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Keepers and Sleepers: The must-have Marlins players for fantasy baseball

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Here’s who to pick up before your season starts.

Miami Marlins v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The 2017 Major League Baseball season is almost upon us, and that means fantasy baseball is well underway.

If you haven’t already drafted your team, we can tell you which Marlins you should draft. If you already have drafted, we can also provide you with some players to be on the lookout for on the waiver wire during the season.

KEEPERS

OF Christian Yelich

ESPN Fantasy Projection: .294 BA, 16 HR, 82 RBI, 14 SB

2016 Stats: .298 BA, 21 HR, 98 RBI, 9 SB

If there’s one Marlins player who should be owned in every fantasy baseball league, it’s Christian Yelich. The 25-year-old outfielder had his breakout season in 2016, showing the ability to hit for power and for average. He hit 14 home runs after the all-star break, and has the capability to hit 30 bombs this season.

Yelich has a chance to be in serious consideration for the NL MVP award this season, and his fantasy value should skyrocket. His 72 walks last season were the most of his career, and his plate discipline continues to improve. Yelich may not have the power to be your top-producing outfielder, but pairing him with a more powerful outfielder would make a dangerous duo for your team.

OF Giancarlo Stanton

ESPN Fantasy Projection: .255 BA, 37 HR, 99 RBI, 4 SB

2016 Stats: .240 BA, 27 HR, 74 RBI, 0 SB

If Giancarlo Stanton can stay healthy, he could be one of the best fantasy outfielders this season. The projection of 37 home runs would tie his career high, but his fantasy season will, as it always has, depend on his health. If the slugger can play over 150 games for the first time in his career, he has a chance to hit over 40 long balls.

The fantasy knock on Stanton is his high number of strikeouts, and he chased a higher percentage of pitches out of the strike zone last season than he has since 2012. However, his walks can be the statistic that saves him. If the big righty can walk at least 100 times this season, a strikeout number around 175 won’t be a huge problem.

2B Dee Gordon

ESPN Fantasy Projection: .285 BA, 2 HR, 34 RBI, 58 SB

2016 Stats: .268, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 30 SB

If you’re looking to lead your league in stolen bases, Dee Gordon is your guy. In only 79 games last season, the 28-year-old speedster stole 30 bases, which could put him on pace for almost 60 this year. Gordon should be able to get a full season under his belt in 2017 and has a chance to guarantee you a stolen base almost every other game.

Many people stray away from drafting Gordon due to his lack of power, but he could still hit for average. Even if the second baseman only hit a couple of long balls, he has the chance to get his batting average back up around .300 and make a real fantasy splash in 2017.

SLEEPERS

RHP A.J. Ramos

ESPN Fantasy Projection: 2.73 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 41 SV, 73 K

2016 Stats: 2.81 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 40 SV, 73 SV

A.J. Ramos may not be one of baseball’s top-flight closers, but he sure puts up numbers like one. His 40 saves last season ranked fourth in the National League and the right-hander was good for more than one strikeout per inning. He allowed only one home run, and keeping to the same numbers could make him a valuable option for your relief pitcher spot.

Ramos’ one problem in 2016 was the walks. His 4.92 walks per nine innings was the second worst of his career, but it was part of him figuring out his pitch distribution. Last season he threw the fewest percentage of fastballs and highest percentage of sliders of his career. If Ramos has now figured out how to distribute his pitches, you could see his strikeouts skyrocket in 2017.

RHP Dan Straily

ESPN Fantasy Projection: 3.96 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 164 K

2016 Stats: 3.76 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 162 K

The Marlins rotation doesn’t project to be very useful in fantasy baseball this season, but Dan Straily could put out a surprisingly large amount of production. The 28-year-old righty put together a career year in 2016, posting his best strikeouts and walks per nine innings marks of his career.

Despite his success last season, Straily’s peripherals were not great. His xFIP (a stat that shows an expected ERA without factoring in a defense’s ability) was 5.88, which shows that his numbers should have been much worse in 2016. However, if he continues to strikeout out more batters and walk less, Straily could keep the numbers down and be a viable fantasy option on the waiver wire.

If you have any other fantasy baseball questions as it relates to the Marlins or the rest of the league, put them in the comments. I’ll try to answer them, despite not winning my fantasy baseball league last season.