Top fantasy players by position in American League

By Travis Taylor
Feb. 20, 2016

Here we go... below are my picks for the top fantasy producers by position in the AL. 

Pitcher - Chris Sale

Entering last season, many believed the Chicago White Sox would compete for a division crown and subsequently Chris Sale would lead them there. Unfortunately, neither happened. Pitching for an underachieving team, Sale was only able to put together an 'OK' season at best. To be fair, he still posted a 274/42 K's/BB ratio and a 1.09 WHIP, which is damn good. Unfortunately though, for fantasy managers his 13-11 record left more to be desired. On a positive note, the White Sox front office made some big moves again this off-season which I think will help improve Sale's win loss record 'cause we all know he doesn't need help racking up the strikeouts or posting a great WHIP!

Catcher - Brian McCann

There aren't many catchers in the AL let alone the Majors that hit as many home runs or pile up as many RBI's than McCann does. McCann easily outproduced his AL catcher counterparts in the RBI category. By accumulating 94, a mere 14 more than the next guy, he also mashed 26 HR's which was 3 more than the next closest guy. Needless to say, I don't need to offer much more in the stats department in order to explain why I believe McCann will again be the top fantasy player in his position. I can however tell you that he plays in the hitter friendly Yankee Stadium and American League East which will continue to bode well for him and fantasy managers.

First Base - Edwin Encarnacion

Since 2012, Chris Davis is the only batter to hit more home runs than Encarnacion (151). Many would think Davis would be the easy choice in this position but he's not. His plate discipline is sub-par to Encarnacions, made evident by the 208 strikeouts he compiled last year compared to the 84 by Encarnacion. Needless to say, this guy produces, and in a big way. Being insulated in the potent lineup that the Blue Jays will field on a daily basis makes it extremely difficult to try and pitch around Encarnacion's bat. That said, not only do I see Encarnacion producing at a high level in 2016, I see him leading all first basemen in HR's and RBI's.   

Second Base - Jose Altuve

Although Altuve wasn't able to match his .341 AVG he posted in 2014, he was still able to put together a fabulous fantasy season in 2015. He set career high's in HR's, RBI's, and was able to swipe 38 bags. His batting average and steals should be among the league leaders in 2016 while I wouldn't be surprised if his run total increased as he's batting lead off for a potent Houston lineup.

Shortstop - Carlos Correa

What a rookie season! In only 99 games he was able to mash 22 HR's, drive in 68 RBI's, steal 14 bags, and hit a respectable .279. He easily could have led all AL shortstops in those 3 categories if he had played a full-season, but he didn't, so all we can think of is what could have been. Correa showed us that he has a lot of pop to hit HR's, drive in runs and has the speed to steal some bases. Those are two very important stats for fantasy managers, especially at this position. Going into this year, he will no doubt be the top fantasy shortstop, period.

Third Base - Josh Donaldson

What a journey it's been for Josh Donaldson. He didn't break into the league until age 24, but since then he's gotten better every year! He even got some MVP votes in the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The trade from the pitcher friendly Oakland Coliseum to the extremely hitter friendly Rogers Centre not only allowed him to set career highs in pretty much every hitting category (R, H, 2B, HR, RBI, OBP, SLG, OPS, WAR) but it also propelled him into winning the MVP title. Much like with Encarnacion, being surrounded by the Blue Jays powerful lineup will once again allow him to put up large numbers. 

Right Field - Jose Bautista

Ever since Jose Bautista joined the Toronto Blue Jays he has done nothing but produce at a high level. In his 7 seasons with the Jays, he's hit 27+ HR's in 5, 100 R+ in 4 and again, 100+ RBI in 4. If you want a consistent offensive producer in the RF/OF position, look no further than Bautista. Frankly, it's amazing! In 2015 he was able to put up his highest HR total since 2011 and RBI's total since 2010 with a shoulder injury nagging him for the first half of the season which is seriously impressive. This year, going into spring training healthy, expect him to be a Top 10 fantasy outfielder once again. Besides, how could I not choose a guy who came through with one of the biggest HR's in Blue Jays playoff history.

Center Field - Mike Trout

In Trouts first 4 full seasons of MLB service, he's finished runner up to the AL MVP 3 times and won it once. There isn't a better fantasy outfielder in the game today. 'Nuff said. 

Left Field - Justin Upton

Well, Upton's one year in Sand Diego was short lived. After being traded from the Braves to San Diego, Upton filed for free agency in November 2015 and elected to sign with the Detroit Tigers for a six years, $132.75 million contract. Hitting in a pitcher friendly park at Petco Field, Upton was still able to produce a good fantasy season, (26 HR, 81 RBI, 85 R, 19 SB). In 2015, he stole 19 bases which was his most since 2012 when he swiped 18 with the Diamondbacks. Unfortunately, Upton's never truly been in a deep lineup. He's always been the guy his team rely's on for offense and now that he's joined the Tiger's he will mingle with the likes of Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, J.D Martinez, and Victor Martinez. In 2016 he may not try to steal as many bases, but I do see him showing up as one of the more productive LF/OF's in the American League.

Closing Pitcher - Craig Kimbrel

Since becoming a closer in 2011, over the course of 5 seasons Kimbrel has saved 42 games or more in four of them to go with a sub 2.10 ERA. That streak came to an end last year when he posted 39 SV and a 2.58 ERA. For most relievers that would be a carrer year, but for Kimbrel it was a down season. Playing on an under achieving Padres team, there wasn't a ton of games to be saved, unfortunately. An off-season trade brings him to the Boston Red Sox who many believe will compete for the AL East title, which means there should be plenty of games to be saved in his 1st full season with the team. Look for his electric fastball and devastating slider to rack up the K's and SV's in 2016.

Check back next week when I begin to post my sleeper, breakout, and comeback player picks by position for the 2016 Fantasy Season!

Until next time, 

the wiz