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: Had Murphy gone on his power binge a little later in the playoffs and had it propelled the Mets to the title, the message would be not to pay for a well-publicized hot streak. There's still some residual optimism and the National League Championship Series hero can carry some of it over to 2016, but now it's a little easier to remind everyone that Citi Field boosts left-handed power while Nationals Park depresses it. Thus, on paper, Murphy's home run output should actually drop in his new digs. Murphy changed his approach last summer leading to a second-half featuring nine homers. If the change subsists, a total in the high teens is plausible. Perhaps a result of some nagging leg injuries, Murphy barely ran last season. That could change under Dusty Baker as the Nationals skipper is on record as saying he'd like the club to be aggressive on the basepaths.
2016 Outlook: After finally escaping from a platoon with Ike Davis in 2014, Duda has been consistently excellent. He followed up 2014's 30-homer campaign with 27 home runs in 2015, and remains a well-disciplined hitter with the patience to use that power to its fullest (including an 11.9 percent walk rate). Despite the previous concerns about his ability to hit lefties, Duda was actually far better against lefties (.285/.333/.545, seven home runs) than righties (.230/.358/.466, 20 home runs) in 2015. It's unlikely this will repeat itself in 2016 -- Duda's career OPS against righties is nearly 200 points higher than against lefties -- but now that Duda has gotten some experience swinging against southpaws, he's shown he can handle them better than earlier in his career. Expect more of the same type of solid power production we've seen from him during the past two seasons.
2016 Outlook: Well, it's about time to give up hope Teixeria will be the Triple Crown contender many thought he'd become when he was coming up through the Rangers farm system. Though, it was encouraging to see last year's power burst. Chances are he'll give some back, but if Teixeira can make a full recovery from last season's bone fracture, he'll enter the season healthy and in line to at least match 2014 in terms of playing time, with Greg Bird (shoulder) out for the year. It's interesting to note Teixeira hits better against the shift than when teams play it straight. The best approach with the veteran is to use him at corner and plan on good power when healthy, but be ready with an escape plan if he misses time (the most recent season in which he played 150-plus games was 2011).
2016 Outlook: Santana remains a remarkably consistent hitter, as he hit exactly .231, walked at least 100 times and clubbed at least 50 extra-base hits for the second straight season. Unfortunately, Santana also remains a consistent whiff machine, as he struck out 122 times in 2014 after striking out 124 times in 2015, and that places a hard ceiling on his batting average. The real problem for Santana owners is that he has lost his positional eligibility at both third base and catcher after exclusively playing first base and designated hitter in 2015. His warts were manageable at those weak positions, but his power is pedestrian by first base standards, unless he can turn some of his doubles and triples back into home runs in 2016.
2016 Outlook: Opportunity knocked for Forsythe in 2015, not only the opportunity to play every day for the first time in his career, but also the chance to bat in the heart of a major league batting order. He answered the challenge in his age-28 season, finishing second on the Rays in home runs, runs, and RBI (behind Evan Longoria in all three categories), with a final line good enough to rank him 10th among all second basemen in earned 5x5 rotisserie value. His 8.9 percent walk rate was a career best, and the uptick in power did not come at the expense of contact as he maintained an above-average contact rate of 83.4 percent, a mark right around his career average. He also swiped nine bases in total, but was only 2-for-4 on the basepaths in the second half and it's hard to imagine he will get the green light to run more often this year. A dip in the power department could return him closer to fringe mixed-league status, but Forsythe has the second base job to himself and the projected lineup spot is fruitful for counting stats.
2016 Outlook: While Kendrick may be a boring player to own in fantasy, he is certainly entertaining to observe statistically. Over the past five seasons, his batting average has very little variance and he's hit over .290 for the last three seasons. He's either scored more than 85 runs or fewer than 65 in that same five year span and he's stolen either six or 14 bases depending on the year. He's back with the Dodgers on a two-year deal as the free agent market did not work out like he hoped, and projecting Kendrick is one of the easiest projections to do any offseason. He'll hit for a good average and provide owners with a little bit in the counting categories, but not enough in any one of them to make any significant impact. A second baseman in his 30s rarely surprises statistically, so unless he mimics what Brandon Phillips did in 2015, it will be another bland season from Kendrick in 2016.
2016 Outlook: Trumbo changed teams for the third time in less than two years when the Mariners traded him to the Orioles in December. That came on the heels of a .284/.343/.472 second half for Trumbo, who matched his home run output from the first half (11 homers) in 50 fewer at-bats after the All-Star break. Now he goes from one of the toughest environments for hitters in baseball to one of the most favorable with the trade to Baltimore and can focus almost exclusively on hitting with the DH spot pretty much all to himself. Of course, Trumbo comes with his caveats. He makes contact just over 70 percent of the time, doesn't walk much, and is prone to some brutal dry spells. A return to the 30-homer levels from 2012-13 is not out of the question, but it's wiser to bet on closer to 20 homers, given his limitations. And keep in mind Trumbo gets dinged a bit in OBP leagues.
