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[EDITORS
' NOTE]
\
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Rolling with the changes
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The week we go to press with this magazine is also
the same week that Major League Elaseball holds its
annual Winter Meetings. As we're putting the finishing
touches on our ranking and bios for 566 players, admiring our

morning of our final send. The news that we're going to have
to change a half-dozen pages that have already been approved
isn't always well received. But Scott's also a real pro and a huge

baseball f^, as evidenced by the prominent Orioles magnet on
the back of his SUV.

neady bound package of fantasy information for you readers,

More than any other sport we preview in these yearbooks,
baseball is the game that challenges us the most and puts our

bombsheU trade after bombshell trade, sending us scrambling yet

joiUTtalistic deadline and production skills to the test. Player

MLB Network is playing on the TV above our desks, dropping
again to change pages that we'd signed off on days ago.
"Shelby Miller is packing his ba^ for Arizona in a five-player
deal."

"Ken Giles will be the new closer in Houston after the Phillies

complete a deal with the Astros for four players."

"Wade Miley, come on down from Boston, you've been traded

to Seattle for Carson Smith and Roenis Elias."

Our computers are littered with Post-it notes of the latest trade

or free-agent pickup to happen and the pages it wil impact The

worst deals are the interleague ones, such as when Giles went
from Philly to Houston on Dec. 10 (our send date), thus changing

leagues and causing a domino effect across the magazine. With

such a swap, we'll need to make changes to Giles' bio, the
Houston Te^ Report, the Philadelphia Team Report, the Relief
Pitchers Overview and the Gatefold, moving him from the list of

movement is such a big part of our national pastime, and
December is the perfect storm of trading and ft-ee agency.
It's also the time of year in which hope springs eternal for all 30
teams. In what other sport would you find a ftanchise like Atlanta

literally turn over its entire major league roster through trades for
prospects and have some fans actually "looking forward" to 201718 rather than focusing on just how bad the Braves are going to be
in 2016. Baseball is a game of patience, indeed, and its fans are the
most patient. The people who write about it and publish preview
magazines also need their fair share of patience, especially in
D e c e m b e r.

We hope you enjoy this year's Sporting News Fantasy Baseball,
which contains a record-setting 564 player projections (that's 216

more than the 2015 version). You'll also find ei^t more player

scouting reports than last time for a grand total of566 individual
bios.

N.L. pitchers to the A.L. one.

Our creative director, Scott Greig, is a tall man, about 6-4, and
he's not the kind of guy you want to get angry first thing on the

I'm not going to mention how many times some of those had to
be changed. It's way too painful.

Scott Smith @scott_SNyrbks

fflUOlV SPOffllNG NEWS YEARBOOKS ON TWITTER §SN_YRBKS

2 0 1 6 FA N TA S Y B A S E B A L L Y E A R B O O K

THE USUAL SUSPECTS
By CRAIG WILLIAMS
Sporting News Yearbooks contributor

Our annual Ballpark Power Index ranks the stadiums

from best to worst In terms of fantasy baseball, with
comments from players.

FROM FANTASY TO PHENOMENON
By PETE WILLIAMS
Sporting News Yearbooks contributor

What began as a card game for stat geeks with lots of
time on their hands Is now a multlbllllon-dollar business that

cuts across all demographics and Is now so popular—and
controversial—that the government is getting involved.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO... HITTER'S COUNTS
ByMIKEBERARDINO
St. Paul Pioneer Press

They're quickly becoming extinct In Major League Baseball
and you must now take Into account that fewer fastballs on 2-0

and 3>1 counts will have fantasy implications.

WHY CAN'T CATCHERS HIT?
By SCOTGREGOR
Chicago Daily News

The position Is a dreaded afterthought these days for

fantasy owners who have seen injuries and early position
changes keep promising offensive backstops from becoming
the next Johnny Bench or Mike Piazza.

SLEEPER ALERT!
By CRAIG WILLIAMS
Sporting News Yearbooks contributor

Here are 30 under-the-radar players
one from each MLB team—to keep an eye
heading Into your fantasy draft.

Angels superstar
Mike Trout, the No. 1 pick
In our Mock Draft
on page 30.

