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  • March 19, 2020 11:16 PM EDT

    Nineteen days. Tramon Williams Super Bowl Jersey . A minimum of 16 (Texas Rangers) and a maximum of 19 (Pittsburgh Pirates) games. Thats what weve got remaining on the 2016 regular-season calendar -- and with it, the fantasy baseball season.Its the time when fantasy owners are fighting for that one last stolen base, one extra quality start to capture their head-to-head matchups, ultimately resulting in the crowning of a league championship.It means that anything goes: seemingly-crazy-on-the-surface trades, like Clayton Kershaw for Billy Hamilton (in leagues that have no trade deadline); household fantasy names like Jacob deGrom?being dropped to clear a precious roster spot; and the realization that rankings, those overall rest-of-season valuations, carry the least weight on your lineup decisions.This weeks represents the final Going Forward Rankings column for 2016, to cover these final 19 days of action. You can see them at this columns end, with the link to individual position rankings included.Dont worry, dont worry! Youre not being left in the dark for the final two-plus weeks of your championship quest. There will still be two more Fantasy Baseball Forecasters to carry you through, on Sept. 16 (Week 24) and 23 (Week 25), as well as all of our daily coverage on the fantasy baseball page.As the 2016 season draws to a close, however, its time to begin focusing our rankings upon future seasons, just as many real-life teams have begun turning their pages to 2017. Heres what you can expect these next two weeks:A new Dynasty 250, forecasting player value from 2017-21, which will publish next week (week of Sept. 19).Way-too-early (but-I-say-never-too-early) 2017 rankings, both a top 250 and rankings by position, the following week (week of Sept. 26).With that in mind, lets examine a few of 2016s more interesting players, with some initial thoughts on whether their successes or failures might extend into 2017:SuccessesJonathan Villar, SS/3B, Milwaukee Brewers: He could fall flat on his face these final 19 days and be an absolute lock for the Player Raters top 25, thanks in large part to his 54 stolen bases, only four shy of Hamiltons total for the major league lead. Villars speed has never been in dispute; he is one of only two players (along with Hamilton) to have stolen at least 40 bases combined at all professional levels in each of the past five seasons. What Villar brings to the table that Hamilton does not, however, is a keen knowledge of the strike zone. His 11.2 percent walk rate ranks 23rd out of the 151 hitters qualified for the batting title, fueling a .373 on-base percentage that ranks 22nd. Its not the first time in his pro career that Villar has done this -- he now has a 9.6 percent walk rate and .335 on-base percentage in his big-league career. He also had a 9.7 percent walk rate and .347 on-base percentage in his career at the Triple-A level. Both of those seem safer 2017 projections, but thats still a player plenty capable of a .270 batting average and 40-50 steals.Daniel Murphy, 2B/1B, Washington Nationals: Ive removed third base from his positional list since hell lose that eligibility entering 2017, but Murphys eligibility really doesnt matter, after the kind of breakthrough campaign he has had. Simply put, he is an entirely different hitter than he was entering the 2015 campaign, with his specific adjustments documented as far back as January. It has resulted in his hitting for more power, fueled by a more pull-conscious approach generating harder contact, skills that make his 2016 numbers more sustainable during the long haul, and he has now done it over nearly 14 months:8/1/15-10/4/15: 50 G, .296 AVG, .236 ISO, .207 WHAV, 37.6 FB%, 43.9 Pull%2015 postseason: 14 G, .328 AVG, .397 ISO, .224 WHAV, 40.0 FB%, 44.4 Pull%2016 1H: 87 G, .348 AVG, .250 ISO, .224 WHAV, 38.5 FB%, 42.5 Pull%2016 2H: 49 G, .346 AVG, .253 ISO, .183 WHAV, 35.7 FB%, 42.9 Pull%Perhaps Murphys .349 BABIP isnt sustainable extending into 2017 if hes hitting fly balls at the elevated rate that he is currently, but dock him even 30 points -- his career BABIP is .319 -- and were still probably talking about a .310 hitter whose power metrics this season have been entirely legit. All aboard the bandwagon!Rick Porcello, SP, Boston Red Sox: When it comes to projecting forward, discard his 20-3 record. Throw it out! Ignore it! It has absolutely zero to do with any sort of skills-based analysis of Porcellos 2017 prospects. Still, even running a Player Rater calculation of his 2016 contributions ignoring the wins, Porcello is the No. 13 starting pitcher (hes No. 6 if you include his wins). In addition, his FIP/xFIP (3.45/3.91) places him right within range of his 2014 numbers (3.67/3.68), which was his second-best year of eight in the bigs, painting the picture of a pitcher who gets far-too-criticized for what was an unusually poor 2015. Due to his low strikeout rate, Porcello is more subject to regression to the mean than other pitchers -- look at how consistent his year-over-year FIP/xFIP has been, for example -- but these days hes more capable of 33 starts and 200-plus innings than he was a few years back, with a 20-21 percent strikeout rate that should help keep his ERA in the midthrees. Theres no reason he should rank outside the top-40 starters for 2017.Kyle Hendricks, SP, Chicago Cubs: Hes