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Three Outfielders Who Will Outperform Their 2015 ADPs

 

Bang For Your Draft Day Bucks

Fantasy owners, websites, and opinion peddlers discuss player values all preseason, but it all comes down to one thing - how do you get the most bang for your buck? It always feels good to snag that fifth rounder who plays like a top 20 pick all year. What's more, most championship teams will have at least a couple of these value plays on their roster.

While it's still very early in the draft season, below are a few of my favorite draft day value candidates. To the surprise of nobody who's read much of my work, the list begins with one of my favorite players...
 
 

Bryce Harper (Average ADP: 33.8)

I won't waste your time waxing on about Bryce Harper's potential. Since the day he entered the national spotlight, Harper's towering home runs have commanded attention. To be blunt, Harper is among the very few players in all of baseball capable of a 30/25 MVP type of season...or at least he would be if he were only able to stay healthy long enough to do it.

So far, health has proved elusive for Harper. Whether you blame it on his max effort style of play, mishandling by his team, or plain genetics, Harper has unfortunately been limited to only 218 games over the course of the last two years. Worse yet, the quality of his play has suffered as a result.

The key question is whether these injuries are predictive of future problems or just the unfortunate accidents of a young player making his way in the big leagues. Perhaps we can answer this question by taking a closer look at the cause of Harper's major injuries:

Date Injury Stated Cause DL Stint?
May 13th, 2013 Knee/Left Hip Collision with outfield wall No
May 27th, 2013 Knee Bursitis Aggravated injury during head first slide into first + foul ball off knee Yes
September 9th, 2013 Left Hip Minor aggravation of May 13th injury No
April 25th, 2014 Left Thumb (UCL) Torn ligament from head first slide into first base Yes

 

That might look like a lot of problems for a player entering into his age 22 season, but I actually find the list encouraging. You'll notice that all of Harper's problems essentially stem from two freak accidents: the May 13th collision and the April 25th slide into first. What I see from this list is not a particularly injury-prone player, but a young, relatively inexperienced outfielder (remember Harper was a catcher for most of his career) learning the ins-and-outs of the big leagues while suffering some particularly terrible luck. Is Harper likely to run into more outfield walls? Probably not. Is he likely to catch his thumb on first base again? Probably not. Is he young enough to recover from his earlier injuries with few physical setbacks? Probably.

While every player carries some level of injury risk, Harper's track record doesn't seem to support the notion that he's any more injury prone than your average outfielder. That's good news because the healthy, 150-155 game version of Harper is a high-end second round talent with first round upside. Right now, most sites have him going in the late third to mid-fourth round, far too late for a talent of his caliber.
 
 

Corey Dickerson (Average ADP: 47.6)

There are very few players in the game who I'm more excited about right now than Corey Dickerson. After excelling at every phase of his minor league career, the young Rockies outfielder enjoyed a superb breakout season in 2015. Just take a moment to compare his numbers against some of fantasy baseball's premier outfielders:

2014 PA Batting Average BABIP HR SB K% BB%
Corey Dickerson 478 .312 .356 24 8 21.1% 7.7%
Adam Jones 682 .281 .311 29 7 19.5% 2.8%
Yasiel Puig 640 .296 .356 16 11 19.4% 10.5%
Justin Upton 641 .270 .332 29 8 26.7% 9.4%

 

All the usual caveats apply: he's only done it for one year, that BABIP is likely to regress, sophomore slumps happen, etc, etc, etc. In light of those concerns, let's regress Dickerson's batting average down to .285. That's very reasonable considering his minor league track record and home park. Toss in 25-30 home runs and 10-15 stolen bases, and you have something which very much looks like peak Adam Jones. That's an incredible value for a player who's expected to go in the fifth round in most drafts.

 

Jason Heyward (Average ADP: 80.0)

How old is Jason Heyward? It sounds like a silly question to ask, but I'm willing to bet a decent number of you would be surprised to realize he'll be going into his age 25 season next year. Entering what's expected to be his peak years, I find it interesting how cheaply Heyward is being valued right now. Many sites have him ranked as a 8th to 9th round player, which admittedly is roughly the level he's played to through much of his major league career.

Whether that is a fair assessment going forward is another question altogether, however. Although he's never managed to put it all together in a full season, Heyward has shown the ability to hit for 25 home run power (2012), steal 20 bases (2012, 2014), and hit for a good batting average (2010, 2014). A breakout season could make him one of the best steals in the draft this year. At an eighth round cost, he's a lottery ticket I'll be signing my name to any day.
 
 

Parting Thoughts

Feel like there's someone I missed? Considering how many players are out there on draft day, it's impossible to get to everybody, but if there's an outfielder you'd like to hear more about feel free to leave a comment below this article. I'm always happy to chat.

 




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