Welcome to this series of analyzing our site’s points league rankings, compiled by myself and Kyle Bishop. We’re good people, you should get to know us. Today we're taking a look at our tiered outfield rankings for points leagues.
Points leagues abide by different rules, with walks and strikeouts usually being of notable importance compared to typical 5x5 leagues. It’s not as simple as that of course, but we’ll go off of ESPN’s default model. For hitters, it's one point per Total Base, Run Scored, Stolen Base, Walk and RBI, with a point deducted per strikeout. We’ve made it around the infield, so it's time to shag some flies in the outfield.
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 Points Rankings: Outfield (February)
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Outfield Points Rankings Analysis: The Tiers
Mike Trout, Mookie Betts and Kris Bryant are all superstars. Trout is going to be the first hitter off the board. Even if he wasn’t talking about running more, he’d be No. 1. If you can land him, enjoy. Betts’ true breakout season led to five-category domination with a healthy 6.7% walk rate and a meager 11% strikeout rate. As a result, I’ve got him above Bryant. Bryant’s 30.6% strikeout rate in his rookie season made for a points-league ding, but he lowered that to 22% in his sophomore season and should have more room to grow.
Bryce Harper should have a great chance at bouncing back and delivered Tier-One worthy stats, but we can’t let him back into our hearts so easily. This is still a good look, though, as he delivered a 20-20 season in a “down year” with a sturdy 17.2% BB rate and 18.7% K rate. Even if the steals scale back a bit, the 14.3% HR/FB rate should approach the 18-20% range.
J.D. Martinez’s strong power/average combo is an established commodity, but what’s gone a bit under the radar is how he’s increased his walk rate in each season since joining Detroit in 2014 (6.3%, 8.1%, 9.5%) while lowering his swinging-strike rate (15.2%, 14.9%, 14.1%). Don’t automatically bank on further growth, but these are encouraging trends for an already-strong hitter.
This tier houses a bunch of bats that are decent OF1s and incredible OF2 types, with Yoenis Cespedes making for a notable get. His power pace somehow grew from 2015’s lovely 35-homer campaign (which he did in 676 plate appearances versus 2016’s 31 homers in only 543 PAs) alongside a walk rate that shot up from 4.9% to 9.4%. He said he worked on strengthening his legs more to avoid lower-body injuries in 2017, so feel free to put a little checkmark next to his name on draft boards.
George Springer is a name that elicits a wide range of reactions, from the intrigue of those still waiting for the true breakout to the scoffs from owners who were let down last season. The power/speed combo had looked so promising heading into 2016, he had even improved his average from .231 to .276! It slipped back to .261 last season and he notably went a putrid 9-for-19 on the basepaths. He still hit 29 homers and scored 116 runs from the top of the order, but it’s concerning to have seen the speed threat neutralized. He still walks at a clip over 11% so it’s not about getting on base, it’s just a matter of whether he can be productive or not. If he approaches 700-750 PAs again though, he should return a profit no matter what.
We’ve got Ian Desmond in Coors Field, Justin Upton coming off of yet another streaky season, Kyle Schwarber returning to full game action as a leadoff hitter, and two Pittsburgh outfielders trending in opposite directions. Gregory Polanco is a rising 25-year-old who was on a tear (.299/.377/.515 slash in first three months of ’16) before injuries bogged down his second half, while Andrew McCutchen saw his runs, RBIs, steals and average all dip (notably his average, from .292 to .256) last season. At least Cutch’s AVG went from the .240s to the .280s over the final two months, but he still makes for someone else’s gamble to take in my eyes. Give me El Coffee at full strength easily, no decaf here.
Here we find vaunted sluggers such as Khris Davis and Jose Bautista, but we’ll take a looksee at the unheralded Matt Kemp here. Atlanta’s big bat (no, not Freddie Freeman) blasted 35 homers with 108 RBIs last season and apparently entered Spring Training having put on some more muscle over the offseason. While his walk rate won’t inspire anyone (5.4% last season), the power in an improving Bravos’ lineup is worth buying into. Odubel Herrera is also worth buying with his 15/25 bat and improving plate discipline metrics. Philadelphia is another offense that is starting to grow into its next generation.
The Rest of the Field
Outfield is deep this season. Kole Calhoun is rarely anyone’s first thought, but he should be in for a stronger 2017 after a poor 9.4% HR/FB rate in 2016. He had averaged a mark of around 14.3% prior to that, so his age-29 season could yield 25 homers with a walk rate around 10%. Matt Holliday just blasted an opposite-field Spring Training homer as I was writing this piece, which should excite anyone with a pulse (sorry, fantasy zombies) considering he now gets to take advantage of Yankee Stadium’s short porch. Corey Dickerson has launched 24 rockets in each of his last two healthy seasons, but his .245 average was excessive even for a post-Coors Field comedown. He lost 25 pounds over the offseason and says his swing feels more comfortable, so count me in as someone buying into a bounceback.