The Dynasty Guru’s Top 125 Dynasty Outfielders, Nos. 61-80
It’s the time of the year where we offer congratulations to those of you brave dynasty league owners that survived the offseason. The greatness that 2016 will surely offer is upon us and that means we’ll be spending the next six weeks moving our way through the positional landscape, offering thoughts on the respective values of roughly 700 players throughout the process.
We sincerely hope that you enjoy the countless hours of hard work that went into these rankings and continue to support The Dynasty Guru by showing your appreciation through this link or via the splendid ‘donate’ button located on the upper right-hand corner of the homepage. Donations of any size are greatly appreciated.
Players are ranked where they played 20 or more games at during the 2015 season at their highest position on the defensive spectrum, e.g. Chris Davis played 30 games in the outfield, meaning he’s an outfielder for our purposes. We can’t assume that a player will have eligibility at a position in the future (so no Hanley Ramirez at 1b for these rankings) or that a player will lose eligibility at a position in the future. This should clear things up for all non-Javier Baez/Jurickson Profar players, and we’ll do our best to explain where those players are ranked when the time comes. All DH types, such as Evan Gattis and David Ortiz, appear on the 1B rankings, as we will not be doing a UTIL rankings list.
We start the next grouping of our outfielder rankings with a player who was plying his trade in the Independent Leagues as recently as the 2013 season:
61) David Peralta, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 122)
Peralta improved by almost every measure in 2015, drawing more walks, hitting the ball with greater authority, and posting the best isolated power total of his career. A .368 BABIP looks suspicious at first glance, but he hit the ball up the middle and to the opposite field with greater frequency last season. Paired with a ground ball heavy profile, a .300 batting average may be within reach again this season. He still struggles against southpaws, but the absence of a legitimate platoon partner should give him a longer leash, and as a result, more plate appearances.
62) Curtis Granderson, New York Mets (Age: 35, Previous Rank: 69)
After a disastrous debut season with the Mets which saw his slugging percentage drop below the .400 mark for the first time in his big league career, Granderson bounced back in 2015, posting his best isolated power mark since 2012. His propensity to draw walks led to his ascension to the leadoff spot, which resulted in an uptick in his runs scored total. An uncharacteristically high line drive rate means that he is unlikely to repeat his .259 batting average from 2015, but he contributes enough across the counting categories to justify any regression in his ratios.
63) Max Kepler, Minnesota Twins (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
It took a while for the skills to translate, but translate they did this season, and in a big way. Kepler got his first taste of Double-A, and proceeded to fill up the box score. Between 32 doubles, 13 triples, and nine homers, he posted a .209 isolated power. Kepler walked more than he struck out, contributed 18 stolen bases, and did all of it while hitting for a cool .322 average on the year. With the offseason departure of Aaron Hicks, he could be on the fast track to Minnesota.
64) Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)
The University of Arkansas product was taken with the seventh overall pick in the 2015 amateur draft, and proceeded to make a mockery of A-ball pitching. Considered by many to be the most advanced bat in the draft class, Benintendi posted a .313/.416/.556 line across two levels, walking more than he struck out while demonstrating an impressive combination of power and speed, hitting 11 home runs and swiping 10 bases in 54 games. If he maintains these levels of production as he progresses through the minors, he will likely skyrocket up this list in no time.
65) Steven Souza, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 67)
How does a player bat .225 while posting a .318 batting average on balls in play? By striking out almost 34 percent of the time. The impressive triple slash lines that Souza posted throughout his minor league career are unlikely to translate to the majors as long as he continues to swing and miss. Pitchers just aren’t afraid of a guy who can’t make enough contact to hurt them, as evidenced by the 66.4 percent first pitch strike rate against him last season. With only 452 major league plate appearances, he may still need some time to adjust, but if he doesn’t show improvement this season we could be looking at just another AAAA player.
