Despite how the weather in many parts of the country may make it seem, we're getting oh so close to baseball's glorious return.
To help you get ready to dominate your draft, today we'll cover some early American League outfield draft values and potential sleepers for the 2017 fantasy baseball season.
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.
AL Outfield Draft Values - 2017 Fantasy Baseball
Kole Calhoun, Los Angeles Angels (ADP: 187)
I don’t think I’ve ever owned Calhoun in a fantasy league, which might be coloring my judgment a bit here…but he seems pretty underappreciated for a guy who ranks 16th among outfielders in FanGraphs WAR over the last three years. Calhoun has averaged 20 homers and just under 90 runs scored over that span to go along with a passable average. Last season, he managed to chop over six points off his K% while also posting a career best walk rate of 10 percent. In an Angels lineup that should outperform most peoples’ expectations, a .270-80-20-80-5 season seems attainable. Sexy? No. But Calhoun is a classic glue guy – owners who retain his services aren’t likely to regret it.
Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays (ADP: 195)
You likely know Kiermaier for his ridiculous defense in center field, but he’s also been a slightly above-average hitter in his career. Before a hand injury derailed things, he was pacing toward a 20 HR/30 SB season in 2016. Plus, he nearly doubled his walk rate. His .246 batting average left a bit to be desired, but he hit .263 in each of his first two MLB seasons. If he can get back to that level, Kiermaier’s pop/speed combo is an excellent return on investment near pick 200. The Rays don’t have many other options for top of the order hitters, either, so Kiermaier should bat first or second regularly and score a decent amount of runs.
Max Kepler, Minnesota Twins (ADP: 232)
Kepler exploded onto fantasy owners’ radar with a three-homer game on August 1, but hit just three homers over the remainder of the season. That late-season swoon is the likely culprit for his current ADP, but there’s a lot to like here. Kepler is still just 23 (he was in rookie ball at age 17 after signing out of Germany) and has always shown good plate discipline. Over the last couple of years, he’s begun to tap into his power without an increase in strikeouts, and his contact quality metrics are encouraging. You’d like to see fewer groundballs and more success against lefties, but Kepler managed to hit 17 homers and steal six bases in 2016 despite his late-season woes. A 20/10 season seems likely, with potential for more.
Matt Holliday, New York Yankees (ADP: 260)
Long one of the most bankable assets in baseball, recent times haven’t been kind to Holliday. Injuries have limited him to just 700 plate appearances in the last two seasons. In 2015, he managed just four home runs after averaging 26 in the previous nine seasons. Last season, he hit a career-worst .246 and posted a walk rate below 10 percent for the first time since 2007. Now he’s moving to the superior league at age 37. So why draft him? Well, the batting average woes last season were almost certainly a mirage. Despite his contact quality, batted ball distribution, and strikeout rate all being in line with his career averages, he suffered from a .253 BABIP, 80 points below his career mark. He’s also going to be playing half his games in Yankee Stadium, the most homer-friendly park in baseball for left-handed batters. Finally, he’ll be able to DH, increasing his chances of staying healthy.
Jarrod Dyson, Seattle Mariners (ADP: 296)
Dyson was an excellent fourth outfielder with the Royals for most of this decade, his speed and defense making up for a lack of punch at the plate. He’s sixth in the majors in stolen bases since 2012, espite averaging fewer than 300 plate appearances per season during that time. He’s reportedly set to begin the seasons as the Mariners’ primary left fielder and leadoff man, making his current draft price a potentially major bargain. He may not run as often as he did as a part-time player, but 40 swipes seems like a reasonable expectation. With a quality lineup behind him, Dyson should score plenty of runs as well. He’s a zero in the home run and RBI categories, but given the current environment, the veteran is one of the few cheap speed options available.