The Dynasty Guru’s Top 125 Dynasty League Outfielders, #1-20
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Without further ado, it’s time to continue our 2018 consensus rankings by looking at the league’s top-125 outfielders in dynasty leagues, kicking off with, well, y’know.
1) Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 26 Previous Rank: 1)
In 2017, we likely saw Trout’s ‘floor’ due to his most significant risk, injury; a risk that every single player carries. He still gave us 92 runs, 72 RBI, 33 home runs, 22 stolen bases and a .306 average. Some may argue for others players at 1.1, but a quick review of the stats shows that Trout is a generational talent in nearly every category, with elite walk rates, hard contact rates, etc. etc. etc. If he is on the field, you are getting top five production in 5 categories. OBP league? Fantastic, he boasts a 17-18% walk rate over the last two seasons, getting on base at an insane .442 clip in 2017! He reached base nearly half the time, and now, he will enjoy an improved lineup for 2018 and beyond.
While Trout may not finish first on the player rater each year, you are anchoring your team with an outfielder who will contribute in all five categories, and if health is not an issue, likely finishes inside the top 10 of any player rater in most leagues, if not the top five. Don’t get cute with new dynasty start-up leagues and consider others at 1.1. It’s Trout’s league, and everyone else is trying to catch up. (Mike Tanner)
2) Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 2)
Harper missed time in 2017 with a knee injury that could have been much worse and still posted counting stats better than his down year in 2016. He is an elite hitter, but he may be more of a four-category player after contributing less than seven steals in the past three of his past four campaigns. He simply hasn’t attempted many stolen bases and from a baseball standpoint, and why would he? He is projected to hit third behind Adam Eaton and Trea Turner and in front of Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy.
Regardless of the lack of speed, Harper will be a special, middle-of-the-lineup bat for the next decade who will consistently produce counting stats. Aside from Mike Trout, it’s hard to find a better pure hitter. There is some injury risk, sure, but he’s probably your best bet at pick 1.2 in dynasty startup leagues. (Mike Tanner)
3) Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 3)
The loss of David Ortiz and a 60-point downswing in BABIP lowered Betts’ counting stats in 2017. But a closer look at the data shows that Betts improved as a hitter: he improved his walk rate, hard hit rate, hit more fly balls, and maintaining his elite strikeout rate. His 2016 batting average (.318) is likely a bit higher than we can expect year-to-year — a .280-.290 average is more in line with his batted ball profile — but he should continue to contribute in all five categories for the next several years. He should challenge for 25 home runs and 25 steals annually, also possibly reaching the century mark in runs and RBI. He’s an anchor for anyone’s outfield, and should easily bounce back from his slightly disappointing 2017. (Mike Tanner)
4) Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 8)
The “But what if he can stay healthy?” question was finally answered by Stanton in 2017, and the results were pretty remarkable: 59 home runs, 132 RBI, 123 runs, and a .281 average. To make it better, Stanton improved his patience at the plate by decreasing his strikeout rate and improving his walk rate, although he still strikes out nearly a quarter of the time. Now in the Bronx bandbox, hitting in a potent lineup, and seeing games at DH (a positive sign for owners concerned about injuries), Stanton’s value is at an all-time high. If you were patient and held on the prized slugger, he finally paid dividends in 2017… he could do the same next season, as advanced stats show that 2017 was no fluke. (Mike Tanner)
5) Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR/18 1B)
Without a clear path to playing time, it was tough to see Bellinger realizing his potential in 2017. Then, an injury to an aging Adrian Gonzalez opened the door and Bellinger never looked back. He has a little more swing-and-miss to his game than some of the others atop this list, but at age-22 he will likely become a mainstay in the top tier at first base or outfield for the next decade. He has the look of a career .250.270 hitter who can produce 35-40 dingers annually with near 100/100 potential for the foreseeable future. The stolen bases are a plus that will likely approach double digits for the next few years, but like most power hitters, expect that aspect of his game to disappear as he ages. (Mike Tanner)
