1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
There's no arguing this one. Trout earned his second MVP award in three seasons by hitting .315 with 29 home runs, 100 RBIs, 30 stolen bases and a league-best 123 runs last season. The 25-year-old also led the majors in walks (116), on-base percentage (.441) and OPS+ (174). As a dominant force in all five major offensive categories, he's a fantasy owner's dream come true.
2. Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
Betts has transformed from a solid leadoff man to a big middle-of-the-order threat. With David Ortiz gone, the Red Sox will need that. The 24-year-old slashed .318/.363/.534, all career highs, and was just four stolen bases shy of 30-30. There hasn't been a 30-30 player since 2012 when Mike Trout hit 30 home runs and stole 49 bases, but Betts has as good of a chance of anyone to do it. He had career bests across the board with 31 home runs, 26 stolen bases, 113 RBIs and 122 runs and led the league in total bases with 359. The likely move to the No. 3 hole could take away from his league-high 672 at-bats, but it shouldn't impact his other offensive numbers.
3. Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
It's been an impressive two seasons for Bryant, the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year in 2015 and 2016 NL MVP who also just happened to help the Cubs win their first World Series in 108 years. Bryant, 25, brought his 30.6 percent strikeout rate from 2015 down to 22 percent in 2016, which helped improve his batting average from .275 to .292. Bryant hit 39 home runs with 102 RBIs and an NL-best 121 runs, and in "The Friendly Confines," he could see his power numbers improve. While primarily a third baseman, Bryant played six different positions last season, including 69 games in the outfield. His dual eligibility is just an added bonus.
4. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
Coming off an MVP performance in 2015, Harper struggled in 2016. The Nationals have denied any speculation that Harper was battling an injury. He played in 147 games, and while he didn't spend time on the DL, he missed time in August with a stiff neck. Still, Harper reached 20-20 for the first time in his career and was one of just nine players in the majors to accomplish that feat last season. He drew more than 100 walks for the second straight year, but elsewhere his numbers were down. He slashed .243/.373/.441, one year after slashing .330/.460/.649. If he was hampered by an injury last season, Harper should be healthy after a full offseason to rest.
5. Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies
Blackmon really found his stroke in 2016. He slashed .324/.381/.552, all career-highs, as were his 29 homers and 111 runs. Turf toe nagged the centerfielder throughout the season, limiting him to 143 games and preventing him from moving on the basepaths. After combining for 71 stolen bases in 2014 and 2015, Blackmon swiped just 17 in 2016, but his improvements elsewhere more than made up for it. Blackmon has taken advantage of the most hitter-friendly ballpark, but unlike many Rockies sluggers in the past, he hit more home runs on the road (17) than at home (12) last season. With his toe healed, Blackmon could join the 20-20 club for the first time.
6. Trea Turner, Washington Nationals
As if the Nationals didn't have enough young talent, Turner emerged as the next big star in Washington last season. Turner, 23, got called up for good just before the All-Star break and did some serious damage in just half a season. He slashed .342/.370/.567 with 13 home runs, 40 RBIs, 53 runs and 33 stolen bases in just 73 games. His .388 BABIP is unsustainable, so his batting average likely will dip, but he has a career .321 average between the majors and minors. Turner mostly played centerfield last season, but with Danny Espinosa gone and Adam Eaton added to the mix, he'll move to his natural shortstop. It'll take him 10 games in most formats to gain shortstop eligibility, but he already has dual eligibility after logging 30 games at second base in addition to 45 in the outfield. In a loaded lineup with Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy, Turner is poised for a big year.
7. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
Braun always will have PED talk hanging over his head since his 2013 suspension, but last season he was as close to his former MVP self as we've seen. Braun hit above .300 and hit 30 home runs for the first time since 2012. At 33, it'll be tough for Braun to maintain his power, but he's among the best at going the opposite way (.408 average on balls hit to rightfield), which will help sustain his career .304 average.
8. Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates
Marte was limited to 129 games last season after missing most of September with lower back tightness. His nine home runs were his fewest since his debut season in 2012, but Marte slashed a career-best .311/.362/.456 and swiped a career-high 47 bases because of a career-best 83 percent success rate. The Pirates moved the two-time Gold Glove winner to his natural centerfield this season after starting his big-league career in left, and Andrew McCutchen will move to rightfield. Marte, 28, is clearly the Pirates' best player now, and with a healthy back, he's in for a big year.
9. Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners
Sooner or later, Cruz will decline. But for a third straight season, he hit at least 40 home runs. Cruz, 36, hit .287 with 43 home runs, 105 RBIs and a career-high 96 runs last season. Safeco Field is notoriously a pitcher-friendly ballpark but surprisingly had the most home runs of any MLB stadium in 2016 with 234. Though he's an aging veteran, Cruz has played in at least 152 games in each of the past three seasons as he moves more toward a full-time DH role.
10. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies
Gonzalez had been marred by injuries most of his career, but he played in at least 150 games in each of the last two seasons. While Gonzalez's home runs dropped from 40 in 2015 to 25 in 2016, he hit a career-high 42 doubles and saw his batting average increase by 27 points to .298. Gonzalez scored 87 runs for a second straight year and drove in 100 runs for the first time since 2010. The lefthanded slugger, 31, doesn't have the speed he once had, but if he continues to stay healthy, he has top-10 value playing half of his games at Coors Field.
11. George Springer, Houston Astros
After playing in a total of 180 games over his first two seasons, Springer put questions about his durability to rest by playing in all 162 games last season. Springer hit .261 and put up career-bests in home runs (29), RBIs (82) and runs (116). Springer is a strikeout machine, but he also managed to improve his biggest flaw over the course of his early career. Springer had a 33 percent strikeout rate in 2014 but lowered it each of the last two years to a career-best 23.9 percent in 2016. Still, Springer gets his walks. He drew 88 walks last season. As a leadoff man with Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa behind him, Springer should have no problem eclipsing 100 runs.
12. J.D. Martinez, Detroit Tigers
Martinez got off to a slow start last season before heating up in June. He had nine multi-hit games in a 15-game stretch, but on June 16 he fractured his left elbow after running into a wall in foul territory during a game and missed nearly two months. In his first game back in August, he homered off Chris Sale to put to rest any concerns about his power after the injury. Martinez raised his batting average by 21 points from the time of his injury, ending the year at .307. After hitting nearly 40 home runs in 2015, Martinez still has that potential when healthy.
13. Christian Yelich, Miami Marlins
It was a breakout 2016 for Yelich, who hit .298 with career-highs in home runs (21) and RBIs (98). Yelich, 25, had totaled just 20 home runs in his first three big-league seasons, but a power surge was expected and aided by a career-best 11.9 percent home run to fly ball ratio. While the power increase is nice, Yelich's stolen base numbers took a hit. After recording double-digit steals in his first three seasons, he had just nine in 2016. It's likely he'll fall closer to his 162-game average of 14 homers, but that still makes him a possibility for double-digit home runs and steals for the first time in his career.
14. A.J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks
Pollock was primed for a big 2016 after a breakout 2015, but after suffering an elbow injury that required surgery just before Opening Day, it didn't happen. Pollock returned in late August only to play in 12 games before a groin injury that ended his season. In 2015, Pollock hit .315 with 20 home runs, 76 RBIs, 111 runs and 39 stolen bases. He's a five-tool player who benefits from hitting in front of Paul Goldschmidt, but after injury troubles in both 2014 and 2016, his health is a factor.
15. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
It's getting harder to think of Stanton's injuries as flukes. Stanton dealt with rib soreness, hip issues and a strained groin that was expected to end his season in August. He managed to return two and a half weeks later, instead of the expected six, but he wasn't very effective. He went 6-for-32 with two home runs and four RBIs in 16 games after returning. In 119 total games, he hit .240 with 27 home runs, 74 RBIs and 56 runs. When he makes contact the ball travels, but he continues to strikeout at a near 30-percent clip. Stanton has played in fewer than 120 games in three of the last four years, so he's a risky pick with high upside.
16. Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates
Polanco's slash line was drastically better in the first half (.287/.362/.500) than the second half (.220/.267/.414), but his other major offensive stats didn't change much. He had 12 home runs, 50 RBIs, 50 runs and nine stolen bases in 82 games in the first half, and 10 home runs, 36 RBIs, 29 runs and eight stolen bases in 62 games in the second half. Polanco's 22 home runs and 86 RBIs for the season both were career highs. At 25, he has 20-20 potential and room to grow.
17. Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets
The Mets addressed their biggest offseason concern early, locking in Cespedes, 31, with a four-year, $110-million deal in November. The righthanded slugger slashed .280/.354/.530 with 31 home runs, 86 RBIs and 72 runs in 132 games. It was the second straight year Cespedes eclipsed 30 home runs, and he improved his walk rate to a career-best 9.4 percent, which bodes well for someone with a career strikeout rate of 20.7 percent.
18. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
The face of the Pirates the last several seasons might not be that for much longer. After a lousy year all-around, particularly on defense, McCutchen was moved to rightfield in favor of Gold Glover Starling Marte. After finishing in the top five in NL MVP voting and winning Silver Slugger awards from 2012 to 2015, McCutchen slashed .256/.336/.430, all career lows. He hit 24 home runs, putting him above 20 home runs for a sixth straight season. McCutchen's strong finish is encouraging. He hit .284 with nine home runs, 36 RBIs and 24 runs over the last two months of the season. It seems early for McCutchen to be on the decline considering he's only 30, but he hasn't demonstrated the same proficiency on the basepaths that he did early in his career. His stolen base numbers have dropped every season since 2013, down to a career-low six. As long as his power remains, McCutchen's still a top-20 outfielder.
19. Justin Upton, Detroit Tigers
In his first season with the Tigers, Upton matched a career-high with 31 home runs despite his first-half struggles. Upton's hot second half salvaged his season. He slashed .235/.289/.381 with nine home runs, 38 RBIs and 40 runs in the first half before catching fire at .260/.337/.579 with 22 home runs, 49 RBIs and 41 runs. Upton, 29, struggled to make contact, with a strikeout rate of 28.6 percent, his worst since his second season in 2008. The usually patient Upton also saw his walk rate dip to 8 percent, his lowest since his rookie year. Speed hasn't been much of a factor for Upton lately -- he's stolen more than 10 bases just once the last four seasons -- but he's played in at least 150 games in five of the last six seasons, making him one of the more durable players around.
20. Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics
Davis has demonstrated power throughout his young career, but last season he really took off. The 29-year-old had career highs in home runs (42), RBIs (102) and runs (85). Oakland Coliseum is one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the majors, but that didn't faze Davis, who hit 19 of his home runs there. But, Davis is essentially a boom or bust player. He had a 21.1 percent HR/FB rate and 27.2 percent strikeout rate last season. Davis was right around the league average with a .247 batting average, and his low walk rate (6.9 percent) didn't help him get on base much more.
21. Stephen Piscotty, St. Louis Cardinals
After an impressive rookie year where he finished sixth in NL ROY voting in 2015, Piscotty proved to be one of the next stars in the making in St. Louis. He hit .273 with 22 home runs, 85 RBIs and 86 runs in his first full big-league season. The lengthy 2016 season may have taken its toll on the youngster, though. After slashing .295/.370/.480 in the first half, he slashed just .247/.310/.430 in the second half. The 26-year-old will need to adjust to the rigors of a 162-game season, but as a solid three-category performer, he has top-25 potential.
22. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
Bautista hung around on the free-agent market for a couple of months but ended up staying put after signing a one-year, $18-million deal with the Blue Jays in January. The slugger played in 116 games last year because of two DL stints (turf toe, knee sprain). At 36, health will be a concern going forward, but even in limited action, Bautista hit .234 with 22 home runs, 69 RBIs and 68 runs. Bautista's power may start to dwindle, but he's incredible at getting on base. He led the AL in walks twice in his career and had a 16.8 percent walk rate last season. Even with Edwin Encarnacion gone, Bautista still hits in the middle of a lineup stacked with Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Donaldson and Kendrys Morales, giving him ample opportunity to drive in and score runs.
23. Mark Trumbo, Baltimore Orioles
Trumbo has shown power throughout his career, averaging 34 home runs per 162 games, but he reached a new level last season with a career- and league-high 47 home runs. He also had career highs in RBIs (108) and runs (94) in his first season in Baltimore, clearly benefiting from the sixth-most hitter-friendly ballpark, according to ESPN's Park Factors. It'll be tough for Trumbo to sustain that power after a career-best 21.1 percent HR/FB, but at age 31, he should be able to hover near his career average for homers.
24. Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are loaded with young talent, and Bradley proved he's the latest star after his strong performance to end 2015 carried over into 2016. He hit .267 with 26 home runs, 87 RBIs and 94 runs, all career-highs. Bradley, 26, strikes out at a high rate, but he's lowered it the last three season, dropping it to a career-best 22.5 percent last season. If he can continue to bring his strikeout rate down, he could exceed top-25 talent.
25. Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians
Brantley started to come into his own in 2014 when he finished third in AL MVP voting with a .327 average, 20 home runs, 97 RBIs, 94 runs and 23 stolen bases. His numbers took a slight dip across the board in 2015 as he battled injuries but he managed to lead the league with 45 doubles. Brantley underwent shoulder surgery after the 2015 season that kept him out the first few weeks of 2016, but after playing in just 11 games he was shut down again as the right shoulder and biceps issues he'd dealt with since September 2015 flared up. Once again, Brantley was forced to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, this time in August instead of November. It's unclear if Brantley will be ready for Opening Day, and the Indians are being extra cautious with him, but we've seen what he can do in a full season.
26. Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
Following an injury-ridden 2015 season, Jones played in 152 games in his age-30 season, which put some questions about his durability to rest for now. Jones had 29 home runs, 83 RBIs and 86 runs in 2016, which is fairly consistent with his past few seasons, but his average has started to dwindle. From a career-best .287 in 2012, Jones' average has fallen each year to .265 in 2016, his worst in a season where he's played in at least 115 games. Jones' BABIP has dropped along with his average to a career-worst .280 last season, largely as a result of hitting more fly balls. The 31-year-old still is a solid three-category player.
27. Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians
Primarily a third baseman, Ramirez doesn't have the flashy power numbers of most top-tier fantasy outfielders, but last season he produced big numbers in four major offensive categories. The 24-year-old slashed .312/.363/.462 with 11 home runs, 76 RBIs, 84 runs and 22 stolen bases. Ramirez has third base and outfield eligibility after logging 117 and 48 games, respectively, but he also played nine games at second base and five games at shortstop. If he gets to 10 games at either position this season, he'd earn eligibility in most formats, which is just an added bonus.
28. David Dahl, Colorado Rockies
After tearing through the minors, the Rockies called up Dahl in July, and the 22-year-old didn't disappoint. In 63 games, he hit .315 with seven home runs, 24 RBIs, 42 runs and five steals. Dahl's strikeout-to-walk ratio wasn't great at 3.93, but as he matures, that should improve. In a full season, he has the potential to reach double-digit home runs and steals. And the Coors Field factor doesn't hurt.
29. Adam Eaton, Washington Nationals
Eaton is a beneficiary of moving from a bad team to a playoff contender. The speedster hit .284 with 14 home runs, a career-high 59 RBIs and 91 runs with the White Sox last season. He also led the AL with nine triples and stole 14 bases. Eaton figures to hit leadoff for the Nats, ahead of Trea Turner, who finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting, Daniel Murphy, who finished second in NL MVP voting, and some guy named Bryce Harper. Eaton, 28, had more than 600 at-bats each of the past two seasons, and he's well-positioned to score 100 runs for the first time.
30. Ian Desmond, Colorado Rockies
Initially coming in at No. 13 on this list, Desmond's value took a hit after his left hand was fractured when he was hit with a pitch from Reds righthander Rookie Davis on March 12. Desmond is set to undergo surgery on March 15 and reportedly will return in late April. Desmond had a resurgence with the Rangers last season after moving from shortstop to the outfield, but the Rockies, who are overflowing with talented outfielders, intend to use Desmond as their everyday first baseman once he returns from injury. Desmond, who's started making the transition to first during spring training, earned a five-year, $70-million deal by hitting .285 with 22 home runs, 86 RBIs, 107 runs and 21 stolen bases last year. It was his fourth 20-20 season in the last five years. Because Desmond only played the outfield last season, he'll start with just OF eligibility, but he'll add 1B eligibility after his 10th game there this season in most formats. Coors Field has been notoriously kind to hitters, which boosts Desmond's value.
Enter your email address to subscribe to Newsday's Sports Now newsletter
ND_edit_sports_now_masterlist sign up
Visit Newsday at www.newsday.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.