First Base: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
Votto might have had a career-saving season in 2017 with statistics he hadn’t seen since early in his career. This season looks as if Votto will continue making his case for best first baseman in the league. At the age of 34, Votto batted 3.20, finishing fourth best in the National League. He added 36 home runs and 100 RBIs to his list. Votto finished with triple digits in RBIs for the first time since the 2011 season. To add to his outstanding stats, Votto had a .454 on base percentage. If Votto has as successful of a season this year as he did last year, he will be the league’s best first baseman.
Honorable mention: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
Second Base: José Altuve, Houston Astros
Nobody can leave the reigning American League MVP out of the preseason all-fantasy team. Altuve was no doubt the best player in the league last season. He finished first in the league in batting average, second in hits, sixth in stolen bases and the list goes on for his miraculous stats from last season. Altuve also won the Hank Aaron Award for best hitter and his fourth consecutive Silver Slugger Award. With NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton moving to the AL this season, Altuve will have a tough time trying to keep his crown, but in the 2018 fantasy rankings, ESPN’s Eric Karabell slotted Altuve at first.
Honorable mention: José Ramírez, Cleveland Indians
Shortstop: Trea Turner, Washington Nationals
Many speculate Turner, a third-year man out of North Carolina State, will become the best shortstop in baseball. Big reasons for that are his excellent speed and his many stolen bases. Although Dee Gordon had the most stolen bases last season with 60, Turner played 60 fewer games than Gordon and still finished third with 46 stolen bases. If Turner continues his hot streak, he will blow past Gordon. This season will be a breakout year for Turner, possibly ending with a Silver Slugger Award or the title of stolen-base champion.
Honorable mention: Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians
Third base: Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
The best pure fielder in the NL will once again make a name for himself. Arendo finished the 2017 season with a Gold Glove Award, Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award, Fielding Bible Award and the Platinum Glove Award. Arendo ranked third in the NL in home runs with 37 and eighth in batting average. His batting also won him his third straight Silver Slugger Award. This season will be no different for Arendo, and he will once again be the best third baseman in the league.
Outfield: Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies
Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees
Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
Blackmon had a career year in 2017, ending as the NL batting champion. He broke all of his previous batting statistics. He finished second in batting average and first in runs and hits, and the numbers kept going for all of the top finishes he had. Blackmon capped off his season when he won his second consecutive Silver Slugger Award with a .601 slugging percentage. After the season he had last year, Blackmon will likely be a favorite in the outfield for many teams.
You can’t count out AL MVP Altuve, so how can you leave the reigning NL MVP out of this list? Stanton’s 2017 season focused on his home run battle with New York’s Aaron Judge. After beating Judge by seven homers, he decided to jump to the AL and team up with Judge on the Yankees. As Stanton puts on the pinstripes, he will have a tough time trying to repeat his success as MVP, but he still has one of the biggest bats in the league. He finished first in RBIs with 132 and first in slugging percentage. This season will be another big year for Stanton.
Betts has become the face of the Red Sox organization since the retirement of David Ortiz. In only his fourth season in the MLB, Betts finished top 10 in MVP voting for the second straight year. He reached a career high in stolen bases. Betts also finished third in the AL in doubles hit. To go with his second consecutive All-Star appearance, Betts finished the season with his second straight Gold Glove Award. If Betts doesn’t live up to hype this season, he can always fall back on becoming a professional bowler.
Honorable mention: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
Catcher: Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
Molina has cemented his name as one of the best catchers of the decade. His greatest ability as a catcher is his arm strength. Molina has thrown out many base runners attempting to steal bases. In 2017 alone, Molina threw out 24 running trying to steal. While not normally known for his hitting, Molina had a career-high 82 RBIs last season. This season could be one of his last. He has progressively seen fewer appearances behind the plate, and 2018 will be a make-or-break year for him.
Honorable mention: Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees
Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Last season, Max Scherzer robbed Clayton Kershaw of the NL Cy Young Award. Kershaw outmatched Scherzer in almost every stat. He finished first in the league in wins with 18. Kershaw also ended the season second in the league in ERA with 2.25 and allowed a league-best 45 earned runs. After leading his team to the World Series, Kershaw will be the best pitcher coming into the season.
Honorable mention: Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals