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.
|Chris Davis||1B, OF||670||47||100||117||2||3||12.50%||31.00%||0.262||0.361||0.562|
|Steven Pearce||1B, OF||325||15||42||40||1||1||7.10%||21.20%||0.218||0.289||0.422|
|Manny Machado||3B, SS*||713||35||102||86||20||8||9.80%||15.60%||0.286||0.359||0.502|
|Alejandro De Aza||OF||112||3||16||7||2||2||6.30%||30.40%||0.214||0.277||0.359|
|Name||BABIP||LD%||GB%||FB%||HR/FB||SwStr%||Soft%||Med%||Hard%||ESPN Player Rater|
|Alejandro De Aza||0.288||25.40%||39.70%||34.90%||13.60%||11.00%||21.70%||56.50%||21.70%||1.14|
*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.
Chris Davis is a free agent, so we don't know where he will be (yet). Regardless, he once again showed that he has 80-grade power and is one of the most likely hitters to get to 40+ HR in a season. He still struck out 31% of the time, with lots of swings and misses, but his 0.262 average was actually pretty good in those conditions. He walked a lot and his Hard Hit % was incredible. Everything points to this being very legit. While 2014 showed us his downside, 2013 and 2015 showed us his potential. That 2014 is the only reason you can't put him in the upper half of the first round in drafts. He is in the clump of first basemen at the end of the first, beginning of the second round: Anthony Rizzo, Jose Abreu, Joey Votto, and Edwin Encarnacion. If we could expect 2015 again exactly, he could be the clear second-best 1B. I expect something close to 2015, personally, but the homers may be closer to 40 and the average may be closer to 0.250, in spite of that, he will still be very valuable.
Steve Pearce joins Chris Davis in free agent land. He had an awful 2015. I expected drop off from 2014, but this is ridiculous. This was just as sudden as his rise at the age of 31. If he ends up in a place with a starting job (1B or OF), I think he is a decent buy-low. He was victimized by a very low BABIP. The fly ball % was great for a power hitter, the HR/FB ratio was good, the strikeouts were very reasonable, and he hit 15 homers in just 325 PA. 2014 is his upside, so don't expect much more than that, but he is better than what we saw this year. My projection? 0.260/0.330/0.450 with 23 HR. That's a decent corner infielder in most leagues and very useful in deeper leagues. If he ends up back in Baltimore or another hitter's park, that will certainly help.
Adam Jones remains one of the most consistent performers in fantasy baseball. He always hits between 25-30 HR, 0.280/0.310/0.470, with good R and RBI totals hitting in the middle of the lineup. Although he is now 30, that's not old enough to see a major skills decline. Since speed isn't a big part of his game anymore, his other skills should stay pretty stable. He's athletic and isn't the prototypical big slugger (they are prone to fast aging and decline). Another year of stable production should be expected.
Matt Wieters missed much of the season recovering from injury, but was able to get half a season in. He performed pretty close to his usual norms. I'm not a big fan of his usual production because his decent (~20-23 HR) power is damaged by his poor average and OBP. Let's go with (assuming full health for the 30-year-old), 20 HR, 0.240/0.310/0.420. He might also be pushed for playing time by Caleb Joseph, who actually played decently, but isn't really relevant for us.
Jimmy Paredes was basically the DH this year and didn't really hit well enough to be useful in any league outside of AL-only, with only DH eligibility. He has no plate discipline, only average power, and BABIP'd his way to a 0.275 average.
Jonathon Schoop appears to be allergic to walks. He makes Adam Jones look like Joey Votto. When he does hit the ball, it goes. He was on a 30-HR pace and had a nice 0.482 slugging percentage from the middle infield. His swinging strike % was the second worst on the team, only behind Paredes, which is like being behind only Jay Cutler in interceptions thrown. Hold on, apparently Cutler has only 7 INTs this year and the "leader" is...wait for it...Peyton Manning! Anyway, Schoop's batting average is a lock to fall with his already high K% and his swinging strike %. He's a risky 2B option, but one of the best sources of cheap power at the position.
Manny Machado is excellent. Do I need to write more? When he is healthy, he is a mid-first rounder in every draft. He has true 5-category production and you could make a case for him at number 4 if you don't want to take Kershaw there. He's still only 23! years old and I don't see any reason not to expect at least a 2015 season, if not even better.
