Ideally, Hill ends up somewhere in the National League East, which includes the Nos. 20 (Atlanta Braves, minus-7.4), 22 (Mets, minus-9.0), 24 (Miami Marlins, minus-9.7), 28 (Washington Nationals, minus-13.3) and 30 (Philadelphia Phillies, minus-17.8) teams in terms of PitchF/X run value, as well as the Nos. 21 (Mets, .254), 22 (Nationals, .250) and 29 (Phillies, .228) teams in terms of wOBA against curveballs in 2016. Hill’s curveball is utterly filthy, generating Paul Krause Authentic Jersey the third-best run value (16.3) last season. So why the Mets? Simple: Of the five NL East squads, they play in one of the more pitching-friendly environments, and they also possess one of the deeper rotations within the division, minimizing the team’s temptation to push the injury-risky lefty to his limits. (The Nationals would be an equally good fit.)
Encarnacion’s addition would also give the Astros two advantages: He sees a lot of pitches per plate appearance, ranking among the top 30 qualifiers in each of the past three seasons, and has been one of the more comfortable hitters in the game at batting after taking a first-pitch strike. This could give speedier Astros like George Springer, Jose Altuve and perhaps Alex Bregman, who hit early in the lineup, more of a fighting chance at recapturing their past stolen base totals. Encarnacion also profiles much better as a designated hitter than first baseman at this stage of his career, meaning that his addition would signify the Astros’ trust in Evan Gattis as their primary catcher, as well as keeping first base (mostly) freed up for A.J. Reed.
This might seem like the column’s lazy pick, as Texas’ Globe Life Park is viewed by fantasy owners as the American League’s answer to Colorado’s Coors Field, but this one’s more than simply putting a productive hitter in a hitting-friendly environment. The Rangers stand to lose Carlos Beltran and/or Ian Desmond to free agency, they’re pondering shifting Shin-Soo Choo to designated hitter full-time, they’ve shown a willingness to overlook outfield defense, and they’ve played the past few seasons with a lefty-heavy roster. Cespedes’ skill set is a tough read, as his righty/lefty splits and batted-ball profile have vacillated during his five-year career, but he’d be an ideal name for the Rangers to drop into the third spot in the order.
As Fowler’s best asset is his plate discipline — he had the majors’ lowest chase (percentage of swings at pitches outside the strike zone) rate in 2016 (17.5 percent) — a return to the Chicago Cubs might seem like an obvious win for fantasy. Here’s the problem: Retaining Fowler crowds the Cubs’ outfield, which returns a healthy Kyle Schwarber, up-and-comers in Jorge Soler and Albert Almora, and might also have to wedge in Ben Zobrist so that Javier Baez can see increased time at second base.
For a win-win on both fronts, Fowler should sign with Phil Loadholt Authentic Jersey the Indians, giving them an electric top four of Fowler, Carlos Santana, Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis — I’d move Santana to second and Kipnis to cleanup in this scenario. Fowler would upgrade the Indians’ defense, a plus for their pitchers, and give them one of the best on-base combos atop their order, boosting counting-numbers potential all around. What’s more, he’d probably get the green light on the base paths no less often under Terry Francona, who tends to make the most of his speedsters, than Joe Maddon. To that end, Francona’s 2016 Indians had the fifth-highest stolen base attempt rate (opportunities as judged by Baseball-Reference.com) in the majors (7.4 percent), and it wasn’t all attributable to Rajai Davis, as the Indians were one of only three teams to have as many as nine different players chip in at least five steals.