The Dynasty Guru’s Top 125 Outfielders, #1-25
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Without further ado, it’s time to continue our 2019 consensus rankings by looking at our 1-25 dynasty outfielders.
1) Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels, (Age:27, Previous Rank:1)
Yep, the best player in baseball is the best outfielder. Possibly the greatest hitter of this generation, Trout makes the game look easy. He puts up all sorts of absurd stats, such as being in the top 5 for OPS for the last seven years, in which time he was also top 15 in both homers and steals six times. According to Baseball Savant he has failed to rank in the top 1% in WOBA since 2015. In 2017 he actually walked more than he struck out, and last year he missed that same feat by .4%. He’s a god playing a child’s game, and there’s no one better. Trout is simply the best. (Patrick Magnus)
2) Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox, (Age:26, Previous Rank:3)
In 2018 Mookie Betts showed everyone exactly what he’s capable of; leaving little doubt that he is in the conversation as the second-best outfielder, and maybe player in the game. Batting .346/.438/.640, going 30/30, batting over .300, and scoring 129 runs, Betts actually out-performed Trout in 2018, and if there was a player who was going to challenge him on a yearly basis, it’s the Red Sox’ outfielder.
Last season Betts raised his launch angle to a Troutian 18°, increased his exit velocity to top 6% in the league, and barreled an impressive 14.1% of the pitches he saw. His .368 BABIP and xBA of .311 suggest he likely over-performed in his ratios, but he’ll still be an elite source of them as he’s fast and hits the ball hard while making a ton of contact. A perennial 30/30/.300 threat in a lineup where he should put up monstrous counting stats for years to come. He’s simply the Betts. (Patrick Magnus)
3) Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves, (Age:21, Previous Rank:12)
Before there was Vlad Jr. there was the much-anticipated and hyped Ronald Acuna. In 2018 he made his major league debut at the age of 21. He didn’t disappoint. Instead, he used his 487 plate appearances to greet the now joyous prospectors with a tremendous performance that included 26 home runs, 16 steals, and a slash line of .293/.366/.552. While the BABIP was a bit high for the Braves youngster, he may be the kind of player that can outperform his expected stats and projections since he’s equipped with a similar power-speed skill set as Mookie Betts.
What can we expect from the 21-year-old? We think a lot more of the same, as some may find our ranking of third quite aggressive. Certainly, the rookie campaign was successful, but with a full season of at-bats we could be looking at yet another player capable of putting up a 30/30 season, and in today’s lackluster speed environment, that’s extremely valuable. (Patrick Magnus)
4) Bryce Harper, Free Agent, (Age:26, Previous Rank:2)
Only a year ago Harper was our second-ranked outfielder, so what happened? Harper didn’t do anything to really make himself less valuable. He’s proven to have a bit more swing-and-miss in his game than we’d desire, but he’s only 26 and an elite player. However, Betts and Acuna have the benefits of strong averages and more speed on their side. The outfield simply got more talented, and Harper slipped down to our fourth outfielder.
The much-desired free agent still does all the things that make him great. In 2018 he walked at an insane 18.1% clip, had an impressive ISO of .247, and managed to have yet another 30+ homer season with double-digit steals. At only 26 years old, there’s little to hate on with Harper and there’s still some upside to dream on. Let’s just hope he signs with a strong lineup and continues to collect those counting stats as well. (Patrick Magnus)
5) Juan Soto, Washington Nationals, (Age:20, Previous Rank:41)
If you managed to predict that Soto was going to march his way all the way from A-ball to the Majors, then good on you. We, however, did not see that coming (see previous rank). At the age of 19, Soto put up a prolific and historic season. The youngster not only held his own in the majors but dominated with his plate approach, walking a whopping 16% of the time in his rookie campaign.