2 2016 SPORTING NEWS FANTASY BASEBALL

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T E A M

2016FANTASYBASEBALL YEARBOOK

REPORTS

ASPORTINGNEWSYEARBOOKSPUBLICATION

Arizona

Diamondbacks

134

Atlanta

Braves

134

J A K E A R R I E TA
...AND BEYOND

Baltimore

By SC0T6REG0R

Chicago

Chicago Daily News

How did this former American

Orioles

Boston

Red

Sox

Cubs

Chicago

White

Sox

134
135

13S
135

League underachiever become an
historic, Cy Young-winning Hurler
with the Cubs at age 29—and who
could be the next late-blooming
ace like him to emerge for fantasy

Cincinnati

Reds

136

Cleveland

Indians

136

owners?

Houston

Colorado

Rockies

Detroit

Tigers
Astros

Kansas

WHAT'S NEXT AFTER
'YEAROFTHEROOKiE?'
By FRANK NEVILLE
Sporting News Yearbooks contributor

A look at the up-and-coming
rookies who should be on your radar
this season.

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POSITION
OVERVIEWS
Catchers

First

36

Basemen/DHs

Second

Basemen

Shortstops

Third

Relief

38
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O u t fi e l d e r s

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COVER CREDIT

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SWfiCH SH YEAFBQQKS IN THE APP STORE 3

Coors and Camden continue to give up the bombs, while Petco and

Citi are stiii beloved by pitchers—but keep an eye on Angei Stadium.
BY CRAIG WILLIAMS

the season, is a projection of how each

U.S. Cellular Field has looked like a

Sporting News Yearbooks contributor

park will play biased on recent statistical
trends. It's also a helpful tool to use
when you're sorting through players
in the middle rounds of your draft and

park venturing into neutral territory,

B
oe
w
lsiourannualn
rg
ki

of every major league
stadium, from the most
favorable park for hitters to
the one that's most pitcher-

friendly. This ranking, which should be
helpful to fantasy owners when setting
their lineups on a dally basis during

HITTER'S
2016
RANK

trying to decide whom to pick between
similarly valued players.
Keep in mind that there are
instances when a poor offensive
showing from the home team will
skew the trends a bit. For example.

but much of that is due to the

struggles of the While Sox lineup.
There are plenty of the usual suspects
In hitter-frlendly (Coors Field, Camden
Yards) and pitcher-friendly (Petco
Park, Citi Field) territory, but keep an
eye on the action at Angel Stadium in
2016 as pitchers continue to find the
environment there more favorable.

PA R K S

B A L L PA R K ( T E A M )

2015
RANK

COMMENT

Coors Field (Rockies)

1

Coors surrendered a league-high .490 slugging percentage in 2015.

Camden Yards (Orioles)

3

Camden is consistently among the top hitter's parks.

Globe Life Park (Rangers)

4

Offense picked up last season after slight dip from 2014.

Fenway Park (Red Sox)

5

Fenway's quirks make for favorable offensive conditions.

5

Miller Park* (Brewers)

8

The Brewers' home gave up 189 dingers with a .422 slugging percentage.

6

Chase Field* (Diamondbacks)

7

Hot and dry means baseballs fly in Arizona.

7

Rogers Centre* (Blue Jays)

2

Blue Jays' loaded offense surely helps Rogers Centre stand out.

8

Ya n k e e S t a d i u m

6

Lefties will always love the short porch in right.

9

Great American Ball Park (Reds)

9

Offense bounced back at this hitter-friendly venue.

10

Citizens Bank Park (Phillies)

11

Twenty-nine more homers were hit at "The Bank" in 2015 than in 2014.

1
2
3
4

N E U T R A L . PA R K S
2016
RANK

B A L L PA R K ( T E A M )

2015
RANK

COMMENT

11

U.S. Cellular Field (White Sox)

10

Chicago's offensive struggles once again masked a strong hitter's park.

12

Minute Maid Park* (Astros)

12

Offense was down overall, but Minute Maid Park is homer-friendly.
Homer output didn't stand out, but the offense jumped overall.