6) Aaron Judge, New York Yankees (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 66)
Judge is a physical monster — a terrifying force versus pitchers in 2017 who posted gaudy totals in home runs, RBI, and runs. He even chipped in nine steals and had a more than respectable .284 average. While the average is likely to be lower in the future (a product of an inflated .357 BABIP and high strikeout rate), he won’t kill you in the department and earns a major boost in OBP leagues. Judge tends to be a streaky player — as his rough patch in July & August demonstrated — but no one will question his power potential. It is not a stretch to pencil in 40 dingers for the next five years for a man of his stature. He should be a reliable three-category power asset in your dynasty lineup, but don’t expect a high average or more than a few stolen bags moving forward. (Mike Tanner)
7) Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies (Age: 31, Previous Rank 9)
The 30-year-old Blackmon showed significant progress as a hitter in 2017, with him turning in yet ‘another’ career year. He swung at fewer pitches outside the zone, walked more, improved his hard contact rate, and hit 37 home runs. Blackmon’s skills are elite, but there’s a chance 2017 will be his peak. As an impending free agent after next season, a departure from Coors would put a dent in his power numbers. Adding to that, he has a career 13% HR/FB rate and his inflated 20% rate last year will be hard to reproduce, even at Coors. Finally, Father Time is undefeated, and Blackmon is approaching an age at which his stolen base totals will decline. If you are not contending or rebuilding a dynasty roster, it may be time to flip Blackmon at his peak value for multiple elite prospects and/or younger big league players. (Mike Tanner)
8) George Springer, Houston Astros (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 6)
Springer slipped from six to eight on our list, but due primarily to some breakouts by other players and not because his performance deteriorated. In fact, the only real changes were signs of further progress for Springer, who improved his strikeout rate, contact rate, and patience at the plate. Perhaps the most significant downside to Springer is that Astros bat him leadoff, which weakens his RBI total. Springer is a bit older than one may think — he didn’t become a full-time player until age-26 — but we know what to expect from this slugger: a boatload of runs and home runs to go with a solid average and RBI total. While his once plus speed hasn’t shown itself lately (in part due to the strong lineup behind him), double-digit steals wouldn’t surprise anyone. (Mike Tanner)
9) Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 7)
With a change of teams and stadiums, Yelich’s batted ball profile this year be the biggest factor that influences his value moving forward. Many will suggest that a move to Milwaukee will equate to improved home run totals, but Yelich is a career 59% groundball hitter and, well, ground balls don’t go over any fence. Some suggest this may have been an intentional approach due to the park spacious park in Miami, but time will tell if he tries to elevate the ball more at Miller Park. Yelich is a poor man’s Trout, in that he can contribute in all five categories, but those individual contributions are more ‘solid’ than ‘elite.’ But, hey, that’s not half bad. At 26, in a great park and a solid lineup, Yelich is likely to become a more desirable dynasty asset by the end of this season. (Mike Tanner)
10) Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 16)
In 2017, Benintendi batted in the bottom half of the lineup in 24 games and still produced a quality five-category season at age-23. Early projections call for the young left fielder to repeat his stat-line in 2018, but his batted ball profile suggests he has more in the tank. He could easily eclipse 100 runs as the Red Sox’ second man in the lineup while continuing to provide a rare 20/20 power-speed combination. If there is one player in the top 10 that I’d bet on rising in our rankings next season, it’s Benintendi. (Mike Tanner)
11) Marcell Ozuna, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 35)
