Rankings – OF

Top 90 OF for 2016

1) Mike Trout
2) Bryce Harper

Trout and Harper and both young and incredible at baseball. Neither of those things is going to change this season and there is no reason to doubt either. Harper’s HR total and BA might drop slightly but if they drop to 36 HR and .310, can you really complain?

3) Giancarlo Stanton
4) Andrew McCutchen
5) Mookie Betts

It’s hard to forecast a full season for Stanton, but even in a shortened season he puts up numbers. If he can get to even 130 games, you’ll likely get a full season’s worth of excellent production. McCutchen showed some signs of aging last year after being one of the most consistent producers in all of baseball for several years. At 29 years old, he’s not quite out of his prime but he’s on the wrong side of the SB aging curve which helped drive a lot of his value. He’s still an elite OF option at this point, but those days might be numbered. I have a hard time being objective about Mookie Betts. He’s 23 years old and put up 18 HR, 92 R, 77 RBI, 21 SB and a .291 AVG last year. Nothing stands out as fluky and considering his age, some of those numbers might even improve. Betts could be a five category monster for years to come, very similar to the name above him.

6) Jose Bautista
7) A.J. Pollock
8) Starling Marte
9) Charlie Blackmon
10) Justin Upton
11) George Springer

At 35 Jose Bautista is nearing the point where his age might start to come into play, but he showed no signs of slowing last year. The Jays offense should be one of the best in the league yet again, and Bautista figures to put up great contextual stats for the third year in a row. A.J. Pollock exploded last year in his first healthy year. The bad news is that he likely logged his career highs last year and you’re going to have to pay full price for him. The good news is that nothing stands out as luck driven. Natural regression might drop him back to earth, but he should produce in all five categories and batting ahead of Paul Goldschmidt is a great recipe for triple digit runs.
I love Starling Marte and debated ranking him as high as 6th on this list. My concern is with the HRs. Last year he hit a career high 19 HRs. His HR/FB was 18.6% compared to 14.8% for his career. Now he is entering his physical prime (27 years old) and that could definitely help explain some of the increase. However, he only hit 22.7% fly balls last year. Without a change in the batted ball profile, I can’t quite see 19 HRs again. The good news is that his fly ball rate was the lowest of his career so an increase back to his career rate is certainly possible. Ultimately, I think he does increase the fly ball rate and gets into the high teens in HRs.
Charlie Blackmon is yet another five category contributor. The only thing holding him back is how bad the Rockies offense might be this year. He might not run as much either, but either way, he’s a good bet to contribute across the board. Justin Upton is moving to a better park (although not by too much) and will be on a far better team. The upside is 2011 Upton (if he’s allowed to run) and the floor is 2014 Upton. I think he’s one of the safest options in this tier to repeat or even increase his 2015 numbers. George Springer showed last year that he can contribute in batting average. It will be interesting to see if his strides in K rate (down to 24.2%) continue. If it does, there’s hope for a good average. Otherwise, the 30/20 potential is still there with health being the main concern. The average concerns are much less of a worry given his upside in the other four categories.

12) Adam Jones
13) Chris Davis
14) Ryan Braun
15) J.D. Martinez
16) Yoenis Cespedes
17) Carlos Gomez
18) Lorenzo Cain
19) Carlos Gonzalez
20) Nelson Cruz

