2015 Outlook: Gordon is a great example of how much fantasy and real-life values can differ. In fantasy, he's a fantastic asset thanks to his overwhelming speed, which can be turned into stolen bases, runs and even batting average (by way of infield hits). A shift to spacious Marlins Park gives Gordon a great chance to repeat as baseball's triples leader, and while few leagues count triples directly, a boatload of them can only help him repeat or improve upon his 92 runs scored. The downside is that any sort of lower-body injury saps all of his value in an instant. Without any pop to speak of, his batting average must stay high, as it constituted nearly 90 percent of his OBP in 2014. This kind of player also puts a larger burden on the rest of your team, so you'd better have a substantial power base before adding Gordon to your squad.
2015 Outlook: Andrus' fantasy value is built on his ability to score runs and steal bases. He doesn't have enough pop in his bat to take advantage of his home ballpark but can work counts and hit line drives to get on base. His plate discipline has faded away a bit, however, as his walk rate has declined each of the past five seasons, which in turn has limited his opportunities to steal bases. Andrus doubled down on those struggles by being thrown out on 15 of his 42 stolen-base attempts. His speed affords him more infield hits and bunt hits than most players, but 2014 was the first time he did not top 25 of those since his rookie season of 2009. Each of these flaws is correctable, so Andrus is in position to recover some of his lost fantasy value in 2015.
2015 Outlook: Though he missed 19 games in 2014 and his counting stats declined noticeably, Murphy still delivered plenty of value despite the declines. His cost was nowhere near his 2013 numbers anyway, as the fantasy community just seems to be down on the guy despite a remarkably consistent track record. In fact, his OPS has been between .733 and .735 each of the past three seasons. Murphy's bankable value lies in his consistent batting average and useful output in each of the four counting categories, adding up to a package that continues to deliver beyond its cost. Now that he's 30, don't expect the community to finally start respecting Murphy with a boost in average draft position. Instead, just wait for him to drop to you at a bargain … again!
2015 Outlook: Just when Rollins looked like he was heading down a tier in 2013, he pulled fantasy owners back in by outproducing the likes of Starlin Castro and Ben Zobrist in 2014. Rollins posted his fourth double-double season in the past six but had his worst batting average since 2010, as his issues hitting from the right side of the plate have not improved. Rollins stands to see a boost in run-scoring opportunities in a stronger Dodgers lineup than what he had with the Phillies, but the change in parks will likely impact his home run total. Rollins has fought Father Time by incorporating yoga into his training and is still stealing bases like a much younger man. He can still set the table for the Dodgers and contribute in runs and steals, even if his batting average is suffering these days.
2015 Outlook: Injuries limited Utley's games-played totals in his early 30s, and when he bottomed out at 83 games in 2012, it was starting to look like he'd never be much more than a 100-game guy anymore. Instead, he rebounded for 131- and 155-game seasons at ages 34 and 35. Unfortunately, the former was significantly better due in large part to a 5.9 percent HR/FB rate that left him with just 11 home runs last year -- seven fewer than in 2013 despite the 133-plate-appearance boost. There's nothing in Utley's profile that supports the drop, meaning it should head back toward his career 12 percent mark in 2015. Now the real question becomes whether we can get another 155 games out of him. Don't bet on it. Enjoy something around 130 games, and either build your roster with some flexibility to cover the seemingly inevitable missed time or be prepared to hit the waiver wire for those other 30-plus games.
2015 Outlook: Prior to his breakout in 2014, Harrison appeared to be safely entrenched as a quality utility player with the versatility necessary to be an asset in NL-only leagues. For the first time as a professional at any level, Harrison delivered double-digit home runs last season, turning in one of the most surprising performances of 2014 and displacing Pedro Alvarez as the Pirates' starting third baseman in the process. With the move into an every-day role, his strikeout rate ticked up to a career-worst 14.7 percent, but that mark is hardly a concern. Of greater interest is the .353 BABIP that buoyed his .315 batting average, but part of that surge might have been the result of barreling up more pitches, as Harrison dropped his ground ball rate from 46.7 percent in 2013 to 37.3 percent last season while carrying a 24 percent line drive rate. He also wasted fewer at-bats, dropping his infield fly ball rate from 23.1 percent in 2013 to a much more reasonable 7.1 percent. There will be plenty of doubters, but Harrison could end up with a prominent spot in an underrated lineup, and he offers cheap speed as his floor after swiping 18 bags last season.
2015 Outlook: Aybar is a boring shortstop but a rather consistent one. He gets his 30 doubles, he scores 70 runs, he steals double-digit bases and he hits for a decent average. There's no upside to him, but there's some safety in boring players. He's been bothered by the occasional injury but has still put up at least 550 plate appearances each of the past six seasons. The biggest risk for Aybar's fantasy owners comes from the fact that he puts a lot of balls in play with his high-contact approach and steals quite a few hits in the form of bunts and infield hits based on his speed. At 31, the speed is showing signs of decline, as he's converted just 64 percent of his stolen-base attempts in the past two seasons, and he's not getting any younger.
2015 Outlook: OK, this is getting kind of weird with Kendrick. His HR/FB rates the past six seasons are as follows: 12.2 percent, 6.9, 16.5, 8.9, 15.7 and 6.5 a season ago. The volatility has wreaked havoc on his homer totals -- ranging from 18 at the high end to just seven in 2014. Maybe that is just the kind of small-sample inconsistency you should expect with someone who's putting the ball in the air less than 30 percent of the time every year. Kendrick has never hit more than 145 fly balls; for comparison, Ian Kinsler has had fewer than 145 just once in the past seven seasons, and that was because he played only 103 games. This is the long way of saying that even the improved park factor in shifting from the Angels to the Dodgers doesn't really aid Kendrick as much as it would others. You're buying remarkably consistent batting average, generally stable speed (save 2013) and useful counting-category contributions. Bet on that batting title coming before a return of double-digit home runs.
