We’re continuing our Outfielder rankings all the way to 50 today after going over the Top 25 Outfielders on Monday. There are some diamonds in the rough that can help us fill out the backend of our lineup cards, just make sure to note what you need by this time in the draft. Let’s get to it.
TIER 4: Go Middle Or Go Home (Continued)
26. Jayson Heyward (Chicago Cubs) – Let’s just get one thing straight: The chances of Heyward belting 20 HRs this year are slim. He’s done it just once in his career, and the expectations of Heyward to fulfill his destiny are simply misguided. He altered his approach to focus on making more contact – his K rate of 14.8% was the lowest in his career – resulting in a near 12 point jump in groundballs to 57.2%, leaving his flyball rate sitting super low at 23.5%. His soft/hard contact rates leave much to be desired as well, though he should keep a higher average as his BABIP rises, allowing him to be on base to score a boatload of Runs for the loaded Cubs lineup. I see a possible 100 Run season ahead for Heyward, especially if he keeps up his success on the basepaths (just seven CS in the past two seasons). Think 90+/15/65/.290/20. It’s pretty solid, just not worth a Top 70 pick, and I’d rather just wait for Eaton.
27. Adam Eaton (Chicago White Sox) – It looks like Eaton threw up his hands in disgust and said “screw this, I’m going to hit more HRs.” He hit more flyballs, made less contact in the zone, struck out more…and hit 13 more HRs as he raised his HR/FB from a near impossible 1.3% to 10.9%. It’s tough to tell how much luck was involved, but it seems sustainable. He will hint at 100 Runs batting leadoff again, especially after the White Sox improved their lineup this offseason. His speed will allow him to keep a high average, and a 15/20 season with 100 Runs and a .280 average could be yours for a decent price.
28. Hanley Ramirez (Boston Red Sox) – I came into this ranking believing I’d have Hanley in the mid 30s, and boy was I wrong. In his “bad” season on the Sox last season, Hanely still hit 19 Hrs in just 105 games, which is just 29 Hrs or so, no biggie. He also tacked on six stolen bases in that time, with solid counting stats to boot. Okay fine, Hanley won’t play 162 games, and has played totals of 86, 128, and 105 in his past three seasons. Still, when he’s healthy on the field he produces and in a major way. I would much rather have elite production over a shorter period of time than pretty good over the course of the season – especially in Roto leagues. I understand dropping him a little farther down in H2H.
29. Yasiel Puig (Los Angeles Dodgers) – I don’t want to draft Puig. It feels like we’re chasing fool’s gold – he’s never hit more than 20 HRs, has a career high of 11 SBs, had injury problems last season and I can’t believe he’ll suddenly put everything together to give that luscious upside everyone wants to see from Puig. Sure, it could happen, but I’m not paying for it.
30. Gregory Polanco (Pittsburgh Pirates) – I’ve seen a lot of hype surrounding Polanco, and I can see where it’s coming from. His HR/FB rate was low last season (5.5%), but let’s say he gets 15 HRs this year. Then he’s looking at a near 15/30 season with 100 Runs…and a sub .270 average. Well, that’s also buying that Polanco will improve on his 27-for-37 SB attempts last year, which was consistent with his 2014 season. It’s not ideal, and people are paying for a step forward, which I generally don’t like doing unless I have a higher floor to base it on.
31. Ben Revere (Washington Nationals) – Finally the first all-speed/no-power guy shows up, and it’s Mr. Revere. You know, that guy who you were able to snag the later rounds last season since some people flat out forgot that he could steal bases like he stole America’s hearts during the revolutionary war? I can’t say that I want to spend the price for not-so-big Ben, as there are other cheap speed options to go for later in the draft. I understand if you like his Run potential atop the Nats’ lineup, I just don’t see enough upside to go for him above someone like Burns or Pillar 50 picks later.
32. Curtis Granderson (New York Mets) – The average isn’t going to be pretty with his 22.9% K rate and 42.1% FB rate, but he should be hinting at a 20/10 season, with another 85+ Run season if he retains his #1 spot in the Mets’ lineup. There’s upside for more, but it’s also paired with low floor given that he’s just one year removed from a .227 average season mixed with the fact he’s turning 35 next month.
33. Michael Brantley (Cleveland Indians) – Look, he’s a Top 20 OF if he’s 100% healthy, but he’ll be on the DL when the season starts after getting shoulder surgery, which is notorious for sapping power upon return. There are too many question marks for me to invest in Brantley. It’s sliiiightly possible I could draft him if many are simply afraid of touching him, but I highly doubt it will get to a point where I feel comfortable taking him.