That 16% walk rate and his 80% contact rate are ridiculous considering his age, and rapid ascent to the Bigs. However, plate discipline is not the end of Soto’s talents, as he’s managed 22 round-trippers in his 494 plate appearances. The now 20-year-old’s got some pop too and could approach 30 homers as soon as next year. In short, Soto is excellent and an immovable asset for your dynasty team. (Patrick Magnus)
6) Aaron Judge, New York Yankees, (Age: 26, Previous Rank:6)
This goliath of a baseball player had himself another giant season at the plate (get it, because he’s big?). The Yankees’ outfielder missed some time due to injury but still managed to obliterate 27 baseballs. A feat he’ll likely outdo in 2019, as he’ll still be playing in the homer-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium, and bashing the ball at 94 MPH (top 1% in the league).
Beyond his ability to smash baseballs, Judge is often regarded as a patient hitter at the plate. He certainly is that, but he also posts strong BABIPs that allow him to hit for average. Last year we saw a .368 BABIP which followed a .357 BABIP the year before. That led him to a .278 AVG which is almost identical to his xBA. On top of all that the big fella will likely snag you a handful of bases as well. A healthy Judge is an absolute force. (Patrick Magnus)
7) Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers, (Age:27, Previous Rank:9)
2018 was a true testament to just how talented Yelich is. In what is seemingly impossible, he somehow managed to have a 51% ground-ball rate and a 4.7° launch angle, yet still hit 36 home runs. The former Marlins’ outfielder went on an absolute torrid pace of homers in the second half; hitting 25 of them in that span. If the swing adjustment is real, we can expect more of the same from Yelich in 2019.
Most projection systems are buying the power breakout by Yelich. What that means for you is mid-twenties to thirty home runs, and double-digit steals out of the 27-year-old. Yelich has been slowly raising his ISO the past three years in comparison to his early career numbers (.119 in 2014, .185 in ’15, .156 in ’16, and .272 in ’17). That’s great news for you owners out there. He’ll be good enough to be your OF1 for years to come. (Patrick Magnus)
8) Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox, (Age:24, Previous Rank:10)
The Red Sox have themselves yet another elite outfielder on their hands. Last year “Benny Biceps” saw growth in almost all parts of his game. The home runs were down (16 from 20), but the power was actually up. He posted stronger ISO, significantly higher slugging, and raised his exit velocity as well. All of this during his age 23-24 season, and he’s got some analysts here thinking there’s even more power to come.
While we can dream on the possibility of more from Benintendi, what we’ve got already is quite exciting. Anyone who’s seen him wouldn’t think of him as a speedster, but the dude can run the bases (87% success rate). You wouldn’t know it by this top ten, but speed is a rare thing in our game, and 20 bases with some pop is nothing to sneeze at. 20/20 at 24, elite ratios, 24 years of age, and dreamy? Checks all the dynasty boxes for me. (Patrick Magnus)
9) Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees, (Age:29, Previous Rank:4)
A grown-up but smaller Aaron Judge, and he even hits in the same lineup. Stanton had himself a Stanton-like year in the Bronx, batting .266/.343/.509 in 705 ABs. He didn’t live up to the career year he had in 2017, but he still murders baseballs at an alarming rate, knocking 38 balls out of the park. That’s what Stanton does: he’s an excellent baseball killer.
As mentioned, Stanton did not meet his grandiose 59 home runs from 2017. Still if there’s anyone on this list that’s got a shot at hitting 60 besides his fellow bash-brother (Judge), it’s this guy right here. As he actually increased his exit velocity to an astonishing 93.7 MPH, and even raised his average launch angle by .6°. However, another year older, a higher strikeout rate, and an influx of young talent to the position has pushed Stanton down our rankings a bit in our rankings. (Patrick Magnus)
10) JD Martinez, Boston Red Sox, (Age:31, Previous Rank:13)
The 31-year old outfielder made quite the impression on his new organization and fanbase. Putting up his second consecutive season of 40+ home runs, and slashing a beautiful .330/.402/.629. Martinez is elite in all categories besides speed, and if you’ve ever seen this emotionless-robot cowboy baseball-destroying machine run, you know why. Sure, you can’t really tell if he’s running the bases after hitting a home run, or on his way to see the dentist, but boy does pile on the numbers.
