Michael Conforto- As we close out the 2015 season, we need to look towards 2016 assets for fantasy purposes. Michael Conforto certainly classifies as an asset of interest heading into the 2016 season. His .236 ISO has been a huge benefit to the Mets and his 9 home runs over in 183 plate appearances certainly make him an interesting player to keep an eye on. His contact rates have been fairly strong in his first go round in the majors, as he has limited his ground ball rate to 37% while hitting a fair number of line drives (24%). The Mets outfield situation is in flux, but Conforto is almost assuredly a part of the plan for the future. As such, he is a solid bet as a No. 3 outfielder with nice upside. He is definitely a hold in dynasty leagues.
Tyler Lyons- Tyler Lyons has provided a solid strikeout option for fantasy owners since being moved into the Cardinals' rotation. At 22.5%, he has a solid strikeout rate and his 6.4% BB Rate is solid enough to justify Lyons usage in most fantasy formats. His general relevance in 2016 will depend largely on his usage. If he is moved into a more permanent rotation role, he will have some value given his strikeouts, but as a swing pitcher moving between the rotation and bullpen, he is of very limited value.
Jason Heyward- Jason Heyward had fairly successful fantasy season in 2015. His batting average is a career high .289 while he contributed his traditional 10-15 home runs and 20+ steals. My concern is that Heyward's already aggressive ground ball rate has actually gotten worse in 2015. His ground ball rate has sky rocketed up to 57% in 2015. This leaves very little room for error for fantasy owners with Heyward. If his BABIP falls from its current .325 rate, his value to fantasy owners could decrease substantially. I'm approaching Heyward with caution in 2016 as a repeat of this current season is far from guaranteed given his contact rates.
Addison Russell- Addison Russell has struggled through his first major league season. Russell's biggest failing has been his free swinging ways. His 28.3% K Rate has hindered his batting average significantly and made him essentially an after-thought as a fantasy asset. Russell has not generated enough power over the course of 500+ plate appearances (13 home runs, .146 ISO) to be able to survive as a fantasy asset without an above average batting average or some speed. To this point, he has shown neither. While judging the long term prospects on a player that is not even 22 yetis a difficult task, we have to be realistic about Russell's value in 2016. Right now, he is not a keepable asset in any but the deepest dynasty formats, and he is essentially a late round flier in re-draft leagues.
Eugenio Suarez- Eugenio Suarez has been an interesting asset for fantasy owners late in the season. Since getting the call in June, Suarez has been the Reds' regular shortstop, and he has produced some fantasy relevant numbers for a middle infielder. His .283 batting average and 12 home runs in limited plate appearances appear to be a nice sample for 2016. I would caution owners to be a bit skeptical when it comes to the batting average. Suarez is maintaining a .280 batting average with a fairly high .343 BABIP. While we don't have a large enough sample on Suarez to say his BABIP couldn't trend higher than league averages, I'm going to downgrade him a tick going into 2016 because that batting average could seemingly regress. His power does seem to have some basis though, and I could see him hitting 15+ home runs if given 500+ plate appearances in 2016. Overall, he is a very relevant NL-Only asset, but probably less so in mixed leagues where any regression in his batting average makes him a liablity.
Today's National League Player Blog is brought to you by Nicholas Rossoletti. You can follow Nicholas on Twitter @NRoss56
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