The Dynasty Guru’s Top 125 Dynasty Outfielders, Nos. 21-40
Congratulations on surviving another off-season. Now that the new year is upon us, it’s time to spend the next month traveling across the positional landscape, labeling players with numbers that correspond to their value. It’s the very definition of freedom. A ton of hard work was put into these rankings, and will continue to be put in as we bring you just an ungodly amount of information over the next month. We hope you enjoy the product we’ve created, and if you’d like to show appreciation for that work you can do so through this link, or via the donate button on in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage. All donations are truly appreciated.
The outfielders continue with one of the most difficult guys to rank in all of fantasy baseball…
21) Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 26)
Those who drafted Hamilton hoping he would put up massive steal totals were likely content with his 56 stolen bases in 2014, good for the second-best total in baseball. However, if you play in a net steals league his performance was largely overshadowed by the fact that he got caught stealing 23 times which lead the league. Hamilton had a terrific first half of the season batting .285 which was well beyond expectations for his hit tool, but he followed it up with an unbearable .200 average in the second half. Hamilton should see a higher success rate next year on stolen bases as he works on his craft and should also see a bump in his run totals with a healthy Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, and the newly acquired Marlon Byrd to bat him in.
22) Matt Kemp, San Diego Padres (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 17)
During the second half of 2014 Matt Kemp really started to look like the pre-injury version of himself. Sure he didn’t run much, but he did bat .309 with 17 of his 25 home runs coming after the all-star break. Kemp and his large contract were moved to San Diego where he will ply his trade in Petco Park rather than Dodger Stadium. Although many fear its dimensions Kemp added 15.59 ft of average fly ball distance last year culminating in an elite 300.36 ft. All of the home runs that Kemp hit in Dodgers Stadium were indeed long enough to have comfortably left Petco Park per Hit Tracker Online. At just 30 years old there is still a lot of production left in Kemp’s bat.
23) Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 31)
Polanco opened the season playing in Triple-A before he forced the issue in June by slashing .328/.390/.504 with seven home runs and 16 stolen bases over 69 games at the level. Over his next 89 major league games Polanco was encouragingly able to maintain his near double-digit walk rate, and not strikeout at an absurd rate, however he made contact with only 78.9 percent of pitches. The result of this was an ugly batting average of .235 despite his lifetime mark of .285 in the minor leagues. Polanco struggled to catch up with the fastball which was not a difficulty for him previously. His track record plus his low .272 BABIP make him a good bet to produce better results going forward.
24) Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 24)
It is so fitting that Gordon would be ranked in the exact same spot as he was last year since he is one of the most consistent players in baseball. Like clockwork, you know that Gordon is going to hit close to 20 home runs, have 90 runs, 80 RBI, a .270 average, and double-digit stolen bases. You know that this will happen because he has done it every year since 2011. He achieves these numbers so consistently by averaging 156 games played a year over that span. The predictability of his game makes him an excellent piece for building a dynasty league team and he fits extremely well on teams where you have higher risk players like Bryce Harper or Carlos Gonzalez.
25) Corey Dickerson, Colorado Rockies (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 99)
Dickerson is the surprise that more of us should have seen coming based on his .322/.380/.601 slash line over 380 minor league games. Somehow, when he arrived in Coors Field with semi-regular playing time we were still surprised that he was able to have success. Success is really all Dickerson has known as a pro and it is entirely skill-set driven. Between 2013 and 2014 Dickerson now has 200 major league games under his belt, which is enough sample size to say the guy can hit. His line-drive percentage over that time is 26.5 percent which is good enough for 10th in baseball with a minimum of 500 innings. Only Dickerson, Freddie Freeman, and Nick Castellanos have been able to maintain line drive rates over 26 percent coupled with fly ball rates over 33 percent. He has the ability to continue to hit for both power and average and should be expected to do so.