34. Corey Dickerson (Tampa Bay Rays) – Speaking of injuries, it’s hard to endorse Dickerson given last season’s dance entitled “On-And-Off Again: Not A Play About My First Relationship” had owners in frustration the entire season. Plantar Fasciitis was the culprit, and I find it hard to believe he will be 100%…in Tampa this year. Oh right, he’s not in hitter’s heaven Coors anymore, and there’s a slight chance he’ll be platooning against lefties. It doesn’t make for a fun time, despite the incredible upside he had entering 2015. Oh well.
35. Christian Yelich (Miami Marlins) – Yelich is a luxury that I don’t want to spend on. Steals will be helpful in the high teens/low 20s, his average will certainly aid you in a given week, and he could have over 90 Runs, but his power and RBI production is too low to go after him, while his speed stats aren’t so amazing for me to accept the low pop.
TIER 5: Filling Out Like A Gym Rat
36. Kole Calhoun (Los Angeles Angels) – The upside is starting to fall, but there are a good amount of players in this tier who can give you value as you dive deeper into the draft. Moving on, do you like HRs? Calhoun’s got you covered as he’ll sit near 25 bombs again in 2016. You like strikeouts? DOUBLE WHAMMY! His K rate rose to 23.9% last season, which makes me worry quite a bit, especially when his whiff rate rose from 9.2% to 12.8%. Yikes. That led to a .308 OBP last year from the Angels’ #2 man, which is incredibly low for someone batting so high in the order. No wonder he had just 78 Runs despite Trout and Pujols hanging out behind him. There’s upside if he can limit the Ks and walk a little more often, but you’re in this for a .260 average and 25 bombs. Take that as you will.
37. Billy Hamilton (Cincinnati Reds) – I don’t like Hamilton for a few reasons. 1) His only great area of production is Steals (57 in 114 games!) with decent Run production 2) His name would sound so much better as “William Hamilton” 3) He’ll be hitting at the bottom of the Reds’ lineup. I totally get why people are all over him, I just hate sacrificing a good average, HR and RBI production just to get a leg up on one category. Give me a more balanced lineup please, k thx.
38. Shin Soo Choo (Texas Rangers) – Choo isn’t a bad addition to a standard 12-teamer, but he doesn’t hold the upside that could put you over the edge to win your league. He’ll give you high teens in HRs, great counting stats and a good average. The steals are gone, but the Run production will stay high as he walks at a 12.0% career clip, meaning his value jumps in OBP leagues.
39. Brett Gardner (New York Yankees) – Gardner and Fowler are very similiar in their speed/power abilities, while striking out a little too often to make their averages stable. Gardner gets the nod due to a better injury history and more consistency producing Runs and stolen bases in a better lineup. Let’s just hope that atrocious second half isn’t a sign for what’s to come.
40. Dexter Fowler (Chicago Cubs) – Fowler is another cut from the Eaton/Heyward tree, where he has mid teens power with speed, though last year’s 20 swiped bags was his highest since 2009. He finally showed off his abilities for a full season, scoring 102 Runs in 156 games, a product of hitting atop the loaded Cubs lineup as he featured a .346 OBP (thanks to a 12.2% walk rate). His average will not be all too impressive given his 22%+ K rate, nor will the RBI as a leadoff man for the O’s, but he’ll give you speed and power while collecting those luscious Runs. I like Fowler as a #3 OF if I’m going to power route earlier in the draft, though have a backup plan as he only has two seasons of 140+ games under his belt in his seven season career.
41. David Peralta (Arizona Diamondbacks) – There’s been a lot of hype around Peralta this offseason, and I think it’s gotten slightly overboard, though there is some good basis behind it. He’ll hit cleanup in Arizona, hit a good amount of hard contact in 2015, and improved both his O-Swing and walk rates last season. He could have double-digit steals, though the 17 HR mark last season seems a bit lucky as he needed a 17.7% HR/FB rate to get there – that’s what happens when you elect to hit just 26.6% flyballs. I imagine we’ll be seeing closer to 10 bombs than 20 in 2016, which makes Peralta a .300 hitter with 80+ RBI and 10/10. It’s good and helpful, but it’ll be super boring quite often.
42. Joc Pederson (Los Angeles Dodgers) – The problem with Joc lies in his inability to make consistent contact. He only connected on 2/3s of the pitches he swung at, which contributed heavily to his horrific 29.1% strikeout rate and 20.1% soft contact rate. Keep in mind, though, he still walked a whopping 15.7% of the time, so don’t get the idea he’s just flailing at all pitches (27.1% O-Swing rate). Yes, that does mean he is a solid pick in OBP leagues given his near .350 OBP in 2015. Joc can be a much improved hitter given his eye and power, and if he makes an effort to change his approach at the plate, he could make huge strides this season.
