We’re spinning around every division in baseball for their biggest fantasy baseball stories and players.
SS Jean Segura, Mariners: A brighter on- and off-field year helped him sizzle for Arizona. Seattle’s park will hinder his power, but he’ll must double-digit homers, and a 25-steal, .270-average season is in the cards again. This top-10 fantasy shortstop will come at a bigger discount than the wave of early-round blue-chippers.
OF Carlos Beltran and Josh Reddick, Astros: Beltran keeps his label as a quality middle-rounds run producer, though the impending 40-year-old could burn aggressive buyers banking on another 2016. Reddick might lose platoon work but can get by as a fifth fantasy fly-catcher.
C Brian McCann, Astros: Houston’s pitchers land another good pitch framer, and McCann joins a better lineup than the Yankees. He’s a low-end fantasy starter.
SP Drew Smyly and Yovani Gallardo, Mariners: Smyly is several skills away (limiting homers, staying healthy, pitching on the road) from joining the ranks of aces. He moves to another helpful park, though. Gallardo needs more help to return to fantasy utility, but there are worse bottom-barrel dice rolls. Maybe.
OF Jarrod Dyson, Mariners: He’ll surrender work against many lefties, but he could swipe 40 bags in 400 or so at-bats.
OF Ben Revere and Cameron Maybin, Angels: This speed-centric pair looks like a platoon, but Maybin performs better against righties. The cloudy outlook limits both to late-round grabs for bench steals.
3B/OF Trevor Plouffe, Athletics: This move is so A’s. But Plouffe has now has a clear path to let his power help fantasy owners in deep games.
SP Tyson Ross, Rangers: Texas gave him a dice-roll contract. Deep-league fantasy players should do the same for the hurler with a 22.4 percent strikeout rate in his career.
SP Charlie Morton, Astros: Don’t overlook his two-seamer’s jump in velocity during his brief 2016. Houston could mold his skill set to push him back into fantasy-relevant territory, if his rehab from that torn hamstring doesn’t give him issues.
2B Danny Espinosa, Angels: Defense will keep him in the lineup, but deep-league owners will struggle to stomach his hacker ways.
SP Garrett Richards and Matt Shoemaker, Angels: Richards’ elbow issues will force Anaheim to treat him carefully, though Shoemaker’s scary head injury likely won’t limit his progress toward opening day. Both have the skills to deliver in fantasy, but Shoemaker may wind up the better value.
1B/3B Yulieski Gurriel, Astros: Though stable all around, his bat may not stand out in a particular category, save for a surprise age-33 power explosion. Gurriel will rely heavily on playing time.
3B Alex Bregman, Astros: Strikeout woes marred an otherwise promising rookie year. The eight home runs in 217 plate appearances say he’ll drop more bombs in a full season. Expect a better line (approaching 30 homers?) as he takes a big step forward at age 23.
SP James Paxton, Mariners: He was close to brilliant in 2016 as a new arm slot jolted his velocity. That 3.79 ERA hid his 8.70 K/9, 1.79 BB/9, 11.7 swinging-strike rate, 62.4 first-pitch-strike rate, 2.80 FIP and 3.35 xFIP. Buy.
1B/3B Ryon Healy, Athletics: The fast riser clubbed eight of his 13 big flies at his spacious home park. The potential 25-homer, .280-or-better bat will shine as one of the bright spots in an otherwise dark situation.
SP Sean Manaea, Athletics: Manaea will, too. His 2.67 second-half ERA was highlighted by a sparkling 8.00 K/9, 1.97 BB/9, 4.06 K/BB and 17.2 K-BB%. The 25-year-old gets ahead 0-1 and induces swinging strikes at an above-average, if not elite, pace. “Baby Giraffe” fans may be forced to stick out their necks to land him in the middle rounds.
SP Tyler Skaggs, Angels: Reining in his walks could be the final step for the former top prospect to complete his recovery from Tommy John surgery and step into the fantasy spotlight. The 4.17 ERA in his return stint last year hid a shiny strikeout rate, too.
1B C.J. Cron, Angels: He’s improved his strikeout rate each of last two years, and he still boasts 20-homer pop in a full year.
OF Mitch Haniger, Mariners: Potential 20-homer, 20-steal bats are always worth fantasy attention. That Triple-A line last year … mercy.
