Yesterday, my colleague Kyle Bishop reviewed the meat of the outfield market.
Today, we sort through the mid-tier guys and the scraps (tier six and below) with a keen eye for hidden treasures that could win you your league.
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: Outfielders, Part Two (February)
|Ranking||Tier||Player||Position||Brad||Kyle||Nick||Bill||Harris Y||Jeff||Auction $|
|86||9||Melvin Upton Jr.||OF||328||331||396||393||303||277||1|
Outfielder Rankings Analysis (Part Two): The Tiers
At this part of the draft, I start looking for the highest upside unless I am in a very deep league. The players without upside here are not much better than waiver wire fodder, and you cannot win a league wasting picks on them. Consistent with this philosophy, two risky players I like more than my colleagues are Carlos Gomez and Byron Buxton, whereas two I like less are Carlos Beltran and Marcell Ozuna.
Carlos Gomez has been a major fantasy disappointment the past two years, but in the three years prior he averaged .277/22/82/66/37. After signing with Texas last year, he posted a .284/8/18/24/5 line in just 33 games, which is a ridiculous 162 game average of .284/39/88/118/25. While that is clearly unrealistic, it nevertheless shows his upside is too high to last so long. Byron Buxton is a similarly risky speed/power gamble. In just 298 at bats last year, he stole 10 bases and hit 10 homers (with 35 extra base hits). He is the former number one overall prospect, 23 years old, stole 55 bases in a minor-league season, has a .302 minor league average, and had 35 extra base hits in the majors in less than half a season of at bats. He is one of the highest upside gambles.
Many are taking players such as Carlos Beltran and Marcell Ozuna (way) ahead of them. Last year, I listed Beltran as one of my buy-low candidates. But it is time to sell high. First, he is leaving the hitters’ paradise of Yankee Stadium and the AL East for the AL West. Second, his stats dropped off a bit after the trade. Third, he steals no bases, which limits his upside. Marcell Ozuna’s value is likewise limited by the fact that he does not steal bases; he has 10 in three and a half years, and he had zero last year. He has career highs of .269 and 23 homers. At age 26, there is room for improvement, but the lack of steals makes him less worthy of a gamble than Gomez or Buxton.
Others in this tier I think are undervalued are Adam Duvall (.241/33/85/103/6 in 150 games at 27 years old) and Rajai Davis (.249/12/74/48/43), while I would avoid Curtis Granderson (homers likely to regress and steals vanishing, with a low average) and Nomar Mazara (no steals and not yet elite in other categories) at their current prices. Matt Holliday was one of my favorite values before the Chris Carter acquisition.
Keon Broxton is one of my favorite targets. In 75 games, he stole 23 bases and swatted nine homers (for a 162-game average of 50 steals and 19 homers). Milwaukee loves to run and is a great park for righty power. Broxton should be owned in all leagues where he starts to fall this low.
Three other players who are being undervalued are Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Yasiel Puig. These players don’t have as much upside as the others I’ve discussed so far, but have potential to make meaningful separation from waiver wire fodder than the others being drafted at this stage. In New York, Ellsbury has 162 game averages of .264/83/13/64/32. Fifteen homers and 25 steals at .270 is optimistic but reasonable. Brett Gardner had been very consistent until a slight dropoff last year, which may have been injury-related; he can post .260 with low double-digit homers, 20 steals, 90 runs and 50 runs batted in. Puig is more of a lower floor candidate, as he’s played 183 games the past two years and posted middling numbers. However, he has the highest ceiling, as he’s just 26 and put up 162 game averages his prior two years of .305/23/102/72/15. The stolen bases likely won’t be that high, but he’s young and strong enough to experience a power breakout.
On the other hand, Melky Cabrera is being overvalued. His best numbers from his two years in Chicago are .296/14/70/86/3. The lineup will be worse, and he does not have power or speed; he is Nick Markakis with possibly less upside.
My favorite value from tier 8 is Hernan Perez. He is coming off a line of .272/13/50/56/34 in just 123 games and 404 at bats. He will be 26, has multi-positional eligibility, and could get you 40 steals with double digit homers and a respectable average. One player who is a bit undervalued is Jay Bruce; while it is unclear how the Mets’ outfield logjam will play out, and Bruce struggled after his trade, he did hit .250 with 33 homers and 99 runs batted in last year, with 25 steals over the past three years. He has been much better in the first half the past three years, and he may be a player to draft and trade after a hot first half. I’d also keep an eye on the powerful 25-year-old, Jorge Soler, at the end of the draft. In 682 career at bats, he has hit .258/27/87/98/4. If he can stay healthy, he can be a surprise fantasy asset.
My favorite deep sleeper target is Mitch Haniger; he is just 26 and hit .341/.428/.670 in 74 games in the PCL last year with 20 homers and eight steals. That success did not translate to the majors last year in a short stint, but Seattle obviously liked what they saw in him; he should get a shot to prove his value and has the power/speed combo I like to target. Melvin Upton is another speed/power type. However, he has been pretty bad recently except for his stint in San Diego, but he did put up 20 homers and 27 steals last year. I’d rather chase that upside than select waiver wire equivalents at this stage, unless I was in the deepest of leagues. If you have a deep bench, Jarrod Dyson could be a very late source of some cheap steals.
Ben Revere is worth being on your watch list despite not having an everyday role and coming off a poor 2016. He will battle Cameron Maybin for playing time, and Maybin does not have the best track record healthwise. From 2011-2015, Revere averaged .296/1/64/30/35 in just 126 games per year. If you could pick up 35 steals in 125 games, with a good average, either off the waiver wire or for $1, he is a good buy-low candidate in deep bench leagues. Gerardo Parra may also be worth a look in leagues with deeper benches; while the Rockies’ outfield is full, if someone goes down he does have some upside. He hit .294 with five homers, 29 runs, 23 runs batted in and two steals in fewer than 200 at bats at Coors Field last year. In 2015 he went .291/14/83/51/14. And at this stage, any path you can find to reasonable upside is worth targeting.