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: 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: 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: 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: After a three-year stint in the Korean Baseball Organization, during which time he averaged .348-41-126 numbers, Thames returns to the U.S. game, landing in one of the most favorable power venues in baseball: Milwaukee's Miller Park. The small sample of players making such a jump creates difficulty in projecting Thames' 2017 numbers, as Jung Ho Kang is one who made a successful such move, while Byung Ho Park was one who struggled. Thames should be able to contribute enough pop to rank among the corner-infield tier of mixed-league players, though it's unclear whether he'll need to be platooned.
2017 Outlook: After emerging as more of a platoon partner for Ryan Howard as a rookie last season, Joseph appears set to graduate into the full-time first base role for the Phillies in 2017. Joseph could be up to the task, considering that he batted .278/.346/.522 against right-handers in the second half last season, and overall lowered his strikeout rate during that same time span. His ceiling is probably not that of a top-10 fantasy first baseman, but he could provide mixed-league owners corner infielder value at a late-round price.
2017 Outlook: Cron's career numbers to date might not catch your eye, as his low walk rate makes him a mediocre choice in points-based leagues, while he has yet to this point flashed what once seemed to be 20-plus-homer power. A fractured hand, however, cost him more than a month's time last season, so it's possible that he could've gotten there with greater luck in the health department. Cron's primary obstacle to a fantasy breakthrough in 2017 will be the arrival of free agent Luis Valbuena, who clogged the Angels' corner infield positions and might cost him some playing time. Consider Cron a mixed-league corner infielder, but unless it becomes clear he'll lock down an everyday role all year, his ceiling probably won't be greater than that.
2017 Outlook: Moreland has managed at least 20 home runs and 60 RBIs in three of the past four seasons -- those coinciding with his three healthiest campaigns -- and now moves to Boston, where he'll take over first base to afford Hanley Ramirez to shift to the less-taxing DH position. Not much should change; the Red Sox's lineup probably won't provide much more counting-numbers support than the Rangers' did last year, and Fenway Park in most respects is a worse environment for left-handed power than Globe Life Park. Consider Moreland corner infield material in larger-than-standard mixed leagues.
2017 Outlook: Carter, the National League's defending home run champion, found free-agent suitors hard to come by this winter, a sign of the diminishing value of his power in a league rife with it. He eventually signed a one-year deal with the Yankees, where he'll serve as insurance behind Greg Bird, who missed the entire 2016 season following shoulder surgery, and in Bird's best-case scenario Carter might be Bird's platoon partner. Yankee Stadium's power-friendly confines are a great fit for Carter's skill set, but he's a shaky pick in standard mixed leagues without a guarantee of regular at-bats. He'll help AL-only owners in Rotisserie scoring, but otherwise might be best used in daily leagues when the matchup calls.