It’s been over two months since the Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, ending the 2016 baseball season. But if you’re like most fantasy baseball owners, those two months probably feel like two years. Considering it’s still another month until Spring Training even starts, late January has to be the worst time to be a baseball fan. It’s too late to reflect on last year, but next season is too far ahead to look forward to. Luckily, with a little help from The Dynasty Guru, the next month is survivable, as we’ll be ranking and commenting on a whole lot of players over the next six weeks.
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You can view our rankings for previous positions, and the dates future rankings will come out, by clicking the link to TDG’s 2017 Consensus Dynasty Baseball Rankings splash page. With that, let’s continue looking at the many outfielders we ranked, starting with a player still without a home.
96) Angel Pagan, Free Agent (Age: 35, Previous Rank: NR)
There does not seem to be a landing spot that jumps out at me for Pagan, but regardless of where he ends up, the former Giant is a solid player that can and will contribute somewhere in 2017. He’s coming off a career high in home runs (12) and also pitched in with 15 steals last season. If he lands in a hitter’s park, I can squint and see a 15 home run, 20 stolen base season with a batting average that won’t kill you. He looks like the perfect OF4 or OF5 for the next two years.
97) Leonys Martin, Seattle Mariners (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 99)
Martin finished 2016 as the 43rd ranked outfielder in ESPN’s player rater and projects to have a very similar season in 2017. He will almost certainly be strictly platooned next year as the Mariners added several lefty-mashing outfielders this off-season. You can expect 4 to 5 starts per week and production that won’t kill you. His value is obviously higher in leagues that allow you to set your lineup daily.
98) Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals (Age: 38, Previous Rank: 81)
I’m afraid this may be the last time Jayson Werth is ranked on this list. His days as a full-time player appear to be coming to an abrupt end after 2017. The good news is that he still destroys left-handed pitching and will stick around in a Danny Valencia type of role after next year. He’s probably good for a .250 average, 15 home runs and a handful of stolen bases this season.
99) Brandon Moss, Free Agent (Age: 33, Previous Rank: NR)
There are two things I’m sure of: Brandon Moss will bat 450 times in 2017 and Brandon Moss will hit 25 home runs. If he lands in the middle of a solid lineup, there is some serious upside here in leagues that allow you to set your lineup daily.
100) Ramon Laureano, Houston Astros (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)
This may be the first time you’ve seen this name. It will not be the last. Laureano is a 16th round pick that has made his way to AA and led all of the minor leagues in on-base percentage last season while hitting 15 home runs and stealing 43 bases. He doesn’t have the ceiling of a perennial 1st round pick, but there is surprising upside for a guy most dynasty owners haven’t heard of. Buy now before he’s knocking on the door in Houston.
101) Brett Phillips, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 71)
Phillips tumbled a bit in our rankings after a tough 2016 season that saw him struggle to adjust to Double-A pitching. His near 30 percent strikeout rate is a bit concerning, but there are reasons to believe last year was just a blip on the radar. He still managed to walk 13 percent of the time, hit 16 home runs and stole 12 bases in 124 games. His floor is something like Colby Rasmus the last few years and if he can cut the strikeouts down, he’ll be solid fantasy contributor. I would recommend buying if his owner has soured on him.
102) Alex Verdugo, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 21, Previous Rank: NR)
Verdugo is ranked substantially higher in my personal top-125 and my pick to jump the most spots on this list by this time next year. At 20-years-old, he more than held his own against AA pitching and nearly walked as much as he struck out. There is plenty of power coming and in any other organization, he’d be on the verge of debuting.
103) Derek Fisher, Houston Astros (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 108)
Fisher looks like a solid bet for 20/20 seasons once he arrives and he’s made his way to AAA. He combines plus power with solid plate discipline, but strikes out a bit too much. He gets a substantial bump in OBP leagues. If he can make more consistent contact, there’s an OF2 ceiling, though the floor is awfully low as well.
