Fantasy Baseball: Bounce Back Players 2016




We are approaching one of my favorite times of the year when we find out that professional athletes are “in the best shape of their life” in preparation for the new fantasy baseball season.  According to Sean McAdam of, Pablo Sandoval has reportedly lost 20 pounds.  This will not be the last report we hear a player is in remarkable shape, has added muscle, or corrected an issue from the previous year.What do we do with this info? I am here to help sift through last years duds and decide which of these players are poised to bounce back to relevance.

A disclaimer about this article: This is not a list of all players I love for this year. Rookies, prospects, or players who do not have a household name yet will be discussed in my next piece.  Players who have a track record of being a good, but for whatever reason last year left teams high and dry. Established players who have already had a breakout fantasy baseball season is the requirement to make this list. Joey Votto, Prince Fielder, and Carlos Gonzalez are great examples from last year who were bounce back players.

Every year before I start mock drafting and preparing for the season, I like to take a look back at last years disappointing players. Why did these players stink a year ago? Was it injury, lack of opportunity, or just plain old poor performance? The majority of the time these players will be under ranked and ripe for the taking on draft day. The players should not be dismissed to recency bias. Do NOT punish these former studs for one bad year.

I would like to add to each member of the bounce back list where I think they fit into at their positional rank. I want to show exactly what kind of value I feel we can expect. Remember, I am assuming there are no restrictions from any of these players returning from injury. Without further ado, the list begins.



Can David Wright regain his once top tier performance?



One player who could be a mainstay is David Wright. The oft injured 3rd basemen is still an above average hitter while he is healthy. He is healthy currently, right? Just checking. I like the Mets offense as it came together at the end of 2015, which helped showcase the David Wright is not done yet. I feel he can earn plenty of value as a top 10 third basemen this year.

Giancarlo Stanton has elite hitting power yet was also hit with the injury bug. I do not see him losing too much value because it seems like the fantasy community does not count out the younger players as fast as they do older players. He is pertinent because I know there will be people who will not draft him due to past injuries. Please draft him with confidence and enjoy the 50 dingers. He will be a top five outfielder.



Ian Desmond will look to hit and steal his way back into our hearts.


Ian Desmond is still looking to sign with a team. He was a potential 30/30 home run and steal threat until he just wasn’t last year. While he struggled defensively, his down year offensively may have been influenced by the latter. Even though I would prefer to see Desmond in Washington I still see him as a top six option at short stop even if he ends up elsewhere.

Alex Cobb and Hyun-Jin Ryu broke out already in 2014 but neither have the huge track record I usually require to love as a bounce back. Both pitchers can have a return from injury and provide value as top 30 starting pitchers. To be completely transparent with these two guys, they may only give you half a year of value. If your league allows you to stash players on the DL, that’s the route I would go with them.

Can Brantley come back from injury early or is doomed to be a fantasy disappointment?

Michael Brantley wants to forget his 2015 season and looks to get back to the great hitter we expect him to be.




Two years ago Michael Brantley was one of the games top hitters before last years injury plagued season. He had shoulder surgery and may miss the start of this year. Last year I gambled on Prince Fielder and this year Brantley is my gamble. I repeat this is a bigger risk than most other guys on this list, but his top 10 potential hitting ability forces my hand. I do not think hes ready to go for the start of the season though, so I’ll have him as a top 20 outfielder.

Anthony Rendon has a similar story to Brantley as a breakout star who demanded to be highly ranked coming into last year. Rendon’s bat has never been in question it is clearly his injury history that is driving his value the wrong way. I have him safely in my top seven at third base and top five at second if he is eligible there in your league.

Adam Wainwright and Yu Darvish are both former aces and need to still be regarded as such. Wainright made a miraculous return to try and help the Cardinals in the postseason, while Darvish missed the entire year due to Tommy John surgery. Wainwright has already made the comeback from injury and made his way back to the top of the ranks. Darvish is the scarier of the two as he more than likely will not be ready for the opener. I have both guys penciled in to top 20 starting pitcher value.



Can Yasiel Puig return to his elite hitting ways or was last year a sign of things to come?



Yasiel Puig’s dissent from fantasy star to whatever last years performance was is hard to break down. I know he was injured at one point, benched at another point, and his go all-out personality could be detrimental to his performance. He still is too talented at this point to ignore. I feel he can return as a top 15 outfielder value.

That brings us circling back to the opener and the newly svelter Pablo Sandoval. He was a very good fantasy contributor in San Francisco, so why was he so bad in Boston last year? Did he simply eat too many Boston cream pies or perhaps had his fill of Sam Adams lager? It seems like a change of scenery can do certain players good, yet it could have a negative effect on others. I am banking on the fact that the Panda is ready this year to return to relevance. Put him as a top 15 third basemen.

Lightning round of honorable mentions include: Hanley Ramirez, Shin Soo Choo, Hunter Pence, Freddie Freeman, Dustin Pedroia, Shelby Miller, and Tyson Ross.

When a player has a great or breakout year like Jake Arrieta did last year they force their way into the top tier rankings. While I do not want to dismiss last year as a reference point, I am against the recency bias that just forgets those same guys who have proven they are too good to give up on. Just remember all these guys will not come through and outperform their draft day value and most may still be a gamble.  I love a good gamble and am willing to on this group of guys.

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