After 2014 had the lowest number of home runs since MLB expanded to 30 teams in 1998, there was a healthy rebound in the power department last season. While strikeouts continued to rise, we saw the most home runs hit since 2012. Grabbing a high-profile slugger like Giancarlo Stanton will set you up nicely going into this year, but the mid-to-late rounds of mixed league drafts still pack plenty of punch.
Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Orioles
Despite missing more than two months with a knee injury, Schoop swatted 15 home runs in 86 games last season. He fell just one home run shy of his total from all of 2014, even though he played in 51 fewer games. With a lousy 203/23 K/BB ratio in the majors, his plate discipline is a work in progress, but Schoop makes for an excellent target as a potential breakout pick. Calling Camden Yards home is a nice bonus.
Randal Grichuk, OF, Cardinals
While it didn't get much attention, Grichuk had 17 home runs in just 350 plate appearances last season. Among a talented class of rookies, only Miguel Sano had a higher OPS. With his strikeout issues, it's unfair to expect Grichuk to be much help in batting average, but he hits plenty of fly balls, and his exit velocity was among the highest in the majors last season. There's 30-homer potential with a full season of at-bats.
Brett Lawrie, 2B/3B, White Sox
Lawrie hasn't developed into the player many hoped he would be, but he managed to stay healthy last season and slugged a career-high 16 home runs in the process. Not bad for playing half of his games in the pitcher-friendly O.co Coliseum, but he's now headed to a more favorable environment at U.S. Cellular Field. Set to function as Chicago's regular second baseman, Lawrie could produce sneaky value as a Middle Infielder option.
Justin Bour, 1B, Marlins
Bour didn't begin last season as a starter for the Marlins, but he ended up with 23 home runs in 129 games. The 27-year-old averaged one home run for every 17.8 at-bats, which was higher than the likes of Yoenis Cespedes and Anthony Rizzo. Bour doesn't hit left-handers, so we might see him in a platoon in 2016, but there could be some nice profit potential with a full year of at-bats behind Giancarlo Stanton. The new dimensions at Marlins Park help his case.
Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF, Orioles
After hitting nine home runs with an .805 OPS over his first 46 games last season, Trumbo wasn't able to maintain the same power pace after a trade to the Mariners, finishing with 13 home runs and a .735 OPS the rest of the way. Things are looking up for the veteran slugger after a trade to the Orioles over the winter, as he'll now play half of his games in one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in the game. A return to 30 home runs could be in his future.
Byung-ho Park, DH, Twins
Park slugged 105 home runs in 268 games over the past two seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization, which convinced the Twins to invest in him with a $12.85 million posting fee and a four-year, $12 million contract. It's worth noting that Yamaico Navarro hit 48 home runs in the KBO last season, so there will naturally be some skepticism about the power output. Strikeouts are also a concern. There's bust potential here, but his price tag could be worth the risk.
Lucas Duda, 1B, Mets
Duda proves that it's still possible to fly under the radar as a valuable power source. He has swatted 57 homers over the past two seasons, which ties him for 16th among all MLB hitters. Duda isn't going to be an asset in batting average, but that's not why you want him anyway. With his penchant for hitting the ball in the air and hitting it hard, he's a safe and underappreciated power play.
Yasmani Grandal, C, Dodgers
Grandal broke out early last season by slugging 14 home runs with a .927 OPS during the first half, but he went through some miserable slumps while dealing with a shoulder injury after the All-Star break and hit just .162 with two home runs and a .498 OPS. The 27-year-old had surgery after the season to repair the AC joint in his shoulder and should be ready for spring training. There's nice upside here if he's feeling good.
It makes sense that we are seeing a decrease in stolen bases around the game. As pitching continues to dominate, hitters aren't getting on base as often as they used to. This change could motivate some fantasy owners to pay a high price for Jose Altuve or Dee Gordon this spring, but there are other paths to victory. That's why you should keep these cheap speedsters in mind.
Kevin Pillar, OF, Blue Jays
Pillar earned the nickname "Superman" last season for his highlight reel catches, but he also went 25-for-29 in stolen base attempts. The 27-year-old didn't do much in his previous opportunities with the big club, but he stole 109 bases over 411 games in the minors. With regular playing time, there's every reason to believe he'll keep running. His pop and presence in a great lineup and a hitter-friendly home ballpark only enhance his appeal.
Ender Inciarte, OF, Braves
After stealing 40 bases in 250 games over the past two seasons, Inciarte was traded to the Braves over the winter in the Shelby Miller deal. While it's possible he'll be traded again, he currently finds himself in a good spot as Atlanta's starting center fielder and possible leadoff man. The 25-year-old was 21-for-30 in stolen base attempts last season, so his success rate needs improvement, but he was quietly very useful in mixed leagues last season. Look for that to continue.
Delino DeShields, OF, Rangers
Selected from the Astros in the Rule 5 Draft, DeShields displaced Leonys Martin as the Rangers' starting center fielder last season before finishing with 25 steals in 121 games. He was below-average offensively but showed good patience and found a home as the team's leadoff hitter. That's a nice perk in this situation. DeShields has stolen as many as 101 bases in a season in the minors before, so a full year as a regular makes him highly interesting.
Byron Buxton, OF, Twins
Buxton batted just .209/.250/.326 over 46 games as a rookie last season, but the raw tools were obvious and point toward his long-term upside. More seasoning in the minors might be necessary, but he'll go into spring training with a chance to win the starting center field job. Buxton just turned 22 years old, so it might take a while for his approach and power to translate at the major league level, but his plus-speed should play right away in fantasy leagues.
Ketel Marte, SS, Mariners
Marte held his own as a 21-year-old rookie last year by batting .283/.351/.402 across 57 games while going 8-for-12 in stolen base attempts. It was admittedly a small sample, but he impressed the Mariners enough to go into 2016 as the starting shortstop. Marte has never hit for power on any level, but he stole 100 bases over 444 games in the minors. His speed should have him on the radar as a Middle Infielder option, but there's potential for more.
J.T. Realmuto, C, Marlins
It might seem strange to see a catcher included here, but Realmuto is worth considering. The 24-year-old batted .259/.290/.406 with 10 home runs and 47 RBI as a rookie last season, which doesn't stand out on the surface, but he was much better during the second half and stole eight bases on the year. He stole 18 bases in Double-A in 2014, so this isn't some sort of fluke. Getting speed out of unlikely places can sometimes make the difference in fantasy leagues, which is why Realmuto is so intriguing.
Leonys Martin, OF, Mariners
Martin lost his grip on the Rangers' starting center fielder job last season while batting just .219/.264/.313 and refused to report to the instructional league team after being left off the playoff roster, but the Mariners bought low over the winter in hopes of a rebound. Fantasy owners should consider the same, as Martin was 12th in the majors with 67 steals from 2013-2014. He has never hit left-handed pitching, but he has the chance to be an excellent value with regular playing time again.
Trea Turner, SS, Nationals
The Nationals are expected to give Danny Espinosa the starting shortstop job out of spring training, but it's likely just a matter of time before Turner takes over. Acquired as the player to be named later in the three-team Wil Myers trade last winter, the 22-year-old owns a .322/.384/.454 batting line in the minors with 52 steals in 185 games. File this name away, at the very least.