2014 Outlook: After a late-2012 power surge, Moss truly broke through granted quasi-regular playing time in 2013, maintaining practically identical power rates -- adjusting for natural regression to the mean, that is -- and quietly reaching the 30-homer plateau. His was a stunning effort, considering his power-suppressing home ballpark and his wide lefty/righty platoon split (68 points better in batting average and 164 points better in slugging percentage versus right-handers). Moss returns to a similar role in 2014, presumably pairing with Nate Freiman or Alberto Callaspo at first base, but in exchange for the lost counting numbers (runs, RBIs), his ratios should stabilize as a result. That also means that he's particularly attractive in a daily league, where you can mix and match his lefty/righty matchups. Moss made enough strides making contact -- he whiffed just 23.1 percent of the time in the second half, down from 30.8 percent in the first half -- and has enough of a power-oriented approach -- he led the majors in fly-ball rate -- to make a compelling case for a repeat.
2014 Outlook: After hitting 23 homers after the All-Star break in 2012, much was expected from Headley last season. Upon closer inspection, the switch hitter pulled the majority of those homers right down both lines, so a repeat was optimistic, especially if Headley did not reverse his trend of hitting fewer fly balls. As it turns out, Headley continued to hit an abundance of grounders, which capped his power. Clouding our projection is the fact that Headley played the bulk of the season with a torn meniscus, which is now healed. It's a bit of a leap of faith, but with a healthy knee, Headley should loft more homers as well as return to double-digit steals.
2014 Outlook: Both the San Francisco Giants' conservative approach to his role and his lefty-power-suppressing home ballpark have caused Belt to fall beneath the radar in many fantasy leagues his first three seasons, though he showed many signs of growth in 2013 that could portend greater things ahead. Besides setting career highs in many offensive categories -- hits, doubles, home runs, batting average and slugging percentage, to name a few -- he finished the year with impressive .326/.390/.525 triple-slash rates and a lowered 19.8 percent strikeout rate in 61 games after the All-Star break. The Giants finally made Belt a lineup fixture, only benching him against the toughest lefties or when Buster Posey needed a breather from playing catcher. Belt is still 25 years old and could develop more power with experience, making him one of the more intriguing first-base bargains once the big boys are off the board.
2014 Outlook: Kung Fu Panda has shed some pounds! As he enters his walk year, Sandoval spent the winter in Venezuela focusing on getting into shape, easing the San Francisco Giants' seemingly annual preseason concerns with a "svelte" Sandoval entering 2014. We hear the chatter from many players every February -- "I'm in the best shape of my career!" -- but in Sandoval's case, his offseason commitment did answer a key valuation question. Injuries have long held him back, not to mention hindered his speed (and with it, potentially his runs total), but perhaps he'll be able to improve upon his 134-game annual average. He's a handy source of batting average with a bit of pop, and a possible value on draft day should he impress in camp.
2014 Outlook: After consecutive, successful big-league debut seasons by Cuban imports Yoenis Cespedes (2012) and Yasiel Puig (2013), it's understandable that fantasy owners are giddy over the prospects of a third in a row, this one by Abreu. He's the ultimate unknown commodity entering 2014: Scouts have suggested a range as wide as his being a low-average, big-power type like Pedro Alvarez; a higher-average, modest-power type like Cespedes; or perhaps as little as a fringe big-league regular. A 2011 league MVP in Cuba, Abreu excelled at filling two specific categories: Home runs and times hit by pitch, the latter a direct result of his close-to-the-plate batting stance. (Hey, at least the latter fuels on-base percentage.) He'll presumably be the White Sox's starting first baseman, in a ballpark that plays beautifully for power. Abreu might be wildly streaky and a feast-or-famine type initially, but he's well worth your mid-round consideration.
2014 Outlook: Let's emphasize from the beginning that Martinez will open the season with designated hitter/utility eligibility, as his days behind the dish are history. There's a good chance he picks up in-season eligibility at first base. It took a little while for Martinez to shake the rust off from missing the entire 2012 season, but by season's end it was the same old story: a high average with a smattering of power and decent run production. That said, Martinez's post-break .361 average was fueled by a .371 BABIP that is sure to regress. But since his contact skills are as strong as ever, Martinez should continue to be a run-producing cog in a still-potent Tigers attack.
2014 Outlook: Middlebrooks' 2013 will surely be characterized as a disappointment for two specific reasons: (1) His batting average plummeted 61 points and (2) he took a seat in favor of Xander Bogaerts for substantial portions of last year's playoffs, casting some doubt upon his immediate future in Boston. When spring training camp opened, however, Middlebrooks stood alone as the Boston Red Sox's projected starting third baseman, with Bogaerts at shortstop, and that should classify him as a possible bargain pick. Middlebrooks is the type of free-swinging, decent-pop bat that has a place in rotisserie leagues, where his streakiness isn't as detrimental to a team. That said, do understand that he has limitations in points-based scoring as a result. He's a value selection if you can lock him into a corner-infield spot in the former.
