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 | OF | SP | RP
2014 Statistics63061.2116643403.651.189.63296
2015 Projections73073.0158333902.841.0810.23362
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 Statistics69066.1287614802.851.3410.31356
2015 Projections70068.0267544302.651.199.93374
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 Statistics71076.1236233771.650.907.31380
2015 Projections75075.0295544202.761.246.60347
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 Statistics53054.11464411161.490.7710.60231
2015 Projections60060.0187033602.251.0010.50329
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 Statistics65056.11146211201.120.987.35203
2015 Projections76066.0155534102.731.127.50334
2015 Outlook: Storen had a superb 2014 that saw him ultimately wrest the closer's job from Rafael Soriano at the end of the season, a role that he'll have to begin 2015. But Storen is hardly a stable commodity, as both his performance and his role have fluctuated wildly as a major leaguer. In a way, his experience with the Nats is a microcosm of max-effort relievers as a whole. He burst onto the scene after being a blue-chip prospect, held his own but didn't quite dominate as a rookie, took over the closer's job in his second year in the majors, suffered his first elbow injury, lost his job to a veteran alternative, then finally had the redemption story to get his role back. Storen has changed his approach on the mound, using his changeup more often in the hope of inducing weak groundballs rather than turning to a slider to strike batters out. However, he had a whopping 90.6 percent strand rate and a .271 BABIP against last year, suggesting that some regression might be in order for 2015. Washington signed a former closer, Casey Janssen, this offseason to provide insurance for Storen, but he still figures to have the ninth-inning role to himself to start the season.
2014 Statistics73071.11690519141.890.9011.36316
2015 Projections62055.0136932072.620.9511.29247
2015 Outlook: McGee was dominant from start to finish in 2014, maintaining an ERA below 2.00 for all but one week of the season. Although he blew three saves in his final seven appearances, McGee finished with just four blown saves for the year, along with a 1.89 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, a 90:16 K:BB ratio, 14 holds and 19 saves. Opposing lefties hit .236/.267/.306 against him, and he was even tougher on right-handed hitters (.170/.232/.220). The 28-year-old was able to miss bats more frequently while trimming his walk rate by more than one per nine innings (from 3.1 BB/9 to 2.0 BB/9), so while his low 2.9 percent HR/FB rate was fluky, nothing else about his season was (1.73 FIP). Unfortunately, McGee will miss the start of the 2015 campaign following arthroscopic elbow surgery in December, but a late-April or early-May return seems to be in play, and he figures to at least force a closer committee upon his return, if he doesn't take the job back outright.
2014 Statistics73062.11710351222.020.8014.87216
2015 Projections83068.022111519192.510.9414.69313
2015 Outlook: Once the Red Sox did away with the notion that Miller could be a starter, a whole new world opened up to him as a max-effort reliever. He went from striking out roughly seven batters per nine innings to well over 11 in 2012, and then more than 14 per nine innings the last two years. But 2014 was the real breakout for Miller, as he cut his walk rate in half from 4.99 walks per nine innings down to 2.45. he'd previously never even come close to 4.0, so it's worth wondering whether that improvement is sustainable, but it's believable that the former top prospect has developed his command. The Yankees are buying the breakout, as they inked him to a four-year, $36 million deal in December to be the chief setup man for Dellin Betances.
2014 Statistics69068.0187354403.040.999.66379
2015 Projections65062.0206433803.051.169.29316
2015 Outlook: K-Rod got off to an unbelievable start last season, turning in a whopping 19 straight scoreless appearances to begin the year, with just eight hits allowed over that span. Regression was inevitable, and the right-hander indeed struggled to a 3.97 ERA after the All-Star break, but Rodriguez still finished with 44 saves, good enough for third in the NL, including very useful numbers in the ratio categories. Although he was relatively lucky with a .216 BABIP, that was offset to a large extent by a bloated 23.3 percent HR/FB rate, and his 6.7 percent walk rate was a career best. After re-signing with Milwaukee on a two-year deal in late February, Rodriguez is set to once again open the season as the team's closer, and his success with the club last season and lack of options behind him should afford the right-hander a fairly long leash in the role. Rodriguez should warrant consideration as a high-end second closer.
2014 Statistics61062.288922252.730.7312.78289
2015 Projections54055.096733202.950.8510.96305
2015 Outlook: Doolittle didn't immediately take over as the A's exclusive endgame option after Jim Johnson lost the job a week into the season, as manager Bob Melvin instead decided to play the splits with Doolittle and right-hander Luke Gregerson. It wasn't long, however, before the lefty separated from Gregerson and established himself as one of the American League's premier closers. While Doolittle blew two of his final three save chances (including one in the AL Wild Card game), he was nearly unhittable for stretches, turning in ERAs under 1.00 in three separate months and a .169 BAA for the season. Always known for his control, Doolittle was able to locate his pitches with unparalleled precision last year, issuing just eight free passes in 62 2/3 innings while fanning 89. He even shaved a full run off his FIP from 2013, so there's reason to think he can improve from an ERA standpoint while also supplying his typically excellent WHIP and strikeouts, though the uncertainty surrounding his health will complicate things at the start of the year. The A's will be forced to turn elsewhere in the ninth inning to begin the season -- presumably to Tyler Clippard -- after Doolittle was diagnosed with a slight rotator cuff tear in his left shoulder in January.