43. Michael Conforto (New York Mets) – I can see myself drafting Conforto in a good amount of leagues this season, as Conforto could become a sizeable power asset in 2016. His batted ball profile screams potential, as he had a staggering 40.9% hard contact rate, regular GB and FB rates, and an excellent 17.0% HR/FB that fits with his power in the minors. Keep in mind, his 2015 prorated near 27 Hrs, 90 Runs and 80 RBI, which has to get you a bit excited for the 186th current overall pick. His floor looks bearable if you draft him, while his upside will give you a grin as the season begins.
44. Randal Grichuk (St. Louis Cardinals) – If you’re a gambling kind of man, Grichuk will suit your fancy. He’s a slugger with major HR upside (17 bombs in just 103 games last and 20+ dingers two straight years in limited minor league time), but it comes with a hefty K rate that could hint again at 30%. Randal needs to change his approach if he’s to make a major impact – he held just a 69.7% contact rate with a whopping 15.6% swinging strike rate – and his .365 BABIP last season means that his solid .276 average isn’t going to stick around with the current holes in his bat.
45. Jay Bruce (Cincinnati Reds) – You know the old adage about average and flyballs by now, right? Flyballs are more often outs than grounders & linedrives, hence more flyballs –> lower BABIP. Bruce increased his flyball rate by an immense 10.2% last season to 44.2%, and it resulted in a .251 BABIP and .223 average. Hitting often into the shift doesn’t help the Reds slugger either (46.8% pull rate), but aren’t we forgetting something? With that increase of flyballs, Bruce needed just a 13.3% HR/FB mark to belt 26 longballs in 2015. He’ll stay put in the heart of the Reds lineup (or he may be shipped off to Toronto. Read: EVEN BETTER), which means he’ll be a great source of RBI and solid in the Runs department. The average, though, may be hard to swallow like…well, the average may be hard to swallow.
46. Gerardo Parra (Colorado Rockies) – I really want to like Parra more – he’s heading to a full-time gig in Coors, which could raise his barely 10% HR/FB rate and hint at 20 bombs – if it weren’t for a sub 30% flyball rate. It did rise last year, and he could continue the trend given the circumstance of playing for Colorado. It’ll be met with a high average double-digit steals and solid counting stats as he’s projected to hit fifth (or possibly second if Reyes misses time) for the Rockies. I like that upside if I’ve looked elsewhere before the middle-to-late rounds of the draft.
47. Byron Buxton (Minnesota Twins) – He has the tools to be an all-around stud at some point in his career, and it sounds as though one of the next three drafts will cash in on excellent value when he blossoms into what everyone expects him to be – an excellent basestealer with solid pop and the ability to hit for a great average. The thing is, he should be swiping bases regardless of his pop as long as he gets a starting job in center, which in all likelihood will be the case. He doesn’t need to put it all together to still be productive, though he could bottom out like he did last season and you’ll wind up with a wasted pick. I’m willing to bet he’ll take a stride or two and at least be a serviceable speed guy, if not one of the steals in your draft.
48. Delino DeShields Jr. (Texas Rangers) – Remember when we talked about Hamilton before and I said I didn’t want William so early in the draft because there were other guys to go for? DeShields is one of those options, and he could be a solid speed snag deeper in your draft. He’s comparable to Burns, and will hold a lower average given his 20.5% strikeout rate, but he’ll provide more Runs as the Rangers are a much better offense than the A’s. I’ll be targeting DeShields given his minor league track record of 50+ SB seasons in under 120 games, and his solid 10.8% walk rate that will keep his OBP up.
49. Billy Burns (Oakland Athletics) – Burns is another option, and he presents similar speed upside as Burns as he stole 26 bags in just 125 games last season, and I see him swiping at least 30 bags this year while holding to a .300 average or so. He could also be hinting at 100 Runs given a full season in the leadoff spot, and voila! There’s a decent addition to your team.
50. Ender Inciarte (Atlanta Braves) – Ehhhh, I get why people like him in real baseball, but for fantasy purposes, he doesn’t steal enough bags to make me forget that he has little power in his bat. His super low strikeout rate and affinity to keep the ball on the ground will help his average stay near .300, and you’ll most likely see a Run total north of 80 as he hits near the top of the Braves’ lineup. He’s like a mini-Yelich, and I already went over how I didn’t want to pay for a regular-sized Yelich.