The 2015 Fantasy Baseball Guide Is Here!

It is my great pleasure (and relief) to announce my 2015 fantasy baseball guide is available for you to download for free!

Odds are you’re going to not read this section, but I wanted to explain what you will get when you download. The majority of the guide is focused on player evaluation (344 players to be exact). The goal was I wanted to evaluate every player that will most likely be drafted in a 15-team mixed redraft league.

I evaluated each player through the lens of a detective. I want to know how his statistics were accumulated. Did he deviate from his statistical mean? For example, if a pitcher struck out more batters than ever before then how did he do it? If a hitter hit more home runs than ever before then how did he do it? The idea behind my approach to player evaluation is to think for myself and remove myself from ill-conceived narratives.

My goal is after someone reads my evaluation on a player the reader should know how I came to my 2015 projection.

My projections are based on what’s most likely to happen in a season. Another way to put it is if the 2015 season was played 100 times what would be the average of all those seasons. If you have any questions you can reach me on Twitter @MattCommins. Enjoy!

2015 Fantasy Baseball Guide

Hitter and Pitcher Projections & Rankings

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Starting Pitcher Fantasy Baseball Tiered Rankings

Welcome to the position tiered rankings for 2015. The tiers are broken out into five tiers with five being the highest and one being the lowest. Five star players are players that will be taken in the first couple of rounds or will go for $30-plus. Four star players will have $20-plus. Three stars $10-plus, two stars $5-plus and the one star are players you want to avoid or players to stash on your bench.

The statistics for each player are my semi-final projections. The projections are going to change going forward, but if you follow me on Twitter @MattCommins I will tweet out when my projections are updated and posted on MattCommins.com. If I was a reader I would focus on the tiering of players and the overall idea of the projections. For example, if I project a player for 28 home runs that means I think he’ll hit for a lot of power.

Links the other position previews:

The value of the starting position depends dramatically on the size of your league. Before I say anything else every fantasy owner should ask themselves one question: am I confident I will be able to find breakout pitchers on the waiver wire? If you’re a casual player I recommend paying for higher end pitchers in your drafts. If you read and/or watch a lot of baseball then I recommend drafting 1-2 four star pitchers and wait to fill out your rotation.

Overall, pitching is extremely deep. Some pitchers have strong injury concerns coming into the season and for me, I’m avoiding them in my drafts because this position is so deep. The last thing I want to begin the season with injured players clogging my bench.

Lastly, pitchers with a “*” next to their names mean I added replacement level statistics to my original projection for each player. By replacement level I mean a player that should be available on the waiver wire throughout the year. The replacement level player I used was Jason Hammel. For example I only projected 160 innings for Johnny Cueto and I added 40 innings from Hammel.

Five Star

Player IP ERA WHIP SO W
Clayton Kershaw 225 1.85 0.91 245 17
Felix Hernandez 225 2.57 1.10 230 14
Max Scherzer 210 2.90 1.08 237 14
David Price 215 2.99 1.08 233 14
Chris Sale 190 2.57 1.03 215 13
Stephen Strasburg 210 3.10 1.10 236 14
Corey Kluber 210 2.85 1.13 230 13

Five-Star Value Pick: Max Scherzer

Of all the pitchers in this list Max Scherzer could be the most likely (other than Clayton Kershaw) pitcher to win 20 games next year. I have Felix Hernandez ranked ahead of Scherzer now, but it’s very likely I’ll rank Scherzer higher because of how many more wins he’ll have.

