2018 Outlook: After a huge, category-filling 2016 campaign, Segura's numbers settled into more realistic levels in 2017: his batting average dropping 19 points and home run total nearly slashing in half, with his counting numbers following accordingly. That's not to criticize his output: He finished within the top 100 on the Player Rater and 144th in fantasy points. Make no mistake, Segura is a free-swinging, albeit contact-hitting, speedster. His 54.6 percent ground ball rate was ninth highest among qualifiers, but he also got on base more than 30 percent of the time when he hit one for the second straight year -- an exceptional success rate. His lack of walks is more problematic in points-based leagues, illustrated by his 2017 standing, but he's a top-10 fantasy shortstop nevertheless, with that status a bit more assured in rotisserie formats.
2018 Outlook: After a stunning 2016 rookie season cut short by a torn UCL in his left thumb, Story took a step backward in terms of hitting rates as a sophomore, when he gave back 33 points of batting average, hit three fewer home runs in 131 additional at-bats and struck out 191 times -- 24 more than any other shortstop. While his power metrics didn't lose much of their luster, his contact issues held him back offensively and took their toll on both his counting numbers and, eventually, his spot in the lineup. Story still possesses that power stroke to reach the 30-homer threshold, and he's playing in the most forgiving ballpark for a swing-and-miss type. But he's also likely to be one of the streakier players in the game, a headache for those in head-to-head leagues (especially when the Rockies are on the road) and a shakier pick in points-based than in rotisserie formats. He can be drafted as a top-15 shortstop in the former and top-10 in the latter, but in any given week he has an equal chance of being a top option at his position or completely unusable.
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 the least disciplined hitters in the game, Odor has now done in two years straight what had been done only four times previously in history: Hit 30-plus home runs while striking out at least five times as often as he walked. He's quickly turning into a swing-for-the-fences type, taking the approach perhaps to the extreme, making him a volatile selection in either rotisserie or points-based leagues. Odor seems destined to improve somewhat, even if only because he had the game's lowest batting average on balls in play (.224), 49 points beneath his career mark, but he's also one of the players in greatest need of adapting his overall approach. Keep tabs on his spring progress; but even if he spins his wheels, he should finish around the borderline of the top-10 second basemen.
2018 Outlook: Shoulder issues derailed the second half of Carpenter's 2017 campaign, and while they didn't require offseason surgery, they'll bear monitoring during spring training. If he's healthy, his continued attempt to elevate the ball bodes well for his power potential, as he has increased his fly ball rate in each of the past three seasons, and he set a personal best with a 47.0 percent rate last season. Though he has traded some contact to do it, Carpenter's walk rate remains excellent, making him one of the most underrated players in points-based leagues or those that reward extra for on-base percentage. He's in good shape for a rebound, and he could be a top-50 player in points leagues and worthy of an early-to-midround pick in rotisserie.
2018 Outlook: October debridement and microfracture surgery to repair damage to articular cartilage in his right knee threatens the start to Murphy's season, as the Nationals have thus far offered only "optimism" that he'll be ready by Opening Day. Toss that onto a pile that includes second-half hip, neck and hamstring issues, as well as his 32 years of age, and Murphy is one of the riskier picks come draft day. Though the hitting approach he adopted in 2015 has made him a consistent candidate for at least a .300 batting average and 20 homers annually, he regressed significantly in terms of contact rate and struggled against left-handed pitchers in the second half of 2017, things that could signal the aging process as much as it might've resulted from his injuries. With full health, he'd be a top-50 pick, perhaps better in points-based leagues. Until we get a firmer read on his return date, however, he's a risky pick anywhere near that early and will require a backup plan.
2018 Outlook: At a cursory glance, Gregorius' power outburst the past two seasons looks like a Yankee Stadium product. Guess again: He has been a considerably better hitter on the road (.343 wOBA) than at home (.310) during his three-year Yankees career. Gregorius instead did it by radically shifting his batted-ball distribution, taking more uppercut swings and posting 41.6 percent fly-ball and 25.3 percent line-drive rates during the second half of 2017. That puts him in an odd spot entering 2018: Continuing that approach would give him an outstanding chance at a power repeat, especially with his returning to that same homer-friendly park, but it'd come at greater expense to his batting average, while returning to more of a line-drive approach might cost him some homers while affording him the chance at repeating or exceeding his 2017 batting average. Whichever path Gregorius chooses, he has arrived as a top-10 fantasy option at his position.
2018 Outlook: One of the game's most free-swinging players -- his 56.5 percent swing rate was fifth-highest and 43.5 percent chase rate at non-strikes was highest among batting title-eligibles -- Baez nevertheless finally seemed to gain his footing at the big-league level in 2017. He boosted his walk and well-hit rates as well as his isolated power, and in fact turned in .291/.340/.511 second-half slash rates, while flashing an elite glove that only assures he should continue to see increasing amounts of playing time. While Baez is a batting-average risk due to his impatience, he also possesses an underrated power/speed combination, one that's more attractive at second base. He's a breakthrough candidate worth taking in the early rounds in dynasty and just outside the top 100 in redraft Rotisserie formats, though he's a bit less valuable than that in points-based leagues due to his strikeouts.
