Complete 2015 Projections

ESPN's projections are the product of an analysis of a player's past performance, growth or regression potential and expected playing opportunity. While the overall ranking is based in large part on the player's projected performance, it also takes into account risk factors such as age, injury history and past statistical fluidity, the players' ceiling (upside), as well as positional and categorical scarcity.

Position: All | Batters | Pitchers | C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | 2B/SS | 1B/3B | IF | LF | CF | RF | OF | DH | SP | RP
2014 Statistics3232194.27217310003.331.288.00
2015 Projections3232192.07617512003.471.278.20
2015 Outlook: Archer's maturation from a fifth-round selection in 2006 into a legitimate No. 3 starter in the big leagues is one of the best stories in the Rays' storied history of prospect development. The athletic, 6-3 righty solidified his status as a mid-rotation starter last season as a 25-year-old, posting a 3.33 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 173 strikeouts in 194⅔ healthy innings. He pumps gas with a 96 mph heater and a hard, 87 mph grounder-inducing slider while occasionally mixing in a changeup. For Archer to take another step forward both in real life and fantasy, going deeper into games will be key. In 32 starts last season, he pitched more than seven innings on just two occasions. He's shown he can remain effective the third time through the order, and now that he's entering his third full season, the hope is that the Rays fully set him loose. Entering his age-26 season, Archer provides the nice combination of a high floor and room to dream a little.
2014 Statistics61059.1145724101.370.948.65
2015 Projections66065.0156344002.350.978.72
2015 Outlook: Street went from pitching in relative obscurity with San Diego to pitching for the American League's winningest team following a July trade, and while his numbers with the Angels weren't quite as good, he still finished with a 1.71 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 26⅓ innings with the Halos. He didn't blow a save until July 5, having converted his first 23 opportunities, and finished with a career-high 41 saves for the season, giving him 275 for his career (fifth among active players). Some will point to Street's otherworldly strand rates the past two years (99.5 percent in 2013 and 93.3 percent last season) and low BABIPs as reasons to be wary of the 31-year-old, but as long as he's striking batters out at close to a 25 percent clip and converting saves, he'll continue to make for an enticing fantasy option. Joe Smith is the only real threat to his job right now, and manager Mike Scioscia has been reluctant to give Smith an extended audition in the role.
2014 Statistics2525164.0249816002.411.085.38
2015 Projections3030195.03813112003.461.206.05
2015 Outlook: Fister enjoyed a huge 2014 season despite a sharp strikeout rate dip and a strained lat that pushed his season debut to May 9. After getting roughed up by Oakland in that initial start, he reeled off a 2.20 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 24 outings, going at least five innings in every one and failing to finish six innings just four times. The 14.8 percent strikeout rate, however, was a throwback to his Seattle days after an impressive 19.3 percent with the Tigers. He survived by walking virtually nobody, as his 3.6 percent walk rate was fifth-best among qualified starters; those who did reach were routinely left on base, as his 83.1 percent strand rate paced the league. The indicators can't see a repeat with these same skills, but the real surprise would be a repeat of these skills. The strikeout rate will almost certainly head upward and help negate the dip in strand rate, though you still shouldn't plan on an ERA among the league leaders. Buy the innings and WHIP while hoping that his continued presence on a great team yields another strong win total.
2014 Statistics1616102.126745003.251.156.51
2015 Projections3131200.05215212003.381.216.84
2015 Outlook: After pitching 180-plus innings annually from 2010 to 2013, Latos was limited to just 102⅓ innings last season after starting the year on the DL following knee surgery and dealing with multiple elbow issues in the second half. The Reds shipped him to Miami for the final year of his contract, and it's reasonable to wonder whether internal concerns about his elbow contributed to that move. His strikeout rate dipped below 21 percent (17.6 percent) for the first time since 2009, but that can probably be attributed to his knee and elbow issues. Latos was still able to post a 3.25 ERA and 1.15 WHIP, although both were aided by a .269 BABIP. Now entering his age-27 season, the 6-6 righty will get a boost with his new pitching-friendly home environment, and there's reason to believe he could be in for a big year if his health cooperates.
2014 Statistics67065.1218443903.171.2111.57
2015 Projections70068.0248344102.781.1810.99
2015 Outlook: It's easy to look at Cishek's nearly 90-point increase in ERA last season and assume his performance fell off dramatically from 2013, but he actually improved in several crucial categories. The right-hander's FIP was a full run lower than his ERA, and he improved his strikeout rate by more than four percent (26.3 to 30.6) while trimming his walk rate slightly as well. Cishek's numbers were bloated by an unusually high .331 BABIP (career .297), so there's reason to believe his ratios will return to more useful levels in 2015. His opponents' line-drive rate did see an alarming spike last season, but the 28-year-old fared far better against lefties, and A.J. Ramos and Carter Capps likely won't present any threat to his job in the early going.