the No. 2 starting pitcher on the Player Rater, and he did it with five fewer wins and nine fewer strikeouts than Porcello, but like Porcello, Hendricks has also enjoyed a bit of good fortune in getting to his lofty perch. Hendricks is the major-league leader in ERA (2.03), by four-tenths of a run no less, yet his FIP of 3.38 is within two-hundredths of a point of his career number (3.36) and six-hundredths of a point of either his 2014 (3.32) or 2015 (3.36), when his ERAs were 2.46 and 3.95, respectively. That hints of regression to come in 2017, though one advantage Hendricks has is the extent of which his cutter/sinker/changeup combination minimizes hard contact (and therefore unfavorable results), and hes the major-league leader (among ERA qualifiers) in lowest well-hit average allowed. That hints at him being one of those pitchers capable of beating his peripherals -- read: the rare ability to maintain an ERA one run beneath his FIP -- and in support of that, his WHIP contribution this season maps out as the third-best of any pitcher per our Player Rater.Wil Myers, 1B, San Diego Padres: Hell lose his outfield eligibility next season, and the shame of Myers breakthrough season is that his disastrous .174/.252/.261 triple-slash rates and 31.1 percent strikeout rate in his past 25 contests might leave a sour taste for owners who might have been otherwise excited to draft him again in 2017. Im willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, however, in that this is the first time during his big-league career that he has stayed healthy all year -- hes just 12 games shy of his pro high of 152 games (2013) -- and his 140 games played is also more than he has played for any individual team in any single year. Fatigue more than likely has contributed to his slide, but it also reminds us that any player who strikes out as often as Myers -- and I do anticipate that his 2017 strikeout rate will hover between 23-25 percent -- is more likely to end the season as a .250 hitter rather than a .290 one. Scouts always liked his bat, though, and with continued luck in the health department he could easily manage 30/15 numbers next year.FailuresDee Gordon, 2B, Miami Marlins: Go ahead and blame his second-half swoon on the PEDs that were clearly influencing his breakthrough 2014-15 campaigns -- heck, everyone else will do that. I think its lazy analysis, though, considering we have no specific evidence as to the effects of PEDs on players statistics, and Im at a loss to explain why Gordon, during said swoon, hasnt changed much in any other regard than his being less aggressive on the base paths. Using opportunities -- as judged by -- Gordon has attempted a steal only 22 percent of the time this season, down from 30 percent in 2015 and 33 percent in his big-league career entering 2016. Whats more, his 63 percent ground ball rate is practically identical to his 62 percent career mark, and his .288 BABIP on grounders compares to his .293 career mark (though he did manage .323 and .314 numbers in 2014-15). Did Gordon just get slower? That doesnt seem especially likely but, if true, Id merely be apt to correct his batting average/on-base percentage to .260/.300 while also expecting that hell run closer to his past-years 30 percent rate. So, he might well still be 50 steals in the bank in 2017, with a good chance you wont have to pay close to the going rate for that threshold.Jason Heyward, OF, Chicago Cubs: He might be fantasy baseballs greatest disappointment of 2016, considering he signed with a Cubs team that was destined to pad his counting stats (runs and RBIs) and plays in the first hitting-friendly ballpark Heyward has called home in his career. Yet, he appeared in a whopping 128 games while posting career-worst numbers in every triple-slash category. Wrist problems, which initially appeared in May, mightve contributed to Heywards struggles, and the winters rest could help him in that regard. As hes now 27 years old with a declining walk rate and all-too-low fly ball rate, however, Heywards baseline needs to be adjusted, to something closer to a .260-.270 batting average, 12-15 home runs and 12-15 stolen bases, and thats a middle-round pick at best.Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates: His disappointing year might gain more notice because he was a first-rounder during the preseason -- the No. 7 player selected overall in ESPN live drafts -- but McCutchen does rank 215th on the Player Rater, within the ownable range for ESPN standard leagues, which is a lot better than could be said for Heyward (538th). McCutchens performance went backward in one key regard, as far as future projections are concerned: his well-hit average dipped to a career-worst .189, after he had been remarkably consistent in the category and ranked among the leaders annually in seasons past. Hes hitting more soft-contact fly balls and infield pop-ups, and while the winters rest might also help him in the health department, hell also begin the 2017 season at age 30, a stage of his career where a return to prime-years glory isnt especially likely. Hell be a rebound candidate, albeit one whose candidacy has its limits.Gerrit Cole, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates: Injuries largely contributed to his disappointing year, but his 19.4 percent strikeout and 7.60 K/9 ratios were also career lows -- and troubling from a future-projections standpoint. He threw