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: 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: Professional baseball's only 30/30 man last season, and an individual who hit the fifth-most home runs (37) among pros en route to coming within three homers of becoming the minors' first 40/40 man in at least 50 years, Springer is one of the most tantalizing fantasy baseball prospects thanks to his elite combination of power and speed. Those abilities should fuel his fantasy value once he reaches the majors, though as a high-strikeout hitter (26.5 percent career rate in the minors), he might be susceptible to streaks and an overall low batting average initially, as he adjusts. Springer can draw a walk, however, with a 12.2 percent pro rate, so he'll be a more attractive stash in leagues that reward those or on-base percentage. He'll come to Houston Astros camp with a chance at a starting job, though as he's not currently on the 40-man roster, he's much more likely to be one of 2014's most attractive midseason call-ups.
2014 Outlook: Known more for his defense than offense, Pollock nevertheless has the kind of speed that can drive fantasy value, having totaled 67 stolen bases in 302 career minor league games and 12 in 112 contests thus far at the big league level. He also is adept at making contact, a plus because it diminishes the risk to a fantasy team's batting average (or resulting on-base percentage). Pollock should get the bulk of the at-bats in center field thanks to his defensive prowess, but he's not a high-upside, surefire mixed league asset.
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: A contact hitter with decent speed, Span is a player with a limited downside yet one also lacking in any real upside. From 2011-13 combined, his 11.4 percent strikeout rate ranked 23rd, his 9.1 percent miss rate on swings fifth; he also paced the majors with a .273 batting average on non-competitive pitches (those considerably outside the strike zone) in 2013. Those result in healthy enough ratios to make him a consistent 20-steal candidate, the primary threat to that entering 2014 the presence of a talented fourth outfielder in Nate McLouth fighting for his at-bats. Span should be an NL-only asset, but he's only a fringe bet in mixed.
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: One of the top prospects in baseball, and arguably one of the safer rookie candidates thanks to his high-average potential, Taveras' chances at a regular gig with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2014 have taken a hit in the past calendar year. Though he showed continued minor-league mastery in Triple-A in 2013, batting .306/.341/.462, a high ankle injury limited him to just 46 games and led to eventual surgery. In addition, the Cardinals added Peter Bourjos this winter, giving them three viable starters to choose from between center and right field and affording them patience with Taveras. Taveras will presumably begin the year in Triple-A, making him more in-season pickup than immediate fantasy asset, but he'll be an NL-only stash and a top dynasty-league prospect nevertheless. And as he should hit for a good average with some power immediately, he'll warrant an instant pickup in all formats once he arrives.
2014 Outlook: Jay's numbers aren't extraordinary in any one regard -- including his defense -- and it's for that reason he's more of a counting-numbers option tied to playing time than a guy whom fantasy owners should be excited to select. He's a viable NL-only outfielder, but his greatest value comes in leagues with daily transactions: He's a .300/.360/.417 career hitter against right-handed pitchers, his numbers against them showing minimal variance during his four big league seasons. Jay might lose a chunk of at-bats in 2014 with defensive whiz Peter Bourjos on board and Allen Craig moving to the outfield, so keep careful tabs on his usage during spring training.
2014 Outlook: Hamstring and wrist issues dogged Bourjos for much of 2013, leading to September surgery for the latter, but in his defense, the St. Louis Cardinals might not have as aggressively pursued him in trade if there were lingering concerns entering 2014. He'll give his new squad quality defense and quickness on the base paths, traits granted more valuable on the diamond than in fantasy, but relevant in NL-only formats nevertheless. Bourjos' defense is good enough to assure him a near-everyday role in center field, and with it, he might yet accrue enough at-bats to reach the 30-steal plateau.
Stephania Bell: A fracture last June caused Bourjos to miss two months but the wrist never fully healed and he underwent surgery to insert a pin in September. By the way he was running around this spring, one would never suspect he'd been injured. Now if he can just stay healthy.
2014 Outlook: Although he traded one pitcher-friendly ballpark (O.co Coliseum) for another (Citi Field) this winter, Young experienced a modest boost in fantasy appeal as a result of his trade, if only because he's now on a team with more opportunity in the outfield. He'll compete for a starting role, at worst settling for a platoon gig, which might be enough to fuel his counting numbers and drive his homers and steals to near-20/20. Young is a major batting average liability who is only marginally better in on-base percentage, and in points leagues, he's a less attractive pick. But NL-only owners can pick him to round out their outfields, hoping for the requisite at-bats to fuel his homers and steals.
2014 Outlook: Rushed to the majors ahead of Christian Yelich when injuries created a need in the Miami Marlins' outfield, Ozuna was somewhat overmatched at the plate during his rookie campaign of 2013. A power hitter in the minors -- he averaged 23 homers per year from 2010 through 2012 -- he struggled to drive the ball, his ground ball rate near 50 percent, and had significant issues against right-handers. A thumb injury ended his season in August, and while he faces minimal competition for a starting job this spring, the Marlins might choose to give him more seasoning in Triple-A. NL-only owners are the ones who can speculate on his power potential, but with a strong spring, he could quickly become quite the bargain candidate.