Not wasting any time, coming at cha faster than a cheetah on speed straight out of the LBC, it’s Part Duece of the OPS Outfielder Ranks! Part One can be found here, which covered the Top three tiers. We’re starting today with Tier four.
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You could draft and start the guys from this tier and the next and you’d be doing pretty well by the time the season ended, especially if this was last year. For 2017 I still love most of these guys but only at the right price.
Yelich brings a solid OPS with average home runs and steals, he’s way better in AVG leagues compared to OPS ones. Bradley more than likely peaked last year but if settles in as a 25/10 HR/Steals and 90/90 R/RBIs guy that works for this tier. Cutch has snuggled his way into tier 4 and he most likely stays here for a couple more seasons until his name value matches his actual value.
Duvall had power in the minors, brought that power to the majors last season (hitting 33 homers) and is slated to hit fourth in the Reds lineup this season. He needs to cut on his Ks, but so does almost every young power hitter. I’m all in on him this season, and you should be too. The Reds lineup looks bad this season, so he’ll be kind of hidden due to projections lowering his counting stats, but that’s not deterring me; don’t let it deter you.
Benintendi is another guy who will bust out this year; Boston is already talking about hitting him third. He should get some solid counting stats, and looks like a future 20/20 guy, could be as early as this season.
Ask someone (in this case that someone is named Carl) who drafted Upton last season, how that went for him; or actually ask Carl when did he drop Upton and how long did it take for Upton to go on his end of season tear? I’m sure Carl enjoyed the stress of owning a turd for the first four months of the season, though every day a voice in Carl’s head told him Upton was about to go off, for four months.
Poor Carl, pulling out his hair at the thought of being the laughing stock of his league because he dropped 27 year old Justin Upton, just because he had a bad month. Then two months. Then three, four. Finally it’s August 20th, Upton hasn’t hit a homer in almost three weeks, and Carl has found another grey hair (this time on his balls), and he says, “I’m done with you Justin. You’ll ruin my teams no more!” and Carl clicks on the drop player button.
The next day, August 21st, Carl wakes up, happy. Later in the day, he checks his phone, sees his team is doing well, they have a few homers, he’s feeling good and decides, let’s see how Upton is doing. Pulls up the box score, and sees Upton hits two homers. Carl lets out a sigh and checks for gray hairs. Upton proceeds to hit 18 more homers the rest of the way. Carl is now balding, has an ulcer and takes medication for a variety of maladies. That’s what owning Justin Upton can did to Carl. Don’t let him do that to you.
When I first began looking at outfielders I thought it was shallow, top heavy, busty even, but know that we’re here in tier five, I see lots of guys I want on my teams. Starting with Tomas. He had a reputation as a power hitter, is coming off a season where he hit for power (31 home runs, .820 OPS, .236 ISO) and he’s not getting much love, at least that I’ve seen. Let me change that. I’m giving Tomas all the fantasy love, and I could see him being in Tier 2 by the time 2017 is in the books.
Billy H needs to steal 65+ and 100+ Runs to make up for an OPS under .700, five home runs, and forty RBIs. So you can draft him, and know that you’ve got a big leg up in steals, but then you also have a big leg down (yeah, I don’t have any idea what “big leg down” means, except for being the opposite of “big leg up”) in OPS. I’d rather have Marte and one of the cheaper steals guys from the following tiers to cover Billy’s 65+ steals.
Grichuk has solid power, and a minor league track record that enforces that; he is also prone to long slumps (like the kind he ran into last season which resulted in some time in the minors) but he finished 2016 strong (14 homers and an .826 OPS in the second half) and he will benefit a ton from the Cards bringing in Dexter Fowler, offensively and defensively.
Another Cardinal, Stephen Piscotty, has a little less power than Grichuk, which is why Grichuk is ranked higher. If Piscotty can get to 27 homers and an .825 OPS he’ll be a real value here. I have him going 22 and .800, which is why he’s here.
Contreras should be started at catcher; he’s fine to fill-in at OF when other guys have off days but then that would mean you have another catcher and your team should never have two catchers (that’s an unwritten fantasy rule, which means if you break it, someone is liable to throw at your noggin).
Kemp hit 35 homers last season (see, who cares about Stanton’s 34 if Kemp is hitting 35) with an .802 OPS and 108 RBIs. Pre-tay Pre-tay good season. Should we expect it again? Nope. But if Kemp hits 29, knocks in 90+ and has an OPS of .800 or better in tier six? I might have to move him up. Then again, he has that hip issue and other minor injuries could crop up in his age 32 season; I’ve been keeping my hedges up like this site’s fearless leader, so…I guess I’m in on Kemp? Don’t go over budget for him but if the value is there add him.
