2018 Outlook: A rocky 2017 campaign marred by an 80-game suspension for PEDs followed by a rough Dominican Winter League performance has Marte's fantasy stock in greater question than it has been in a half-decade, but both criticisms are perhaps unfair. While his power metrics were noticeably down after he returned in late July, capped by .098 isolated power, a .125 well-hit average and 51.9 percent ground ball rate in 64 games, he did bat .282 and steal 19 bases, which were right in line with his typical per-game rates pre-suspension. Even if Marte is no longer more than a 10-homer hitter, he makes enough contributions in the other rotisserie categories to be a viable early-round pick, though his free-swinging nature does make him a much less valuable selection in points-based leagues. To that end, he has never finished among the top 90 in fantasy points in any single year.
2018 Outlook: Graded baseball's fastest player by many measures (most notably Statcast's sprint speed and FanGraphs' Baserunning metric) and the defending American League Platinum Glove Award winner (given to the league's best overall defensive player), Buxton's up-and-down performance with the bat makes him as tantalizing a breakthrough candidate as it will scare off his critics. His first-half/second-half splits in 2017 illustrate: He hit .216/.288/.306 in the former, .300/.347/.546 in the latter. Thanks to his minimizing a leg kick and closing his stance somewhat, Buxton's second half is probably more representative of his true talent, though it was certainly BABIP-driven (.378). He's one of the few true 20/40 possibilities in baseball, a franchise-caliber selection in dynasty formats and an intriguing early-to-midrounder in redrafts. However, the lack of consistent contact makes him a so-so pick in points-based leagues and a streaky selection for those in head-to-head formats. Don't get carried away.
2018 Outlook: He possesses some of the best raw power in baseball -- that's especially good considering the Oakland Coliseum is a notoriously pitching-friendly environment -- as Davis is the only player in baseball with back-to-back 40-homer seasons and has a major league-leading 85 in those years combined. As is the case with many such types, he hits for a middling batting average, eerily enough hitting exactly .247 in three consecutive seasons and just three points lower in 2014. Hey, he's consistent! Thanks to his proficiency for doubles and walks as well, Davis is as attractive a pick in points-based leagues as Rotisserie leagues, a player with a legitimate case for a top-50 overall draft selection.
2018 Outlook: One of 2017's most heartwarming breakthrough-year stories, Pham put forth a top-25 Rotisserie season and top-80 fantasy point total after spending years struggling with keratoconus, a degenerative eye condition. Surgery and meticulous selection of proper contact lenses helped him substantially boost his contact rate and improve his patience metrics, most notably his 16.4 percent "chase" rate (this measures the percentage of non-strikes swung at), which ranked second-best among batting title-eligible major leaguers. With it, Pham was able to flash the power/speed combination he did in his earlier minor league days, and his five-category potential now makes him an intriguing selection in the game's top 100, though he might warrant waiting a few extra rounds in points-based formats. Whether he can maintain the patience and contact gains is the biggest question, but he has carved out a regular role and is a safer pick than you might think.
2018 Outlook: Though his final numbers didn't necessarily show it, Pollock returned to close-to-2015-peak form last season, with the most significant differences being poorer luck on balls in play (.291 BABIP) and 45 fewer games played. The latter has been and remains an issue, as he has missed nearly 40 percent of the Diamondbacks' scheduled games in the past four seasons combined due to injuries, something that isn't likely to cure itself overnight now that he's past his 30th birthday. Pollock does fill the Rotisserie stat sheet and generates a competitive number of fantasy points when healthy, making him worth the risk in the early-to-mid rounds.
2018 Outlook: His combination of solid contact, an extreme fly-ball rate and one of the highest hard-contact rates in baseball makes him as good a batting-average as power source. If there's anything to doubt with Cespedes, it's his ability to stay healthy at the age of 32 and coming off three DL stints in the past two years. He put the ball in the air 45 percent of the time last season and in 2016-17 combined had a well-hit average in the 95th percentile, so with some luck, he could again return to the 30-homer threshold. Expect Cespedes to rebound to top-100 status in all fantasy formats this season, though he's no longer worth paying much more of a premium than that.
2018 Outlook: Back with his original drafting team, the Brewers, Cain brings elements of speed, defense and some pop to the table, things that should again make him an appealing rotisserie pick, thanks to his category-filling potential. While he has had some trouble staying healthy throughout his career and is entering his age-32 season, diminishing the chances that will improve in that regard, he has been quite a consistent hitter when on the field, with .291-13-70, 28-steal averages per 162 games played in the past five years. Miller Park could help him bump up his power output somewhat, and since manager Craig Counsell is typically aggressive on the base paths, Cain's steal total could also benefit. Cain would be a top-50 rotisserie pick if you trust him to stay healthy, and he's only a few rounds less valuable than that in points-based formats.