2018 Outlook: Albies parlayed four months of .285/.330/.440 slash rates and 21 stolen bases for Triple-A Gwinnett into a promotion to the Braves last Aug. 1, where he actually improved slightly upon that performance in a two-month audition. In the process, he posted an 83.4 percent contact rate, respectable slash rates against pitchers of either handedness, and good speed metrics -- including an 8-for-9 performance attempting steals in 57 games. Albies also flashed a hint of pop with his .171 isolated power, so there's a possibility he could be a five-category Rotisserie contributor in this, his first full big-league season. He's a top-100 capable dynasty pick and a mid-rounder in redraft formats who could sneak his way into that higher tier in the best-case scenario.
2018 Outlook: Where did that come from? Before 2017, Taylor had never hit more than eight home runs or had a .200-plus isolated power in any previous season as a pro. As many hitters did, he enjoyed a huge power breakthrough, though his skill set suggested that he's more of a .270-hitting, 15-homer candidate than what he contributed a year ago. Taylor's speed was actually his most promising asset, assuring that he'd fill your Rotisserie categories while qualifying at both second base and outfield, even if he's far from extraordinary in any one department. He's a handy player to have if you can land him in the middle rounds.
2018 Outlook: Happ managed to break into a deep Cubs roster last season by trading in some of his contact from the minor league levels in exchange for greater power. His 24 home runs in the majors matched his entire minor league total from 2015-16 combined. Whether he continues that approach as a sophomore is a worthy question, as it could leave him prone to streakiness and a low batting average. Happ should again carve out a fairly regular role for himself between second base and all three outfield positions, but until he shows he can make more consistent contact, he's a shaky pick prior to the middle rounds of redraft formats.
2018 Outlook: After a breakthrough 2016, propelled mostly by a significantly larger role than he had received in any of his previous six big league seasons, Nunez followed it up with a 2017 that wasn't a far cry from it in terms of fantasy earnings. Only a knee injury that cost him the large part of the season's final month, as well as the near-entirety of the Red Sox's Division Series loss, got in the way of a full repeat, as Nunez's per-game numbers were close and he batted a career-high .313, fueled by both a career-high 88.4 percent contact rate as well as a generous .333 BABIP. He also made starts at five different positions, earning fantasy eligibility at three (second base, third base and the outfield), his flexibility a plus. Nunez re-signed in February with the Red Sox, who will presumably have him handle second base chores until Dustin Pedroia fully heals, then return Nunez to his traditional utility man role. His multi-category potential will again be a boon in rotisserie leagues, where he might have a shot at another top-100 season. Nunez is several rounds less valuable in points leagues, however, due to his low walk rate.
2018 Outlook: Arcia enjoyed one of the more quietly productive sophomore seasons of 2017, providing adequate -- if not extraordinary -- contributions in several areas: Contact, a hint of pop, speed and defense. He also made significant strides against offspeed stuff, a particular weakness of his as a rookie, boosting his batting average against those pitches from .183 to .269 while slashing his swinging-strike rate by roughly five percent. It was a small step forward in Arcia's development that bodes well for his immediate future, and he'll return to an everyday role for a beefed-up Brewers offense that calls one of the most hitting-friendly ballparks home. As the team's No. 8 hitter, his counting numbers might not improve by leaps and bounds, but he's one of the more intriguing mixed-league middle infielders, with a hint of upside, on 2018 draft boards.
2018 Outlook: Though we had to wait through a half-season in the minors and another month-plus of his adapting to the big leagues, Moncada showed promise last September, with .276/.349/.469 slash rates and five home runs in his final 24 games. Though he wasn't given the green light on the base paths as often as he was in the minors, he still possesses the raw speed to swipe 20-plus bags annually with experience. Moncada's biggest weakness is his penchant for strikeouts, as his 32.0 percent whiff rate in the majors last season puts him at batting-average risk, for those who value it in Rotisserie formats. He'll be a streaky performer, but one with legitimate 20/20 potential from the middle infield.
2018 Outlook: Age appeared to finally come calling for the 35-year-old Kinsler in 2017, as he produced at a below-average level (91 wRC+) for the first time in his 12-year career. Some of Kinsler's 52-point drop in batting average can be explained away by batted-ball luck, as he suffered a 70-point drop in BABIP. He continued to make contact at a high rate and his hard-hit rate actually increased by three percentage points, but there are some red flags in his underlying stats. His 14.4 percent infield fly rate tied his career high and his line-drive rate was a three-year low. Still, the skills are mixed-league worthy even with some decline, and Kinsler will have a much better supporting cast around him following a trade to the Angels in December. Best of all, the down year and move to another pitcher-friendly park will likely keep Kinsler's price modest.