This year I am once again tasked with presenting to the MLFS audience the best Outfielders in Fantasy Baseball for the 2019 season. It is a long process, and a position that obviously has the most individuals of any singular position. And as always, my goal is to try to find not just the best way to rank the players, but also the best way to relay information.
As this process will be drawn out over multiple articles, this first week will deal primarily with players that no one is going to want in a mixed league, at least in my opinion. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t value to be had here. And for many who play in deep leagues, or NL/AL Only formats, some of these players will be the relevant final starters in your Outfield.
And with the goal of relaying the information in mind, I’m taking a page out of the rankings from last year, and when applicable assigning various criteria to the listed players based on the following Key, the intention being that at this price range, you may be looking to fill a specific one of a various number of needs, as opposed to looking for total 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.
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.
Fishing Outside the Top 75
I’ve listed a few players here that are more likely to be in the Top 75 of other’s Rankings.
Odubel Herrera, PHI (R/PT) — Many have pegged Odubel as a sleeper and a good value at his ADP. At present, I’m going the other way a little bit. I think what some are seeing in Odubel is that the low BABIP and reduced speed regress a bit which would lead to a new Odubel with a bit more power after a career high 22 HRs in 597 PAs in 2018. But with the exception of 2016, he’s never been a great base stealer. With 2016, his career SB Conversion% is 71%, and without it, the Conversion% falls to 66%. And while his BABIP could improve, my main concern is that Herrera’s appeal has always been volume of PAs and volume of categories. If I’m evaluating him as a pure hitter, with not a lot of speed, and batting low in a line-up? That concerns me. And if they sign Bryce Harper, he’s not playing over McCutchen or Harper in my opinion, which limits his PA ability quickly.
Shin-Soo Choo, TEX (HEA) — While Choo has managed to stay relatively healthy for two consecutive years, he is another year older (36-37), does not play on a great team, and I have a hard time projecting the speed moving forward, even at the level of 6 Stolen Bases. The Texas Rangers will not be a great source of Runs or RBIs, comparatively. He’s not a bad investment, but the ceiling doesn’t entice me for what I see as a low floor.
Matt Kemp, CIN (R/PT) — Ultimately I don’t think this one will be a surprise to many, but his ADP is currently sitting at OF67 on FantasyPros. I don’t see Kemp getting enough playing time in Cincinnati. I love Puig and Winker, and I see Nick Senzel as their current plan for CF sooner rather than later. At best, he seems destined for the bad side of a platoon.
Outfield Top 75 Runner-Ups (In Preferential Order)
Greg Allen, Cleveland Indians (R-1, R/PT, SPD) — I’m a little surprised that, as of now, there doesn’t seem to be much interest in Allen. Maybe that is from some speculation that Cleveland will still add to their Outfield, but we’re getting pretty late in the offseason, and there are no stalwarts whatsoever. The current Depth Chart on MLB.com has Jordan Luplow, Leonys Martin, Tyler Naquin, and Greg Allen as the top 4 Outfielders with Carlos Santana and Jake Bauers at DH and 1B. Allen had 21 SBs in 91 Games and 291 PAs, and in a standard 5×5 league, that kind of SB upside can be very rare. The HR/RBI numbers won’t be great, but I believe Allen has upside in BA and OBP as well.
Trey Mancini, Baltimore Orioles — Mancini doesn’t have a great line-up around him, and has a bit of a heavy-GB approach. But despite this, I think as a prime-aged player, he is fairly interesting. He has hit 24 HRs in consecutive seasons, and his career BA now sits at .268. He hits the ball hard, so if he could just reduce that 2.06 GB/FB number, he could be quite interesting.
Jake Bauers, Cleveland Indians (R-1, SPD) — Despite being penciled in at 1B to start the season, Bauers qualifies in the Outfield in pretty much all fantasy leagues for 2019. I prefer Greg Allen as a fantasy asset due to the potential to be a SB outlier, but Bauers does represent a decent amount of upside in the Cleveland line-up. While he doesn’t necessarily have the power to keep up with the First Base position he’s in line to play, he does have sneaky speed with 10+ SB upside. He didn’t develop as a hitter in his first sample (.201 BA, .316 OBP), but that’s why, as a player with multi-positional and multi-category upside, Bauers finds himself at such a cheap price on draft day, and worth a flier. I put the “SPD” distinction on Bauers because I think it’s fair we acknowledge that potentially under-spoken aspect of his game.
Enrique Hernandez, Los Angeles Dodgers (R/PT) — It is hard to know what to make of Hernandez, who plays in a utility role, and has seen a bit of skills change over the past few years. It is hard to know if what we saw in 2018 is sustainable, but in that season Hernandez showcased more power with a better ability to avoid strikeouts while maintaining a healthy walk rate, as well as improving v. RHP. Regardless, in daily leagues he provides some value if he can be played v. LHP.
Jay Bruce, Seattle Mariners (HEA) — While 2018 was a terrible year for Bruce, at just 32 Years old, Bruce is still a player who could bounce back to providing 30 HRs at a fractional cost of last year. I’m not a fan of him as a sleeper, as the combination of his injury history, back-and-forth career, and Mariners line-up doesn’t have me overwhelmingly enticed, but he’s worth a mention this deep in a rankings list.
Marwin Gonzalez (UFA) — Marwin Gonzalez remains one of the better Free Agents remaining on the market, aside from the big two. However, depending on the landing spot, I’m skeptical about the return. His SBs have been trending downward, and that’s a trend that doesn’t always spike back up at age 30. Outside of 2017, his BA has never been particularly special and neither has his power. In deep leagues, especially deep daily leagues, I think his utility in positional flexibility is valuable. But I feel like someone will reach for that before I do. Potentially a better player in OBP leagues.
