It had been a couple years since I bought Ron Shandler’s Baseball Forecaster as my preseasons have been preoccupied with building our tools, running analyses, and optimizing our Steamer-based projections. But after enjoying Larry Schechter’s Winning Fantasy Baseball last January, it felt like a good time to solicit second opinions.

Baseball Forecaster has been a yearly production by BaseballHQ since 1986. While Ron Shandler is still involved, the book is produced by a team that is now led by Co-Editors Ray Murphy and Brent Hershey. I have played in a couple of expert leagues with BaseballHQ contributors and – to date – it has not gone so well for ol’ Rudy (if they played RCL, I’d like my chances).

So after last year’s frustrating expert league performance, I decided to leverage Baseball Forecaster as a sanity check against players that my system loved more/less than consensus…

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I sure wish Grey would do his 2015 fantasy baseball rankings. Wait, I am Grey and this is those rankings. Holy crapballs, this is the greatest day ever! Now, only 400,000 words more until I finish my top 400 and I’ll be done. Worst day ever! Damn, that excitement was fleeting. Well, not for you because you don’t have to write all the rankings. You lucky son of a gun! I wish I were you… *wavy lines* Hey, why am I balding and wearing sweatpants? *wavy lines* Hmm, maybe we’re okay with who we are. Now before we get into the top 10 for 2015 fantasy baseball (though I imagine every single one of you has skipped this intro paragraph), I’m gonna lay some ground rules. First, keep your hands and legs inside the trolley. Second, send me all your money. Damn, tried to trick you! Okay, here’s where you follow us on Twitter. Here’s where you follow us on Facebook. Here’s our fantasy baseball player rater. Here’s our fantasy baseball team name generator. Here is all of our 2015 fantasy baseball rankings. Here’s the position eligibility chart for 2015 fantasy baseball. And here is a picture of my son. What a punim! You may not get all of those links in such a handy, easy-to-use format ever again this year, so make proper note. Now my expositional half insists I breakdown some generalizations about these 2015 fantasy baseball rankings. The 2015 fantasy baseball rankings will be an ever-evolving mass like the blob. This fantasy baseball top 10 for 2015 list is as of right now and could potentially change with a big injury or Mike Trout quitting baseball because he’s bored with being the best and wants to play competitive Mahjong. So while it is the 2015 fantasy baseball gospel, take it with a tablet of salt. Tomorrow we will cover the rest of the top twenty for 2015 fantasy baseball, then we will go around the horn with a top 20 list for every position. Then for pitchers and outfielders, I’ll turn the dial to 100. Listed next to each player are my 2015 projections. Did I consult with whoever else does projections? It would be ignorant not to, but in the end they are my projections. Players need 10 games at a position to get included in the positional rankings. Finally, as with each list in the 2015 fantasy baseball rankings, I will be mentioning where I see tiers start and stop. I look at tiers like this, if Giancarlo Stanton and Paul Goldschmidt are in the same tier, it doesn’t matter if one guy is ranked 2nd and one guy is ranked 5th, they’re both very close. It comes down to personal preference. I would prefer the guy at number two better than the guy at five, but you do you, I’ll do me and let’s hope we don’t go blind. Anyway, here’s the top 10 for 2015 fantasy baseball:

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This is hard to believe, but players have actually been signed or traded since I started churning out the organizational top tens in early November. It’s like they don’t even care that I have spent countless minutes prepping these reports and now a bunch of players have asterisks next to their names. Black is white, down is up, and Andrew Heaney is an Angel. Some prospects who get signed or moved in trades are impact players that are in fact worth talking about. By the timing of the previews, they may end up in a sort of top ten list “limbo”. Consider these posts a division by division catch-all for such players. It’s also an opportunity to discuss a few of the names that were borderline top ten players but didn’t quite make the cut for their organization’s list. In other words, some of the notable “#11s”. Here are the prospects that fell through the cracks in the AL West…

