15 Players You Can’t Pass on in Your 2014 Fantasy Baseball Draft

Fantasy Baseball Leagues Everywhere Are Heating Up

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Opening day of the 2014 MLB regular season is rapidly approaching and people around the country are rushing to get their fantasy leagues set. And while many people are attempting to determine who the best sleeper picks are going to be, the top picks of fantasy drafts tend to form the base that really determines the success of a team. In order to win your league, you will be foolish to pass on any of these 15 players.

15. Craig Kimbrel

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15. Craig Kimbrel

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Craig Kimbrel is far and away the best closer in baseball, as he has averaged 46 saves, 14.85 K/9 and hasn't had an ERA above 2.10 over the last three seasons. At the age of 25, he likely will only be getting better, and after the injury of Aroldis Chapman, is the only dominant closer in MLB. Expect Kimbrel to appear in 70 games, save 50 of them and post a 14 K/9, 1.80 ERA and 0.90 WHIP.

14. Madison Bumgarner

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14. Madison Bumgarner

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Madison Bumgarner had the best season of his career to date in 2013, as he posted a 13-9 record with a 2.77 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 199 strikeouts in 201 1-3 innings pitched. Bumgarner is still only 24 years old, and likely will continue to progress his pitching ability in 2014. A record of 16-8 with a 2.60 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 215 strikeouts and 220 innings pitched looks realistic for Bumgarner in 2014.

13. Yasiel Puig

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13. Yasiel Puig

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Yasiel Puig broke onto the MLB scene in a major fashion during the 2013 season, and he ended up with a slash line of .319/.391/.534 with 19 home runs, 21 doubles, 42 RBIs, 66 runs scored and 11 stolen bases in 104 games played. While some will expect a bit of regression during the 2014 season, I actually expect improvement because of the lineup protection Puig will have and that teams already targeted him heavily last year.

12. Justin Verlander

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12. Justin Verlander

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Justin Verlander posted a 13-12 record with a 3.46 ERA, 217 strikeouts and a 1.31 WHIP over 34 games started in 2013, which was considered a major disappointment. After undergoing surgery to clean up an abdominal issue, it has been obvious Verlander is back to his top form this spring. That should mean results should be similar to the 2012 season, when Verlander went 17-8 with a 2.64 ERA, 239 strikeouts, a 1.06 WHIP and 238 1-3 innings pitched.

11. Robinson Cano

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11. Robinson Cano

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Many expect Robinson Cano to struggle as he moves to the Seattle Mariners, but this discounts that he already was a part of a brutal New York Yankees lineup last year and doesn't rely on hitting the ball out of the park. During his nine-season career, Cano has averaged a slash line of .309/.355/.504 with 23 home runs, 42 doubles, 91 RBIs, 183 hits and 89 runs scored, and these totals should all be low watermarks for the 2014 season.

10. Felix Hernandez

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10. Felix Hernandez

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Few people seem to realize how great Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez is, but he is certainly one of the best pitchers in baseball. During the 2013 season, he had a 12-10 record, 3.04 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 216 strikeouts, which has become an average display for Hernandez. The 27-year-old will again tear it up in 2014, and he will be a dominant force in every category except for wins.

9. Jacoby Ellsbury

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9. Jacoby Ellsbury

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Jacoby Ellsbury has suffered a minor calf injury recently, but he will still be great during the 2014 regular season. This is because Ellsbury is hitting in front of a lineup that should help him easily pass 100 runs scored, he can steal up to 60 bases on his own and a slash line of .297/.350/.439 should be easily replicated. Add in 20 home runs and 70 RBIs and you have a center fielder who can't be passed up.

8. Jose Fernandez

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8. Jose Fernandez

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Jose Fernandez has only one year of experience to go off of, but that was one great year. In 2013, Fernandez went 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 187 strikeouts in 172 2-3 innings pitched, and his power repertoire looks destined to produce more success in 2014. Fernandez may lose a little ground in ERA and WHIP, but he will make up for it by producing more strikeouts and innings pitched.

7. Hanley Ramirez

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7. Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez fantasy baseball
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Hanley Ramirez has suffered from injuries a bit in recent years, but when healthy, he is absolutely great. In 2013, he only played 86 games, but put up totals of 25 doubles, 20 home runs, 57 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, 62 runs scored and a slash line of .345/.402/.638. Ramirez is now healthy and rearing to go, and the sky is the limit for the damage that he will do in fantasy leagues this year.

6. Carlos Gonzalez

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6. Carlos Gonzalez

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Carlos Gonzalez has developed into one of the best center fielders in MLB over the last four years, and averages of 27 home runs, 29 doubles, 91 RBIs, 22 stolen bases and 91 runs scored backs this up. Some may complain that Gonzalez is fortunate to play for the Colorado Rockies, but fantasy leagues don't discriminate and you shouldn't either.

5. Andrew McCutchen

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5. Andrew McCutchen

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Andrew McCutchen has been a force to be reckoned with in fantasy leagues for the last four seasons, and there is really no area in which he struggles. During the 2013 season, he compiled a slash line of .317/.404/.508 with 21 home runs, 38 doubles, 84 RBIs, 27 stolen bases, 185 hits and 97 runs scored. In 2014, McCutchen will again put up these numbers or better, and has to be picked if available.

4. Yu Darvish

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4. Yu Darvish

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Yu Darvish was impressive during his rookie season, but really took off in 2013 to the tune of a 13-9 record, 2.83 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 277 strikeouts and 209 2-3 innings pitched. The scary thing about this is that Darvish is only 27 years of age, and truly could continue to progress on the mound and the stat sheet this season. There is no American League pitcher who should be selected before Darvish.

3. Miguel Cabrera

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3. Miguel Cabrera

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During the 2013 season, Miguel Cabrera was somewhat limited by a groin injury, yet still managed to mash 44 home runs, 26 doubles, 137 RBIs, a .348/.442/.636 slash line and score 103 runs. After undergoing surgery to remove a hernia in his groin this offseason, Cabrera is once again at peak shape, and opposing pitchers have to be scared. There is no telling the type of numbers that Cabrera will put up, but they certainly will be impressive.

2. Clayton Kershaw

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2. Clayton Kershaw

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Clayton Kershaw had one of the best pitching seasons of anyone in the last 20 years in 2013, as he picked up a 16-9 record, 1.83 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 232 strikeouts over 236 innings pitched. The scary thing about these numbers is that it looks like Kershaw actually is improving, and at 26, has conceivably not hit his peak yet. If you pick another pitcher ahead of Kershaw, you will regret it quickly.

1. Mike Trout

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1. Mike Trout

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Mike Trout doesn't get love from MVP voters, but fantasy baseball owners certainly love him. Over the last two years, there hasn't been a more dominant all-around fantasy force than Trout, as his 2013 line of .323/.432/.557 with 27 home runs, 39 doubles, nine triples, 190 hits, 33 stolen bases, 110 walks, 97 RBIs and 109 runs scored would indicate. Like some of the other players on this list, there is no more sure bet of a fantasy pick.


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