellence, Melancon is unlikely to top the closer lists for 2016 drafts. Because save chances tend to be fickle from one year to the next, and because fireballers such as Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller can far exceed Melancon's strikeout total, the Bucs' fireman will likely fall outside the top three closer assets.