Martinez has been top 7% in WOBA for the past four years, he’s coming of his second consecutive year .600+ slugging, he’s hit over .300 for three years, and been in the top 5% in barrel% the since 2015. When it comes to hitting a baseball, there are maybe a handful of people that have been better at it than Martinez. If you can secure your speed elsewhere Martinez will be piling on the ratios and counting stats for the remainder of his time with Boston. (Patrick Magnus)
11) Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies, (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 7)
Chuck Natzy had an interesting 2018. He got married. He cuddled with a fish. His baseball stats plummeted. In 2018, his launch angle dropped a full degree which resulted in 25% less Barrels/PA. Chuck’s BA, SLG, wOBA, ISO are all way down. In 2017 he ranked 22nd/31st/30th in xBA/xSLG/xwOBA. 2018? 46th/116th/80th. The ball coming off his bat just doesn’t have the same pop it used to.
To add to the messy 2018 season he lost a step on the bases with Sprint Speed going from 28.2 to 27.6 ft/s and the time lost in his 90ft splits would make an average catcher’s throws to second base look elite. His 119/29/70/12/.291 fantasy line still contributes a lot, but it’s no longer elite. Blackmon is 32 this season and if the trends continue he has a long way to fall. The saving grace? He has five years left in COL if he wants it. (Britt Engelbrecht)
12) Eloy Jimenez, Chicago White Sox, (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 20)
If you traded Jose Quintana for Eloy in your dynasty league, congratulations! You have outsmarted Theo Epstein. Eloy has methodically climbed from #30 in our 2016 outfield ranking to #20 in 2017, and now #12. He raked again in the minors this year across 108 games at Double-A and Triple-A with a 64/22/75/0/.337/.961 line vs better competition. That’s a 162 game pace of 96 runs, 33 home runs, and 113 runs batted in. Eloy has all the raw power you’ll ever want all while hitting for average and keeping his K-rate low. In fact, he has consistently lowered his K-rate and raised his ISO every year in the minors. The White Sox have someone special on their hands and finally something to look forward to. (Britt Engelbrecht)
13) Michael Conforto, New York Mets, (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 18)
His 2017 age-24 season made him look like the true savior of the Mets, and it ended with Conforto needing shoulder surgery that was expected to keep him out a month or more of the 2018 season. He missed just five games to start 2018, but the bat never returned to form. Launch angle dropped from 13.5 to a less optimal 11.9 degrees. Avg Exit Velocity took a big hit from 89.2 (30th) to 87.9 (183rd). Hard Hit % dropped 18% from 43.5 to 36.6. ISO plummeted from .276 to .204.
He also started hitting more to the pull side on the ground, which is a problem for a lefty shifted on 56% of the time, and that number could continue to rise. Conforto already began losing speed at age 25. One last prayer for the Mets? His last 28 games ended hot with 9 home runs hitting .286 with .981 OPS. Hopefully, the shoulder strength returns and we get a chance to see what he’s made of entering his prime at 26. (Britt Engelbrecht)
14) Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers, (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 10 3B )
Pico De Gallo’s 82 runs, 40 home runs, and 92 RBI maintained his counting stats from 2017, with a dip in OBP/SLG. It’s a bit of sophomore slump but the big improvement to look for every year is strikeouts. He slightly dropped his K-rate from 36.8% to 35.9%. He also dropped 1.3% from his walk rate. The more balls in play the better. He simply crushes the ball like only a few ever have when he gets it in play. You get great R/HR/RBI production while you wait on him to improve his contact rate or for MLB to change the shift rules. He was shifted on 84% of the time and is a star when he isn’t shifted (.414 wOBA would be 5th in MLB). There is also lineup upside; Gallo spent 50% of his starts batting 6th or 7th. Batting 4th/5th would add ~5% to his counting stats. Expect him at the top of every Barrel/Hard Hit%/Exit Velocity leaderboard throughout his prime. (Britt Engelbrecht)