SP Joe Musgrove, Astros: Homer issues masked otherwise intriguing command (7.98 K/9, 2.32 BB/9. May not win rotation spot if everyone’s healthy, but he’ll post valuable innings sometime this year.
SP Jharel Cotton and Andrew Triggs, Athletics: Smart owners won’t buy a 2.15 or even 3.15 ERA from his five-start stint, but the control-fueled Cotton will help deep-league clubs. His diverse arsenal gives him K upside, as well. Triggs (back) should be ready for spring training and could be a stab at the end of deep drafts for strikeouts.
INF Jurickson Profar and Joey Gallo, Rangers: Texas may acquire a bat that would limit their reps, though these potentially explosive post-hypers are worth stashing for that hope.
SP Martin Perez, Rangers: Perez’s velocity is creeping back after TJS. He still pitches to contact – not great for his home park – but if he shows more giddy-up in spring training, time to start paying attention.
SS Marcus Semien, Athletics: Those who can take the hit in batting average can land 30 to 40 combined homers and steals late.
OF Nomar Mazara, Rangers: Homer-thirsty owners can buy him late in drafts, but no more categories make Nomar safe. Though a fine hold in keeper leagues, he’ll regress in Year 2.
On the rebound
SP Felix Hernandez, Mariners: The bad calf was a likely cause of velocity and performance drop. But the backlash and fear for continued breakdown will make him ludicrously cheap. At some point, he’s worth the risks.
SP Dallas Keuchel, Astros: Shoulder injuries are worth watching, but it looks like he’ll be ready for camp. Houston’s acquisition of McCann, another great pitch framer, should help Keuchel work the corners when he’s active. Another potentially huge bargain.
OF Carlos Gomez, Rangers: His price sits at its lowest since his big breakout 2012. Power and speed stand tall in fantasy, regardless of batting average risk. A full season with Texas should help him cash in.
SP Sonny Gray, Athletics: He was walking a fine line, and he fell off it in 2016. Because he doesn’t strikeout many hitters, he must refine his control and homer suppression. He won’t just fade away after three seasons of a 3.08 ERA or lower, though.
Position battle to watch
Angels closer: The rehabbing Huston Street (knee) and Cam Bedrosian (arm) will lead the expected spring competition that may also feature Andrew Bailey, Deolis Guerra and Michael Morin.
Prospects for 2017
1B Dan Vogelbach, Mariners: He’s set to platoon with Danny Valencia, but his power could play even in expansive stadiums like Safeco Field.
SS Franklin Barreto, Athletics: Seems like a matter of time until he joins the majors as one of the most coveted minor league fantasy adds.
OF Derek Fisher, Astros: Another Josh Reddick or Carlos Beltran injury could open a spot for Fisher, who has four-category upside.
SP Francis Martes, Astros: Starter or high-leverage reliever? Strikeouts could play either way if a spot opens.
OF Tyler O’Neill, Mariners: A long shot, but he has the across-the-board talent to force the issue.
SP Yohander Mendez, Rangers: Probably on an innings limit, but if the Texas rotation continues to flounder, will they care?
Joining the Halos in the danger zone are Oakland and Texas. Ryan Madson will have to be near perfect to hold off immediate A’s threats Sean Doolittle and Santiago Casilla, plus John Axford and Liam Hendriks. Don’t count on it.
Sam Dyson rode his grounder-heavy approach to a breakthrough year, but Texas’ stacked bullpen, notably with Jeremy Jeffress and Matt Bush, gives him a low margin for error.
Ken Giles sits atop Houston’s depth chart, but Will Harris or Luke Gregerson again will pressure him. Giles’ late-season gains improve his outlook, though.
The electric Edwin Diaz rules Seattle but may battle control issues. Luckily for him, the picture behind him is ugly, and he won’t cost as much as other elite names.
Ready for spring training/start of season
1B Albert Pujols, Angels (foot)
SP Dallas Keuchel, Astros (shoulder)
SP Lance McCullers, Astros (shoulder, elbow)
SS Elvis Andrus, Rangers (sports hernia)
OF Kole Calhoun, Angels (abdomen)
1B C.J. Cron, Angels (thumb)
RP Huston Street, Angels (knee)
RP Cam Bedrosian, Angels (arm)
3B Joey Gallo, Rangers (hamstring)