Progressive Field (Indians)

17

1 4

Target Field (Twins)

13

More homers hit in 2015, but overall favorability tilted toward pitchers.

15

Comerica Park (Tigers)

14

Look for Comerica to trend toward the pitcher-friendly side in 2015.

Kauffman Stadium (Royals)

18

More homers in 2015, but park has consistently hovered around neutral.

Nationals Park

19

Nationals Park plays fair for both sides.

Tropicana Field" (Rays)

2 0

Home runs up in 2015, but teams slugged .385 overall.

19

Busch Stadium (Cardinals)

21

Injuries likely made Busch look slightly more pitcher-friendly.

2 0

O.co Coliseum (A's)

22

Will never be confused for a hitter's park.

13

16
17
18

P I T C H E R ' S PA R K S
B A L L PA R K ( T E A M )

RAim COMMENT

21 Wrigley Field (Cubs)

15 Can be hitter's haven or pitcher's paradise depending on elements,

2 2 Tu r n e r F i e l d ( B r a v e s )

23 Offense largely consistent from 2014-15.

23 Safeco Field* (Mariners)

24 Offense improved, but Safeco still heavily favors pitchers.

24 PNC Park (Pirates)

25 PNC limited teams to a .373 slugging percentage.

25 Dodger Stadium

26 Perennially one of game's most pitcher-friendly parks.

26 Petco Park (Padres)

30 improved offense helped mask some pro-pitcher tendencies.

27 Angel Stadium

16 Home runs increased, but Angel Stadium still favors pitchers overall.

28 Citi Field (Nets)

27 Mets' stacked rotation doesn't help offensive numbers.

29 Marlins Park*

29 This cavernous ballpark eats up flyballs.

3 0 AT & T P a r k ( G i a n t s )

28 Sans a dominant Giants rotation, offense still can't get going in the Bay.

' retractable roof, 'dome

FOLLOW US OH FACFBOOKATFACEBOOK.COM/SHYEARBQOKS 5

FA N TA S Y B A S E B A L L ' S E V O L U T I O N

6 ED16 SPORTING NEWS FANTASY BASEBALL

What began as a card

game for slat geeJcs with
lots of time on their hands
is now a multibillion-dollar
business that cuts across

all demographics and
is now so popular-and
controversial-that the

government is

getting involved.
BY

PETE

WILLIAMS

Sporting News Yearbooks contributor

w

hen Greg Ambrosius
attended the Major
League Baseball
Winter Meedngs in
Nashville in 1989,

he placed a stack of flyers for his new

Fantasy Baseball magazine on a table in

the media room. An MLB public-relations
official prompdy tossed them in the
trash.

These days, MLB embraces fantasy
baseball, recognizing that fans drafting
players either for daily or season-long

fantasy games boosts interest in baseball
and is good for business. Indeed, it's a
$15 billion annual business, according
to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association,
which lumps other sports, most notably
the NFL, into the ever-growing market.
The FTSA, formed in 1997 at the
dawn of the Internet era and the use

of analytics, estimates that 57 million

people play fantasy sports and nearly
20 percent compete in the daily
versions popularized in recent years

by companies such as DraftKings and
FanDuel, which allow players to select
new teams each day.
Fantasy has long fueled interest in
baseball among fans that might not

otherwise pay attention to teams beyond
their home market, though it took
MLB years to make that connection. As
recently as the mid-1990s, MLB viewed
fantasy at best as a nuisance, with preIntemet players phoning team offices for
injury updates.
"We were seen as this niche audience

of numbers geeks," remembers
Ambrosius, now general manager of
consumer fantasy games at STATS
LLC. "It took the leagues a decade to
realize that fantasy players are their best
customers."

