With the third part of the Outfield Rankings, we start to move into players with more safety and information. Players here will not define your outfield unit, but will be adequate partners. Call it a list of Robins without a Batman.
In terms of organization, the real change in this article is that we’re starting to get more into the numbers. The individual 5×5 lines for me after OF50 become much less important, because after a certain point you are just trying to find “success.” But this area of the draft is perhaps one of the most important for making sure that you get the right contributing members for your Fantasy Line-Up. I feel that this is the point that numbers and projection start to become more prominent.
Brief Projection Note
There will be some divulging between ranking and Projection. This is the result of various levels of Floor/Ceiling and confidence, and I’m hoping that, if you think a projection v. ranking does not make sense, the player’s profile below will give reason as to why.
*No line for Polanco due to his missed time.
**I take the longest to develop prospect lines and, due to the variable nature of Rookies, find them the least important from an accuracy perspective.
50. Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates — It is unfortunate that the Shoulder Injury has to so define Gregory Polanco’s value. He is still relatively young (27) and has posted a .200+ ISO and decent power alongside modest speed two of the past three years. However not only does the shoulder injury take him out until the middle of the season, but it gives serious concern that the sample we get comes with adequate power, and not something more like his fallback year in 2017.
49. Max Kepler, Minnesota Twins — I’ve seen Kepler listed as a breakout pick based on his low BABIP, but I believe he has more-or-less earned those BABIPs. His career high Line Drive% in three years would be the 11th Worst among 2018 qualifiers. He also pulls the ball a bit, and gives up some outs to cheap pop-ups. Kepler’s a good source of decent power with light speed, but I’m not expecting much growth.
48. Harrison Bader, St. Louis Cardinals — Another sleeper I’m not too keen on, Bader’s ultimate flaw to me is that I see him stuck in the bottom of the order. Bader does not have any particular tool that sticks out to me as having a well of fantasy upside. His BA/Power tools are middling, and while he has some speed, I don’t see him as being a player that has a high upside of stolen bases. Combine these traits, and I don’t see Bader being worth the price at the bottom of the order.
47. Dee Gordon, Seattle Mariners — I think too many analysts see Gordon as a safe player. To me, he is anything but. Let’s just start with the fact that many project him to be the 9-Hole hitter. This is a logical place for Gordon to hit in this line-up, as he is the older, probably slower Mallex Smith, but it is going to be terrible for his fantasy value. Gordon’s value has always come from R/BA/SB with a drain in RBI+HR, but the R stat will be greatly hurt if he’s getting 100 Fewer PAs over the course of the season, and he’s less likely to get as many open opportunities. His OBP is terrible, and as someone whose skill-set is purely athletic, it isn’t hard to see a sharp decline for Gordon. I’ll take a dozen other late speed fliers before considering Dee Gordon, currently going as player 100 Overall on FantasyPros.
46. Stephen Piscotty, Oakland Athletics — After falling out of relevance prior to last season, Piscotty managed to make some quiet adjustments, and add a bit of power to his game. And while for the most part I believe the adjustments hold into 2019, I’m a little skeptical as to what the ultimate 5×5 line is. Piscotty doesn’t contribute much in speed, and is more of a .270 hitter. If I could see the power jumping to the next tier, that would be one thing. But ultimately I see Piscotty as a .270 / 23-26 / 2 type, which is a low ceiling OF3-4.
45. Nomar Mazara, Texas Rangers — While Mazara’s overall numbers from 2018 don’t necessarily suggest that he has taken a step forward, there are I think two positive and important takeaways from Mazara’s 2018. For one, Mazara’s 20 HR number may not seem any better than the matching 20 the year before, but Mazara managed to achieve the 20 HRs in a reduced number of games. But more importantly, Mazara managed to continue to improve what I believe to be his greatest career weakness: generating solid contact v. LHP. Just look at the growth in ISO for Mazara the past three years:
|ISO v. LHP||.036||.089||.184|
And while you could argue the sustainability of growth, I’d argue it is nice just to see the possibility of Mazara hitting lefties come to fruition. Mazara was a highly touted prospect, and I think this is probably the best notification we could have gotten to say that now might be the time that Mazara breaks out. However, he still doesn’t play for a Good Team and is a zero-SB asset.
44. Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets — Nimmo appears to be in position to lead-off for the Mets, and possesses a fair amount of power and speed to make the profile interesting. I have a few concerns however. While I’m not sure he loses playing time v. LHP, I am concerned that his 30+% K% and .234 / .351 / .391 Slash v. LHP will not be good enough to keep him leading off. Nimmo is a patient hitter, but sometimes it seems that he allows pitchers to get ahead of him, and put him away in two strike counts.
43. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers — Braun has a very unique argument and it is almost entirely owned by him at this point. Over the past five years, Ryan Braun has done three things: hit for power, steal bases, and get hurt. And that isn’t even to say that the last thing outweighs the first two– that just depends on how much you have to pay. Braun will almost certainly not play a full season, but if he even manages the .260 BA, 17-20 HRs, and 11-12 SBs of the last two years over the sample of games he plays, he’s almost definitely going to be at a place that represents potential value and minimal risk.
42. Ramon Laureano, Oakland Athletics — While Laureano does have a bit of swing-and-miss in his game, I’m quite a fan of his sleeper skill-set as a whole. For the 5×5 game, his potential speed gives him a fair amount of upside. He pairs this speed with a decent amount of power, and while he does have that aforementioned Swing-and-Miss, his Batted Ball profile is rather interesting, and I could see Laureano maintaining a solid BA with decent power and a good number of steals. I could also see him finding his way to the top of the line-up.
41. Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds — A true candidate for the difference between value and 5×5 Value, I’m a big fan of Jesse Winker. I think he can hit .300 with a .400 OBP v. RHPs right now, and projects to be able to accomplish this more regularly in the future. But he doesn’t have a ton of Game Power right now, and is also lacking in Speed. Plus, while I believe the Reds SHOULD play Jesse Winker everyday, the truth in that remains to be seen.
40. Corey Dickerson, Pittsburgh Pirates — Dickerson is another hitter that I feel had a 2018 that is being a little slept on. While yes, his 13 HR total was a massive disappointment, his ability to hit .300 and chip in 8 SBs seems to have been completely lost. What’s more, while Dickerson had only 13 HRs, he had a career high 42-non-HR-XBHs. His 35 Doubles were 2nd most in his own career, and his 7 Triples were a personal high. Dickerson also managed to have enough of an even split (.293 BA, .407 SLG v. LHP) to be called the every-day Left-Fielder. If he manages to maintain even at .285, adds back some power, and keeps a half-dozen or more SBs, he’ll be quite the valuable late round outfielder contributing across the board.
39. Ender Inciarte, Atlanta Braves — This is a very difficult one for me, because I believe that if Inciarte happens to lead-off throughout the season, he will be more than worth this draft spot. But between the risk he moves down the order and his up-and-down nature last year, I’m a little concerned. Because as much as I like Inciarte both in fantasy and in real life, if he is batting below really the top of the order, his skill-set leaves something to be desired. He’ll be less likely to steal bases, and while he’s stolen a decent number of bases throughout his career, they’ve never been the elite totals that would make me more comfortable. But perhaps more of a drain will be his projected R+RBI, as I don’t expect he’ll be a great RBI source in any place in the line-up, so if he moves even from 1st to 6th, he loses a great deal of R production and potentially little-to-zero RBI production.
