2014 Outlook: After a year experimenting in left field, Castellanos is expected to return to third base this season, where he'll be a candidate to start after Prince Fielder was traded and Miguel Cabrera shifted to first base. The Detroit Tigers' top hitting prospect, Castellanos batted .276/.343/.450 with 18 home runs in 134 games for Triple-A Toledo in 2013, supporting scouts' claims that he should hit for both average and power in the bigs. He'll presumably need time to adapt to the tougher level of competition, but numbers within range of his 2013 are possible should he make the team, making him an AL-only asset worth a look in deeper mixed leagues.
2014 Outlook: Stolen bases represent one of what we frequently call "counting numbers," and regular playing time following his June trade to the New York Mets is the easiest explanation for Young's 2013 breakthrough. He attempted and succeeded on his steals at roughly the same rate he did for his entire Colorado Rockies career, and he offered little in the way of hitting help, his career highs in games (148) and plate appearances (598) almost entirely the product of the Mets' dearth of outfield talent. Investing in Young is a gamble upon his retaining his starting left-field role and staying at the top of the order, and the Mets have more candidates this year than last. Be careful not to overpay -- especially not in points-based leagues, where he has steep downside -- as he's a one-category performer with more appeal in NL-only rotisserie formats.
2014 Outlook: Signed by the New York Yankees as a stopgap solution at either second or third base -- remember that they lost Robinson Cano to free agency and Alex Rodriguez to a season-long suspension -- Johnson is a hitter who fits the confines of Yankee Stadium. He's a left-handed pull hitter who had a 46.3 percent fly-ball rate in 2013, making him quite the attractive daily-league target. Although Johnson lacks the obvious platoon split that would lock him into such a role, the Yankees will more than likely pick and choose his games, most of them against right-handers, so understand that his fantasy potential is probably capped as AL-only or deep-mixed material.
2014 Outlook: Feel that cool breeze: In 2013, Carter set an all-time record with his 36.2 percent strikeout rate. Take that to heart before you simply apply the label "three true outcomes" slugger, because unlike typical "TTO" feast-or-famine types, Carter's downside is greater. He's susceptible to slumps and, as a member of a bad Houston Astros lineup, suffers in terms of runs and RBI potential. AL-only owners will find value in his homers and walks, and he could be a handy stop-gap option even in shallow mixed leagues, but understand that he has at least one concern for every one of his positives.
2014 Outlook: Cabrera's critics will point to the 50-game PED suspension that prematurely concluded his 2012 and argue that his 2011-12 statistics were artificially inflated, and the numbers say they have a point: His .267/.328/.379 hitting rates from 2005-10 looked suspiciously similar to his .279/.322/.360 numbers of 2013. But that ignores the fact that a knee injury had Cabrera on the DL for 72 Toronto Blue Jays games, rarely affording him the opportunity to play at full strength. He's expected to be healthy this spring and should get another chance as the team's left fielder and No. 2 hitter, the latter critical to driving his counting numbers (specifically runs scored). Should Cabrera shine in camp, he might be a hidden value even in mixed formats, as the perception of his value probably doesn't do justice to his true stock.
2014 Outlook: If Joyce's skills each of the past three seasons were table legs, you could put a baseball on the table and it wouldn't roll off; they're remarkably stable. However, his batting average on balls in play is in free fall despite his consistent hit distribution since 2010. The reason is likely, somewhat ironically, the same defensive shift the Rays have deployed with great frequency. As a means to combat this, Joyce claims he has packed on 20 pounds of muscle so he can cease trying to hit through the shift but instead hit over it. Regardless, since more muscle won't mean Joyce can suddenly hit lefties, he's best utilized in daily formats where you can leverage his career .835 OPS versus righties into favorable matchups.
2014 Outlook: After being on the cusp of a 20/20 campaign in 2012, Saunders frequented many sleeper and breakout lists this time last season. But even though he totaled double-digit steals and homers, 2013 was a major disappointment. Saunders enters 2014 as part of a very crowded outfield, though he has the advantage of wielding a superior glove while his mates are mostly there for their thump. By the numbers, while Saunders possesses a nice mix of power and speed, he fans too much to render it useful in mixed formats, especially with the playing time question. However, he makes for an interesting play in AL-only leagues, where his average won't inflict as much damage.
