2017 Outlook: One of the most consistent five-category Rotisserie contributors -- he and Mike Trout were the only players with at least 10 home runs and stolen bases apiece and at least 70 RBIs and runs scored apiece in each of the past five seasons -- Kinsler shouldn't be mistaken for a superstar in any one, even if he enjoyed a 17-homer increase in 2016 compared to 2015, his 28 total homers his best single-year total since 2011 (32). His value comes from his consistency, and his balanced, above-average-but-not-necessarily-elite skills in all facets of the game. Kinsler's line drive-oriented approach makes another outcome within range of his 2014-16 three-year average highly likely, though his career-high 16.9 percent strikeout rate does raise questions about his stability in the batting-average category as well as whether he's shifting his swing somewhat more towards a power stroke. He's a reliable early-to-mid round pick in any format.
2017 Outlook: It's a credit to his ability to adjust that LeMahieu has become such a valuable player in fantasy despite rarely being regarded a top-10 prospect within his own organization in the minors. The No. 38 finisher on the 2016 Player Rater, and 46th in points-based scoring, last season, LeMahieu has quietly become one the most adept in baseball at not only making contact, but squaring up the ball solidly. He led the majors in hard-contact line drives (75), had a major league-leading .316 batting average in plate appearances in which he faced an 0-2 count, and had an 87 percent contact rate after the All-Star break. He also enjoyed a career-best 10.4 percent walk rate, giving hope that he'll be a safe, consistent five-category contributor for the foreseeable future. LeMahieu might not seem like a star, or an early-round pick, but he has improved his game to the point that he absolutely warrants that status.
2017 Outlook: Segura's one-year stop in Arizona resulted in a dream outcome: Installed as the Diamondbacks' leadoff hitter and starting second baseman, he set career bests in practically every hitting category, finishing sixth on the Player Rater. While that helped erase a reputation as a one-category performer -- he stole at least 20 bases in each of the past four years, averaging 30 per year -- his underlying numbers hinted he'll probably regress in 2017, perhaps significantly. Half of his 20 home runs were hit in his final 39 games, he continued to have major issues covering the outer third of the plate (a career-long problem), and he continued to exhibit a free-swinging approach masked by his backing into an unusually large number of hitters' counts. Worse yet, the move to Seattle, despite Safeco Field's homer-friendly 2016 output, hurt his power upside. Segura has made enough adjustments to contribute with the bat, but they're probably closer to his four-year baseline of .281 and 11 home runs, which means he's more of an early-to-mid round pick than something better, and in points-based scoring he's a player who probably isn't even a top-100 overall player.
2017 Outlook: Pedroia enjoyed a modest bounce-back last season, partly because he entered the year healthier than he had been in either of the previous two campaigns. As he had typically done, he hit for a high average, flashed good plate discipline and a bit of pop, things that annually make him one of the more reliable mid-round picks. However, Pedroia's speed has declined since his 30th birthday, and as he enters 2017 at the age of 33, it's unlikely to return. He's a player worth targeting because of his high floor in batting average and on-base percentage, and his likelihood of a good runs scored total as a top-third-in-the-order Red Sox hitter. Pedroia's skill set is more valuable using points-based scoring, though he probably doesn't have much room for growth at this career stage.
2017 Outlook: Ramirez's contact ability has been extremely overlooked in recent years, and he posted a career-best 89 percent rate in 2016 and 91 percent during the season's second half. These fueled his breakthrough numbers, lending legitimacy to his healthy batting average and on-base percentage and explaining both his playing-time increase as well as his stolen-base total. The Indians will use Ramirez regularly again in 2017, presumably mostly at third base, and he's not nearly the regression candidate you might think. He should continue to contribute in all five Rotisserie categories, be slightly more valuable in points-based formats thanks to his contact and ability to generate many extra-base hits, and has the added advantage of dual position eligibility (third base and outfield). Ramirez is a worthy mid-rounder.
2017 Outlook: Kipnis finally broke through as a power source last season, setting career highs with 23 home runs, a .469 slugging percentage and .193 isolated power (the latter two among his five full big-league seasons), doing so thanks to improved quality of contact and greater success against left-handed pitching. His speed, however, continued to suffer for the second consecutive year; he now appears to be more of a 25/15 candidate than the 15/30 player he was in his first three seasons. The changes to his hitting game grant him an advantage, however: He's now more likely to repeat his 2016 effort, whereas earlier in his career he was more unpredictable year-to-year. Kipnis belongs amongst the game's 10 best fantasy second baseman, and he's well worth your early-to-mid round pick.
