2016 Outlook: It is not that often that the hype matches the production for young players, but Betts is already there in less than two full seasons in the big leagues. A few scouts said Betts was the best player in the 2013 Arizona Fall League and last season he showed why at the big league level. Betts struggled out of the gate and had an unimpressive slash line of .234/.293/.366 in mid-June but went on to hit .329/.372/.552 the rest of the way with 13 home runs, 11 steals, and 68 runs scored. Betts has a very disciplined strike zone for a young player and is a strong candidate for a 20/20/100 season in just his third season in the majors. Do the exact opposite of what Flava Flav and Chuck D told you in the late 80's and believe the hype. Betts is the new thing and you'll want to be a part of what he brings in 2016.
2016 Outlook: On the heels of his third consecutive 30-homer, 100-RBI season in 2015 at age-39, Ortiz announced that the 2016 campaign would be his last in the big leagues. Outside of a slight reduction in playing time when the Red Sox face left-handed starters (he hit .231/.277/.426 in 184 plate appearances against southpaws last season), the primary DH role should belong to Ortiz for another year. Since the start of the 2013 season, only five players have amassed more homers than Ortiz (102). With his combination of power (.280 ISO) and plate discipline (12.5 BB%, 15.5 K%), Ortiz remains a hitter to be feared, and he should have plenty of chances to drive in runs again from the heart of the order in Boston if the bats around him stay healthy.
2016 Outlook: The Aruban shortstop displayed his plus hit tool and plus glove work last season, putting an end to the talk of a potential move to third base. He took advantage of hitting third for most of the season, and with the help of a slightly inflated batting average (.372 BABIP last season, .338 for his career), he was able to finish top-two in runs and RBI at the position. Bogaerts should remain in the three-hole for Boston in 2016, and while he may not hit .320 again, modest regression would allow him to still challenge for .300. His 10 steals may not sound like much, but it gives him an edge over players like Troy Tulowitzki, Brandon Crawford and Jhonny Peralta. The elephant in the room is Bogaerts' power projection. Scouting reports have always suggested he could hit 20-30 homers in his prime, and while he is just entering his age-23 season, his in-game power could start to click at any moment, which would make him a five-category monster.
2016 Outlook: While the Red Sox were hopeful that Ramirez could make a smooth transition to handle left field upon signing him to a four-year deal last offseason, he struggled to handle the position from Day 1. At the plate, he started the season on a high note, posting a .283/.340/.609 line with 10 home runs and 22 RBI through his first 25 games with Boston. Things spiraled out of control from there, however, as a collision with an outfield wall during a May game led to a shoulder injury. Ramirez was unable to get back on track despite returning to the lineup a few days later. His numbers after the injury included a .239/.275/.372 line and nine homers over his final 80 games, a far cry from his early-season production. Moreover, shoulder fatigue prevented him from appearing in a game after Aug. 26. Ramirez told reporters that he was pain-free in early December, and he will head to spring training with the goal of learning a new position for the second consecutive year, this time shifting back to the infield to play first base.
2016 Outlook: 2015 was a rough year for Pedroia owners, as he appeared in just 93 games and became a total non-factor on the basepaths. At 32 years old and in the 11th year of a career that has seen him consistently banged up, it's easy to wonder how long his body will withstand the rigors of playing the game. Pedroia missed 27 games in 2014 before missing 69 in 2015, and he isn't getting any younger. Still, second base is a very weak position in 2016 and Pedroia has hit at least .270 every year since his sophomore season in 2007. Between his consistent contact ability and the surprising power he showed in 2015 -- 12 home runs in the short campaign after failing to reach double-digits in 2013 and 2014 -- he at least provides more upside than the typical fodder at the position.
2016 Outlook: The Red Sox somehow skate with paying $72M to Castillo. The Cuban import has played two seasons of baseball in the United States but the results have not been as impressive as the salary predicted. He makes good contact and has graded out well defensively, but the limitations at the plate have been noticeable. Castillo had one of the highest groundball rates in the majors in 2015, which will limit his power potential and he has struggled to pull fastballs and turn them into extra base hits as he had exactly zero extra base hits to the pull side in 2015 off fastballs. His high contact abilities and his speed will keep him fantasy viable for average and steals, but the power is not going to come any time soon until he can get more loft on the ball and use the pull side effectively.
2016 Outlook: Swihart earned a promotion to Boston in May and appeared in 84 games, recording a .274/.319/.392 batting line with 5 HRs. While hardly world-beating, MLB catchers last year hit just .240/.303/.379, solidly below what Swihart managed as a 23-year-old rookie in one of the most pressure-packed environments in baseball. Swihart is unlikely to develop more than average power, and his stikeouts have become more of a problem as he has progressed up the organizational ladder. He struck out 24.5 percent of the time in 2015, and unless he improves that frequency, he'll likely decline from last year's .274 batting average. If Swihart can knock that strikeout rate down to the 15-20 percent range that he sported throughout the minors, then he can be one of the rare catchers who won't eat away at the batting average.
