Everyone loves to call the bottom, and Fantasy Baseball owners are no different. Whenever we see a down year out of a good player, the first thing that comes to mind is “buying opportunity.” Today, we will take a look at some bounce back players for 2016.
Before we buy in to the bounce back players, we need to first confirm that the decrease in performance was not accompanied by a decrease in skills.
If the fall in performance is tied to an injury that has recovered or possibly even bad luck, then it is right to assume a recovery.
The other side of the coin is to compare the market price for that player. If everyone is expecting a bounce back, then there is no profit to be gained and the risk is much higher.
All of the following bounce back players have recently showed consistent production until last year.
2016 Fantasy Baseball: Bounce Back Players
Jonathon Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers
Last year, Lucroy was hampered by injuries, which limited him to just 371 at-bats. This was a far cry from his average of 553 over the two previous seasons. When you look at his disappointing 2015 stat line, part of the cause was the missed games.
If you dig a little deeper, you will see that his batted ball profile was as strong as ever. He posted a career best line drive rate and coupled that with his second best hard hit rate of his career.
Given the Brewers are clearly in rebuild mode, rumours continue to swirl about a possible trade. While there is no doubt that Miller Park is extremely hitter-friendly, Lucroy has actually posted an identical .770 OPS both at home and away over his career. If a trade were to occur, it seems that a more potent lineup would be the only incremental difference, resulting in a net positive for Lucroy.
In 2016, look for Lucroy to return to his familiar place among baseball’s top Fantasy catchers.
Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Toronto Blue Jays
Tulowitzki surprisingly struggled following his trade to the Jays. With the Rockies he posted a .300 average and an .818 OPS, and those numbers slumped to .239 and .697 once he was moved north of the border.
Overall, his batted ball profile was still elite, especially when you look at the amount of solid contact that he made. However, there is a small amount of concern due to his discipline at the plate. In 2015, Tulowitzki posted the worst strikeout rate and walk rate of his illustrious career. This was a huge drag on his batting average and is something to watch next year.
He may no longer be the surefire first round talent that he once was, but he still plays 81 games in a hitter’s haven and he hits in a power packed lineup. The shortstop position is Fantasy’s weakest by far, and Tulowitzki should finish as the league’s second best when all is said and done in 2016.
While he may not approach his .321 career batting average, Tulowitzki should continue to post impressive counting stats in a bounce back campaign.
Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B, Washington Nationals
Rendon had to be considered one of Fantasy baseball’s biggest busts last year. He never seemed to recover from his injuries and limped his way to a disappointing campaign.
His breakout season in 2014 shows what the upside is, but I think you have to question a repeat of the stolen bases given his health and minor league track record. Everything we have seen from Rendon suggests he is a player that should hit for solid average with a little pop and decent counting stats (minus the stolen bases).
Despite a lower hard hit rate, Rendon’s 2015 peripherals were not that dissimilar from his great 2014 season. He continued to make contact at an elite rate and he actually also increased his walk rate. At least for this year, Rendon also provides great position flexibility as he should be both second base and third base eligible.
Rendon should bounce back and once again be a Top 10 option at either of his eligible positions in 2016.
Carlos Gomez, OF, Houston Astros
The injury bug hit Gomez hard, with the greatest impact occurring to his stolen base total and hard hit rate. His off year in 2015 comes after Gomez had established himself as one of the premier power-speed threats in the game. Despite the drop in production, there remains hope for this year.
It has to be encouraging from a stolen base perspective to see that he swiped 10 bags in just 41 games once he joined the Astros last year. In addition, even if his hard rate doesn’t increase over last year’s mark, Gomez should at least see a few percentage point gain in his HR/FB rate. Also, if he can stay healthy, that should further boost his power stats over last year’s debacle. His BB/K ratio last year was also inline with previous seasons.
Don’t forget, he still hits in a good lineup and has a decent hitting home park. Gomez may have lost his membership card for the 20/30 club for one year, but don’t be shocked when he regains his form in 2016.
Marcell Ozuna, OF, Miami Marlins
Ozuna had a tough season last year as he battled consistency and it even included a one month stint in the minors. However, after he was recalled in August, he has a much improved second half.
For the season as a whole, Ozuna impressively cut his strikeout rate down by over 4-percent. He also appeared to be unlucky in terms of his HR/FB ratio. Ozuna was the only hitter in baseball with 450 plate appearances that had a hard hit rate over 34-percent and failed to record a double digit HR/FB ratio. His minor league statistics also show a HR/FB ratio essentially identical to his 2014 breakout campaign mark of 16.8-percent.
In summary, we a have a 25-year-old hitter that has improved his plate discipline and should see a rebound in homers to previously achieved levels. Marcell Ozuna will no doubt be one of the bounce back players this year and a career year is not out of the question.
Andrew Cashner, SP, San Diego Padres
On the surface, it appears that Cashner had a bad season. Sure, he walked a few too many batters and he was susceptible to the long ball. However, when you look under-the-hood, you see Lady Luck was not on his side. All this does is set up Cashner as the lone pitcher on our list of bounce back players.
Despite an eerily similar batted ball profile to his previous years as a starter (2013-2014), Cashner somehow posted a .330 BABIP and 65.6-percent LOB rate. He was also unlucky with home runs as his 11.5-percent HR/FB ratio was elevated from previous years. On the positive side, last year he posted his best strikeout rate and had his best velocity since becoming a full-time starter in 2013.
When you see his average from 2013 and 2014 being a sub-3.00 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP, it is easy to see why a bounce back in 2016 is in the cards.
Catching a falling knife can be dangerous, but these bounce back players are safe bets. For all of these players, the underlying numbers stayed consistent with previous years, which suggests a bounce back is coming. Production will return to the same levels of the good old days.
The SCFE crew has got all of the bases covered and be sure to stay up to date with all of the position battles here.
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