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.
|Adam Rosales||1B, 2B, 3B||125||3||14||7||4||4||8.00%||24.00%||0.228||0.296||0.342|
|Joey Gallo||3B, OF||123||6||16||14||3||0||12.20%||46.30%||0.204||0.301||0.417|
|Delino Deshields Jr.||OF, 2B*||492||2||83||37||25||8||10.80%||20.50%||0.261||0.344||0.374|
|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.
Mitch Moreland had one of his best seasons in 2015. He hit for good power, average, and slugging, and racked up a good number of RBI. He will be 31 next season, so I don't expect significant power decline. He could very easily hit 23 HR again, but I expect his average to drop a little. This was a career high for him and his BABIP has often been below 0.300 in his career, so the 0.317 last year was a little unusual. I could see his triple slash line dropping to 0.255/0.310/0.450. He will still have opportunities for RBI hitting 5th in the lineup.
Rougned Odor (not to be confused with his little brother, Rougned Odor) started slow in 2015 but picked it up later on. He finished with an above average season for a second baseman (especially with 16 HR in only 470 PA). He is still so young (22) that there is lots of growth left in there. Steamer sees some of that growth by projecting increases in HR, average, OBP, runs, RBI, and steals in 2016. I agree. He should see an increase in all categories and hopefully have a full season in MLB with no trips down to AAA. He finished at #23 among 2B on ESPN's player rater, and he should demolish that rank in 2016. He has the potential to break into the top 10 this year. There is some opportunity for value here if you can get him as the 12th, 13th, or later second baseman off the board.
Adrian Beltre once again held down the hot corner. Despite being limited by a thumb injury for much of the season, he fought through it and still put up 18 HR and 619 PAs, which is almost a full season. He racked up lots of R and RBI and still had a very good triple slash line, even if it was down from his usual. He had surgery to fix his thumb in the offseason and should be good to go in the spring. He will be 37, but I fully expect a bounceback season with an average around 0.300, 20+ HR, and lots of R and RBI hitting third in that lineup. It is easy to write someone off because they are old coming off a slightly down season, but I'm betting on this guy in redrafts. Despite the thumb, he was #12 on ESPN's player rater for 3B and I would put him at 6 or 7 in 2016.
Beltre's thumb issue forced an early call up for top prospect Joey Gallo. He was not expected to be ready in 2015 and it showed. His immense power and great walk rate translated to the majors, but his strikeout rate ballooned to 46%!!! That was driven by an insane 22.6% swinging strike rate. He whiffed on strikes almost one out of every four times! It would not be a surprise to see him back in AAA to start the season. He needs to improve that discipline if he is going to have a regular job in the majors. He had a 0.204 average despite a 0.356 BABIP! That's tough to pull off. We are all excited about this
kid large man's power, but if doesn't learn better plate discipline, he will be a poor man's Chris Carter. Don't pay too high a price for a guy that won't be starting in the majors to start the year and that has high bust potential. He is a huge risk/reward guy with 40 HR power and the downside of losing his job.
Robinson Chirinos showed surprising power last season with 10 HR in only 273 PA. He had 13 in 338 PA in 2014, too. He's shown good power in limited time, but we've never seen a full season from him because he's always in a time share at C. He is listed as the starting catcher for 2016, so maybe he will get more playing time. I like the power and walk rate. After the top few, catchers are such an unpredictable mess, so I often wait and pick from the scraps, hoping one will turn into a top 10 option. Last year, I went with Stephen Vogt and it mostly worked. I don't think Chirinos is as good as Vogt overall, but he's a dirt cheap flyer catcher option for deep leagues. The playing time is the biggest issue. If he can get four starts per week, he might hit 15-17 HR, albeit with a 0.230 average and hopefully, a 0.430 slugging.
Prince Fielder jumped back up to his usual greatness (albeit with less power) in 2015. His injury-plagued 2014 is all behind him and his average bounced back over 0.300 to go with nearly 100 RBI. The big concerns for 2016 are that his power seems to be noticeably lower after his back injury (his slugging and HR were both at or near career lows the last two years). I think he will continue to hit for a high average and put up excellent OBP numbers. This will in turn, fuel good run totals and great RBI totals batting fourth. However, we need to lower our power expectations to something in the low 20s, with a 0.460-0.470 slugging. He finished at #10 on ESPN's player rater for 1B, so he should stay roughly in that range in 2016, as I don't expect significant improvement in any area. Further, it's going to be hard to top the second best batting average of his career, so I think he could see a drop to 0.290. Keep in mind he is DH-only in most leagues now.
Shin-Soo Choo was one of my favorite forgotten veterans going into 2015 and he started off looking awful, like he did in 2014, but then he turned it on and finished with a pretty good season. His BABIP returned to his career norm (he has always had high BABIPs), he stayed healthy, his power returned, and he maintained his good walk rate. Only his speed is still absent. That's not going to come back, but a 20 HR hitter with a very good OBP, a 0.270 average, and lots of runs scored is still valuable. He is 33, but I don't see his skills aging poorly. He increased his power by pulling the ball more and he had a good hard hit %, so the power hasn't declined. He hits very few pop-ups, so that will keep his average up.
The former rule 5 draft pick, Delino Deshields, picked up off the scrap heap before 2015, did very well with Texas. His 2B eligibility boosted his value in fantasy leagues greatly. He offered speed, a good OBP, decent average, and lots of runs scored. He will only be OF eligible in most leagues in 2016, which drops his value some, and he has no power. However, he should be the everyday centerfielder for this team and could rack up 30 steals. With speed being so rare right now, the power hit you take might be worth it for those precious steals. He doesn't hurt you in most categories and provides a boost in at least two, so he's a worthy OF on your fantasy roster. He finished at #42 on ESPN's OF player rater, but I think a top 35 ranking is reasonable for 2016.
