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The outfield is the position where a lot of fantasy owners look to satisfy needs for multi-stat depth. You may buy based on power at the infield corners and on speed up the middle, but the outfield is where you find the best athletes capable of feeding any different stat needs.
1. Bryce Harper, OF, WAS.
After he broke free of the hype, character questions and injury concerns (well, for the most part), what we got was a phenomenal MVP season. This year, I think he's got a real chance at the batting triple crown - along with 120 or so runs scored.
2. Mike Trout, OF, LAA.
Ranked ahead of Harper elsewhere. The slight decline in all major stats over the last three years bothers me, yet he's still in the MVP discussion. His 79 extra-base hits in 2015 were second only to Harper.
3. Andrew McCutchen, PIT.
He will turn 30 at the end of the 2016 season, and his career-low 11 SBs and career-high 96 RBI in 2015 may show he's becoming a different player. Yet, someone who still can flirt with 20 HR/20 SB, 100 RBI, .300 BA is a rare enough to deserve this rank.
4. Kris Bryant, CUBS.
I will take plenty of heat for this ranking if he doesn't deliver a huge season. After 26 HRs, 99 RBI last year, the power looks real to me, and the arrow is pointed upward on those stats, though I fullt admit streakiness and sophomore-slump potential also look real.
5. Giancarlo Stanton, MIA.
A lot of drafters will take his 27 HRs in just 74 games over Bryant's 26 in 151, and I totally understand. But while the risk with Bryant is streakiness, with Stanton it's potential days and weeks lost to injury.
6. A.J. Pollock, ARI.
Really looking forward to seeing which amazing 2015 stat is for real: the 20 HRs, 76 RBI, 111 runs, .315 BA, or 39 SBs. I don't think all of them are, but I'll take three out of five. Seems like a very easy bet to be a 20/20 man, which is what I like from a top-tier OF.
7. Mookie Betts, BOS.
Another seemingly safe bet for a 20/20 season after 18 HRs and 21 SBs last year, though the power did catch some by surprise. Beyond that, he has a real shot at 100 or more runs scored after 92 last year.
8. Jose Bautista, TOR.
Will his new contract demands prove distracting? If anything, he may be determined to have one of his best seasons, even at age 35, to show he deserves $150 million. With the loaded lineup around him, 35 HRs, 100 RBI, 100 runs may not prove so difficult.
9. Charlie Blackmon, COL.
Aside from Pollock, Blackmon was the biggest surprise source of SBs among OFs in 2015. After a surprising 28 SBs in 2014, 43 last year were shocking. Whether he gets that many in 2016, his 17 HRs last year help make him another serious 20/20 threat.
10. George Springer, HOU.
Let's continue a theme: 20 HRs, 16 SBs last year in just 78 games show us another clear 20/20 threat, although has yet to prove he can hit for average as high as some of the others above, and we need to see him healthy for a full season.
11. Nelson Cruz, SEA.
Career-high 44 HRs were second in all of MLB last year, and while he is definitely not a 20/20 threat, being a 40 threat in one stat area where only four or five player will get that many is definitely worth consideration.
12. Yoenis Cespedes, NYM.
35-HR power without much speed makes him, like Cruz or Bautista, someone you want if you're not drafting enough power at other positions. If the Mets prove a contender again, he could be a 100 RBI/100 runs candidate, too.
13. Starling Marte, PIT.
Yet another 20/20 candidate, with 19 HRs and 30 SB last year. His 81 RBI and 84 runs are nice, too, though maybe a notch below some of the names above. Would love to see more walks than the 27 we got last year because it would mean even more SBs and runs.
14. Ryan Braun, MIL.
20/20? He actually did it last year for the first time since 2012. 25 HRs, 84 RBI, 24 SBs in 2015 might be the best to hope for this year from a 32-year-old on a lousy team, but certainly could have another 20/20 year in him.
15. Carlos Gonzalez, COL.
554 ABs last year were the most since 2010 for this injury-prone, former 20/20 man, and he made the most of it, with his first 40-HR season. 97 RBI, 87 runs helped, too, though he doesn't really steal bases anymore.
16. Chris Davis, BAL.
How does the MLB HR king of 2015 land this low after 47 dingers, 117 RBI, 100 runs? You won't get SBs out of him, and his .262 BA, though not bad for a slugger who struck out 208 times, is about the highest you can expect from a guy prone to binges, then slumps.
17. J.D. Martinez, DET.
If you dropped him after the first six weeks of last season, there seemed justification: His six HRs and 20 RBI through then were okay, but he was mired in a huge slump. A big June of 11 HRs, though, reversed his course and sent him toward a 38-HR, 102-RBI season.
