2016 Outlook: Solarte took a long a winding road to the major leagues, but now that he's here, he's not too bad. He's a split-neutral switch hitter that can play all over the infield, comes into draft day qualifying at both corners and, depending on your league rules, second base as well. He accepts his walks and rarely strikes out, but a lack of speed and pull-happy approach limit his batting average upside. He's putting up the numbers Chase Headley put up on an annual basis, but it is highly unlikely Solarte will ever put up the career year that Headley had in San Diego before these two players switched places in the league. He's boring, but he's safe.
2016 Outlook: The historically brittle Lowrie put up back-to-back 550-plus plate appearance seasons in 2013 and 2014, so we had to expect some level of injury in 2015. We didn't have to wait long, as he badly injured his thumb on a play at the plate in late April and missed 10 weeks. That injury led to Carlos Correa coming up sooner than expected, and also ended Lowrie's short run at shortstop with Houston, as the team shifted him to third base before he could reach 20 games at short. Oakland is going to use him at second base, so the positional flexibility will be nice, but bad health doesn't go away and the switch hitter is much better against lefties than righties, which limits any upside.
2016 Outlook: With Starlin Castro now out of the way, a path has been opened for Baez to join the talent-laden roster of the Cubs, and his positional flexibility will likely come in handy on team that has other defensive question marks with Kris Bryant, Ben Zobrist, and Kyle Schwarber. Baez qualifies all over the infield and brings uncommon pop to the board, offering a Joc Pederson-like trade-off of home runs for batting average but at half the price and three times the positional value. Baez has been notoriously slow to get the bat going when introduced to new levels on the minor-league ladder, with a tendency to take off once he has made the necessary adjustments, so it is par for the course that he would take time to figure out how to hit at the highest level. The Cubs were cautious with Baez in 2015 to avoid his developing bad habits against major-league pitchers, keeping him on the farm until rosters expanded in September, and the statistical implications are that the ploy worked to his developmental advantage.
2016 Outlook: Drury hit 19 homers in High-A ball in 2014 in the California League, which is a high-run environment. Since leaving that league, Drury has hit 14 homers between Double-A, Triple-A and the big leagues. In his defense, he reached the major leagues at age 22 while most of his age group peers were still in High-A or Double-A. While the power is not there, the ability to hit for average is, because he makes quite a bit of contact. Therein lies the issue in that Drury plays at a position that needs power, and he's a one-category player: Average. Ideally, he spends more time in the minors than the majors in 2016.
2016 Outlook: Despite a disappointing finish to 2014, Owings was firmly on the deep mixed-league radar as a potential low-cost double-double candidate at a premium position entering 2015. Unfortunately, Owings got off to a poor start at the dish and never recovered, failing to push his OPS over .675 in any month of the season. The 24-year-old finished with two fewer homers than he had in 2014, despite logging 205 more at-bats, making his 26.1 percent strikeout rate completely unacceptable. He also walked at a well below-average rate (4.7% percent), and while he did swipe 16 bases in 20 attempts, the drain in the other categories negated the stolen base value. Owings' defense at short was also below replacement level, and while he should fit better at second (where he will play following the acquisition of Jean Segura), prospect Brandon Drury profiles as the better option at the keystone and could take over by midseason.
2016 Outlook: 2015 was Moncada's first year playing baseball in the states after defecting from Cuba, and he really left his mark. He battled some injuries early on in the season and got off to a slow start after being assigned to Low-A Greenville following extended spring training, but he turned it on once he got accustomed to the league. The 20-year-old slashed .310/.415/.500 after the All-Star break, propelling him to the finish line with an .818 OPS. He also flashed plenty of speed, swiping 49 bases while only getting caught three times. The Red Sox's top prospect is still a ways away from the majors right now, but there's a good chance Moncada could find his way into the upper levels of the minor leagues in 2016 if he continues to hit and run at such a torrid pace.
2016 Outlook: For his career, Gennett owns a .307/.339/.458 slash line. All of us would take that from a middle infielder on our fantasy rosters. Unfortunately, that is what Gennett hits against righties in his career. The numbers against lefties are very NSFW-ish: .124/.147/.150. More playing time for Gennett would be a very bad thing for his average, but in deep NL-only leagues, Gennett can be used strategically depending on the matchup for hidden value. There is no speed, no power and no run production here, so all of his value is tied up into him hitting for a very high yet very empty average. Less is more with Gennett, meaning the less he's in your lineup, the more likely you will succeed.
