2015 Outlook: An everyday player who's about to turn 40 seems like a disaster waiting to happen. However, to Hunter's credit, he's played in 140-plus games in eight of the past nine seasons, so perhaps he'll accomplish that feat again with the Twins in what may be his swan song. Returning to the team that drafted him in the first round back in 1993 makes for a nice story, but it obviously does nothing for his fantasy value. Hunter proved true to his .286 average last season, as his .311 BABIP was right in line with his career mark. That batting average over potentially 550-plus plate appearances is the crux of Hunter's fantasy value. No longer hitting behind Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez will likely impact his counting stats, but he has hit 15-plus home runs in nine straight seasons, so that seems like a safe projection for him in 2015 if he stays relatively healthy.
2015 Outlook: After Jose Abreu's absurd stateside debut in 2014, big league clubs have finally started to properly value Cuban free agents. Tomas was given a six-year, $68.5 million deal by Arizona, but the fact that he made more as an international free agent than Abreu, Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes does not necessarily mean he'll be a better player -- it just means the market is correcting itself. Tomas does not closely resemble any of his countrymen who are currently in The Show. Abreu would be the closest comp, but Tomas is two inches shorter and three years younger than the White Sox's first baseman. Like Abreu, power is Tomas' specialty, but again, expecting Abreu-like production would be extremely foolish. The Diamondbacks will try him at third base, which would be ideal for fantasy purposes, but there's still a chance he ends up in an outfield corner. The finished product could resemble the Texas version of Nelson Cruz, with 25 to 30 homers and a .260 average, but that production is still likely a couple years away.
2015 Outlook: Left for dead after the 2012 season (with good reason), Byrd has rebounded for two big campaigns in his mid-30s as a useful power bat who comes very cheap. At 37, he will likely come even cheaper in 2015, despite coming off back-to-back 20-homer seasons. Moving from Philadelphia to Cincinnati shouldn't do much to damage his power output, as he managed a near-even home-and-away split last year, and the Reds have their own favorable ballpark for him to exploit. He certainly isn't without risk, however, because the production can evaporate just as quickly as it came at this age. However, the price you are paying to roster him in this power-starved age of offense makes it a rather low-risk proposition.
2015 Outlook: Beltran's first season in Yankee pinstripes did not go quite according to plan. He missed 38 games due to injuries, most of which were related to his right elbow, from which bone spurs were removed at the end of the season. Beltran is expected to be fully healthy for the start of 2015, but durability still lingers as the primary concern heading into his age-38 season. He tried to play through the bone spurs last year, and his performance suffered because of it, though a .252 BABIP also played a major part in Beltran's .703 OPS -- his lowest mark since the 2000 season. Considering he hit 24 home runs with a .296 average in 2013 with St. Louis, there's reason to believe he could post similar numbers with good health in 2015. Of Beltran's 15 home runs last season, 12 went out to right field, so the hope remains that he will take full advantage of the short porch in Yankee Stadium in a full season.
2015 Outlook: Saunders has quietly been pretty productive the past three seasons. His 162-game average is right on the cusp of 20 homers and 20 stolen bases, but the problem is he has never come close to 162 games played. Injuries have held him under 140 games in each of those three seasons, with a pair of DL stints limiting him to just 78 in 2014. Safeco Field in Seattle has been a hindrance for Saunders throughout his career, as well. . In fact, last year’s .785 OPS at home was his first total north of .695 at home, though it came in just 113 PA. The shift to Toronto should bode extremely well not just because of the ballpark, but also because that deep lineup should offer plenty of run-producing opportunities. Unfortunately, the injury issues reared their ugly head again, with Saunders suffering a torn meniscus in his knee after stepping on a soft spot around an underground sprinkler during the initial days of spring training. Thus, he will have to wait until after the All-Star break to start capitalizing on his improved situation.
2015 Outlook: A knee injury held Reddick to just 396 plate appearances in 2014, but he was quite productive when he played, particularly against right-handed pitchers. All 12 of his home runs last season came in his 288 plate appearances versus righties, against whom he hit .280, while he hit just .222 with two extra-base hits in 108 plate appearances against lefties. Reddick's splits would probably result in a strict platoon on some teams, but Oakland has barely any impact outfield bats, so Reddick should still see plenty of action against southpaws. It might not seem like it, but Reddick will only be 28 this season, so he should still be in his prime. The A's offseason moves leave uncertainty in the middle of the lineup heading into 2015, but Reddick could slot in as the No. 3 hitter, in which case he will almost certainly provide value in mixed leagues.
2015 Outlook: It was an eventful offseason for Markakis, as he signed a four-year contract with the Braves in December, then had surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck that same month. The expectation is that the 31-year-old outfielder will be able to return to action this spring and will not miss any regular-season games, but it's a situation prospective fantasy owners will need to monitor closely. Markakis is going from one of the better lineups in baseball in Baltimore to a less-favorable field and one of the worse lineups in the game, particularly after the Braves traded Jason Heyward and Justin Upton for less-impactful pieces this offseason. He should hit atop Atlanta's lineup, but Markakis is on the wrong side of 30, lacks impact tools and is recovering from significant surgery. Markakis has had 700-plus plate appearances and hit above .270 in six of his last eight seasons, which is very impressive, but with significant decline in either area, he would lose most of his fantasy value, as the power and speed numbers simply won't be there.
2015 Outlook: Although his game is batting average and speed, Aoki also showed some surprising pop during his first two seasons stateside and kept himself out of that bucket of empty-speed guys who often give you a flat zero in the home run category. Aoki managed 18 home runs in his first two seasons, despite a 58 percent groundball rate, but the power vanished in 2014 and turned him into one of those aforementioned players, though part of it could have been his shift to a more difficult home ballpark (his only home run came on the road). The decline in speed was due in part to a groin injury that plagued him for half of June before eventually sidelining him until early July, but with improved health he should have no issue approaching 20 stolen bases. Aoki signed with the Giants in January and is expected to serve as the club's everyday left fielder.
