We’re taking these outfielders to 120 total, so this should still be the beginning of wonderful for you, but as you look down this list, guys like Matt Kemp become more attractive and not just if you’re an R&B singer. Rap is not pop, if you call it that then stop. I’m going aggressive for guys like Kepler and Piss-hotty (sounds like watersports, right, Mr. President?), because the alternative is dank with excitement. Stephen Hawking’s hitting his keyboard robotically telling us, “It’s a black hole for outfielders, we need to spontaneously combust some new ones.” Then Stephen jots down a letter to Eddie Redmayne about a sequel to The Theory of Everything; Eddie’s got a binder of these letters. As always, my projections are noted for each player and where I see tiers starting and stopping. Anyway, here’s the top 40 outfielders for 2017 fantasy baseball:
21. Matt Kemp – You may want to draft these guys, and, maybe for the right price (like a steep discount) even I would draft some of them, but one thing you won’t argue, or at least you shouldn’t, unless you’re in one of your real ornery moods, you know these guys. There’s no arguing what you’re going to get. If you don’t know what Kemp is going to give you at this point, then welcome to fantasy baseball. We don’t judge your sweatpants here, and, yes, Doritos are their own food group. If Kemp is healthy, you know what you’re going to get, and if he’s not healthy, you also know. 2017 Projections: 78/27/94/.266/2 in 572 ABs
22. Adam Jones – There is some comfort in this tier. Maybe I should’ve called this tier, Comatose Harry at the Comfort Inn, but that’s just silly for a tier name. How can you go wrong with 27 HRs and 2 SBs from all your outfielders? Well, you might come up a little short on steals, but, you’re not totally wrong. You can fill out your team with one of these outfielders, if you went crazy upside in the first two rounds with, say, Bryce and Turner, but I’d count on nothing more from this tier than exactly what you’ve seen from them for the past five to eight years. 2017 Projections: 92/27/78/.268/3 in 599 ABs
23. Byron Buxton – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Schwarber. I call this tier, “I sunk your battleship! Wait, that’s not Risk.” By this tier name I mean, these guys could totally screw you up, but damn if their upside isn’t so sexy I need to take that chance. As for Buxton, already gave you my Byron Buxton sleeper. It was a post originally found in a bottle washing ashore in a wave pool in a water park. 2017 Projections: 65/18/57/.232/26 in 522 ABs
25. Khris Davis – I’ll be honest, Davis has got me like this –> insert shrugging emoji that unknowingly has a truck about to run it over. There’s very few players with the power of Davis. He has 40-homer power. He hit 42 homers last year! Oddly, though, that does more in mind to disprove ‘he can hit 40 homers’ the more I look at it. He led the league with sixteen Just Enough home runs. His HR/FB% went up to a 26.6%, which is a lot for any man. His career mark is over 20% so it’s not like he doesn’t hit homers. Maybe he’s a 35-homer guy who needs to get a little lucky for 40+. That’s not so bad, I guess. (Spewing confidence here!) Why I’m so concerned with his power? It’s all he has. 33+ homers with .245 is fine. 27 homers and .245 is not easy to own. So hopefully it’s the former, if former means first one. 2017 Projections: 72/34/89/.247/2 in 530 ABs
26. Stephen Piscotty – As I’ve mentioned before, I look at others’ projections. So, when I saw the 26-year-old Piscotty hit 22 homers last year and now everyone is projecting him for 16 homers, I was confused. Stephen was no help either, because Piscotty doesn’t know! Piscotty doesn’t know! He has a career 13% HR/FB and 36% fly ball rate (about 160 fly balls). Dirty math says a career average home run year gets him 21 homers. Piscotty averaged 407 feet on his home runs, about the same as Chris Davis and Carlos Santana. I’m optimistic we’re going to get more from Piscotty — Opiscotimistic? 2017 Projections: 78/24/92/.277/9 in 573 ABs
28. J.D. Martinez – Just Dong is the 38-homer, .280 guy he was two years ago. That wasn’t a fluke. Just like Giancarlo is a 40+ homer guy. The problem: health. Just Dong has to stay healthy for that long, satisfactory HBI. I feel like I’m writing a letter to Playgirl.
There’s only two players that bring me to climax in the HBI tier. Is this too few? Should I try to bring in another player to help elongate my HBI. Perhaps someone Braun-y? Maybe we can go Cruz’ing?
