This article is part of our The Saber's Edge series.
Every fantasy season is unique in some way, and this one is no different. Let's examine some of the early season storylines fantasy owners need to follow.
Home Run Spike
Last year's home run bump (4.9K to 5.6K) made sure nearly everyone with a heartbeat hit almost 20 home runs. Even Freddy Galvis hit 20. If quad-A guys like Galvis can show pop, home runs will lose their value. If the spike doesn't continue and levels fall, sluggers' values will jump. To find out which way the season might lean, follow early season Statcast average batted ball velocity and compare to last season. For reference, it was up ~1.5 mph from '15 to '16. Just make sure the comparison is April to April because the ball doesn't carry in the cold early season.
New Old Batters
Four uncertain hitters – Kyle Schwarber, Eric Thames, A.J. Pollock and Michael Brantley – are returning to the field after being gone for at least a season. Here is what to look for in each.
Kyle Schwarber: His postseason performance (.412/.500/.471) removed some doubts about his health. But he did only hit one extra-base hit, so questions still remain. Assuming he's healthy, the key for fantasy owners is if/when he gets catcher eligibility. Five months as a catcher or just one will be key for his 2017 and then his 2018 value. Besides health and position-eligibility questions, his playing time could be erratic on a loaded Cubs team.