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.
2017 Outlook: In his first year with the Rays, Miller set all sorts of career bests: 30 home runs, 81 RBIs, .482 slugging percentage, .172 well-hit average. A slight adjustment to his stance -- he incorporated a leg kick -- helped, as he put more of a charge into the baseball, evidenced by a third consecutive season increasing his average fly-ball distance. Miller also, unfortunately, set a career high with his 24.8 percent strikeout rate, so with the added power came the price of a lower batting average. He'll probably regress somewhat after such a successful year, but this is a new Brad Miller, capable of .250-25 numbers and worthy of your mid-round pick.
2017 Outlook: Though Morales has hit at least 22 home runs with a .785 OPS in four of his past six seasons, he has taken a circuitous path to get there, injuries and half-season slumps sometimes hindering his appeal in fantasy leagues. Now the Blue Jays' replacement for consistent slugger Edwin Encarnacion, Morales' perceived value might take a bit of a hit in direct comparison to his predecessor. Make no mistake, however: Morales is an excellent fit for Rogers Centre, a much more homer-friendly environment than his former home, Kauffman Stadium, and his odds of a repeat of (or slightly improvement upon) his 2016 numbers remain excellent. He might, too, come at a relative bargain if your league's ownership is hesitant to "clog the DH spot" with a player like Morales, who qualifies only at DH initially, but he's well worth the middle-round pick in any format.
2017 Outlook: After breaking through in the bigs late in 2015 and during the opening weeks of 2016, Franco fell into some bad habits midsummer, posting .238/.286/.351 triple-slash rates and swinging at non-strikes a whopping 35 percent of the time after the All-Star break. For a young player to endure such a slump requiring adjustments isn't uncommon, however, and all of his underlying metrics suggest his raw power - perhaps 25-plus-homer power - remains. Franco's spring will be one of the more important ones to watch, as it'll cast him on the high end a top-tier, mixed-league corner infielder, or on the low end a player barely worth the roster spot in those formats.
2017 Outlook: Gonzalez's power seemingly disappeared during the first half of 2016, to an extreme enough extent that theories were bandied about that a rising number of defensive shifts were getting into his head. Sure enough, he rebounded with a .297 batting average, .186 isolated power and 12 home runs in the Dodgers' final 81 team games (representing the second half of their schedule), which were much more in line with his past production. His advancing age and rising ground-ball rate probably cap him at .290-25 in the best-case scenario, but that's a handy output from a middle-round first baseman.
2017 Outlook: The Mets' glut of outfielders at the onset of spring training might serve to deflate Bruce's perceived value, making him a potentially strong mid-to-late-round target, especially in points-based leagues where his penchant for extra-base hits plus his rising contact rate are most beneficial. Unfortunately, that's still not enough to propel him into the top 25 at his position or top 100 overall, as Bruce's still-high strikeout rate leaves him subject to extreme streaks and slumps during the year. He's a frustrating player to own -- especially in head-to-head leagues -- but not one who should be forgotten, either.
2017 Outlook: Desmond took a big chance signing with the Texas Rangers last winter, agreeing to a position switch as well as a potentially permanent place in the bottom four of a deep lineup, though gaining a much friendlier hitters' environment in the process. He subsequently thrived in his new surroundings, earning himself a big payday and an even greater park bump with the Rockies this winter, though it'll also come with a possible position shift, to first base (giving him that and outfield, among eligible positions). Coors Field should do wonders for his repeat prospects, though the misconception is that it'll inflate his power; it's actually more likely to fuel his batting average than home runs, considering his ground ball-oriented game. Desmond, a 20/20 performer on four different occasions in his career, might require more day-to-day management as a member of the Rockies -- heads up, head-to-head owners -- especially in light of his inconsistent month-over-month recent play. That said, he's plenty worthy of a fourth-round pick in Rotisserie formats, and a seventh- or eighth-rounder in points-bases scoring.