38. Eloy Jimenez, Chicago White Sox — Like I discussed with Verdugo and Tucker yesterday, this evaluation is one of the most variable to me based on league type. In deeper leagues, I value volume a bit heavier, so I’m less likely to draft Eloy. However, the more shallow the context, especially if it come with a deep bench, the more interesting Eloy Jimenez becomes. When he makes his debut is obviously one question. Putting that aside, while I really like the skills, I am not typically one to buy into players like Eloy or even Vladimir Guerrero Jr. far higher up in the draft at the prices they typically go because while I see incredible upside in the BA and HR potential, neither one plays for a particularly good line-up, and neither one projects to steal bases. So you’re limiting the variables of your upside really to just how quickly can Eloy become a .300/30+ player, and if it doesn’t happen immediately in 2019, you’re at a loss. I’d like to get Eloy on a team if I can, but my realistic spectrum of outcomes puts him just a bit lower than ADP.
37. David Dahl, Colorado Rockies — The market on David Dahl seems to see him as a Top 100 overall player. For me to make that evaluation, I would have to turn on MLB the Show and adjust my injury settings to “Off.” Whether or not a player is “injury prone” or “unlucky” is largely a semantic, especially for David Dahl at this point in time where we really don’t know. On top of that, even in the hot half season he had last year, there were a few things I wasn’t a particular fan of. Dahl stole 5 Bases in half a season and was caught 3 times. 20/20 was something tossed out when he was a prospect, but between his injury profile and seeing that over a half a season, I think 4-8 is my projection range on his wheels. On top of that, Dahl swung and missed a lot. A lot for a hitter who struck out only 25% of the time. His 15.4% Whiff% would have been 6th highest among qualified hitters last year. And while I don’t have a particular pitch-related concern per se, as he had great SLG%’s across the board, his Whiff%’s on Fastballs and Sinkers does not do anything to ease my Dahl-related concerns to say the least.
36. AJ Pollock, LA Dodgers — AJ Pollock’s career since the breakout has been a bit inconsistent, and mostly due to health reasons. But health is actually less of a driving factor for Pollock than my primary concerns: Age and SB Projection. Age in and of itself is not a reason to believe someone will stop stealing bases, but it is a number we see taper off for quite a few at the age of about 30. However more than just his physical age of 31, we have actually seen the number of SBs decline the last few years.
|SB per 673 PAs||39||29||19|
While 19 SBs are still more than a fair chunk for a player to provide, at 31 and playing on a long-term contract for the first time in his life, I could see the Dodgers choosing to value his newfound BA+ISO tools alongside his glove moreso than trying to utilize his speed, and perhaps keeping him healthier as well. Not the best for fantasy, however.
35. David Peralta, Arizona Diamondbacks — I’m still trying to figure out what to make of Peralta’s 2018 for Rankings. Some underlying numbers, like his Hard Contact% being 2nd in Baseball according to Fangraphs, suggest that the large power breakout is possibly sustainable. On the other end of the spectrum, Peralta saw SBs drop for the third straight year of 140+ Games, and with only 4 Attempts in 2018, it is hard to know what his ultimate value is in the category. On top of that, whereas he was once considered to be at best the third-best Diamondbacks hitter, he may be the clear best bat in the line-up now that AJ Pollock is a Dodger, and Goldschmidt a Cardinal. I don’t like when players go from being cogs in valuable line-ups, to being the hinge for the entire, less than thrilling offense (see also: Mitch Haniger). Peralta has hit .290+ for two straight seasons, and I think he can maintain some of his power growth. But ultimately, the SB/R/RBI numbers have me less thrilled about the potential with Peralta.
34. Eddie Rosario, Minnesota Twins — Rosario is not a very selective hitter. He chases the ball often, and doesn’t walk too much. But, over two consecutive seasons, he has developed with the uniform production that fantasy owners love to see. Rosario is an excellent case for a player who manages to help his value just enough by stealing an extra 8-10 valuable bases, and by cleaning up his Conversion% (8 of 10 in 2018), it is easier to believe in seeing a repeat in this category. And while the Twins haven’t been one of the better line-ups either of the past two years, Rosario has managed to put up solid R+RBI production, and even doing so despite missed time. I like the addition of Nelson Cruz to the team, and Jorge Polanco is a favored breakout of mine, so I feel confident in Rosario’s ability to have a solid floor and decent upside in a fairly strong line-up.