2014 Statistics63061.2116643403.651.189.63
2015 Projections73073.0158333902.841.0810.23
2015 Outlook: Before succumbing to a left forearm strain in September, Perkins once again enjoyed a great deal of success in the closer role for Minnesota. On Aug. 21, Perkins was sitting on a 2.48 ERA and 32 saves in 36 chances. He wouldn't hit the DL until several weeks later, but the forearm issue began presenting issues before the end of the season's fifth month, and a 13.50 ERA in six September appearances marred his overall numbers. The lefty's biggest improvement last season was his control, as he trimmed his BB/9 to just 1.6 while maintaining a strikeout rate above 25 percent. He was prescribed only rest and rehabilitation after the season, but injuries of that nature need monitoring, as any sort of issue during spring training would warrant discounting Perkins a bit on draft day. When healthy, Perkins is a borderline top-five closer in the AL.
2014 Statistics1919123.129935002.551.136.79
2015 Projections2828175.04513711003.291.197.05
2015 Outlook: The primary concern regarding Cashner entering 2014 was his ability to stay healthy. Lo and behold, he missed three weeks with an elbow strain and two months with shoulder inflammation. However, per usual, Cashner dominated when healthy. He posted a 2.55 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 123⅓ innings, although his strikeouts once again failed to match his dominant stuff. In 298⅓ innings in the past two seasons, his strikeout rate has hovered between 18.1 and 18.4 percent, which is below league average. Wins have also been hard to come by for Cashner, as he's 15-16 in that span despite a 2.87 ERA, but that could change with the Padres bringing in significant offensive reinforcements this offseason. Still, his status as a dominant run preventer who struggles to stay healthy remains the theme surrounding Cashner heading into 2015. The fact that he carries the tag of a borderline ace when healthy despite not providing ace-like strikeout totals may lead to him being overvalued on draft day.
2014 Statistics69066.1287614802.851.3410.31
2015 Projections70068.0267544302.651.199.93
2015 Outlook: Rarely was it completely smooth sailing for Rodney -- he allowed a baserunner in 34 of his 51 save opportunities -- but the right-hander was able to shut the door on 48 occasions last season, more than any other pitcher in baseball. Rodney cut just one little tick off his FIP from 2013, but his ERA fell by more than half a run to 2.85, the second-best mark of his career. He trimmed his BB/9 by more than a full walk in his first season with Seattle, but Rodney's strikeout rate decreased slightly and he finished the year by giving up four earned runs in his final five appearances. Despite the shakiness at times, Rodney still has plenty of juice on his fastball, and his success in the role last season should afford him a relatively long leash to begin 2015.
2014 Statistics2221126.0301028003.431.107.29
2015 Projections3030184.05016513003.671.208.07
2015 Outlook: Coming off a career season that was supported by the advanced stats, it was easy to view Sanchez as a No. 2 fantasy starter heading into 2014. Unfortunately, his season was shortened by minor finger and chest injuries, keeping his innings total below 180 for the first time since 2009. His strikeout rate also dipped below 20 percent for the first time since 2010, which limited his production when he was healthy. The drop in strikeouts can be attributed to an increased contact rate, but even as a more hittable pitcher, Sanchez was a well-above-average starter when he was on the mound. All told, he finished with a 3.43 ERA (2.71 FIP), 1.10 WHIP and 102 strikeouts in 126 innings. If he can return to eating 180-plus innings, he should finish as a top-30 starter in fantasy.
2014 Statistics71076.1236233771.650.907.31
2015 Projections75075.0295544202.761.246.60
2015 Outlook: Tommy Hunter's struggles at the start of last season created an opening for Britton, and the lefty didn't look back, converting 37 of his 41 save opportunities from May 15 onward. He gave up just six more hits than he allowed in 2013 despite pitching 36⅓ more innings, though Britton did benefit greatly from a tiny .215 BABIP, well below his .293 career mark. Sure, Britton doesn't miss as many bats as your prototypical ninth-inning pitcher (7.3 K/9 last season), but his improvement against right-handers last season, his team context and the lack of an immediate threat to his job make him an interesting second- or third-tier closer option heading into drafts. Darren O'Day has posted outstanding numbers in recent years but has had struggles against lefties, and it seems the Orioles prefer to keep him in a setup role.