Four Star

Player IP ERA WHIP SO W
Madison Bumgarner 200 3.14 1.11 200 14
Yu Darvish* 200 3.29 1.18 217 14
Zack Greinke 190 2.99 1.15 186 15
Jordan Zimmermann 200 2.89 1.10 175 14
Johnny Cueto* 200 2.96 1.10 198 12
Jon Lester 210 3.15 1.13 200 13
Adam Wainwright 190 3.15 1.10 170 15
Jacob DeGrom 200 2.91 1.14 200 12
Gerrit Cole 190 3.30 1.15 200 14
Collin McHugh 190 3.09 1.11 190 13
Jake Arrieta 185 3.05 1.12 190 13
Tyson Ross 190 3.12 1.17 193 13
Cole Hamels 210 3.29 1.15 200 12
Jeff Samardzija 210 3.40 1.18 200 13

Four-Star Value Pick: Collin McHugh

Everything about Collin McHugh’s game is real and most importantly repeatable. The primary reason is all of his pitches are thrown from the same arm slot, which makes his pitches difficult to pick up out of the hand. Therefore, it’s no surprise he ranked 10th among starting pitchers in swinging strikes percentage.

Three Star

Player IP ERA WHIP SO W
Garrett Richards* 200 3.24 1.17 189 13
Jose Fernandez* 200 3.41 1.16 187 13
Hisashi Iwakuma 180 3.29 1.03 160 12
Masahiro Tanaka* 200 3.35 1.16 197 11
Mike Minor 200 3.35 1.14 180 12
Phil Hughes 200 3.55 1.14 178 13
Alex Cobb 190 2.94 1.14 170 11
Gio Gonzalez 190 3.30 1.20 190 12
Julio Teheran 210 3.40 1.12 170 12
Marcus Stroman 190 3.28 1.16 165 13
Anibal Sanchez* 200 3.44 1.15 180 12
Carlos Carrasco 180 3.40 1.20 180 13
Sonny Gray 210 3.40 1.21 175 13
James Shields 210 3.55 1.19 175 13
Drew Hutchison 200 3.79 1.24 200 13
Alex Wood 190 3.40 1.15 179 11
Cliff Lee* 200 3.37 1.16 187 10
A.J. Burnett 190 3.47 1.23 175 13
Ian Kennedy 200 3.62 1.30 200 13
Matt Shoemaker 190 3.50 1.19 166 13
Mat Latos* 197 3.38 1.17 173 11

Mike Minor struggled last year and the primary reason why he struggled was due to the injury he suffered in the offseason. The injury he suffered was minor, but it forced him to change his training regimen. Since he wasn’t able to train on his schedule he rushed his comeback and subsequently caused him to suffer another injury. This offseason he’s healthy and I expect a big rebound.

Two Star

Player IP ERA WHIP SO W
Kevin Gausman 180 3.40 1.24 180 12
Derek Holland 190 3.54 1.29 185 13
Andrew Cashner* 197 3.39 1.14 161 11
Chris Archer 195 3.35 1.25 175 12
Jake Odorizzi 185 3.76 1.23 175 13
R.A. Dickey 220 3.70 1.23 173 13
Dallas Keuchel 190 3.30 1.18 141 13
Lance Lynn 200 3.78 1.29 180 14
Jered Weaver 200 3.89 1.23 167 14
Homer Bailey 180 3.51 1.17 165 11
Wily Peralta 190 3.45 1.28 166 13
Michael Pineda* 197 3.61 1.17 165 11
Chris Tillman 200 3.65 1.23 160 13
Matt Harvey 170 3.41 1.15 175 9
Justin Verlander 200 3.74 1.32 175 14
John Lackey 190 3.70 1.24 162 13
Hyun-Jin Ryu 180 3.45 1.22 155 12
Drew Smyly 180 3.65 1.17 160 11
Scott Kazmir 170 3.65 1.22 153 12
Ervin Santana 195 3.72 1.25 162 12
Danny Salazar 170 3.75 1.24 170 11
Matt Cain 180 3.75 1.20 160 11
Danny Duffy 180 3.50 1.25 144 12
Wade Miley 200 3.85 1.34 173 13

Two-Star Value Pick: Derek Holland

Derek Holland lost most of last year to a fluke injury, which is causing a lot of fantasy owners to forget about how good he was and the big steps he took in 2013. In a brief stint in the 2014 the command improved even more, which provides optimism he could continue to take another step forward.

