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.
|Alberto Callaspo||2B, 1B, 3B||138||0||8||7||0||0||10.10%||17.40%||0.26||0.336||0.301|
|Enrique Hernandez||2B, OF, SS*||218||7||24||22||0||2||5.00%||21.10%||0.307||0.346||0.49|
|Alex Guerrero||3B, OF||230||11||25||36||1||0||3.00%||24.80%||0.233||0.261||0.434|
|Scott Van Slyke||OF, 1B||253||6||19||30||3||1||9.10%||24.50%||0.239||0.317||0.383|
|Name||BABIP||LD%||GB%||FB%||HR/FB||SwStr%||Soft%||Med%||Hard%||ESPN Player Rater|
|Scott Van Slyke||0.299||19.00%||38.70%||42.30%||8.70%||12.70%||20.70%||46.30%||32.90%||-1.38|
*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.
We'll start with Mr. Gonzalez. He put up yet another solid season and is just so consistent. He's like the mail in his reliable delivery of top 10 1B production every year. Although he was #14 in 2015 on ESPN's player rater, he's still always near the top ten. He hasn't had too many injuries and he's still young enough that his skills shouldn't be declining much. He's a balanced, patient, disciplined hitter with few weaknesses. The only reason he's not higher on the player rater is that unlike Hosmer, Goldschmidt, Rizzo, Votto, and others, he doesn't get steals. That, and a small handful of homers. His 2015 season was almost exactly the same as his 2014. He and David Ortiz are remarkable in their ability to put up nearly identical years back-to-back. Steamer projects a small drop in production in 2016, but I'm not so sure. I think he could once again put up a 2015 line.
Howie Kendrick is now a free agent and his fantasy value is at a low point. His power and speed have been in decline and the only big contribution he provides is in average. I think he could do 8 HR, 7 steals, with a 0.295 average in 2016 if he gets full playing time. He finished at #15 among 2B on ESPN's player rater. He belongs in the mix with Neil Walker and Ben Zobrist. They have similar fantasy value at this point in their careers, even if their skillsets are different. They are all in that 12-17 range for second basemen.
Chase Utley will be back for LAD in 2016, but he won't offer fantasy players much value. I think he can improve on an awful 2015 (hello 0.230 BABIP!), but with playing time battles at second and third, he might only get 400 PA this year. Throw in declining power and speed and you get a guy like Kendrick with a worse average. I'm going with 0.260 and 7 HR, 4 steals for him in 2016. He's useful in deep leagues, I guess, but not much beyond that.
Enrique Hernandez (Kiké to most of us) looked great in limited playing time. He hit for power and average and had a good hard hit %. He's listed as a backup to second and center field on the depth chart and should see 300-400 PAs this season, if all goes well. He's only 24, so there is room for growth, but the power will probably come down. He was on pace for 22 HR or so last year and his career season-high is 14, including the minors. His BABIP was also very high. I think he could end up with 10 HR, a 0.265 average, a 0.310 OBP, and 3 steals. At second, that's not awful but with a part time job he's only going to be worth it in deep leagues and he should be somewhere around #22 among second basemen. There is some potential upside here that you can take a chance on due to his youth and the small MLB sample we have, but don't get crazy.
Justin Turner proved his great 2014 wasn't just a fluke. The 31-year-old had career highs in nearly every counting stat, and, even with regression from his crazy 2014 triple slash line, he still put up a good average, OBP, and slugging. I like his batted ball profile and if he is fully healthy (a big if for a guy coming off knee surgery that missed a bunch of time in 2015), he could be a good value play at 3B or corner infield. He would be a fine starter for deep leagues and I would put him around #15 among 3B.
Alex Guerrero showed crazy power in a short burst (30+ HR pace) but the rest was a disaster. He showed no plate discipline, and had a poor average. He has no starting job at the moment and is listed at #3 on the Dodgers' 3B depth chart. We've seen great power, but little else so far and the Dodgers don't seem to trust him, despite what they are paying him. With more playing time guarantees, he could be interesting just for the power, but I wouldn't count on him for average, speed, or OBP. He's not worth much without playing time, though.