104) Denard Span, San Francisco Giants (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 53)
600 plate appearances at the top of a contender’s lineup is valuable regardless of quality of those plate appearances. If Span can get his on-base percentage back around his career average in 2017, he should be a safe bet to score 90 runs and steal 15 bases. I like Span in deep leagues this year and he won’t kill you if you have to start him for several months at a time.
105) Trent Clark, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 101)
Clark can hit. The question will be whether he’ll hit for power. He’s a large man who already generates above-average bat speed. A general rule of thumb is to bet on the hit tool and hope for power as opposed to the opposite. If he can stay healthy, I would almost guarantee a rise in these rankings next year.
106) Juan Soto, Washington Nationals (Age: 18, Previous Rank: NR)
Soto did not rank as one of the top international players of the 2015 signing class due to the fact that he was limited to corner outfield, a profile that really requires a lot of projection with the bat in order to break into the majors at that position. Good thing for Soto is he has all that projection and then some, with a handful of evaluators calling him a future star, putting plus grades on both the hit and power tools. He could be a top-50 prospect a year from now if he can handle full-season pitching.
107) Leody Taveras, Texas Rangers (Age: 18, Previous Rank: NR)
Taveras is currently the more well-regarded prospect between him and Soto, but for fantasy purposes, Soto has the slight advantage due to his power potential, since Taveras only projects for average in-game pop. In leagues with a LF-CF-RF designation for their outfielders, it may be wise to bump him up a few stops, as he looks like he should have no problem staying in center field long-term and projects as an above-average hitter and runner there to go along with his average power. He’s already getting ‘young Carlos Beltran’ comps, but will need to keep his strikeouts in check as he moves up the developmental ladder. Look for him to join Soto in full-season ball next year.
108) Delino DeShields, Jr., Texas Rangers (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 86)
After becoming one of the more successful Rule-5 picks in recent memory back in 2014, this former Astros 1st-round draft pick struggled to find playing time and regressed in nearly every facet of his game last season. As things stand right now, he projects to open the season as the Rangers’ fourth outfielder, but with the injury issues that have plagued Gomez and Choo in years’ passed, I’d be willing to bet that the team finds room for DDS and still see him as their future leadoff hitter and center fielder. He needs to prove that his issues last season are behind him and that he is closer to the player he showed he was in 2015 in order for him to become that, but he is still under team control until 2020 and has youth and pedigree on his side.
109) Luis Alexander Basabe, White Sox (Age: 20, Previous Rank: NR)
Signed by the Red Sox with his twin brother, Luis Alejandro, a second baseman now with the Diamondbacks, Basabe was the somewhat overlooked third piece to the blockbuster Chris Sale/Yoan Moncada/Michael Kopech deal from early last month. Basabe’s future projection features a wide variety of outcomes due to the large gap in his current and future hit tools. He has average to above-average tools across the board, and like the two names above, should be able to stay a center fielder for the large majority of his career. Also like the two names above, he needs to limit his strikeouts if he wants to reach his full ceiling, which is a potential above-average everyday centerfielder.
110) Mallex Smith, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
Smith has had a whirlwind of a career thus far, originally being drafted by the Padres in the 5th round of the 2012 draft before being shipped to Atlanta in the Justin Upton deal. After the Braves fleeced the Diamondbacks in the Shelby Miller deal, which not only netted them Dansby Swanson, but also their center fielder of the future in Ender Inciarte, the Braves had no room for Smith, so he was shipped to Seattle with reliever Shae Simmons for personal favorite Luiz Gohara (and Thomas Burrows), but then was traded again that very same day, this time to the Rays in a four-player deal to acquire Drew Smyly. After the Rays traded Mikie Mahtook to the Tigers, it finally looks like Smith has at least a temporary home, until his team inevitably gets tired of him and ships him off to another team. I’m hoping Smith can be a member of every single MLB organization before he hangs up his cleats in a decade or so. He will provide his fantasy owners with plenty of steals and not much else, but at least he finally has a job now.
Comments by Frank Sides and Ryne Alber