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.
|Wil Myers||OF, 1B||253||8||40||29||5||2||10.70%||21.70%||0.253||0.336||0.427|
|Yangervis Solarte||3B, 2B*, 1B||571||14||63||63||1||0||6.00%||9.80%||0.27||0.32||0.428|
|Cory Spangenberg||2B, 3B*||345||4||38||21||9||4||8.10%||21.70%||0.271||0.333||0.399|
|Derek Norris||C, 1B*||557||14||65||62||4||1||6.30%||23.50%||0.25||0.305||0.404|
|Jedd Gyorko||2B, SS||458||16||34||57||0||1||5.90%||23.40%||0.247||0.297||0.397|
|Alexi Amarista||2B*, 3B*, SS, OF*||357||3||28||30||5||1||6.70%||15.40%||0.204||0.257||0.287|
|Name||BABIP||LD%||GB%||FB%||HR/FB||SwStr%||Soft%||Med%||Hard%||ESPN Player Rater|
|Melvin Upton Jr.||0.348||24.30%||41.40%||34.30%||10.40%||15.20%||21.40%||46.20%||32.40%||-0.48|
*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.
Justin Upton was his usual self: lots of streaks of excellence followed by streaks of awfulness, ending up as a top-20 outfielder (21st in ESPN, technically). His skills haven't improved or declined much in recent years. He is a pretty established commodity and you can count on him for 25+ HR, 15-20 steals, a 0.250-0.260 average, a good OBP and good counting stats batting cleanup. As a free agent, he could go anywhere and if he ends up in a hitter's park, that could give a slight boost in value.
Other than the fact that he stayed healthy all season, there wasn't anything unusual about Matt Kemp's season, either. He put up numbers you would expect. He looked very bad for the first few months, but picked it up late in the season to finish 22nd on ESPN among outfielders, right behind JUpton. Steamer and I both project a nearly identical 2016 for him, with a drop in steals to about 8-10, but that's about it. He has 23+ HR in every healthy season since 2008, so I don't expect him to hit fewer than 22-24 HR. Because he bats third a lot, the R and RBI opportunities are great and really give him a boost.
Hopefully Wil Myers will be healthy in 2016 so we can see a full season out of him in San Diego. I think the prospect hype was way too high on him a few years ago, but he can still have value. I would put his ceiling somewhere around Matt Kemp's 2014 season, but Matt Kemp's 2015 season is much more likely. He could be a perennial 20 HR/10 SB guy with good counting stats. That's a top 30 OF, I would say.
Melvin "BJ" Upton Jr had a surprisingly above average season in a small sample. I'm not buying a return to his glory days. He still strikes out too much, relied on a very high BABIP (near his career high), and hits an insane amount of infield flies (20%!). Sure, he still steals some bases and can hit a few homers, but the average is going to be very bad.
I'm not interested in the boring, low-upside Yonder Alonso or the small-sample-size wonder Brett Wallace at first base. Wallace had a 0.400 BABIP and an 18% whiff rate. I expect the BABIP to drop a lot and the whiff rate to stay, leaving him Melvin Upton without the speed and a little more power. That's not great at 1B.
Cory Spangenberg isn't really worth your attention, either. I've never been a Will Middlebrooks fan, so you can ignore him. Derek Norris is a top-10 catcher with little upside, but should be solid again next year. He doesn't hurt you and plays regularly, so that's a decent catcher that can be picked up later in drafts.
Solarte is a decent 3B or corner infield option in NL-only or deep leagues. He's not exciting and has only average power with no speed, but is kind of an all-around player that provides average production in several categories and plays everyday.
Gyorko is a guy that teases us with his excellent power in the middle infield (now with SS eligibility!), but kills us with his slumps and terrible average. He has legitimate 20-25 HR power, but I don't see upside in his average, so I think this is what he is at this point. He's a slow 27-year-old that relies entirely on homers for his value. If he could re-create his 2013 season (23 HR, 0.249/0.301/0.444), he would be a top-5 SS, but he's had two years to do that and hasn't yet. His chronic lower body issues and slow speed, along with a lack of plate discipline will keep him below that mark. I project he will finish 2016 in the 12-16 range among SS.
There are two hitting prospects to watch. First, there is Hunter Renfroe, the talented outfielder. He is likely to debut this season and has 65-grade power (well above average). He could be a candidate to take Justin Upton's spot at some point. I like his above average speed and 25 HR power. He's in the 70 range of most top 100 lists, so don't invest too much in holding him before his call-up, but he is a good buy for dynasty leagues and could help you late in the season.
