2017 Rankings: Top 80 Outfielders for Fantasy Baseball
We continue with our fantasy rankings in anticipation of the upcoming 2017 fantasy baseball season (which cannot get here soon enough). If you’re reading this and haven’t looked at our Top 20 Outfielders, Top 40 Outfielders, or Top 60 Outfielders articles, take a look before we continue with another 20 outfielders with the Top 60 Outfielders today.
Tier 7: Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good And Who Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too (Continued)
61. Josh Bell (Pittsburgh Pirates) – This late in a draft, when you’re looking at the 61st outfielder, you’re looking for upside. Josh Bell definitely has that, we just don’t really know what he’s going to do this year. Bell’s biggest strength is his hit tool, he’s someone that could eventually hit in the .290s-.300s every year, but I don’t think he’s there quite yet (though it’s not outside the realm of possibility). Bell showed impressive plate discipline for a rookie last season, ending his 45 games with a .368 OBP and an impressive 1.11 BB/K ratio. Bell could hit around .275-.280 with 10-13 home runs and probably 70ish runs considering he’ll be batting at the top of the lineup.
62. Yasmany Tomas (Arizona Diamondbacks) – We really only have two seasons worth of data to go off of for Tomas. One season where he hit nine home runs, and then last season where he hit 31. Now, his raw power has been well-known, he was scouted as a plus power hitter, but is he a 30 home run hitter? I would say not quite, the power stats from last season suggest a regression (though again, Tomas is still somewhat of an unknown entity considering the sample size). He saw a 10 point increase in hard hit rate, which is great, but he also saw his HR/FB rate shoot up to 25%. Is he a 20ish home run guy? Yea, I think so. I think 30 is possible, but not what I would expect. I’d somewhat expect a minor regression in average as well. I think he’s more a .260ish hitter than a .270 guy, mostly because he strikes out almost 25% of the time, and it’s hard to maintain a good average when you do that.
63. Kevin Pillar (Toronto Blue Jays) – Kevin Pillar does a lot of things pretty well but doesn’t really do anything exceptionally well. There’s a use for guys like that, they have high floors, they balance out the high-ceiling/low-floor guys. Pillar will hit a handful of home runs, steal a good amount of bases, bat a respectable average, and knock in a decent amount of RBIs while getting a fine number of runs. He’s not someone you’d want in an OBP league, as he doesn’t get on base particularly well, but in a standard league, he’s a solid guy to have. He could easily hit around 10 home runs with a .270 average, stealing 15-20 bases and getting around 55ish runs and RBIs each. Since he’ll probably be batting at the bottom of the order, those runs and RBIs could be less, but I think 55 or so is reasonable. Like I said, useful.
64. Denard Span (San Francisco Giants) – I don’t think Span is going to be the .300 hitter that he used to always be. Last year, his average saw a decline, and that mostly due to a decline in plate discipline, and whenever I see an older player’s plate discipline take a hit like that, I get worried. I could see him getting back up into the .270s, I don’t think he’ll hit in the .260s again, and batting at the top of the Giants lineup, he’ll get his fair share of runs (I think 70s is realistic again). The RBIs will be somewhat limited, probably similar to last year, but I think he’ll still hit for a solid average, get a good amount of runs, maybe steal 10-15 bases and hit a handful of home runs. Certainly not a player that’s going to hurt you too much this late in a draft. That being said, if the plate discipline gets worse and the average starts plummeting, jump ship quick.
65. Curtis Granderson (New York Mets) – At this point, we know what Curtis Granderson is, and he’s fairly easy to project. He’s a power and little else type player. He’ll hit 25-30 home runs, bat in the .230s, and snag around 80+ runs. That average hurts, as do the strikeouts, but if you can stomach it, Granderson’s power is useful, and there’s no sign of him slowing down. He’s also been very consistently healthy, playing in over 150 games every year for the past three years. You know what to expect from Granderson, and there’s a level of comfort in that, so if you need power, he’s a good source.
66. Dexter Fowler (St. Louis Cardinals) – Hey, good for Dexter Fowler, getting a big contract from the Cardinals. I don’t think he’s going to have a season worth the huge contract he signed, however. Fowler is an odd bird, he strikes out a ton, but he gets on base a lot too, registering a .393 OBP last season while striking out 22.5% of the time. Fowler has solid speed as well, though at age 30, it’s starting to decline slightly. Fowler should lead off, so I think a run total in the 80s isn’t crazy, but everything else about his game will likely be kind of meh. An average probably in the high-.250s (that .350 BABIP from last year suggests regression), maybe 10-14 home runs, and 15ish steals.
