Welcome to my 2016 fantasy team previews. I will be breaking down 2016 prospects for the relevant fantasy players on all 30 teams, one team at a time. Check back throughout the offseason for new team previews. You can catch up on old ones in my archive (here) or in the section (here). Because there are 30 teams to cover in limited time, I have to get started now, even though there will certainly be some trades that move players around and open up larger roles for existing players. Also, free agents and guys that moved midseason will be analyzed with one of the teams they played for, even though they likely (or definitely) won't be on that team in 2016 so they don't get missed. Hopefully you can bear with me on those issues and remember that these were written before those trades occurred.
I am starting at the bottom of the standings and working my way up. In each team preview, I will attempt to follow the same layout. First, there will be two tables of stats for hitters (showing stats acquired while playing for this team; traded players will be missing some stats) followed by quick analysis of the most fantasy relevant of those hitters (relevance at my discretion). After that, two tables for the pitching stats and some pitcher analysis. I will then present one breakout player (aka sleeper) and one breakdown player (or bust, if you prefer) for the team. Got it? Ok, let's get started.
|Ben Paulsen||1B, OF*||354||11||42||49||1||2||6.50%||26.00%||0.277||0.326||0.462|
|Wilin Rosario||C*, 1B||242||6||22||29||2||1||3.30%||23.10%||0.268||0.295||0.416|
|Rafael Ynoa||2B*, 3B*, OF||131||0||14||9||1||0||2.30%||21.40%||0.26||0.277||0.339|
|Daniel Descalso||2B*, SS||209||5||22||22||1||2||9.60%||21.50%||0.205||0.283||0.324|
|Name||BABIP||LD%||GB%||FB%||HR/FB||SwStr%||Soft%||Med%||Hard%||ESPN Player Rater|
*Will lose this eligibility in 2016
**The ESPN player rater is based on a player's standard 5 x 5 category performance relative to average. A score of 0 is replacement level and negative values mean the player is actually hurting your team. Values in the 1-2 range generally are for your worst starting player, unless you are unlucky. There are no positional adjustments, though, so shortstops and catchers will often have very low scores relative to everyone else. It is normalized so that guys with little playing time can be compared to guys that played all year.
NOLAN ARENADO. That's about all that needs to be said about him. First round pick next year, beast. Carlos Gonzalez was healthy for a full year, basically, and his power exploded all over Denver. He is a good trade candidate since he could get injured again easily, so he might be on a different team. The power will play well in any park, but is obviously best in Colorado. His injury risk keeps him a second round or third round pick. If I'm going to nit pick, he hit too many grounders (which means there is power down side), had a high whiff rate, and had a very high HR/FB (potentially lucky). I'm going to project 30 HR for him in 2016 for health reasons and due to the things I just listed.
Corey Dickerson will hopefully be fully healed from his various injuries, especially his plantar fasciitis. When healthy, he looks like a no-doubt top 15 outfielder. Even battling injuries, he hit well in 2015. Justin Morneau is a free agent, but still has average power and a great batting average. His 0.350 BABIP is a bit high for a slow 34-year-old, so expect the average to drop to 0.280 or so. If he has a starting job, he could be a good corner infield option and top 25 first baseman.
Charlie Blackmon put up another excellent season. His power/speed combo is legit. I expect the average to fall with a drop in his very high 24% line drive rate (line drive rate is not consistent from year to year for most hitters). The homers and steals should be about the same.
Tulo is in Canada now, but he had a surprisingly healthy (until September) season with production that wasn't his usual excellence. His second half was especially bad. I think his health and adjustments to the AL played a role in his poor play. He is still a top 3 SS in fantasy when healthy, so I expect a 20 HR season with a 0.280 average in 2016.
Don't be fooled by Nick Hundley's sweet numbers. He's not a 0.356 BABIP hitter. Once that comes down to earth, he will be back to just an average catcher with 12 HR and a 0.250 average. Ben Paulsen is intriguing as the new first baseman. He showed some decent power and average, but was also helped by a high 0.351 BABIP. Further, his 15% whiff rate is on par with hitters that hit 0.220, so I think the average will fall. The power is legit, but the average is not. I think 1B is too deep to use him.
Everything came together perfectly for DJ LeMahieu this year. He busted out a career-high 23 steals and hit over 0.300. However, his power is still bad (6 HR, 0.388 slugging), and his BABIP was high, even compared to his high career average near 0.330. I like Steamer's projection for 2016: 0.287/0.338/0.383 with 6 HR and 18 steals. That's a clear drop from 2015, but still a top 15 second baseman, maybe even top 10 again, but not the top 3 guy he was.
Wilin Rosario is not useful anymore at all. Jose Reyes had problems on and off the field in 2015. On the field, he put up his lowest slugging percentage since 2004, his lowest average since 2005, lowest homer total since 2011, and lowest walk rate and OBP since 2005. Those are not good. He did swipe 24 bases, but that's about all he contributed to owners. I like that he is in Colorado now, but at this point in his career it will take more than that to recoup his value. Expect 20-25 steals with a 0.285 average and 9-10 HR. Those are slight improvements over 2015, but not jumps back to his glory days. At the very shallow SS position, he's still draftable and likely top 10, but he's still injury-prone with little power, so keep expectations low for a vintage season.
