FANTASY BASEBALL GUIDE: Examining the top players at each position

Many of you are finishing up drafting in your fantasy baseball leagues. You’ll use every guide your platform offers. I scoured the sites myself. I’ve done the research. I went where most don’t go and dug up the ultimate players you must consider drafting at every position. Here are my top-four and one sleeper.

PITCHER
1
. Gerrit Cole (Yankees)
2. Shane Bieber (Guardians)
3. Zack Wheeler (Phillies)
4. Justin Verlander (Astros)
Sleeper: Trevor Rogers (Marlins)

Sum Up: Corbin Burnes had his best season yet, bringing home a Cy Young, but I’m still not convinced he’s a top-five pitcher in the entire league yet. Maybe top-10, but that’s still pushing it for me. I don’t believe he’ll put up the numbers he did in 2021. Gerrit Cole is the real chosen one. It took him a while to be considered as one of the best on the bump and here he is. He flirted with being a 20-game winner in 2021 (16 wins, best in AL), on top of having a 3.23 ERA and 243 K’s. Bieber is blossoming into the AL’s most feared pitcher as the Guardians’ ace and best attribute– their pitching. Verlander is going to do what Verlander does, and Zack Wheeler I full expect to improve on a killer 2021 campaign. Trevor Rogers is my sleeper, because he has shown signs of star potential last year, in a stacked Marlins rotation.

CATCHER
1.
J.T. Realmuto (Phillies)
2. Will Smith (Dodgers)
3. Salvador Perez (Royals)
4. Daulton Varsho (Diamondbacks)
Sleeper: Adley Rutschman (Orioles)


Sum Up: Realmuto has been the best catcher in baseball for a while now. Even though Perez had one of his best years to date, he’s proven to be untrustworthy year in and year out. Will Smith is the surprise here. While many thought Keibert Ruiz was the future backstop in LA, Smith blasted onto the scene with impressive tools on both sides of the field. Daulton Varsho is my fourth best catcher solely due to two things: his ability to play multiple positions and his upside is much more intriguing than others at the catcher position. Every year he’s improved, and every year he’s played more games. This year we’ll see just how good he is as an everyday player.

FIRST BASE

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays)
2. Freddie Freeman (Dodgers)
3. Pete Alonso (Mets)
4. Matt Olson (Braves)
Sleeper: Spencer Torkelson


Sum Up: First base– the best of the MLB high rollers payout for any position, whether you’re gambling or playing fantasy, first basemen and outfielders are where it’s at. Vlad was robbed of the AL MVP, but he’ll continue to put up monster numbers and lead the Blue Jays in the AL East. I had a hard time putting Freddie Freeman in my top-three. This was mostly due to his being on a new team and that he’s creeping into his mid-30s. He won’t quite be like Eric Hosmer to the Padres from the Royals, but I just don’t see him putting up the numbers he did in a Braves lineup and city he’s been very comfortable in for years. Still though, it’s Freddie Freeman. It’s hard to get down on him, unless he gives you a solid reason why. So we’ll see. Mark my words, 2022 will be the season Pete Alonso asserts himself as one of the premiere first basemen all of baseball. Of all the big names with the Mets, Alonso will earn his next payday and then some. Matt Olson takes over for Freeman in Atlanta, and while the A’s gave him his star power, he’s coming to a division with some of the best pitching in the entire league. He’s still young, so expect him to have his ups and downs. In the end, he’ll come out of it ahead, making Braves fans forget how Freeman bailed on them. As for my sleeper, interesting, right? He’s on no one’s radar, which makes me like him that much more. Torkelson just made the Tigers opening day roster. His hitting as a prospect is far more advanced than any player I’ve seen in quite a while. He’s adapted to big league pitching exceptionally well these past two Spring Trainings. Much like Olson, he’ll go through his ups and downs, but Tork will be on 98% of fantasy rosters before the season is out.

SECOND BASE
1. Jose Altuve (Astros)
2. Ozzie Albies (Braves)
3. Ketel Marte (Diamondbacks)
4. Jonathan India (Reds)
Sleeper: Jazz Chisolm Jr. (Marlins)


Sum Up: Altuve is still in his prime and will still be the one-two punch with Alex Bregman in Houston. As good as Ozzie Albies is and is becoming, he still hasn’t taken the crown from him yet as the best second baseman in the league. Marte just re-upped with the Diamondbacks this week and is in their plans as the foundational player the club needs to build off of, so expect him to be in the lineup almost every day. India defaults as one of the lone bright spots in this roster since the offseason departures of Jesse Winker, Nicholas Castellanos, Eugenio Suarez and Sonny Gray. The youngsters have now taken over Cincinnati’s clubhouse as they are in a full rebuild. India is the foundational piece here. My sleeper is Jazz Chisolm Jr. and he still makes me mad, believe it or not. I picked him up last year and when he was in he was dynamic. But injuries really set him back. He doesn’t have a history of injuries, so I expect this to be a one-year thing. Chisolm is the personality on and off the field the Marlins have needed all along. He can hit for average, he’s got pop in his bat, his glove is a thing of beauty at second and at short. Tough to say if he’ll stay at short long term, though, so second could be his destiny.