A.J. Ellis and Yasmani Grandal put up very similar seasons. Just look at their stats! It's crazy how similar they are. Grandal had more playing time, so he put up more counting stats, but their rate stats are so close. That aside, Grandal did what you expect a #15-20 catcher to do with 16 HR, a poor average, and a good OBP and poor slugging. Many were expecting more from him in 2015, but Steamer and I agree that 2015 is a baseline season for him and I would expect more of the same. Ellis is a non-factor in most leagues due to a lack of playing time and his blah skill set. He's at least halfway decent in OBP leagues when he plays, but that's about it.
Andre Ethier actually had a very good season for a platoon hitter. He was great against RHP once again and didn't play much against lefties. He is a 4th outfielder on a team with 6 or 7 outfield options, so playing time will be even more of a challenge in 2016, but used only against righties in deep leagues, he can be very useful. Standard 10 team leagues should leave him on the wire, but deeper leagues with 5 OF will find that he has sneaky value, like Chris Coghlan last season.
I think now is a great time to buy low on Joc Pederson. Young Joc started hot and then slumped the last two months or so. He hit the ball very hard and far and walked at near-Votto levels. He was killed by two things: his bad strikeout rate, and a really bad BABIP. With his speed, I expect that BABIP to jump way up, maybe to 0.330 or so. Couple that with a jump in steals (he put up 20-30 steals every year in the minors) and keep the 26 homers and you've got a top 25 OF. I'm going to go with 27 HR, 15 steals, and a 0.240/0.360/0.460 slash line with lots of runs and RBI.
It was a lost season for Yasiel Puig. He was hurt and not very good. His value is very low right now. His plate discipline wasn't great, but I can't see any other major issues. He still hit 11 HR in under half a season of work and his average wasn't terrible. I would not blame anyone for betting on his upside (which we've seen in 2014-14) and drafting Puig in the 4th or 5th rounds, but I'm too risk averse to do it myself. I'm not going to try and predict what we will see in 2016 in terms of stats, but it could either be continued decline and poor health or a return to greatness. He's only 25, so he's not a closed book yet.
I know steals are valuable and all these days, but part-time OF and slightly-fast guy Carl Crawford doesn't provide enough beyond 10-15 steals to make him worth rostering outside of NL-only leagues.
Scott Van Slyke is another one in the crowded OF mix. He's got some power, but not enough playing time to matter much.
Corey Seager is everyone's favorite top prospect (some have Buxton or Giolito, but let's ignore them). He's going to own this SS job and I trust the scouts who say this guy is a better hitter than his brother, Kyle. Kyle Seager's batting line would look awesome at SS, so something better than that puts him into Tulo or Lindor territory, but not quite in Correa's league yet. The small sample we have looks great, but we will know much more after 2016. He's a pretty safe bet for a prospect in his rookie season and plays such a valuable position. I don't blame you for being excited. He's got a well-rounded skill set and I think he should be drafted as the #4 or 5 SS in drafts.
Jimmy Rollins is a free agent and is 37 years old coming off an awful year. I'm not interested in him outside of the deepest of leagues.
Jose Peraza spent time with the Dodgers in 2015, but will be in Cincy in 2016. He's a very fast player, capable of playing 2B and OF. I expect he will get good playing time with the Reds and will be a cheap source of 25-30 steals. He won't have much power or a good OBP, but the average and steals should both be enough to make him useful.
Trayce Thompson was my breakout pick for the White Sox before he was traded to the Dodgers. In Chicago, he had a chance at good playing time and could have built off the great promise he showed last season. Unfortunately, he is buried at #7 on this team's OF depth chart and won't get much playing time. It's a shame, because he could have been a great under-the-radar breakout player. So sad. What were the Sox thinking giving up so much for Todd Frazier? Frazier's good and all, but three major-league ready prospects?
Micah Johnson offers speed like Peraza, but doesn't have close to his hit tool. Johnson was overwhelmed by major league pitching in 2015 and was sent back down. He is a one tool guy and is #3 on the 2B depth chart for the Dodgers, so that's all I'm going to say about him.
This team is so loaded with MLB talent, and young talent at that, that there aren't any major league ready top hitting prospects expected to debut in 2016.
|Mike Bolsinger||SP, RP||109.1||3.62||3.91||3.82||1.36||0.299||75.00%||53.10%||8.70%|
|Carlos Frias||SP, RP||77.2||4.06||4.32||4.27||1.47||0.319||73.70%||55.10%||9.70%|
|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 rotation is strong, just like the lineup. Kershaw doesn't need any analysis. He's going to be great and worth a top 4-6 pick in all drafts.
