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Top 10 Projected RBI Producers: 2015 Fantasy Baseball Rankings

With the season only a month away, some fantasy owners have already started drafting, and everyone else is preparing to do so.  Most (if not all) leagues value runs batted in (RBI) as a scoring statistic, and it's as important as any scoring stat out there.  But it's not always so easy to forecast.
RBI were at a premium in 2014. The RBI leader, Adrian Gonzalez, had a measly 116, and only 12 hitters totaled 100 or more. Injuries to some key RBI contributors last year might have skewed these numbers a little bit. Some of those have found their way into my top 10 for 2015.  
Here are my predictions for who will lead your fantasy leagues in RBI production this year. You can also read our predictions for the top home run and power options for 2015:

Who Will Lead The Majors in RBI

10. Chris Carter – 1B/DH Houston Astros

My dark horse to crack the top 10 in RBI for 2015 is Chris Carter. Now in a more experienced and revamped lineup, Carter will have that much more of an opportunity to crack the 100-RBI mark. Consider that the Astros had Carter hitting third in their lineup for the majority of his 2014 at-bats. If Jose Altuve continues to get on base this year hitting leadoff, Carter will have plenty of at-bats with runners in scoring position. His 31.8% strikeout percentage is more than alarming, but that didn’t hold him back from capitalizing with men in scoring position last season, when he hit with a .270 average in such situations.


9. Albert Pujols – 1B/DH Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Even though Albert Pujols didn’t have the comeback Angels fans were hoping for, he did show flashes of the once-great slugger he'd been in St. Louis. His ISO bounced up to .194 from 2013’s .179, and he added 29 points to his slugging percentage to reach .466. Pujols shows no signs of returning to his 2006 137-RBI form, but hitting more than 100 RBI again doesn't seem out of reach.


8. Edwin Encarnacion – 1B/DH Toronto Blue Jays

Another guy on this list whose 2014 season was shortened due to injury, Edwin Encarnacion will enjoy all the same opportunities that Bautista will. The additional offense in Toronto will put Encarnacion in the driver’s seat, and he'll determine whether or not he makes the top 10 in RBI this year. If not for the injury, Encarnacion might have approached the same 42-HR 110-RBI season he put up in 2012. He’ll have some competition for most RBI on the team, though, from the next guy on my list.


7. Jose Bautista – OF Toronto Blue Jays

Jose Bautista finally finished his first full season since 2011. He didn’t quite hit above the .600 SLG mark though, a number he topped in 2010 and 2011. He did, however, remind everyone that he's still the big slugger in Toronto, putting up 35 HR and 103 RBI. One more year removed from injury, and with Toronto adding Josh Donaldson for additional offense, Bautista has every opportunity to reach 100 RBI again this season.


6. Adrian Gonzalez – 1B Los Angeles Dodgers

2014’s RBI crown winner, Adrian Gonzalez benefited from having one of baseball’s best offenses around him. I’m still a bit concerned about his four consecutive years of declining batting average and three-year drought below a .500 SLG. Having said that, I think the Dodgers lineup will give him plenty of opportunities to knock in runs. He split time between hitting third and cleanup last year. If he stays put in that range, he’ll once again be in the top 10 in RBI.


5. Jose Abreu – 1B/DH Chicago White Sox

Jose Abreu’s rookie year was definitely an eye opener. Abreu finished with an astounding .317/.383/.581 slash line on his way to the 2014 Rookie of the Year award. While considering the chance of a sophomore slump, I can’t find anything that might suggest Abreu won’t repeat his 107-RBI performance from last year.


4. Paul Goldschmidt – 1B Arizona Diamondbacks

An injury-shortened season left Paul Goldschmidt well behind the other names on this list in RBI last year. He’s hoping to rebound this season and produce at the 36-HR, 125-RBI level he did in 2013. Although the Diamondbacks might not have the fiercest lineup in baseball, Goldschmidt has shown he's an elite producer even in a less-than-fortunate situation.


3. Miguel Cabrera – 1B/DH Detroit Tigers

Miguel Cabrera hit for the lowest slugging percentage (.524) he’s had since his first full season as a pro. He also finished with fewest homers (25). This could be a sign that Cabrera’s age might be catching up to him, or maybe it was just the bone spur in his foot bothering him. As he turns 32 this year, I expect that Cabrera will bounce back, and he'll leave the bone spur behind. Oh, and he still finished third last year in the RBI race, completing his eleventh consecutive season with over 100. Barring another injury, Cabrera will be in the race again this year for the RBI crown.


2. Mike Trout – OF Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Mike Trout struggled to get much going after the All-Star break last year, but that didn’t stop him from hitting 111 RBI. Like Stanton, Mike Trout struck out in a lofty 26.1% of at-bats, but that didn’t stop him from a .287/.377/.561 slash line. In his first two full seasons as a pro, Trout hit for .326 and .323. Cutting down on the swings-and-misses will improve his average, and if Trout can come close to pacing near his 73-RBI outburst in the first 90 games of last season for a whole year, he will easily have the most RBI in 2015.


1. Giancarlo Stanton – OF Miami Marlins

In an injury-shortened 145-game season last year, Giancarlo Stanton still finished sixth in RBI out of all major league hitters. This season, Stanton returns with a brand new mega-contract (and a facemask) to take the crown he was on his way to winning. Despite a fairly high 26.6% strikeout percentage, Stanton still managed to finish with a .288/.395/.555 slash line. To help sweeten the deal, Miami has provided Dee Gordon to steal bases in front of him this year, which will give Stanton plenty of at-bats with at least one runner in scoring position. As my projected winner of the RBI crown in 2015, fantasy owners will enjoy RBI by the handfuls. Now enjoy this .gif of a massive Stanton home run.


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