2016 Outlook: While Duffy doesn't provide the pop from the hot corner that many covet, he profiles as a batting average booster, relying on a solid contact rate in tandem with a high percentage of hard-hit balls. Unless he changes his batted ball distribution to put more in the air, his power will be capped to the high single digits with a low-teens ceiling. That said, Duffy is a very smart baserunner, exemplified by an excellent stolen base success rate, which bodes well for more running. Duffy is a player that can't be drafted blindly, but those in need of some batting average with a smattering of swipes could do worse than sliding him into corner or even third base.
2016 Outlook: Harrison couldn't live up to his excellent 2014, and even giving him a break for the torn thumb that cost him over a month doesn't really help because he was actually better after the injury. He just wasn't the hitter we saw in 2014. The .353 BABIP regressed as many expected, but it wasn't that substantial and definitely not the issue behind his drop-off. He lost a full 100 points off of his slugging percentage and his 3.4 percent HR/FB rate was 21st lowest among 211 batters to log at least 400 plate appearances. Some of that might've been bad luck, but he also pulled the ball a lot less and hit fewer fly balls. The Pirates are undaunted, clearing the path for Harrison to have a guaranteed spot with the trade of Neil Walker. It's a solid lineup and he should regularly be near the top of it.
2016 Outlook: The 27-year-old enjoyed a breakout season for the World Series champs, establishing a slew of personal bests along the way. He broke the 20-homer barrier for the first time since 2012, with a career-high 22 homers while also tallying high-water marks in runs scored (73), hits (156), RBI (82), walks (43), average (.284), OBP (.348), slugging (.470) and OPS (.818). He also played at least 140 games for the third time in the last four campaigns, and encouragingly boosted his batting average against both lefties and righties. The most drastic boost came against southpaws, with Moustakas improving his average over 100 points, to .282. His average against righties shot up over 60 points in its own right, to .286, and the overall improvement was also evident in his outstanding 86 percent contact rate and his reduction (for the fourth consecutive season) in strikeout rate, down to 12.4 percent in 2015.
2016 Outlook: The jury remains out on the former top prospect entering his age-24 season. Castellanos' first couple seasons at the major league level have yielded below-replacement-level results, but he made some improvements down the stretch last year that lend hope to a leap forward in 2016. By laying off more pitches out of the zone and swinging less often in general, Castellanos improved his contact rate while adding power. He hit nine home runs after the All-Star break last year, three more than he had in the first half in 61 fewer plate appearances. Castellanos could still stand to be more patient at the plate, but if he can maintain his adjustments from last year, the home run total and batting average could improve considerably. Even a modest improvement could push Castellanos near the top-12 among third baseman. Simply put, there's plenty of reason to buy in on Castellanos at his current cost.
2016 Outlook: The 31-year-old third baseman had a career year in 2015 splitting time between Toronto and Oakland. Long thought of as a platoon player who crushed southpaws, Valencia will have a chance to prove he is worthy of playing every day for the A's this season. He significantly upped his groundball rate to 52.4 percent after failing to top 45 percent in any of the previous three seasons, so the batting average gains could be real. However, it seems pretty obvious that his increased power numbers are unsustainable after posting a 22.2 percent HR/FB, which was more than double his career mark of 10.8 percent. The nice thing about Valencia is he will still come cheap in drafts, and simply batting in the middle of the A's lineup should allow him to offer up respectable production from a corner infield spot.
2016 Outlook: From 2005 to 2010, Wright played 144 or more games in each season as a five-category stud at the hot corner. In the past five seasons, he's averaged 108 games played per year and watched his fantasy-relevant numbers crumble even on a per-game basis. Over the past two seasons, he has combined for just 13 homers, 10 steals, 78 runs and 80 RBI in 172 combined games. Wright has been battling his aging body for years now (it was a persistent back issue in 2015), and he always seems to be one play away from the next physical breakdown. The various ailments have eroded his skills when on the field, and though Wright calmed the persistent back pain to a manageable level of pain tolerance last season, the impact on his batting line was still felt by fantasy managers everywhere. He will certainly be penciled into a starting gig at third base and likely a friendly spot in the batting order for the NL champion Mets, but a contingency plan may need to be executed in short order.
2016 Outlook: The glory days have passed Headley in the wink of an eye. The last three seasons of Headley's body of work looked very much like the work he posted before that outlier year of 2012. His Iisolated power has been between 110 and 150 every season except for 212 outlier in 2012. Last year, his groundball-to-flyball ratio and his flyball rates were identical to what he did in 2012, but the outcomes in cozier Yankee Stadium were much less than what they were in Petco. The type of consistency Headley has displayed around the outlier season in 2012 is incredibly boring for fantasy players, but there is safety with consistency. Draft the boring track record and hope for more.
