This is now the third article I’ve written since I began working for MLFS and, as expected, working in a new format has presented its share of challenges and opportunities. On the challenge side— I actually have to work with people now. Not a bad thing, but hey— it’s always easier to only be responsible for yourself. But the reason I chose to work with people in the first place was to have this challenge and to see how it allowed me to look at baseball writing differently. Case and point, these rankings.
Writing a ranking set as a whole list, Outfielders #1-101, is a thoroughly exhausting task. But it’s a beneficial undertaking before draft day. Breaking that list up into four sub-sections like I’ve done for this site presents a twist on the challenge. Working through one-quarter of the list at a time, I’m able to look at each section exclusively. In a sense, how you draft from 1-25 is different from how you draft from 75-100. At 1-25 you’re just essentially looking for the greatest bulk of stats you can find. For 75-100, as discussed in last week’s article, you could be looking for a variety of different players for different needs. They couldn’t be more different scenarios, so perhaps it’s fair to treat them slightly differently–as sets of rankings.
Last week the focus was on player deficiency, specifically focusing in on players who had at least one major playing time or age/health related concern that was a large detractor from their potential value. Unlike the players ranked 76 and below however, the next quarter of rankings represents players who aren’t quite as defined by their ailments. A good number of them still have similar concerns— un-guaranteed or marginalized roles, lack of experience, or perhaps they are coming off a particularly good or bad season that defied expectation.
This week, the rankings will be more individualized, but the following key will serve as a quick guide to recognizing some of the traits I believe can affect the player’s draft day value.
R-1: Player has less than a full year (550) of plate Appearances. Colored Red if Rookie Eligible. These players would likely represent an added skill variability.
HEA: Health or Durability concerns. These players represent potential bargains if they were to remain healthy / potential pitfalls if the player were to become injured.
R/PT: Role or Playing time Concerns. These players could either be in a crowded situation or have a skillset, such as a platoon bat, that suggests they may see less than full-time.
ZZ: Outlier Year. These players are coming off of years in which their performances particularly defied expectations.
DAIL: Daily league players. Not to be confused with DFS, these are players who’s platoon advantage make them advantageous to those with Daily Transactions leagues.
SPD: Speed players. While these players already are ranked based on SBs as one of the five categories, players who provide speed late in drafts are obviously of particular interest.
75. Avisail Garcia (ZZ, HEA?) — I’ve never considered myself an Avisail fan. If Avisail’s one good season came with a bunch of power I’d be a buyer. Problem is it didn’t. If you look at Garcia’s 2017 you’re buying for one reason— the BA. 18 HRs and 5 SBs isn’t that great. The BA is supported by a .390+ BABIP. He has terrible PD. The White Sox shouldn’t provide him an excess of Rs and RBIs. We’ve seen players do this with mystifying BABIPs, and I’m not ready to get off the Fluke Train quite yet.
74. Jose Martinez (R-1, R/PT, DAIL) — Outstanding in 307 PAs in 2017, Martinez is the latest Cardinal of questionable origin to breakout onto the scene. Martinez showcased an excellent Batted Ball profile with an excellent Line Drive Rate and Hard Contact%, as well as a particular ability to dominate lefties, with a .407/.493/.847 Slash Line with 7 HRs in a small sample. The latter makes me believe Martinez could be a particular asset in a daily league.
73. Delino Deshields Jr. (SPD) — Another player I’ve had lukewarm feelings about in the past, Delino Deshields has a mixed bag for a skill-set and is probably someone I’m more comfortable avoiding if I already have speed. But, Delino’s speed and potential role with the Rangers give him value. The key questions are: 1) how much his speed can hold up his BABIP and 2) whether Delino hits closer to .269 like in 2017 or .209 like in 2016.
72. Jackie Bradley Jr. — JBJ is someone who does not suffer from many of the ailments discussed in this article, but instead has his fantasy value thrives on his glove. Bradley’s skill-set may not be the most ideal, but he provides a combination of some power, some speed, and counting stats that seem mostly reliable.
71. Chris Owings (R/PT, SPD) — The next few players represent a handful of potential stat stuffers if put in the right position. Owings posted 12 HRs and 12 SBs last year in just 97 Games and 386 PAs while maintaining a decent average. He’s flexible enough to play throughout the diamond defensively but may also fill more of a utility role. I also think Owings has a chance of stealing 20 bases in limited time if he remains a part-time player, just like he stole 21 in 2016.