33. Austin Meadows, Tampa Bay Rays — I like Meadows quite a bit this year, and it is a bit surprising to me that some early ADP data seems to be fairly low on Meadows. While I understand that the Pirates had their reasons for moving on from someone who was once regarded as one of the best prospects in their system, when he was finally given his opportunity in Tampa, he excelled. It just doesn’t scream off the page. But 6 HRs and 5 SBs in just a little under 200 PAs can very easily be paced out to 18 / 15 in under 600 PAs over a full season, and Meadows managed this with a fairly strong .287 BA. I like a lot of underlying skills with Meadows as well. He made excellent contact in the Zone in 2018 (91.6%). While that number occurs over only a third of a season, if it is indicative of his future career, it would be 24th among qualifiers, or 83rd Percentile. His 37.1% Hard% is fairly high, and matching it with his speed, I can see growth for Meadows in a number of categories. As of now, I’m also projecting him to be given a clear shot at everyday playing time in Tampa, and at near the top of the line-up.
32. Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers — There is no trick or smoke-and-mirror here. Most drafters I think even view Gallo pretty similarly. And everyone will simply have to ask themselves “Who is going to be the one to take the plunge on the .200 BA with 40 HRs.” Gallo is a tricky player to draft. Five category players are easy and there is never a bad time to get them. Plus, they help stabilize a base. But depending on the construction of the team, you can make Gallo’s HR totals stick out while surviving his affect on your team BA. I often like to try and pair the numbers of a Joey Gallo with a high-BA player (say, Michael Brantley) in this range, and see what the average line between those two players is, which I find to be a valuable exercise.
31. Nicholas Castellanos, Detroit Tigers — As a huge fan of batted ball profiles, I have to say that Nicholas Castellanos has one of the prettiest in the business. He hits the ball hard and to all fields, he manages to suppress Pop-Ups, and he generates a lot of Line Drive contact. But I don’t have Castellanos as highly rated as many others, and it’s primarily because I worry about numerous elements of the upside. Castellanos’ HR total to date peaked at 26 in 2017 and fell back to 23 in 2018. These aren’t bad numbers, but a projection of 24-25 isn’t exactly exciting, especially when it comes from a player with 9 Career Steals in 21 Career Attempts. The BA is good, and likely to be good even at worst. But even for a .280+ hitter right now, I just don’t see Castellanos as a player that is going to jump into that next tier based on what we’ve seen. His SwStr% last year was over 15%, and his BABIP up at .361. I don’t think he got lucky to generate that BABIP or to strikeout only 22.3% of the time despite the rather large swing-and-miss, but it’s hard for me to see those BA projecting stats getting better which means I’m hoping they simply stay close to the same, and don’t have a negative variance. On top of it all, the Tigers aren’t going to help his R+RBI capabilities. Maybe he does get traded, but that’s also such a large variable that I don’t know where he would go or how I would have it impacting his value. Though, most likely, it would be positive.
30. Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians — Michael Brantley is one of my favorite hitters in the sport. I mean seriously, who can spend so much time injured over the course of a few years and, at 31 Years Old, strikeout less than 10% of the time? That K% was 2nd Best in Baseball, and his Whiff%, Contact% and Z-Contact% were all the absolute best in baseball. Brantley also contributed through 17 HRs and 12 SBs. Health is still a major factor in the evaluation of Brantley, as I’m still concerned he will miss a little time or, worse, a flare up will dramatically affect his 5×5 line. However now in Houston, I have to imagine his skill set in this line-up could even line himself up for quite a few R+RBI. I am concerned moving forward in his career that, while he will continue to wisely pick his spots, Brantley’s 12 SBs will suffer a soft decline.