18. Adam Jones, BAL.
Once a rising young hitter and 30/20 candidate, has seen BA, HRs, RBI and SBs decline the last two seasons. He went for 27 HRs, 82 RBI last year, which is what earns him this rank, but only three SBs have us wonder if he'll deliver double digits again anytime soon.
19. Justin Upton, DET.
Fell one SB short of 20/20 with 26 HRs, 81 RBI, 19 SBs. HRs were his fewest in three seasons, and his overall streakiness, which usually leads to a pile of HRs early in the season and not a lot later, always bothers me, though clearly some multi-stat value here.
20. Jason Heyward, CUBS.
I've nudged him a little higher in my rankings than elsewhere, mainly thinking that he can nudge his own stats at age 26 to something like at least 15 HRs, 75 RBI, 30 SBs, 100 runs, .295 BA - up from last year's 13 HRs, 60 RBI, 23 SBs, 79 runs, and .293 BA.
21. Kyle Schwarber, CUBS.
I actually have this instant Cubs hero a little lower than most, mainly on my doubts about his ability to hit higher than .250 for a full year and face lefties with frequency. Still, 16 HRs in 252 ABs last year suggest 30+ this year, even if he sits for a few lefties.
22. Lorenzo Cain, KC.
Career highs in 2015 included all of the following: 16 HRs, 72 RBI, 28 SBs, 101 runs, .307 BA. I think 16 HRs and 28 SBs (the latter actually tied the career high he set in 2014) represent his ceiling for both stats. He's still a good multi-stat threat, though, at this ranking.
23. Carlos Gomez, HOU.
After two years of 20+ HRs and three years of 30+ SBs, his 2015 stats - 12 HRs, 56 RBI, 17 SBs, .242 BA - left us wanting a lot more. Injury was a factor both before and after his trade to HOU. Still seems like a pretty decent bet as a 20/20 threat.
24. Yasiel Puig, LAD.
This ranking feels too high, but I guess I'm buying into his alleged new attitude and prospects for better health this year than last, when he had only 282 ABs. Can he finally be the 20-HR, 15-SB, .900-OPS guy he's supposed to be?
25. Matt Kemp, SD.
Started slow last season, but managed 23 HRs, 100 RBI, 12 SBs and 80 runs. It was an 11-RBI improvement over 2014; his first year of double-digit SBs since 2011, when he had 40; and one HR short of going 40/40. No longer a top fantasy player, but still has value.
26. Michael Brantley, CLE.
Didn't go 20/20 in 2015, unlike in his breakout season of 2014, and pretty much every stat declined, but 15 HRs, 84 RBI, 15 SBs, .310 BA aren't far off the mark, and a nudge back upward could make him a top 15 fantasy outfielder again.
27. Adam Eaton, WHITE SOX.
His breakout year took a while to get going, but he had a solid second half, remarkably scoring 98 runs for a team that had a hell of a lot of trouble scoring. 14 HRs, 56 RBI, 18 SBs, .287 BA suggest there's a chance he can be a 20/20 man in his age-27 season.
28. Hunter Pence, SF.
Universally mocked, which is to say universally adored, Pence was limited by injury last year to nine HRs, 40 RBI, four SBs and just 207 ABs. If he's healthy, he still has 20-HR, 15-SB potential, and has shown great consistency as a clutch RBI and run-scoring machine.
29. Ben Revere, WAS.
Could have put Billy Hamilton, who had 57 SBs to Revere's 31 last year, here, but I much prefer Revere's .306 BA to Hamilton's .226. Not much more to recommend, but if he clicks with the rest of WAS's lineup this year, 35 SBs, 90 runs would hold nice fantasy value.
30. Brett Gardner, NYY.
Far removed from the days when he stole 40+ bases a year, but the last two season have been very consistent and borderline 20/20, as he's averaged 16.5 HRs, 62 RBI, 20.5 SBs. That consistency makes him a No. 3 outfielder on many fantasy teams.
Sleeper: Jorge Soler, CUBS.
A lot of guys could have gone here, but why not a local? Soler should have broken out last year, but nagging injury and general slumpiness held him to 10 HRs, 47 RBI. That all changed when he started running hot in the postseason, so I'll buy him for a comeback bid.
Previously in the Fantasy Fix Baseball Draft Guide:
* The (Tied At The) Top 40.
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.
The first year of The Rebuild/Is now in the past/But it wasn't so awful/The Sox didn't finish last.Continue reading "The Season In Verse | It Could Have Been Worse" »
Posted on Oct 2, 2017