Just as good luck found certain players in 2015, bad luck and injuries found some other players. While it is difficult to predict if all the players on this list will regress in a positive manner, a few names will provide positive value so that we can compete for titles this year.
First-Round Value in the Second
We can select Chris Sale with the 26th pick and hope for first-round value in 2016. Sale's 11.8 K/9 last year, up from 10.8 K/9 in 2014, sets his sights on becoming one of the top 3 SP's in baseball, especially if his 3.41 ERA last year moves closer to his 2.60 xFIP. Sale dominated at least 71% of his starts for the fourth year in a row, and he threw 67% FpK for the second year in a row. Those owners looking for a weakness will point to his 16% hr/f in the second-half that lead to a 3.93 second-half ERA, but a .361 BABIP hovered over Sale in the second-half of last season. His BABIP and ERA should regress this year to give us some more value. Sale provides the third-most points for a SP in points-leagues, and he can contribute 8% more value than the average ace. We can draft safely draft Sale in the second round in hopes that the White Sox will provide more run support for him in 2016, which would provide our teams with first-round value.
Owners are drafting Jose Bautista right behind Sale at #27, which provides wonderful value. Bautista's .237 BABIP should move closer to .255-.260 this year, and he should continue his 18% hr/f from last year. Bautista struggled against LHP by posting a .643 OPS vLHP in the second-half of last year, which is far below his career .893 OPS vLHP. He hit 49% FB last year, and he dominated 81% of his weeks for H2H, which is hard to find in any draft. Points-league owners can draft the fourth best OF with confidence because his 80% contract rate and 17 bb% helps him accumulate more points, and Bautista is 5.4% more valuable than the average #1 OF. Bautista should post consistent numbers in 2016 with a higher BA, and a little more power against LHP.
Keeper league owners are salivating over Jose Fernandez's full-season return in 2016, and the 29th pick is a great place to select a possible first-round selection in 2017. Fernandez returned with a 11.0 K/9 last year, and he dominated 10 out of 11 starts last year. He looks to keep pushing up his 61% FpK this year, and his 2.92 ERA should keep falling to match his 2.62 xFIP in 2015. His .343 BABIP should also fall, and he will provide league-average value when compared to other Aces if he throws 160 IP. RHB hit .170 against Fernandez last year, and he lowered his bb/9 from 3.02 in 2013 to 1.95 bb/9 last season. If Fernandez can stay healthy and throw 190-200 IP this year, he will provide our teams with first-round value, and Baseball Prospectus projects 187 IP and a jump in Fernandez's WAR from 0.7 in 2015 to 3.7 in 2016. We should just sit back and watch Fernandez work his magic.
Players that return from injuries can provide profit for teams in 2016. Devin Mesoraco's lost 2015 will scare some owners away, but he can provide value for our teams at pick #157. We shouldn't bet on a 25 HR season like 2014, but 18 HR's with 56 RBI's, like Steamer projects, can help our teams at C. Other services have Mesoraco returning to 20 HR's if he can reach 450 AB's. H2H owners can draft him hoping that he can dominate 54% of his weeks like 2014, and points-league owners will hope for 5.3% more value than the average C. Follow his health and his position this spring.
|Keith Allison Flickr|
Jay Bruce is another name to target for positive regression this year, if we can handle his streaky nature. He raised his contact rate from 70% in 2014 to 75% last year, and his 8.9 bb% bodes well for future owners. He performed well in 48% of the weeks for H2H owners, but he has more value in points-leagues. He provides high #2 OF value at pick #182 in points-leagues, and he is 4.3% more valuable than the average #2 OF. Bruce's .475 OPS vLHP in the second-half falls significantly below his career .716 OPS vLHP. Most services project 25 HR's for Bruce in 2016 with 75-82 RBI's. If Bruce's BABIP positively regresses and he can hold his contact gains, he will turn a profit at pick #182 for our 2016 teams.
We should continue to track BABIP, hr/f, xFIP, and other indicators that will reveal the players that should positively regress in 2016. Let's hope they find some better luck this year.