Although he wasn't very good when he was in Baltimore, Gerardo Parra actually had a very good season. He's on the free agent market, so his destination and new role are unknown. He will probably be just a part-timer and his power should fall back into career norms again, also dropping his average a little. That makes him less valuable and he will probably be a deep league fill-in.
Christian Walker is the only hitting prospect of note. He played a little at the MLB level in 2015, but should see more time this year. He's an average-to-above average first baseman, but nothing too special. Further, he will have to share 1B with some combination of Steve Pearce (if he returns) and Mark Trumbo (newly acquired). That will limit any upside he has.
|Jason Garcia||RP, SP*||29.2||4.25||4.89||5.16||1.42||0.25||62.80%||44.00%||8.90%|
|Kevin Gausman||SP, RP||112.1||4.25||4.1||3.8||1.23||0.288||72.30%||44.70%||10.90%|
|Bud Norris||SP, RP||66.1||7.06||5.64||4.65||1.64||0.329||59.50%||40.40%||8.50%|
|Mike Wright||SP, RP*||44.2||6.04||6.13||5.7||1.57||0.295||72.10%||37.70%||7.30%|
|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
The Orioles are in desperate need of some pitching help. This rotation is just awful. Their most stable presence, Wei-Yin Chen is probably gone as a free agent. Chen is one of those boring starters thats consistent, but never dominant, ownable in some leagues, but just a streamer in most. He walks that fine line between keeping on the roster and just streaming. He is probably just good enough to keep on your roster to fill out innings and is especially valuable in quality start leagues. He doesn't excel at any one thing and he was lucky to have an ERA at 3.34 in 2015. I'd expect something more like 3.7 or 3.8.
Kevin Gausman is the most interesting of those that will return. He's still very young and shows glimpses of great potential. His 10.9% SwStr% is a great example, or his 16% K%-BB% (12.3% is average). His FIP, ERA, and ground ball rate look bad, though. Which one is the real Gausman? We should find out in 2016, when he will hopefully get a full year's work in the rotation for the first time. If you like to gamble on young arms that were former top prospects, he's definitely worth a shot. Taijuan Walker and Gausman are in similar situations: needing to prove that their prospect hype was legitimate with a step forward in 2016. Gausman has more upside than any Oriole pitcher by a wide margin.
That's it for the starters. As of right now, none of the rest of the rotation is fantasy relevant. In the bullpen, Darren O'Day is coming back. He took a step forward again in 2015 and looks like a solid setup man and holds guy. I don't fear much regression for him. Zach Britton continues to move up the top closers lists by adding strikeouts to his insane ground ball rates. When you lead baseball in ground ball rate (by 7%!) and are 12th in K%, you are simply unhittable. He deserves to be in the top-5 closer discussion with Chapman, Kimbrel, Davis, Jansen, and Miller. If you can get him in drafts cheaper than those five guys, I would go for it.
Brad Brach is the best of the middle relievers. He and O'Day will duke it out for holds. He's got good strikeout stuff but walks too many. His FIP and xFIP show that he isn't on the same level as the other two guys I mentioned. But many teams would love to have a third-best reliever like him. If there are injuries, he's a name to look at if he's needed at setup or closer.
The only pitching "prospect" of note is Dylan Bundy. He's been around so long it doesn't feel like he should be rookie eligible, but he is. Injuries have derailed the once "best pitching prospect in baseball" and he is now just a guy with a #2-3 starter ceiling. If he can stay healthy this year for once, he could rack up some MLB innings and we will find out if he still has some talent. He's a huge risk and his velocity is down from his younger, pre-Tommy John days, but he could surprise. No one knows what to expect from a healthy Bundy at this point.
Call me crazy, but I think he takes that big step this year. He's got velocity, swing-and-miss stuff, good control, and he's still young. I love investing in cheap pitchers on draft day and betting on upside to fill out my rotation. Make sure you get some reliable guys, too, but young guys that have yet to reach their potential are a fun way to find sleepers. I think he makes some adjustments and becomes ownable in all leagues this year.
While the power is real, so is the poor plate discipline. The upside is a 2B-eligible player with 30 homers, but I think the very possible downside is a part-time player hitting 0.210 with 13 HR and struggling to keep his spot in the lineup. That's too much risk for me, even with the power. He's a very big wild card and my money's on him taking a step back.
Check back soon for the next team preview as we keep moving up the standings. Tschus!