2018 Outlook: Garcia's 2017: True breakthrough, or luck-driven aberration? In defense of the former, he made significant strides in terms of his contact rate, posting a career-best 78.6 percent mark (counting only his full big-league years), and boosted his well-hit average by nearly 40 points, to .191. Outlining the latter, he posted the majors' highest BABIP (.392), fueled in large part by an unsustainable .367 mark merely on ground balls (highest of any player during the nine-year span for which our internal pitch-tracking tool covers), and he had the majors' seventh-highest chase rate (38.9 percent) and third-highest swinging-strike rate (17.3 percent), extending his reputation as a free swinger. The answer probably lies in between, as Garcia is highly unlikely to maintain a .300-plus batting average, but as a 26-year-old, he's in his prime years and might be able to maintain his decent power. He's a worthwhile fourth or fifth rotisserie mixed-league outfielder, though he's more of a marginal pick in points-based leagues due to his so-so walk totals.
2018 Outlook: Kepler has been an immensely streaky player in his brief time in the majors, exemplified by his having a sub-.275 wOBA in two months and a .350-plus wOBA in two other months of 2017. There are two reasons for this: The Twins have, to this point, regarded him an everyday player despite his .176/.242/.279 career slash rates and 27.7 percent strikeout rate against left-handed pitchers, and he struggled mightily against breaking balls, batting just .147 against them last season. That the team has been so patient through Kepler's development is a plus, but he needs to show something during spring training in order to make himself more than a "last man in your mixed league outfield" pick.
2018 Outlook: Piscotty was traded by the Cardinals to the Athletics in December, affording him the opportunity to be closer to home and nearer to his mother, who was diagnosed with ALS in May. The new surroundings could help him feel more comfortable with the bat as well, as Piscotty's numbers tumbled significantly in 2017. When at full strength, he possesses a good contact rate and power to all fields, though a complete rebound to .273-22 numbers might only happen should the Athletics, a team that loves to platoon, grant him something similar to the 649 plate appearances he had in 2016.
2018 Outlook: Reddick had a strong first season in Houston, hitting for a .314/.363/.484 line which represented career highs in all three categories. He won't quite play every day, as he has a significant career platoon split (hitting .277 against righties and .229 against lefties), but his presence in a loaded Astros lineup should make him a solid contributor in all five standard fantasy categories. He's averaged a respectable 14 homers and eight steals over the past three seasons with a .289 batting average which ranks 39th among qualified hitters. He'll play all of next season at the age of 31 and had a slightly unsustainable .339 BABIP last year, so there are reasons to believe he'll fall back a bit ... but there is little reason to project a significant drop in performance.
2018 Outlook: Calhoun fell off a bit last year, going from an above-average player from 2014-16 to merely an average one in 2017. The 30-year-old posted a 98 wRC+, solidly below his career wRC+ of 110. The main culprit for the decrease in productivity was a drop in power, with his ISO falling to .148 after sitting between .167 and .179 in each of the past four seasons. That drop was likely caused by a spike in ground ball rate, up six percentage points from the previous season. He did manage to hold onto his jump in walk rate, putting up a career-high 10.9 percent mark. If the walks remain while the fly balls return, Calhoun could produce another above-average season in 2018, particularly given the Angels' beefed-up lineup. Even if he just repeats last year's numbers, he should at least be a playable (if unexciting) contributor in most formats.
2018 Outlook: Haniger's first season with the Mariners was impressive, as he posted a healthy 129 wRC+. Speaking of health, the 27-year old outfielder missed about six weeks in the first half with a sore oblique, then nearly another three weeks after being hit in the face by a fastball in late July. Haniger parlayed an above average hard-hit rate into a .338 BABIP and 16 percent HR/FB, fueling an OPS of .843. Curiously, after drawing free passes at a 13 percent clip through June, Haniger walked at a 3 percent pace the rest of the season. This wasn't just about getting hit in the face either, as his walk rate was four percent in July prior to the injury. Assuming Haniger regains the discipline exhibited in the first half, he has a chance at hitting in a productive spot in a potentially strong lineup. Right field is his, assuming Haniger is healthy. There's little buzz, making him a potential profit center.
2018 Outlook: The 35-year-old Choo produced his 10th straight season with an above-average batting line, hitting .261/.357/.423, good for a 107 wRC+. His declining defense and increasing amount of time spent at designated hitter hurt his real-world value, though neither of those things will affect fantasy managers (he's still OF eligible). Choo tied his career high with 22 homers and reached double-digit steals with 12 for the first time since 2013. Betting on a repeat of those steal numbers at his age would be unwise, but in this era of power hitting his slugging numbers figure to remain useful, assuming he stays healthy. He has produced a walk rate of at least 10 percent every season of his career and is a good bet to do the same next season, keeping him near the top of the Rangers' lineup and giving him plenty of chances to score runs.
2018 Outlook: Peralta bounced back from an injury-riddled 2016 season and had a fairly productive year in 2017, putting up a .293/.352/.444 slash line -- good for a slightly above-average 104 wRC+. His batting average ranked 33rd among all qualified hitters, and he scored a fair number of runs batting atop of the Diamondbacks lineup, but he didn't contribute much in other categories. His 55 percent groundball rate was well above the league average, limiting his power potential, and he's never reached double-digit steals despite possessing above-average speed. Still, a high batting average from an everyday player is a valuable fantasy asset, and he should be less affected by the humidor at Chase Field than some of his more power-dependent teammates.
