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.
|Aaron Hill||2B, 3B||353||6||32||39||7||2||8.80%||15.30%||0.23||0.295||0.345|
|Cliff Pennington||2B, SS||157||1||15||10||3||0||10.20%||18.50%||0.237||0.314||0.281|
|Chris Owings||2B, SS||552||4||59||43||16||4||4.70%||26.10%||0.227||0.264||0.322|
|Yasmany Tomas||3B, OF||426||9||40||48||5||2||4.00%||25.80%||0.273||0.305||0.401|
|Mark Trumbo||OF, 1B||184||9||23||23||0||0||5.40%||21.20%||0.259||0.299||0.506|
|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.
This roster has seen more changes this offseason than...something that changes a lot and is mildly humorous. Enciarte and Trumbo are gone and the starting pitching has changed even more. Let's look at the hitters that are fantasy relevant.
There is no one on this roster or any NL West or Central roster that is more fantasy relevant than Paul Goldschmidt. He set a career high with an absurd 21 steals, but the rest of his batting line was very much typical for him. I would say the steals will come back to the 10-15 range, with 10 being most likely and everything else stays about the same for this ultra-consistent hitter. He is now in the running for a top-3 pick in drafts.
If I asked you who the #1 outfielder on ESPN's player rater was in 2015, who would you guess? Bryce Harper's an obvious one, as are Mike Trout, Nelson Cruz, and Yoenis Cespedes. All of those are wrong. It was actually Mr. A.J. Pollock. The very rare five-category star, he was the best power/speed hitter in baseball. He even almost matched Goldschmidt in batting average. He's still very much in his prime, but I'm going to bet the under on a repeat of 2015. You should never expect 28-year-olds to maintain the same speed as their younger selves and his power is still a little surprising. He hits a lot of grounders (>50%) and before 2014, didn't demonstrate anything more than average power. Further, he stayed healthy all season and managed to get 673 plate appearances. To keep up his 2015 pace, he would likely have to have that much good health again. I would regress him to a 0.300 average, 15 homers, and 30 steals. That's all still excellent, but not #1 outfielder. That puts him in the top 10 still. I think that is the safest bet for 2016. Steamer is a bigger wet blanket than me, projecting only a 0.282 average with 15 homers and 27 steals.
David Peralta is the last of the surefire fantasy starters in this lineup. I love what we saw in his breakout season last year: he was a balanced batting average, speed, power hitter. Unfortunately, I have to regress him back some as well. That 0.368 BABIP is going to be hard to maintain (he and Pollock could easily maintain 0.320 BABIPs, though) and his 17.7% HR/FB ratio is also unsustainable. He also hits too many ground balls, like Pollock, without the same speed. He will have full playing time in that outfield unless the Dbacks spending spree continues and they get another outfielder. My projection: 0.280/0.340/0.470, with 16 homers and 8-10 steals. That's certainly worthy of an outfield slot on your roster.
Jake Lamb didn't show much of his pedigree in his first full season, but he hit the ball hard, hit a good number of fly balls, and kept the strikeouts at a reasonable level. The power was just missing. I think he will do better this season, but not enough to make him a top-10 third baseman.
Chris Owings has potential and showed decent speed, but his average, OBP, and slugging were awful. He's the best SS-eligible hitter on this roster, in my opinion, but still on the fringes of fantasy relevance. I think he will be better, but not draftable in most leagues.
I've never been a Yasmany Tomas fan, so I'm continuing to avoid him. His batted ball data, BABIP, and swinging strike % tell the story of a hitter with little power upside, who could only get a 0.270 average with a very high BABIP, and who swings and misses way too much.
Those in two catchers leagues in need of home runs should look at Welington Castillo. He should be the primary catcher in 2016 and the home runs have been there for two years now, even if they come with a bad average and OBP (if you look at his entire 2015 stats, not just the Arizona ones above).
I covered Trumbo on the Mariners team preview (his last team) and as for the new Brave Ender ('s Game) Inciarte, well, if he gets full playing time, he could be interesting as a 4th or 5th outfielder on your roster. He's never going to hit for much power, but the speed and batting average seem legit. He got caught stealing a whopping 10 times, but hopefully he can improve on that and get something like 25 steals.
