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Top 10 Projected Runs Producers: 2015 Fantasy Baseball Rankings

It can be rather tricky in attempting to properly analyze and predict which players will score the most runs in the future.  Short of Tony Kornheiser playing the fortune teller on PTI, baseball predictions for individuals can be decimated by several factors.  Injury, well-placed defensive shifts and the failure of teammates to come through can all ruin a player’s individual numbers especially in run production.

 

How To Project Runs In Fantasy Baseball

After assessing the top ten finishers in runs in each of the last three seasons, it appears the best indicator of predicting who will finish in this year’s list is none other than plate appearances.  Certainly a player with a high wOBA will help, but that .410 wOBA means nothing if the player is hitting out of the seven hole.

Conventional thinking also dictates that a player needs to be surrounded and hit in front of high-RBI guys.  That also helps but still is not as high a factor as some would think.  Brian Dozier finished second in runs in 2014 for a Twins team that finished seventh in the league, while Hunter Pence completed his 2014 campaign fourth in runs for a middle-of-the-pack Giants offense that finished 12th in runs scored.

Both Pence and Dozier were two of nine players that finished 2014 with over 700 plate appearances.  Of the remaining seven, two (Mike Trout and Ian Kinsler) finished with 100+ runs scored and another two (Matt Carpenter and Freddie Freeman) crossed home plate over 90 times.  If you’re looking for a formula to mathematically predict runs, it may look something like (PA)(x)=R where “x” is the unseen variable that we will discuss further.  Without further ado, we unleash our prediction for the top ten finishers in runs for 2015, in no particular order.

 

Who Will Lead The Majors in Runs

1) Mike Trout - LAA, OF

Unless you have been living under a rock the last three seasons, this guy is a no-brainer.  He scored 115 runs in 2014, 109 in 2013 and a ridiculous 129 in 2012.  Preseason Steamer and Fans(46) predictions have him scoring 108 and 112 runs, respectively.  As the reigning AL MVP, Trout will probably be picked first in most leagues as he should be.

2) Miguel Cabrera - DET, 1B

Another no brainer.  Cabrera is a triple crown threat every year and guys that hit HR and for BA will always be threats to score runs.  He has scored at least 101 R in each of the last five seasons and there is no reason to think that trend cannot continue in 2015.

3) Andrew McCutchen - PIT, OF

Although Clayton Kershaw deservedly won the NL MVP last season, McCutchen is arguably the most important player in all of baseball and probably would have won the award if he did not miss 16 games due to injury.  McCutchen’s durability should not be in question as most of his missed time from last season stemmed from a freak accident after a plunking at the hands of Arizona reliever Randall Delgado.  The star centerfielder knows how to get on base and manufacture runs from nothing even if the bottom half of the Pirates lineup doesn’t drive him in conventionally.

4) Anthony Rendon - WAS, 3B

In just a season and a half, Rendon has made his mark as the most consistent hitter for a formidable Nationals lineup.  Most of the Washington starters have missed some time over the last two seasons but Rendon has played the most and seen the most plate appearances.  He finished first in the NL last season with 111 R while seeing only the fifth most PA.  Rendon will play third base this year but there is still an outside shot he is second base position eligible for fantasy teams in 2015.

5) Jose Bautista - TOR, OF/1B

The Blue Jays once again were big players in the offseason and have solidified a lot of question marks on the offensive end.  Even with the addition of guys like Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin, Joey Bats is still the guy up north.  Clearly the biggest question mark is health.  After watching his 2014 campaign, we are banking on Joey Bats returning completely healthy and fully rejuvenated from his injury prone 2012 and 2013 seasons.

6) Christian Yelich - MIA, OF

The chances that two guys from the same team both finish in the top ten in runs are slim.  Yelich is batting leadoff and will have plenty of more plate appearances than Giancarlo Stanton, which is the only reason the young outfielder gets the nod over the bruising Stanton.  Yelich’s 20.8% K rate is high for a contact guy but his .362 OBP is right where a young leadoff hitter needs to be.  His 94 R scored in 2014 tied him for tenth in the league and fifth in the NL.  Expect Yelich to continue to cross the plate at a high rate in 2015.

7) Troy Tulowitzki - COL, SS

Injury is the only reason to worry about Tulo not scoring.  In only 91 games and 375 plate appearances last season, Tulowitzki scored 71 runs which leads into an 18.9% runs per plate appearance rate.  (Note: I am not quite sure if this is a real stat or a statistic that I just made up, but I will use it for fun comparison.)  Had he not gotten hurt and instead saw 705 PA (the number of PA by Trout) last season while continue to score at that rate, Tulo would have scored 133 times.  Obviously this plays into a big “what if” game, but it should give you a clear representative scale of Tulowitzki’s ability to score.

8) Shin-Soo Choo - TEX, OF

In terms of monetary return on investment, Choo was awful last season.  He saw his lowest numbers across the board since 2009 and looked completely lost at times at the plate.  There is some hope.  History has shown us that players sometimes struggle or show less production when they sign with a new team.  Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Hanley Ramirez and Robinson Cano are all guys that showed less production in their first year with new teams as compared to their career averages.  Perhaps Choo’s problem last season was trying too hard to impress the Ranger fans.  Before he got hurt in August, Choo recorded a .295 wOBA at home as compared to a .350 wOBA on the road.  His 125 wRC+ on the road is a lot closer to his career 131 wRC+ and could be evidence of his real value.  In the daring prediction of the list, Choo is the bounce back run scorer of 2015.

9) Anthony Rizzo - CHC, 1B

Rizzo was one of the few bright spots of an otherwise terrible Cubs team last season.  Then came the splash of signings in the offseason and everyone in the Northside is excited.  Chicago may not be a contender (yet) in 2015, but they are certainly moving in the right direction.  Rizzo scored 89 runs for an awful Cubs offense that finished 26th in runs scored.  He accounted for 14.5% of all runs scored for the team which is an incredibly high number for a cleanup hitter.  Durability should not be an issue either, so Rizzo could hit the high 600s in PA.

10) Alex Gordon - KC, OF

It seems like every preseason Gordon is the guy that will break out.  Well, him and Eric Hosmer.  This season truly could be the year, at least in the runs category.  Despite an atrocious September, Gordon had an excellent second half of the season for the surging Royals while continuing the hot production into the postseason.  September, July and most of April were tough months for Gordon and he still finished with 87 R for 2014.  Of course even if he scores 100 runs, the one he did not score in game seven will still by talked about way more.

 




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