70. Aaron Hicks (R/PT) — Hicks is someone who could see his stock increase quickly if he is favored to get the lion’s share of the playing time in New York. Hicks is just 28 Years old and had a 15/10 season last year in just 88 Games and 361 PAs while also having an excellent BB/K. Hicks may not seem like a potential fantasy steal but if given the opportunity, he could serve as a great value.
69. Scooter Gennett (R/PT, ZZ, DAIL) — The power outburst is certainly an easier pill to swallow considering what baseball has been like over the past two years, but it is still hard to know exactly how much of it is real. On top of that, Gennett had far superior numbers against righties (.930 OPS) than lefties (.691 OPS). The latter is why Gennett could get a boost in a daily league where you could potentially shield him against some of those lefties.
68. Marwin Gonzalez (R/PT, ZZ) — It’s hard to fully call Gonzalez’s 2017 an outlier because he did indeed show some good traits as a partial player over the course of his first five seasons. Skill wise, I still have some questions regarding what Gonzalez’s true talent is. His .343 BABIP is probably a bit elevated and, like Scooter, it’s hard to know what to do with the home run total. Gonzalez’s fantasy problems, though, are far different. In a guaranteed everyday role, Marwin would be an interesting if not unsexy stat stuffer drafted much more highly, even if he were only to produce something like .270/20/10 in a full season. The problem is he plays on perhaps the most stacked team in terms of a hitting depth chart that there is in baseball.
67. Dexter Fowler (HEA) — Fowler saw a decline in steals in 2017 that probably should have more or less been expected coming from a now-near-32-year-old moving to a new team that does not run much. Fowler is a solid but unspectacular player who will also gain less and less of his value from his ability to steal. It is also worth noting that in the past five seasons Fowler has played more than 125 games only once. He has not played under 116 Games, so he has not missed much time, but he has played right in that 116-125 game range most of the last few years.
66. Josh Reddick (HEA) — Analytically, Reddick has had a confusing career arc. Few foresaw his breakout 32 HR year in 2012. Reddick has continually cut down the K% and increased his ability/willingness to spray the ball at the expense of his power. Reddick hit only 13 HRs last year, but as a whole I’m buying into the approach. A healthy Reddick could hit 15-20 HRs, steal close to 10 bases, and hit for an average upwards of .280-.290. Problem is he hasn’t stayed healthy very often as a pro.
65. Jason Kipnis (HEA) — Kipnis has never been a fantasy rock. His relative value has remained solid but his individual category production has been quite variable. He’s bounced his batting average and power back and forth on a year-to-year basis. In an injury-plagued 2017, Kipnis still managed to hit a decent number of home runs and steal a few bases, so there’s plenty of reason to believe he could be a huge value if he were fully healthy going into 2018. He’s a potential spring riser.
64. Michael Brantley (HEA) — Similarly to teammate Kipnis, Brantley’s biggest problems of late have come from the injury. Brantley had a short run as an elite fantasy OF before crashing down due to shoulder ailments. Brantley still has a the ability to hit for some power and speed, but his durability is at this point a major question.
63. Corey Dickerson (R/PT) — The “role” tag is a bit vague in this situation because Dickerson has recently found a new home in Pittsburgh and there’s still some dust settling on that. My concerns for Dickerson are primarily skill related. Dickerson has talent and power but is also an uber-free swinger prone to chasing bad balls at an alarming rate. Plus, the last time Dickerson changed leagues it didn’t go so well. I’ve been a fan of Dickerson’s talent for years, but I don’t like the way he’s been bounced around from place to place.
62. Ronald Acuna (R-1, SPD) — Acuna has a chance to be a part of a potentially pretty solid Atlanta Braves line-up and boasts the potential to hit for average, some power, and a safe and potentially strong amount of stolen bases.
61. Kevin Pillar — I prefer Pillar to Jackie Bradley Jr. who has a similiar skill-set. Pillar’s value to your fantasy team comes from his ability to stay on the field and provide a safety net of stats that you can lock into one of your back end OF spots in a mixed league at a discounted price. Pillar won’t do anything too spectacular, but should threaten double-digit homers and 15-20 SBs.
