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Fantasy Baseball: Top 40 Outfielders

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Fantasy Baseball: Top 40 Outfielders

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1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

The modern-day Mickey Mantle should go no lower than first overall in any draft. He’s the most consistent and best option in all of Fantasy. The return of speed in 2016 was a nice bonus. If he keeps running, no one will come close to taking his Fantasy crown.

2. Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox

Trying to nitpick Betts’ 2016 season is pointless. He met and exceeded even the wildest of projections and set himself up as one of the first few players targeted in 2016 drafts. His minor-league track record suggests the power may be hard to repeat, but in that offense his counting stats will more than make up for it. Mookie Betts is a terrific anchor to a well-balanced Fantasy offense that will allow you to take the best players available later in drafts when others are chasing categories.

3. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

The injury that Bryce Harper had in 2016 wasn’t talked about enough. Sure, regression was expected from his historic 2015 campaign, but outside of leagues that award points for OBP or walks, Harper was a big disappointment. It shouldn’t surprise you if Harper ends up being the top player in Fantasy again in 2017. If nothing else, he’ll have the shot to show you that 2015 wasn’t his career-to-date outlier.

4. Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies

OK, so his steals fell from 43 to 17. That’s nitpicking compared to the rest of Blackmon’s 2016 that saw him hit career highs across the board. He is one of the more devastating leadoff hitters in the game and would drive in 100 if he hit further down the order. Blackmon might have had a power spike last season and will be overvalued considering there will be those who might be greedy for more pop. A reasonable tradeoff would be 19-22 homers and 30-35 steals.

5. Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners

When do we finally just realize that he’s not going to regress and he’ll hit 40 homers? We’re at that point now, which sucks because we’re coming off a historic power season. If I target speed and a pitcher in the first two rounds, I’ll be more than happy to scoop him and his guaranteed power up in the third.

6. Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates

Marte will hit near .300, launch 10-15 home runs and can steal 40-plus bases. No hitter even accomplished that last year, partly due to Marte playing only 129 games and falling six homers short. However, Marte can reach those numbers this year and add in decent runs and RBIs contributions. That makes Marte not only the best Pirates hitter but a Top 10 hitter overall.

7. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers

Even though Braun has five-category value, he’s more of a mid-20s home run threat with 15-20 stolen bases than the 30/30 or even just 25/25 guy we knew. That’s still extremely valuable, and it puts Braun in the OF1 tier, but don’t forget that Braun hasn’t played a full season since 2012.

8. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies

A total of 1,240 plate appearances the last two seasons have killed the injury-prone label CarGo had dealt with. Despite falling for 40 homers in 2015 to last year’s 25, Gonzalez has reestablished himself as one of the more reliable Fantasy options. Another season of 30-plus homers and 100 ribbies is a reasonable expectation.

9. A.J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks

Without question, Pollock is the key to whether the D-backs will play significant games in September or playing out the string. Missing all but 12 games with elbow and groin injuries, that the Diamondbacks finished tenth in runs per game without Pollock in the lineup is a surprise. While he may not equal his 20-homer output in 2015, a healthy Pollock could approach the .315 average that also included 111 runs and 39 steals. He could fly under the radar in many standard drafts.

10. George Springer, Houston Astros

Springer had a strong 2016 campaign batting .261, with a .359 OBP, 29 homers, 116 runs, 82 RBIs and nine stolen bases. He primarily hit leadoff and it showed in the runs category. He is expected to do that again this season. Best of all, he improved his plate discipline, as his walk rate improved to 11.8 percent, while his strikeout rate dropped to 23.9 percent, down significantly from his 33 percent mark in his rookie season. Springer should be drafted as a low-end OF1, or high-end OF2, getting a boost in points or OBP leagues.

11. J.D. Martinez, Detroit Tigers

Martinez is one of the most consistent hitters you’ll find in the early rounds who – outside of steals – produces across the board. He’s a high BABIP guy, too, with his 40.9 percent hard-hit rate, which is his lowest in his past three seasons. He isn’t a sexy pick for some reason, but he’s quite attractive to me.

Fantasy Baseball: Top 40 Outfielders

12. Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets

Cespedes is perfectly at home in New York, where he has become the axis of the Mets offense. Last season he seemed more impressive overall, as he boosted his walk rate, had a career high hard hit rate, cut down slightly on his strikeouts and hit the ball on the ground slightly less. Overall, as long as he stays healthy, he should return nicely on the early round tag. There is some minor concern that Cespedes could relax a bit after signing a new deal, but that should not be a prime deterrent for securing his Fantasy services.

13. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

McCutchen isn’t a 20/20 hitter anymore, but he can still rebound from his career-low average last year, hit around .270-.280 with mid-20s home runs, and chip in a few steals. In fact, McCutchen should lead the Pirates in RBIs (assuming he plays in Pittsburgh all year). Even if McCutchen only repeats his career-low season from last year, he’s still an OF2.