29. Victor Robles, Washington Nationals — While Robles may not be the hitter that his fellow rookies Guerrero Jr. and Jimenez seem to be, he does possess one valuable trait: speed. For a young player, having speed helps me buy in for redraft a great deal, as it helps me to believe in a worthwhile “floor.” There have been some rumors about Robles batting nearing to 9th in the order, but I’m ranking him on the presumption that, if he does have a good season akin to some of his prospect pedigree, he’ll be moved towards and remain at the top of the line-up. Robles has enough speed to steal a rare 25-30 SBs and is one of the few that can match that rare skill with a sufficient power projection.
28. Mitch Haniger, Seattle Mariners — This is another case of a player’s real value and 5×5 value diverging a bit. I think Haniger is a really good hitter, and profiles as a middle-of-the-order bat in a real, MLB lineup. I have issue with how that may translate to 5×5 Value this year. Haniger is seemingly a wise base stealer, but the 8 Stolen Bases he had in 2018 feels like closer to the peak to me. He improved his conversion rate from 2017, but there’s never been a history of Speed in the profile at any point, and I don’t expect Speed to leap forward at 28 YO. I also question that, even if 26 is more-or-less his consistent average, if he has the proper power and approach at 28 to add yet another level on top of his game, and extend to the next tier of HRs. His Pull% makes me a bit wary of him maintaining at exactly .285, and considering his BABIP is already sitting up at .330+, I also don’t see a ton of room for BA growth. And then there’s everything around him. Haniger’s line-up got worse, and while it may not be the worst in baseball, my concern is that a lot of his value last year was driven by 90 Rs and 93 RBIs. 90/90+ is hard to maintain in any case, and as of now I’m having a little hard of a time envisioning it on this current incarnation of the Seattle Mariners, so for all those reasons I see Haniger as a safe player, but one I’m not drafting as highly as many others.
27. Mallex Smith, Seattle Mariners — Mallex Smith is most simply defined by his greatest attribute: Speed. And in terms of draft day value, what he offers your team is no different. Smith doesn’t have much power, and isn’t likely to drive in many runs. But, if he can simply put up a BA somewhere between the last two years (.280ish) and maintain his position as the lead-off hitter, Smith should be the kind of speedster that greatly helps you in that pesky Stolen Bases category. His draft day value, to the drafter, is highly variable based on if your drafted team is Speed-Heavy or Speed-Lacking. If the former, Smith shouldn’t be drafted anywhere near this range. However speed-lacking teams should be fairly confident in drafting Smith as a borderline-top 25 OF.
26. Wil Myers, San Diego Padres — In Myers’ last 2.5 Seasons, he has hit 69 HRs and stolen 61 Bases, an average of 27 HRs and 24 SBs per 650 PAs. Over that period of time he has also been a colossal headache. He has had hots and colds, and ended up with an overall BA ranging from the .240s to the .250s. This year however, he is set up to be a part of potentially the best line-up he has had the opportunity of being apart of in his San Diego career. I’m a believer that Margot and Hosmer can show a little bit more than what they did last year, Mejia/Hedges bring a lot from the dish, Reyes/Renfroe showcase quite a bit of power, and none of that is to make any mention of Mr. 300 Million Himself, Manny Machado. Like many other players, plan accordingly for Wil Myers. He will make you feel triumphant victory, and frustrate the hell out of you. But so long as you aren’t allowing him to drain your BA too much, the overall HR+SB numbers will be too rare to let fall too much further than this on draft day.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore on Thursday February 28th, 2019 from 9pm – 10:30pm 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. Now that we have finished our divisional break downs we move on to breaking down each position for fantasy purposes. This week we will discuss corner infield. (1B/3B)
Be sure to check out our Sunday night show March 3rd from 8pm to 9:30pm EST. They will cover the middle infield (SS/2B)
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday March 3rd, 2019 from 8-9:45pm EST for episode #142 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. Our topic this week is middle infield (2B/SS).
Our guest this week is Joel Gullo. Joel hosts a podcast at lennymelnickfantasysports.com.