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.
|Kelly Johnson||1B, 2B, 3B*, OF||138||5||18||13||1||0||7.20%||27.50%||0.25||0.304||0.414|
|Daniel Murphy||2B, 3B, 1B*||538||14||56||73||2||2||5.80%||7.10%||0.281||0.322||0.449|
|Wilmer Flores||2B, SS||510||16||55||59||0||1||3.70%||12.40%||0.263||0.295||0.408|
|Eric Campbell||3B, OF*||206||3||28||19||5||3||12.60%||18.00%||0.197||0.312||0.295|
|Michael Cuddyer||OF, 1B*||408||10||44||41||2||0||5.90%||21.60%||0.259||0.309||0.391|
|Ruben Tejada||SS, 2B*, 3B*||407||3||36||28||2||1||9.30%||17.20%||0.261||0.338||0.35|
|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.
Lucas Duda showed that his power is legit and he could perform well for an entire season two years in a row. He looks like a consistent, solid first baseman that is reliable and great. He is a near lock for about 30 HR, with good RBI totals to match. His plate discipline looks very good and he's still young enough (30) that decline shouldn't be an issue yet. I think he can easily match his 2015 numbers, with a little boost if he can stay healthy and keep improving versus lefties. He still has a platoon split (it was actually masked by a 0.385 BABIP versus lefties in 2015), but he is getting better. Hopefully he can get 600 PA this year and rack up tons of counting stats. He's a safe choice for your 1B spot if you are shopping in the 10-15 range.
I discussed human swiss army knife Kelly Johnson with the Braves. Dilson Herrera is young and still developing but is near the bottom of a crowded middle infield pile, so his upside is low this year.
Setting aside the crazy playoff run, new National Daniel Murphy had a fairly typical season for him. He has average power and speed and a good average. He's a good all-around package at second base and shouldn't hurt you in any category, although I don't think double digit steals are happening again. He should hit somewhere near the top of a good Nationals lineup, so I expect lots of runs scored. He often gets overlooked, but after his playoff run, I think he will be overvalued as a 20 HR hitter, which he is not. If he is being picked as the #6-8 second baseman, that's too high. He could definitely finish in the top 10, but it's more likely he's in the 11-13 range, looking at ESPN's player rater from 2015. That would put him where Kolten Wong and Logan Forsythe were last year.
Despite showing very good power for a shortstop, Wilmer Flores' defense will likely limit his playing time in 2016. Thanks to a lack of other options, he got lots of playing time in 2015, though. He didn't hit for average or OBP and lacks speed. Power is his primary asset. With a crowded middle infield (Hererra, Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker, Ruben Tejada), I think he doesn't get enough playing time to matter much in fantasy, despite that power at a premium position. Injuries could open up more playing time. With a regular job again, I would put him around #20 among SS.
It's a cliche, but it really was a lost season for David Wright. The Mets captain was dealing with major back issues for basically the entire season. He came back late and showed his usual great OBP and even hit for some power, but we really have to hope he is fully healthy in 2016 and basically ignore his 2015 numbers. There are some doubting his ability to play everyday anymore and others doubt if he can be the same hitter again that he once was. Based only on his work ethic, leadership, and attitude, I'm inclined to believe in him and will bet on a resurgent season in 2016. He's not going to hit 30 HR or get 20 steals again. Unfortunately, at this point, resurgent simply means 15 HR, 5 steals, a 0.290 average, and a 0.370 OBP. If the can hit those marks, he could be a good corner infielder. He and Evan Longoria are in similar situations: veterans in decline that were once tops at their position now producing boring, across-the-board slightly above-average production that is just enough to keep them around the top 15 among 3B. They don't have much upside anymore, but they are consistent (when healthy).
I covered Juan Uribe with the Braves as well. Travis D'Arnaud is one of my favorite young catchers. I wish he would just stay healthy for a full season. He has power, patience, oh, and power. He could lead catchers in homers if he could get 450 PAs. He has top 5 catcher upside, but his injury risk means you have to value him in the 10-13 range. Everything in his 2015 small sample shows that his power is real and supported by a great fly ball rate.
Kevin Plawecki gets the playing time when D'Arnaud is hurt, but he didn't do much with it in 2015 and is probably still developing his skills. He hasn't shown enough offensive potential yet to bet on him this season.
Yoenis Cespedes did OK in his time in New York, I guess. But seriously, 2015 was basically his upside and likely ceiling. I don't see him topping 35 HR in his age 31 and beyond seasons. He will likely hit 25-28 HR with a 0.280 average, poor OBP, and a ton of runs and RBI. He will almost certainly hit in the 3-4-5 range wherever he ends up. He finished as the #7 OF on ESPN last year and I expect him to fall to the 15-17 range this year. You should value him accordingly. Last year is kind of an anomaly in his career.
Michael Conforto more than held his own in his first MLB season. He has above average power, great plate discipline, and had an excellent hard hit % last year. I think he will be a very good player in real life and fantasy and I think Matt Holliday (the St. Louis version) is a realistic ceiling and something he could maybe reach this season. That means 25 HR, a 0.275 average (maybe higher), and a 0.380 OBP (I expect his walk rate to improve since he led college baseball in OBP in his last season). A top 20 OF season is in reach.
Curtis Granderson still has some talent. His power has only dropped off a little, and his walk rate is better than ever. His power is backed up by his high fly ball rate and great hard hit %. He benefited from a sky high line drive rate, and line drive rate is the least consistent batted ball type from year to year, so it could easily drop. This was a career high rate for him. That drop in line drives will drop his BABIP and average, so I expect more like a 0.235 average, but the power is real and 20-25 HR with a 0.330-.350 OBP and 90+ runs, 80+ RBI is realistic for 2016.
