1) Detroit Tigers:
Miguel Cabrera: Just because he is coming off what would be considered a down season, it doesn’t mean he isn’t still one of, if not the best hitter in all of baseball. Since his rookie season in 2003, he has never had a season of under 148 games played and has eclipsed the 100 RBI plateau in all of those years. It is almost a dis service to Miggy to say that he’s on the decline considering he hit 25 HR, 109 RBI, 101 R and had a .313 BA in 2014. He battled injuries last year and it affected his overall numbers. Prior to 2014, he had won 3 straight AL batting titles, with his lowest BA being .330. Expect him to hit .320, 27-30 HR, 115 RBI and score over 100 R. If you don’t think those are MVP caliber numbers, then you don’t know anything. Find me one hitter who has been more consistent than Cabrera over the last decade.
David Price: He is set to hit free agency after the 2015 season and should be one of the hottest commodities on the market. He is only 29 years old, he’s a former CY Young award winner and lead the AL in strikeouts last season. Going from Tampa (the only organization he ever played for) to Detroit was a big adjustment for the flame throwing lefty, however, entering his first full year in the motor city I expect big things. He is leaving the hitter friendly AL East and headed to the much less offensively gifted AL Central. Detroit is kind to pitchers and Price should take full advantage of it. Not only does he want to win a championship, but his performance this year will dictate how much money he gets next year on the open market. This may be the most important season of his career and with that being said, I would bet on him if I’m given the chance.
2) Kansas City Royals:
Lorenzo Cain: The Royals do not have any one player who really sticks out to me on the offensive side of the ball, so if I have to choose someone, this is my guy. He doesn’t possess much power, but it should develop over time. He is capable of double digit HR and he hit .300 last season while stealing 28 bases. He only had 55 R and 53 RBI which are lower than you want, yet I am a believer in the fact that he will improve upon those numbers this year. He is a rising star in this league and you will be able to get him at an amazing value. It is worth mentioning that he is one of the best defensive CF’s in all of baseball, some leagues do account for defensive stats so his value is higher in those formats. Here is an example of his stellar D.
Greg Holland: The KC bullpen was by far the best in baseball last year and they rode it all the way to game 7 of the World Series. The anchor of the bullpen is Greg Holland. Many people around the MLB talk about Wade Davis being the anchor, and for anyone who followed the Royals at all, they would know that he was amazing. What makes Holland more valuable than Davis is that he is the closer role and racks up saves. Holland had an ERA of 1.44 last season with 46 saves and 90 strikeouts in just 62 innings. He had a WHIP under 1.00, a stat that is extremely important among RP. When a pitcher only throws 1 inning per game, you do not want a guy who allows more than one base runner per inning. Holland may be the best closer in the AL, you cannot have a good bullpen without a strong closer, I highly suggest drafting him if you have the opportunity to do so.
3) Cleveland Indians:
Michael Brantley: Brantley had a break out season in 2014. He has steadily improved since entering the MLB and I believe he is a future batting champion or even MVP. Brantley was a 20/20 player last season, recording 20 HR and 23 SB. He also hit for a .327 BA, 97 RBI and 94 R. He just entering his prime now, so expect the power numbers to only improve and he will be heavily relied upon in 2015 to get the Indians back to the postseason. He was a first time all-star and finished 3rd in the AL MVP voting in 2014. With all that being said, there is no reason to believe that he won’t contend for the award again. For all of you saber metric fans out there, Brantley’s WAR (Wins above replacement) was 7.0 which was on of the best in baseball in 2014.
Corey Kluber: He was quite possibly one of the least likely candidates to win a CY Young award entering the 2014 season, yet, thats exactly what he did. Like most baseball fans know, its not about pre season rankings or predictions, otherwise they wouldn’t play the games. Kluber put his name on the map last season after compiling the best stats for an Indians pitcher since Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia. He pitched over 235 innings, had an ERA of 2.44, 269 strikeouts, 18 wins and a WHIP of 1.095. Some people may argue that it was a fluke and that there is no way he can repeat his success, to those people I say, do your research!! If you watched him pitch last year, you would know that he is as dominant as they come, has a great repertoire of pitches and has proven himself since the 2nd half of the 2013 season. Draft this guy, he can anchor your entire pitching staff.
