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Early ADP Thoughts - Outfielders


♫It's the most wonderful tiiiiiiiime, of the year!♫ Well, sort of. In much of the country, February brings terrible weather and generally feels interminable, despite being the shortest month on the calendar. This being a leap year, we get an extra day of it. Fun! But for fantasy baseball owners, fun is exactly what you get this month (and next).

With the Super Bowl in the rearview mirror and spring training imminent, 2020 draft preparations begin in earnest. We'll spend far too much time over the next six weeks poring over reams of data and the scads of articles that accompany it, because the run-up to meaningful games being played is arguably the most enjoyable part of the proceedings. After all, it's called fantasy baseball, and reality has a way of spoiling things. Hell, even spring training will harsh the winter's buzz a bit for some players.

Before we have anything but history and our imaginations to account for, though, here are some thoughts on early draft results. Today, we're focusing on the outfield. (ADP data courtesy of NFBC)

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The Overpriced

Whit Merrifield, KC (OF15, 53 ADP)

Merrifield gets a boost from the fact that he retains eligibility at second base, which is looking quite thin for fantasy purposes in 2020. But even with that in mind, this price feels a round or so early. His stolen base totals plummeted last season (from 45 steals in 55 attempts in 2018 to 20 in 30), and at age 31 we can't simply pencil him in for a return to form there. He'll hit for average and score runs, but the 15ish home runs won't move the needle much and neither will the 60 - 70 RBI. So Merrifield probably has to steal 30 bags to return value.

Luis Robert, CHW (OF25, 91 ADP)

Robert was undeniably spectacular in the minor leagues last season, and he's guaranteed to break camp as a starter after signing a long-term deal and removing any incentive for the Pale Hose to engage in service time high jinks. Even across three levels, a 30/30 season at age 22 is nothing to sneeze at. But prospects with subpar plate discipline are a dicey proposition, even when they have tools as loud as Robert's. How quickly we forget the likes of Lewis Brinson! Projections like him to go 20/20 as a rookie with a respectable average and run production, so this ADP isn't unreasonable. But there's a significant downside risk that doesn't feel quite as baked in as it ought to be, and it's easy to see Robert being streaky and thus frustrating to own.

Danny Santana, TEX (OF34, 127 ADP)

I wrote about Santana and why it's prudent to be skeptical of his 2019 performance last month. To summarize: His plate discipline remained exceptionally poor, his power surge was at least partially a mirage, and the Rangers' roster is crowded enough that an extended slump could easily cost him playing time.

 

The Undervalued

Justin Upton, LAA (OF59, 231 ADP)

This price is shocking. Upton certainly struggled last season in an injury-plagued campaign, but the market has grossly overreacted to one bad year. Entering 2019, the 32-year-old had been one of the most reliable assets in fantasy baseball over the prior decade. Not only had he averaged a .270-89-27-84-14 in that time, but he had also averaged 148 games and 624 plate appearances per season. The Angels also added Anthony Rendon this winter, which makes Upton's place in the heart of the order even more appealing than before. But he's being selected after guys like Joc Pederson, Nick Senzel, and Alex Verdugo. It's time to put some respect on Upton's name.

Corey Dickerson, MIA (OF78, 318 ADP)

Dickerson signed with the Marlins as a free agent this winter and is expected to hit cleanup for them. The 30-year-old only logged 279 plate appearances in 2019, but still managed to hit 12 homers and drive in 59 while slashing .304/.341/.565. It was the second straight year and fourth time in seven seasons that he hit .300 or better. He's at .286 for his career and has also averaged 24 HR/600 PA. There's potential for him to be a plus in four categories, which is a bargain at the end of drafts.

Domingo Santana, CLE (OF86, 351 ADP)

It's not yet official as of this writing, but by the time you read this Santana will likely be under contract with Cleveland. He should really be a DH given his defensive shortcomings, but Franmil Reyes is bad at fielding too, so Santana will likely see time out there. That's Cleveland's problem. What we as fantasy owners care about is whether he'll hit enough to justify his modest acquisition cost, and that seems likely. Santana produced a 30/15 season in 2017 and was well on his way toward a repeat performance in 2019 before injury struck. His disappointing 2018 can't be entirely swept aside, of course, but few outfielders being picked in this range have the potential to contribute in all of the counting stats without capsizing your batting average.

More 2020 Fantasy Baseball Advice