Fantasy Master Lothario
UPDATE: Just Dong sprained his Lisfranc, which sounds like some kind of European treaty. “At the Lisfranc Accords, Goebbels dropped trou and asked the Romanian diplomat to kiss his birthmark that looked just like a poppyseed bagel.” A little history lesson for everyone. Goebbels was very proud of his poppyseed bagel birthmark that resided on his backside, but he called it a poopyseed bagel. So, this obviously sucks major poopyseed bagels for Just Dong and I’ve docked him hundred at-bats. I’d still draft him, but I’m be damned in the poopyseed if I don’t think we’re never going to see more than 400 ABs from this guy ever. 2017 Projections: 78/25/71/.282/1 in 451 ABs
30. Andrew McCutchen – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Pence. I call this tier, “Comatose Harry in the Comfort Inn.” You’re Comatose Harry. Not you you, but the Royal You. The illustrative you. You don’t think outfield is shallow because you’ve been in a coma for the last twelve months. You’re excited about McCutchen! You can’t wait for CarGo! And you’re voting for Dr. Ben Carson! As for McCutchen, and really this tier, in general, these guys are old and aren’t trustworthy. This offseason McCutchen admitted he just didn’t perform last year, had nothing to do with an injury. After he made that statement, someone should have sat him down, prolly his agent, and said, “Dude! You always blame something out of your control! What are you doing?!” McClutchin His Knee got old and, apparently, way too responsible for his own actions. 2017 Projections: 87/21/90/.263/7 in 556 ABs
31. Justin Upton – You’re Comatose Harry if you’ve forgotten how Upton reached his respectable stat line of 31 HRs, 9 SBs last year. You need some smelling salts in the form of a month of May with one homer, one steal while hitting .213 or an April of 2 homers and .221. Or three straight months of only five homers from June thru August. You wanna buy into Upton’s September of 15 homers and .307? Be my guest. In fact, you’re my guest of honor at my dinner party for the guy who quits fantasy baseball in July to prep for football. 2017 Projections: 77/27/85/.249/10 in 565 ABs
32. Jose Bautista – Chris Davis, Lorenzo Cain, Jason Heyward, Brandon Belt, Jacoby Ellsbury, Michael Brantley, Carlos Gomez and Hanley. That’s not counting Bautista, Pence, Pollock, Schwarber and Giancarlo. Can you tell what I’m talking about? The 1st group is outfielders who were ranked in the top 30 last year that either lost eligibility or just sucked. Then the 2nd group are guys that were injured for more or less the whole year. You don’t think outfield is a mess? 13 out of 30 outfielders last year either looked like garbage or were hurt garbage. And that’s considering McCutchen and Justin Upton NOT garbage! (Ungarbage?) So, with that said, I can understand why you’d wanna try Bautista if he falls in drafts, but he’s on the bad side of “hopefully he hits 40+ homers and .250.” 2017 Projections: 81/30/90/.244/2 in 488 ABs
33. Hunter Pence – “Tie his feet to the ground in front of the ethereal escalator. Now tie his wrists to the top of the ethereal escalator. Now stretch him.” That’s God making the Hunter Pence model. The Gangly Manbird is so hard to dislike. He throws like a female emu, for crissakes! Who could dislike that? Take Kendrick Lamar’s song, Hood Politics (that’s the one with the chorus where he sings “Boo, Boo!”), and remake it for Pence coming to bat, “I’ve been A-1 since day one, you know I’m emu! Emu!” As for his fantasy value, hmm, 20 HRs, .275 with no steals really excites you? Yeah, me neither. 2017 Projections: 86/20/78/.275/3 in 578 ABs
34. Jose Peraza – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until the top 60 outfielders for 2017 fantasy baseball. I call this tier, “Not Qaddafi, y’all leadoff-y.” The guys in this tier may not leadoff for their team, but they are that profile. In the big picture, this is around the end of the top 100 to 120 overall. This is the point where you’re more team-focused. If your team is heavy on RBIs and power, you want runs and speed. If your team is heavy on speed, then this tier isn’t mustarding your dog. As for Peraza, already went over him in the top 20 2nd basemen for 2017 fantasy baseball.