One Star

Player IP ERA WHIP SO W
Andrew Heaney 190 3.90 1.30 160 13
Francisco Liriano 160 3.55 1.30 175 10
Clay Buchholz 170 3.45 1.27 136 12
CC Sabathia 200 3.85 1.24 157 11
Sean Nolin 200 3.60 1.22 153 10
Taijuan Walker 170 3.59 1.19 145 10
James Paxton 170 3.45 1.22 145 10
Bartolo Colon 190 3.67 1.23 145 11
Kyle Lohse 200 3.90 1.17 139 11
Rick Porcello 200 3.75 1.26 130 13
Jake Peavy 170 3.80 1.20 150 10
Yordano Ventura 190 3.64 1.30 150 11
Doug Fister 180 3.39 1.21 115 11
Matt Garza 160 3.67 1.20 127 10
Justin Masterson 190 4.23 1.39 165 13
Brandon McCarthy 150 3.45 1.26 130 10
Jason Hammel 160 3.60 1.20 140 8
Tanner Roark 140 3.49 1.14 100 10
Dan Straily 180 3.96 1.28 130 11
Mark Buehrle 202 3.75 1.34 125 12
Henderson Alvarez 160 3.60 1.24 90 12
Alfredo Simon 190 4.30 1.29 121 13
Jared Cosart 190 3.77 1.34 120 12
Joe Kelly 180 4.02 1.35 120 13
Shelby Miller 190 4.20 1.27 140 10
Carlos Martinez 145 3.65 1.32 129 9
Edinson Volquez 180 4.01 1.33 139 10
Michael Wacha 140 3.14 1.16 100 7
Jeremy Hellickson 190 4.14 1.30 140 9
Miguel Gonzalez 160 4.26 1.29 115 10
Daniel Norris 150 3.90 1.35 110 9
Archie Bradley 140 4.12 1.38 140 7

One-Star Value Pick: Trevor Bauer

I watched all of Trevor Bauer’s starts last year and my conclusion is this: he’s incredibly talented and inconsistent. When he’s on he can be one of the most dominant starters in baseball. When he doesn’t have command of his fastball he walks a lot of batters and is very hittable.

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Reliever Fantasy Baseball Tiered Rankings

Welcome to the position tiered rankings for 2015. The tiers are broken out into five tiers with five being the highest and one being the lowest. Five star players are players that will be taken in the first couple of rounds or will go for $30-plus. Four star players will have $20-plus. Three stars $10-plus, two stars $5-plus and the one star are players you want to avoid or players to stash on your bench.

The statistics for each player are my semi-final projections. The projections are going to change going forward, but if you follow me on Twitter @MattCommins I will tweet out when my projections are updated and posted on MattCommins.com. If I was a reader I would focus on the tiering of players and the overall idea of the projections. For example, if I project a player for 28 home runs that means I think he’ll hit for a lot of power.

Links the other position previews:

I used to believe the adage of “never pay for saves.” I followed this strategy blindly for years, but in the last two years I’ve had better results (in roto and H2H) drafting closers early in drafts. The primary reasons why I love this strategy is because how many more strikeouts, the saves they provide, the benefits to my pitching staff’s ratios and the added roster flexibility.

If I’m in a 10-team mixed league I want at least one five star, one four star and one two star closer. If it’s a 12-team or 15-team mixed league I want one five start and one four star. Having top flight closers allows you to set it and forget it. By that mean I mean you will have 2-3 pitchers that will be locked in your lineup the entire season, which will allow you to use your bench for streaming pitchers and/or to have high upside hitters.