Fantasy baseball dates back to at least

fflLlOW SPOfimG NEWS YEmOOKS ON mTlEN osNjms

FA N TA S Y B A S E B A L L ' S E V O L U T I O N

1951, the year the baseball-simulation
card game APBA was laimched by a
Pennsylvania company. A decade later
came Strat-O-Madc, a dice game in which
players made strategic decisions based
on cards of actual baseball players with
their stats from previous seasons.
Modem fantasy baseball began in the
winter of 1979-80, when journalist Daniel
Okrent, the first public editor of The New
York Times, proposed the idea to a group
of fellow New York City media types
at La Rotisserie Fran?aise restaurant.
Under the rules of "Rotisserie Baseball,"

participants drafted teams of big-league
players and their collective real-life, fullseason stats in eight categories-batting
average, home runs, RBls, steals, wins,
saves, ERA and WHIP (hits and walks

divided by innings pitched)-determined
the lea^e winner.
Since Okrent and most of his fellow

players worked in the media, word spread
in the press. Okrent authored a piece in
Inside Sports magazine in 1981, a book
followed three years later, and Rotisserie
or "Roto" developed a rabid following
in the mid-1980s as players spent hours
working the phones for trades.
The group even inspired an ESPN "30

for 30" documentary in 2010. "I thought
it would be a diversion," recalls Glen

Wagoner, one of the league founders
who edited subsequent editions of
the Rotisserie League Baseball book
throughout the '80s. "I didn't know it
was going to take over my life."
The only drawback to Roto was
scorekeeping. In this pre-Intemet era,
league commissioners spent five to 10
hours a week hand-scoring their leagues
using stats, from USA Today's Tuesday
(American League) and Wednesday
(National League) editions.
I owe my career in part to fantasy
baseball, having served as commissioner

of my high school Roto league starting in
1985.1 graduated college amid a tough
1991 job market after inteming for USA
Today the summer before. Though
there were no openings in the sports
department, USA Today hired me for
its new publication, Baseball Weekly,
launched to meet the growing appetite
for Rotisserie baseball. The magazine
ran all box scores from the previous
week, something The Sporting News had
recently discontinued.
Though we covered all aspects of
baseball, our fantasy coverage stood out.
Waggoner's impact on fantasy was so
big that Baseball Weekly hired him not as
fantasy columnist, but as lead columnist.
My colleague John Hunt, who began
as "agate editor" processing stats and
transactions that appeared in small type.

2016 SPORTING NEWS FANTASY BASEBALL

Strat-O-Matic, a dice game, was the
precursor to modern fantasy baseball.

quickly realized a connection between the

statistical minutiae that strained his eyes

and gaining an edge in "Roto" baseb^.

Ambrosius says. "Plus, football is once a
week. It's less of a commitment."

USA Today still runs the LABR

His "Fantasy Beat" column, full of original
Stat analysis, became a must-read.
In 1994, Hunt organized a league of

lea^e, though the world of fantasy
has changed dramatically over the last

experts to chronicle in Baseball Weekly

boom not only leveled the playing field

two decades. The late-1990s Internet

over the course of the season. The

in terms of information avt^able, it

league, drafted in marathon phone
sessions, featured prominent baseball
analysts such as Peter Gammons and

made scorekeeping a breeze with CBS

Keith Olbermann, who as a participant
during his first ESPN stint dubbed it the

Sportsline, ESPN and Yahoo among the
first to provide online packages that
updated stats in real time.

Then came Moneyball. The 2003

"League of Alternative Baseball Reality."
After baseball shut down in August
of that year, I'm convinced the only
thing that kept USA Today from folding

sparked a revolution in baseball. Teams

(The magazine expanded to other sports

Harvard MBAs and MIT math whizzes
to crunch numbers that determined

and became Sports Weekly in 2002).

everything from personnel moves

Baseball Weekly was the popularity of
fantasy, which would survive the strike.
But just as Ae baseball strike allowed

the NFL to surge past the MLB in

popularity, it provided an opening for

NFL fantasy, which grew far bi^er than

fantasy baseball-that name was widely
adapted after the Rotisserie founders
tried to protect their trademark.

"Some people swore they'd never play
fantasy baseball again after the strike,"

Michael Lewis book about the use of

analytics by general manager Billy

Beane and the Oakland A's front office

established analytics departments, hiring

to in-game strategy. The age of the
ex-player G.M. quickly came to a close.
These days, the faces and skill sets
of many front-office staffs look more

like fantasy players than ex-major
league players. Advanced analjAics
have become a huge part of fantasy,
too, fueling the latest incarnation: daily
fantasy sports.


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