2015 Outlook: The slow rise of Walker peaked in 2014 with a great season that actually could have been even better had he not missed 25 games -- more than half of which came due to an appendectomy. He's coming into his own in terms of power, with 53 homers in the past three years -- second at the position to only Robinson Cano (74). Walker has missed time to injury in each of the past three seasons, which has depressed that number, but he actually has a 20-homer-per-season pace since 2012. Of course, the missed time can't just be wiped away by pacing his numbers. He definitely carries some injury risk, mainly because of his back. His other injuries aren't chronic issues, but the back ended his 2012 early and even cropped up in August of last year. His issues with lefties aren't erased by the .280 he posted against them last year, as 24 of the 30 hits he managed off southpaws were singles. In other words, it might've been some friendly BABIP as opposed to a measure of growth, which the presence of more power would've suggested.
2015 Outlook: The positive slant on Zobrist's 2014 looks at his 6.3 percent HR/FB rate and spins it as an outlier based on his 10 percent career mark, but the negative slant sees that he also had a 6.1 percent rate in 2013 and a 6.0 percent rate in 2010, giving him three seasons of something in the six percent range in his past five. He hit 20 homers in the other two seasons, with a 12 percent HR/FB in both. His three-position eligibility includes shortstop again, making the power dip much more palatable if that's where you plan to slot him more often than not. Only 12 shortstops hit 10-plus home runs, and only six of those chipped in at least 10 stolen bases, too. If you throw in a batting-average threshold of Zobrist's .272, you're down to just three shortstops meeting all three criteria, with Hanley Ramirez and Alexei Ramirez joining Zobrist. There is still a lot of value here, even at 34 years old and in a spacious new home park in Oakland.
2015 Outlook: Escobar finished 2014 tied with Troy Tulowitzki for shortstop value in standard mixed leagues, leading all American League shortstops with 31 steals and adding 74 runs to go with a strong .285 batting average. All in all, he got his career back on track after a disappointing 2013 season, thanks in part to a rebound in his BABIP, which has gone from .344 to .264 to .326 the past three seasons. Despite playing in 155-plus games in each of the past four years, Escobar reached 70 runs scored for the first time in 2014. His stolen-base production is safe, but the rest of his offensive game is a bit risky because of how volatile his BABIP has been. As that goes, so goes his value.
2015 Outlook: Perhaps it was the small-sample success Bogaerts had during Boston's run through the World Series in 2013 that set such high expectations for the kid in 2014. He became the latest chapter in the book about overdrafting young players based on early success, as Bogaerts finished with a disappointing line overall. The double-digit homer total and 60 runs scored were respectable, but his batting average was below par and he struggled to get on base and drive the ball consistently. He also failed to show much statistical growth as the season went on, as his first- and second-half splits are near mirror images of one another from a rate level. Like Starlin Castro last year, the talent is there and could easily bubble back to the surface with more realistic expectations in 2015.
2015 Outlook: Year 2 of Prado's four-year, $40 million pact with the Diamondbacks was going worse than the first when he was traded to the Yankees for Peter O'Brien in July. In 37 games after the trade, Prado hit more homers (seven) than he did in his first 106, and his .316/.336/.541 line to close out the season in the Bronx was unlike any full-season body of work he's amassed in six full big league campaigns. Prado offers versatility and the ability to make contact reliably, as he's been able to play in at least 125 games for six straight seasons while providing double-digit home runs annually during that span. The Yankees traded him to the Marlins in December as part of a deal to acquire Nathan Eovaldi, putting Prado in his fourth uniform in as many years. With newly acquired second baseman Dee Gordon in the fold in Miami, Prado will serve as the Marlins' regular third baseman. Now 31, he should be capable of piling up plenty of RBI and runs scored with a prominent role in the improving Miami offense.
2015 Outlook: Peralta, like a few of the other players suspended for PEDs, proved last year he could hit without the aid of meds. In 2014, he was one of just three shortstops with at least 20 home runs and one of two who drove in at least 75 runs. Sure, the batting average dropped 40 points from 2013's level, but that was bound to happen, as his .374 BABIP in 2013 was very much an outlier for him. His walk and strikeout rates are very stable, but the slowish shortstop has had quite the volatile batting average in recent years, ranging 64 points in the past three seasons. He's a two-category producer who helps in the power categories, with a three-category ceiling that hinges upon his BABIP.
2015 Outlook: Odor might have gone unnoticed by many last season, as he was stuck on the hapless Rangers. Any time a 20-year-old can put in 417 plate appearances of near-league-average work, it's worth noting. He nearly managed double digits in homers and steals despite not quite logging a full season. A boost in batting average is his best route to taking that OBP north of .300, as his plate discipline issues at the MLB level (a meager 4.1 percent walk rate) were foretold by his minor league work (5.6 percent), but at his age, there's is plenty of room for growth in that area. Youth doesn't always develop linearly, meaning he won't automatically build on his rookie season in 2015. This is a high-volatility pick with plenty of intrigue, but tons of downside. Re-drafters, tap the brakes; dynasty leaguers, be ecstatic.