The Dynasty Guru’s Top 125 Dynasty League Outfielders, Nos. 76-125
From the 21st of January to the 20th of February, the writers at TDG will be taking you through our rankings position-by-position. As I mentioned in the primer, this year we’re doing things a little differently. Instead of having my personal rankings up on this site, like last year, these rankings for 2014 are of the consensus variety and being brought to you by all of the TDG staff. Everyone put a lot of work into this project, so we hope you enjoy the end result. And if you are looking for my personal dynasty league rankings, you can find them this off-season at Baseball Prospectus.
So we hope you enjoy the rankings package that we’ve put together here. And if you do, I hope that you will make a donation to show appreciation for the content you’ve seen here at the Dynasty Guru. You can do that through this link, or by clicking the “Donate” button on the top-right corner of the homepage. All donations are truly appreciated.
And now the last installment of the Top 125 Dynasty League Outfielders, led off by a former second baseman who has huge tools but huge question marks as well:
76) Delino DeShields, Houston Astros (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 12,2B)
DeShields had a very solid showing in his first full season at A+, putting up a .317/.405/.468 line with 51 SB and 100 R. He doesn’t project for much power moving forward but he can be a solid lead-off hitter for Houston in a few years, with a chance to provide above average speed and paired with a good on base percentage.
77) Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City Royals (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 41)
With 115 games, Cain played more in 2013 than he did in 2010-2012 combined. In doing so, we now have a pretty good grasp of the kind of player he will be. There were a lot of managers that fell in love with his 2010 stat line, but that just does not seem to be the real Lorenzo Cain. He profiles more as an above average defender and only has league average tools everywhere else.
78) Michael Saunders, Seattle Mariners (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 82)
A sneaky 12 HR/13 SB was useful in 2013 when you’re starters were on off days, but the slash line he provides and the lack of R/RBI in that offense (batting 7th) is not a huge selling point. If you are chasing steals or home runs but don’t care about the rest, he’s a good fit.
79) Brian Goodwin, Washington Nationals (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 42)
Why such a dramatic drop in the rankings? After a breakout 2012 campaign, Goodwin fell back to Earth a bit. His power and speed are still evident but his k% went from 19% to 22%. The good news though, is that his BB% stayed in the 12-13% range. There is still plenty of projection left for Goodwin. If he falls to you at this spot, I’d buy. Hell, I’d buy roughly 20 spots higher.
80) Melky Cabrera, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 33)
Let’s retrace a few steps in the Melk Man’s career. In 2012 he had a MVP caliber first half, but was suspended in the second half for PED use. In 2013 he suffered through an injury plagued season. What’s next for Cabrera? Honestly, no one knows. He’s a very risky investment, but depending on the price, you could get a nice return.
81) Matt Joyce, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 68)
Joyce has a career platoon split of .260/.354/.481 vs righties and a .194/.270/.322 vs lefties. If you are going to roster him be cautious with who the opposing pitcher is. However, he does provide decent power numbers with 71 out of 79 HR vs righties.
82) Raimel Tapia, Colorado Rockies (Age: 20, Previous Rank: NR)
In almost 200 games across the Dominican Summer League and Rookie Ball, Tapia has shown a very strong foundation of skills. With great hand-eye coordination, the ability to barrel up the ball, projectable 20 HR power and solid outfield defense, this kid could be a worth taking note of before it gets too late.
83) Denard Span, Washington Nationals (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 83)
Take a potent Nationals line up, add in a lead-off hitter that has always shown the ability to get on base, steal bases and score runs, and you have a very enticing player. That is exactly what Span offers. He’s a personal sleeper this season, as I expect top 60 production from him.
84) Marlon Byrd, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 36, Previous Rank: NR)
Byrd came out of nowhere to hit 24 HR last season at the seasoned age of 35. Maybe there is something to the phrase “old man strength”, because it seems to be quite trendy nowadays. Byrd has always had a solid hit tool and been able to get on base, but I just don’t believe in the surprising power displayed.
85) Jorge Bonifacio, Kansas City Royals (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 102)
It seems like every winter, I get brought into a conversation about Jorge Bonifacio having a breakout season. At some point it won’t be a breakout anymore. A hamate bone injury derailed this “breakout” but I see big things for him moving forward.
86) Aaron Hicks, Minnesota Twins (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 86)
81 games player, exactly one half of his rookie season, and Hicks has the label of “bust” swirling over his head. I’ve also heard the term “Buxton placeholder”, but I’m just not ready to buy it yet. If the rest of your league has given up on him, scoop him up, and do it quickly. There will be a sizeable bounce back this season… I mean, it can’t get any worse right?