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Last year, Avisail Garcia hit seven homers and stole four bases. Whoopie dee do da, who cares?! Moving on! I got a mani-pedi in fifteen minutes, got no time for you! Oh, wait, that was in only 46 games because he was injured. ncjakw– Sorry, my drool was hitting the keyboard. At least I think that’s my drool. Let me taste it. Salty… Ew, gross! Get your mind out of the gutter! It’s my drool, I just ate a Bavarian pretzel! Avisail is so good he made the team without putting on a uniform, went nuts and rode a unicorn through the storm. Avisail’s about to go crazy, but where did you go? Avisail’s about to go crazy, but where did you go? Avisail’s about to go crazy, but where did you go? Avisail’s about to go crazy, damn Hanley’s lazy! Sorry, I was just listening to Atmosphere. Check out this future shizz from September Grey last year, “(Avisail) was a preseason sleeper this year, and he will be again in fifteen-after-twenty because he missed five months this year with an injury. Yes, he looks like Miggy, but he doesn’t act like Miggy. He’s a 20/20 type guy without killing you on average. In this injury-plagued year, his stats don’t look exactly as he has in the past, but that’s probably due to shutting it down in April and starting it up in August. I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few years we look back at this year and see how it didn’t portend anything. Unless he really did learn how to take a walk, as he’s shown this year. Though, I kinda doubt it. I expect he’s a line drive machine, 17-20 homer and 15-steal guy with a solid-enough average. Think what you were expecting from Michael Brantley rather than what you ended up with.” And that’s me quoting me! So, what can we expect of Avisail Garcia for 2015 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

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Apparently, another name I have for sleepers are guys that were supposed to be good last year and ended up yawnstipating. A.J. Pollock, or as my slightly racist grandfather would call him, That Pollock, didn’t meet expectations last year, putting up 7 homers, 14 steals and a .302 average. Or did he…? Damn, you reversal question. You know, I was going along fine before you came along and had me doing a logic U-turn. No, he didn’t meet expectations, but he also only played in 75 games due to a fractured right hand. Let’s be clear, he missed three months with a fractured hand. One presumably uses a right hand to bat with. Si or no si? Si, si. One also would lose timing from missing three months. Si or no si? Si, si. So, Pollock, or as my slightly racist grandfather would call him when he’s in a bad mood, That Filthy Pollock, didn’t really have a bad year. He actually had a solid year when you consider he missed so much time with such a serious injury. If he played in 150 games…Well, don’t even make me pull out the prorating. Shizz gets downright beautiful. Prorating is dangerous. Prorating can get you in a world of trouble. “My girl is so pretty for those ten minutes right after she comes out of the beauty salon. If she were that pretty all the time…” Now, you’ve just prorated yourself into marrying some girl you met in a bowling alley. However, it is totally fine to prorate your love-making ability. “Yes, that was only three minutes this time, but imagine that again for ten, fifteen or even twenty minutes!” So, what can we expect of A.J. Pollock for 2015 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (18) | 2013 (20) | 2012 (29) | 2011 (7) | 2010 (3)

2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [85-77] AL Central
AAA: [79-65] International League – Columbus
AA: [73-69] Eastern League – Akron
A+: [62-74] Carolina League – Carolina (2015: Lynchburg)
A: [65-74] Midwest League – Lake County
A(ss): [33-42] New York-Penn League – Mahoning Valley

Graduated Prospects
Trevor Bauer, RHP | T.J. House, LHP | Jose Ramirez, SS | Roberto Perez, C

The Gist
Several of Cleveland’s younger players made waves during the 2014 season. Corey Kluber pitched his way to a Cy Young award, Michael Brantley broke out in a big way (h/t Grey), and Carlos Carrasco rode a down and up season that included a trip to the bullpen. He ended up as one of fantasy’s best starters over the final two months. You could even throw Jose Ramirez into the mix, who held his own at shortstop for the Tribe down the stretch. Looking ahead, this is a system headlined by top prospect Francisco Lindor, who should be in Cleveland at some point in 2015. Beyond Lindor, it’s a farm that is strong “up the middle” (catcher/middle infield/center field) and there is plenty of impact talent lurking in the low minors. It’s worth noting that two of the top five prospects were 2014 draftees.