2018 Outlook: Conforto was in the midst of one of baseball's biggest breakthrough campaigns when, in an Aug. 24 game, he suffered a tear in the posterior capsule of his left shoulder swinging and missing at a pitch. The injury required surgery that threatens to shelve him until May, or worse, deeper into the season, casting a shadow on his 2018 fantasy value. Extracting Conforto's numbers in the Mets' first 81 games of last year, his .285/.405/.548 numbers ranked among the game's leaders, and he showed significant improvement against left-handed pitching that cements his status as a star capable of an everyday role. Even with the injury, he's an outstanding dynasty league pick for those with patience, but in a redraft league, he's more of a midround pick accounting for his potentially lengthy absence.
2018 Outlook: After years of rumors, McCutchen was finally traded, landing in San Francisco in an even more pitching-friendly ballpark (AT&T Park) than his last one (PNC Park). Don't mistake that for a significant downgrade, however, but rather something that will make a repeat of his 28 home runs more difficult. McCutchen did rebound in a significant way in 2017, perhaps a product of better luck in the health department, as he enjoyed some of his best across-the-board contact metrics in a half-decade and annihilated left-handed pitching to the tune of .336/.435/.696 slash rates. He's a much more consistent player than people seem to give him credit for -- and a pretty decent bet to return top-100 overall fantasy value in all formats yet again.
2018 Outlook: As the Tigers began their rebuild, Castellanos quietly enjoyed one of the more under-the-radar summer breakthroughs, batting .303/.339/.557 in 106 games from June 1 forward. He did this thanks in large part to his boosting both his contact rate and well-hit average significantly, while maintaining his already-high fly-ball rate. While Castellanos' supporting cast entering 2018 is weaker, he'll also occupy a prime lineup spot, again fueling his counting numbers. He's not yet a top-10 fantasy option at the position, but he's also one of the more intriguing upside plays from the corner infield tier.
2018 Outlook: Few players in the history of the game possess Gallo's combination of elite, "light tower" power and a record-setting-low contact rate -- he, in fact, set an all-time record for the lowest qualified contact rate (56.3 percent). This penchant for swings and misses makes him wildly streaky, a legitimate worry for a sub-.200 batting average and a player difficult to trust in head-to-head leagues. Still, Gallo's power metrics are off the charts, as he averaged a major league-leading 422.2 feet on his 41 home runs, led with a 48.6 percent fly ball rate, and finished second in Statcast's "Barrels per Batted Ball Event" (percentage of batted balls hit with optimal launch angle and exit velocity). And he in fact showed gradual improvements in most offensive regards as the year progressed. He's a legitimate contender for the home run crown, in an era where everyone seems to be hitting for power, and he's a great dynasty pick and a top-100 redraft candidate across the board.
2018 Outlook: One of 2017's biggest breakthrough stories, Merrifield was one of only two players with at least 15 home runs and 30 stolen bases, joining Jose Altuve. Merrifield did it by boosting his contact rate to 85.0 percent -- in line with his minor league rates -- while hitting fewer ground balls (his 37 percent rate between the minors and majors the lowest in his pro career). In short, he made the kinds of improvements that make such a campaign repeatable, though he did have plenty go right for him in the process, making a complete repeat challenging. Merrifield is a rotisserie category-filler with top-10 second-base value, though he's a bit shy of that in points-based formats, due to his low walk rate.
2018 Outlook: One of five players with at least 30 home runs and 15 stolen bases last season, Santana broke through with a more fortunate year in the health department and the benefit of an everyday role. Unfortunately, he caught a lot of breaks in the process, his 19.5 home run/fly ball percentage the second-highest among qualifiers and .363 BABIP sixth-highest, despite a poor contact rate (66.1 percent) and only modest hard contact. Santana will be hard-pressed to repeat the effort even in a homer-friendly home environment, so there's a good chance he's going to be overvalued in points-based leagues, where he makes a weak case for a top-100 selection. In Rotisserie leagues, however, his power/speed combo should earn him a place in that group.
2018 Outlook: Thanks to career highs in games played (158) and plate appearances (718) and a bit of luck in terms of home run/fly ball percentage, Inciarte enjoyed what appeared to be a breakthrough year on the surface. His underlying stats, however, said it was more of the same: an elite contact rate driving a high but not contend-for-the-batting-title batting average and a decent amount of speed. In short, he's not as good a player as he looked last season, when he was a top-50 player in rotisserie with a top-60 fantasy point total, though his high floor makes him a viable pick within the first 10 to 12 rounds of any draft.
2018 Outlook: One of the more difficult players to project, Puig put forth career-best totals in home runs (28), RBIs (74) and stolen bases (15) last season when fantasy managers probably weren't expecting it, after he had disappointed the two years prior when they were likely anticipating a breakthrough. Digging beneath the Rotisserie numbers, Puig's stats suggested he might have instead raised his statistical floor at the expense of his ceiling, as his 49.0 percent ground-ball rate hinted his true power potential lies probably slightly beneath his 2017 output, and his steals total was driven by an unexpected increase in green lights on the base paths rather than an increase in speed or ability to read opposing pitchers. Puig has settled in as a midround pick, but a more reliable one than he has been in the past.