2016 Outlook: A lot of guys would kill for a 3.41 ERA over a full season, but for Sale, it was the highest ERA of his major league career. Despite setting new full-season bests in strikeout rate and walk rate, he went 13-11 thanks to some defensive challenges behind him that led to a high batting average on balls in play and his not stranding as many runners as he had in seasons past. The concerns about his durability are overplayed as he's missed just a handful of starts, and he's getting better with age as his strikeout rate has improved each of the past four seasons. The additions of Todd Frazier amd Brett Lawrie on the infield should help convert more of Sale's batted balls to the left side into outs and hopefully get him a few more wins in 2016. Just keep him away from the Twins who hung four of the 11 losses and 27 of the 79 earned runs on Sale in 2015.
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: One does not need a Price pun to describe how well the lefty has pitched in his career. He has missed just a handful of starts in his career but has otherwise been getting better with age and pitched his way to his huge payday this winter as a free agent. He piles up strikeouts while rarely walking batters and excels in the ratio categories. Run support has not been a problem since he left Tampa Bay and that is likely to continue with the well-rounded Red Sox lineup behind him. He should also have a very strong bullpen to help get him off the hook when he is lifted from the latter stages of games. Price is still pitching with an elite fastball and keeps batters honest with the cutter and the changeup, and owners should expect similar dominance in 2016. After all, Price has historically pitched very well in Fenway and is intimately familiar with the other venues in the American League East. Come on down!
2016 Outlook: On the heels of his third consecutive 30-homer, 100-RBI season in 2015 at age-39, Ortiz announced that the 2016 campaign would be his last in the big leagues. Outside of a slight reduction in playing time when the Red Sox face left-handed starters (he hit .231/.277/.426 in 184 plate appearances against southpaws last season), the primary DH role should belong to Ortiz for another year. Since the start of the 2013 season, only five players have amassed more homers than Ortiz (102). With his combination of power (.280 ISO) and plate discipline (12.5 BB%, 15.5 K%), Ortiz remains a hitter to be feared, and he should have plenty of chances to drive in runs again from the heart of the order in Boston if the bats around him stay healthy.
2016 Outlook: The Aruban shortstop displayed his plus hit tool and plus glove work last season, putting an end to the talk of a potential move to third base. He took advantage of hitting third for most of the season, and with the help of a slightly inflated batting average (.372 BABIP last season, .338 for his career), he was able to finish top-two in runs and RBI at the position. Bogaerts should remain in the three-hole for Boston in 2016, and while he may not hit .320 again, modest regression would allow him to still challenge for .300. His 10 steals may not sound like much, but it gives him an edge over players like Troy Tulowitzki, Brandon Crawford and Jhonny Peralta. The elephant in the room is Bogaerts' power projection. Scouting reports have always suggested he could hit 20-30 homers in his prime, and while he is just entering his age-23 season, his in-game power could start to click at any moment, which would make him a five-category monster.
2016 Outlook: At first glance, it may appear as though Kimbrel's one-year stop in San Diego marks the beginning of a gradual decline. After all, his 2.58 ERA was the highest mark he's posted over six big league seasons. Upon further review, he doesn't seem to be in decline at all, as he finished the season on a high note by delivering a 39:8 K:BB and 1.73 ERA over 26 innings after the All-Star break. With two years and a team option for 2018 left on his contract, the Padres decided that Kimbrel was a luxury they did not need. Traded to Boston for Manuel Margot and Javier Guerra in November, Kimbrel will close for the Red Sox in 2016 as he continues to build the foundation of a resume that should garner consideration for Cooperstown someday. Since arriving in the big leagues in 2010, Kimbrel has struck out 41.2 percent of the batters he's faced. He's also managed to increase the average velocity on his fastball every year he's been in the big leagues, topping out at 97.3 MPH last season.
