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The hour is growing late, and the Cubs are about to embark on their defense of the 2016 World Series Championship, so these are my final pre-season rankings. Two more Cubs herein, and even a pretty good Pale Hose hurler (though he'll probably be hurling elsewhere soon).
76) Billy Hamilton, OF, CIN; OF Rank: 25 - During the first half of last year, his value tanked as he couldn't get on to steal bases and was hit by injury, but he hit .293 with a .369 OBP after the All-Star break and ended the year with 58 SBs. No other value here, but maybe he's turned the corner.
77) Evan Longoria, 3B, TB; 3B Rank: 9 - Was sliding into insignificance before 2016, but somehow came up with a career-high 36 HRs and 81 total extra-base hits. 98 RBI was nice, too, though it's been years since he posted 100+ and isn't likely to as part of another cruddy Rays team.
78) Adam Jones, OF, BAL; OF Rank: 26 - Has never blossomed into the 30 HR/100 RBI/20 SB/.300 AVG, though he hit 29 HRs last year and hasn't hit fewer than 25 since 2010. Last year's .265 AVG was a career-low for a full season and injuries and age seem to have sapped his SB value.
79) Carlos Martinez, SP, STL; SP Rank: 18 - Seems like he's going to get a Cy Young at some point, and could be the bargain of the year at this rank if he starts off strong. Last year, he was 6-6 on May 31 after a crazy run of five straight wins followed by five straight losses, but went 10-3 the rest of the way. Just 25 years old.
80) Anthony Rendon, 3B, WAS; 3B Rank: 10 - Last year's 20 HRs, 85 RBI, 12 SBs, .270 AVG was close to - but not quite - the comeback season we expected after he missed 2015 with injury. Think he could be a 25/85/20/.290 player. Had a bit more value as a 2B/3B last year, but likely at 3B all this season.
81) Albert Pujols, 1B, LAA; 1B Rank: 15 - 37 years old, but has some buzz coming off a hot spring and surgery that supposedly fixed nagging foot problems. 31 HRs, 119 RBI last year makes him like a great bargain this late. No longer hits much for AVG, but we'll see if he keeps Father Time at bay.
82) Jonathan Lucroy, C/1B, TEX; C Rank: 4, 1B Rank 16 - A bit lost in his move from MIL to TEX last season was the fact of his career-high 24 HRs and catcher position-leading 81 RBI. Also, had .539 SLG and .885 OPS after he was shipped to TEX, and a pretty good spot to grab a top five fantasy catcher.
83) Jose Quintana, SP, WHITE SOX; SP Rank: 19 - The Sox's new ace for as long as he remains in town is a consistent, safe fantasy option to keep team ERA and WHIP in check. His sub-200Ks/season history and the fact of being on a rebuilding team limit his value, but c'mon, he's headed for Yankees, right? Right?
84) Cole Hamels, SP, TEX; SP Rank: 20 - Still flashes big fantasy outings from time to time, and is a borderline 200-K pitcher. WHIP and ERA have been mostly ticking upward for years, yet has had double-digit wins and 190+ Ks in eight of 11 seasons, so a set-him-and-forget-him fantasy rotation guy.
85) Masahiro Tanaka, SP, NYY; SP Rank: 21 - Still wondering if we've seen his best. While 2016 was easily the best and healthiest of his three-year MLB stint -14 wins, 165 strikeouts, 3.07 ERA, 1.08 WHIP - it seems like he's still feeling out MLB, and an improving NYY squad could help him win more.
86) Eric Hosmer, 1B, KC; 1B Rank: 17 - He's never had enough HRs to land among the top tier of 1Bs, but tried his best last year, tallying career-high 25 HRs, 104 RBI. But those numbers seemed to come at the expense AVG, which sank to .266, second-lowest mark of his career.
87) Julio Teheran, SP, ATL; SP Rank: 22 - Much in demand last year after three straight years of double-digit wins, he notched only seven for a bottom-feeding team. Ks have fallen slightly for three straight season to 167 last year, though 1.05 WHIP was a career-best. Lot of people still think he's got a big breakout coming.