67. Michael Brantley (Cleveland Indians) – I don’t know, ok? I just don’t know. Michael Brantley haunts me, man. I just don’t know what to expect from him. The guy is a walking talking question mark. We’ve seen what he can do, I mean given a full year playing at his best, he’s gone 20/20 with a .300+ average and that upside is so very tempting. But at the same time, he could play 20 games and be out the rest of the year. You have no idea, and you say you do, you’re lying. There’s still concern in the Indians office about his health, they’re not even 100% sure, as of this writing, that he’ll be out there on opening day. I think, if he’s somehow, someway, able to pull out a full season, I think a reasonable expectation would be 10-13 home runs batting in the .290s with 12-15 steals. That may sound conservative, but I just don’t know what he’s going to look like after a full season off because of injury. I think the risk is insanely high, which is why he’s so low. He could save your team, or he could contribute virtually nothing. His talent is a top-30 outfielder, but his risk factor drags him way down.
68. Jason Heyward (Chicago Cubs) – There were a lot of people cursing the name of Jason Heyward last season. I was one of them. He screwed me over hard man, especially considering I made arguably the worst trade I’ve ever made to get him, trading away Jose Fernandez for him at the beginning of the year (I expected Fernandez to get hurt and Heyward to go 20/20 batting in the .290s with a bunch of RBIs cause it’s the Cubs). So what the eff happened to Jason Heyward? Well, he stopped making good contact. He saw a drop in hard hit rate, a huge drop in HR/FB rate, an increase in fly balls, and an increase in infield fly balls. Essentially, he was still getting lift on the ball, but the hits were dying out in the outfield. He also lost his ability to hit fastballs, posting a negative wRAA against fastballs for he first time in his career (it’s historically been the pitch he’s strongest against). So should we expect this again next year? I think he’ll show improvement, but I don’t see him going back to high-average, 20/20 Jason Heyward. I think a .260ish average with 10-15 home runs and like 12-15 steals is reasonable.
69. Keon Broxton (Milwaukee Brewers) – Keon Broxton is one of my sleepers this year. His skill set is really interesting and has the potential to be super useful, assuming he can get his plate discipline under control. I think he has the potential to be a .250, 20/40 guy, but I don’t think that that’s what’s going to happen this year (though if it did, I’d be pleasantly surprised, but not shocked). His 36.1% strikeout rate from last year is insanely bad, and I’m praying to god that he’s able to bring that down. If he can lower it just a little bit, I could see him batting in the .220s with 15-20 home runs and 25-30 steals with potential for more. He’s going to be near the bottom of the lineup, so RBIs and runs are a bit limited, but he could be an incredibly useful player if you can stomach the average.
70. Max Kepler (Minnesota Twins) – Max Kepler showed a nice, somewhat surprising level of pop last year, but his average needed some help. A lot of that poor average had to do with his elevated groundball rate, which lead to a fairly low BABIP. Kepler has decent speed, but not the speed needed to beat out those groundball hits. I’d like to see him get his strikeout rate a little under control, but I think he’ll be alright average-wise, I think the groundballs should go down and the BABIP will normalize. I could see him batting in the mid-.250s with around 20 home runs and a handful of steals. Being that he’ll be in Minnesota’s lineup, RBIs and runs won’t be awesome, but each in the 70s, I think, isn’t too crazy to expect.
71. Randal Grichuk (St. Louis Cardinals) – Randal Grichuk saw a nice increase in power last season, but an unfortunate decrease in batting average. Part of that average decrease was thanks to a decreased HR/FB rate but an increased fly ball rate (i.e. more fly ball outs). Based on Grichuk’s crazy high strikeout rate (29.5% last season), I think an average in the high-240s is more realistic for him than that .276 average he had two years ago. Still, Grichuk could pretty easily hit 25 home runs and get around 70 runs and RBIs a piece, which is still very useful, if you can handle the strikeouts.
72. Jorge Soler (Kansas City Royals) – Finally, we get to see a full season of Jorge Soler (assuming he stays healthy). For the longest time, while he was with the Cubs, people were dying to see what a full season of Jorge Soler would look like, but he was constantly the odd man out of a crowded Cubs outfield. Now, he’ll have regular playing time in Kansas City, and honestly, I’m not expecting all that much. I just don’t think Soler is that special of a player. He’s decent, but he’s not life-changing. I’d expect him to bat somewhere in the .250s with maybe 15-20 home runs and maybe 50-60 runs and RBIs each. A nice player, a relatively useful one, but nothing incredible.
73. Corey Dickerson (Tampa Bay Rays) – Corey Dickerson was one of those victims of leaving Coors Field. He was a .300 hitter who would hit 25 home runs, and then he went to Tampa, and the power stayed, but the average plummeted. Now, part of that had to do with poor plate discipline, his strikeout rate went up, as did his chase rate. But a major part of that was quality of contact. From his time in Colorado to his time in Tampa, Dickerson’s hard hit rate dropped, his line drive rate dropped significantly, and his fly ball rate increased while his HR/FB rate dropped. So, in short, he was hitting more fly balls, but less of them for home runs, so more fly balls were dying in the outfield. Those fly balls might have landed for gap hits or home runs in Coors, but not in Tropicana. Dickerson still has great power potential, and he’s lost about 25 pounds this offseason, so he may even be in better shape. It’d be great to see him take a step forward towards adjusting to not being in Coors, but as of now, I’d expect a .240-.250 average and around 20-25 home runs. The RBIs will be somewhat limited considering the poor Rays lineup, but he can still be a useful power bat.