2014 Outlook: Though he faced an uphill battle in his attempt to crack the Boston Red Sox's lineup last season, Bogaerts eventually succeeded: He moved off his natural shortstop position to third base, emerging in mid-August as an effective utility player, and then elevated himself to the team's hot-corner starter by the World Series. And as spring training dawned, 2013 starting shortstop Stephen Drew remained a free agent; Bogaerts appeared ticketed for regular duty there in 2014. As one of the most polished hitters in the minors -- he was Keith Law's No. 5 prospect overall entering last year -- Bogaerts could thrive in terms of batting average and on-base percentage, and, with a committed role, could also add significant runs, RBIs and a hint of pop. He's an initial third-base-eligible player who should quickly restore shortstop to his list, the dual eligibility another trait to boost his bargain-bet appeal. Don't let Bogaerts slip too far in redraft; plus, he's potentially one of the best youngsters to get in dynasty/keeper leagues.
2014 Outlook: Lind is daily-league gold: He is an effective All-Star against right-handers, having batted .288/.351/.520 against them over the past five seasons, but against left-handers he often sits, due to .213/.253/.337 rates against them during the same time span. It is that wide split which casts him deeper down the mixed-league rotisserie rankings, labeling him more "specialty player," though among that group, few are his equal. Now 30 years old, Lind has probably reached the extent of his growth potential; the only compelling case to make for him taking another step now is that he's a free agent at year's end. Still, he's worth a mid- to late-round selection even in mixed formats.
2014 Outlook: After missing the entire 2013 campaign with knee woes, Hart landed in the Pacific Northwest, where he should be in the mix for playing time at first base, designated hitter and, health permitting, corner outfield. Seattle is being cautious early on with Hart, waiting until the spring to see how his knee can handle the rigors of chasing flies. Not only is his playing time a question, but so is his on-field performance, considering the likely rust after missing a full season and the fact he is a free swinger. One thing, however, is certain: Even with the new dimensions, Safeco Park is not as hitter-friendly as Miller Park, so a decline in power is likely, regardless of the other factors. Dual eligibility at first and outfield helps make Hart an intriguing utility, or perhaps reserve until we get a better feel for his playing time and production.
2014 Outlook: A season-long battle with a sore left shoulder may be the reason the switch-hitting Swisher saw his numbers versus left-handed pitching plummet last season. But even so, his final line was almost the exact same as the two previous seasons, save for a drop in batting average. Swisher is reporting that he no longer feels any pain in the area, so there is reason to hope he tacks on a few more dingers to last season's total, and is again a solid three-category contributor (HR, RBI, runs). The best part is that you won't have to pay for it, as Swisher is largely ignored in favor of younger players with more upside. His dual first base and outfield eligibility also helps insure maximum output at a couple of spots where the available players are stronger than other positions.
2014 Outlook: Everyone loves Colorado Rockies hitting prospects, right? Fortunately, Arenado's modest power numbers in Double-A and Triple-A (15 homers in 152 games combined at those levels from 2012-13) haven't caused fantasy owners to embrace outrageous expectations, though he possesses the kind of skills that minimize his downside and could lead to a big step forward in 2014. He's adept at making contact (14 percent strikeout rate last season) despite a tendency to swing at many pitches outside of the strike zone (his 39.2 percent rate was fourth-highest). Arenado batted .298 after the All-Star break, and at the very least should be a must-start in games as Coors Field, something to consider if your league affords a lot of transaction flexibility.
2014 Outlook: A wrist injury effectively ruined Teixeira's 2013 campaign, limiting him to 15 games and resulting in season-ending surgery in July to repair a torn tendon sheath in his right wrist. He'll be on the road to recovery this spring, and while he's projected to be in the Opening Day lineup, chances are we won't see him at 100 percent until sometime midsummer, if not until 2015. This is a major concern for Teixeira, whose OPS was in a six-year pattern of decline anyway, and who seemed to adapt his swing to surrender batting average points in exchange for taking aim at Yankee Stadium's short right-field porch. He could return as the kind of .250-average/30-homer threat he was in 2011 and 2012, or he could be a .270/20 type who must adapt to diminished power, or a player who struggles to remain on the field for a third straight year. Teixeira is one of the riskier picks entering 2014, though his ballpark, lineup and past reputation dictate that he shouldn't slide too far in your draft.
2014 Outlook: Rendon was recalled for good in early June, and he held his own after transitioning to second base. His strong suit is smacking line drives all over the yard, which should help support a useful batting average. The problem from both a fantasy and real-life perspective is that Rendon possesses below-average power and almost no speed while former second baseman Danny Espinosa has some pop and can run, and would love to get his old gig back. Espinosa is going to have to beat out Rendon, just be aware that Rendon's job as the regular second baseman is not set in stone.
2014 Outlook: It was one four years in the making and at a lesser level than scouts' initial projections, but Smoak experienced a mini-breakthrough in 2013 that spawns optimism about his future. He drove the ball with more authority, setting career highs with 20 homers, a .412 slugging percentage and a 46.7 percent fly-ball rate. Still, Smoak is a liability at the plate from the right side, making him a more attractive choice in daily leagues or shallow mixed formats, where he can be freely mixed and matched. If you go cheap at first base, take a chance on him late.