THIRD BASE
1. Rafael Devers (Red Sox)
2. Alex Bregman (Astros)
3. Kris Bryant (Rockies)
4. Nolan Arenado (Cardinals)
Sleeper: Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pirates)


Sum Up: At this point, I’m sure readers are yelling at me for not putting Jose Ramirez on this list. Something didn’t sit with me right about him last season. There was a hitch in his swing. He looked sluggish and lost at times. If he was a pitcher I’d say he has the yips. But I can’t quite put my finger on what was wrong with him. He didn’t have a bad year, but he didn’t have the kind of year you’d expect out of a star on a team. The Guardians felt comfortable trading Francisco Lindor because they knew they still had Ramirez– their cornerstone. And he didn’t rise to the occasion. Devers keeps on showing us why he is the franchise player to be in Boston. Bregman, once fully healed, should be back to where he left off in years past. Bryant I put on this list because of two reasons: he is the lone star, and I think he chose the Rockies because he wanted to be the main guy. And the second reason why is because he’s hitting in Coors Field! He’s going to love hitting there and his numbers will inflate once again. Arenado has been disrespected for two years in a row. He started out rocky with the Cards, but came around and helped lead them deeper into the postseason. I fully expect him to return to being the best hot corner in the league again, regardless if he’s playing out of Coors Field. Much like Chisolm, Hayes was a frustrating player too. When he was in, he raked. Injuries held him up, though. Now he’s back with Pittsburgh, he’s healthy and he’s ready be the player that leads them full time. There is a lot of Jose Ramirez in his game, so the Steel City might be in for a show.

SHORTSTOP
1. Trea Turner (Dodgers)
2. Bo Bichette (Blue Jays)
3. Tim Anderson (White Sox)
4. Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox)
Sleeper: Wander Franco (Rays)


Sum Up: There isn’t a lot that separates this fine group of shortstops, who are the next generation of the game. All are young. All are exciting to watch. All are just as good offensively as they are defensively. Let’s go! Turner is a must-have in all fantasy leagues and formats for what he can do at the plate and on the base paths. He’ll get on base, he’ll get you steals and he’ll get you runs. He’s a fantasy baseball darling. He should be your top-five pick in all leagues. Bichette might have the most power and swagger out of this entire group. He’s Derek Jeter with more pop. He had a hell of year, and is fully expected to be the Robin to Vlad Jr.’s Batman. Tim Anderson quietly put together two brilliant seasons in the south side of Chicago. He gets on base, plain and simple. He can drive in runs no matter where he is in the lineup and like Turner, gets runs upon runs. He should be a drafted in the first or second round. Wander Franco will become the new Fernando Tatis Jr. this season. Well, at least in the AL. Franco came in late in 2021, but proved he is a star in the making, and that makes the Rays giddy.

OUTFIELD
1. Mike Trout (Angels)
2. Mookie Betts (Dodgers)
3. Juan Soto (Nationals)
4. Ronald Acuna Jr. (Braves)
Sleeper: Luis Robert (White Sox)


Sum Up: Speaking of MLB high rollers, we are entering another golden era of outfielders. Mike Trout is the best in the game– a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. Mookie Betts could be in those talks to as a 1a or 1b. Juan Soto is the Ted Williams of our generation, and if Ronald Acuna Jr.can come back from his injuries without any setbacks, he could be a Willie Mays or Hank Aaron-esque player. He’s already Atlanta’s top guy, even when Freeman was there. Acuna put up MVP numbers before his injury exit. Expect him to do the same but not right out of the gate. He’s coming back from his injury, so it’ll be wise to draft him in the first couple of rounds and stash him away. My sleeper is Luis Robert. If we are comparing Trout, Betts, Soto, and Acuna Jr to legends Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Ted Williams and Hank Aaron, then I would say Robert is the Duke Snider or Roberto Clemente of this bunch. He’s had two years to put it together in Chicago. Now it is his time to rise above and become the prospect the White Sox expected him to become long ago. He’s a high average guy who can get you homers, RBIs, and runs. That’s an offensive gem to snag in the first round.

DESIGNATED HITTER
1. Shohei Ohtani (Angels)
2. Yordan Alvarez (Astros)
3. J.D. Martinez (Red Sox)
4. Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees)
Sleeper: Austin Meadows (Rays)


Sum Up: Ohtani can do it all. He can lead in all stat areas (that aren’t pitching), and even steals! We’ve never seen a fantasy player quite like this. Too bad you have to get the pitcher Ohtani and the hitter Ohtani separate. Alvarez gives me Albert Pujols vibes. He makes losing Carlos Correa not seem so bad to them. He’ll be at the top of the lineup with Altuve, Bregman and Kyle Tucker. J.D. Martinez is reliable for Boston. He’ll keep your average up in the .300s, while getting those few RBIs you need at the end of the week. I’ve noticed he’s one of the best weekend performers in the game right now. When it comes down to close games, that’s like striking gold. Stanton still has the it factor. He’s taken some backseats to Aaron Judge and other stars in the league, but Stanton can still swing the big stick to success. He’ll DH and play the outfield. If you need a guy to get you homers and RBIs, draft him in the middle rounds. Meadows comes in as my sleeper because he is coming off a decent year, not a great year, but his numbers indicate he’s improving towards All-Star potential. Between him as DH and in the outfield, expect Meadows to become a good fill in when you have players taking rests or when they are placed on the IL.

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