Holiday lights adorn the streets, the hot chocolate and eggnog is flowing, and all the while you've hopefully been keeping warm with this steady stream of fantasy baseball rankings courtesy of your favorite RotoBaller writers.
Today we'll spread the outfield cheer. As a reminder, this first round of rankings features picks from Bill Dubiel, Brad Johnson, Kyle Bishop, and myself -- Jolly ol' Saint Nick.
If you missed our infield rankings, click the link below. Longtime readers will note that we've switched up the format a bit for this round to allow for a bit more insight into each writer's thought process.
Editor's note: Be sure to also check out our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. It's already loaded up with tons of great rankings articles and draft analysis. Aside from our tiered staff rankings for every position, we also go deep on MLB prospect rankings, impact rookies for 2017, and dynasty/keeper rankings as well. Bookmark the page, and win your drafts.
2017 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Outfield
|25||4||Jackie Bradley Jr.||32||19||29||20||25|
|83||8||Steven Souza Jr.||82||83||88||81||83.5|
|88||9||Melvin Upton Jr.||85||92||87||91||88.75|
|89||9||Hyun Soo Kim||99||77||101||83||90|
Are there any picks you want to defend?
Kyle: I hewed pretty closely to the consensus for the most part, and where I did deviate, Bill mostly rode my coattails. A couple that stand out:
I'm the low man on Polanco. I am a fan - he was the subject of one of my earliest RotoBaller articles, in fact - just not enough of one to have him in the top 25. The pop and speed combo is nice, but he's a neutral asset at best in AVG, and his run production was underwhelming for spending most of the season in prime lineup spots. I'm also wondering if the power spike will hold up and whether he'll run often enough to be a 20/20 threat again. I also come in lowest on Dahl, which surprises me given how much I like him and his lineup/park context. That .404 BABIP is a major red flag; even modest regression would take a chunk out of his value.
On the other side of the equation, I'm championing JBJ. In a vacuum, he and Polanco are pretty close in value, but Bradley enjoys a much more favorable supporting cast and home park. And while I'm on record as thinking that the Great Stolen Base Famine narrative is a bit overblown, speed is a significant part of why I dig Toles so much as a late-round flyer in 2017. There are questions about playing time and lingering makeup concerns, but he's a sneaky 30 SB threat who won't hurt you in any other cats.
Bill: I'm highest on Odubel Herrera, which kind of surprised me. I'm buying into Herrera as a player who is still working towards the peak of his abilities. He improved in almost every category from 2015 to 2016: he nearly doubled his walk rate, cut down on his K-rate, had more steals and runs scored by a healthy margin, and even popped 15 homers thanks to the highest ISO of his career. There isn't a ton to suggest that power will regress, either--he had just a 10.6 HR/FB rate, so I think 15 homers is around where we can expect him from year-to-year. Herrera should be able to sustain a batting average above .280, and with his walk rate improving along with his contact, he should be on base regularly enough to swipe 25-30 bags. As a member of the Phillies, the counting stats will always be somewhat depressed, but Herrera is a multi-category contributor who I am very high on in 2017, especially if he can take another step forward as a complete hitter.
Brad: Rather than specifically defending a bunch of picks, I'll just admit that my first drafts in deep positions like outfield and starting pitcher are...choppy. Yea, Bradley Jr. and Piscotty should probably be a bit higher along with a few others of lesser consequence. I did notice that I seem to value proven 80-grade power over some of the more recent power surge breakouts. Specifically Stanton and Bautista. I may have to chop the legs out from under Joey Bats if he lands in the NL or in the wrong setting. That adjustment can be made if/when it's necessary.
Nick: I'm the only one with Justin Upton above #20, all the way at #16 at that, so I should speak on it. He somehow finished as the 31st outfielder on ESPN's Player Rater despite being atrocious from April 5th through August 20th (13 HRs, .228 average in 474 plate appearances). Then he hits .303 with 18 HRs over his last 152 PAs, and totally redeems himself! Okay, not totally, but I highly doubt he sucks for four and a half months again.
Which picks by others look overly bullish/pessimistic?
Nick: I'll understand some skepticism towards the new Jose Ramirez, but Kyle and Bill took it too far. This is a youngster (entering his age-24 season) who has always had plus speed and bat skills. At 23, he appears to have muscled up a bit and added power to the wheels. Mix in that low 10% strikeout rate, and you've got a nice five-category contributor on your hands.
Brad is also noticeably ahead of us on Bautista, but I can't buy in so high. His age-35 season was hamstrung by injuries and underperformance, and now he might not even get to call Toronto's power-friendly park home anymore. His strikeout rate rose by four percent, as did his soft-contact rate. The durability worries me enough to where I can't do top 25, let alone #16.
Kyle: Brad's got Bautista a bit high for my tastes. He's been a monster for the most part this decade, but there are enough reasons for concern (age, health, and not knowing where he'll be in 2017) to give me pause. I expect to adjust his ranking a bit once he signs, but doubt I'll bump him too much higher.
I'm not buying Maybin as a top 50 outfielder, either. Last season was the first time he hit above .270 and there's nothing in his profile to suggest he'll repeat that lofty .315 mark. He also just can't stay healthy, which kills his ability to make a meaningful contribution in any category outside of stolen bases. His totals there are already trending down, and he's about to turn 30. Pass.
I'll set aside my long-running irrational distaste for Jones to point out that despite his flaws as a player, he's averaged 30 HR, 90 R, and 90 RBI over the last five seasons and never hit below .265. At the very least, it's bizarre to rank him 10 spots lower than Kemp, who's essentially the same player, a year older, and on a worse team.
Brad: Stanton as the 18th outfielder (Bill) seems a little silly. This is a perennial first round pick we're talking about. The power bonanza makes players of Stanton's profile a little less valuable. However, if you want to veer away from 20 home run threats for some steals (i.e. Peraza), you'll need a couple Stanton's to make up the difference. If Stanton is sitting around in the 6th, 7th, or 8th rounds as Bill's ranking implies, you have the potential for a massive bargain. Bill clearly doesn't value the profile since he's also low man on Bautista (30).
My colleagues seem to really expect Mazara to break out. I really like Mazara too, but mostly in a dynasty setting. Mazara has a lot of adjustments to make before he's more than a league average hitter. In a redraft league and given his inability to steal bases, that's an uninspiring profile.
Bill: I'm not sure what Brad and Nick need to see to believe in Jackie Bradley, Jr. As Kyle so eloquently put it, I am in fact riding his coattails on the young center fielder, just because I don't see any reason why Bradley, Jr. would significantly regress from his outstanding 2016 campaign. His BABIP was .312 in 2016, so I don't see his batting average sinking much lower than the .267 it was last year. The counting stats will always be there hitting in the potent BoSox lineup...I'm just not sure I can find any reasons to have JBJ outside of the top 25 at this point.
I don't get the hate on Piscotty 2 Hotty either. He'll have Dexter Fowler, Aledmys Diaz and Matt Carpenter setting the table for him, so he's got a very real shot at 100 RBI. Add in maybe 25 homers, 85 runs scored and a batting average around .275 and you've got an easy top-25 outfielder. Even if those are generous projections, I don't see how he falls outside the top 35 this year as Brad and Nick have him.