2017 Outlook: Perhaps the prospect of another Triple Crown is now in his rearview, but even at age 34, Cabrera remains an excellent hitter, still easily 90 percent of the player who accomplished that historic feat just five years ago. He's riding a major league-best streak of eight consecutive batting title-eligible seasons batting .300-plus, has averaged 34 home runs and 113 RBIs annually during that span and in fact rebounded with 38 homers in 2016. What's more, if you doubt his power potential, Cabrera led the majors in a category Statcast calls "Barrels," which are balls in play hit at both the ideal angle and speed off the bat, with 72 last season. His contact rate might be slowly regressing and the odds of his power numbers decreasing are slightly greater than the alternative, but this is what we'd call a player gracefully aging. In an era where it's the younger players everyone wants in fantasy, Cabrera is the rare "safe" early-round pick.
2017 Outlook: Few players in baseball possess Encarnacion's combination of power, plate discipline and balanced splits -- both home versus road and against right-handers versus left-handers. He's the only player to hit at least 30 home runs in each of the past five seasons, doing so with combined 12.5 percent walk and 82.3 percent contact rates during that time. Encarnacion, too, was the major league's leader in road home runs during those five years (101), so the move to Cleveland shouldn't be construed as particularly damaging to his fantasy value. Perhaps a small handful of his home runs will turn into doubles at Progressive Field, which has a higher and slightly deeper left-field fence than Rogers Centre, but the net result would be negligible in points leagues and perhaps only a round's or $2-4 difference in Rotisserie formats compared to his 2016 value in Toronto.
2017 Outlook: Though in many respects, Abreu's performance has regressed since he broke into the majors in 2014, let's not understate the historical significance of his first three big-league seasons: He, along with Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols, are the only three players in the history of baseball to manage at least a .290 batting average, 25 home runs and 100 RBIs in each. That said, Abreu's performance in all three categories comes with some risk: He continues to show poor strike-zone judgment, leading the majors in swings at "non-competitive" (those considerably outside the zone) pitches in 2016; he appears to have sacrificed some power in exchange for a three-year pattern of rising contact rates; and his White Sox, now in rebuilding mode, might not provide as much fuel for his counting numbers. Abreu is no longer a likely-top-25 player and in fact might be a risky pick within the top 50, though as his baseline is probably his 2016 numbers, he's still a worthy early-round pick.
2017 Outlook: His power is among the most prodigious in the game, and Cruz appears to be going with it as his 37th birthday approaches, becoming somewhat more pull-conscious in 2016 and exerting maximum effort on his swings, even if it's at the expense of a near-25-percent strikeout rate. No matter, as he is the only player to have reached the 40-homer threshold in each of the past three seasons, becoming the first to do so in three straight years since Ryan Howard (2006-09), showing no signs of a decline in that department. Cruz's critics can only point to his age as reason for an imminent decline, but without underlying metrics hinting its arrival, he's as likely to approach if not repeat his 2016 output as any hitter, and in either Rotisserie or points-based formats that makes him worthy of a top-50 overall draft pick.
2017 Outlook: Though Beltre's defensive exploits fuel a decent portion of his future Hall of Fame prospects, don't mistake that in the slightest for a knock on his skill at the plate. In 2016, he became only the ninth player in history to bat .300 and hit at least 30 home runs at the age of 37 or older, and in the past three seasons combined, his 87.9 percent contact rate was 13th-best among players with at least 1,000 plate appearances and his 199 hard-contact line drives tied for the most. He's a contact-making, line drive-spraying machine, one of the highest-floor players around, and that's a good thing to be in a lineup as deep as the Rangers' in a ballpark as favorable for offense as Globe Life Park because of what it means for a hitter's RBIs and runs scored. Beltre is a top-50 pick in any format, but in points-based scoring he's even more appealing because of these traits.
2017 Outlook: One of the premier power sources in baseball, Bautista's injury track record and advancing age -- he's now 36 years old -- are becoming increasingly valid questions. His batting average (.234), slugging percentage (.452), isolated power (.217), strikeout rate (19.9 percent of his PAs) and fly-ball rate (37.3 percent of balls in play) last season were his worsts in any of his eight full seasons with the Blue Jays, largely influenced by poorer second-half numbers following a midsummer DL stint for a toe injury. Bautista's power metrics still graded well above-average even at less than full strength, so while his home-run baseline might no longer be 40-plus, he might easily register another 30-35. Considering the wealth of power in the game, however, he's much more valuable in points-based or sabermetric scoring formats, where his elite walk rate and ability to make contact grant him additional value. There, he's still easily a top-50 overall talent. In Rotisserie? Not so much.
2017 Outlook: Santana's game has long been about patience and hard contact, but in 2016, he took it to new heights, setting personal bests in home runs (34), slugging percentage (.498), RBIs (87) and contact rate (83 percent). Most notably, he finished the year on a major tear, batting .282/.389/.551 in his final 100 games, which bodes well for continued success entering 2017. While it's unclear whether Santana will lead off again or move down to a more run-producing position -- this will determine whether he's more of a contributor in RBIs versus runs scored -- he'll be a key member of a loaded lineup. He has long been a far better player in points-based scoring, where a legitimate case can be made he's a top-40 pick, but even in Rotisserie leagues his value is on the rise into the eighth-/ninth-round level.