60. David Peralta (R/PT, DAIL) — A player I adored going into 2017, Peralta mostly lived up to expectations providing some power, some speed, and a strong BA. Throughout his career Peralta has often been used as a part-time player with a career .659 OPS v. LHP and a career .856 OPS v. RHP. Peralta could lose some PT to lefties, but his overall five categorical value makes him a potential asset in mixed leagues.
59. Jesse Winker (R-1, R/PT) — I’m ranking Winker because I think he will get the lion’s share of the plate appearances for the Reds. Right now there are hints at just a four-man rotational outfield, which could be used at the start of the season, But that won’t last long if Winker plays well enough to start every day. Winker lacks a lot of that prospect appeal. No gold glove, no platinum stick, and no winged cleats. But he has a strong hit tool that should make him a safe value and offer a comfortable transition to the major leagues.
58. Willie Calhoun (R-1, R/PT) — Calhoun is a rookie who showcases a rare ability to generate contact and power. Calhoun has mostly slipped through the cracks of some rankings and prospect analysis due to his lackluster fielding. However, if Calhoun can manage to stay on the field, he should provide value.
57. Jonathan Villar (ZZ, R/PT) — Outlier isn’t a fair term. Villar was an utter disaster in 2017. His plate discipline disappeared. Coming into 2018 it’s a similar situation. Villar will not just be competing with himself and Sogard. Still, Villar represents A+ level fantasy upside and shouldn’t simply be ignored because he burned so many people last year.
56. Eric Thames — What is Thames’ true power? For a while it looked like it was going to be 40+ HRs, but Thames settled with a very pedestrian 7 HRs in the last two months of the season. If you pencil in 30+ again, Thames is still a decent value with some underrated speed. But what happens if 2018 turns up more second half Thames?
55. Eduardo Nunez (R/PT, SPD, DAIL) — Eduardo is the classic example of why sample size/playing time matters less to players who generate their value from speed. That isn’t to say you wouldn’t prefer Nunez playing full-time. Byt his ability to not hurt you in any particular category while providing a season’s volume of speed in a short time is still very valuable.
54. Mitch Haniger (R-1) — Haniger’s BABIP seems a bit high to me and I’m a bit concerned by his tendency to pull the ball, but these are mostly minor concerns. More than anything, we just need to see Haniger play more so we can get a better sense of his skill set.
53. Bradley Zimmer (R-1) — Zimmer offers a very strong upside in terms of power and speed. He quite honestly has many shades of Byron Buxton in his game, with his ability to impact your fantasy team with explosive performances. Zimmer is a BA liability. But if he can keep the K% manageable should be an excellent value.
52. Carlos Santana — I’m not going to try to make too much of Santana’s move from Cleveland to Philly, but I do believe it represents a net positive for him. The move from Progressive to Citizen’s Bank should provide him with a comfortable and positive hitting environment. ESPN’s park Factor’s gave Citizen’s Bank the highest score in terms of Home Runs in 2017. Santana also deserves a boost in OBP leagues.
51. Trey Mancini — I’m quite the Trey Mancini fan. He may not be the perfect blue chip player, but over his first major league sample Mancini showed an ability not only to hit for decent power, but also to generate hard contact with a good spread of the field and a decent average. Mancini is not a great defender and does have a bit of a roster crunch in Baltimore. But I believe that Baltimore will lean on the 25 year-old and he will provide ample fantasy value in 2018.
Thanks for reading this week’s article if you were able to make it through many of the player blurbs. Let me know on this site or on reddit if you have any preference or any comments on the way these rankings have been formatted the last two weeks. I’d appreciate that feedback before setting out on the 50-26 portion.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Thursday February 22nd, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #100 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Our guest this week is John Gozzi. John is new to the MLFS baseball writing staff in 2018 and His articles publish every Saturday morning at 7 am. He is also the co-host of our Sunday show along with Brian Roach Jr, which airs live from [7:30]-9pm EST every week.
The link above is to listen on our blog talk radio website. You can listen to the show directly on the homepage of majorleaguefantasysports.com without the annoying popups and obnoxious ads that are on the blog talk website. It will be playing automatically during the show time.