2017 Outlook: Few players in baseball had more polarized first- and second-half numbers than Lamb in 2016; he looked like one of the game's true breakout stars before the All-Star break but regressed to a virtually unusable fantasy player thereafter. Unfortunately, many of his promising trends from the first half regressed, most notably his performance against left-handed pitchers, as he batted just .120 against them after the break with a 150-point drop in isolated power compared to before it; this casts the shadow of a clear platoon option rather than a player on the verge of a breakthrough. Lamb's power -- 30-plus-homer power at that -- might be legitimate, especially calling hitter-friendly Chase Field his home, and his walk rate is good enough that he's actually a slightly more appealing pick in points leagues than Rotisserie. He has the potential to be a top-10 option at his position in 2017, though he carries enough flaws that he's a smarter corner-infield target in mixed leagues.
2017 Outlook: The broken left hand that shelved him in early August couldn't have come at a much worse time, considering he was on pace for massive, .286-27-85 breakthrough numbers when it happened. Much of that was his significant improvement against right-handed pitching, batting .315/.365/.529 against them to erase his previous perception as a possible platoon candidate. As an extreme fly-ball hitter, Castellanos probably isn't as good a batting-average performer as his final line indicated, but he might have more power potential in the tank. He's one of the stronger breakthrough candidates amongst the mixed-league corner infield options, though he's a better one in Rotisserie than points-based scoring, where his high strikeout rate is more problematic.
2017 Outlook: After spending two years as a utility infielder for the Twins, Nunez graduated into a regular role divided between third base and shortstop, the boost in playing time almost entirely explaining his statistical breakthrough in 2016. As he had been throughout his career, he was a low-walk, modest-average hitter with a hint of pop, with his primary appeal in fantasy leagues his stolen bases, his 40 setting a new career best. After finishing last season with the Giants following a midseason trade, he'll shape up as their starting third baseman initially, though his versatility might always tempt them to drop him back into his previous utility role, one which would deflate his counting numbers (runs and RBIs) and make him a weak choice in mixed leagues. Consider Nunez a strong mid-round pick for his speed, but beware that his risk of regression is high.
2017 Outlook: As spring training dawned, Napoli was still in search of a team, a victim of the glut of first base-designated hitter types on the free-agent market. After a 2016 season during which he set career highs in games (150), plate appearances (645), home runs (34), RBIs (101), runs scored (92), however, he should manage to find a regular role somewhere before long. One of the best breaking-ball hitters in the game, Napoli's rebound year was fueled by greater selectivity at the plate as well as a return to the pull-oriented approach of his past. He's due for some regression -- his amount of playing time, especially -- after so many things broke right for him in 2016, but he's a more-than-adequate corner infield consideration in mixed leagues.
2017 Outlook: Moustakas' underlying numbers have been trending upwards annually since his arrival in the majors in 2011, but his 2016 was utterly ruined by extremely bad luck in the health department -- he suffered a left thumb fracture in a late-April game, resulting in a DL stint, then tore his right ACL when colliding with a teammate just five days after his return, ending his season. At the time, he was on pace to set a career-best contact rate, and coupling that with his newfound ability to hit to all fields, a return to -- or improvement upon -- his .284-22-82 stat line is well within his reach. Moustakas is one of the more intriguing corner-infield picks, and he's a possible top-10 candidate in points-based scoring if he's looking healthy this spring.
2017 Outlook: The Dodgers' new leadoff hitter following his acquisition in January, Forsythe's judgment of the strike zone is about as good as anyone's, providing him a good share of stability in terms of on-base percentage. He was second in the majors in terms of infrequency chasing non-strikes (19 percent of those pitches seen), and in fact is probably closer to the player who posted a .359 on-base in 2015 than .333 a year ago. That could result in a significant boost in runs scored for Forsythe, solidifying his value and making him a borderline contender for the top 100 most valuable players if all breaks right. Draft him in the middle rounds as your middle infielder in mixed leagues, and in points league, don't let him slip much past the 13th round.
2017 Outlook: Martin set a career high with his 27.7 percent strikeout rate and regressed significantly in performance against fastballs -- previously an elite skill of his -- but neck stiffness that fueled an awful start to his season might well have contributed. He batted .252/.367/.447 in his final 98 games, much closer to his traditional rates, ones that make him a top-10 Rotisserie catcher but one with a shot at top-five status in points-based leagues due to his penchant for walks. Martin should provide more of the same in 2017, thanks to Rogers Centre's favorable hitting confines.