Pedro Alvarez: It took a while, but Alvarez finally signed, and his landing spot in Baltimore is pretty much ideal. He’s looking at regular playing time, and his poor defense won’t matter at DH (yet still qualifies at 1B). He averaged 27.8 homers over the last four seasons playing in a park that’s suppressed home runs for left-handed batters by eight percent over the past three years and will be joining Camden Yards, which has increased HRs for LHB by an MLB-high 37 percent over that span. In fact, the AL East is filled with terrific hitter’s parks for lefty batters. Alvarez is a sneaky bet to approach 40 homers in 2016.
A.J. Ramos: He was the favorite to enter the season as the Marlins’ closer, but his job security looks a lot stronger now that Carter Capps is set to undergo Tommy John surgery. Capps has one of the most electric arms in baseball and would’ve been a major threat to overtake the ninth inning role sooner rather than later, but it’s all Ramos’ now. Miami is a much-improved team as well, so there should be plenty of save opportunities.
Jedd Gyorko: While it remains unclear if Gyorko can handle shortstop full-time, the recent thumb injury to Jhonny Peralta that will cost him 10-12 weeks will no doubt result in more playing time. Gyorko has disappointed the last two years after an impressive rookie season, but he still averaged 16.3 homers over 435.7 at-bats while playing in Petco Park. And the Cardinals seemingly always get the best out of their players.
Marcell Ozuna: It’s easy to forget, but Ozuna hit 23 homers just one season ago as a 23-year-old, which is rarified air. He’s off to a hot start this spring (.979 OPS), which normally would mean nothing but could lead to him starting the year batting second if he continues to hit well in March. Batting between Dee Gordon, Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton would be a pretty good spot. Marlins Park also brought its fences in during the offseason. With last year’s disappointing campaign fresh on everyone’s minds, Ozuna’s ADP is currently just 249.0.
Drew Smyly: He clearly possesses massive upside, as Smyly posted a 20.7 K-BB% with an 11.4 SwStr% last season, but the key with him is health. He dealt with a shoulder injury at times last season, so it’s been great to see him toss 5.1 scoreless innings with a 6:0 K:BB ratio this spring. More important than the results is that he appears fully healthy.
Zack Greinke: It’s easy to point out last year’s .229 BABIP (only Marco Estrada’s was lower) and scream regression for Greinke (especially considering his career hit rate is .298), but there’s plenty more to worry about. He goes from a home park in Los Angeles that’s suppressed run scoring by 10 percent over the past three years (the third lowest in MLB) to Chase Field, which has increased run scoring by 6 percent over that span (the fifth most in MLB). Moreover, he goes from throwing to one of the best framing catchers in baseball (Yasmani Grandal) to one of the worst (Wellington Castillo). Greinke isn’t one of the top-15 starting pitchers on my board.
Freddie Freeman: He’s a good hitter, but Freeman has never topped 23 homers in any season in his career, and the Braves scored 40 fewer runs than the next worst team last year and might be even worse in 2016, so RBI and runs scored will be tough to come by. But the bigger problem is him leaving Friday’s game with wrist soreness, as it’s an ailment he dealt with all of last season. It’s an issue that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Freeman is outside the top-12 among fantasy first basemen for me, as I’d prefer Eric Hosmer and/or David Ortiz.
Giancarlo Stanton: I love Stanton and fully expect him to hit 55+ homers one season, but for someone who’s dealt with injuries throughout his career, it’s disconcerting to see him sitting out spring games with knee soreness. It’s been deemed “mild,” but it’s enough for me to lower Stanton from No. 5 to the end of the first round on my board.
Jorge Soler: Not only did he struggle badly last year, slugging just .399 with a 121:32 K:BB ratio over 366 at-bats, but he now doesn’t even have a starting role after the Cubs re-signed Dexter Fowler. It’s possible he gets traded or Kyle Schwarber falls flat on his face (or injuries strike), but it’s odd to see a bench player with a career .758 OPS over 455 at-bats with a higher ADP than other outfielders such as David Peralta, Alex Gordon and Randal Grichuk, to name just a few.
Jordan Zimmermann: His ERA (3.66) and WHIP (1.20) last year were Zimmermann’s highest since his rookie season, and his average fastball velocity (93.0 mph) was the lowest of his career. He’s now going from the NL East to the American League, so his fantasy value is going to take a major hit. In fact, I don’t have Zimmermann as a top-50 starter on my board.