Oct 5, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones (10) against the Detroit Tigers during game three of the 2014 ALDS baseball playoff game at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
At this point in time, I feel that the top ten players are fairly apparent for 2015. The list below gives an approximate order of those top ten picks.
- Mike Trout
- Giancarlo Stanton
- Andrew McCutchen
- Paul Goldschmidt
- Miguel Cabrera
- Carlos Gomez
- Clayton Kershaw
- Jose Abreu
- Edwin Encarnacion
- Jose Bautista
While the order could certainly be debated, I would be hard-pressed to bump any of these players out of the top ten draft picks for 2015. The next pick of the draft could be a little murkier, but I believe that Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles is the safest and smartest option.
For the past four seasons, Jones has been an amazing source of consistent production. He has given owners a baseline of 25 homers and a .280 batting average. He may not be a top ten player, but he looks to be a strong bet to be one of the top 25 players in fantasy baseball. Adam Jones gives you a steady option to pace your team.
It is hard to win your league based on your first or second pick, but you sure can handicap yourself if your best player is a bust. The benefit of taking Adam Jones is his floor is so high. I think it is fair to say that Jones entered his prime four years ago in 2011, and it is clear to see how steady his production has been since then.
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Even though his steals decreased in 2014 to half of his 2011-2013 SB average, Jones contributes across the board. He has scored and driven in at least 80 runs in three of the four years. Furthermore, Adam Jones has remained incredibly healthy for the vast majority of his career. You would have to go back to 2009 to find a season where Adam Jones played in fewer than 149 games.
However, there are some slight downsides to Adam Jones even though he is the definition of a safe pick. He is 29 years old, so there is a chance he could begin to slow down if he exits his prime on the early side. Adam Jones was better in 2013 than he was last season, so there is a tiny chance that he is on a downward slide. However, his production is stable enough to be a top 25 player once again.
While this does not really matter for standard fantasy leagues, Jones seems to have a strong aversion to drawing walks. His career walk rate of 4.3% is just awful, and it has only gotten worse in recent seasons. Jones only drew a walk on 2.8% of his 2014 plate appearances. I am pretty sure he would have walked at a higher rate if he never swung the bat all season.
While his dismal walk rate has a negative effect in OBP and OPS leagues, Adam Jones still will be one of your best players. He may not necessarily be the best fantasy player or even a top five outfielder, but Jones will provide a solid foundation for your fantasy team if you end up with a late pick in the first round. In fact, I do not think he will finish in the top 11 players in 2015, but I would be very happy drafting a near certainty who should finish in the top 25 or better.