2014 Outlook: For the first time in his career, Crisp surpassed the 20-homer mark, not to mention amassed more bombs than steals. The power spike emanated from lofting a few more balls in concert with a big jump in the percentage of fly balls leaving the yard. With such a drastic change in the type of production Crisp generated last season, he's difficult to baseline. Perhaps it's best to look at things in a more general sense instead of trying to pinpoint exact numbers. Approach Crisp with the mindset his home runs will drop while he should run a little more, then temper expectations since he is 34 years old with a checkered injury history. Then let the season play out a bit and manage your roster in accordance with where Crisp's production is leaning.
2014 Outlook: Guess who's hit the ninth-most homers in the majors over the past three seasons? At an age where his skills should be declining, Soriano's are remarkably stable. Conventional wisdom suggests it is easy to pick up cheap speed later in drafts, but Soriano is a great source of cheap power. As batting average is dropping across the league, the fact that Soriano's is consistent means it isn't as detrimental as in past seasons. However, a repeat of 18 steals is unlikely, especially considering he swiped a total of just 22 the previous four seasons combined.
2014 Outlook: A free agent until the Baltimore Orioles scooped him up shortly after camps opened, Cruz is a player surrounded by many questions. Draft-pick compensation was one of the initial obstacles standing in his way of a deal, but the 50-game suspension that cost him most of last season's final two months was a more compelling one, as his critics asked how much of his power -- 135 homers the past five years combined -- might have been aided. Cruz's draft stock might be deflated due to the the performance-enhancing drug question, but that could make him a value rather than a bust candidate entering 2014. He remains a powerful hitter, one who will call another hitter-friendly park his home, so mixed leaguers shouldn't let him slip too deep into the later rounds before taking a chance.
2014 Outlook: Castro, a 25-year-old entering 2013, finally showed some power last season, and among the keys to his enjoying a breakthrough year was his narrowing a formerly wide platoon split: He batted .242/.324/.414 against his weaker side, more than doubling his OPS from a year earlier. This made him a legitimate starter candidate even in 10-team mixed leagues, and his rising walk rate made him one of the more underrated at his position in deeper as well as sabermetrically oriented leagues. Castro enters 2014 on the borderline of starters in ESPN formats, the one significant question surrounding him his history of knee problems: He missed 2011 recovering from knee surgery, had two DL stints for knee issues in 2012, and had surgery in September to remove a cyst from his right knee. All signs point to Castro being ready for the season, but understand that he's slightly riskier than some others.
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: 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: 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: The Texas Rangers' winter acquisition of Prince Fielder might have cast doubt upon Moreland's role, unfairly diminishing his perceived value in fantasy, as it's easy to forget that the team still has a wide-open designated hitter role and could be creative with Moreland's usage between first base and the outfield. He could yet approach regular at-bats, and he has enough power to warrant corner-infield consideration in deep mixed or AL-only leagues. Moreland's .255 BABIP shows that he could improve in terms of batting average in 2014, so regard him one of the better bargain candidates if he slips in the later rounds of those formats.
2014 Outlook: Dunn is the epitome of the "three-true-outcomes" slugger, having either walked, struck out or hit a home run in almost exactly 50 percent of his career trips to the plate, that the highest such rate of anyone in baseball history (minimum 5,000 plate appearances). As he has aged, more of those outcomes have shifted into the strikeout column, as he has the second- (2011), fourth- (2012) and 29th-highest (2013) K rates of any hitter in a single season of 450-plus PAs, all of those comprising his past three seasons. Dunn is more of a specialty player, valuable in leagues that reward walks and on-base percentage, but more of a liability in Rotisserie leagues which weight batting average. And with the Chicago White Sox sporting a new first base/DH candidate in Jose Abreu, Dunn's at-bats are at greater risk now than they were a half-decade ago.
2014 Outlook: Profar's presence was one of the primary reasons the Texas Rangers traded Ian Kinsler in November; they wanted to clear an everyday role for the 21-year-old, who has long been touted as a future All-Star. A regular gig might do some good, as Profar struggled mightily in separate big league stints in 2012 and 2013 totaling 94 games, though only once during that span did he make more than five consecutive starts at the same position. In the best-case scenario, he might thrive in his new role, hitting for double-digit power with the 20-steal potential he exhibited in the minors, perhaps earning the No. 2 spot in the lineup to fuel his runs total. In a lower-end, albeit not worst-case, scenario, he might struggle to hit much more than he did in 2013, and lock into a PA/counting number-suppressing No. 8 or 9 lineup spot. Profar's range of outcomes are wide, but his ceiling is projected among the 10 best middle infielders in fantasy baseball as early as this year, and that makes him an appealing mid-rounder, not to mention a building block in dynasty/keeper formats. Stephania Bell: Profar entered camp with some shoulder tendinitis but seemed to be moving past it. On March 22, however, Profar suffered a new injury to his shoulder while turning a double play. The team announced Profar will miss 10-12 weeks with a torn muscle in his shoulder, but it's worth noting the recovery time for muscle tears is difficult to predict accurately.
2014 Outlook: Morales was a free agent as spring camps opened, teams hesitant to invest, knowing he would come at the cost of a draft pick. Don't take that as a knock on his fantasy value, as he would remain a clear mixed league asset should he land with a team with a wide-open first-base picture. Morales' contact rate has risen slightly the past two seasons, and in 2013, he improved by leaps and bounds as a right-handed hitter, batting .282/.353/.440 on that side. He is a lot more consistent than fantasy owners might be willing to give him credit for being, and remember, he has played the entirety of his career in parks that aren't great for power. In the right situation, he might be quite a midround value.
2014 Outlook: Injuries to their other backstops forced the Chicago Cubs to summon Navarro last summer, and as a fill-in he enjoyed the best campaign of his 10-year career, including a ridiculously good .361/.451/.672 stat line as a right-handed batter. He parlayed that into a starting gig with the Toronto Blue Jays, where he'll join a deeper lineup to boost his runs/RBIs and enjoy one of the more favorable hitting environments in baseball. Navarro is a good enough defender to remain consistently in the lineup, and he makes enough contact to be a worthy No. 2 option in deep mixed or AL-only formats.
2014 Outlook: Reynolds, the owner of baseball's single-season strikeout record (223, in 2009) and three of the six instances of 200-K campaigns in history (also 2008, 2010), finds himself in a fight for playing time this spring, a non-roster invitee battling for the Milwaukee Brewers' first-base role. He's plenty capable of swatting 30-plus homers, and hitter-friendly Miller Park would only help his cause, but his fly-ball rate and isolated power have slipped the past two years, to the point that he might find himself in a platoon. NL-only and deep-mixed owners can take a chance on his considerable power potential, but doing so requires them to address his batting-average shortcomings. Know the risks.