87) Daniel Nava, Boston Red Sox (Age: 31, Previous Rank: NR)
Nava is another hitter that exhibits a lop-sided platoon split. He can provide decent if not solid numbers, when you monitor his match-ups. I also suggest that you be cautious of a regression in his HR and RBI.
88) Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 115)
Ozuna is projected as the starting CF for the Marlins. Ozuna had only played 10 games above A+ ball prior to his promotion last season. Ozuna was .274/.333/.487 hitter in the minors that provided a .265/.303/.389 line in the majors. You be the judge.
89) Dayan Viciedo, Chicago White Sox (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 66)
Viciedo has shown that he can hit for power, he has also shown that he can strike out about 20% of the time. He doesn’t kill your batting average but he also won’t win any home run titles. With a hopefully improved top of the order in Chicago, Viciedo might be in line for a spike in RBI, so at least he can positively contribute to your power categories.
90) Carlos Quentin, San Diego Padres (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 81)
If the MLB season were only 90 games long, Quentin would be a whole lot higher on this list. He has never played more than 131 games in a season and he has only played in more than 120 twice. If he’s on your roster, you will love the games that he does play, but you will also need a solid back up to replace him when he eventually misses games.
91) Nick Williams, Texas Rangers (Age: 20, Previous Rank: NR)
I will admit that before doing my research for the consensus rankings, Nick Williams was not a name on my radar. Now that he is, I don’t want to share his profile with you. I’m too competitive like that, but alas, I must. He was a 19 yr. old in A-ball that posted a .293/.337/.543 line with 17 HR in 95 games. Oh, and he was a 2nd round pick in 2012, in case you didn’t know his name either. The downside? He had a 27 percent K%. My suggestion is to monitor closely.
92) A.J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 26, Previous Rank: NR)
Following the trade of Adam Eaton to the White Sox, Pollock is now the starting CF in ARI. That’s great news for his owners. He flew under the radar last season with a modest .269/.322/.409 line but has double digit SB and HR potential with full playing time.
93) Mason Williams, New York Yankees (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 72)
I had Williams a lot lower in my personal rankings. I don’t know what there is too like to be honest. In 2013 he showed limited power potential, didn’t hit for a decent average, struggled to get on base and even though he stole 15 bases, he got thrown out 9 times.
94) Junior Lake Chicago Cubs (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
By the end of July, Lake had everyone (read: Cub’s fans) talking. Being a Cub’s fan I heard all of the high expectations and asinine comparisons. The cold hard truth is… we don’t know what exactly Lake will be. He slowed down so much as the season went on, that it is hard to know what the real Lake Effect is. I need to see him start strong and show that he can reduce his K% before I buy in.
95) Angel Pagan, San Francisco Giants (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 71)
Pagan has consistently shown that he can hit for a solid average and get on base at a good clip. In less than half a season last year, he had 9 stolen bases, compared to the 32 stolen bases he averaged from 2010-2012. With a full healthy season, I believe you can expect close to 2012 production for a few more years.
96) Peter Bourjos, St Louis Cardinals (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 92)
I feel bad for Bourjos. In 2011, while playing 147 games in CF for LAA, he posted a 72 R, 12 HR, 22 SB, .271/.327/.438 line. That’s not why I feel bad. I think we all know what happened in LAA in 2012 and poof, Bourjos is a forgotten man. I really like that he has a full time job and a chance to show us what he can do.
97) Eric Young, New York Mets (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 131)
EY had to help some of you a whole lot, late last year, with his 30 SB after the break. Then again, he probably hurt you just as much with his .228/.292/.300 stat line. With the signing of Curtis Granderson, it appears EY will be relegated to 4th OF duties.
98) Nate Schierholtz, Chicago Cubs (Age: 30, Previous Rank: NR)
As stated previously, I am a Cubs fan. Also expressed previously, I am very educated in the art of platooning OF in fantasy baseball. Schierholtz is another great example of that with a 20 HR, 65 RBI, and .262/.300/.499 line against righties last season.
99) Corey Dickerson, Colorado Rockies (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
Even with his performance in A+/AA and the AFL in 2012, Dickerson still snuck up on me in 2013. I don’t think that I’m alone in that fact. Before his promotion, Dickerson hit .371/.414/.632 with a .260 ISO in AAA. He has been graded as league average in 4 out of 5 tools, but his power is for real.