2014 Statistics24033.09272371.090.707.36110
2015 Projections3030165.06613511003.651.227.36310
2015 Outlook: One of the Blue Jaysí top starting-pitching prospects, Sanchez spent the final 10 weeks of the 2014 campaign pitching out of the major league bullpen. Having begun the year as a 21-year-old starter with Double-A New Hampshire, Sanchez actually had a mediocre season in the minors, only to shine with the Jays. He posted a 1.09 ERA, 2.80 FIP and 0.70 WHIP over 33 innings (24 appearances), on the strength of a 7.4 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.3 HR/9 and whopping 65.9 percent groundball rate. With Marcus Stroman out for the season with a torn ACL, it now seems likely that Sanchez will be a member of Toronto's rotation if he can prove up to the task this spring. He won't turn 23 until July, and should eventually develop into more of strikeout pitcher, but command as a starter will be the primary thing to watch as it is something he struggled with in the minors. Sanchez could stick in the rotation long-term if he wins a job this spring, but the Jays will likely cap his innings in the 150-160 range in 2014.
2014 Statistics62058.0295453504.811.538.38250
2015 Projections65063.0256234003.431.328.86316
2015 Outlook: Even accounting for the fact that Nathan wasn't as good as his 1.39 ERA in 2013 (2.26 FIP), it was still very difficult to see the level of last year's implosion coming. He did manage a 3.18 ERA in the final three months, but just a 19.5 percent strikeout rate and 24-to-16 K-to-BB ratio in 28.3 innings over that time. The quality work in Texas obviously wasn't predictive for him, but that can happen in your late 30s. It can go quickly and without warning, so there are no guarantees that he rebounds from this. If you're looking for a silver lining, you're likely to come up disappointed. The copper lining is that he's likely to start 2015 with the closer's role, and through it all he still logged 35 saves a season ago. His leash will be much shorter with Joakim Soria on board from the start this year.
2014 Statistics71072.02310993331.000.8513.63295
2015 Projections75075.0269853302.401.0911.76216
2015 Outlook: Davis posted one of the most valuable non-closing seasons from a reliever ever in 2014, notching 109 strikeouts and nine wins to go along with an outrageous 1.00 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. It's a common misconception that relief pitchers can't materially affect your ratios; they certainly can when they get to pitch in 71 games like Davis did. Last year, there were a lot of good setup men available on the waiver wire who ultimately outperformed the marginal starters who were instead drafted for the back ends of fantasy rosters. It might have been an outlier season in that respect, but that's an inefficiency that can be exploited in drafts with this class of reliever. Davis is unlikely to ever start again, given his two excellent seasons in relief compared to his mediocre record as a starter in the majors.
2014 Statistics64063.1156342912.421.068.95293
2015 Projections67073.0216834002.961.188.38338
2015 Outlook: Rondon illustrates how hard it is to project the ultimate closer for any ball club without an established ninth-inning man. Once a starting pitching prospect in the Indians' organization, Rondon had to go under the knife and missed the entire 2012 season. The Cubs snagged him in the Rule 5 draft prior to the 2013 season and put him in the bullpen, where his initial season was pretty choppy -- though not surprising, given that Rondon had never pitched in the majors or out of the bullpen -- but Chicago had to keep him on the roster because of his Rule 5 status. But in 2014, when everyone above him fell apart, Rondon was given his chance to close and ran with the job. He struck out more than 24 percent of the hitters he faced while walking just 5.9 percent. Rondon's a ground-ball pitcher too, which allows him to keep the ball in the park, even at the Friendly Confines. For all the improvements the Cubs made, they didn't bring in too much competition for the job -- just Jason Motte, who didn't look like a closer candidate upon his return from injury last year. More save opportunities for the improving Cubs should come in 2015, which makes Rondon a bit of a sleeper.
2014 Statistics44045.2116431131.180.7912.61168
2015 Projections61065.0199846241.940.8813.57239
2015 Outlook: If and when the Phillies trade Jonathan Papelbon and install Giles as the closer, it'll be one of the least surprising role changes of the season. Giles has posted extreme strikeout rates at every stop in his professional career and throws a fastball that averages just over 97 mph. The hyperbole on him has started early, as he's already been called "The Next Craig Kimbrel," among other things. Of course, Giles has done a lot to encourage that enthusiasm by pitching so well upon his big league arrival. He posted a 1.18 ERA and struck out 38.6 percent of batters in his first 45 2/3 major league innings.
2014 Statistics63793.2419862823.651.489.42301
2015 Projections75075.02677421123.241.339.24250
2015 Outlook: Mejia began the 2014 season as a starter but ended the year as the Mets' closer, converting 28 of 31 save chances along the way. Some warning signs loom, however. Mejia gave up nine homers on the year, and he walked 9.8 percent of the batters he faced. Moreover, he has legitimate competition for the role in Jeurys Familia and the returning Bobby Parnell. But at least the Mets seem to have finally, permanently settled on Mejia as a reliever rather than a starter. He underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia as soon as the season was over and should be ready for the start of spring training. That said, it remains to be seen what his role will be.