Adam Jones doesn’t run any longer, but he’s still a top OF option. His .269 BA last year was driven by a .286 BABIP which is down from a career number of .311. He should bounce back to something closer to his career number of .278. He’s a safe bet to hit 25+ HR and should be on a very good offensive team. Jones’s teammate Chris Davis follows him on this list. Davis should provide big power and good contextual stats. The only thing holding him back is the BA risk that comes with someone who strikes out more than 30% of the time.
I’d be surprised if Ryan Braun was able to steal more than 20 bases again, but otherwise I would expect his 2016 line to be very similar to his 2015 line. The Brewers might not be a great team, but Braun should get his numbers. I’ve never fully bought into J.D. Martinez and that blew up in my face last year. Martinez hits the ball far ranking 12th and 18th in the majors the last two years in average fly ball distance. That leads me to believe the 19%+ HR/FB rates are legitimate. He might have trouble topping last year (because it was so good), but there’s no longer a reason to doubt his skills.
Yoenis Cespedes was able to bat .291 last year because of a BABIP 19 points higher than his career average. He did increase his line drive rate up to 20.4% so maybe some of those BABIP gains are legitimate. I wouldn’t count on an average above .280 but .270s seem attainable. I covered Carlos Gomez previously and I’m all in on him this year. My Lorenzo Cain love, finally paid off in full in 2015. I am confident that he can bat around .300 and steal 25+ bases next year, but I highly doubt he scores 100 runs again. The Royals players may see contextual attrition across the board as a lot of them exceeded their peripherals. If the runs drop as far as the projection systems think (Steamer has a low 66 forecasted) Cain will lose a lot of his value. I don’t think the floor will drop on Cain, but it might only be 75-80 runs.
Carlos Gonzalez was insane last year having his best season since 2010. All of it is repeatable except for his games played. What sort of odds do we put on Cargo logging 150+ games two years in a row? 25%? If we drop it to 130 games, I’d still say there’s a 50/50 chance he makes it there. Factor in that the Rockies are going to try their hardest to trade him and it’s hard to have him much higher than this in the rankings. I have faith that he’ll be a very valuable player, but it might be over 120 games and it might be somewhere other than Coors. Until Nelson stops hitting HRs it’s hard to doubt him too much, but the .302 average was a farce (.350 BABIP in 2015 verses .306 for his career). This is about the point I’d debate drafting him, but he’s not a guy I’m overly excited to draft. I don’t want to own Cruz in the year his age begins to show and he only hits 25 HRs and bats .260.

21) Yasiel Puig
22) Jason Heyward
23) Jacoby Ellsbury
24) Matt Kemp
25) Gregory Polanco
26) Christian Yelich
27) Kyle Schwarber

I covered Puig in my Players to Target series and I had him ranked in the teens at one point. I think the risk is still a bit too great to have him that high, but the upside is massive and he’ll come at a nice discount this year. Jason Heyward left my beloved Cardinals this year for the Cubs. That only increases his fantasy ceiling. The Cubs could be a special offense this year and Heyward should see an increase in his contextual stats without much effort. His .293 average last year was boosted by a career high .329 BABIP so we might see a dip there. Otherwise, Heyward should give high teens in both HR and SB with the chance of a 20/20 season lurking if things click.
Polanco and Yelich were both a part of my Players to Target series. Two young OFs with loads of potential. I talked about Schwarber’s upside in the C rankings. He loses some value at OF because of how good this crop is, but he’s still a borderline OF2.

28) David Peralta
29) Billy Hamilton
30) Ben Revere
31) Hunter Pence
32) Hanley Ramirez
33) Michael Brantley

David Peralta has power, some speed, hits for a good average and bats behind Paul Goldschmidt. He might see a dip in average due to a high BABIP but otherwise, he should repeat his 2015. Billy Hamilton is as divisive as they come. I’m in the pro-Hamilton camp because it means you don’t need to worry about steals (if he can stay in the lineup). The Reds seem committed to letting him leadoff which is a big plus. He hit .226 last year with a .264 BABIP. His BABIP in 2014 was .304. If Hamilton hits .260 in the leadoff spot, the upside is 90+ runs and 70+ steals. That’s probably not a realistic projection, but I’m confident that he will be closer to 2014 with more steals than 2015.

Ben Revere is an excellent source of steals and average. He’ll chip in some runs as well as long as he can stick at leadoff. He’s a near zero in HR and RBI so he needs to be paired with the right guys but he’s been a valuable asset in fantasy for a long time. Brantley figures to miss a month or two but he could be a good stash. He can contribute across all five categories and even with the missed time, could put up a great season.

