Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Baseball's on deck: Prepare to pick now!

Supporting cast helps boost Harper past Trout for top spot
MLB.com

We're roughly two months away from Opening Day, when hope will spring anew at a ballpark near you.

Are you ready to swap sweater weather for fitted hats and baseball stats? If so, we have just what you need. Welcome to MLB.com's Fantasy Player Preview, your one-stop information shop for the upcoming campaign.

We're roughly two months away from Opening Day, when hope will spring anew at a ballpark near you.

Are you ready to swap sweater weather for fitted hats and baseball stats? If so, we have just what you need. Welcome to MLB.com's Fantasy Player Preview, your one-stop information shop for the upcoming campaign.

The preview comprehensively chronicles more than 800 Major Leaguers. From baseball's brightest stars to the final man on your favorite franchise's bench, all of the need-to-know info can be found with one click on your computer or mobile device.

Complete fantasy rankings

Each big league club is covered in the preview, your go-to source for write-ups, rankings, stats and video about your hometown heroes. You'll have to scroll through the preview for the full scoop, but let's break down the 10 best players right here, right now:

1. Bryce Harper, OF

Video: Outlook: Harper remains one of MLB's feared hitters

Harper has received sky-high hype since being drafted first overall in 2010, and he broke out in a big way last season. The 23-year-old phenom finished among the Majors' top four in homers, batting average and runs scored, en route to winning the National League MVP Award in unanimous fashion.

But for all of those awesome accomplishments, Harper could potentially post an even bigger stat line in 2016. Having played last year for a Nationals team riddled by injuries, the stud outfielder perhaps had his numbers muted a bit -- especially in the run-production department. The club could boast a much-improved lineup this season if new additions Daniel Murphy and Ben Revere play up to expectations and Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth experience better health. Meanwhile, the Angels' offense may be a bit underwhelming, allowing Harper the chance to widen the gap between himself and Mike Trout in the fantasy game. For that reason, Harper is our choice for No. 1 overall, instead of the 2014 American League MVP Award.

2. Mike Trout, OF

Video: Outlook: Trout is on track for another stellar season

The top name in the Fantasy Player Preview from 2013-15, Trout is undeniably one of the brightest stars in the game. In fact, a case could be made for him to retain his Preview crown for a fourth straight campaign.

While the Millville Meteor has slowed down on the basepaths since swiping 49 bags in 2012, he has flashed 40-homer power and perpetual potential to record triple-digit marks as a run scorer and producer.

Will Trout hit the century marks in 2016? Only time will tell, but he could fall short given his less-than-stellar supporting cast. Although it is no fault of his own, we at MLB.com needed something to separate No. 1 from No. 2.

3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

Video: Outlook: Goldschmidt remains an offensive powerhouse

Although the aforementioned outfielders will go first overall in most drafts this spring, one could not fault an owner for selecting Arizona's prodigious first baseman instead.

The owner of stellar pop and quite a bit of speed -- as well as three straight seasons with batting averages over .300 -- the D-backs' lineup cornerstone can do it all on the offensive side of the ball.

4. Josh Donaldson, 3B

Video: Outlook: Donaldson is one of MLB's premier talents

Donaldson shined during his first campaign north of the border in 2015, leading the Junior Circuit in runs and RBIs and claiming the AL MVP Award.

With a value boost given his third-base eligibility and exceptional durability, the 30-year-old should be counted on to produce first-round value this year.

5. Clayton Kershaw, SP

Video: Outlook: Kershaw is in the midst of historic stretch

Although many fantasy owners avoid using a first-round pick on hurlers, a case can be made that Kershaw is the safest fantasy pick of the 2016 draft season. After all, the left-hander has notched a 1.92 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 10.4 K/9 rate since the outset of '13.

And as the only active hurler with a 300-strikeout season under his belt -- produced last year, no less -- the 27-year-old is a cut above the rest of his mound brethren.

6. Carlos Correa, SS

Video: Outlook: Correa posseses an exceptional skill set

Correa shined during his debut 2015 campaign, taking the AL Rookie of the Year Award after batting .279 with 22 home runs, 68 RBIs and 14 steals following his callup on June 8.

If Correa staves off regression in 2016, the Astros shortstop could lap his position in the productivity department.

7. Giancarlo Stanton, OF

Video: Outlook: Stanton provides elite amount of power

Although he is regarded by many as baseball's top power bat, Stanton has never reached the 40-homer mark in a season. He was on pace to surpass that plateau in each of the past two years, but he sustained season-ending injuries during both.

Given Stanton's injury history and place in an underwhelming Miami lineup, the 26-year-old may again see his performance ceiling held back a bit. His potential is undeniably tantalizing, though.

8. Nolan Arenado, 3B

Video: Outlook: Arenado an elite contributor on both sides

A prodigious producer in arguably baseball's most hitter-friendly home park, Arenado led the Majors with 130 RBIs and tied for the NL lead with 42 long balls in 2015.

Having excelled both on the road and at Coors Field, the third baseman could easily sustain his stellar level of success in 2016. A small dip in RBIs would not be a surprise, however, given the loss of Corey Dickerson and a full year without Troy Tulowitzki (No. 82 in the Preview).

9. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

Video: Outlook: Rizzo to benefit from strong Cubs lineup

With 30-homer pop and the speed to steal 10-plus bases (17 in 2015), Rizzo is in rare company. After all, corner-infield boppers typically don't run the bases with aplomb.

Those who miss out on Goldschmidt might have great interest in Rizzo, a comparable player on a rapidly rising team.

10. Jose Altuve, 2B

Video: Outlook: Altuve primed for another impressive season

The second Astros star and middle infielder on this list, Altuve also gets a position-scarcity bump in the fantasy realm. Having hit .327 with an average of 47 steals across the past two campaigns, the diminutive second baseman has the capacity to lead the game in two fantasy categories.

And by belting 15 homers in 2015 -- more than double his previous career high -- the 25-year-old added an extra tool to his already excellent game. If he can sustain that power, Altuve could very well outperform his recommended draft slot.

So there you have it, MLB.com's top 10 stars entering 2016. That's 10 down with more than 800 to go. Check out the preview for daily updates through the end of winter and deep into spring, as the living online magazine will be updated constantly until the cry of "play ball" is heard on Opening Day.

Zachary Finkelstein is a fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Jose Altuve, Nolan Arenado, Carlos Correa, Josh Donaldson, Paul Goldschmidt, Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, Anthony Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Trout