Did you notice I went over all the guys I love in this tier first, not the order I put them in? That’s because I don’t know what to do with Pollock. I’m not taking the chance on him, I won’t judge you too harshly if you do. Cain is fine; he steals bases and keeps an OPS over .800; he’s a poor man’s Marte. Nothing super exciting though, and I could see Keon Broxton doing about what Cain does (and if Broxton can be Cain, and Cain’s a poor man’s Marte, and if Broxton breaks out, could he be Marte? Very likely).
Dahl’s injury sucks. But he’s young, and it’s not season ending, so here seems right for drafting him. I’ll definitely be drafting him in this spot. Mentioned Broxton just a few lines up; I like him a lot, because he should be cheap and has a good chance to breakout. Though he might be off my teams by May if he starts cold. Eaton should get plenty of runs, add about 20 steals, and hit around 15 homers, which is fine value at this point. Fowler should do about the same. No idea about Thames, so I’m not taking the chance on him this season ranking him down here.
The other home run guys are Ozuna, Sano, Jones, Pederson, Thames and Bruce. Ozuna slumped oddly last season, but he has a 30 homer season in that bat and 2017 should be the year it arrives. Jones is consistent; consistently on the decline (burn!). It’s a turtle-slow decline so Jones can still provide value; he’s just not even getting to an .800 OPS anymore, so the 27 homers doesn’t play as well (same with Bruce).
Pederson is a free swinger; not much besides playing time separates him from Domingo Santana. Eventually he’s going to figure it out and hit .265 or he’s not and the Dodgers will trade him to the Rays. Kepler, Buxton and Sano are the Twins outfield of the present; I’d take fliers on all of them, but would count on none as starters. Buxton still has the same tools, and this season his hype is as low as it’s been; now is the time to add Buxton.
Saunders I wanted to like more, but looking at his stats last season (24 homers, .815 OPS but only 70 Runs and 57 RBIs in 558 PA) I see those stats as his ceiling, and don’t think he gets there in a worse lineup in Philadelphia. Good ol’ Gangly Manbird Hunter Pence is coming off two injury plagued seasons, and, at age 33, isn’t a guy I’m going to bet on to hit more than 20 homers, which is pretty much par for the outfield course.
Lastly there is Mazara. Coming off a 20 home run (good!), .739 OPS (not so good) at age 21 (wow), Mazara looks primed to continue his upward trajectory. He has posted an OPS in the minors consistently above .800 and looks very much on the upswing. Say he gets to 27 homers and an .800 OPS this season at age 22; where’s he going to be ranked after that? Probably tier two. There’s platoon talk right now, but talent wins out in the bigs, and he’ll get ABs. I’m in on Mazara.
The Rest: Michael Conforto, Domingo Santana, Michael Taylor, Mallex Smith, Hyun-soo Kim, Bradley Zimmer, Nick Williams, Andrew Toles, Delino DeShields, John Reddick, Aaron Judge, Yasiel Puig, David Peralta, Dalton Pompey
If it’s a five-outfielder league you might have a few of these guys on your bench. More than likely add them off waivers when they’re hot and drop them when they’re not. You could make a case for almost every one of these guys being in a higher tier; I won’t, and since it’s my post I will just tell you the guys out of this group I’d draft, in specific order: Hunter Renfroe, Aaron Judge, Yasiel Puig, Tyler Naquin, Leonys Martin, Eric Thames, Jorge Soler.
Renfroe got a late, late season call up and bashed, hitting four home runs in eleven games with a 1.189 OPS. I like him to pick up where he left off last season. Hopefully Judge spent the off-season working on his contact, because it doesn’t matter how big he is, if he can’t hit, he won’t play. Puig is the biggest hype machine since Kevin Maas as such his potential at this point is still worth a shot late in drafts. Naquin had a hot start once called up last season but couldn’t sustain it; he did have an .886 OPS last season that he will definitely not repeat as he never showed much power in the minors.
Thames didn’t hit last time he was in the majors, we’ll see what changed but I’m not paying his cost to find out. Leonys Martin, if healthy, is a possible 20/20 guy (though more of the 15/25 variety) while Calhoun is boring as all get out. Soler has the talent to own the DH spot in KC so a late round flier, or quick add if he starts hot, is appropriate.
I had a strategy going in before I did the rankings as to how I would draft my outfield; after writing this I’m changing it up. Go with a top tier guy, then 3-4 guys in tiers five and six. In a four OF league can I get Bryant, Tomas, Mazara and Kemp? Then add Broxton and Renfroe as backups? Most likely.
In 2017, the outfield should be used to supplement your team; meaning if you went speed in the infield, you can easily go all power in the outfield, or vice versa. There’s a lot of choices at outfield that you should leave any draft being happy with the outfielders you drafted. If not, you know who to blame. Me. I’ll take all the blame, and not ask for an ounce of credit, as that is how devoted I am to seeing your team do well (so don’t let me down).
Looking ahead, First base is the last position to rank. After that, the top 200 is coming. Enjoy the weekend party people!