Greinke is now in Arizona and despite his insane ERA and swinging strike rates, I'm worried. His 3.22 xFIP, only 24% K%, and his high LOB% hint that maybe his ERA should have been higher. Don't get me wrong. He's great, I just value him outside the top tier of pitchers that he is often placed with. Guys like Kershaw, Scherzer, Sale, Arrieta, Carrasco, deGrom, Bumgarner, and even Keuchel might be above Greinke on my rankings. Greinke is at least fighting with Bumgarner and Keuchel for that #7 spot. That's how I value him, but I understand if you believe in his incredible knowledge of the game, crafty pitch sequencing, and contact quality limiting skills and put him at number 3 or 4.
Brett Anderson is a ground ball king and gets away with mediocre strikeout ability because of it. He finally stayed healthy for a full season and put up above average performance. His lack of strikeouts makes him risky, but I do love high ground ball rates, so he is rosterable in most leagues as your last starter.
Alex Wood also likes grounders, but doesn't get as many as Anderson and has worse control. At least he has a decent swinging strike rate. I still think there is a chance he turns it around and gets back to his Atlanta glory days, so he's worth a shot in deep leagues. In standard leagues, he should be available off the waiver wire in case he gets hot.
Brandon McCarthy will miss the early season recovering from Tommy John. He looked so good in 2014 and was really putting it together. Even in 2015, his xFIP, swinging strike rate, and strikeout rates were all excellent. He's a good injury stash for the second half of the season. I think he will have good value later on as a reliable above average starter.
I covered Scott Kazmir with the Astros preview, so check that out for more on him.
Hyun-Jin Ryu should be back and healthy this season. He was a #20-25 starter back in 2014, so he's got even more upside than McCarthy, Wood, or Anderson if he can get fully healthy. Everything we've seen from him when healthy has been very good. I will be taking a chance on him this year as a top 30 starter with potential for more.
The newly-acquired Kenta Maeda is interesting. I don't know much about this Japanese import other than he is a veteran ready to step in immediately and has been compared to Hiroki Kuroda. Since he's never pitched in MLB, he's a wild card, but with Tanaka, Darvish, and Iwakuma's recent success, a top 30 starter wouldn't be unreasonable for him. I like the Japanese tendencies to focus on great control and nasty splitters. That combo seems to be very effective over here and I would put a Hyun-Jin Ryu type upside on him (ERA of 3.3, 8.2 K/9).
After backing away from Aroldis Chapman, the Dodgers closer will once again be the top 5 Kenley Jansen. He's rock solid and I expect more excellence from him in 2016. He put up a 40%!!! strikeout rate with only a 4% walk rate. This is a former catcher here. Behind him are two very talented youngsters (Baez is 27, so maybe that's not young) in Yimi Garcia and Pedro Baez. They both throw hard and get a ton of strikeouts. I think Baez is just a little better, but both would be very good setup men. Both have fantasy value in holds leagues, on a team that will have lots of leads in 2016.
Frankie Montas is a newly-acquired pitching prospect that could be considered for the rotation at some point. He was one of Chicago's top pitching prospects before coming to LA and has a great fastball. He is working on the rest of his game, but he could be interesting if he gets a chance in this crowded rotation.
Julio Urias is simply the second best pitching prospect in baseball. He's a polished left hander with great stuff and is only 19. It's very possible he gets called up in 2016 to show off that great stuff at the highest level. He's got ace upside and is a great pitching stash. Jose de Leon had a breakout season in AA last year and is also in the mix to start in 2016. He doesn't have the upside of Urias, but would be the top pitching prospect in many organizations. He dominated AA and if he continues to do well in AAA, he could make it up late this year and have some fantasy value.
There are lots of options on this loaded roster. Seager and Maeda were heavily considered, but I like Joc too much. Maybe he had a breakout season last year, but since he slumped at the end and had very few steals, I'm going to say no. This is the year he truly breaks out and becomes the power/speed threat we know he can be with a great OBP to boot.
He was great last year, but that was outside his previous performance and I just can't see him keeping it up. I'm calling it a breakdown because he should see a big decline from his 2015 pace numbers.
Check back soon for the next team preview as we keep moving up the standings. Tschus!