2018 Outlook: On the surface, Souza's 2017 looked like a huge breakthrough that portends greater things ahead. In his defense, his plate-discipline metrics took a big step forward, as he set career bests with his 13.6 percent walk, 65.8 percent contact and 21.9 percent chase (swing rate at non-strikes) percentages, which helps explain how he was able to set a pro best with his 30 homers. Conversely, a 65.8 percent contact rate isn't a good one -- it was the seventh-worst among qualifiers, in fact -- and Souza capitalized upon unusually good fortune in the injury department, his 148 games 22 more than he played in any other pro year. He's likely to give some of that back in 2018, and while his power/speed combo will remain attractive in the middle rounds of Rotisserie leagues, his streakiness might frustrate head-to-head owners and his penchant for whiffs makes him a slightly weaker points-based selection.
2018 Outlook: Not too long ago, a player with Grichuk's skill set was frowned upon. However, in this Statcast era where there's no longer shame in striking out, he's viewed more favorably. Over the course of nearly 1,400 career plate appearances in the majors, Grichuk has shown virtually no growth in terms of plate skills, featuring a 30 percent strikeout rate with a 6 percent walk rate. However, he carries an exceptional hard-hit rate, quantified by being among the league leaders in barrels, and he put in work to improve his batting eye over the winter. Defensively, Grichuk is a plus defender, and he will get a chance to play regularly in right field following a January trade to Toronto. He is hoping to run more following the move north after stealing a total of 15 bases in four seasons with the Cardinals.
2018 Outlook: In an up-and-down season, Bradley remained an above-average starter for the Red Sox, finishing with a 2.8 WAR. Most of that value was earned defensively in the outfield, however, which didn't help fantasy owners, though at least it kept him in the lineup. His wRC+ cratered to 90 -- after he put up a solid 119 figure in 2016 -- coinciding with an 84-point drop in slugging percentage. Bradley suffered drops in hard-hit rate and pull rate, causing him to have 24 fewer extra-base hits than he had the year before. If his glove keeps him in the lineup regularly again in 2018, expect moderate power, a few more steals under new manager Alex Cora and a mediocre batting average. It's enough to keep him relevant in most formats, but not enough to make him exciting.
2018 Outlook: Gonzalez's thirties have hit him like a ton of bricks. Since smacking 40 home runs as a 29-year-old in 2015, Gonzalez has managed just 39 over the past two seasons. He just wasn't hitting the ball with the same authority that characterized his best seasons. In 2017, his 12.4 percent HR/FB was the worst of his Rockies career, and his 31.7 percent hard-hit rate was his worst since his rookie year in 2009. He posted a healthy .921 OPS after the All-Star break last year, however, suggesting that he still has something left in the tank. While signs of Gonzalez's decline could be more visible on the road, the Rockies' decision to re-sign the veteran means that he'll continue to benefit from the boost Coors Field provides hitters. Even so, expectations should be tempered for a player who hasn't hit over .300 or stolen 20 bases since 2013, especially with the Rockies having a wealth of outfield options on hand.
2018 Outlook: His final stat line may not show it, but Maybin was well on his way to a solid season in 2017. Through the end of June, he was hitting .256 with 24 steals in 25 attempts and sported an OBP north of .350. The 30-year-old was absolutely dreadful over the back half of the season though, hitting just .185 with only nine successful steals in 16 tries over the final three months. He managed to pick up a World Series ring after the Angels shipped him to the eventual champs in Houston, but that achievement doesn't mean much to fantasy managers who didnít get the production they were expecting. While he matched a career-best with 10 homers, Maybinís best skill is still his speed, as his 33 steals ranked second best (just one behind Whit Merrifield) in the AL. Maybin did that despite being held under 400 at-bats. He joined the Marlins this offseason, and figures to play plenty for a team that lacks established options in the outfield.
2018 Outlook: Renfroe has utilized a pull-heavy fly ball approach to put together back-to-back 30-homer seasons while splitting time between Triple-A El Paso and San Diego. The 26-year-old raised his slugging percentage nearly 70 points in the second half of 2017, but it came at the cost of his plate discipline, as he halved an already low first-half walk rate and raised an already high strikeout rate by another five percentage points. His major league career is still in its infancy, but he has a 101-point split in his batting average against lefties and righties, doing much better against the southpaws in terms of batted-ball outcomes as well as just making contact. Renfroe's path to playing time in 2018 was made more difficult when San Diego signed Eric Hosmer and pushed Wil Myers to a corner-outfield spot. That leaves just one corner spot left for Renfroe, who may end up filling the short side of a platoon complimenting a lefty bat.
2018 Outlook: Scooter Gennett had a power breakout from nowhere, but it was Schebler's that analysts should have seen coming. After all, this was a guy who twice hit more than 25 homers in the minor leagues -- once in the hitter-friendly Cal League and again in the pitcher-friendly Southern League -- and posted a .206 isolated power measure over the course of 815 Triple-A plate appearances. The only thing needed was an opportunity, and Schebler finally got one last season, which resulted in a third-season breakout that saw him finish with 30 home runs. Schebler upped his fly ball rate and stopped hitting nearly half of his batted balls into the ground, and coupled that with a fortunate HR/FB to get to the 30-knock plateau. As a pull hitter with below-average contact abilities, the batting average is never going to be pretty, but as long as he plays more than 140 games, the power numbers should be there.