Fantasy: Analyzing 9 players in new homes

One of the many challenges in fantasy baseball is assessing how players will perform after being shipped to a new ballclub during the offseason.

There are plenty of factors that can make or break a player during any given campaign, and the added wrinkle of new teammates, coaches, fans, and a new ballpark only complicates matters.

Here’s a look at nine players who changed homes during the winter and how the new surroundings will affect their fantasy numbers this season.

(Average draft positions as of March 12, courtesy of FantasyPros)

Positive changes:

Daniel Murphy – Rockies – 1B/2B – ADP 74

Murphy’s career reached new heights during the 2015 postseason with the Mets. In the following two seasons with the Nationals, he slashed .334/.387/.569 with 48 homers, 197 RBIs, and 182 runs. But his 2018 campaign was marred by injury and included a trade to the north side of Chicago. Now he makes another move, this time to Coors Field. Any hitter who calls Colorado their home gets an immediate upgrade in fantasy, and Murphy should have an easier time maintaining his health as he prepares to man first base instead of second. The veteran could potentially win the National League batting title and might hit 30 homers for the first time in his career. The battle will be on to secure his services, so you may need to reach a bit to get him. But, health permitting, it’ll be worth it.

Yasiel Puig – Reds – OF – ADP 86

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It seems impossible Puig could do anything without making noise, but the “Wild Horse” has quietly been a useful player in fantasy in each of the past two seasons. And now he makes the trip from Los Angeles to the Northeast. Great American Ballpark, aka Coors Lite, should make for a friendly home to the bat-licking, crotch-chopping, coach-kissing outfielder. Prepare for Puig to hit 30 homers for the first time in his career and add around 15 steals as a bonus. Reach accordingly.

Andrew McCutchen – Phillies – OF – ADP 127

With a return to Pennsylvania, McCutchen gets to kick off his season in a hitter-friendly ballpark for the first time. The former MVP – who was actually quite good during his stint in New York last season – joins a star-studded Phillies team looking to take down the suddenly very competitive NL East. Cutch may not be able to tear up the basepaths like he once could, but he’s been extremely durable throughout his career, playing in fewer than 153 games just once since his 2010 sophomore season. The counting stats will be there, and the change of scenery should help get his average back closer to .270. You could do a lot worse around the 12th round.

Yasmani Grandal – Brewers – C – ADP 127

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Moving to Miller Park does wonders for a hitter. Christian Yelich shattered his previous career-high mark for home runs and captured NL MVP honors in his first year with the Brewers. Now, Grandal, who has shown he has more than enough pop, makes a similar trip from the coast to Milwaukee. The average will likely hover around .250 and he could make a push for 30-plus homers – power numbers perhaps only Gary Sanchez can rival at catcher. Grandal is currently being drafted as the fourth catcher off the board, right around Buster Posey and Yadier Molina, but he comes with far more upside and could very well finish as the No. 1 backstop in fantasy this year.

Billy Hamilton – Royals – OF – ADP 161

After years of watching Hamilton go far too early in drafts, it’s time to pounce on the perennial 50-bag swiper. The speedster’s move to Kansas City has three real positive effects on his fantasy value. First, no one pays attention to the Royals. Whit Merrifield was going around the ninth round last season after coming off a campaign in which he hit 19 homers and stole 34 bases. Second, Hamilton’s new manager, Ned Yost, loves to let his guys run – Kansas City finished as one of six teams last year to steal more than 100 bases. Finally, unlike last season, Hamilton is guaranteed a full-time job. So, even if he can’t hit, which is entirely possible, he’ll still get close to 60 steals as he did in years past.

Negative changes:

Patrick Corbin – Nationals – SP – ADP 54

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You may have seen Corbin featured on our bust list, in which his move to the NL East is cited as one of the primary reasons for a decline in performance. The lefty was impressive last year, as he limited walks, cut his home run rate almost in half from the previous season, and experienced a spike in his strikeout rate, which rose from 8.45 per nine innings in 2017 to 11.07. Corbin dominated the California clubs last year, allowing only 18 earned runs over 80 total innings against the Dodgers, Giants, and Padres. He may miss those sunny outings when he’s staring down Bryce Harper and the City of Brotherly Love is showering him with jeers on a cool April evening.

A.J. Pollock – Dodgers – OF – ADP 106

Pollock was a stud over his first 40 games last year before – and stop me if you’ve heard this already – he suffered an injury. He hit 11 homers and stole nine bases in his first 40 games (166 plate appearances) before fantasy managers got Pollock’d. The center fielder fractured his thumb diving for a fly ball and missed the second half of May and all of June. From there, he never quite looked right for the rest of the season. He went on to hit only six home runs over his final 50 games (202 plate appearances) and slashed .233/.290/.410 in 61 second-half contests. Those still expecting Pollock to duplicate his 2015 breakout will likely continue to wait this season, as the 31-year-old moves to a more pitcher-friendly ballpark for a team that loves to rotate players in and out of the lineup.

David Robertson – Phillies – RP – ADP 147

Many were excited when Robertson escaped the Yankees’ bullpen for Philadelphia and its closer role. However, Gabe Kapler was an absolute nightmare last year for fantasy managers. As a team, the Phillies finished 11th in baseball with 44 saves, and those were shared among nine pitchers. Seranthony Dominguez, arguably the club’s best reliever, led the pack with 16 saves and may steal opportunities from Robertson this year, as could Hector Neris. Kapler cares not for the closer scarcity plaguing fantasy baseball, so it may be best to avoid Robertson all together.

Alex Wood – Reds – SP – ADP 216

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Wood was effective the past two seasons for the Dodgers, but his days of a sub-4.00 ERA might be over. The Puig section outlined the Great American Ballpark factor, and as much as it will help the Reds’ hitters, Wood and fellow pitching additions Sonny Gray and Tanner Roark will suffer a cruel fate. To make matters worse, Wood saw a bit of a decline last season from 2017, as his K/9 dropped almost an entire strikeout, his ERA rose from 2.72 to 3.68, and his WHIP regressed from 1.06 to his career average of 1.21. He’s still a decent value pick in the 18th or 19th round, but his ability to limit the long ball will be tested in Cincy.