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: In 2015, Giavotella parlayed a strong spring into the regular second base job for the Angels. Other than bringing in defensive whiz Cliff Pennington, the Halos haven't done anything to upgrade the position, rendering the incumbent as the favorite to pick up where he left off. Giavotella's calling card is excellent contact. However, last season his hard contact rate was seventh lowest in the league, suggesting his career high 0.301 batting on balls in play may not be sustainable, dragging his batting average down. Since Giavotella hit just four homers while swiping only a pair of bags, he needs a healthy batting average to be fantasy relevant. Giavotella may ride last season's fortunate hit rate into opening the season as a starter, it wouldn't be surprising if he doesn't end it that way.
2016 Outlook: Gonzalez has put together back-to-back solid seasons offensively for the Astros and is coming off a 2015 campaign that saw him reach career-highs with a .272 average, 12 home runs and 34 RBI. With the emergence of Carlos Correa at shortstop last season, the Venezuelan was used more as a utility player, making 15 or more appearances at first base, second base, third base, shortstop and left field. Although he is not a starter, the Astros love his versatility and being to play multiple positions will likely lead to a good amount of opportunities in 2016. However, he isn't an everyday player and probably has more real-life value than fantasy value.
2016 Outlook: Hernandez had a stellar 2015 season for the Dodgers, slashing .307/.346/.441 to go along with seven home runs and 22 RBI. This was largely due to a hot streak over his last 32 games in which he put up a .351/.388/.526 line. Although Hernandez isn't an everyday starter, he proved his versatility by playing over 15 games at shortstop, second base, left fiel, and center field, making him the Dodgers' best utility player and allowing him to see the field as much as possible. For 2016, it is possible that his average will drop slightly, and his lack of premiere power or speed will limit his fantasy value. However, the 24-year-old could see more regular playing time should injuries arise.
2016 Outlook: Not only is Utley not slated to be first on the depth chart heading into the season, he might not even be second. It's a results-based business, and Utley was convincingly outperformed by Howie Kendrick and Enrique Hernandez last season, and all three players figure to open the year on the 25-man roster. The 37-year-old's .629 OPS last year was by far a career-worst, and his defense finally slipped to average or slightly below average at the keystone for the first time in his career. In deeper leagues, Utley's name may stand out when scouring the bottom of the pool of available second basemen, but it's hard to imagine a scenario where his declining skills and projected playing time would be a good addition to a fantasy roster in 2016.
2016 Outlook: Gyorko has a new home in St. Louis, and his outlook for playing time brightened considerably with the news that Jhonny Peralta will be out until around the All-Star break. The undeniable pop in Gyorko’s bat is often offset by his struggles to put bat to ball with any consistency, as he once again tallied a poor 75 percent contract rate while whiffing in 23.4 percent of his plate appearances. He can give it a ride when he does connect, as evidenced by his 23 homers in a career-high 525 plate appearances for the Padres in 2013, as well as his 16 homers last season in 458 trips to the batter’s box. Gyorko saw a nice boost in hard contact rate in 2015, putting the screws to the ball 34.8 percent of the time he made contact, compared to 29.8 percent the season prior. Aledmys Diaz is in the running for time at shortstop as well, but Gyorko figures to see at least semi-regular playing time between the middle-infield positions.
2016 Outlook: Espinosa was a starter in his first two full big league seasons, playing 158 and 160 games. But poor defense and a horrible contact rate have rendered him to a bench role the past three campaigns. Espinosa enters 2016 as a placeholder, keeping shortstop warm until top prospect Trea Turner usurps the position, which could be sooner than later. It's a shame Espinosa fans so much, as he was teasing 20/20 upside as a starter. To be fair, in 2015 Espinosa cut down significantly on his whiffs, though he still fanned at a clip well above league average. While he hasn't run much lately, he's an efficient 14-for-17 in steals since 2013 which bodes well as new manager Dusty Baker has expressed the desire to be more aggressive on the base paths.