100) Anthony Gose, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 66)
Gose has always seemed like a 4th OF type to me. In a total of 342 MLB plate appearances he has posted a .240/.294/.361 line. He has shown some flashes of speed and will eventually be a one category contributor, when he gets a full time job.
101) Hunter Renfroe, San Diego Padres (Age: 22 Previous Rank: NR)
Renfroe has the type of power-speed combo that all fantasy owners should find intriguing but his hit tool could hurt the utility of his other skills. Already 22, Renfroe could be pushed aggressively in the minors so his ETA is a positive but the chance that he becomes a short-side platoon bat weighs his value down.
102) Rajai Davis, Detroit Tigers (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 106)
Davis is a wildly underrated fantasy player, having swiped at least 45 bases in three of the past four seasons. But as a short-side platoon player entering his age 33 season it’s hard to be optimistic about Davis’ one-category value holding up another year-or-so down the line.
103) Josh Bell, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 95)
A better athlete than his massive frame portends, Bell has the ability to hit for above average power and average and enough speed to swipe double-digit bags per year too. Despite his lower ranking here his prospect status is very much on the rise after following up his injury-filled 2012 season with a good 2013 campaign, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him rank in the top-60 on this list next year.
104) Stephen Piscotty, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
Piscotty is another stupid white nondescript Cardinals player who will probably hit .300 immediately upon reaching the majors because that’s what stupid white nondescript Cardinals players do. He doesn’t do anything particularly well but he also has no weaknesses. Cardinals.
105) Nate McLouth, Washington Nationals (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 111)
Lol hey it’s 2014 and we’re talking about Nate McLouth! Jokes about his three-year hiatus from relevancy aside, McLotuh’s given us nearly 900 PA over the past two season suggesting that he still has a little power and a good amount of speed. He’s not a bad flier late in drafts this season, as he should get another ~400 PA in a good lineup, but his career path is so abnormal that it’s tough to project him out much past 2014.
106) Domingo Santana, Houston Astros (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 127)
Santana has a swoon-worthy power tool and a patient approach at the plate that will make him an interesting option in OBP leagues. His hit tool is less appealing, though, and he could easily strike out in a third of his PA at the MLB level. The power ceiling is quite attractive, but he could end up being a two-trick (HR, RBI) fantasy pony.
107) Phillip Ervin, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 21, Previous Rank: NR)
Yet another toolsy outfielder from a draft class that was overall short on fantasy upside, Ervin has the potential to challenge for 20 homers and 20 steals with a tolerable average in his prime. He’s got a long list of injuries on his resume and lacks remaining projection, but he has a chance to advance quickly in the minors and will likely be a better major leaguer than he is prospect.
108) Ryan Ludwick, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 35, Previous Rank: 76)
Ludwick takes a big step back in this year’s rankings after missing most of 2013 with a shoulder injury. He still has the ability to hit for 20-plus homers in a good offense and favorable home ballpark, but his days as a fantasy-relevant player are likely coming to an end.
109) Tyler Austin, New York Yankees (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 59)
It’s tempting to say that this ranking is a bit of an overcorrection of Austin’s value, but really I think it better represents his fantasy upside. Yes, Austin can hit a bit and his power is somewhat intriguing but the overall profile here is as someone who might hit .270 with 15 homers. He’s just boring, though he should have more value in OBP leagues. He should be a Cardinal.
110) Chris Young, New York Mets (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 93)
I just can’t quit Young. His last ok fantasy year came in 2011 and his last truly good one came one season before, but I remain convinced he’s going to hit the 20/20 mark once again one of these years. He’s not going to a great ballpark but at least he has a shot at consistent playing time.
111) Kyle Parker, Colorado Rockies (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 117)
Parker continued his slow and steady ascent last season, hitting .288/.345/.492. That line isn’t representative of what Parker can do in terms of average in the majors but it’s a fair barometer for power, as Parker has enough pop in his bat to challenge for 25-plus bombs in Coors Field. The Justin Morneau signing hurts his ETA some, but I’d expect him to be up by year’s end nonetheless.
112) Jon Jay, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 90)
It’s tough to doubt Jay’s ability to hit for average at this point, but what else does he bring to the table from a fantasy POV? He could maybe hit 10 homers and steal 15 bases, and if he receives 500 PA he could score 70 runs, but I don’t expect Jay to see that much PT going forward. He’s an ok flier in deep mixed leagues but nothing more.