34) Kole Calhoun
35) Gerardo Parra
36) Adam Eaton
37) Joc Pederson
38) Mark Trumbo
39) Wil Myers
40) Corey Dickerson
41) Billy Burns
42) Kevin Pillar
43) Josh Reddick

As long as Kole Calhoun continues to hit in the heart of the Angels order, he’s worth a pick. He won’t contribute much in average or steals, but he’s a good source for power and contextual stats. Parra, Myers, Pillar and Reddick were all a part of my Players to Target series. Adam Eaton quietly had a great year. Many will forget that because he was terrible at the start of the season. The power probably dips some, but we should get great results in runs, steals and average.
Joc Pederson is more of an OBP play than an AVG one, but I’m still not scared off. It’s not surprising to see a hacker come up and struggle terribly in the average department. He is clearly skilled or he never would have reached 26 HRs. Sometimes it takes time for the hitters to readjust to the pitchers once the scouting report grows. I don’t think he’ll hit .260 but the .230s are possible. Pederson has also stolen 20+ bases every year of his career except 2015. If he steals 10-15 bases, it makes it far easier to stomach the average. The risk here is very large, but the upside is worth it. 25/15 is definitely on the table.
Trumbo is in the right park and in the right offense to rack up some great numbers this year. I had Corey Dickerson pegged in the Players to Target piece for Colorado until he was traded. I’m a bit more down on him now but I still like him. My main concern is that he’ll move into a full time platoon. He’ll get the majority of the work since he’s a lefty, but that limits his PAs. The move from Coors isn’t my favorite thing, but I still think Dickerson can put up good numbers in Tampa.

44) Brett Gardner
45) Josh Harrison
46) Alex Gordon
47) Curtis Granderson
48) Jay Bruce
49) Shin-Soo Choo
50) Khris Davis

Brett Gardner has shown that he can hit for some power with 17 and 16 HRs the last two years respectively. He doesn’t run as much as he used to and his average has settled into the decent range, but he’s still a good power and speed combo who can score 85+ runs batting near the top of the New York order. I’m a Jay Bruce apologist but I’ve dialed back the love some. The issues that have plagued him the last two years are more likely the new norm, than a fixable issue. Having said that, he’s still a good source of power with a decent RBI and SB total. If he can run into some BABIP luck, he could get his average up into the .250 range which boosts his value considerably. The move to Oakland was not great news for Khris Davis’s fantasy ceiling. He goes from a great HR park to a not so great HR park. Davis’s power will play anywhere but it’s still likely to take a hit.

51) Ben Zobrist
52) Kevin Kiermaier
53) Delino DeShields
54) Byron Buxton
55) Matt Holliday
56) Melky Cabrera
57) Randal Grichuk
58) Marcell Ozuna
59) Ender Inciarte

Kevin Kiermaier is an absolute wizard in the field. Unfortunately his offensive abilities aren’t on the same level. He needs an increase in either HR or SB but neither seem likely. He’s worth a gamble in case either does happen, but I wouldn’t count on it. Byron Buxton might be in post-hype mode already even though he’s only logged 138 PA at the MLB level. A lot of people seem to be out on him already and I would caution against that. The five tool potential is still there and he’s a worthy investment at this part of the draft.
I don’t totally buy Randal Grichuk. He has power but the 19.1% HR/FB seems high. He was 23rd in MLB on average fly ball distance so maybe it’s more legit than not. The place where he might see some drop off is in batting average. He had a .365 BABIP last year combined with a 20.6% line drive rate and a 10.1% infield fly ball rate. It’s likely that his BABIP drops significantly. If we factor in that he strikes out far too often (31.4%) and doesn’t walk much (6.3%), it’s easy to see a scenario in which he only bats .230 this year. He might hit 20+ HRs but the BA has major downside. I wouldn’t draft him with the idea that 25 HR and a .270 AVG are within reach.
Ozuna fell off the face of the earth last year. After a breakout 2014, he only hit 10 HRs in almost 500 MLB PAs in 2015. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, but I see a bounce back coming. Ozuna was 44th in baseball in 2014 in average fly ball distance at 291.52 feet. In 2015, that dropped to 282.64 which was 134th. We know that average fly ball distance is correlated to HR/FB and this could explain the drop from 16.8% in 2014 to 9.3%. We don’t have enough data to confidently say that 2014 was the true Ozuna, but I think we can reasonably predict that his 2015 wasn’t an indication of true talent. I don’t think Ozuna has the HR upside of Grichuk, but he’s a much safer average bet.