2015 Outlook: Acquired by the Orioles prior to the waiver-trade deadline last August, De Aza was a strict platoon option for Baltimore against right-handed pitching down the stretch. The veteran outfielder struggled mightily against southpaws (.138) last season, which is odd considering he hit .302 against them the year prior. Nevertheless, De Aza finished 2014 with a .252 batting average, 8 home runs, 41 RBIs, 56 runs scored and 17 steals in 528 plate appearances between the White Sox and Orioles. Since he primarily contributes via the runs-scored and stolen-base categories, much of his 2015 fantasy value hinges on his usage in Baltimore. If De Aza can find his way to the leadoff spot in the Orioles' lineup on a semi-regular basis, he could end up being a strong two-category contributor. Travis Snider and Steve Pearce also figure to be in the mix for starts in the corner outfield spots, but De Aza's speed should allow him to be the starting left fielder more often than not.
2015 Outlook: Despite splitting time with Gregory Polanco in right field for the Pirates in 2014, Snider finally flashed some of his long-awaited potential with his bat. Drawing most of his starts against right-handed pitchers, he hit .264/.338/.438 with 13 home runs and 38 RBIs over a career-high 359 plate appearances. While it seems like Snider has been around forever, he's still only 26 and has room to build off last season's success in his new home in Baltimore. He could not be in a better situation to earn at-bats, as Steve Pearce, Alejandro De Aza and Delmon Young represent his competitors for playing time. Snider also happened to get traded to a favorable ball park, adding another reason for optimism surrounding his 2015 campaign. The expectation should be that Snider will remain a part-time player this season, but he still has the potential to be productive enough to be useful in deeper mixed leagues.
2015 Outlook: Craig had a miserable 2014 season that was scuttled by a nagging foot injury that forced him to miss more than a month -- mostly after his surprising trade to the Red Sox as part of the John Lackey deal. Now he's in a situation in Boston where he's going to have to fight for playing time, following all the additions to the lineup this offseason. First base is occupied by Mike Napoli, DH is held down by David Ortiz, and the corner-outfield slots (where he's particularly ill-suited to play) are manned by Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino, not to mention Mookie Betts is looking for a place to play. Craig could end up behind all of them, subbing maybe once a week at each spot, but he's going to have to wait for a trade or an injury or two before he gets full-time at-bats. Assuming that his foot has fully recovered, he could be in a more favorable power situation in Fenway but will probably hit lower in the order than he did with the Cardinals. Getting any more than two or three stolen bases seems out of the question, so he's really going to need to improve those power stats to provide a lot of value.
2015 Outlook: After a dip in 2013, Jay got back to doing what he does best: collecting hits. A great way to a .300 AVG is driving the ball consistently, and Jay's 28 percent line-drive rate ranked third among batters with at least 450 plate appearances last season. His 24 percent career line-drive rate is sixth in baseball since 2010 and helps explain his .295 career average. Unfortunately, Jay doesn't offer much else in the fantasy game. He hit a career-high 10 home runs in 2011 and reached double-digits in stolen bases in 2012 and 2013, but expecting him to reach double figures in either category in 2015 could be dangerous. Jay's counting stats are routinely helped by the number of games he bats in the two-hole for the Cards, but the addition of Jason Heyward will cut into those opportunities and could ding his production overall.
2015 Outlook: Peralta opened last season with Double-A Mobile, hitting .297 with six homers and 46 RBIs in 53 games before a rash of injuries in the Arizona outfield opened the door for his first taste of the big leagues. The Venezuelan native quickly became a regular in the D-backs' lineup, slashing .286/.320/.460 with eight home runs in 348 plate appearances. He struggled against southpaws (.197 batting average), but was excellent against right-handed pitchers (.312), which could lead to a platoon situation in left field with Ender Inciarte to open 2015. With good contact skills, modest power and decent speed, Peralta should be on your radar in NL-only leagues, and he's even worth a late-round flier in deep mixed leagues.
2015 Outlook: Wil Myers' wrist injury created an opening for Kiermaier, a 31st-round pick in 2010, and the young outfielder quickly endeared himself to the Rays' fan base. In addition to several spectacular plays in the field, Kiermaier also hit, slashing .310/.349/.576 with eight homers in just 170 first-half trips to the plate. The power was certainly surprising, considering he had totaled only six home runs in 136 games between Double-A and Triple-A the year before, but that's what happens when you have a 20.5 percent HR/FB rate. That number fell dramatically in the second half, to 5.4 percent, as did the rest of Kiermaier's surface numbers. He hit just .220/.284/.335 with two long balls in 194 plate appearances after the All-Star break, though he did improve his walk rate in the second half and his BABIP fell by more than 70 points (from .345 to .271). With Myers traded to San Diego in the offseason, the door is open for Kiermaier to compete for the starting job in right field, but he'll face stiff competition from Steven Souza and may be better suited as a fourth outfielder.
2015 Outlook: An injury-plagued 2014 resulted in a lost season for Victorino, who hit .268 in just 30 games for the Red Sox before undergoing back surgery in August. While the 34-year-old is expected to be healthy for the start of spring training, Mookie Betts' emergence last season, along with Boston's recent additions of Hanley Ramirez, Rusney Castillo and Allen Craig, appear to have left the Flyin' Hawaiian without a starting job. That's just an assumption at this point, as management in Boston has not expressed how they intend to utilize Victorino if he's healthy, but drafting him is a risky proposition -- if not for his lengthy injury history, then for the current state of the Boston roster.