2016 Outlook: It is not that often that the hype matches the production for young players, but Betts is already there in less than two full seasons in the big leagues. A few scouts said Betts was the best player in the 2013 Arizona Fall League and last season he showed why at the big league level. Betts struggled out of the gate and had an unimpressive slash line of .234/.293/.366 in mid-June but went on to hit .329/.372/.552 the rest of the way with 13 home runs, 11 steals, and 68 runs scored. Betts has a very disciplined strike zone for a young player and is a strong candidate for a 20/20/100 season in just his third season in the majors. Do the exact opposite of what Flava Flav and Chuck D told you in the late 80's and believe the hype. Betts is the new thing and you'll want to be a part of what he brings in 2016.
2016 Outlook: While the Red Sox were hopeful that Ramirez could make a smooth transition to handle left field upon signing him to a four-year deal last offseason, he struggled to handle the position from Day 1. At the plate, he started the season on a high note, posting a .283/.340/.609 line with 10 home runs and 22 RBI through his first 25 games with Boston. Things spiraled out of control from there, however, as a collision with an outfield wall during a May game led to a shoulder injury. Ramirez was unable to get back on track despite returning to the lineup a few days later. His numbers after the injury included a .239/.275/.372 line and nine homers over his final 80 games, a far cry from his early-season production. Moreover, shoulder fatigue prevented him from appearing in a game after Aug. 26. Ramirez told reporters that he was pain-free in early December, and he will head to spring training with the goal of learning a new position for the second consecutive year, this time shifting back to the infield to play first base.
2016 Outlook: The Red Sox somehow skate with paying $72M to Castillo. The Cuban import has played two seasons of baseball in the United States but the results have not been as impressive as the salary predicted. He makes good contact and has graded out well defensively, but the limitations at the plate have been noticeable. Castillo had one of the highest groundball rates in the majors in 2015, which will limit his power potential and he has struggled to pull fastballs and turn them into extra base hits as he had exactly zero extra base hits to the pull side in 2015 off fastballs. His high contact abilities and his speed will keep him fantasy viable for average and steals, but the power is not going to come any time soon until he can get more loft on the ball and use the pull side effectively.
2016 Outlook: Swihart earned a promotion to Boston in May and appeared in 84 games, recording a .274/.319/.392 batting line with 5 HRs. While hardly world-beating, MLB catchers last year hit just .240/.303/.379, solidly below what Swihart managed as a 23-year-old rookie in one of the most pressure-packed environments in baseball. Swihart is unlikely to develop more than average power, and his stikeouts have become more of a problem as he has progressed up the organizational ladder. He struck out 24.5 percent of the time in 2015, and unless he improves that frequency, he'll likely decline from last year's .274 batting average. If Swihart can knock that strikeout rate down to the 15-20 percent range that he sported throughout the minors, then he can be one of the rare catchers who won't eat away at the batting average.
2016 Outlook: Holt started at least five games at first base (five), second base (seven), shortstop (seven), third base (24), and outfield (30), making him one of the most versatile fantasy players this side of Ben Zobrist. Unfortunately, Holt's bat is nowhere near as dynamic -- he has a .280/.340/.380 (97 OPS+) line with just six home runs in 1,001 plate appearances over the past two seasons. As a player who qualifies literally everywhere but catcher in some leagues, Holt's versatility can be a great asset, particularly in daily leagues that are slim on bench spots. Unfortunately, Holt strikes out too much (19.1 percent in 2015) to legitimately challenge .300, and he has just 20 stolen bases in the past two years, so he's an average player, at best, across the board.
2016 Outlook: A year ago, Bradley smelled like a bust, sporting a .196/.268/.280 slash line over his first 530 MLB plate appearances from 2013-14. He broke out in his age-25 season, however, thanks largely to a scorching hot 25-game stretch from early August to early September, where he had a 1.441 OPS with seven home runs in 83 at-bats. It's true that he proved himself capable of such feats, but without that small sample, he was just as bad as he's always been at the plate. The truth is, he only needs to be a replacement-level hitter to stick in Boston's lineup against righties, as he offers top-shelf outfield defense. Bradley actually has reverse splits, sporting a .693 career OPS against lefties, compared to a .612 mark against righties, but newly acquired Chris Young crushes lefties and will presumably start against most southpaws. Of course, if Rusney Castillo flops, Bradley would stick in the lineup no matter who is pitching, just for his defensive value. Either way, Bradley should be treated as a late-round flier, and not a known quantity at this point in his development.
2016 Outlook: Young will go into camp locked into the short side of an outfield platoon with Jackie Bradley, as his lone carrying skill at this point is his ability to crush left-handed pitching. He has an .837 career OPS against southpaws and posted a .972 mark against lefties last year. Now, entering his age-32 season, his defense is in decline and he is coming off a year where he got on base at a .246 clip against righties, so he is truly a one-trick pony. This means he has relatively no value in standard season-long leagues, but he could be streamed in leagues that allow daily roster moves and a hefty amount of in-season pickups. Young will also be a trendy play in daily leagues when the Red Sox face a southpaw.