With home run totals skyrocketing -- a Major League-record 6,105 were hit in 2017 -- and teams relying more and more on their bullpens, the past few years have seen a major shift in the MLB landscape.The 2017 season was the first full campaign without a pitcher recording at least
With home run totals skyrocketing -- a Major League-record 6,105 were hit in 2017 -- and teams relying more and more on their bullpens, the past few years have seen a major shift in the MLB landscape.
The 2017 season was the first full campaign without a pitcher recording at least 215 innings or compiling at least 19 wins. Meanwhile, a total of 41 players went deep 30-plus times, nearly matching the number of 30-homer campaigns from 2013-15 (45).
Even for the most prepared fantasy owners, navigating such a significant climate change can be quite the challenge. But here once again to lend a helping hand in the face of said uncertainty is MLB.com's Player Preview, which comprehensively chronicles more than 800 Major Leaguers, all within a click on your computer or mobile device.
• MLB.com's player rankings
Each big league club is covered in the preview, your go-to source for writeups, rankings, stats and videos about your hometown heroes. Before you dive in, let's break down the top 10 fantasy players for 2018.
1. Michael Trout, outfielder, Angels
The No. 1 overall player in MLB.com's Player Preview for the fifth time in six years, Trout may have produced more than 40 homers, 120 runs and 30 steals if he hadn't missed nearly seven weeks with a left thumb injury in 2017. The outfielder has arguably created more separation between himself and his peers than ever before, and he is still improving at the plate. In fact, last year's 17.8 percent strikeout rate, 18.5 percent walk rate and 1.071 OPS were all personal bests.
2. Jose Altuve, second baseman, Astros
While Trout stands alone atop the fantasy landscape, Altuve has a strong claim to the label of baseball's most consistent superstar. In addition to winning his third batting title and reaching the 30-steal plateau for the sixth straight season in 2017, the second baseman was able to sustain his '16 power gains by going deep 24 times for a second consecutive year. Supported by a high-scoring lineup, Altuve can contribute stellar stats across the board.
3. Paul Goldschmidt, first baseman, D-backs
After experiencing a power dip in 2016, Goldschmidt eased concerns about his swing by going deep 36 times and maintaining a helpful batting average (.297) last year. He also continued to regularly contribute with his legs (18 steals), making him one of the top all-around assets in the game.
4. Trea Turner, shortstop, Nationals
Despite dealing with injuries and playing just 98 games, Turner managed to score 75 runs and rank third in baseball with 46 steals last year. With improved health in 2018, the speedster could lead the Majors in both departments while also supplying a helpful batting mark from his post atop a talented Nationals lineup. And with 25 homers across 759 career at-bats, the 24-year-old can contribute in the power department as well.
5. Mookie Betts, outfielder, Red Sox
Although he fell short of replicating his breakout 2016 season, Betts was the only player in baseball to produce at least 20 homers, 20 steals, 100 RBIs and 100 runs scored last year. With a rate-stats rebound possibly on the horizon after he was set back by a .268 BABIP in '17, Betts is worthy of consideration shortly after fantasy drafts get underway.
6. Giancarlo Stanton, outfielder, Yankees
After frequently falling short of lofty expectations in previous seasons, Stanton finally put everything together for a magnificent 2017 campaign (59 homers, 132 RBIs). While fantasy owners may be troubled by the fact that Stanton played more than 123 games just once from 2012-16, the slugger's upside remains immense. Now part of a potent Yankees lineup, he could lead the Majors in home runs and RBIs again in '18.
7. Charlie Blackmon, outfielder, Rockies
Blackmon produced an outstanding encore to his breakout 2016 campaign, posting the highest average in the National League (.331) while leading the Majors in runs scored (137) and recording career bests in homers (37) and RBIs (104). Set to benefit from Colorado's hitter-friendly home park and solid lineup again in '18, the 31-year-old is one of the safest options in Round 1.
8. Aaron Judge, outfielder, Yankees
Judge emerged as one of baseball's most feared sluggers during 2017, ranking among the Major League leaders in homers (52), runs (128), RBIs (114) and walks (127). While he is a potential batting-average liability due to his penchant for striking out, his power is undeniable. In fact, Judge paced all hitters in average exit velocity (94.9 mph, minimum 200 balls in play) and total barrels (87) last year, according to Statcast™. Part of a lineup with Stanton and superstar catcher Gary Sanchez, Judge should compile game-changing counting stats once again.
9. Nolan Arenado, third baseman, Rockies
Even in an era that is heavy on sluggers and light on speedsters, Arenado possesses the plate skills to remain a coveted first-round option. The 26-year-old has the ability to hit .300 with enough power to clear 40 home runs. Arenado is also one of the favorites to lead the Majors in RBIs this year, having plated at least 130 runs in each of the past three seasons.
10. Clayton Kershaw, starter, Dodgers
Though Kershaw missed significant time with back problems in 2016 and '17, he remained one of the best overall fantasy assets on a per-game basis during that span (2.03 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 10.4 K/9 rate). Even with the health concerns, the lefty maintains a small edge over other stellar starters such as Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber and Chris Sale.
So there you have it, folks -- MLB.com's top 10 stars entering 2018. That's 10 down with nearly 800 to go. But don't stop reading now, because the preview -- a living online magazine -- will feature daily updates throughout offseason's end and deep into spring, all the way until Opening Day.
Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB.