The Dynasty Guru’s Top 125 Outfielders, #21-40
It’s been a slow off-season. Like, a really slow off-season. With the hot stove frigid, fantasy baseball players haven’t had many ways to quench their thirst, unless they’ve thrown themselves head-first into football, basketball, or hockey. January and February can be some of the darkest months of the year (figuratively and literally), but fear not, restless readers. The Dynasty Guru is here to the rescue.
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Without further ado, it’s time to continue our 2018 consensus rankings by looking at the league’s 21-40 outfielders in dynasty leagues, kicking it off with a player primed to shoot up this list next year.
- Victor Robles, Washington Nationals (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 29)
Robles made his much-anticipated debut in 2017, and has cemented himself as one of the best prospects in baseball. Numerous outlets have named him as the most MLB-ready prospect in baseball. He is a dynamite defensive outfielder with wheels, some pop, an understanding of the strike zone and who can hit for average. In short: a fantasy dream. A 60th or 70th percentile outcome for Robles is Starling Marte (hits leadoff, high average, 10-14 homers and 30+ steals). A 90th percentile outcome is 2012-2014 Carlos Gomez: (.300 average, 20-24 homers, 35+ steals, and elite run production).
It’s reasonable to expect a top-30 floor for Robles, and to dream on a top-5 ceiling. In today’s speed-starved game, getting a guy who can help you in every category and dominate steals is fantastic for team construction. Get excited for Robles, as he will lead the Nationals and your fantasy team to Victor(y!) for the next decade. (Kyler Jesanis)
- Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 46)
All hail the king of consistency! In 2015 he hit .247, in 2016 he hit .247, and in 2017 he hit…wait for it…waaaaiiiit for it… you guessed it: .247. One of the best prop bets for 2018 is that Davis will hit .247. Davis will primarily be a designated hitter in 2018, and is likely to continue to hit 40+ home runs and over 100 RBI. Even in today’s power game, Davis is an elite producer who will be valuable to your team for a few more seasons. (Kyler Jesanis)
- Tommy Pham, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 30, Previous Rank: NR)
Tommy Pham broke out in an incredible way in 2017, winning some fantasy leagues in the process. While he’s a bit old to be a “breakout player,” his production was a surprise and he will be a valuable fantasy asset for the next few seasons. Some will say he is likely to regress, but an increase in playing time should help mitigate any regression (he only had 530 plate appearances across 128 games in 2017). The Cardinals having moved a lot of their outfield depth, Pham is slated into an everyday role. In the second half, Pham had a slash line of .313/.432/.529, walk rate of 15.3%, a strikeout rate of 19.4%, and a 157 WRC+ (weighted runs created). If he is able to boost his flyball rate into the mid or high 30s, he could easily push 30+ home runs. Pham has all the ingredients to stay a fantasy superstar, including the confidence: Pham is targeting to play 150 games and have a 30-30 season. Other than Mike Trout, there isn’t anyone likely to approach those numbers this year. His ceiling is higher than 2017, and his floor is substantially higher than you’d think for a 29-year-old breakout. Invest (Kyler Jesanis)
- Nomar Mazara, Texas Rangers (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 14)
Fantasy owners are quick to forget that a player’s development isn’t always linear (see: Aaron Judge, Matt Olson, Rhys Hoskins). So while Mazara’s first few seasons haven’t been ideal, he still has immense upside. He will only be 22 on Opening Day, and the .290 30+ home run upside hitter is still there. He has an innate feel hitting ability, and he used it to drive in 100 runs for the Rangers in 2017. Don’t give up on him: this might be your last chance to buy low. (Kyler Jesanis)
- AJ Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 17)
Pollock’s 2017 season was his first after a gruesome elbow injury, and was unsurprisingly a disappointment. Limited to just 466 plate appearances across 112 games, he was on pace for 20 home runs, 102 runs, 68 RBI and 28 steals (over 650 PAs). It’s fair to wonder if Pollock can get to that threshold, as he does have a long injury history that has limited him to 120 games or fewer in all but two of his five MLB seasons. But there’s no denying he’s a top tier player on a per game basis, so keep dreaming on health. (Kyler Jesanis)
- Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 22)
Hamilton is one of the worst hitters in baseball. Hamilton is one of the fantasy baseball’s best players. Both of these statements are true. Each year he’s added one more stolen base to his ledger (56 bags in 2014 up to 59 bags in 2017). Parlaying with my “Khris Davis will hit .247” bet, will be a bet that Hamilton gets to 60 SBs this year.
In this speed-deprived game, Billy’s complete and utter dominance of stolen bases makes him an asset. In this homer-heavy game, Billy’s complete and utter lack of power can hurt your team. Both of these statements are true as well. If you can find a way to cover his power deficit at other spots on your roster (which shouldn’t be hard, given how the game is homer-heavy), Billy will be an absolutely dominant force for you the next few years. Just don’t expect anything besides speed. (Kyler Jesanis)
- Lorenzo Cain, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 34)
Cain signed in a dream spot with the Brew Crew, as far as his fantasy value is concerned. His upside might not be immense, but he is a reliable 5-category contributor. He is still a good bet for an average around .300, 10-15 home runs, 20-25 stolen bases, and strong run production. That has only been improved with his move to a better ball park and better lineup. He combines a high floor with potential for a career year, and he’s got a few more seasons of being a good fantasy player left in the tank. (Kyler Jesanis)
- Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 72)
Tucker’s participation in the Fly Ball Revolution of 2017 (an increase of about 10 points to his fly ball rate, bringing it up to the low 40s) earned him a 20-20 season and a finish in Double-A as a 20 year old. A common comparison for Tucker is Hunter Pence: they have similarly quirky swings and similar 5-category outputs. With Tucker’s swing changes, his upside might exceed Pence’s, and might be closer to Justin Upton (someone who gets to 30 home runs, double digit steals, and hits for a good average). Tucker is a fantastic bet to be an all-around contributor, and hitting in Houston’s stacked lineup pushes his ceiling even higher. (Kyler Jesanis)
- Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 38)
Puig was recently let go by his agents for poor conduct; how that story breaks could impact his dynasty value. Luckily, there aren’t many leagues that play with “off-field nonsense” as a category, and Puig is an asset in the areas where it matters. Puig finally exhibited plate discipline in 2017, and in the second half walked 12.4% of the time (while only striking out 15.4%). Further, his fly ball rate increased over the second half (reaching 40% in September). Puig had an increased average (.278 in the second half) and a 136 WRC+. He could clear 30 home runs with steals in the teens, which is quite the asset. As hard as it is to believe, he is only 27 and has years of fantasy value left in the tank. That said, his off the field issues will admittedly be a concern, as he is a constant benching/suspension risk who could throw a tantrum and disappear. He is the epitome of a risk/reward pick. (Kyler Jesanis)
- Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 13)
Cespedes was a True Met in 2017- he had an injury-plagued year. That said, his full-season pace had him clearing 30 homers, hitting .290, and producing runs at an elite level. He is changing his offseason workout regime in hopes of increasing flexibility and keeping his lower half healthy. If he succeeds in that goal, he is still an elite hitter who can remain productive for a few more seasons. (Kyler Jesanis)
31) Manuel Margot, San Diego Padres (Age 23, Previous Rank: 53)
At first glance, Manuel Margot does not appear to be anywhere near the #31 dynasty outfielder: over his first major league season (126 games) he hit .263/.313/.409 with 17 stolen bases, 53 runs, 39 runs batted in, and 13 homers However, Margot made a significant change in his swing mid-season, raising his average launch angle from a ground ball profile to that of a 20+ HR hitter (he had previously shown little power in the minors). Scouts have always graded his raw power at average or better, but it didn’t show up in games until 2017. Margot has a solid chance to be a 20 HR, 25 SB hitter for the next few years. Buy now. (EJ Fagan)
32) Andrew McCutchen, San Francisco Giants (Age 31, Previous Rank: 8)
Andrew McCutchen rebounded in a big way in 2017 after a career low 2016. He hit .279/.363/.486 with 11 SBs, 94 runs, 88 RBI, and 28 HR while lowering his strikeout rate down to 17.8%. While fantasy owners would prefer to see him go to a better ballpark, AT&T isn’t too punishing to right-handed hitters. McCutchen should be a solid OF3 for a few more years. (EJ Fagan)
33) Adam Eaton, Washington Nationals (Age 29, Previous Rank: 23)