Josh Hamilton is technically still listed as the starting LF for this team, but I'm not one who believes there is much left in the tank. He will be pushed for playing time by several young prospects/potential stars, so I just don't see him being worth rostering in fantasy.
Leonys Martin was shipped off to Seattle this offseason and will be their starting CF. He looked awful in 2015 after showing promise the year before. He has the potential (as shown in 2013 and 2014) to look a lot like Deshields and rack up runs scored with 30+ steals. He doesn't have the walk rate of Deshields and showed even less power than him in 2015, but the speed could easily return. I think he will hurt your average more than Deshields will and they have about the same speed upside (30 steals or so). Also, Martin's OBP will definitely be worse. If you are very desperate for steals, you could check Martin out, but otherwise, there are safer speed guys out there.
Speaking of guys with only speed to offer and no power, I present Elvis Andrus. He's only relevant for two reasons: he plays shortstop and he consistently puts up 25 steals or more. Unlike Martin, his average won't hurt you, but it won't be a huge boost either. He hits near the bottom of the order, so his counting stats are reduced. Despite all of that, guess where he ended up on ESPN's SS player rater? If you guessed, like I did, that he would be in the 10-15 range, you are way off. He was #3. Number 3. That's how valuable steals are right now in standard 5 x 5 leagues. Because of that, he's a safe pick that won't excite you but he gets the job done. He should be a top 10 SS once again, but maybe not #3.
This team has a deep farm system and I will only touch on their top two hitting prospects (I already covered Gallo, so he's not included) here. First, Nomar Mazara is the #2 outfield prospect in baseball, according to mlb.com. He provides near plus-plus power, a good average, and good plate discipline and could easily take Josh Hamilton's job in LF very early this year. He looks like the type of hitter that can easily transition to the majors. I expect him to be drafted in many redraft leagues, as well he should be.
Lewis Brinson is a toolsy OF prospect that is more raw than Mazara. He offers much more speed, however, and almost equivalent power. His scouting reports remind me of George Springer, with 30/30 seasons being his upside. He is projected to be in Arlington in 2017 since he needs to cut down on his strikeouts in AAA, but he could be up this season. He could be a future Carlos Gomez, but his strikeouts could hold him back. We shall see what happens with this talented youngster. He's definitely riskier than Mazara for fantasy leagues.
|Chi Chi Gonzalez||SP||67||3.9||4.97||5.26||1.21||0.206||67.50%||48.60%||6.80%|
|Nick Martinez||SP, RP||125||3.96||4.98||4.99||1.45||0.293||74.60%||42.30%||7.40%|
|Martin Perez||SP, RP*||78.2||4.46||3.4||3.99||1.42||0.324||62.80%||59.90%||7.50%|
|Name||SV||HLD||K%||BB%||Soft%||Med%||Hard%||ESPN Player Rater|
|Chi Chi Gonzalez||0||0||10.70%||11.40%||15.80%||55.80%||28.40%||-0.08|
*If they were outside the top 550 pitchers on the player rater, they will show up as #N/A
Cole Hamels transitioned to the American League and continued to pitch well. The ERA isn't terrific, but the swinging strike rate, GB%, and K%-BB% are all well above average or elite. That bodes well for his 2016 performance. I still like him as a good #2 starter and, while he will never be as good in the AL Central as he was in the awful NL East, he shouldn't be dismissed either. He should continue to be a top 25 pitcher in fantasy.
Yu Darvish missed the entire season as another victim of Tommy John. Seeing how dominant pitchers like Jose Fernandez and Matt Harvey did after their surgeries gives me hope for Darvish. Throw Adam Wainwright and Jordan Zimmermann on that list too. I think Darvish will be down from his peak, of course, but he should still be a top 20 pitcher when it is all said and done. It will be interesting to see how he compares to Felix Hernandez at the end of the season. Control is the last thing to come back after surgery, so I expect some issues for Darvish early in the season. Hopefully, this is a rare chance for you to grab a top starter at a discount. He won't come at a cheap price next year.
I'm not going to dig into any of the other starters here. None of them showed enough for me to consider them in my drafts. Deep leaguers can look at the young guys like Perez and Chi Chi Gonzalez and bet on them improving, but that's about it.
The bullpen was led by one of my favorite breakout picks of 2015, Shawn Tolleson. He looked like a shutdown closer for much of the season before fading down the stretch. Despite excellent performances from Sam Dyson and Keone Kela behind him, I believe Tolleson will have this job all year. However, you should keep both Dyson and Kela on your radar because they both showed great stuff and their strikeout rates, whiff rates, ground ball rates, ERAs, and FIPs put them in a very small group of middle relievers. I love them in holds leagues and they should be great for ratios and strikeouts. If Tolleson struggles like he did at the end of 2015, Dyson or Kela should have no trouble stepping in.
Texas' top pitching prospects, like Dillon Tate and Luis Ortiz, aren't really close enough to the majors to discuss here. Neither one is expected to debut in 2016.
He is so young that it makes me nervous picking him, but we've seen lately with Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Joc Pederson, and others that young players can make an impact for their real clubs and in fantasy. He just has such good balance across the board and isn't reliant on one skill for his value and he doesn't have huge glaring weaknesses. He's one of just a few draftable prospects in redraft leagues this year. Honorable mention goes to Odor, Dyson, Darvish, and Chirinos for my belief that all of them should outplay expectations.
Inevitably, someone in my leagues will draft him based on his former glory and name recognition and he will disappoint and be dropped in May. Joey Gallo gets honorable mention for his huge risk/reward nature and sky-high strikeout rate.
Check back soon for the next team preview as we keep moving up the standings. Tschus!