66) David Dahl, Colorado Rockies (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 44)
Dahl got his first taste of Double-A ball last year, but he saw most of his numbers suffer after the promotion. He continued to be an asset on the base paths, but his plate discipline deteriorated against better pitching, as he posted a miserable 72:11 strikeout-to-walk ratio. After returning from a freak collision that resulted in surgery to repair a lacerated spleen, he began to show some glimpses of the power that we expect from the potential five category contributor. He’ll need health and continued development at the plate to realize his full potential.
67) Rusney Castillo, Boston Red Sox (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 35)
Castillo looked like a complete bust in 2015, which explains his tumble down this list. He swung at 37 percent of the pitches he saw outside of the zone, leading to an increase in his overall swinging strike rate. His ground ball rate once again exceeded 60 percent, and his hard contact rate was one of the worst in baseball. It’s looking more and more like the .194 isolated power that he posted in a limited sample in 2014 was a fluke, so he’ll need to contribute in some of the other categories, particularly with his wheels, to remain relevant for fantasy purposes.
68) Yasmany Tomas, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 47)
Our next disappointing Cuban import also hit a ton of grounders in his rookie campaign, swung at 42.5 percent of the pitches he saw outside of the zone, and posted below average power numbers in his rookie season. Granted, these are fundamentally different players, but I probably could have just copied and pasted Rusney’s player capsule. On a positive note, Tomas demonstrated an all-fields batted ball profile, which may allow him to maintain a respectable batting average despite a 26 percent strikeout rate. Ender Inciarte’s trade to Atlanta should open up regular plate appearances for Tomas in 2016, and he will have to post much better numbers than he did over the second-half of 2015, where he hit for a miserable .553 OPS.
69) Austin Meadows, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 82)
Meadows showed off his advanced bat this year, posting a .310/.326/.420 line across multiple levels. Questions still linger about his power potential, as he has never hit more than eight home runs in any one professional season, but with McCutchen, Marte, and Polanco manning the outfield for the big league club, he should receive plenty developmental time.
70) Khris Davis, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 65)
He may not be Crush, but The Other Khris Davis(TM) continued to evolve into a prototypical slugger last season, as he launched 27 home runs in only 440 plate appearances while almost doubling his walk rate from 2014. His struggles against southpaws last season were uncharacteristic, and a regression to previous performance will only help his overall line. Entering his age-28 season, Davis has a chance to continue to grow.
71) Brett Phillips, Houston Astros (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)
Phillips tore up the California League before a midseason promotion to Double-A, where his power numbers took a significant step back. The Astros traded him to the Brewers in a deadline deal to acquire Carlos Gomez, and his struggles continued for the Biloxi Shuckers. Phillips took a few years to adjust to the lower levels of the minors, so this may just be another adjustment period for him. He still has the potential to provide both power and speed from the outfield position.
72) Raimel Tapia, Colorado Rockies (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 58)
If you watch a few Raimel Tapia highlights, and it is evident that he loves to take hacks. With a swing that is reminiscent of a young Alfonso Soriano, he takes every opportunity to show it off. He’s unlikely to ever post league average walk rates, but with his incredible contact skills, he should get on base enough to take advantage of his blazing speed. He will likely begin the season at the Double-A level, and he could be a quick mover if he continues to post .300 batting averages.
73) Manual Margot, San Diego Padres (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 80)
Margot was acquired from the Boston Red Sox this offseason as part of the package that the Padres received for Craig Kimbrel. He has the potential to impact all aspects of the game, posting strong batting averages and stolen base totals at each stop in the minors while playing solid defense in center field. If the power develops, he could become a star.
74) Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 54)
Winker got off to a rough start at the Double-A level for the Blue Wahoos, and didn’t right the ship until after the All-Star break. Upon his return, he demonstrated the bat and patience that we have become accustomed to in posting a .316/.426/.516 line. He is scheduled to start the 2016 season at the Triple-A level, and with the big league club entering full rebuild mode, he could make his major league debut as early as 2016. He’s unlikely to ever develop into a big power threat, but Winker has the chance to be a stud in fantasy leagues that use on-base percentage.