4) Chicago White Sox:
Jose Abreu: It is quite possible that Abreu will be the best 1B in all of fantasy in 2015. That is a pretty bold statement when you consider all of the super star players at the position. With the exception of SB (a stat not to relevant when talking about 1B), he was among the leagues best in every important offensive category. He is a future HR champion who hit 36 of them as a rookie last year, drove in 107 runs, scored 80 and hit for a .317 BA. All of those number should improve in his 2nd season considering that he has fully adapted the the major league game. It is also worth mentioning that he will now be hitting between Melky Cabrera and Adam Laroche, which is a significant upgrade to last years roster. He will go early in drafts and will be well worth the pick.
Chris Sale: Sale, like David Price, is one of the best LHP in all of baseball. He is the anchor of a young and talented White Sox rotation and will be the key to them competing for the AL Central crown or a wild card spot. He racks up the strike outs, always has a low ERA and WHIP and should see an increase in wins with an improved offense and bullpen around him. I expect him to compete for the AL CY Young award in 2015 and when talking baseball with people, most do not consider him to be one of the elite arms in fantasy. Let people think that if they want, it just means he will fall to you at the right spot. Expect 180-200 innings, 185 strikeouts, 2.50 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 16-19 wins.
5) Minnesota Twins:
Joe Mauer: Many people that I have spoken to think that Mauer is washed up or at least is no longer the super star he once was. I will admit that his value as a 1st baseman is much less then it was when he was a catcher, however, he is still an elite player and I believe he will regain his super star form in 2015. I should also add that he comes off as a serious player (pun intended) in the photo above. He has experienced a number of knee, leg and back issues which hampered him offensively and forced him to miss extended periods of time over the last few seasons. Those injuries occurred due to the number of games he played every year as a catcher, by far the most physically demanding position in all of baseball. He should be fully adjusted to playing 1B or getting his AB’s as a DH, and for the first time in years, he has talented offensive players around him. He will fall in drafts based on his 2014 stats, you will get him as a bargain and be pleasantly surprised. Expect a .300 BA, 15 HR, 85 R, 90 RBI.
Glen Perkins: Perkins has been one of the more consistent closers in the AL since he took over the role in 2012. He is another RP who was once a starter, failed in that role and excelled once he was moved to the bullpen. The past 2 seasons he has averaged 35 saves per season which is among the best in baseball. He also has never pitched under 60 innings as a RP and has only had an ERA of over 3.00 once in the four seasons since being moved to the bullpen. The Twins are improved headed into 2015, which should lead to more save opportunities for Perkins, only increasing his value. I don’t think he is a household name at the position yet, making it likely that you will be able to get him reasonably late considering how much value he can bring to your team.
There are other players on each team that arguably could be on this list. Below you will find one player from each team who is very valuable in fantasy, just not necessarily a fantasy MVP:
The Next Best List:
Detroit Tigers- Victor Martinez – 1B/DH
K.C. Royals- Salvador Perez – C
Cleveland Indians- Cody Allen- CL
Chicago White Sox- David Robertson- CL
Minnesota Twins- Brian Dozier- 2B
I will be covering the AL Central division for the remainder of the season so if you have any questions, agree or disagree with my assessments or are just a fan of one of the AL Central teams, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to hear your thoughts and opinions. I also take article requests.
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Major League Fantasy Sports: Join Ej Garr and Corey D. Roberts on Sunday March 8th from 7pm-8:30pm EST for this week’s episode of Major League Fantasy Sports Radio sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network. We will be taking live callers during the show at 646.915.8596. This week’s show we will be discussing the 3rd base and catcher positions for the fantasy baseball 2015 season.