Steven Duggar, San Francisco Giants (R-1, SPD) — Has some interesting skills, including a very strong BB% in the minors alongside some speed, but I see Duggar as more of an OBP league player right now. He has a chance, with his speed, and the potential to hit high in the Giants line-up, of contributing at the level of a mixed-league player, but with his current contact rates and relatively low ceiling, I’m not too interested in going out and getting Duggar.
Tyler O’Neill, St. Louis Cardinals (R-1, R/PT) — His first action at the MLB level showed his major weaknesses through a 7BB:57K ratio. There’s almost no way in my mind he sustains any level of success through that 40+% K%, but the fact that he hit .254/.303/.500 with that K%, even in a small sample, tells me this bat can make an impact if he can get that contact rate up.
Adam Frazier, Pittsburgh Pirates — One of his biggest problems in the past, his playing time, has seemed to have been cleared up. He is on track to be the everyday Second Baseman for the Pirates with multi-positional eligibility. My problem with Frazier is that I think some still view him as a potential 10 SB threat (Steamer has him at 8, Depth Charts up at 11) and I don’t think that is a fair projection. Yes, he stole 9 bases in 2017 in only 121 Games and 454 PAs. But he did so in 14 attempts, which is a pretty poor rate (64% conversion) and was caught stealing 3 of 4 attempts in 2018 (25% conversion). Looking at that 1 of 4, and seeing it alongside his career 14 of 23 career numbers (61% conversion), I have a hard time viewing Frazier as even a 5 SB player, let alone 8-11, and at this deep-league, marginal range, that makes a substantial difference. He’s an NL-Only player who will provide a good average and double-digit power, but I don’t think he is an 11/11 player like he gets credited on some projections.
Jorge Soler, Kansas City Royals — Still seen by many as a high-upside player, while I like his developing batter’s eye, his career numbers v. non-fastballs still give me a fair amount of concern. His numbers are tabled below.
Jordan Luplow, Cleveland Indians (R-1, R/PT) — Luplow was traded from Pittsburgh to Cleveland this offseason, and while he’s never had success at the ML-level (.194/.274/.371), his 2018 at AAA was fairly encouraging, showing a bit of power/speed alongside a 10.9% / 17.9% BB% / K%. If he plays in Cleveland, he will be on a good team and be an intriguing bat if he can find his way in the line-up consistently.
Lewis Brinson, Miami Marlins — I don’t have many things to say about Brinson that aren’t just directly negative. There’s a reason he was slipping prospect rankings before even coming to the bigs. The Speed hasn’t been there even in the upper minors. His hit tool has never been considered a huge asset, and now looks to be just a low-grade tool, and his saving grace is the ability to play CF defense. There’s no benefit in considering Lewis Brinson a bust, but I don’t even see a path at this point of his career to being an above average fantasy asset. The tools are just lackluster.
Teoscar Hernandez, Toronto Blue Jays (R/PT) — My biggest problem with Hernandez as it currently stands is that I don’t see the clear path to playing time. Specifically, I see Pillar and Grichuk taking two of the Outfield spots far more often than not, and I think at best Teoscar and Billy McKinney work to each other’s mutual fantasy demise.
Mark Trumbo, Baltimore Orioles (HEA) — Mark Trumbo is a guy who no one wants, and for fair reason. But 2016 isn’t that long ago, and in this park in that year he hit 47 HRs. At 33, he’s not someone I’m likely to draft in any league, but if I’m deep enough, and looking for power, there is room for return on investment at a basement price. (Note: I don’t know if he’s DH or OF or both as is).
Avisail Garcia, Tampa Bay Rays — Tampa has acquired the former White Sox Outfielder, but I still see his big 2017 as just a complete fluke. We witnessed a bit more power out of Avisail last year, but it still isn’t enough to entice me all too much.
Adam Jones (UFA) — As my last article alluded to, I’m not an Adam Jones believer, even on a small bounceback. He doesn’t have a skill-set offensively that ages well in my opinion, and I don’t take that stance as short-selling him. Vladimir Guerrero sits in the Hall of Fame, and I believe his comparable approach is part of the reason that Guerrero’s numbers dipped quickly by 31 and he was done as a true impact by about 33. I don’t think hitters who are highly aggressive like Jones age well and I think we’ve seen that come to fruition the last two years. And he is of course currently jobless.
That’s all I have for this week. The 75-100ish range is the hardest to navigate, so I hope the information given here has helped you do just that. As we progress to players available in more leagues, the rankings next week will begin to address players available at the end of Mixed Leagues. We’ll also get some of my own personal projections for the full-time players starting next week. Feel free to leave in comments or questions here or on Reddit.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore on Thursday February 14th, 2019 from 8pm – 9:45pm EST for the Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show. Call in number is 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. Our topic for tonight will be the A.L. Central.
Be sure to check out our Sunday night show February 17th from 8pm to 9:30pm EST. They will cover the N.L. Central.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday February 17th, 2019 from 8-9:45pm EST for episode #138 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. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. This week we will break down the N.L. Central.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Show Episode #167, 6/23/2019 Host Brian Roach, Jr., Co-Host Cole Freel, Guest Kevin Bzdek
Major League Fantasy Baseball Show Episode #169, 8/4/2019 Host Cole Freel, Guest Joe Iannone
@brandonziman You are more than welcome Brandon. You were a fantastic writer and a joy to work with. As we move through a very big transition for us hopefully we can continue to work with one anither.