2017 Outlook: Russell finished 108 spots higher on the Player Rater in 2016 than 2015, and saw his fantasy points increase by 56 percent, but it's dangerous to misconstrue that for substantial improvement to his skill set. Much of that was the product of his 95 RBIs, second-most among shortstops, a potentially fluky number considering he saw the second-most runners on base per plate appearance of any batting title-eligible player. Russell showed modest growth in terms of raw power as well as to his contact rate during the season's' second half, which hint at a possible improvement to his batting average and home-run total, but potential regression might neutralize much of that, perhaps causing him to spin his wheels fantasy-wise. He's a top-10 shortstop nevertheless, but perhaps isn't quite ready to join his young brethren in the upper tiers of the position's rankings.
2017 Outlook: Andrus' rate of declining stolen bases is accelerating somewhat quicker than his advancing power; and "power" probably belongs in quotations since he has never hit more than eight home runs or managed greater than .136 isolated power in a season, both of which occurred last year. He's the kind of player who seems a lock to match his three-year average in 2017, though a 10/30 outcome with some batting-average luck could represent his ceiling. If you're in need of stolen bases and have an available shortstop spot in the middle rounds, he's well worth your while.
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: Predictably, Tulowitzki's fantasy numbers have suffered since his July 2015 trade from the Rockies, part of that due to the ballpark effect of leaving Coors Field (even for a hitting-friendly park like Rogers Centre), and part due to his continued struggles with injuries. He has had an extremely difficult time staying on the field, only three times in 10 full seasons appearing in as many as 140 games, averaging 119 in the past four years. Now 32 years of age, Tulowitzki's MVP-caliber statistics are probably now in his past, though he has exhibited All-Star ability over smaller snippets of time in Toronto, indicating his healthier periods. He's a worthwhile middle-round pick -- perhaps a middle-infield pick for mixed leagues for the first time in years -- but beware that owning him means a more-than-occasional absence or injury-influenced slump.
2017 Outlook: After Jhonny Peralta succumbed to thumb surgery last March, Diaz captured the Cardinals' starting shortstop role and got off to a scorching start, batting .423 with eight multi-hit efforts in 22 April games. He cooled to a more-in-line-with-his-skill-set .273/.352/.462 triple-slash line thereafter, thanks in part to an 83 percent contact rate that elevates his statistical floor. Diaz will begin the season as the Cardinals' starter once more and should serve as their No. 2 hitter, where his ability to get on base and contribute to turning over the lineup should be good for his counting numbers, making him a top choice for a mixed-league middle infield spot, and perhaps a top-10 candidate at the position in points leagues.
2017 Outlook: At year's end, Zobrist's raw numbers never look elite in fantasy terms; he's always nevertheless much higher in Player Rater terms than you might perceive, and in points leagues, he's just a small step shy of stardom. He's particularly appealing in the latter thanks to his penchant for walks as well as his elite contact ability; Zobrist is well worth top-100 consideration there even at his advanced age. His role as a top-third-of-the-order for the Cubs, too, also pads his Rotisserie value, as for a brief time last season Zobrist looked destined to breeze past 100 runs scored. Don't forget about him after the big names are off the board, especially since his versatility - second base and outfield eligibility - provides an extra boost in fantasy leagues.
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: Yankee Stadium appeared to do Castro some good following his trade there during the 2015-16 offseason, as he batted .301/.333/.507 in his 78 home games in his first year in pinstripes. Unfortunately, he was practically unusable in his road contests, and his once-good speed failed to return, seemingly locking him into the middle-infield tier of players in fantasy teams. Castro could get a bit of a bump should the Yankees, a seemingly rebuilding team, press him into a middle-of-the-lineup spot, but he's otherwise highly likely the player indicated by his .275-15-68, 4-steal three-year average.
2017 Outlook: The No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 amateur draft as well as the key return in last winter's Shelby Miller trade, Swanson arrived in Atlanta in mid-August and held his own in the bigs, batting .302 with a .361 on-base percentage while providing a bit of pop and speed. His future sometimes compared to Derek Jeter, Swanson's ascent to All-Star status might not be swift; he's a budding five-category Rotisserie contributor but might not excel in any individual department in this, his official "rookie" year. Whether the Braves bat him in the top or bottom third of the order will influence his fantasy value -- he'd have greater breakout odds with a counting numbers-fueling No. 2 lineup spot -- but he's well worth taking as a middle infielder in all formats, and in keeper leagues, he's a building block with possible top-100 overall draft value.