2016 Tampa Bay Rays Preview, Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep

The Rays finished two games below .500, 13 games out of first place, ranked 25th in runs scored, ninth in most strikeouts as a team, and yet the team remains fantasy relevant.

Tampa Bay’s bullpen pick up a save in 60 of the team’s 80 wins. Think about that for a second. Basically 75 percent of their wins were uber-tight into the ninth inning. Closer Brad Boxberger converted 41 of 47 saves last season. Assuming the offensive fireworks are missing again in 2016, that trend should continue.

ALSO SEE: TEAM PREVIEWS ARCHIVE

In case you missed my "American League Did you know" fantasy facts on the Rays, here they are:

–          Average age of Rays starting rotation is 26.4

–          Rays scored 644 runs and allowed 642, while Brad Boxberger converted 41 of 47 save opportunities

–          Chris Archer ranked 4th in MLB in K/9 – 10.70

–          After smacking 32 homers in 2013, Evan Longoria averaging 21 dingers last two seasons

–          Brad Miller one of only seven shortstops with double digit HR and SB in 2015 (MI starting candidate)

Key Additions: Corey Dickerson, OF – Brad Miller, SS

Key Losses: Jake McGee, RP – Asdrubal Cabrera, SS

DRAFT. PLAY. DOMINATE

Projected Lineup

1. Kevin Kiermaier

2.Logan Forsythe

3.Evan Longoria

4.Corey Dickerson

5. James Loney

6.Desmond Jennings

7.Logan Morrison

8.Curt Casali

9.Brad Miller

Season G HR R RBI SB BABIP AVG OBP SLG
2013 160 32 91 88 1 0.312 0.269 0.343 0.498
2014 162 22 83 91 5 0.285 0.253 0.32 0.404
2015 160 21 74 73 3 0.309 0.27 0.328 0.435

Kiermaier is an interesting AL-only option with 10 HR and 18 stolen bases in 2015, but not much else … his average is below the league average and OBP was south of .300 … Forsythe posted career-best numbers at 28 years old … thanks to the Harper’s and Trout’s of the world, these type of stats this "late" in a career cause ulcers come draft day … in Forsythe’s case, regression is probable thanks to a .323 BABIP – 27 points higher than career average – along with the fact he never hit more than eight HR in any minor or major league season … Longoria’s 30+ HR power is probably behind him, but his three-year split provides some solid expectations

Dickerson was traded by the Rockies in January in the Jake McGee deal… missed two months last season due to planter fasciitis … hit .345 with .410 OBP at Coors Field last three seasons compared to .249 BA and .286 OBP away … yikes … Loney could lose gig to prospect Richie Shaffer (blurb below) this season … Jennings played in 28 games last season – a microcosm of a career plagued by injury … if he played in 140+ games, could swipe 20+ bases … that’s a big IF … Morrison is a fun baseball personality, but not a target in fantasy baseball circles in general … with 17 HR in 146 games last season … could be a corner infielder in AL-only leagues if you feel frisky … remember when the Mariners SS position battle was between Brad Miller and Nick Franklin? … the M’s moved on to another prospect – Ketel Marte and traded Miller to the Rays with Asdrubal Cabrera moving on … Miller hit 11 HR with 13 SB in 144 games last season … his SB career high in minors/majors is 19 (High-A)

Projected Rotation

1.Chris Archer

2. Jake Odorizzi

3.Drew Smyly

4.Erasmo Ramirez

5.Matt Moore

Archer finished 12-13, a victim of poor run support … owned fourth-best K/9 rate of 10.70 … ranked SP-15 on preliminary FOX Fantasy 2016 draft rankings … could earn upgrade on 2.0 … Jake Odorizzi could be a fantasy SP4/5 with a near 8.0 K/9 and 3.50-ish ERA … on one hand Smyly looked great last season when not dealing with shoulder issues … he was 5-1 in August/September and finished with a K/9 rate of 10.40 in 12 starts … drafting him does pose some risk, but fantasy ceiling is high based on ADP … I could see Ramirez going later than he should … I could also see Erasmo bouncing on and off the waiver wire in 2016 … not all Tommy John surgery recepients are created equal … Matt Moore was 17-4 with a 8.50 K/9 just a few seasons ago … this season, he’s a flier at SP

Top Prospects

Blake Snell, SP (23 years old) – pitched at three different minor league levels in 2015 … carried a K/9 rate north of 10.00 at each … was named MLB Pipeline’s pitcher of the year … he’ll be up early if anybody gets hurt and/or struggles out of the gate

Richie Shaffer, CI – waiting for his time with Longoria at 3B and Loney at 1B … if promoted, could allow Longo to DH … hit 26 homers in 2015 (AA/AAA), but per the norm carried a strikeout rate above 25 percent … turns 25 years old in March … so consider him an “old” prospect about to get his full-time shot

ALSO SEE: TEAM PREVIEWS ARCHIVE

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