2016 Outlook: The 30-year-old slugger is expected to receive everday playing time between the corner infield spots in 2016. Valbuena exploded for a career-high 25 homers in his first season in an Astros uniform along with a career-high in RBI (56), though the power did fall off in the second half. He offers a combination of elevated strikeout and walk rates along with above-average power, giving him the label of a "three true outcomes" player. Valbuena's success rates against pitchers of either handedness went down in 2015, and he was particularly inept against southpaws (.158 average). With another season as a lineup regular ahead, Valbuena projects a slugger with some warts, who can nevertheless serve as a decent source of power while playing half of his games at hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park.
2016 Outlook: Prado fell below double-digit home runs for the first time since 2008 last year thanks to a sprained right shoulder that cost him a month of time. Thankfully, it didn't seem to hamper him after returning, as his power output actually jumped up and he played some of his best baseball down the stretch. Prado remains a fantastic batting-average asset. He isn't necessarily a huge plus, but he's a great stabilizer available late in the draft. Batting average is very rarely available late, but there's Prado with his .291 career average and just one full season under a .282 average. Oh, and we're letting ourselves get fooled by the Marlins again this year, so let's go ahead and pretend his runs and RBIs will jump up, too, until they inevitably disappoint by June.
2016 Outlook: Tomas got off to a decent start in his MLB career, hitting .300 or better in each of his first three months and even posting an .850 OPS in June. But for as good as those first three months were, his last three were equally bad. After hitting .301 with a .797 OPS through June, Tomas managed just a .227 average and .606 OPS the rest of the way. Unsurprisingly, his season was heavily influenced by BABIP; his .391 BABIP through June spurred the early success and the fact that it included a ton of singles further took the air out of his numbers. Through June, Tomas posted a 25 percent extra-base rate. He actually had a 32 percent rate in the second half of the season (the league average was 34 percent). There isn't much punch, the batting average couldn't maintain and his plate discipline is poor with too many strikeouts and not nearly enough walks. At 25 years old, he can improve, but the ceiling is limited here.
2016 Outlook: Suarez wasn't heralded when he was traded from Detroit to Cincinnati in the Alfredo Simon deal, but he might've been a hidden gem acquired for a fifth starter-type. The 24 year old held his own and then some for nearly 400 plate appearances and gave the Reds enough confidence to trade superstar Todd Frazier with the idea of slotting Suarez in his stead. Suarez never displayed any singular standout tool coming up, but just did a bit of everything, which is more than enough when you can capably play shortstop, second and third base. Don't get caught up in the extrapolation game and expect 20 homers from Suarez, but a best-case scenario could have him pushing that figure. His .341 BABIP was on the high end (fouth-highest among shortstops with at least 350 PA), but his .327 BABIP in the minors suggests that he might be someone who can maintain a mark north of league average.
2016 Outlook: If there is one consistent market inefficiency in fantasy baseball, it is the middle-aged (in baseball terms), steady producer. This type of doesn't do any one thing especially well, he probably has at least one category wart and he definitely lacks everyone's favorite word in fantasy sports: "upside." That's Plouffe. He's heading into his age-30 season on the back of consecutive solid-but-unspectacular campaigns and that just doesn't appeal to a wide swath of the fantasy community. He has an everyday job at third base and bats in the heart of a solid-but-unspectacular lineup, though if Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton breakout as many expect, the lineup will become a heck of a lot more potent and all of a sudden Plouffe could pile up 90-plus RBIs after back-to-back 80-plus seasons. Unless a roster is just stacked everywhere else, most won't want him as a starting 3B in a mixed league, but he is a great corner infielder option who won't cost much.
2016 Outlook: Escobar will be the leadoff batter with the Angels by default, since there are no good non-Mike Trout candidates to do so. Escobar has a career .350 OBP, but a lot of that was earlier in his career until he pulled a .375 OBP and a .314 batting average out of thin air. He doesn't run well and doesn't loft the ball to hit homers, so his value is tied up in getting on base and BABIP fortunes. In the past five seasons, when his BABIP was over .300, he's hit at least .290; when it hasn't been, he's hit under .260. That's important because he hasn't had back-to-back seasons with BABIP over .300 since 2008-2009. Simply put, there is major regression is in store for Escobar.
2016 Outlook: Solarte took a long a winding road to the major leagues, but now that he's here, he's not too bad. He's a split-neutral switch hitter that can play all over the infield, comes into draft day qualifying at both corners and, depending on your league rules, second base as well. He accepts his walks and rarely strikes out, but a lack of speed and pull-happy approach limit his batting average upside. He's putting up the numbers Chase Headley put up on an annual basis, but it is highly unlikely Solarte will ever put up the career year that Headley had in San Diego before these two players switched places in the league. He's boring, but he's safe.