2014 Statistics2929162.1811757003.381.309.70
2015 Projections2929166.07716811003.421.259.11
2015 Outlook: Liriano parlayed back-to-back seasons of 160-plus innings and an ERA in the low threes into a three-year deal that'll keep him in Pittsburgh through his age-33 season. Due to moderate spikes in his walk rate and HR/FB rate, the southpaw's 2014 was not quite as excellent as his 2013 season, but he still provided a 3.38 ERA and 175 strikeouts in 162⅓ innings. The two primary knocks on Liriano are his fragility and his potential to be a WHIP-mangler. He's topped 190 innings only twice in nine professional seasons and has never eclipsed 200 innings. Last season, he missed significant action with an oblique strain and was able to log more than seven innings in only one of his 29 starts. Liriano has posted a sub-1.30 WHIP in only four of his nine big league seasons, although he was at exactly 1.30 in 2014. Still, his shortcomings will be cooked into his price on draft day, and he offers a nice source of strikeouts with a low ERA in the later rounds.
2014 Statistics3434213.16516918003.591.217.13
2015 Projections2727172.04913512003.721.217.06
2015 Outlook: At 32, Weaver's skills seem to be diminishing at least slightly, but he's a proven fantasy commodity. Weaver tied with Corey Kluber and Max Scherzer for the AL lead with 18 wins last season, marking the third time in the past four years he's reached that number, and he'll return to anchor the staff for an Angels team that won the most games in baseball last year. He has seen alarming spikes in his WHIP the past two years, going from 1.01 to 1.14 to 1.20, but Weaver brought his line-drive rate back down to 19.2 percent last season from 22.4 percent the year before. Further, his first-pitch-strike rate dropped to a career-low 56 percent last season; if he can get back to attacking the strike zone early in counts, it could go a long way toward improving his numbers in the ratio categories. A return to All-Star form seems optimistic, but Weaver should still garner interest as a third or fourth starting pitcher on draft day.
2014 Statistics53054.11464411161.490.7710.60
2015 Projections60060.0187033602.251.0010.50
2015 Outlook: Relegated to setup duty for most of 2014, Benoit only saw 11 save chances for San Diego after Huston Street was traded in mid-July, due to a shoulder injury that cost him close to a month. However, when healthy, Benoit proved extremely effective and capable in the ninth-inning role. The right-hander held opponents to a .151 average for the season and improved his strikeout rate to 31.2 percent, his best mark since 2010. His FIP improved for a second straight year, to a career-best 2.32, as he used his slider more to complement his mid-90s fastball to tremendous results. There's some uncertainty with the Padres' closer spot heading into 2015, with Kevin Quackenbush flashing brilliance in his opportunities last season, but Benoit seems like at least a slight favorite entering spring training, given his experience. If he's able to secure the job, Benoit could make for a sneaky option on an improved San Diego club.
2014 Statistics3333201.07020713003.631.299.27
2015 Projections3232202.07120210003.741.299.00
2015 Outlook: After Kennedy was traded to San Diego midway through 2013, there were some small indicators he was headed for a bounce back last season. But even those who were most bullish on the veteran righty likely did not predict that he'd set a career high with 207 strikeouts. In addition, he had a 3.63 ERA -- his best mark since his career year in 2011 -- and a 1.29 WHIP in 201 innings. Kennedy's 3.21 FIP points to his success being real, and his 3.44 xFIP indicates he can sustain this level of performance in 2015. Further, he was somehow able to win 13 games last year despite pitching on a team with one of the worst offenses in recent memory. The Padres have addressed that matter this offseason, adding some legitimate middle-of-the-order bats through a series of shrewd trades. Unfortunately, the added offense might come at the expense of defense, particularly in the spacious Petco Park outfield. Still, if a moderately worse defense is the primary knock on a pitcher's season outlook, it's safe to invest with confidence.
2014 Statistics2525154.24115711002.731.029.14
2015 Projections3333195.06317011003.741.247.85
2015 Outlook: McHugh came out of nowhere to finish with the sixth-best WHIP (1.02) and 15th-best ERA (2.73) among starters with 150-plus innings last season. While he may not be quite as good as his numbers indicate, this does not appear to be entirely a flash in the pan. McHugh relies primarily on a low-90s fastball, a hard slider and a bat-missing curveball. His 157:41 K:BB ratio in 154⅔ innings demonstrates that his stuff and command are above average, and his 3.11 xFIP suggests he can remain fairly successful in his second full season with Houston. It's unlikely McHugh will continue to pitch like a borderline ace going forward, but his lack of prospect pedigree or a flashy repertoire, combined with the fact that he pitches for the Astros, should keep his price suppressed on draft day.