2016 Cubs Fantasy Picks
Solid Fantasy Picks, with Some Concerns
Jake Arrieta had an amazing 2015 and he should be very good in 2016, but fantasy baseball is also about how a player does relative to his price. Arrieta is now priced very high, at minimum one of the top 5 pitchers in all of baseball and is typically around the 3rd pitcher picked. Arrieta's 2nd half was one of the best ever in the MLB, but he also threw over 40 innings in each of the last 3 months. He did struggle in a few playoff outings and even admitted himself he was tired. Arrieta keeps himself in great shape so don't expect big regression, bit I'll be watching his price to decide whether or not to pick him up in daily fantasy leagues. if you build in some regression from his 2015, I believe he is a solid fantasy pick in 2016
Jon Lester signed a big contract with the Cubs in the 2015 and has been considered one of the best and most consistent starting pitchers in all of baseball. While his 2015 season was solid and he helped the team win 97 games, the month by month numbers do show that Lester struggled a bit with consistency. He alternated poor months to good from April to September. The positive spin on this is that 2 of the 3 months were July & September which should indicate that Lester has adjusted to the Cubs. the NL hitters and more day games at Wrigley. I also like that he's not considered the Ace of the Cubs staff anymore with the emergence of Jake Arrieta in 2015. The Cubs also signed an old teammate and friend of Lester's in John Lackey. Now, some information to use against him, I rarely choose a fantasy pitcher and have an opposing player in my lineup, but with Lester, he is one of the worst pitchers in MLB for giving up stolen bases. Choosing a base stealer on the other side when Lester is pitching to me is a very good fantasy strategy. but don't let that prevent you from choosing Lester as a solid #2 pitcher on your fantasy rotation. To me, he is a solid fantasy choice in 2016.
Cubs have a lot of great fantasy baseball choices and they won 97 games last year, so can there still be sleeper (under value) options. Yes, I believe Hector Rondon is a great example of a great Cubs pick. Rondon lost the Cubs closer job for just a short period of time in May. He seemed to respond to the demotion very well posting an ERA under 1.00 each month from June to August. Unlike years past, the Cubs have not brought in a veteran that has closed in the past so if he remains effective, he should get a lot of saves in 2016. Manager, Joe Maddon does have a quick hook so check back for updates to see if Rondon does remain the Cubs closer. In overall WAR for MLB relief pitchers last year, Rondon ranked 14th, ahead of prominent relief pitchers like Craig Kimbrel (18th).
Fowler batted lead off for 2015 Cubs, but with addition of Heyward & Zobrist, will he continue to in 2016?
Fowler had agreat start in 2015, but struggled in May/June and recovering to have a great June/July. The 2 months that he hit the most HR, his k% also went up. Overall, it seems like he needs to keep his k% between 17 to 22%. Although, he does hit more HR when his K % is higher. If he stays at the top of Cubs batting order, I think he is a solid pick. In DFS, pay close attention to his latest results due to the peaks & valleys he showed with the 2015 Cubs.
This is a hard one to write. As a fan, I'm hoping Kris Bryant has multiple MVP seasons and while I do think that is possible, a few things about Bryant's 2015 still concern me. Fan graphs did a great analysis of players with BABIP and projecting what a players average should have been. Bryant was near the top of the list. And his BABIP fluctuated an awful lot. The only poor month that Bryant had was July. His swing was not on the right plane and he was getting under the ball too much. It resulted in a month where his average was .176 with by far his lowest monthly BABIP of .214. His BABIP was .452 in April. Those types of fluctuations and his 30% K rate and league leading 199 strikeouts make me very skeptical he can match the .275 batting average in 2016. On the positive side, even in this poor July, he still combined for the most Runs/RBI on the team (even better than Anthony Rizzo). This points out that even when Bryant is struggling, his ability to take walks and make hard contact at the plate will keep him a productive run producer even when he's struggling. When things are going well, I'm confidant he will be one of the best run producers in all of baseball. I saw Anthony Rizzo struggle with inside pitches. When he figured out how to hit those pitches, he became an elite hitter. Bryant has already showed he can hit pitches inside from MLB pitchers, but this being just his 2nd season, I still think there may be times where he will need to make similar adjustments that he successfully did last year. I hear mock drafts having him picked very early-even in the first round. In my opinion, that's too high. He'll certainly be a Cubs player I'll target in daily fantasy with the right pitching matchup, Bryant hits righties nearly as well as lefties, but another thing to consider is that he was great at Wrigley Field (181 WRC+) and struggled some on the road (95 WRC+).
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