2014 Outlook:The most aggressive base stealer in baseball -- his 0.44 attempts per game the past five seasons combined was tops among anyone with at least 200 games played -- Davis might have the veneer of a one-category rotisserie performer, but he has sneaky value when utilized properly. He possesses a wide lefty-righty split, batting .297/.363/.455 against left-handers compared to .232/.269/.329 versus righties the past three seasons, and has historically fattened his steals totals against weaker-armed backstops, including his stealing seven bases in 2013 against Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who afforded the most steals of any catcher. Davis' new team, the Detroit Tigers, surely recognized this, and could regard him a left-field platoon partner for left-handed Andy Dirks (or a potential Dirks early-season fill-in), insurance at all three outfield spots and a pinch-runner. They'll use him wisely, decreasing the damage he could do to your batting average, perhaps to the point his steals will make him mixed league-worthy.
2014 Outlook: Escaping Marlins Park might have been the best thing that could have happened to Ruggiano: Twenty-four of his 31 home runs the past two seasons combined came on the road, and he had a slugging percentage 97 points higher in his road games during that time. He has a clear path to regular -- or near-regular -- playing time with the Chicago Cubs, and will call a more hitting-friendly environment his home. Still, Ruggiano's skills aren't much greater than those of a fringe big league regular, his fantasy appeal greater because of his double-digit potential in homers and steals. Speculate if you wish, but try to limit it to NL-only formats if you can.
2014 Outlook: San Francisco is hoping Morse fills its gaping hole in left field. In order to do so, he's going to need to cut down on the whiffs, as well as prove his wrist is at full strength after arthroscopic surgery in the offseason. Morse is a risky but tempting play in NL-only formats, since the cost to find out if he's 100 percent will be minimal and the power potential is there.
2014 Outlook: Struggles against lefties continue to plague Ethier to the point he's likely to end up in a platoon. The problem is that for two of the past three seasons, Ethier hasn't hit for much power versus right-handers either. A strong line drive rate continues to buoy Ethier's average, so he does have some value, but if his at-bats are reduced it's only significant in deep formats.
2014 Outlook: A converted shortstop, Lake lacks the long-term ceiling of fellow Chicago Cubs Starlin Castro and Javier Baez, which is why he was moved to the outfield when he finally arrived in the majors last summer. Lake got off to a hot start, batting .324 in his first 34 games, but after that, opposing pitchers quickly learned that he was a free swinger who struggled against breaking balls, and he hit just .223/.291/.351 thereafter (30 games). It's the latter stat line that's closer to his true value, as Lake managed pedestrian .271/.322/.411 career minor league rates, as well as 23.5 percent strikeout and 5.9 percent walk rates, that make him look like a streaky bet. NL-only owners can take their chances, but he's a weaker choice for those leagues that use on-base percentage over batting average.
2014 Outlook: He was the No. 2 overall pick from the 2009 amateur draft, but Ackley's star has faded in four-and-a-half pro seasons since; his .297 career wOBA ranks in only the 12th percentile among players with at least 1,000 plate appearances since his big-league debut in June of 2011. He's also in a fight for at-bats, with Robinson Cano on board to man his natural position of second base, meaning Ackley's best-case scenario has him earning either the starting left or center field job, his more probable role being that of a utility man. That said, Ackley did appear his former disciplined self at the plate following a June stint in Triple-A last season, the result a .304 batting average and .374 on-base percentage after the All-Star break. Should he extend that into the spring, he might land enough playing time to warrant mixed-league middle-infield status -- he'll still qualify at second -- and if he can secure a top-third lineup spot, his on-base percentage might make him an intriguing sleeper in formats that utilize that category or runs scored.
2014 Outlook: For the first time in his career, Parra was a regular, which on the surface should be a good thing, until you realize all the extra plate appearances came against lefties. Parra had 463 plate appearances against right-handers, hitting .297 with 10 homers. This was basically what he did the previous two seasons while in a platoon. In 200 plate appearances facing lefties, Parra hit an anemic .198 with zero homers. You'd have been better off with the higher average and fewer runs and RBIs. Because he plays such great defense, Parra is perfect for simulation games where you can set a lineup versus lefties and righties. In traditional fantasy, he's just an emergency fill-in for mixed leagues.
2014 Outlook: Arcia's bat packs some punch, and he's a dead-red fastball hitter, making him an interesting sleeper if he lingers out there long enough in deep mixed or AL-only drafts. He averaged 25.1 at-bats per home run during his 2013 stint with the Minnesota Twins, and has averaged 24.6 per during his pro career; bear in mind those averages are better than what teammate and fellow power hitter Josh Willingham produced in 2013 (one per 27.8). Arcia also batted .311 and hit 12 of his 16 homers off fastballs, further establishing his matchups candidacy. He's a player in adjustment -- he barely touched breaking stuff as a rookie and he had a 48-point wOBA split tilting in favor of right-handers -- but also one with a high ceiling, not just long term but also for 2014.