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: 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: 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: Gurriel, a superstar member of Cuba's national team for more than a decade, defected in February 2016, signed with the Astros five months later and arrived in Houston after just 15 minor league games played. He held his own in the majors, his elite contact ability his most noticeable trait, though it's unclear at this point whether that'll translate to big fantasy numbers in any category besides batting average. Gurriel's Cuban numbers suggest he could be a 20-homer power hitter who contributes near-double-digit steals, but his uncertain role makes him a dicey pick as anything more than a late-rounder in mixed leagues. He's set to be the Astros' primary first baseman, though the team's glut of alternatives at that spot as well as DH could drop him into a part-time role should he struggle initially.
2017 Outlook: Recalled immediately after the All-Star break last season, Healy was a workhorse for the Athletics, appearing in all but one of 73 Athletics games. That gave him a volume advantage, evidenced by his tying for 22nd in total bases (141) and 23rd in hits (82) among all players during that span. Unfortunately, that might serve to artificially inflate Healy's perceived draft appeal, as he'll face competition for at-bats this year -- that mainly the result of Trevor Plouffe's arrival -- and he never shaped up as an elite performer in terms of batting average or power during his minor league career. Granted enough at-bats, Healy is a capable enough batsman to provide corner-infield value in a mixed-league context, though he's not worth more than a late-round pick. In points-based leagues, his modest walk rate makes him somewhat less attractive.
2017 Outlook: A regular role in 2016 helped fuel Suarez's "breakthrough" numbers; in reality his rate statistics really weren't all that much different from his 2015. He did walk nearly twice as often, which was an encouraging sign, but he's still a mediocre-to-poor defender (that casts future risk of a diminishing role) who tends to do his most damage against left-handed pitchers. Suarez should play about as often this season as last, making him a clear corner-infielder choice in mixed leagues, but he probably doesn't have much more room for growth.
2017 Outlook: Kang's raw power doesn't get enough recognition: His 4.3 percent home run rate and .210 isolated power in his two years in the States ranked in the 76th and 78th percentiles among players with at least as many as his 837 trips to the plate. Unfortunately, his arrival in spring training was delayed due to a DUI charge in his native South Korea, casting some doubt upon his role initially in 2017. Granted everyday at-bats, Kang could vault himself into the top 10 shortstops, though the risk of missed time makes him more of a middle-infield target in mixed leagues.
2017 Outlook: It's funny how injuries so often settle the "too many men, too few available positions" debate. After losing Brandon Moss and Matt Carpenter to the DL last July, the Cardinals pressed Gyorko into their lineup regularly at first, second and third base, and he responded by leading the majors in home run rate (8.5 percent of his PAs) and at-bats per home run (10.74) while hitting the second-most homers (23) after the All-Star break. Once again, the Cardinals have an abundance of infielders, so Gyorko might be back fighting for at-bats, making him look most appealing to fantasy owners for his multi-position eligibility and ability to slot into daily lineups. He's a worthwhile late-round pick for these possibilities, but don't mistake him for something he's not: His value is primarily tied to power, and he's not as good a hitter against righties as his .295 isolated power against them showed in 2016.
2017 Outlook: A player who has teetered between utilityman and regular throughout his career, Harrison will begin 2017 the latter, and deservedly so. His 2016 stat line, on a rate basis, was effectively spot-on to his 2015, seemingly establishing a new baseline that's not quite at the level of his outstanding 2014. Harrison is most useful for his high floor in the batting-average category as well as his decent speed; a .280 batting average and 15-20 stolen bases seems likely. Consider him a middle-infielder target in mixed formats, and a stronger choice in Rotisserie than points-based leagues.
2017 Outlook: One of only eight players to bat at least .280 while qualifying for the batting title in each of the past five seasons, Prado is one of the few truly "safe" choices in the category, thanks to his elite contact ability. He's also an exceptional hitter against left-handed pitching, batting .373 against them the past three seasons, something worth keeping in mind if your league affords daily transactions. Beyond those traits, however, Prado doesn't have much more to offer. His predictability is much more useful in NL-only and points-based leagues than the alternative.