his breaking pitches less often and got fewer swings and misses with them (36 percent of hitters swings, down from 39 percent in 2015 and 40 percent in 2014). This is a big concern because success with this pitch represents his best path to the elite tier of fantasy starting pitchers. With Cole entering the winter on an injury down note, hell now need either encouraging offseason reports or a standout spring training to make a compelling case for a top-15 ranking entering 2017.Dallas Keuchel, SP, Houston Astros: Hes another pitcher for whom injuries influenced his down numbers, but Keuchel also regressed significantly even when he was healthy, specifically his strikeout rate dropping from 23.7 to 20.5 percent and his ground ball rate dropping from 62 to 58 percent. Lets also not forget how fortunate he was on balls-and-strikes calls in 2015, leading the majors with 167 pitches thrown outside the strike zone called for strikes. This season, he has only 90. Strangely, most of Keuchels problems have come with Jason Castro as his catcher, as he has a 5.35 ERA, 20.6 percent strikeout and 2.81 K/BB ratios working with Castro this season, after 2.26, 24.4 and 4.26 numbers in those categories in 2015. The dropoff is especially strange considering Castros pitch-framing metrics are nearly spot-on comparing this year to last. Some of that can be chalked up to plain old bad luck, sure to regress (positively) to the mean in 2017, but Keuchels true skills are probably much more his 2014 than 2015.New ESPN position eligibilityThe following players added new position eligibility within the past two weeks. As a reminder, position players need to appear 10 times at a new position to gain in-season eligibility, while pitchers need to make three starts to earn starting-pitching eligibility or five relief appearances to earn relief-pitching eligibility.Gordon Beckham (SS), Austin Brice (RP), Joe Colon (RP), Kaleb Cowart (2B), Stephen Drew (3B, SS), Eduardo Escobar (3B), Nick Martinez (RP), Rafael Montero (SP), Gerardo Parra (1B), Hernan Perez (2B), Jurickson Profar (SS), T.J. Rivera (2B), Adam Rosales (SS), Rob Segedin (OF), Brent Suter (RP), Gabriel Ynoa (RP).The following players are within two games of earning new eligibility, with their total games played noted at the listed position.Cristhian Adames (2B, 9 games; 3B, 8 games), Hanser Alberto (3B, 8 games), Emilio Bonifacio (OF, 8 games), Daniel Castro (3B, 9 games), Ivan De Jesus (1B, 9 games), Nick Franklin (1B, 8 games), Phil Gosselin (3B, 9 games), Paul Janish (3B, 9 games), Howie Kendrick (1B, 9 games), Chad Pinder (2B, 8 games), Jorge Polanco (3B, 9 games),?T.J. Rivera (3B, 8 games), Sean Rodriguez (3B, 9 games), Andrew Romine (2B, 8 games).Going-forward rankings: Week 23Listed below are my updated, going-forward rankings. These are based upon an ESPN standard league of 10 teams and Rotisserie 5x5 scoring. Click here?to see these rankings sorted by position. Josh Jackson Super Bowl Jersey . Now, correct me if Im wrong but I saw one official distinctly pointing at the net indicating a good goal but after an inconclusive review they overturned the goal.  Shouldnt the ruling on the ice (good goal) stand after an inconclusive review?  Why was this overturned?  James Veaudry Pembroke, ON --  Hey Kerry, Youll get a lot of these, but why was the Montreal goal against Nashville Saturday night overturned? Eller puts the puck on net and the on ice ruling from the ref behind the net is a Montreal goal. Elgton Jenkins Super Bowl Jersey .ca. Kerry,  Just watched the shootout in the Coyotes/Leafs game and I have to ask, why was the James van Riemsdyk goal allowed to count?  All of the video replays we were shown on TV were inconclusive about whether the puck had entirely crossed the line or not. . Pence singled in the winning run with no outs in the ninth inning to give the Giants a 7-6 victory over the San Diego Padres on Sunday. North Carolina preview capsuleEds: With: BKC--North Carolina Preview. Should stand.By The Associated Press=North CarolinaLast season: 33-7, lost in NCAA championship game.Nickname: Tar Heels.Coach: Roy Williams.Conference: Atlantic Coast.Whos gone: G Marcus Paige, F Brice Johnson, C Joel James.Whos back: G Joel Berry II, a junior likely to get the first crack as the successor to Paige when it comes to taking a big shot. G/F Justin Jackson, a junior who averaged about 12 points per game. F Kennedy Meeks, a 6-foot-10 senior and the teams top returning rebounder. F Isaiah Hicks, a senior who can provide scoring and rebounding if he stays out of foul trouble.Whos new: F Tony Bradley Jr., a 6-10 McDonalds All-American set for an immediate contributing role up front. G Brandon Robinson, a 6-5 freshman wing. G Seventh Woodss, a 6-2 guard known for his athleticism. Darnell Savage Jr. Super Bowl Jersey. G Shea Rush, the son of former UCLA player JaRon Rush.The Skinny: Losing Paige and Johnson were huge blows for a team that lost to Villanova on a last-second 3-pointer on the final Monday night of the season. But the Tar Heels top four upperclassmen all boast double-digit scoring potential and the team has plenty of depth on the wing with the return of Nate Britt and Theo Pinson. If Hicks can stay on the floor after past battles with foul trouble and Bradley provides a reliable interior presence, this looks like a group that can contend for an ACC title and a Final Four berth.---Online:AP College Basketball: ' ' '