113) Bubba Starling, Kansas City Royals (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 64)
Starling is like Ferrari without a steering wheel, GPS or seatbelts. He’s got the speed and power potential fantasy players dream on but his hit tool is below average, and it’s tough to envision him ever hitting breaking pitches well. Starling strikes me as the type of player who will put together one or two explosive seasons, but he’s likely to be a fourth outfielder who teams keep gambling on and not much more. Sadz.
114) Lewis Brinson, Texas Rangers (Age: 19, Previous Rank: 105)
A lot of what was said about Starling applies to Brinson, too, but the toolsy young outfielder deserves the benefit of our doubt for one more season. If he can hit enough to get on base at a .320 clip, he’d be a fantasy monster. That’s a big “if,” though, and fantasy owners should watch his performance in 2014 with bated breath.
115) Cesar Puello, New York Mets (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
On the one hand, Puello has some exciting natural tools and is only blocked by flawed, injury-prone outfielders in the majors. On the other hand, Puello will be a flawed, injury-prone major leaguer once he gets there. The power/speed combo will always make you look twice, but between his inability to stay on the field and the questions surrounding his hit tool, Puello is poised to break some hearts.
116) Courtney Hawkins, Chicago White Sox (Age: 20, Previous Ranks: 104)
The White Sox gave Hawkins a very aggressive assignment last season and he fell flat on his face, striking out in 37.6 percent of the time and hitting .178 in 425 PA in High-A. He showcased his impressive power buy still hitting 19 homers against much older competition, but there’s no doubting that Hawkins’ fantasy value is in decline. How he performs at the same level this year will be telling.
117) Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NR)
Coors Field is a good place in which to attempt to hit baseballs and that is the place where Blackmon should bat most frequently. He also possesses the ability to hit for a good average. Thus concludes our segment on Blackmon.
118) Justin Ruggiano, Chicago Cubs (Age: 31, Previous Rank: NR)
Justin Ruggiano is an outfielder for the Cubs who you shouldn’t draft unless you’re in a 30-team NL-only league with six outfielders per team.
119) Jose Tabata, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 25, Previous Rank: NR)
You might think Tabata should rank higher on this list given some of his previous successes, but the man known for his speed has stolen just 11 bases over the past two seasons now, and he doesn’t contribute enough in any other category to be a meaningful fantasy asset. He has room to improve given his young age, but odds are he’s replaced by Gregory Polanco by July.
120) David Murphy, Cleveland Indians (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 75)
Murphy picked a terrible year to suck. Coming off a strong 2012 campaign, Murphy choked in his contract year, hitting just .220/.282/.374 in 476 PA. He’ll be the long side of a platoon in Cleveland and I bet he’s better than he was in 2013, but Murphy is now out of his prime and in an inferior ballpark, so it’s hard to be optimistic.
121) Jonny Gomes, Boston Red Sox (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 129)
No. God, please, no. Don’t draft Jonny Gomes unless your league counts grit and beard and good postgame quotes.
122) Drew Stubbs, Colorado Rockies (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 120)
Stubbs is what you’d get if Bubba Starling was a baseball player. His hit and run tools are enticing, especially in Colorado, but he really can’t hit and he probably won’t get a ton of PA as a right-handed hitter. He can still swipe 25-plus bags so keep him on your radar, but look for safer options.
123) Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 20, Previous Rank: NR)
Winker doesn’t have a lot of exciting tools but his hit tool is above average, and that makes him interesting from a fantasy POV despite his limited overall profile. With good bat-to-ball ability and a solid approach, Winker could be an excellent option in OBP leagues and a decent one in mixed leagues, though he’s likely to fly under the radar as a prospect due to his lack of loud tools.
124) Michael Morse, San Francisco Giants (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 49)
Womp womp. Morse ranked as a top-50 option last season but has fallen all the way to 124 here after stumbling through 2013. He has some power and he’s not going to hit .215 again but his true average will probably lie somewhere around .260, and he’s playing in a miserable park. Feel free to take a flier in deep or NL-only leagues, but I’m unenthused.
125) Raul Ibanez, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 41, Previous Rank: 139)
Laugh if you must, but Ibanez was a valuable fantasy commodity last year, hitting 29 homers with a poor but not team-braking .242 average. One of these days his limbs are going to fall off – and based on photos, that day could be soon – but Ibanez will be a source of power until the day he eventually does hang up his cleats. He should be a cheap source of HR and RBI again in 2014.
Commentary by Andy Barnes and Ben Carsley.