2016 Outlook: Nobody was quite certain how Kang would hit major league pitching, but he exceeded most expectations with a strong rookie year while playing both spots on the left side of the infield. His season was prematurely ended when Chris Coghlan aggressively slid into Kang's leg trying to break up a double play as the Pirates were fighting for the NL Central banner. Kang walked enough and his strikeout rate was OK considering the drastic change of competition coming from overseas to the major leagues. He hits too many ground balls to forsee a spike to 20 homers; as it was, it took a 17 percent HR/FB ratio to get him to 15 homers last year. Enjoy the above-average bat that qualifies at two spots on draft day, particularly at shortstop, which is rather top-heavy in 2016.
2016 Outlook: While Duffy doesn't provide the pop from the hot corner that many covet, he profiles as a batting average booster, relying on a solid contact rate in tandem with a high percentage of hard-hit balls. Unless he changes his batted ball distribution to put more in the air, his power will be capped to the high single digits with a low-teens ceiling. That said, Duffy is a very smart baserunner, exemplified by an excellent stolen base success rate, which bodes well for more running. Duffy is a player that can't be drafted blindly, but those in need of some batting average with a smattering of swipes could do worse than sliding him into corner or even third base.
2016 Outlook: Harrison couldn't live up to his excellent 2014, and even giving him a break for the torn thumb that cost him over a month doesn't really help because he was actually better after the injury. He just wasn't the hitter we saw in 2014. The .353 BABIP regressed as many expected, but it wasn't that substantial and definitely not the issue behind his drop-off. He lost a full 100 points off of his slugging percentage and his 3.4 percent HR/FB rate was 21st lowest among 211 batters to log at least 400 plate appearances. Some of that might've been bad luck, but he also pulled the ball a lot less and hit fewer fly balls. The Pirates are undaunted, clearing the path for Harrison to have a guaranteed spot with the trade of Neil Walker. It's a solid lineup and he should regularly be near the top of it.
2016 Outlook: The 27-year-old enjoyed a breakout season for the World Series champs, establishing a slew of personal bests along the way. He broke the 20-homer barrier for the first time since 2012, with a career-high 22 homers while also tallying high-water marks in runs scored (73), hits (156), RBI (82), walks (43), average (.284), OBP (.348), slugging (.470) and OPS (.818). He also played at least 140 games for the third time in the last four campaigns, and encouragingly boosted his batting average against both lefties and righties. The most drastic boost came against southpaws, with Moustakas improving his average over 100 points, to .282. His average against righties shot up over 60 points in its own right, to .286, and the overall improvement was also evident in his outstanding 86 percent contact rate and his reduction (for the fourth consecutive season) in strikeout rate, down to 12.4 percent in 2015.
2016 Outlook: While Kendrick may be a boring player to own in fantasy, he is certainly entertaining to observe statistically. Over the past five seasons, his batting average has very little variance and he's hit over .290 for the last three seasons. He's either scored more than 85 runs or fewer than 65 in that same five year span and he's stolen either six or 14 bases depending on the year. He's back with the Dodgers on a two-year deal as the free agent market did not work out like he hoped, and projecting Kendrick is one of the easiest projections to do any offseason. He'll hit for a good average and provide owners with a little bit in the counting categories, but not enough in any one of them to make any significant impact. A second baseman in his 30s rarely surprises statistically, so unless he mimics what Brandon Phillips did in 2015, it will be another bland season from Kendrick in 2016.
2016 Outlook: Traded from the Angels to the Braves in the offseason as part of the package for Andrelton Simmons, Aybar goes from one of the most potent lineups in baseball to one of the most anemic. And it's not like Aybar, who's coming off his worst season as a full-time starter and entering his age-32 season, is the caliber of talent who can produce counting stats no matter the team context. He continued to make contact at a well-above-average clip, but that skill was largely negated by an inability to take a walk (3.9 BB%) or hit for a lick of power (.069 ISO). While Aybar continued to produce decent run and stolen-base totals, his contributions in those categories are in serious jeopardy entering 2016. His success rate on the basepaths has been slipping in recent years, and a spot near the top of the order is far from a given considering his lackluster on-base skills. Shortstop is thin, but even so, Aybar's appeal is limited.
2016 Outlook: The jury remains out on the former top prospect entering his age-24 season. Castellanos' first couple seasons at the major league level have yielded below-replacement-level results, but he made some improvements down the stretch last year that lend hope to a leap forward in 2016. By laying off more pitches out of the zone and swinging less often in general, Castellanos improved his contact rate while adding power. He hit nine home runs after the All-Star break last year, three more than he had in the first half in 61 fewer plate appearances. Castellanos could still stand to be more patient at the plate, but if he can maintain his adjustments from last year, the home run total and batting average could improve considerably. Even a modest improvement could push Castellanos near the top-12 among third baseman. Simply put, there's plenty of reason to buy in on Castellanos at his current cost.