14. Justin Upton, Detroit Tigers

Upton goes on streaks each year, and his end-of-the-year numbers look great. Last year, though, the streaks were limited, but he still managed to set a career-high with 31 home runs last year thanks to a big finish to the year. Upton has the makeup of a player who won’t have a steady decline, but will just fall off a cliff. I don’t think it comes this season, but it’s the last year I want in on him if I need power.

15. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins

The myriad injuries Stanton has dealt with are well documented, and he even seems to have terrible luck to suffer the fluky ones. The gargantuan power lure is always going to seemingly ensure he will go in the early rounds, but his stock seems to drop a bit with every passing year. You’re always taking a chance that this will be the year he avoids health issues when you draft him, and there may be no higher profile risk/reward player in Fantasy Baseball. It’s simply best to steer clear when so many other less stressful difference makers are available in the earlier rounds.

16. Mark Trumbo, Baltimore Orioles

We can’t say Trumbo’s 47 bombs came as a total shock; he’s always had the power. When looking at his up-and-down career though, it is hard to bank on anything close to his 2016 numbers. Most of his peripherals were in line with career norms, but Trumbo hit more fly balls than ever (43.1%) and more of them went out of the park (24.6 HR/FB rate). The good news is no one is really buying into a repeat, so he’s coming at a fair price. Pay for 30-35 HRs and 90-100 RBS with a sub-par average and you’ll probably be happy with the purchase.

17. Christian Yelich, Miami Marlins

Yelich finally started displaying the power Fantasy types have long been hoping for, but there is widespread skepticism among analysts whether the pop will remain and be sustained again this year. His HR/FB rate nearly doubled and the ISO jumped as well. Expect some regression in HRs and RBI and maybe a bit more speed again. He is still quite viable overall across the board, but just may not be the run producer we saw last year. Yelich is one of the best pure hitters in the game, though, and several baseball people view him as a future batting champ.

18. Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles

Jones never quite got to being the elite Fantasy player we wanted him to be, but at this point he’s being discounted way too much for what is still very solid production. There has been a gradual decline in counting stats, as well as batting average over the last two years, but at least some of that can be attributed to the two lowest BABIPs of his career. There’s really nothing in his batted ball data to suggest that his last two years are all that different from his career prior to that. We now know Jones isn’t going to run much and is probably on the downside of his peak, but he’s still a very solid player that will come at a bit of a discount because he’s no longer the next big thing.

19. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays

Injuries took a toll on Bautista in 2016 and at age 36, they may be here to stay. With that said there’s nothing in his batted ball profile that is too alarming. His Hard Hit percentage was actually the highest of his career. Bautista carries obvious risk, but it’s more than being accounted for in his draft slot. There’s also a lot of potential profit in his big bat. Don’t reach, but if you go pitching early, Bautista represents a solid chance at recouping some of the production you passed by on offense.

20. Matt Kemp, Atlanta Braves

Reports of Kemp’s demise were certainly premature as he proved again in 2016, his most productive season since 2011. Sure, he doesn’t run anymore, but the power still plays and he can still drive in and score runs as well as any 33-year-old outfielder in the game.

21. Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs

Schwarber likely lost catcher eligibility in your league, but if not, you can make the case for his being the top option. In the outfield, Schwarber is an OF2 with upside for OF1 status given his power. Hitting in the middle of the Cubs lineup will have Schwarber nearing 100 in both runs and RBIs, and he has 40-plus home run power.

22. Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics

Nobody thought Davis could hit 42 homers in Oakland. However, his 27 percent HR/FB rate and 40 percent fly ball rate were right in line with his career numbers. He lacks plate discipline, so you should expect plenty of strikeouts and an average no higher than .250, but there’s no reason to doubt his power at all. He should be good for at least 30 homers and close to 100 RBIs again this season.

23. Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates

Polanco isn’t far behind and could surpass Andrew McCutchen if Polanco continues to ascend and last year was a sign of McCutchen’s career downside. Polanco is coming off 79 runs, 22 HRs, 86 RBIs and 17 SBs with a .258 average. The average likely won’t increase much, but Polanco can add to his stolen bases, which would put him inside the Top 20 even if he just repeated the other numbers.

24. Eric Thames, Milwaukee Brewers

Thames is the new first baseman and has a bit more power and a tad more speed, but he also has slightly more risk given his lack of experience in MLB. Thames crushed the Korean league over the past three seasons, but now he returns to MLB, where he struggled in his brief time prior. The ability for 20/20 and more puts Thames in the Top 15 conversation at first base.

25. Stephen Piscotty, St. Louis Cardinals

Piscotty is right behind teammate Matt Carpenter in value with similar numbers across the board. Piscotty is a smart hitter, and he still has room for growth whereas Carpenter is on the downside. Last season is a great floor for Piscotty and worthy of OF3 status. If Piscotty can slightly improve his average and power, thereby bumping his runs and RBIs, he could end up inside the Top 25 for outfielders.

26. Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City Royals

Lorenzo Cain took a step back in 2016 from his breakout 2015 season. In 104 games, he hit nine homers and stole 14 bases, both down significantly from his 2015 totals. His average, too, was 20 points lower despite having a similar BABIP. Expect regression in the positive direction in 2017, where he will land somewhere between his 2015 and 2016 numbers.