Michael Cuddyer lost his fantasy relevance when he became injury prone and left Colorado. He proved that last season and now will fight for playing time. I don't expect he will be useful outside of very deep leagues and I don't see a big bounceback for him. The commenters have pointed out correctly that Cuddyer has retired.
Asdrubal Cabrera was covered with the Rays, but he will be in the big middle infield mix. Neil Walker comes over from the Pirates and adds another good middle infield bat to the mix. They will all eat into each other's value, unfortunately. I will cover Walker in more detail with the Pirates preview coming up.
The Mets have a deep roster of prospects and I can't cover even all the ones that could debut in 2016 here, but I will touch on a couple. Brandon Nimmo is an outfield prospect that has a very high floor. He is low risk because he can play all three outfield positions, has an incredible 0.387 minor league OBP, and has a great hit tool. His power is about average, but he's still young enough to have some upside for more. If an OF spot opens up for him, he's safe prospect to pick up. Gavin Cecchini is a SS prospect that is basically major league ready. He has little power, but a good enough hit tool and speed to be relevant in the middle infield. If he can get some playing time, he has potential to be a #2 hitter for the Mets in the future.
|Logan Verrett||SP, RP*||38.2||3.03||3.96||3.96||0.88||0.191||79.30%||40.00%||12.50%|
|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
Steven Matz is up first as I attempt to cover one of the best rotations in baseball. Although he had some injury problems and benefited from a very high strand rate, he had a pretty good debut. The swinging strike rate is lower than I would like, but his FIP, xFIP, GB%, and K%-BB% were all above average. With more time to develop, I think he could be a very good fantasy pitcher. Not as good as Harvey, Syndergaard, or deGrom, but I could see him being a top 25 pitcher in 2016. An ERA of about 3.4 with 8.7 K/9 is reasonable to expect.
Jacob deGrom followed up one fantastic season with another. He is a safe, reliable, dominant option that belongs in the top 10 for starters in fantasy. I can't really find any issues with him. He's in that rare group that don't have flaws. Kershaw, Arrieta, Bumgarner, Carrasco, Keuchel, and just a few others are in that category. There isn't much analysis here, he's great and he should be great again.
Matt Harvey's first post-TJ season went better than some expected. He pitched a lot of innings, showed great control, and still got tons of strikeouts. On another team, he would be a clear ace, but on this team he may be the third best pitcher. In fantasy, he's an easy top 10 starter and doesn't show any warning signs for regression.
Noah Syndergaard was downright nasty in his first season in MLB. He made hitters look silly every start and he had a better strikeout rate, ground ball rate, and xFIP than deGrom, if you can believe it. I looked for signs of regression, and other than the fact that it is so rare for a pitcher to do this well so quickly, there isn't anything. I think deGrom is definitely a better pitcher, but Harvey is a tougher comparison. Syndergaard certainly belongs close to Harvey in starting pitching ranks, both in the top 10. It's rare for an MLB staff to have three top 10 starting pitchers and another top 25 one, but here we are.
Bartolo Colon refuses to age or retire, so I guess I'll talk about him. When he's not entertaining us with his hilarious at bats, he remains a solid big league starter. He racks up innings, keeps his WHIP and walk rates down, and produces about average ERAs. He's not flashy and won't get strikeouts, but he's reliable, boring, and consistent. In most leagues, he won't be very useful but deep leagues should value him about the same as last year, although his innings may be reduced with the return of Zack Wheeler.
Logan Verrett looked decent in his few starts last season, with a good strikeout rate, swinging strike rate, and WHIP. He still has some development to do and will be way down the rotation depth chart, so I don't expect him to get more than a couple starts this year. On a team with less depth, he could be an interesting #4 starter type.
There are just two starters left to discuss. Rafael Montero was injured most of 2015 and wouldn't have had a starting spot anyway, but he had good potential in 2014 and would be interesting as a flyer in deep leagues if he can earn some starts this year. He would be at least number 7 or 8 on the depth chart, though and is currently listed as a reliever on the depth chart. Zack Wheeler is a very interesting sleeper in this great rotation. He is coming back from Tommy John and could really break out. See this article from Timothy Finnegan here at Fake Teams about Wheeler's potential. I think there is real upside here and you should make him a DL stash at least. He likely won't be ready to start the year, but he should be good when he's ready.
Jeurys Familia had a dominant season as the Mets closer. He finished #2 on ESPN's reliever player rater. His rare combination of strikeouts, swinging strike rate, and extreme ground ball rates puts him in a small group of elite closers. He should be drafted in the top 5. Right now, I would put Chapman, Wade Davis, Kimbrel, and maybe Zach Britton ahead of him. He and Britton are very similar in terms of results.
Addison Reed and Erik Goeddel are the two best setup options, but there are much better holds options on other teams. Goeddel was better than Reed last year, but Reed was so up and down, it's hard to tell. Reed will probably be the 8th inning guy based on his closing experience.
This team is too loaded with major league pitching to even discuss prospects.
I love this guy's skill set and am excited to see what he can do with more playing time. If people are sleeping on him in your leagues, snatch him up. Steamer projects him for only 19 HR and a 0.260/0.321/0.435 line, but bet the over on all of that and then some, as I mentioned above. Seriously, I'm all in on this guy. There are all kinds of honorable mentions on this young, talented roster including Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, or Brandon Nimmo.
This was a tough one, because this team doesn't have a lot of obvious candidates. I think the average will drop back to his usual range (0.220-0.230) after a rare 0.259 in 2015. Despite continuing power and walks, that will hurt his fantasy value. That's why he's listed here. Cespedes should also see some decline from his superstar season, so he would qualify as well.
Check back soon for the next team preview as we keep moving up the standings. Tschus!