Arizona dumped a lot of their best prospects in all their Atlanta trades. Their best remaining hitting prospects that could be brought up to the MLB roster are Brandon Drury and Peter O'Brien. Both have already played a little in the majors and could take on expanded roles this year. Drury doesn't seem to have much upside and probably won't matter in 2016 for fantasy. O'Brien reminds me of Evan Gattis in that he is a large man with poor plate discipline that can absolutely crush a ball when he doesn't whiff it. He continued to be near the top of the minor league home run leaderboards in 2015. He's very risky and power is his only plus tool, but at least he has one fantasy-relevant thing going for him.
|Enrique Burgos||RP, SP*||27||4.67||2.87||3.33||1.56||0.385||68.90%||34.30%||14.60%|
|Rubby de la Rosa||SP||188.2||4.67||4.81||4.1||1.36||0.288||73.00%||49.10%||11.10%|
|Josh Collmenter||SP, RP||121||3.79||4.65||4.68||1.26||0.282||78.40%||34.50%||6.90%|
|Robbie Ray||SP, RP*||127.2||3.52||3.53||4.03||1.33||0.311||73.80%||43.30%||9.00%|
|Name||SV||HLD||K%||BB%||Soft%||Med%||Hard%||ESPN Player Rater|
|Rubby de la Rosa||0||0||18.50%||7.80%||15.40%||56.40%||28.20%||1.80|
*If they were outside the top 550 pitchers on the player rater, they will show up as #N/A
Patrick Corbin returned from Tommy John surgery and did very well. He picked up right where he left off in 2013. I'm a big fan of his K%-BB%, swinging strike rate, and great FIP and xFIP. I think he's a great bargain because people have kind of forgotten about him. He's a definite "buy" for me. I expect more of the same from him in 2016.
Their rotation after those two new shiny toys and Corbin is pretty iffy. Rubby de la Rosa and Robbie Ray have the best chance of success. Both have assets (de la Rosa's killer whiff rate, Ray's good FIP) that give them hope for improvement. Interestingly, their xFIP values were almost the same (4.1, 4.03). Despite their large gaps in 2015 ERA, I'm actually going to take de la Rosa in this fight. The strikeout potential and better ground ball rate are too enticing. At this level of starter, I'm just taking flyers on guys with high upside. Sometimes these work out and other times you drop them three weeks in, but you should never invest much. Take a few of these guys and hope to hit on one or two. Ray doesn't offer much beyond an average NL starter and should only be streamed.
Archie Bradley is a former top pitching prospect that is still trying to recover his old form. He's had injury issues and performance issues. He still has potential for, say, a #3 starter, but I'm not investing. I'm not going to even mention the rest of the possible starters, because they are all pretty terrible.
This bullpen ended up being Brad Ziegler and rotating cast of other guys. Ziegler is a decent closer and may keep the job all of 2016, he can keep the ERA down with his sick ground ball rate, but don't expect strikeouts from him. He's someone you take if you wait on closers until the very end of the draft. On raw ability, strikeout potential, and the best "stuff", Enrique Burgos should be the setup guy in 2016. However, it doesn't always work that way in bullpens. Regardless, I think he is the best pitcher in this bullpen going into the season. Ignore that ridiculous WHIP and ERA because his BABIP was insanely high.
Braden Shipley and Yoan Lopez are starting pitching prospects that could debut in 2016. It would probably take a few injuries for either to see much time, though, with the two new pitchers in town. Both have #3 starter upside, but aren't there yet. Shipley put up OK numbers in AA and Lopez did even worse in his short time in AA. I don't think either will be fantasy relevant this year, but I thought I would mention them here anyway to keep them on the radar for late in the season.
Look, I know I said above that he wouldn't likely crack the top-10 3B, but despite that, I think he has some serious potential to surprise people. Even being a top-15 3B would be a big step up for him (on ESPN, Evan Longoria was #15). I see pent-up power potential waiting to be unleashed with his very good hard hit% and fly ball%. This breakout thing makes me go out on a limb, so I'm going with the young third baseman here.
As I said above, I expect some decent regression for Pollock in 2016. I still think he will be a great fantasy asset, but I think many will buy him as a perennial top-3 outfielder in fantasy and I'm not going to go there. There are other good outfielders with fewer regression warning signs to take that high, such as Charlie Blackmon. I'll say Blackmon outproduces Pollock.
Check back soon for the next team preview as we keep moving up the standings. Tschus!