Five Star

Player IP ERA WHIP SO W SV
Craig Kimbrel 63 1.60 0.91 97 3 43
Greg Holland 66 1.30 0.97 95 2 45
Dellin Betances 70 1.56 0.84 115 3 35
Kenley Jansen 66 2.15 0.99 102 2 45
Aroldis Chapman 65 2.00 0.98 115 2 40

Five-Star Value Pick: Dellin Betances

If I knew Dellin Betances was going to be the closer the entire year he would be my number one closer because he has the best combination of raw stuff and team quality.

Four Star

Player IP ERA WHIP SO W SV
Mark Melancon 71 1.90 0.93 70 2 43
Joaquin Benoit 61 1.94 0.95 78 2 38
David Robertson 65 2.67 1.05 90 2 39
Trevor Rosenthal 70 2.85 1.30 90 2 43
Steve Cishek 67 2.60 1.10 77 4 35
Cody Allen 70 2.35 1.07 90 2 35

Four-Star Value Pick: Trevor Rosenthal

Trevor Rosenthal had great season in 2013, but in 2014 his command regressed immensely (specifically the fastball). Of all the pitchers in this tier he has the highest likelihood of finishing the year in the five star category. For that to happen the command has to improve. In 2013 the command was there, which gives me a lot of optimism.

Three Star

Player IP ERA WHIP SO W SV
Fernando Rodney 67 2.96 1.34 75 4 37
Glen Perkins 62 2.60 1.10 70 2 35
Sean Doolittle 61 2.77 0.92 96 2 26
Huston Street 60 2.55 1.01 55 2 35
Drew Storen 60 2.51 1.04 50 2 35
Jonathan Papelbon 63 2.50 1.10 60 3 31
Koji Uehara 50 2.50 0.94 69 2 29
Hector Rondon 63 2.50 1.06 65 2 29

Three-Star Value Pick: Drew Storen

The Nationals should be the best team in the NL and I’m probably projecting too few saves for Drew Storen (because I’m not 100% certain sure he’ll keep the job if he struggles), but if he’s the closer the entire season he could have the most saves of any pitcher in 2015.

Two Star

Player IP ERA WHIP SO W SV
Brad Boxberger 65 2.38 0.90 80 3 17
Zach Britton 75 2.90 1.25 62 3 26
Tyler Clippard 70 2.50 0.96 80 3 14
Joe Nathan 60 3.69 1.40 54 4 30
Santiago Casilla 55 2.10 1.05 45 2 24
Jenry Mejia 60 2.60 1.10 70 2 20
Neftali Feliz 50 3.01 1.03 50 2 25
Luke Gregerson 69 2.31 1.05 60 3 16
Jake McGee 47 2.50 0.99 60 2 20
Jonatan Broxton 55 2.80 1.23 53 2 25

Two-Star Value Pick: Brad Boxberger

Jake McGee had arthroscopic surgery on his elbow in December and the latest update is he may be ready sometime in April. Any time a pitcher is recovering from elbow surgery the timeline is always fluid and rarely goes as scheduled. Therefore, I wouldn’t be surprised if Brad Boxberger, the best reliever the Rays have, becomes the closer the entire year.

One Star

Player IP ERA WHIP SO W SV
LaTroy Hawkins 56 3.50 1.20 35 3 28
Addison Reed 60 3.90 1.20 68 2 24
Brett Cecil 60 2.99 1.27 71 2 20
Kevin Jepsen 50 2.88 1.28 65 2 17
Eric O’Flaherty 60 2.40 1.01 45 3 10
Chad Qualls 55 3.01 1.19 45 2 16
Bobby Parnell 40 2.50 1.10 30 2 15

One-Star Value Pick: Brett Cecil

As of mid-February the Blue Jays do not have a “proven” closer on their roster. With all the acquisitions they made in the offseason says they’re going to try to win the division this year and I believe they have a really good chance of achieving that. Therefore, they are going to win a lot of games, which means whoever is the closer will have many save opportunities. Even though Cecil is left handed he doesn’t have a major platoon split and is the best reliever in the bullpen, which makes him the front runner for saves.

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