2017 Outlook: As Frazier has aged, he has continued to embrace a power-oriented approach, as he set career highs in 2016 in terms of his pull rate (50 percent of balls in play) and fly-ball rate (48 percent), but also his strikeout rate (24.5 percent of his PAs). In short, his 35/15 homer/steals baselines of the past three seasons seemed entirely legit, though they're increasingly coming at the expense of strikeouts and his batting average. That risk/reward approach at the plate lowers his statistical floor, and that his White Sox are in the midst of a rebuild doesn't help his counting-numbers potential (RBIs and runs scored), with the added point that if the team does trade the walk-year player midseason, he could wind up in a ballpark less conducive to power. Frazier remains a viable early-to-mid round pick in any format, but he's one to be cautious not to overrate.
2017 Outlook: The majors' defending home-run champion, Trumbo's difficulty finding big free-agent bucks this winter provided one of the best illustrations of the abundance of power in today's game. His breakthrough year might cause him to be a hotly-contested draft commodity this spring, but bear in mind that his 47 home runs, using our Player Rater math, were worth 15 percent less in 2016 than 2015. Trumbo's power metrics did increase, some thanks to the ballpark and some thanks to better luck on fly balls, but his overall skill set didn't truly shift all that much. Most notably, he extended his career trend of second-half swoons -- many of them significant during his career, as this one was -- putting him in the extremely rare class of "shop-in-June" candidates. Trumbo returns to the same situation where he thrived, but he's a dangerous pick before the ninth or 10th round, and his strikeout-influenced floor in points leagues makes him a player perhaps worth slightly less than that.
2017 Outlook: The move to first base couldn't have worked out better: His 147 games played were his most since 2012, and his No. 53 finish on the Player Rater was his best since 2010. Those successes, however, might cause him to be overvalued entering 2017, as he exhibited a widening platoon split -- 116 points of wOBA, his second-largest split of his career -- and the lowest contact rate of his career (78 percent). Ramirez's scorching finish could signify that a less-taxing defensive role might have increased his odds of repeating his number of games played, but he's also now 33 years old with a checkered injury history. He's a sixth or seventh rounder in standard mixed leagues as well as points-based scoring, and no longer possesses the profit potential from there he had in the past.
2017 Outlook: Once labeled an "injury-prone" fantasy player, Longoria has silenced those critics, appearing in a major league-leading 482 games the past three seasons combined. Between that and greater lift to his swing in 2016 -- his 32.5 percent ground-ball rate was a career low -- Longoria's odds of repeating his rebound-year numbers are substantially better, and help ease some of the concerns of his aging curve, now that he's beyond his 30th birthday. A five-year pattern of decline in his walk rate serves a caution flag, but Longoria remains a top-10 capable fantasy third baseman in Rotisserie leagues, and his ability to generate extra-base hits gives him roughly equivalent value in points-based scoring as well.
2017 Outlook: A max-effort, all-or-nothing power hitter, Davis posted the second-best home-run rate among qualifiers, but also the highest swinging strike rate on pitches within the strike zone last season. That trend solidifies Davis' 40-homer potential, but it also makes him a batting-average liability, a problem in an era that appears to be rich in power. He does draw a good number of walks -- though his 2016 full-season rate was down due to a significantly greater rate of pitchers challenging him initially upon his move to the American League -- which makes him a more appealing choice in on-base and sabermetric scoring formats. There, he might make a case for a top-70 overall pick; he's a player worth targeting two to three rounds later otherwise.
2017 Outlook: All aboard the hype train! Recalled from the minors upon Alex Rodriguez's release last Aug. 3, Sanchez went on a massive power tear, his 20 home runs in his first 51 big-league games matching Wally Berger's all-time record for quickest to that career threshold. As a result, Sanchez's perceived fantasy appeal is sky-high, often hailed the first pick at his position (and a top-50 overall selection at that). The small-sample caveat does apply, however, and Sanchez's .225 batting average and 29.7 percent strikeout rate from Sept. 1 forward do show some holes in his overall game. There's no denying his power is legit, and his position-leading 225 plate appearances after his recall grant him maximum counting-number potential, but it's a dangerous thing to assume instant stardom with no adjustment period from a player like this. Sanchez's draft stock, too, is highly variable dependent upon league type -- is it a 10-team or larger league, and do you start one catcher or two -- and as our rankings are based upon the 10-team, one-catcher standard, he's ranked as many as four to five rounds lower than he might be in a 12-team, two-catcher league. He's also potentially less valuable in points-based scoring, where his power-and-K's approach casts greater risk.
2017 Outlook: Injuries, the adjustment to a new position (right field) and struggles making contact resulted in a disappointing first full big-league season from Sano in 2016. He was an awful defensive right fielder, something that might've affected his hitting game, he missed 38 total games with hamstring, elbow and back issues, and his 297 whiffs through his first 196 career contests set an all-time record. Still, Sano's power potential remains massive, as even in a "down" year he finished among the top one-fifth among qualifiers in fly-ball rate, home run/fly ball percentage and average fly-ball distance, and he hit 10 home runs in his final 40 games. If there's to be an off-the-radar home run champion in 2017, Sano's as good a bet as any, though he might not contribute much more in an era where power is abundant. He's a mid-round upside pick, both in Rotisserie and points-based scoring, where his patience carries added value.
2017 Outlook: December surgery to release his right plantar fascia threatens the start to Pujols' season; it typically requires a four-month recovery, meaning that a mid-April return is the likeliest outcome. Couple that with a near-60-point decline in his batting average in the past half-decade compared to the one that preceded it, and Pujols' prospective owners might be fearful of drafting him at all. He warrants much more credit: He's one of the best contact hitters in the game, a supremely disciplined batsman, and consistently generates hard contact that helps slow his aging curve. It also boosts his points-league value, as it's there where he's probably still worth a top-100 pick. Pujols' health requires attention through the spring, but regardless his prognosis, he shouldn't be forgotten in the middle rounds even in Rotisserie leagues.