2016 Outlook: 2015 was Moncada's first year playing baseball in the states after defecting from Cuba, and he really left his mark. He battled some injuries early on in the season and got off to a slow start after being assigned to Low-A Greenville following extended spring training, but he turned it on once he got accustomed to the league. The 20-year-old slashed .310/.415/.500 after the All-Star break, propelling him to the finish line with an .818 OPS. He also flashed plenty of speed, swiping 49 bases while only getting caught three times. The Red Sox's top prospect is still a ways away from the majors right now, but there's a good chance Moncada could find his way into the upper levels of the minor leagues in 2016 if he continues to hit and run at such a torrid pace.
2016 Outlook: Holt started at least five games at first base (five), second base (seven), shortstop (seven), third base (24), and outfield (30), making him one of the most versatile fantasy players this side of Ben Zobrist. Unfortunately, Holt's bat is nowhere near as dynamic -- he has a .280/.340/.380 (97 OPS+) line with just six home runs in 1,001 plate appearances over the past two seasons. As a player who qualifies literally everywhere but catcher in some leagues, Holt's versatility can be a great asset, particularly in daily leagues that are slim on bench spots. Unfortunately, Holt strikes out too much (19.1 percent in 2015) to legitimately challenge .300, and he has just 20 stolen bases in the past two years, so he's an average player, at best, across the board.
2016 Outlook: Park factors are nice, but they don't apply uniformly to every hitter. Coming into 2015, many expected Sandoval to pepper the Green Monster with line drives from the right side, while taking advantage of the largest right field in the game when swinging left-handed. In large part because Sandoval hit so poorly against southpaws -- in fact abandoning switch-hitting to hit solely from the left side -- he was unable to take advantage of Fenway Park's favorable dimensions. The Red Sox asked Kung Fu Panda to drop some weight in the offseason, and he's complied. He'll enter the season starting at the hot corner, but he'll need to produce, with Brock Holt looming as a capable replacement. There's definitely some upside here, relative to cost. Just have an exit strategy in place in case Sandoval's struggles continue.
2016 Outlook: A year ago, Bradley smelled like a bust, sporting a .196/.268/.280 slash line over his first 530 MLB plate appearances from 2013-14. He broke out in his age-25 season, however, thanks largely to a scorching hot 25-game stretch from early August to early September, where he had a 1.441 OPS with seven home runs in 83 at-bats. It's true that he proved himself capable of such feats, but without that small sample, he was just as bad as he's always been at the plate. The truth is, he only needs to be a replacement-level hitter to stick in Boston's lineup against righties, as he offers top-shelf outfield defense. Bradley actually has reverse splits, sporting a .693 career OPS against lefties, compared to a .612 mark against righties, but newly acquired Chris Young crushes lefties and will presumably start against most southpaws. Of course, if Rusney Castillo flops, Bradley would stick in the lineup no matter who is pitching, just for his defensive value. Either way, Bradley should be treated as a late-round flier, and not a known quantity at this point in his development.
2016 Outlook: In part because the Red Sox have a strong farm system, Shaw wasn't on the radar of most prospectors. After a couple of quick promotions to cover injuries, Shaw was summoned at the trade deadline to take over first base after Mike Napoli was shipped to the Rangers, also seeing some action at the hot corner. Shaw was a major part of the Red Sox post-break surge, swatting 13 homers in only 65 games. That power along with the ability to play both corner infield spots makes for a nice bench piece. With Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval manning first and third, there's a good chance Shaw will be called upon as an injury replacement. This makes him an intriguing end game target in AL-only formats.
2016 Outlook: The Brewers were willing to assume roughly half of the remaining $12 million on Hill's contract when they acquired him from Arizona this winter, but their main motive was to acquire a couple young pieces from the Diamondbacks. This is quite a fall for Hill, to go from one of the best power-hitting middle infielders to dead contract weight in an offseason trade. Heading into his age-34 season, which happens to be a contract year, Hill finds himself on a less-talented roster in Milwaukee, so the trade may end up being a net positive for his fantasy value. Failed prospects Garin Cecchini and Will Middlebrooks loom as Hill's competition at third base, and he should also see some time at second base when the Brewers face a lefty. There is a chance Hill will hit double-digit home runs after failing to do so last year for the first time in four years, but it's not a great chance, and that's his only avenue to mixed league relevance.
2016 Outlook: Young will go into camp locked into the short side of an outfield platoon with Jackie Bradley, as his lone carrying skill at this point is his ability to crush left-handed pitching. He has an .837 career OPS against southpaws and posted a .972 mark against lefties last year. Now, entering his age-32 season, his defense is in decline and he is coming off a year where he got on base at a .246 clip against righties, so he is truly a one-trick pony. This means he has relatively no value in standard season-long leagues, but he could be streamed in leagues that allow daily roster moves and a hefty amount of in-season pickups. Young will also be a trendy play in daily leagues when the Red Sox face a southpaw.