One of the biggest breakouts in baseball last season, Ozuna blistered pitches all over the diamond and fence, hitting .312 with 37 home runs and 124 RBI. Ozuna was remarkably consistent too, never hitting below .295 in any month and only hitting less than six dingers once. Some may point to a high BABIP (.355) and HR/FB rate (23.4%) as red flags, but a look at his peripherals show that his performance wasn’t luck-driven. His career BABIP prior to 2017 was .318, his walk rate climbed to a career-high 9.4%, and his exit velocity last year (90.7 MPH) placed him in the top 20 among all hitters. Ozuna didn’t cheat on his home runs, either, showing an impressive ability to spread the ball to all fields. That approach keeps his batting average higher than most sluggers, and while that .312 mark may not be reached again, a baseline of .275, 30+ homers, and 200 runs+RBIs can pay owners off for years to come. (Tom Werner)
12) Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 50)
Holy helium, Batman! Please hold while I breathe from this Acuna balloon… okay, now I’m ready to exhale the gloriousness of baseball’s most exciting prospect in years. As the stats rattle off, please remember he accomplished all these feats as a 19-year-old. Across High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A, Acuna demolished pitchers to a .325/.374/.522 line with 21 bombs and 44 steals. He also corrected issues with whiffs, dropping his strikeout rate from 31.7% in High-A down to 19.8% in Triple-A. Acuna went on to dominate the Arizona Fall League, logging a 1.053 OPS over 23 games. Two notes of caution: the uber talent ran an insanely high .402 BABIP last year and was caught stealing 20 times. That 69% SB conversion needs to improve, but players with his power/speed combos tend to have high BABIPs in the majors. If his strikeout gains are legit, we’re looking at a guy whose prime years could be .300/30/30. Be excited! (Tom Werner)
13) J.D. Martinez, Free Agent (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 11)
Martinez should be renamed J.D. Maverick since he puts pitches in missile lock before he annihilates them. His stat line looks fantastic (.303/45/104) before you even realize that the masher missed over a quarter of the season to a Lisfranc sprain in his foot. His .387 ISO would’ve topped hitters by a mile if he had enough plate appearances to qualify, and he ranked 3rd in baseball with a 166 wRC+ and 19.5 Barrels/BBE. Despite his enormous power, Martinez certainly got lucky with his 33.8% HR/FB rate (career 19.4% HR/FB). His three-year average of .296/35/91 seems a reasonable expectation over the next few seasons. No matter where Martinez signs, he’ll be a true middle-of-the-order weapon, threatening to blow up ERAs with every pitch. (Tom Werner)
14) Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 18)
If upside somehow turned into gold coins, Buxton would be like Scrooge McDuck swimming in an endless pool of goodness. Buxton turned a first half worth merely pennies (.216/.288/.306) into fantasy fortunes after the All-Star break (.300/.347/.546), notching 29 steals along the way. Much like last year, Buxton has owners dreaming of cashing in on his ample talents over the offseason. But buyer beware, Buxton hasn’t become a polished product yet. His strikeout was still very high in the second half (27.6%), his walk rate dropped to 5.7%, and his .378 BABIP casts some doubts over his batting average legitimacy, even with a 25.0% line drive rate. His blazing speed does translate exceptionally well on the basepaths, as he was caught stealing just once all year in 30 tries. Buxton has 40+ SB potential in a slowing game; adding that thievery with a .280/20 hitter could have owners hitting the jackpot. Just don’t forget the risks. (Tom Werner)
15) Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 35 at 1B)
The home run barrage Hoskins put up in his first 50 games was nothing short of extraordinary. He hit .259 with 18 HR and 48 RBI, coupling that with a .359 ISO and elite 17.5% walk rate. While his power output will slow in the future, Hoskins has the look of one of baseball’s premier power hitters. His peripherals seem eerily similar to another patient 1B/OF pull and fastball-heavy power bat: Adam Dunn. Here’s their career comparison:
Hoskins: 45.2 FB%, 8.8 IFFB%, 49.2 Pull%, 17.5 BB%, 21.7 K%
Dunn: 46.1 FB%, 9.6 IFFB%, 47.6 Pull%, 15.8 BB%, 28.6 K%
Now I’m not saying Hoskins will finish with 462 career home runs like the Big Donkey, but it makes an interesting comparison. Hoskins appears to hit like Dunn… but with better contact ability. Put Rhys’ big power (90.8 MPH exit velocity, 19th in MLB) with a fantastic approach and dual-eligibility, and annual lines of .260/40 aren’t out of the question. (Tom Werner)