74. Aaron Judge (New York Yankees) – One of the Yankees top prospects for quite some time, Aaron Judge is a monster in right field, standing at 6’7″ and 255 pounds. Along with that size, he’s got monster power potential, he just has some serious contact issues. In just 27 games last year, Judge struck out 44.2% of the time, which is absolutely insane. Now, I don’t think that kind of strikeout rate is in store for Judge this year, but I think he’ll still strikeout a ton, probably closer to 30% of the time. Judge will likely be a “power and nothing else” type of hitter this year, someone who bats around .230 but can hit 25-30 home runs. He’ll likely be the Yankees everyday right fielder, provided he can stay healthy (he had some injury problems in the minors), but he’ll likely bat last in the lineup, so the run and RBI potential is limited. Still, he’s power at a super cheap price.
75. Alex Gordon (Kansas City Royals) – Like I said earlier, whenever I see an older player’s plate discipline take a hit, I start to get worried, and that’s what happened to Alex Gordon last season. The strikeout rate shot way up and the average shot way down. Now, I don’t think Gordon is a .220 hitter, if I did, he wouldn’t be on this list. I think Gordon is closer to a .240-.250 hitter, and he’s still got some power (even saw an increase in hard hit rate last season). Gordon is someone who, I think, could hit around 20 home runs and get maybe 60-65 runs and RBIs each. However, like I mentioned earlier with Denard Span, if you see that plate discipline get noticeably worse, I’d recommend jumping ship, because that means Gordon is on his way off a cliff.
76. Scott Schebler (Cincinnati Reds) – Honestly, at this point in the rankings, the players all start to look the same. Scott Schebler is another guy in that category of 20 home runs and a .240-.250 average. There are a lot of guys at this point in the rankings like that, it’s one of the reason I don’t believe power to be that much of a commodity any more. Schebler should play every day for the Reds, and while he strikes out a bunch (points leagues beware), he can hit around 15-20 home runs while batting in the .240s. Another cheap power guy. He also might steal seven or eight bases, so there’s that.
77. Rajai Davis (Oakland Athletics) – Rajai Davis, that guy who always starts the season in the free agents and ends up on your team when you realize you need steals. Davis is 36, but he seems to be showing no signs of slowing down, literally. There are plenty of guys on this list who are power and nothing else players, Davis is a speed and nothing else player. He’ll strikeout a bunch, around 20% of the time, bat in the .240s, hit maybe 10 home runs (I think last season’s career-high 12 home runs were a little fluky) and potentially steal 30-40 bases. So yea, depending on how much you value steals, Davis could steal a ton of bases, and he’ll be hitting at the top of the A’s lineup too. If he can stay healthy (not a guarantee at his age) and get on base, Davis could definitely be a useful steal guy for your team, he just won’t contribute a whole lot else.
78. Steven Souza Jr. (Tampa Bay Rays) – Like I mentioned with Leonys Martin, Steven Souza Jr. is an interesting player. He’s a guy who has the potential to go 20/20, but is going to have a batting average in the .230s. He’s a hard guy to own with an average like that and a strikeout rate that bad. Still, the steals and home runs he will give you are useful, even if the RBIs and runs will be somewhat limited in a fairly bad Tampa Bay lineup. I’d love to see Souza get his average up, but as long as he’s striking out 34% of the time, that’s just not going to happen. I could see him batting in the high-.230s/low-.240s with maybe 15-20 home runs and around 15 steals.
79. Danny Valencia (Seattle Mariners) – Danny Valencia will likely be part of a platoon in Seattle with Dan Vogelbach, because Valencia has a career .321 average against lefites. This will actually probably work to his favor somewhat, because he’ll be seeing almost exclusively left-handed pitchers, which should give him a bump in some of his stats. I don’t think Valencia is going to see an average in the .280s again, as that was mostly driven by BABIP last year, but I could see him batting in the .260s with around 15 or so home runs. He’ll be more useful in leagues with daily transactions since he’ll be in a platoon, I don’t know that I’d draft him in weekly leagues.
80. Brandon Moss (Kansas City Royals) – Another classic power and nothing else hitter, Brandon Moss will hit you a fair share of home runs, probably around 20-25 with the upside of getting to 30. The only problem is, he’s going to strikeout 25-30% of the time and bat around .220-.230. He’ll likely be DHing the vast majority of the time for the Royals, so he’ll get his chance to hit, and he will give you power, but you have to be able to deal with a very poor batting average. If that’s something you can handle, those 20-30 home runs could be very useful.