In honor of the full 2015 Mastersball Platinum launch on December 1, here's a sneak peak at the initial rankings. We launched our first set of projections on November 15 and after a bit of tweaking, what follows is the top-30 by way of projected dollar potential for a 15-team mixed league.
Please keep in mind that a ranking by dollars and a draft list based on these rankings often do not match. In other words, there are some players on this list I personally wouldn't take in this range and there are some I might jump up a bit based on reliability or upside.
30) Troy Tulowitzki - Skills still solid, it's all about the playing time. The good news is all his injuries are independent and not likely to recur. The bad news is a sentence containing the phrase "all his injuries" is necessary. Keep in mind you can always use a replacement when Tulo is hurt.
29) Ian Desmond - Desmond is the only player to have three 20/20 seasons the past three years. His batting average drops him down these ranks but he'll no doubt be off the board by this point.
28) Freddie Freeman - I'm doing an NFBC DC draft currently and Freeman was taken in the middle of the third. I say this because some may feel this is a low rank for Freeman. Truth be told, Freeman will be taken in the early second in some leagues as some will still be betting on the power. I'm more third round than I am second.
27) Max Scherzer - Once Scherzer signs, his relative rank will change. For me, he's firmly in the 1A tier. Clayton Kershaw is in a tier by himself with Madison Bumgarner, Stephen Strasburg and the pitchers yet to be revealed joining Scherzer in 1A. If Scherzer signs with a team having a pitcher-friendly venue, he could jump as high as #2 overall. Keep in mind Comerica has the rep of a pitcher's park but it really plays neutral.
26) Jose Abreu - Others are going to rank Abreu much higher but I see a whole lot of hinkyness to Abreu's rookie stat line. And yes, I am watching the NCIS marathon as I compose this hence pulling out the hinky card.
25) Jose Bautista - Joey Bats will be long gone by this point. The lower than expected rank is a health hedge. His skills are still strong though there is some evidence of the beginning of a decline.
24) Albert Pujols - Pujols is also an injury risk but with the ability to play DH, he has a good chance to match last season's plethora of playing time.
23) Yoenis Cespedes - With the note that it's very likely Cespedes is moved for pitching, the thought of him peppering the Green Monster all summer is quite enticing.
22) Victor Martinez - No one expects a repeat of last season's power. The question is where the fall lands. Obviously, the projection says pretty high; I'm not willing to take the chance. There's players with either more upside or longer track records available in this range.
21) Jacoby Ellsbury - Last year, I wrote that Ellsbury isn't injury prone, he's accident prone. And I've seen others quote it. I still feel the same way. Something to note, small sample size warnings apply, but Ellsbury hit 10 HR after the All-Star break last season.
20) Hanley Ramirez - Moving to Boston helped a bit but with Ramirez it's not about the park but his health. You're betting on at-bats, not skills.
19) Robinson Cano - Here's an example of a player I'd draft earlier than this based on reliability and durability.
18) Edwin Encarnacion - Some variance with batting average drops Encarnacion below where he'll likely be drafted.
17) Jose Altuve - Altuve's BABIP was on the lucky side and should fall, bringing with it fewer steals. But keep in mind Altuve was the top player in fantasy last season. There's only one direction he could go.
16) Jonathan Lucroy - This really isn't the place but catchers get a pretty significant position bump so it's best to think of this relative to other catchers as opposed to non-catchers. The real take-home message is Lucroy is closer to Posey than he is the next tier. The main reason is volume as he plays a ton and hits high in the Milwaukee order.
15) Matt Kemp - Cue the Monkees, "I'm a Believer."
14) Adam Jones - Once again, Jones baffled the camp that contends you can't maintain his level of consistent production with his plate skills.
13) Anthony Rendon - The key is going to be where Rendon hits in the order. If he sticks in the two-hole, this is warranted. If he drops to sixth or seventh, his production will fall and his rank will slide a bit.
12) Josh Donaldson - Park Factor, meet Josh Donaldson. Josh Donaldson, this is Park Factor. You two should get along famously.
NOTE TO MY TWITTER FOLLOWERS: Yeah, I plagiarized my own tweet. If you don't follow me @toddzola you're missing out on oodles of pithiness just like that.
11) Anthony Rizzo - If you insist on avoiding injury risks or require a two-year track record of elevated success, this is not the year for you. The bet here is Rizzo will maintain the huge power.
10) Chris Sale - Basal skills as good as Kershaw, just can't be relied upon to throw as many innings.
9) Buster Posey - By the numbers, Posey deserves this rank. It's a matter of your game theory and drafting philosophy whether you want to take the plunge this early.
8) Felix Hernandez - Lots of innings, lots of whiffs, lots of potential. He was drafted ninth in the draft alluded to above so this isn't a stretch.
7) Carlos Gomez - I know my editor just cringed but the numbers don't lie. Gomez has sustained a very productive level for several years and there's no indication it was luck or any sign of decline. Sorry Lawr.
6) Giancarlo Stanton - I've seen a lot of comments about Stanton's $325M contract and high fantasy rating with respect to his ability to stay healthy. I'm not going to comment on the money - that's out of my realm. But from a fantasy sense, a notion I need to embrace is in order to win a draft league, you need to draft to win and as opposed not to lose. It's subtle and a difficult concept to grasp for those of us weaned on auctions and have been programmed to be risk averse. I'm drafting Stanton third overall because he can hit 50 homers. I'm not fading him because he has trouble playing 150 games. All that said, I am fading him in auctions.
5) Miguel Cabrera - The news at the end of last season is worrisome. Cabrera's ankle was hurt worse than expected. This ranking is in flux, depending on the reports in the spring.
4) Paul Goldschmidt - Pre-injury Goldschmidt was up to his usual tricks. His hand should fully heel so another stellar season is on the docket.
3) Andrew McCutchen - Pretty rare you get consistency, reliability and durability AND UPSIDE this high in the draft.
2) Clayton Kershaw - Some systems may even rank Kershaw at the top. I have him a tick below. Taking him this early is defensible. I'm just not doing it.
1) Mike Trout - Like you expected someone else?
Mastersball Platinum was an integral information source for two of the last three National Fantasy Baseball Championship Main Event winners. Dave Potts won 100K in 2012 and our own Greg Morgan, along with his father Dale, split 125K and are the defending champions. In addition, Potts earned another 40K by winning one of the two 2014 NFBC Ultimate Auction Championships. The other was taken down by site subscriber Sam Botnick and your humble pundit.
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