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.
New York Yankees
|Garrett Jones||1B, OF||152||5||12||17||0||0||5.30%||24.30%||0.215||0.257||0.361|
|Brian McCann||C, 1B*||535||26||68||94||0||0||9.70%||18.10%||0.232||0.32||0.437|
|Alex Rodriguez||DH, 3B*||620||33||83||86||4||0||13.50%||23.40%||0.25||0.356||0.486|
|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.
Mark Teixeira (only took me two tries to spell that!) looked like a young...er...Mark Teixeira in 2015. Despite a fantastic year, he still missed a month with a leg injury. He hit the ball hard, he hit it long, he took lots of walks, and had a great strikeout rate. He will be 36 next season. That, plus his health history are the only things holding him back from being a solid top-10-15 first baseman that will easily top 30 HR again. I would love to say he can repeat this and is a good buy in 2016, his health is just such an issue that it is a big gamble. I believe in his skills (the HR/FB was a little high, I guess), but his body is too big a question mark for me at such an important offensive position. He hasn't played more than 123 games since 2011.
Greg Bird only got a short audition in 2015, but he made the most of it. He showed power not that different from Teixeira. He hit a prodigious 11 HR in just 178 PA (that's roughly a 36 HR pace). His hard hit % shows that his power wasn't fluky. Also, he hit a very high amount of fly balls, which is a good thing when you are a power hitter. He showed good patience as well. Only his strikeout rate is concerning. I expect the power to come down, along with the strikeouts as he adjusts to MLB pitching and I think he would be a very good sleeper 1B if he had the job to himself. As it is, he's got a crowded 1B/DH position and no clear path to regular playing time unless Teixeira gets hurt again, which, while likely, is unpredictable. Keep him in mind, but he will need help to showcase his very good skills. March update: Bird is sadly out for the season, so we will have to get excited about him in 2017 instead.
Chase Headley took a step back offensively in 2015 and looks like he will struggle to even match Trevor Plouffe's production at the position. His numbers look more like Martin Prado. I don't see anything in his numbers indicating he could bounce back in 2016, either. Another season of 11-13 HR with a slugging under 0.400 looks certain.
Brian McCann had another up and down season with lots of cold streaks. He had enough home runs and hot stretches to make up for those and produce an overall good season. He's always been a perfect fit for Yankee Stadium with his extreme pull tendencies and the short porch in right field. He took full advantage of that in 2015, hitting lots of fly balls and hitting them hard. That led to a career high in homers at age 31. He will always be a batting average risk given his pulling tendencies and very slow feet, but his walk rate and potential 25 HR power are very hard to find at the catcher position, so I will continue to buy him in leagues where he falls to me in drafts. He tends to be forgotten about and you can usually get a good value on him. He has had health issues in the past, so that risk should be factored in as well.
A-Rod shocked me by not only being on the field for most of the season but by being fantasy relevant and then some! When he had 3B eligibility, he was right there in the top 10 mix. That is unheard of for a 40-year-old coming off a one year suspension. He will be DH-only in most leagues in 2016 and 41. There's a lot of risk on a guy that has only one top-10 3B season since 2010. If he comes at a discount like he did in last year's drafts (with a drop for his DH-only status) and you like risk, take a chance on that power and walk rate. If you aren't a risk taker, I don't recommend him. We know the power is real, we just don't know if his body can hold up anymore, even at DH. Plus, that position isn't very flexible for fantasy.
Carlos Beltran is yet another old Yankee that refuses to age. He played most of a season and put up his usual stats from the past few years, more or less. He still has 20-23 HR power and can hit for a 0.270+ average with ease. His speed is gone for good, I believe and the power is in a long slow decline. 20 HR, 0 steals, a 0.270 average and 540 PAs are reasonable for 2016. He's another guy that gets overlooked because he has been around so long, but he can be a good 4th OF on your roster or UTIL slot guy and he comes at a big discount.
Chris Young (the outfielder) is now in Boston, but I'll cover him here. He absolutely crushed left handed pitching in 2015 and that's really all he offers. In leagues with daily transactions and deeper benches, he can be useful to slot in when he's facing a lefty. In shallower leagues, he can be ignored. He won't have enough playing time or ability against RHP to be worthwhile in those formats.
Brett Gardner's power took a small step back in 2015 (especially his slugging) and his steals topped out at just 20. However, nothing he did was all that far off from the past three years and he has settled into a nice, predictable pattern. A 0.260/0.340/0.395 type batting line with 13-16 HR and 20 steals is reasonable for 2016.
Speaking of power drops, Jacoby Ellsbury really looks like he's now just a 10 HR hitter. He has just two seasons with 10 or more homers in his career. His speed is down a ton as well, with only 21 steals in 2015, down from 39 in 2014. Steamer is very optimistic and expects him to hit 14 homers with 28 steals and an increase in all three triple slash values in 2016. I agree that his speed could bounce back up since it was such a steep drop from 2014. I don't agree about the power increase and I think 10 HR is the most likely. You should value him mainly for his speed and not rely on the average or power to contribute much.
Didi Gregorious continues to be a deep league SS option that offers just a little bit of value with mediocre power and speed. He finished at #26 on ESPN's player rater for SS. There isn't much upside in his bat and there are much more interesting options at his position worth taking a chance on.
Starlin Castro's full writeup is with the forthcoming Cubs preview since he spent his season there. Basically, he's a huge offensive upgrade over the previous Yankee 2B, but I'm worried about him ever becoming top 10 at his position in fantasy again. There isn't a dominant skill (power, average, speed) that you can count on him providing. His power is now average, his speed has disappeared, his average (once over 0.300 for two straight years) has bounced from bad to pretty good, and there are just so many question marks with him. I don't know what we will see from him in 2016, but he would have to fall pretty far for me to take a chance on a guy this volatile. He will still be SS-eligible, so that boosts his value and is certainly draftable in all leagues, but there is real downside.