Is it possible for a player to be a runs specialist? If so, it’s Adam Eaton. Eaton doesn’t have much in the way of power, but he posts solid batting averages/on base percentages every year, steals 15 bases, and enters 2018 with one of the best lineup positions in baseball. Eaton will likely bat second, behind Trea Turner and in front of Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, and Daniel Murphy. Dynasty owners got burned by the knee injury last year, but Eaton should be healthy and good to go from Day 1 in 2018. (EJ Fagan)
34) Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs (Age, 25 Previous Rank: n/a)
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. This time last year, Kyle Schwarber was the #4 dynasty catcher. Two years ago, he was the #2 dynasty catcher. Now he just barely beats out Eddie Rosario in the outfield division. He hit .211/.315/.467 with 1 SB, 67 R, 59 RBI, and 30 HR in 129 games last year. The homers are clearly there, but everything else is lacking at the moment. Schwarber will never be a contact hitter, but if he could get his batting average back into the .250 range, he could still become an elite power hitter in the Khris Davis vein. Even if he’s in the best shape of his life, dynasty owners should hope for a trade to the American League. (EJ Fagan)
35) Eddie Rosario, Minnesota Twins (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 116)
I’ll admit it, I didn’t know that Eddie Rosario was any good until seeing his name on this list. A brief look at his statistics explains why: Rosario is a 26-year old, .290/.328/.507 hitter who put up 9 SB, 79 R, 78 RBI, 27 HR last year and gets to bat in the middle of an up-and-coming lineup. So, why is Rosario ranked all the way down at #35, you ask? While his 18% strikeout rate is encouraging, Statcast puts a .315 xwOBA (expected weighted On Base Average) on his 2017 performance. At this price, he’s worth the risk. (EJ Fagan)
#36) Lewis Brinson, Miami Marlins (Age 24, Previous Rank: 49)
Before his trade to Miami, Brinson had to fight half a dozen other guys for playing time. Now, the Marlins are going to give him a full season’s worth of at-bats no matter how he plays. Brinson’s 47-game debut went poorly, but his .331/.400/.562 (Colorado Springs-aided) season at Triple-A and .329 xwOBA (expected weighted On in the major leagues suggests that dynasty owners shouldn’t worry about Brinson. He has flashed 25+ HR power in the minors at times, and should contribute a dozen steals or so. (EJ Fagan)
#37) Odubel Herrera, Philadelphia Phillies (Age 26, Previous Rank: 24)
Odubel Herrera is somehow still just 26 years old. He has benefitted greatly from the juiced ball, hitting 29 home runs between 2016 and 2017. The real question for fantasy owners is whether Herrera is going to continue to steal bases. After swiping 25 bags in 2016, he stole just 8 in 2017. Statcast put a .303 xwOBA on his performance as well. Herrera has Brett Gardner upside, but much younger. However, the Phillies could easily replace him full time with Nick Williams if he slumps, so tread carefully. (EJ Fagan)
#38) Ender Inciarte, Atlanta Braes (Age 28, Previous Rank: 63)
Who would have thought that Ender Inciarte would be the best player on either side of the Shelby Miller trade in 2017? Inciarte is a batting average standout (thanks to his low-teens strikeout rate) who can steal 20 bases and score 90+ runs. He even chipped in 11 home runs in 2017. Dynasty owners might not know what they have in Inciarte, but the window to buy low is closing. (EJ Fagan)
39) Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age 26, Previous Rank: 21)
Gregory Polanco has been all upside since his promotion to the majors in 2014. After hitting 22 home runs and stealing 17 bases in 2016, he looked like he might be on the verge of a major breakout. Instead, he hit .251/.305/.391 in 2017 with a terrible .296 xwOBA. The good news is that he cut his strikeout rate all the way down to 14%, and the Pirates have nothing better to do but keep giving him a chance to fix his swing. At #39, Polanco offers great upside for his price. (EJ Fagan)
40) David Dahl, Colorado Rockies (Age 24, Previous Rank: 19)
After an excellent .315/.359/.500 major league debut, Dahl had a disastrous 2017 wherein a rib injury and related soft tissue issues limited him to just 19 games. However, Dahl is healthy entering Spring Training, very young, and will play in Colorado. I have to believe that dynasty owners are over-correcting on Dahl here. Even if he can’t crack a crowded Colorado outfield out of the gate in 2018, Dahl could be a top-10 outfielder next year. At this price, buy! (EJ Fagan)