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: 2015 was a rough year for Pedroia owners, as he appeared in just 93 games and became a total non-factor on the basepaths. At 32 years old and in the 11th year of a career that has seen him consistently banged up, it's easy to wonder how long his body will withstand the rigors of playing the game. Pedroia missed 27 games in 2014 before missing 69 in 2015, and he isn't getting any younger. Still, second base is a very weak position in 2016 and Pedroia has hit at least .270 every year since his sophomore season in 2007. Between his consistent contact ability and the surprising power he showed in 2015 -- 12 home runs in the short campaign after failing to reach double-digits in 2013 and 2014 -- he at least provides more upside than the typical fodder at the position.
2016 Outlook: Rodriguez earned a late May spot start after pitching well at Triple-A Pawtucket. The southpaw took full advantage, allowing only three hits to the Texas Rangers over 7.2 shutout innings in Arlington. This effort earned him a regular turn for the rest of the season. Rodriguez's floor is a mid-rotation innings eater with a league-average strikeout rate, good control and a groundball tilt. However, there are two encouraging reports that tease an intriguing ceiling. Rodriguez was apparently tipping his pitches, spending the offseason successfully correcting that flaw. Additionally, he spent a lot of time honing his secondary offerings to complement his 95-mph fastball, most notably his slider and introducing a cutter in an effort to better handle left-handed hitters, who slugged an eye-popping .509 against Rodriguez in his rookie campaign.
2016 Outlook: It took five seasons in the majors, but Moreland finally had the "breakout" fantasy players had been waiting for. He matched his 2013 home run total while hitting 46 points higher in 2015 and becoming a run producer. Issues against lefties (and health in recent years) limits his upside, but he can smack righties while playing on the big side of a platoon situation. He hits too many grounders to project a 30-homer ceiling, as The Ballpark in Arlington is no longer the launching pad for lefties that it once was. The plate skills are stable, so any chances in his value are going to come from hit rate and home run-to-fly ball ratio variation, but as he is, he barely hits with enough power for first base and that's the only position he qualifies for on draft day. He may regain the outfield eligibility during the season.
2016 Outlook: Well, the fun didn't last long. Smith was a top-10 reliever in baseball last year and looked poised to be the Mariners' closer of the future, but then he was traded to Boston along with Roenis Elias in exchange for Wade Miley. In Boston, his chances of picking up a noteworthy amount of saves are very slim. He is probably third in line behind Craig Kimbrel and Koji Uehara in the pecking order, as the Red Sox have copied several other AL East teams in putting together an otherworldly bullpen. In deep leagues where setup men with excellent K-rates and outstanding ratios have value, Smith should still be rostered, but he can be ignored in shallow rotisserie leagues and points leagues this year.
2016 Outlook: Boston's old front office regime has taken its fair share of lumps from fans and media for signing Porcello to a four-year, $82.5 million extension on Opening Day after acquiring him from Detroit in an offseason deal. And yes, 2015 was a forgettable year for Porcello, whose 4.92 ERA was the fourth-worst among qualified starters, but not all hope is lost for the years ahead. The right-hander was much better following his return from a triceps injury late in the season, posting a 3.14 ERA in his final eight starts. He attributes the turnaround to a return to a sinker-heavy approach which resulted in a lot more weak contact -- he threw the sinker almost half the time down the stretch compared to roughly 34 percent of the time before the DL stint. The strikeouts were up as well, following his return, with Porcello fanning seven or more batters in five of his final seven outings. 2015 is the downside, but it's hard to imagine Porcello struggling to that extent again so long as he sticks to what works for him.
2016 Outlook: Pomeranz wasn't awful in nine starts, at least not to any level that would suggest he needs to be removed from the rotation. But Oakland's bullpen was ravaged, so he wound up there for half of his season and may have inadvertently stumbled into his ideal role. He posted a 2.61 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and a very healthy 10.0 K/9 rate. Predictably, his stuff played up, as his fastball sat 93-94 mph and became a premium strikeout pitch. Pomeranz was traded to San Diego on the heels of their locked-in closer Craig Kimbrel being dealt. They acquired Fernando Rodney a month later which threw a roadblock in Pomeranz's path to potentially closing. Though we know it can very often be a temporary roadblock with Rodney. Keep an eye on him.
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.