Not on the table above but names to keep in mind: Slade Heathcott, Rob Refsnyder. Heathcott is an old prospect that got a little playing time in New York last year. He's got 65-grade speed and at least average power, but he hasn't stayed healthy for a full season in years. There isn't a direct path to starts in this outfield unless there are some injuries, but he's a name to keep in mind for some cheap OF speed. Refsnyder always intrigued me as an offense-first 2B prospect, but with Castro now in town and Refsynder's defense being pretty bad, according to reports, I don't know what they will do with him. He has potential to be an above average hitter, but he will need starts first.
The big hitting prospect to consider is Aaron Judge. He has 60+ grade power and has a good hit tool as well. He plays OF and is probably the future replacement for one of the two aging (Gardner is only 32, but still) corner OF on this roster. He could easily debut in 2016 and could do what Greg Bird did last year, if given enough time. Scouts are saying he has pulled in his power a little recently to focus on making contact and is more of a 25 HR hitter with a 0.275 average than a 0.240 hitter with 35 HR, like he was originally profiled. Either way, he has value in all leagues if he can get regular playing time.
|Chris Capuano||RP, SP*||40.2||7.97||5.03||4.67||1.82||0.362||56.90%||43.10%||11.80%|
|Adam Warren||SP, RP||131.1||3.29||3.59||3.96||1.16||0.278||74.70%||45.20%||8.60%|
|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
Luis Severino has some electric pitches that are exciting to watch and he had some incredible starts in his debut season. He seems very raw with good velocity and pitches, but something is missing: consistency. He was very lucky to have the ERA he did (lots of stranded runners, a very low BABIP, etc.), as his high FIP and xFIP show. Despite the poor FIP and the mediocre xFIP, his excellent ground ball rate, talent, and K%-BB% give me hope for improvement in 2016. He will probably be on many "sleeper" lists this offseason, but I see no reason to disagree.
Despite pitching all year with a partially torn ligament, Masahiro Tanaka once again dominated. His ERA and FIP undersell how good he was. His swinging strike rate, K%-BB%, and WHIP were all in rare company. Provided he can stay healthy in 2016, I see nothing to indicate he can't be an ace once again, potentially outpitching guys like Sonny Gray and Corey Kluber.
Nate Eovaldi has always had two elements of a great pitcher: high velocity and lots of ground balls. He is near the tops of the league in both categories for starters. However, he hasn't shown an ability to get swings and misses or strikeouts in general. Until he puts that together and figures it out, he's just a tease. I'll probably stay away even though his newly added split finger fastball was successful late in the season. Dang, he's such a tease. He is certainly a streamer candidate and deep leagues can certainly make use of him. He's an upside play, but we are running out of time before we just accept that this is who he his.
Michael Pineda was a huge source of frustration in 2015. He looked like a true #1 at many points during the year. A microscopic walk rate, great swinging strike rate, lots of strikeouts in general, and even a good ground ball rate all point to an elite starter. The only problem was that he was still very hittable in spite of all that. For some reason, hitters were able to make good contact when they did make contact. Now, he was unlucky with a high BABIP and a very low strand rate, so regression would likely bring his ERA down a bit. If he can stay healthy (he reached 160 innings in 2015, at least) and pitch just as well in 2016, the ERA should drop like a rock. I think a 3.3 ERA is very achievable, with lots of strikeouts. It's very possible that he is hot on Tanaka's heels for ace of this staff. Injuries will always be an issue with him and are the reason I avoid him, but 2015 gave us a taste of his upside. Give us another year like that with better luck and we will all love you Michael!
There's not much to analyze with Ivan Nova's season. He was pretty awful, but he was returning from Tommy John surgery and was still figuring things out. Not every guy can be Matt Harvey or Jose Fernandez and come back sharp. I have no idea what Ivan Nova will show up this season, but he's still young and talented and has some upside left. He will be very cheap in drafts/free agency and you should keep an eye on him as a potential early season pickup.
It's too bad there aren't any decent pitchers in the Yankee bullpen. I guess we'll just skip this section. What's that? They have who now? All three? Yes, Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Dellin Betances are now all in the same bullpen and are depriving us fantasy owners of what should be three dominant closers and turning them into one dominant closer with two elite setup men. I wish they were all on separate teams. Miller and Betances will still be top picks in leagues with middle relievers (top among setup guys, I mean) and should continue to destroy hitters. They are also both at such a level that they have value in leagues without holds because they can boost strikeouts, knock down your ERA and WHIP, and are extremely valuable in K/9 leagues. Chapman will probably be the closer and you don't need any advice on him, except that his domestic violence situation may result in some missed games.
Jacob Lindgren is still technically a prospect, but has logged time in New York already in the bullpen. He is yet another dominant reliever, although he gets by with movement, not velocity like the other guys. He is stuck behind the Trio above for now, but has been tagged as a "closer of the future." There aren't any top starter prospects set to debut in 2016.
There are lots of options on this deep roster like Severino, Aaron Judge, or Pineda, but I'm going with the young first baseman. This pick assumes that Mark Teixeira gets hurt early in the year and Bird takes the job and runs with it like he did in September. I like his skill set and approach (he needs to cut down on Ks, though) and like him as a sleeper.
March Update: With Bird's season-ending injury, Severino gets my pick here.
Is this one too easy? At 41 years old coming off an improbable season, I still can't trust him. I feel like this will be an injury-plauged, low performance season for him. He has had dud seasons in recent memory and I think this is another one.
Check back soon for the next team preview as we keep moving up the standings. Tschus!