75) Hunter Renfroe, San Diego Padres (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 72)
Renfroe spent most of the 2015 season at the Double-A level, where he posted an unimpressive .259/.313./.425 line in 463 plate appearances. A late season promotion to Triple-A El Paso saw a surge in his stats, but some of that can be attributed to the hitting paradise that is the Pacific Coast League. Entering his age-24 season, he’ll need to demonstrate significant improvement this year if he hopes to become a regular at the big league level, but he should be given plenty of opportunities to do so over the next few seasons in San Diego.
76) Michael Taylor, Washington Nationals, (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 81)
Injuries thrust Taylor into everyday duty in 2015, perhaps a bit before he was ready. The result was an inconsistent season in which he struck out in nearly a third of his plate appearances. That’s obviously less than ideal and the good news is that Taylor has always been an interesting speed and power guy, and those skills shined in the big leagues, as he hit 14 homers and swiped 16 bases. With the addition of veteran Ben Revere over the winter, Taylor looks like the odd man out in the Nationals’ outfield in 2016. Luckily for him, however, he’s only one Jayson Werth injury away from regular playing time once again.
77) Jackie Bradley, Jr., Boston Red Sox (Age: 25, Previous Rank: NR)
The good version of Bradley, Jr., the one that emerged in Spring Training almost three years ago, and the enigma that put up a .354/.429/.734 line last August, probably deserves to be 40 spots higher on this list. The problem is that for the rest of Bradley’s major league career, he’s struggled mightily, hitting just .213/.290/.349 overall. Bradley has shown good patience, posting a nearly 11 percent walk rate in 2015, and if he can find a way to revert back to his minor league strikeout rate, he could show serious batting average improvement. His manager, John Farrell, has already named him the Red Sox starting center fielder entering 2016, meaning he’ll definitely get his chance. His otherworldly defense alone might be good enough to keep him in the everyday lineup.
78) Billy Burns, Oakland Athletics (Age: 26, Previous Rank: NR)
Considered a speed-only prospect, his bat came to life during an impressive debut season for the Athletics, hitting .294/.334/.392 in 2015. It would be nice if Burns walked a little more than his 4.7 percent rate in his rookie campaign, considering he’s showed double digit walk rates in his minor league career. There is room for improvement, but he’ll likely continue to see plenty of strikes as major-league pitchers attack him. If Burns can add better patience to an already very good contact rate, it’s easy to imagine more stolen bases and runs in 2016 from the top of an improved Oakland lineup.
79) Melky Cabrera, Chicago White Sox (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 37)
Approaching his age-42 season, Cabrera is what he is at this point. Hang on. I’ve just been informed that Cabrera is only 31-years-old. Seriously? He stumbled a little out of the blocks in his first year on Chicago’s South Side, but there is reason to believe he’s due for a bounce back 2016. Cabrera hit fewer infield fly balls in 2015 and carried similar hard, medium, soft contact rates, yet his BABIP was the lowest in his career since his awful 2010 campaign with the Braves. Cabrera could move closer to his career batting average of .285 with increased runs scored and RBI totals in a more prolific White Sox lineup.
80) Aaron Hicks, New York Yankees (Age: 26, Previous Rank: NR)
Hicks is yet another casualty of a front office rushing a prospect to the big leagues. After hitting .192/.259/.338 in his first 313 plate appearances back in 2013, he was sent back to Double-A and didn’t truly rebound until 2015. Hicks’s major league numbers (.720 OPS) weren’t flashy in 2015, but he was an interesting source of both power and speed, hitting 11 homers and stealing 13 bases. Hicks has posted elite walk rates in the minors, but really took off in 2015 after increasing his swing percentage on pitches in the zone. Moving to Yankee Stadium could boost Hicks’s power numbers, and all that is standing in his way to a starting job is an injury to Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury or Carlos Beltran, which is fairly easy to anticipate.
Commentary by Eric Erhardt & Mark Barry