60) Jorge Soler
61) Michael Conforto
62) Steven Souza
63) Dexter Fowler
64) Denard Span
65) Domingo Santana
66) Stephen Piscotty
67) Nori Aoki

Jorge Soler was a very popular pick last year and was a disappointment swatting only 10 HR and batting .262 in 101 games. I think it’s safe to say that his 2014 was the result of a small sample size. I’m pretty down on Soler, especially now that the Cubs have options to get him out of the lineup if he continues to struggle. I think there’s a fair amount of power in the bat still, but I’m worried. Conforto is another player I’m not sold on. His 2015 was great but it was in 194 PA. It’s hard to truly draw meaningful conclusions from that sample. He’s a great bet to walk and hit for a decent to good average but I’m not sold on the power. I’ll draft him in the right situation (just like Soler) but I won’t go out of my way to make sure he’s on my team.
I love Domingo Santana in an irrational way and I see big, big things in his future. Piscotty is similar to Conforto in that he came up and exceeded expectations over a small sample (256 PAs). Piscotty was regarded as even less of a power threat than Conforto so I wouldn’t project his 7 HRs over 162 games and set that as the baseline. I think Piscotty will struggle to double his HR total even over a full season. His .305 BA last year was buoyed by a .372 BABIP that isn’t backed up in the slightest by his batted ball profile. I would expect something in the .270s. Piscotty has some upside, but I would taper expectations. Aoki is another guy I’ve already covered and I like him quite a bit this year, especially in OBP leagues.

68) Eddie Rosario
69) Odubel Herrera
70) Rusney Castillo
71) Carlos Beltran
72) Leonys Martin
73) Yasmany Tomas
74) Cameron Maybin
75) Aaron Hicks

Eddie Rosario and Odubel Herrera can both provide some value this year. If Rosario can stay in the starting lineup, he could reach double digits in both HR and SB this year. He won’t contribute much in average though. Herrera was great last year with 8 HR, 16 SB and a .297 BA. He can definitely run so the 16 SB are repeatable. The power might be more legitimate than not as well. The average should creep down some (.387 BABIP), but it could still be serviceable.
Leonys Martin was coming off back to back 30 SB seasons until he ran into a wall last year. He only stole 14 bases with an atrocious .219 BA. The BA was so low because of a .270 BABIP (.313 for his career). He only hit 15.3% line drives last year which is down five points from his career average. Positive regression alone should bump his average significantly. He’ll never be a big contributor with the bat, but you’re drafting him for the steals which I would expect to rebound. It’s hard to steal bases when you’re only on base 26.4% of the time. I covered Aaron Hicks already. He is an injury away from a potential monster season.

76) Nick Markakis
77) Jayson Werth
78) Avisail Garcia
79) Austin Jackson
80) Brad Miller
81) Andre Ethier
82) Colby Rasmus
83) Jarrod Dyson
84) Lonnie Chisenhall
85) Jackie Bradley Jr.
86) Brandon Moss
87) Angel Pagan
88) Josh Hamilton
89) Rajai Davis
90) Anthony Gose

Not exactly ending with a bang here. Austin Jackson is interesting, but I think best case scenario we get a repeat of 2015. Rasmus is a worthy late round pick if you need power. He will tank your batting average, but should be a lock for 20+ HR. I wouldn’t sleep on Jarrod Dyson even though he is injuried. He’s a worthy stash who could still steal 30+ bases even with the injury. Only six players stole more than 30 bases last year. Steals are becoming increasingly harder to find and Dyson is one of the safer bets to rack up a great SB total. Rajai Davis and Anthony Gose are similar to Dyson. Both should be good bets to be valuable in steals if they can stick in the lineup. They give you very little elsewhere, but you’re not drafting them for their power.

Intriguing Non-Ranked Guy: Oswaldo Arcia, Minn

Maybe a bit of a cop out since I’ve already covered him, but I really like Arcia this year. He is out of options and if he can’t crack the Twins 25 man, I have a feeling some team will give him a shot. In the right situation, he could be a valuable fantasy player.

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