Travis Jankowski debuted last year in 34 games, but is still technically a prospect. If you liked what Billy Burns did last year, then you will like this outfielder, too. He offers little else beyond plus-plus speed. I think Burns' 2015 season is the upside for Jankowski. Basically, I would expect a decent average, 30 steals, and no power. And that is not likely in his first full season, more for 2017. However, if you are desperate for steals, Jankowski will be a very cheap source.
|Odrisamer Despaigne||SP, RP||125.2||5.8||4.77||4.37||1.38||0.298||63.40%||50.50%||5.70%|
|Name||SV||HLD||K%||BB%||Soft%||Med%||Hard%||ESPN Player Rater|
*If they were outside the top 550 pitchers on the player rater, they will show up as #N/A
Tyson Ross continues to get away with being just a two-pitch starter and does it pretty well. The WHIP and walk rates are worse than average, but everything else he does is excellent. Someday, all those sliders will hurt his arm and his velocity will decline, leaving him just like Justin Masterson: a fastball/slider pitcher with an average fastball and that leads to a terrible ERA. But, until that happens, he continues to be a top 20 starter. As long as his velocity stays near 93, I think he will be fine.
James Shields had an interesting season. His strikeout rate and whiff rate both bounced up after three straight years of decline, which is very unusual. Despite a surge in strikeouts, his results were terrible. There were two primary causes: a big jump in walk rate and a catastrophic increase in home runs allowed. His 17.6% HR/FB was a career high. Normally, I would write off the spike in homers as a fluke, but it was accompanied by a big 2 mph drop in fastball velocity. He is now in a very dangerous place near 90 mph where homers are much more likely. I think both the strikeout and walk rates will decline and the home run rate will also decline, but not much. That leaves him with something like a 3.7 ERA instead of a 3.91 he had this year. But, that isn't very good in the NL and in San Diego, so he's just a back of the rotation innings-eater in fantasy with little upside.
I've been a big Ian Kennedy fan for two years now, ever since his velocity surged from 89 to 91-92 mph, but this season was a disaster. Just like Shields, he was killed by homers. His walk, strikeout, and whiff rates were all excellent, but it wasn't enough to overcome all the round-trippers he gives up as a flyball pitcher. As much as I've loved to use him as a cheap rotation filler in fantasy with good strikeouts, I think that time is over. He is giving up way too much hard contact and too many fly balls at just an OK velocity. We also don't know where he is going to end up yet. If he ends up in an extreme pitcher's park that's good for fly balls like Kansas City, Seattle, or Miami, I might buy low and see what happens, otherwise I'm out.
Andrew Cashner had another disappointing year. He has good velocity, but doesn't get enough strikeouts.The results and whiff rates don't line up with his other traits: high velocity and high groundball rates. He has a sky-high WHIP (1.44). He was unlucky with a high BABIP and low LOB%, so he should see those improve in 2016. But, even that would likely just bring his ERA down to the 3.6-3.8 range, hardly great. I don't think the breakout is coming.
Let's move on to the bullpen. Joaquin Benoit is now in Seattle, but continues to defy aging. He continues to have good swing-and-miss stuff, but his walk rate has crept up. His xFIP is getting too high, though. He is penciled in to be the closer for the Mariners as of December 2, but that could change. He's not as good as he used to be, but still useful.
Craig Kimbrel is now the closer with the Red Sox after being traded. Despite declines in ERA, FIP, and xFIP in 2015, he was still an elite closer. I don't see any reason not to have him as a top 3 closer next year. He is still young, averages 97 mph with his fastball, has an elite strikeout rate, and had a 2.21 SIERA in 2015. That is great.
With Kimbrel and Benoit gone, the closer and setup jobs in San Diego are up for grabs. My favorite for the closer would be Shawn Kelley, who has the best remaining whiff rate, velocity, and xFIP, but he is a free agent and may not be back (h/t to MIK57 for pointing this out). I think Brandon Maurer is the setup man/closer with his stuff being worse than Kelley but better than everyone else. Kelley could be a top-15 closer next year if he wins the job and re-signs with San Diego. He might be under the radar and might be a great cheap option. He did have forearm soreness late in the year, but I'm not concerned yet.
Colin Rea (who debuted in 2015) is the only pitching prospect left in the Padres system that is worth mentioning for 2016. He doesn't have a high ceiling and doesn't strike anyone out, but his good command and control (according to scouting reports) should help him stay in the rotation. I don't think he is going to matter in anything but NL-only leagues, though, due to his low upside.
As I mentioned just two paragraphs ago, I think this is a potential closer somewhere (for whoever signs him) and, while he can't match Kimbrel's performance, he will be better than all the closers he is drafted near in fantasy drafts. It's hard to find someone that can deliver strikeouts and a sub-3 ERA late in drafts. Again, this is dependent on him signing with a team that needs a closer, such as the Padres!
Don't be fooled by his recent resurgence. This is the same guy that was one of the worst 20 hitters in all of baseball in 2014. Despite the legitimate power, the average, poor plate discipline, and awful speed make him more likely to be benched for most the season than to hit 25 HR.
Check back soon for the next team preview as we keep moving up the standings. Tschus!