2016 Outlook: Alvarez has entered Mark Reynolds territory as a three-true-outcomes player at the plate who is brutal in the field, and that reputation limited his employment opportunities this offseason. He finally found a home in Baltimore two weeks into spring training, and is likely to serve as the primary designated hitter for the Orioles, pushing Mark Trumbo to right field. The 29-year-old Alvarez has plenty of power, but also has large holes in his swing, and is downright terrible against lefties for his career (.203/.270/.332). If platooned properly, he could easily hit 20 homers with a higher batting average. Itís a good thing if he only sees 450-475 at bats in 2016, because if the average does indeed improve, that makes the power more rosterable.
2016 Outlook: The 31-year-old third baseman had a career year in 2015 splitting time between Toronto and Oakland. Long thought of as a platoon player who crushed southpaws, Valencia will have a chance to prove he is worthy of playing every day for the A's this season. He significantly upped his groundball rate to 52.4 percent after failing to top 45 percent in any of the previous three seasons, so the batting average gains could be real. However, it seems pretty obvious that his increased power numbers are unsustainable after posting a 22.2 percent HR/FB, which was more than double his career mark of 10.8 percent. The nice thing about Valencia is he will still come cheap in drafts, and simply batting in the middle of the A's lineup should allow him to offer up respectable production from a corner infield spot.
2016 Outlook: From 2005 to 2010, Wright played 144 or more games in each season as a five-category stud at the hot corner. In the past five seasons, he's averaged 108 games played per year and watched his fantasy-relevant numbers crumble even on a per-game basis. Over the past two seasons, he has combined for just 13 homers, 10 steals, 78 runs and 80 RBI in 172 combined games. Wright has been battling his aging body for years now (it was a persistent back issue in 2015), and he always seems to be one play away from the next physical breakdown. The various ailments have eroded his skills when on the field, and though Wright calmed the persistent back pain to a manageable level of pain tolerance last season, the impact on his batting line was still felt by fantasy managers everywhere. He will certainly be penciled into a starting gig at third base and likely a friendly spot in the batting order for the NL champion Mets, but a contingency plan may need to be executed in short order.
2016 Outlook: Last March, Escobar was beaten out for the Twins opening day starting shortstop by Danny Santana. But as is often the case when the favorite is unseated, the underdog falters and Escobar was soon back manning the position, en route to a solid campaign including his first time mashing double digit homers. Manager Paul Molitor has already named Escobar as the team's starting shortstop, where he hopes to build on last season's campaign. Along with some sneaky pop, Escobar's league average contact rate and ability to carry an above average batting average on balls in play yields a batting average floor useful in American League only formats, especially at a position filled with a lot of risky, younger options. And, in case you need it, Escobar qualifies in the outfield as well.
2016 Outlook: There's no doubting Villar's speed, but the question is whether he can get on base often enough to make use of those wheels. He has a little bit of power, with 44 extra-base hits and a .117 ISO in his 658 career plate appearances, and the 24-year-old switch-hitter has the frame to inspire confidence that there's still room before he hits his power ceiling. Traded to the Brewers in the offseason, Villar is expected to step in at shortstop for the since-departed Jean Segura, an ideal fit for Villar given the low bar for offense that was set by the incumbent.
2016 Outlook: Even with the benefit of playing his home games in two of the league's most hitter-friendly environments, Reyes posted the lowest batting average and OBP numbers since his rookie season in 2015. An oblique injury in April undoubtedly contributed to his slow start before forcing him to the disabled list, and an Achilles injury early in the season popped up again in September. Perhaps the latter ailment can justify the drop off in stolen bases (24), but he would have made a run at another 30-steal campaign without the DL stint. At his peak, Reyes had a combination of double-digit home-run power and 50-steal speed that made him a perennial early-round target. As the odometer reading has increased, he's experienced a steady decline in pop, and his ISO has fallen in each of the last four seasons, bottoming out at .104 in 2015. Traded to Colorado as part of the Troy Tulowitzki deal in July, Reyes scuffled at the plate after the trade. On the books for at least two more seasons for a total of $48 million, the number of teams interested in acquiring him is likely very limited. That list likely became shorter during the offseason when Reyes was arrested in Hawaii on charges of domestic abuse. Subsequently, Reyes was put on paid leave until his court proceedings wrap up, at which point the league will decide on whether disciplinary measures are required. The league has said it will have no further comments until Reyes' case is resolved.
2016 Outlook: The glory days have passed Headley in the wink of an eye. The last three seasons of Headley's body of work looked very much like the work he posted before that outlier year of 2012. His Iisolated power has been between 110 and 150 every season except for 212 outlier in 2012. Last year, his groundball-to-flyball ratio and his flyball rates were identical to what he did in 2012, but the outcomes in cozier Yankee Stadium were much less than what they were in Petco. The type of consistency Headley has displayed around the outlier season in 2012 is incredibly boring for fantasy players, but there is safety with consistency. Draft the boring track record and hope for more.