Twelve Days of Christmas, Baseball Style

I hope you’re enjoying the holiday season. I got all my shopping done extra early this year, and that means I have more time to work hard on 2018 baseball rankings. But if I had to make a wish list for the upcoming year, here are some of the things I’d put on it.

Twelve Elite Aces

I’m one who believes you can’t go wrong with pitching depth. Collecting those top aces put a team with the “hitters first, pitchers later” mentality to shame. With that said, here are my favorite guys entering 2018. No, it’s not necessarily my ranked #1-12 guys — this is a casual article, so I’m including personal bias here.

Chris Sale, Madison Bumgarner, Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber, Stephen Strasburg, Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, Zack Greinke, Jacob deGrom, Chris Archer, Luis Severino, Kyle Hendricks

Eleven Heavy Sluggers

We saw a big power spike in 2017, so if the upswing continues, you’re looking at lots of hitters reaching 35+ home runs. There were 19 who did it last year, and here are my favorites to reach the mark in 2018.

Aaron Judge, JD Martinez, Nelson Cruz, Nolan Arenado, Cody Bellinger, Khris Davis, Mike Trout, Kris Bryant, Paul Goldschmidt, Miguel Sano, Mike Moustakas

Ten Top Speedsters

Speed is becoming harder and harder to find. You don’t want just an empty stolen base total, like Rajai Davis, but you do need to get at least one player who can put up 25+ SB. Here are the guys I’m giving extra value to because of their speed.

Dee Gordon, Trea Turner, Starling Marte, Billy Hamilton, Byron Buxton, Jose Altuve, Whit Merrifield, Jose Peraza, AJ Pollock, Bradley Zimmer

Nine Batting Average Boosts

Just like speed, batting average gets extra weight in the rankings when power is plentiful. Here are my favorite high-average batters.

Joey Votto, Jose Ramirez, Charlie Blackmon, Bryce Harper, Freddie Freeman, Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner, Adrian Beltre, Jose Abreu

Eight Dark Horses

Here are players I like or expect bouncebacks from, whether it’s assuming health or perhaps development of skills.

Ryan Braun, Kyle Schwarber, Adam Eaton, David Dahl, Masahiro Tanaka, Jon Lester, Danny Salazar, Lance McCullers

Seven Reliable Closers

It’s always a roulette wheel as to whether a closer makes it through the year with the job. Your guess is as good as mine, but since this is my article, here are my shots in the dark.

Craig Kimbrel, Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman, Ken Giles, Wade Davis, Raisel Iglesias, Corey Knebel

Six Cubs Worth Owning

There really are more than six, but some players I love, like Addison Russell, are actually a bit risky. The best Cubs worth owning next year are as follows.

Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks, Ian Happ

Five Safe Third Basemen

When you look at the top tiers for positions, third base is now the weakest. There are a lot of okay names, but the cream of the crop is very thin. After the obvious big four of Arenado, Bryant, Machado, and Donaldson, who’s next? If you don’t care about age or higher risk, here are my picks to fill in the second tier.

Justin Turner, Anthony Rendon, Adrian Beltre, Jake Lamb, Mike Moustakas

Four Champion League Series Teams

Just for fun, here’s my pathetic attempt to predict next year’s top four playoff teams. I’ll even give you a bonus of who I think will win the World Series.

The Indians beats the Yankees. The Dodgers beat the Cubs. The Indians beat the Dodgers to become World Series champions.

Three Players Who Turned Me on to Baseball

I started out as a White Sox fan, and though my brothers collected Cubs players, I was drawn to three Sox players. I still have my binder containing all the cards I collected of them, and I remember playing games like Strat-O-Matic before fantasy baseball exploded on the Internet. Here are the three players who ignited my passion for baseball.

Carlton Fisk, Harold Baines, Ozzie Guillen

Two Announcers Forever

When I switched to the Cubs, one of the biggest reasons I stayed a fan though many, many bad years was listening to Pat Hughes and Ron Santo. Ronnie’s gone now, but Pat Hughes is the one and only announcer for me. It’s not the true start of the baseball season until I hear him say, “Chicago Cubs baseball is on the air!”

One Fantasy Source

Be sure to come back after the holidays for more great fantasy sports articles. The Fantasy Assembly team will be kicking off our 2018 baseball rankings soon, and you don’t want to miss it!

 

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Kevin Jebens

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Fantasy baseball player since 2000; winning leagues ranging from 12-team H2H to 18-team experts 5x5. Has written for various baseball blogs, including the 2013 Bleed Cubbie Blue Annual.

2 thoughts on “Twelve Days of Christmas, Baseball Style”

    1. Thanks for reading, Chucky. There are a few factors here.

      (1) Yes, he does have a hard time staying healthy. Granted that the DH aspect should help him out now, but he has very few healthy seasons under his belt.

      (2) This article was less an intense, fact-based piece than my usual work. Having some fun during the holidays. As such, I’m picking players I personally like.

      (3) I figured I may as well keep my anti-Stanton going. In the past (see my other articles), I’ve criticized him as a top-10 pick — mostly because he can’t stay healthy, and because he hadn’t yet had the huge breakout of 50+ HR (which he finally reached in 2017).

      With 450 AB, I’m sure he’ll reach 35+ HR. I’m just not going to draft him in the first half of round one, despite 2017’s stats. There are safer bets out there.

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