2016 Outlook: Vogt rewarded owners who bought into his 2014 numbers in limited playing time by easily returning a top-10 season at the position last year. The bar to clear to be a top-10 fantasy catcher obviously isn't very high these days, and that makes Vogt all the more appealing. Josh Phegley could cut a little more into Vogt's playing time this year, as Phegley grades out as a better defensive option while offering similar power, but Vogt had the fifth best OBP (.341) among starting catchers last year, so he will still be the primary option. He also played 25 games at first base last year, and with Yonder Alonso (career .732 OPS) slotted to be the starter there this season, Vogt should continue to get occasional starts even when he's not behind the dish in 2016. He had offseason elbow surgery, but that procedure is not expected to affect his availability for spring training.
2016 Outlook: First base can thin out rather quickly, and for those who are unable to secure a proven producer at the position, Bour makes for a logical target in the later rounds of mixed-league drafts. There are a couple of things prospective owners absolutely must be aware of, though: His struggles against left-handed pitching and below-average contact skills. The 27-year-old managed just a .221 average with 22 strikeouts in 68 at-bats against lefties last year, with none of his 23 homers coming against same-handed pitching. His 75 percent contact rate makes a repeat of his modest .262 average from a year ago an uncertainty, and though he does pack a power punch against right-handers, his HR/FB rate seems likely to fall from its near-elite level (21.5 percent) if for no other reason than he plays half of his games in Marlins Park. Offseason addition Chris Johnson may very well play whenever a lefty is on the mound for the opposition, and Derek Dietrich has enough power to be an option at first if Bour slips up.
2016 Outlook: Miller is the Rays shortstop to own in fantasy, as he should open the year on the strong side of a platoon with Tim Beckham. Neither player was particularly valuable in real life last year, however, so there could be some fluidity if one emerges as the far superior defensive option. Miller proved last year that he can help a little in power and steals, though his likely spot at the bottom of the Rays lineup will limit his upside in runs and RBIs. A .248 career hitter, his batting average is unlikely to be much help, but it won't sink a fantasy team either. There is not much hype surrounding the 26-year-old, though he can be thought of as a serviceable middle infield option in mixed leagues; he could outperform that valuation if he achieves the skill growth that many players experience at his age.
2016 Outlook: Limited throughout most of 2015 by a bout of plantar fasciitis, Zimmerman posted a career-worst .773 OPS in 95 games last season with his on-base percentage falling off a cliff to .308. He also missed time late due to an oblique injury, but between stints on the shelf, Zimmerman showed that he can still produce at a high level when his body is right. From July 28 to Sept. 7, over a span of 40 games, Zimmerman hit .311 (42-for-135) with 11 homers and 39 RBI. Of course, that kind of per-game production cannot be extrapolated over a full season, especially with a player like Zimmerman who has averaged 110 games over the last five seasons. But at 31, Zimmerman still has the plate skills -- despite the dip in OBP, he maintained a respectable walk rate last season -- and power to be a valuable contributor at first base.
2016 Outlook: Minor-league studs that strike out a lot but mask that with a very high BABIP often take longer to reach their potential, if they do it at all. Myers fits that description with the jury still out on whether his career arc is more Brandon Belt or Jay Bruce. At least so far in his MLB career, Myers continues to fan at an accelerated rate while his BABIP is considerably lower than it was at the minor league level. His groundball mark is also not conducive to power, which is unfortunate, as he's flashed an HR/FB above league average. As presently constituted, the Padres can play Myers at first or the outfield; at worst case as the strong side of a platoon. His dual eligibility makes him a little more interesting -- there's just too many warts to make him a target without a backup plan in place.
2016 Outlook: Alvarez has entered Mark Reynolds territory as a three-true-outcomes player at the plate who is brutal in the field, and that reputation limited his employment opportunities this offseason. He finally found a home in Baltimore two weeks into spring training, and is likely to serve as the primary designated hitter for the Orioles, pushing Mark Trumbo to right field. The 29-year-old Alvarez has plenty of power, but also has large holes in his swing, and is downright terrible against lefties for his career (.203/.270/.332). If platooned properly, he could easily hit 20 homers with a higher batting average. Itís a good thing if he only sees 450-475 at bats in 2016, because if the average does indeed improve, that makes the power more rosterable.
2016 Outlook: The 31-year-old third baseman had a career year in 2015 splitting time between Toronto and Oakland. Long thought of as a platoon player who crushed southpaws, Valencia will have a chance to prove he is worthy of playing every day for the A's this season. He significantly upped his groundball rate to 52.4 percent after failing to top 45 percent in any of the previous three seasons, so the batting average gains could be real. However, it seems pretty obvious that his increased power numbers are unsustainable after posting a 22.2 percent HR/FB, which was more than double his career mark of 10.8 percent. The nice thing about Valencia is he will still come cheap in drafts, and simply batting in the middle of the A's lineup should allow him to offer up respectable production from a corner infield spot.