15) Victor Robles, Washington Nationals, (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 21)
Robles has shown very little in MLB to rely on so far. He doesn’t yet hit the ball very hard but is pretty fast. Maybe not as fast and doesn’t hit the ball hard as Trea Turner, Mondesi or Buxton. The best case scenario is probably Trea Turner in the outfield. Similar strikeout and walk rates to TreaT with less power that he’ll have years to develop before his prime. He has top-10 overall potential without the risk of Buxton or Mondesi since he keeps the strikeouts down and has a better hit tool. The Nationals’ lineup is meh without Harper but his fantasy value probably doesn’t peak for another couple of years anyway. Expect more of an 8 home run and 35 stolen base season than an 18 HR/40 SB season for a couple of years. (Britt Engelbrecht)
16) George Springer, Houston Astros, (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 8)
George “No Longer a Springer Chicken” is going into his age-29 season after dealing with injuries to his quad, thumb, shoulder, etc. that may have contributed to yet another down year on the 10-20 outfielder list. Three stats based off of batted ball data, xBA, xSLG, and xwOBA, all fell off a cliff. If his 2019 equals his stellar 2017 line of 112 runs, 34 home runs, and .283 BA we’ll probably be talking about him maintaining his spot here around #16; anything worse he’ll be going backwards again.
Maybe the Astros wise up and say “Hey why are we giving Springer all these leadoff at-bats before Correa/Bregman/Tucker/Altuve?” If he gets moved to 5th/6th he’ll see ~10% drop in plate appearances. When you try to trade him next year with a big 30 next to his name and the other guy asks, “well what did he do that Daniel Palka didn’t do besides hit in front of Altuve?” you are going to wish you dumped him on Valentine’s day 2019. (Britt Engelbrecht)
17) Marcell Ozuna, St. Louis Cardinals, (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 11)
Marcell “The Shell of His Former Self” Ozuna had a drastic drop in his counting stats going from 2017’s 37 homers, 124 RBI, and .924 OPS to 2018’s 23 homers, 88 RBI and .758 OPS. As a result of his batted ball profile getting worse his xBA, xSLG, and xwOBA also took a big hit last year. But there may be light at the end of the tunnel. Ozuna struggled with a shoulder injury all year (like Conforto/Springer) and hey it turns out the shoulder is important in swinging a big wooden bat. He got better almost every month as the season went on, and he slightly improved his Launch Angle and Avg Exit Velocity year over year just transferring some of his fly ball and line drive power into extra ground ball velocity. He’ll hopefully have a healthy shoulder after surgery and a Goldschmidt hitting in front of or behind him this year as he looks to bounce back. (Britt Engelbrecht)
18) Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros, (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 28)
It took Tucker 120 games of Single-A and Double-A ball in 2017 to reach 70/25/90/21/.274/.874 and then in only 100 2018 games at Triple-A he one-upped himself to 86/24/93/20/.332/.989, and then had a disastrous 64 at bats in the majors. He increased his walk rate, dropped his K rate, lowered his Pull% and IFFB%. But he is probably due to have some BABIP regression (.364 2018). Tucker also did not show up well on the Sprint Speed leaderboard in a very small sample at a below MLB average 26.4 ft/sec. As a result his minor league steals could disappear like Springer’s 40 MiLB steals did years ago. (Britt Engelbrecht)
19) Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates, (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 19)
Marte’s Starling reputation took a hit after an 80 game PED suspension last year. And when he returned he was good but not number five outfielder or number 14 overall great like he was ranked here after 2016. Let’s ignore PED 2017 completely and ask ourselves if Marte’s new legal Cream and The Clear is working?
