2016 Outlook: If there is one consistent market inefficiency in fantasy baseball, it is the middle-aged (in baseball terms), steady producer. This type of doesn't do any one thing especially well, he probably has at least one category wart and he definitely lacks everyone's favorite word in fantasy sports: "upside." That's Plouffe. He's heading into his age-30 season on the back of consecutive solid-but-unspectacular campaigns and that just doesn't appeal to a wide swath of the fantasy community. He has an everyday job at third base and bats in the heart of a solid-but-unspectacular lineup, though if Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton breakout as many expect, the lineup will become a heck of a lot more potent and all of a sudden Plouffe could pile up 90-plus RBIs after back-to-back 80-plus seasons. Unless a roster is just stacked everywhere else, most won't want him as a starting 3B in a mixed league, but he is a great corner infielder option who won't cost much.
2016 Outlook: Escobar will be the leadoff batter with the Angels by default, since there are no good non-Mike Trout candidates to do so. Escobar has a career .350 OBP, but a lot of that was earlier in his career until he pulled a .375 OBP and a .314 batting average out of thin air. He doesn't run well and doesn't loft the ball to hit homers, so his value is tied up in getting on base and BABIP fortunes. In the past five seasons, when his BABIP was over .300, he's hit at least .290; when it hasn't been, he's hit under .260. That's important because he hasn't had back-to-back seasons with BABIP over .300 since 2008-2009. Simply put, there is major regression is in store for Escobar.
2016 Outlook: Solarte took a long a winding road to the major leagues, but now that he's here, he's not too bad. He's a split-neutral switch hitter that can play all over the infield, comes into draft day qualifying at both corners and, depending on your league rules, second base as well. He accepts his walks and rarely strikes out, but a lack of speed and pull-happy approach limit his batting average upside. He's putting up the numbers Chase Headley put up on an annual basis, but it is highly unlikely Solarte will ever put up the career year that Headley had in San Diego before these two players switched places in the league. He's boring, but he's safe.
2016 Outlook: A strong showing in spring training earned Lamb the third base job over $68.5 million-man Yasmany Tomas, but Lamb hit the DL with a foot injury just two weeks into the campaign. He was able to remain mostly healthy after his return in June, but as expected, Lamb endured his fair share of growing pains as a 24-year-old at the major league level. Lamb made contact at a below-average clip, while slugging just .386 with a .123 ISO. That combination of low contact and marginal power is not going to play for long, especially at a corner infield spot, but there is hope that Lamb can tap further into his substantial raw power in his age-25 season. Lamb walks at an above-average clip, and he showed improvement with using the whole field and driving the ball into the ground less often, but he will likely sit against left-handed pitching (.200 AVG vs LHP last season) and the power may not tick up enough to make him much more than a fringe mixed-league starter in 2016.
2016 Outlook: The historically brittle Lowrie put up back-to-back 550-plus plate appearance seasons in 2013 and 2014, so we had to expect some level of injury in 2015. We didn't have to wait long, as he badly injured his thumb on a play at the plate in late April and missed 10 weeks. That injury led to Carlos Correa coming up sooner than expected, and also ended Lowrie's short run at shortstop with Houston, as the team shifted him to third base before he could reach 20 games at short. Oakland is going to use him at second base, so the positional flexibility will be nice, but bad health doesn't go away and the switch hitter is much better against lefties than righties, which limits any upside.
2016 Outlook: With Starlin Castro now out of the way, a path has been opened for Baez to join the talent-laden roster of the Cubs, and his positional flexibility will likely come in handy on team that has other defensive question marks with Kris Bryant, Ben Zobrist, and Kyle Schwarber. Baez qualifies all over the infield and brings uncommon pop to the board, offering a Joc Pederson-like trade-off of home runs for batting average but at half the price and three times the positional value. Baez has been notoriously slow to get the bat going when introduced to new levels on the minor-league ladder, with a tendency to take off once he has made the necessary adjustments, so it is par for the course that he would take time to figure out how to hit at the highest level. The Cubs were cautious with Baez in 2015 to avoid his developing bad habits against major-league pitchers, keeping him on the farm until rosters expanded in September, and the statistical implications are that the ploy worked to his developmental advantage.
2016 Outlook: Drury hit 19 homers in High-A ball in 2014 in the California League, which is a high-run environment. Since leaving that league, Drury has hit 14 homers between Double-A, Triple-A and the big leagues. In his defense, he reached the major leagues at age 22 while most of his age group peers were still in High-A or Double-A. While the power is not there, the ability to hit for average is, because he makes quite a bit of contact. Therein lies the issue in that Drury plays at a position that needs power, and he's a one-category player: Average. Ideally, he spends more time in the minors than the majors in 2016.
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: 2015 was a banner year for Rule 5 draft picks, and while the talent among this year’s crop of Rule 5 selections is not nearly as great, Goeddel has a relatively clear path to fantasy relevance. A supplemental first-round pick in the 2011 amateur draft, he spent last season with the Rays’ Double-A Montgomery affiliate, posting a .783 OPS with 12 homers and 28 stolen bases in 123 games. It wasn’t enough to earn a spot on Tampa Bay’s 40-man roster, and the Phillies pounced. That move could pay immediate dividends for Philadelphia, as both Aaron Altherr and Cody Asche went down with injuries a couple weeks into spring training. Altherr is facing an extended absence, and Asche is in danger of opening the season on the DL, so Goeddel should have a chance to put his stamp on the left field job. His spot in the batting order will play a large part in determining stolen base expectations.
2016 Outlook: Chisenhall has got this weird, every-other-year thing working so far with OPS totals of .699, .741, .668, .770 and .667, which puts him on an up year in 2016, if those kinds of patterns had any real statistical merit. Unfortunately, they do not. Meanwhile, Chisenhall's "good" seasons aren't even all that good, so even if you knew he was going to be better than 2015, the expectations wouldn't be that high. He looked like a better pure hitter coming up, but he has struggled to make consistent hard contact. His power was never going to be a carrying tool, meaning he needs at least something in the .270s with his batting average to even hit the radar. The silver lining is that he's young enough to still improve and playing time should be plentiful in the undermanned Cleveland outfield.
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: Gonzalez has put together back-to-back solid seasons offensively for the Astros and is coming off a 2015 campaign that saw him reach career-highs with a .272 average, 12 home runs and 34 RBI. With the emergence of Carlos Correa at shortstop last season, the Venezuelan was used more as a utility player, making 15 or more appearances at first base, second base, third base, shortstop and left field. Although he is not a starter, the Astros love his versatility and being to play multiple positions will likely lead to a good amount of opportunities in 2016. However, he isn't an everyday player and probably has more real-life value than fantasy value.
2016 Outlook: After a tremendous April that saw him belt five home runs and hit for a .423/.429/1.077 slash line in 26 at-bats, Guerrero cooled off considerably for the rest of the season. He even slumped as low as hitting .091 in the month of July. Furthermore, after hitting 10 home runs in the first half of the season, he hit just one in the second half of the campaign as he saw his playing time take a nose dive. Guerrero is not a lock to even make the 25-man roster out of spring training as the Dodgers have acquired a myriad of outfield options. If he does make the roster, he has upside as a guy who can hit for power but his inconsistent playing time and questions as to whether he will even make the team considerably clouds his outlook.