16) Domingo Santana, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 81)
Santana is kind of a weird dude. He had a tremendous campaign in 2017, going .278/.371/.505 with 30 home runs, 85 RBI, and 15 stolen bases. Much of his success is due to his tremendous clout, but he arrives at his results in a different way than most sluggers, hitting loads of line drives and using all fields. Over the last two seasons (minimum 600 plate appearances), Santana ranks first in the majors in line drives (28.3%) and second in HR/FB (29.9%), but 15th worst in strikeouts (30.3%). He whiffs a ton, but when he connects, Santana makes the most of it. With an all-fields power profile, his 30 home run campaign looks repeatable. That said, his 15 steals could be a career high. So what does this all add up to? Volatility. He could be a .280/30/10 hitter with a profile that works for him, or his strikeouts could torpedo his average and sink him to the OF3 range. (Tom Werner)
17) Justin Upton, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 20)
It’s hard to imagine that Upton’s entering his 12th season in the majors despite being just 30 years old. The veteran had a terrific season, setting career highs in homers (35) and RBI (109) along with 100 runs scored, 14 steals, and a .273 average. He has a very consistent profile year-to-year, as he hits a lot of fly balls (43.7%), hits the ball hard (41.0%), and strikes out plenty (28.3%). He’s currently on a team loaded with hitting talent and shows plenty of durability (seven straight years with at least 149 games played), so expect the counting stats to continue to be a strength. He’s a good bet to hit around .260 with 30 homers and a dozen steals again for the next couple of years. (Tom Werner)
18) Michael Conforto, New York Mets (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 39)
Conforto is the perfect example of why you bet on talent over depth charts when it comes to dynasty leagues. After struggling in 2016, Conforto looked to be behind Cespedes, Granderson, and Bruce in the outfield pecking order. Fast forward 365 days and now Conforto looks to be the hitting star the Mets have yearned for since David Wright. Armed with a more up-the-middle approach than his previous pull-happy days, Conforto enjoyed a sensational season by hitting .279/27/72 in 109 games. Unfortunately, his season was cut short in late August when he tore his posterior capsule in his left shoulder on a hard swing, resulting in surgery that will keep out until at least early May. If he heals properly, his ample power (41.6 Hard Hit%) could lead to 30 homer seasons. The shoulder is a big question mark though, so keep an eye on his rehab this offseason. (Tom Werner)
19) Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 5)
PEDs, man… don’t do them. Marte got hit with an 80-game suspension after testing positive for PEDs, hitting owners with a gut-shot after many spent an early pick on the speedster. Upon his return, he put up usual Marte numbers in a half-season of work by going .275/48/7/31/21. There were some pros and cons under those stats. First, the good news: Marte registered career bests in strikeouts (18.6%) and contact rate (78.7%) thanks to him chasing fewer pitching outside the zone. Next, the bad news: he logged a .108 ISO, a career worst, and a weak 24.8% hard-hit rate after his return from suspension. There’s no doubt Marte will continue to blaze his way to a good average and plenty of steals, but concerns about his power seem legitimate. There’s still plenty of value in hitting .280 with 30+ steals, but those players don’t always age gracefully and a lack of power lowers his floor while cutting tapering the upside. (Tom Werner)
20) Eloy Jimenez, Chicago White Sox (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 30)
One of the key centerpieces in the White Sox rebuild, Jimenez has the look of an elite power bat. Possessing double-plus power, Jimenez mashed 19 taters en route to a .312/.379/.568 line over 89 games, reaching Double-A as a 20-year-old. While his carrying tool is the power, he’s got a good knack for making solid contact and projects to be a decent asset in batting average. Jimenez also has keen plate discipline with a 9.5 BB% and hasn’t been overmatched by older competition, striking out just 19.5% of the time. Speed will never be a part of his fantasy game, but he’ll be so good in the other four categories that owners won’t care about that. Jimenez will likely dip his toes in the major league pool late this season and once he’s up for good, expect an easy .270/30 floor with the potential for much more. (Tom Werner)