It is! Comparing 2018 to 2016 and we see that he has improved his average, maximum, fly ball, line drive and groundball Exit Velocities. His Hard Hit rate jumped, and he sold out a little bit of batting average for power. That translated into a career high in homers, and still a stellar 33 steals (7th in MLB). 25 of those 33 steals came in the first half so he still has the potential to lead the league in steals and hit for power. (Britt Engelbrecht)
20) Lorenzo Cain, Milwaukee Brewers, (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 27)
33 years old is scary, but he’s going to still produce in Milwaukee. There might be upside left on the 10 home runs and 38 RBI if he sells out on a slightly higher launch angle. He is still fast enough and was successful last year with 30 steals and only caught stealing seven times. But Cain has probably reached his peak stolen base numbers. and from here on out it all depends on how fast the speed declines. If the 33-year-old’s Sprint Speed continues to decline like it did 2016-2018 (29.1 to 28.6 ft/sec) the end of relevance comes fast and those steals could drop to 10 quick. (Britt Engelbrecht)
21) Mitch Haniger, Seattle Mariners (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 55)
Haniger had always been a tantalizing stats-based prospect, but it wasn’t until he arrived in Seattle that his minor league proficiency translated into major league success. Over the past two seasons as a regular with the Mariners, Haniger has recorded wOBAs of .360 and .367, wRC+s of 130 and 138, and he’s hit 42 total homers in just under 1100 plate appearances. Haniger definitely owes some of his success to a high BABIP, but his hard-hitting tendencies seem to justify most of that. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect more of the same for at least a few more years. (Matt Meiselman)
22) Yasiel Puig, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 29)
Puig has had a tumultuous six-year MLB career, though it’s certainly been much more good than bad. Last year’s numbers appear to represent the norm, however, as Puig’s stats fell just about in line with his career averages. Even if Puig is done improving his raw talent, the move to Cincinnati as part of the blockbuster Dodgers-Reds deal should help him, as Great American Ballpark is a much more hitter-friendly environment. Puig’s path to being an above average outfield asset has been much different than that of Haniger, but he’s rightfully positioned in this tier all the same. (Matt Meiselman)
23) Jo Adell, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 74)
Adell is currently blocked by a loaded Angels outfield, but the former 2017 first round pick is probably still at least a year away anyway. Adell actually didn’t have the greatest statistical year in 2018, specifically at Double-A where he struck out 31% of the time in 71 plate appearances. Adell is still extremely young, however, even for the minor leagues, and the tools he’s flashed still seem like enough of an indication that a bright future lies ahead. Deciding whether to invest in Adell for a dynasty league should probably depend heavily on your league’s format, but there’s no question that there’s a potential star here, even if he’s a few years away. (Matt Meiselman)
24) Nomar Mazara, Texas Rangers (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 24)
Mazara has now hit exactly 20 home runs in three consecutive seasons, but it actually still looks like he’s trending upward as a hitter. Mazara hit his 20 homers in fewer games last year (128) due to a lingering hand injury, yet he still managed his most efficient offensive season, with a career-best slash line of .258/.317/.436. Mazara simply seems to be developing more batted ball skill and power, and perhaps he’ll see an additional surge with a fully healthy 2019. The Rangers have also hired a new hitting coach (Luis Ortiz) and Ortiz has publicly stated that he will work on getting more power out of Mazara. Even if that proves to be just a fun anecdote, Mazara should still be in line for his best fantasy season yet. (Matt Meiselman)
25) Eddie Rosario, Minnesota Twins (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 35)
Rosario has developed into a solid hitter over the past two seasons, but he’s fairly underwhelming despite all of the flashiness. Rosario posted a .349 wOBA and 116 wRC+ in 2017, and followed it up with a .340 wOBA and 113 wRC+ in 2018. The 27-year-old seems to have plateaued, but he has just enough power and speed to make him a more than serviceable fantasy asset. The future outlook is surprisingly modest and unexciting for such an exciting player. (Matt Meiselman)
Where They’d Rank*
Kris Bryant 9, behind Andrew Benintendi
Cody Bellinger 12, behind JD Martinez
Rhys Hoskins 14, behind Eloy Jiminez
Whit Merrifield 23, behind Starling Marte
*ranked as though all eligible players were on the list