88) Kenta Maeda, SP, LAD; SP Rank: 23 - 28-year-old rookie from Japan started well but finished 3-5 in final six weeks of the season before getting shelled in the postseason. Still, could be a big bargain here if he builds on 16 wins, and might be a 200-K starter he makes 200 IP (179 Ks in 176 IP last year.)
89) Willson Contreras, C/OF, CUBS; C Rank: 5, OF Rank: 27 - Sure, Schwarber is the No. 1 catcher on pure hype, but Contreras put up real numbers last year - 12 HRs, 35 RBI, .282 AVG, .845 OPS in 250 ABs - that translate well to a full season. Spring HR binge has fantasy owners salivating, but we'll see.
90) Gerrit Cole, SP, PIT; SP Rank: 24 - 19-win, 202-K campaign in 2015 made him a hot pick last year, but injury derailed hopes. Could certainly flash 2015 numbers again, but hard to rank him any higher right now after seven wins, 98 Ks and just 116 innings of work last year.
91) Wade Davis, RP, CUBS; RP Rank: 3 - Struggled at times during injury-shortened 2016, but managed 27 saves with a 1.87 ERA. The Cubs often played Screw the Closer last year by piling up big leads late in game, but expect Davis will get many more opportunities this year, and would peg him for 40-45 saves.
92) Zach Britton, RP, BAL; RP Rank: 4 - Now famous for remaining on the bench as his team lost the Wild Card game, he was 47-for-47 in save chances, with a 0.84 WHIP and ridiculous 0.54 ERA. Tough to repeat those stats, and BAL may not even get a chance to not use him in the postseason this year.
93) Edwin Diaz, RP, SEA; RP Rank: 5 - 18 saves last year in limited, mostly late-season action, but an attention-grabbing 88 Ks in 51 IP that make him seem like the next Kenley Jansen or Aroldis Chapman, which is a good thing for a closer to be.
94) Roberto Osuna, RP, TOR; RP Rank: 6 - He had 36 saves in 42 chances last year, which is not bad for a 21-year-old, or actually any closer. Probably needs fewer blown saves to break into the top five at closer. A 0.93 WHIP and 82 Ks in 74 IP are his other big numbers.
95) Aaron Sanchez, SP, TOR; SP Rank: 25 - 15-2 record in his first full year as a starter. His 3.00 ERA is pretty solid for the AL, while Ks figure of 161 in 193 IP is not so glitzy. Still, he was incredibly consistent for a young starter, and interested to see if he misses more bats this year.
96) Mark Trumbo, OF, BAL; OF Rank: 28 - How can the MLB HR leader be ranked this low? Despite 47 HRs last year, no real team wanted to sign him either, and he ended up back in BAL. Similar to big power/low average teammate Chris Davis, but without the 1B positional value.
97) Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, LAD; 1B Rank: 18 - Last year's 18 HRs and .784 OPS were career lows and even otherwise solid 90 RBI were his lowest since 2006. Not even smacking doubles like he used to with 31 last year, fewest since 2009. Yet, should still hit .280+ and we'll buy on likelihood of 100+ RBI.
98) Danny Duffy, SP, KC; SP Rank: 26 - Went from an end-of-rotation guy to the top with a career-best 12 wins and 188 Ks in 179 IP while lowering his WHIP from an ugly 1.39 in 2015 to 1.14. Not 100% sold he takes the next step to 15+ wins and 200 Ks, but could be a draft steal if he does.
99) Justin Turner, 3B, LAD; 3B Rank: 11 - Great waiver pick-up last year as he suddenly turned from a contact-hitting utility man to a power-hitting everyday player. 27 HRs, 90 RBI, though middling .275 AVG and coulda-been-better .832 OPS. Extra value as 1B/3B last year, but only looks like a 3B right now.
100) Dustin Pedroia, 2B, BOS; 2B Rank: 11 - The Little Engine That Could (c'mon, let's make that nickname happen) posted a .318 AVG on 201 hits, both highest since his 2008 MVP season, along with 15 HRs, 74 RBI, 105 runs and .825 OPS - all his highest marks in those fields since 2011.
* The 2017 Fantasy Fix Draft Guide, Pt. 1: Bryzzo!
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.
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