27. Adam Eaton, Washington Nationals

If Dusty Baker loved Fantasy Baseball players, he’d make sure that Adam Eaton hit toward the top of the order instead of at the bottom, where he’s rumored to be. Eaton is as consistent as they come, as his 2016 and 2015 numbers were mirror images of each other. He’s better in points leagues, but he has value in any format of any size.

28. Keon Broxton, Milwaukee Brewers

Broxton has the speed for near 40 stolen bases and mid-teen home run power. His average won’t be too pretty and hitting deep in the lineup will hurt some, but he’s a bit more valuable than his teammate Domingo Santana with top-end speed harder to find.

29. Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds

We all know Billy Hamilton is fast, but his average is a drain. However, the reward for his speed far outweighs the negative value of his average, as no one else will be stealing 60-plus bases, and that’s after he stole 58 in 119 games last year. If Hamilton can play 150 games, he could near 80 swipes, and that would make him a Top 10 player even with a mediocre average.

30. Odubel Herrera, Philadelphia Phillies

Sure, the walk rate that Odubel Herrera had to begin 2016 was unsustainable. We all knew that. Yet, he still improved drastically at the plate, upping his walk rate and lowering his strikeout rate. He has 20/20 ability, but his Average Draft Position doesn’t reflect it. Take advantage of what the other owners are missing.

31. Kole Calhoun, Los Angeles Angels

Calhoun is a better real-life player than Fantasy player, but he’s still an OK, safe option as a OF3. Calhoun doesn’t have much upside, but he can give you 20 home runs with a decent number of runs scored.

32. Adam Duvall, Cincinnati Reds

Duvall broke out last year with 33 home runs and 103 RBIs, and he should post similar numbers this season. Duvall’s average won’t help much at .230-.240, especially with little protection behind him. Nevertheless, the power is real and his counting stats (around 80 runs, 90 RBIs) make Duvall an OF3, who is screaming value if you get him as an OF4.

33. Yasmany Tomas, Arizona Diamondbacks

The power is real, baby! Tomas’ newfound aggression at the plate lead to him swatting 31 bombs while doubling his extra base hit production to 62. He was more vicious after the ASB, hitting .294-18-49 with an OPS of .913. As his strikeout rate and OBP suggests, there is room for improvement for Tomas, improvement that could result in a true breakout if he puts it together this summer.

Fantasy Baseball: Top 40 Outfielders

34. Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston Red Sox

Bradley had shown sparks at various times during his first three seasons, but he really got the fire burning with a strong 2016. Strikeouts continue to be a problem, but he did manage to shrink his K% down to a less severe 22.5 percent. If he can maintain the improved contact rate a repeat of 2016 is possible, but there is some pretty drastic bust potential here. He’s never shown power like he did last season and a sub-.250 batting average would not be a surprise. His defense will keep him on the field, but Bradley’s 2017 has a wide range of outcomes. As always do not pay for the high end of those outcomes.

35. Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox

Benintendi is getting a ton of hype and Red Sox fans should no doubt be very excited. Fantasy owners however may be expecting too much. Despite all the polish, Benintendi has yet to display any real power and he’s not a 20-steal player. Could he be the rare player who puts it all together at the Major League level? Sure, but it’s very unlikely to happen in 2017. In typical 12-team mixed leagues he’s unlikely to be more than a complimentary fourth outfielder type of player. Avoid the hype and only invest heavily in keeper/dynasty formats.

36. Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays

Kiermaeir is a very streaky player, but has shown the ability at times to change his approach and use his plus speed as a weapon. He started running more in the second half of 2016 and stole 15 bags in 16 attempts. Kiermaeir is unlikely to ever hit for average, but he does have 15-HR upside and 30-plus stolen bases is very possible. That potential makes him a very intriguing investment in the later rounds.

37. Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants

Pence is still a steady contributor in standard leagues, so long as he’s healthy. No longer a stolen base threat, a healthy Pence can hit .280-20-85. However, the question is can Pence snap a two-year run that has curtailed his time in the lineup.

38. Carlos Gomez, Texas Rangers

Gomez is confounding, as after a year-and-a-half of decline, his numbers spiked once he joined the Rangers. He hit .284 with a .362 OBP, eight HRs, 24 RBIs and 18 runs in just 33-games. Gomez has always had poor plate discipline, but was able to post a 36-13 strikeout to walk ratio, compared to 100-21 in his time in Houston. He currently is penciled in to hit leadoff for the Rangers, making him an intriguing bounce-back candidate, if you can stomach the risk of him bottoming out.

39. Ender Inciarte, Atlanta Braves

Inciarte has solid on-base skills and he can steal when given the opportunity, but he also got caught about one-third of the time last year. He could be a good source of stolen bases if he works on his technique. In OBP leagues, he’s worth the gamble as a fourth or fifth outfielder who could steal 20 bags.

40. Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins

Ozuna bounced back last season after a very forgettable 2015 season. He cut down on his strikeouts and started hititng the ball in the air more. He’s never going to give you too much help in terms of batting average, but he is pretty much a lock for 20-plus homers over a full season.

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