Colorado's farm system is in better shape than in previous years. However, many of their top guys will be arriving in 2017 or later. As far as guys likely to make an impact in 2016 on the hitting side, Trevor Story is the only one I could find. Story is a SS/2B who had a very good year in AAA last year. He doesn't have more than average raw power, but his high bat speed helps him get the most out of his swing. If Reyes or LeMahieu get traded, Story would likely step into a full time job immediately. His scouting grades put him as just an average player, but his 20 HR last year in AA and AAA indicate pretty good power for a middle infielder. He doesn't walk enough and strikes out a little too much, but there is some upside if you take a late chance on him. David Dahl is a long shot to be up in 2016 and so is Raimel Tapia, so I wouldn't worry about them.
|Jorge de la Rosa||SP||149||4.17||4.19||3.84||1.36||0.288||72.90%||52.00%||11.70%|
|David Hale||RP, SP||78.1||6.09||4.74||4.02||1.47||0.325||62.60%||46.90%||11.10%|
|Name||SV||HLD||K%||BB%||Soft%||Med%||Hard%||ESPN Player Rater|
|Jorge de la Rosa||0||0||21.10%||10.20%||17.60%||49.50%||32.90%||1.49|
*If they were outside the top 550 pitchers on the player rater, they will show up as #N/A
Oof. That is some rough pitching. Don't be fooled by the length of the list, there isn't much to work with. The starting rotation has three guys that I would even use as streamers. Jorge De La Rosa, Jonathan Gray, and Chad Bettis at least all had xFIP values below 4, which is a start. Gray has the most upside given his top prospect pedigree and great fastball. He would be my pick to be the best of the group in 2017 and beyond, but maybe not 2016. Obviously, a 1.6 WHIP is not going to cut it, but the strikeouts and whiffs are showing up and he's still very young.
De La Rosa has been consistently average for several years. However, he is definitely above average on the road (3.26 ERA in 2015), so he can be useful as a streamer in those cases. If you are going to stream him, try to stick to teams with lots of lefties because he has some big platoon splits and is an excellent (FIP, xFIP below 3) pitcher against lefties.
Chad Bettis had a good year (for a Rockies starter) last year and kept it up for 115 innings. However, he needs to get that WHIP down (1.41, yikes!) and give up fewer hard hits (31.4% is too high). He's got good ground ball rates and above average swing-and-miss rates. There are some pieces here for at least an average innings eater, but I don't see much upside beyond that. He actually pitched better (FIP, xFIP, etc.) at home than on the road, with worse results (ERA) at home.
I was a fan of Eddie Butler as a prospect, but he has struggled to strike batters out for two years now. At first, it seemed like it was just because the team asked him to focus on ground balls and only use certain pitches for development, but we have enough MLB evidence now to say that he might just not be that good.
Like the rotation, the bullpen was a mess in 2015. Adam Ottavino was poised to be a dominant closer all year before he got hit with the dreaded Tommy John epidemic. When he gets back to full health (perhaps as early as May, since relievers recover more quickly than starters from TJ surgery), I expect him to once again be the best in this 'pen.
I don't like Axford or the very old Betancourt, so that really just leaves my man Justin Miller. I can't really say he's my man since I just started appreciating his talent while writing this, but whatever. Look at his line compared to all the other Rockies pitchers. He leads the team in FIP, xFIP, K%, K%-BB%, and WHIP. It looks like his improvement from 2014 was largely driven by a 2 MPH increase in his fastball, which is a big jump. Boone Logan has an issue with walks, but that sweet, sweet SwStr% is enticing and he's a name to keep in mind.
Just like with the hitters, there isn't much to say about the pitching prospects. Since I am including Gray above, that doesn't leave any starters that are projected by MLB.com to debut in 2017. Jeff Hoffman, Kyle Freeland, and Miguel Castro are all interesting prospects on the mound, but Freeland is the one most likely to pitch in Denver in 2016 as a starter (and it's not likely due to bone chip removal) and Castro would only pitch as a reliever. Castro has a high ceiling as a closer, given his MLB experience as a closer at age 20, but the Rockies may want him to be a starter long term.
Like I did with the A's, I'm betting on a prospect on this team to be the breakout star. I considered Justin Miller, but relievers, man, they are so unpredictable. This also assumes that either 2B or SS opens up through trades so that he gets full playing time. I think his average may struggle as he adapts to the big leagues, but his power should play well in Colorado. This is a long shot, but most of the breakout candidates already had theirs (CarGo, Dickerson, LeMahieu, Blackmon, and Arenado), so it's the best one left.
His 2015 season was likely his peak. I see nothing but regression in 2016. He will still have value, but don't expect a top-3 2B finish, as I said up above. This was one of those ideal seasons where everything comes together. The steals, average, and OBP will all likely drop.
Check back soon for the next team preview as we keep moving up the standings. Tschus!