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I already went over my Aaron Sanchez fantasy for 2015 and now it’s Drew Hutchison‘s turn. Marcus Stroman might be next. I’m a little in love with all the young pitchers in Canada. Maple Leaf Life! That’s what my so-very-not-gangster chest tattoo says. “Hey, what’s up Hologram Tupac, you’re Thug Life and I’m Maple Leaf Life, you wanna play pinball?” That’s me trying to hang out with Hologram Tupac. Why is there not a hologram for every dead celebrity? Did the world drop the ball here? It’s been years since a good dead celebrity hologram showed up. There should be one for every dead celebrity. “Hey, ma, I want you to meet my girlfriend, Hologram Dana Plato.” Okay, so I want every young Blue Jays pitcher, but that’s for the short-term. Not in keepers. For the long term, I think Toronto as an organization is taking classes from Dusty Baker. Hutchison went from 57 IP in 2013 in the minors after returning from Tommy John (the surgery, not the man) to 184 2/3 IP in the majors. Maybe the Jays bought two surgeries up front at a discounted rate and want to make sure they get to use them. So, in a few years, Dwayne Murphy might be trying to twirl Hutchison’s noodle arm on his fork, but for 2015 I think we should be okay. Even if we’re not, he should come at a cheap enough price in redraft leagues that he’s going to be worth the gamble. Anyway, what can we expect of Drew Hutchison for 2015 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

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Thomas Crapper did not invent the flush toilet, but he did much to popularize it, according to Wikipedia. Crapper owned the first toilet showroom and due to his name being on a large number of toilets, U.S. servicemen would see it and say, “I need to go to the Crapper.” Hopefully, this adds a bit of context when I say Jean Segura spent 2014 in the crapper. The legacy of Crapper doesn’t end there. Up until Crapper’s time, the inventor and biggest proponent of the flush toilet was John Harington. He was also a popular writer and provocateur who spoke often about the toilet, beating it into people’s brains to call it “The John.” With that in mind, we can also say the Brewers shortstop for 2014 was “In the John” Segura. In 2013, Segura’s 2nd half fell off, and it led people to think his 2014 would be putrid. Those people were proven to be correct. I still don’t buy it. Yes, I don’t buy Segura is bad even after he had a terrible 2014, which was hinted at by a terrible 2nd half in 2013. Yes, I am excited about Segura even though he has a good three months to his entire career. I’m throwing last year out. He had a sub-par April, was moved down the order, and never bounced back. Things really went pear-shaped for him in June and July (.196 and .179). We don’t know his state of mind while his child was sick and then after losing the child. This had to affect him in some way. Perhaps he wanted to be back with his wife and ailing child, maybe he couldn’t concentrate. I have no idea; no one does but Segura. If we’re to throw out his June and July, then he hit .276 on the year. So, just like everyone wants to throw out his huge 1st half in 2013, can’t we also throw out those two months? Go ahead and answer under your breath, I can still hear you. Anyway, what can we expect of Jean Segura for 2015 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

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The dynasty league first-year player draft is a unique winter ritual. It’s typically how dynasty owners get their hands on all of the unowned players who were previously ineligible to be claimed. Take all the 2014 draftees from June, mix with the top international signings from Cuba and elsewhere, sprinkle in the July 2nd international prospects, and you’ve got a whole new pool of players to draft from. With both comments and questions on the topic from previous articles, I think it’s worth looking closer at some of the top options in such a draft. And there is no better way to do that than with some good old-fashioned rankings.

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There is so much great Hall of Fame analysis currently online – e.g., Jay Jaffe’s SI series, Bonah (Ben Lindbergh and Jonah Keri) on Grantland, Tom Tango, several ESPN writers – that I feel I have little to add. I find myself agreeing with much of this analysis and the general sabermetric consensus that the ballot is ridiculously packed with HOF-worthy talent.

So rather than provide derivative HOF analysis, this post provides a fantasy baseball spin on all the players I feel deserve HOF-entrance. I threw in a few non-fantasy points/links where I thought it interesting.

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