26) Yoenis Cespedes, Detroit Tigers (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 21)
After two-years of missing at least 15 games, Cespedes finally was healthy for an entire season, playing in 152 games and setting career-best marks in runs at 89 and RBI at 100. Cespedes came over to Boston in the Jon Lester trade before getting shipped out again this off-season to Detroit where he will bat either fifth or sixth in the order behind sluggers Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and possibly J.D. Martinez. The power shouldn’t take much of a hit if any for Cespedes and the line-up should be better than any he played in last season. If you play in an OBP league, Cespedes is someone you want to stay away from since he has been losing ground in that category every years since he joined the league. Working in his favor however is his huge gains in the amount of contact he was making, after two-years at 73.4 percent he vaulted to 79.7.
27) Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 10)
Bruce underwent surgery on his left knee On May 5th for a meniscus tear and by May 23rd he was back on the field. We here at The Dynasty Gurus aren’t M.D.s but that seems too fast for anyone to recover from even a minor surgical procedure. Bruce played in 137 games but was not his normal productive self. He batted just .217 on the year which was the lowest average of his career, but more importantly he failed to hit 20 home runs for the first time since he made it to the big leagues. Bruce was hitting the ball on the ground more than ever, trading both line drives and fly balls for a 45.2 percent ground ball rate. I expect that with a full off-season to rehab and strengthen his knee, Bruce will return to his old form.
28) Wil Myers, San Diego Padres (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 11)
Another victim of the disabled list, Myers broke his wrist on May 31st and missed the next 70 games healing and working back from the injury. When he returned from the DL the power wasn’t there and he hit just one home run the rest of the way. If this was the only concern about Myers you could have more confidence in a return to form, however the batted ball data gives cause for concern. He came to the Rays as a power hitting prospect but he doesn’t put the ball in the air enough to let it function, with a fly ball rate of just 35.1 percent over the last two-seasons. Myers needs to tweak his swing to stop burning so many worms, because between his nearly 25 percent strikeout rate and batted ball tendencies, his stats could stay stuck in first gear. The plus side is that there is a track record of success and pedigree that give some hope for the future.
29) Shin-Soo Choo, Texas Rangers (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 18)
2014 marked the first year of Choo’s $130 million mega-deal with the Rangers, it was not a season full of success as the club finished last place in the division and Choo stunk up the joint. The problems were apparent from day one when Choo reported elbow soreness in spring training and ankle issues in late April. He didn’t run at all after stealing 20-plus in four out of the last five seasons, and his power was nowhere to be found. He missed time in season for elbow surgery and underwent ankle surgery in the off-season. The good news can be found in his batted ball data which remained nearly identical from the years where he had great seasons. If he is recovered physically he should once again be a force.
30) Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 35, Previous Rank: 19)
The great Matt Holliday continued to tick along as usual hitting 20 or more home runs for the ninth straight year in a row. While the power continues to slowly drop off year by year, we saw a more drastic reduction in his batting average falling to .272. This was the first time in his career that it fell under .290. This reduction in average was caused by Holliday swapping some line drives for fly balls and a BABIP that fell below .300 for the first time in his career. Holliday will continue to bat third for a Cardinals lineup that underperformed significantly last season. A rebound in batting average or counting stats wouldn’t be unrealistic for Holliday and he is sure to continue his graceful decline from superstardom.
31) Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 49)
Pederson’s monster 2014 was the first 30/30 season in the PCL since 1934. He will get on base enough to swipe 20 bags right away but Albuquerque is one of the most hitter-friendly parks in a hitter-friendly league, so expecting the power to translate immediately is dangerous. There was some concern about his ability to hit lefties after an ugly .200/.299/.269 line in 2013 but Pederson made tremendous progress in 2014, slashing .299/.422/.598. He strikes out enough that the batting average might hurt you in the short term but the Dodgers’ offseason moves guarantee regular at-bats and the promise of usable counting stats.
32) Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 28, 2B)
The odds on Red Sox fans falling in love with a guy name Mookie had to be incredibly long, but here we are. Early projections for 2015 are optimistic and it is hard to find grounds for disagreement, despite his quick ascent. His contact ability and approach will produce a strong batting average and OBP and he’ll bat leadoff in a loaded offense, which will result in a run total that could challenge for the league lead. Add in a power/speed combo that provides a 10/20 baseline with upside for 15/30 and potential reclamation of 2B eligibility and Betts could join the fantasy elite in short order.
33) Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals (Age: 35, Previous Rank: 29)
Werth is aging more gracefully than most thought he would when the Nationals signed him to a massive contract prior to the 2011 season. His home run total dipped to 16 last season and is likely to stay in that range, but he will add a helpful batting average, 6-8 steals, and another 150 runs-plus-RBI while hitting in the middle of a solid Washington lineup. Werth’s age, offseason shoulder surgery, and past injury-prone rep might be tough to shake but he’s on the short list of five-category contributors whose beards inspire their own Twitter handle.
34) Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 88)
Between Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Ozuna, Miami has a young core in the outfield that would be the envy of any dynasty leaguer, much less a major league organization. Taking the Jupiter- (High-A)-to-South Beach road that Jose Fernandez paved, Ozuna’s plus raw power re-appeared in 2014 after hitting only three long balls in his 2013 major league debut. He has the pedigree and batted ball distance to support a home run total in the 20s and will contribute everywhere else except the basepaths.
35) Rusney Castillo, Boston Red Sox (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NR)
Since September, the Cuban import has played in rookie ball, Double-A, Triple-A, MLB, the Arizona Fall League, and the Puerto Rican winter league. That’s a lot of stops. He’ll make a fantasy impact in steals and his contextual numbers should be strong but beyond that your guess is as good as mine. His home run total will depend on whether he can carry the raw power demonstrated in batting practice to games. Before adding muscle between defection and signing Castillo was being compared to Rajai Davis, who has all of 35 home runs in 3,000 plate appearances. The extended time away from competitive baseball is a legitimate concern and the range of potential outcomes is wide.
36) Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners (Age: 34, Previous Rank: 52)
Coming off a 50-game suspension for hiring ARod’s buddies to treat a GI infection, Cruz signed a one-year prove-it contract with the Orioles and proceeded to set new career-highs in plate appearances, runs, home runs, and RBI. Seattle inked him to a four-year contract this offseason, where he figures to serve as their everyday DH. Safeco isn’t as hard on right-handed hitters as you might think and Cruz has shed an injury-prone tag, but counting on a home run total that approaches 2014’s would be reckless.
37) Melky Cabrera, Chicago White Sox (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 80)
Your valuation of Melky depends on your willingness to ignore a 2012 PED suspension and a subpar 2013 during which he played with a tumor in his back. If you can look past that – and we grant that’s a fairly big if – you’ll see a player whose bat-to-ball skill and location on the aging curve should provide relative stability over the next few seasons. Cabrera will hit near the top of an improved White Sox lineup and offer solid, if unspectacular numbers across the board.
38) Brett Gardner, New York Yankees (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 50)
Gardner has come a long way since just standing there and hoping pitchers eventually got to ball four. The approach became much more aggressive in 2013, but last season Gardner focused his aggressiveness on balls thrown in the strike zone, where he can best utilize his exceptional contact ability. That change, along with a 10 percent increase in his fly ball rate, led to a career-high 17 long balls. Remain skeptical about the 11 percent HR/FB rate, but he should be able to get to double-digits while providing strong run and stolen base totals.
39) J.D. Martinez, Detroit Tigers (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NR)
Martinez was undrafted in the 2013 Rule 5 draft and then cut by the Astros, who decided to give their left field at-bats to Robbie Grossman, Alex Presley, L.J. Hoes, and Marc Krauss. That collection of luminaries went on to hit .218/.286/.317 while Martinez hit .315/.358/.553, including 23 home runs. A .389 BABIP will regress but hitting behind Miggy and VMart will provide the opportunity for a healthy RBI total.
40) Oswaldo Arcia, Minnesota Twins (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 46)
Arcia only needed two-thirds of a season to reach 20 homers as a 22-year-old, and a 30 home run season or two in the future seems likely. His strikeout and contact rates are among the worst in the league but his .231 batting average was depressed by a .292 BABIP. Arcia’s minor league career .361 BABIP and 21 percent strikeout rate provide some reason for optimism.
Commentary by Jake Devereaux and Greg Wellemeyer