35. Billy Hamilton – Him and Peraza are the first outfielders that are either very draftable or not draftable at all, i.e., they’re more specialized than any other outfielder so far. If you drafted Pollock (A.J. not accidentally Pierzynski), you have steals and Hamilton is less attractive. If you have Yoenis — Yo tengo? — then Hamilton’s 60 steals look better. 2017 Projections: 75/4/40/.253/60 in 509 ABs
36. David Dahl – I already gave you my David Dahl sleeper. Psyche. I wanted to, and maybe I will still, but I have not given you a Dahl sleeper post, because he’s not a sleeper in my mind. What happens in my mind dictates everything. You sure about that? Not now, Random Italicized Voice, I’m making a point. You sure are. What I mean is, if Dahl is going crazy late in drafts vs. where I think he should be going, then he’s a sleeper. Nothing I can do about where others value Dahl. But in some macro ways that’s how all sleepers are. I said Devon Travis is a sleeper, because I think people will be undervaluing him. He’s not a sleeper to me, I know how to value him. This is super-pedantic. Last year in 63 games, Dahl hit 7 HRs after destroying the minors. He hit 13 HRs in Double-A, which gives the yawns, until you see it was in 76 games. 5 HRs in Triple-A, which is whatever, until you realize it was in 16 games. So, he’s got power and will call Coors home, that sounds good enough, but then you throw in that he had more steals (16) than homers in Double-A and stole five bags last year in those 63 major league games. I went over in the top 20 overall Rockies hitters batting below .250 and how impossible I think it is. Speaking of the top 20, Dahl feels like he will be there next year, but, honestly, in the grand scheme of things, I’m not ranking him much below that this year. This is likely a top 60 guy right now. That’s not a sleeper, is it? Meh, I need to figure out this sleeper or not thing. UPDATE: Dahl has a stress reaction of his rib and will definitely start the year on the DL. Can’t we take Adam Eaton’s rib and give it to Dahl? I still like Dahl, but the rib injury obviously adds a bit more risk. 2017 Projections: 62/16/74/.271/16 in 478 ABs
37. Dexter Fowler – Here’s what I said this offseason, “(Fowler) signed with the Cards. JB and I went over the Fowler signing on our last fantasy baseball podcast (clickbait!). There I said, dot dot dot, hmm, I’m not sure. Who the hell could understand me with that garbled Jersey accent? I sound like a male Fran Drescher. Call me, Man Drescher. Oh, I know, I likely compared Fowler to Adam Eaton, another offseason signing. They are similar, but Fowler has more power and speed, but less chance of staying healthy all year, which I’d contend in shallower leagues is a positive, because of the ability to fill in for Fowler off waivers.” And that’s me quoting me! 2017 Projections: 86/15/42/.261/17 in 512 ABs
38. Adam Eaton – Here’s what I said this offseason, “The White Sox traded Adam Eaton for Reynaldo Lopez, Dane Dunning and top pitching prospect, Lucas Giolito; the second day in a row top prospects are headed to the White Sox. It doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibilities that Theo Epstein is studying abroad this winter and abroad is the South Side of Chicago. “Excuse me, but, uh, why do you have this electrodes hooked up to my brain?” That’s Theo Epstein as Rick Hahn dips out of the interrogation room to get coffee. If I were a fan of a club that had no chance of winning next year, I’d want my team to go about rebuilding like the White Sox. The White Sox have taken a bunch of lemons, planted lemon seeds next to a sugar plantation that they purchased off eBay and should have lemonade in a few years. They might even trade that old guy from the Country Time Lemonade commercial for another prospect! As for fantasy, Adam Eaton went 14/14 and 14/18 the last two years, which is deceptively awful. It’s one thing to go 14/14, it’s another thing to go 14/14 in 619 ABs. He’s like Markakis. If you own Eaton in any fantasy league shallower than 14-team mixed, you should lose your league. The problem with a guy like Eaton in a shallower league is anyone who is even half paying attention should be able to beat his stats with just a few decent waiver wire grabs. You can likely beat Eaton’s numbers by just streaming hitters every day, and never even holding any guy who gets hot. Eaton’s stats come out to one homer and one steal every two weeks. Holy Jewish Jesus, that’s bad. Sure, there’s some value to his 90+ runs and .280+ average, but if you can’t get runs and average that matches that from streaming, again, you deserve to lose.” And that’s me quoting me! 2017 Projections: 102/12/49/.277/16 in 605 ABs
39. Odubel Herrera – ODB’s chop it down, hit it all around. Ground balls get hard, quick cement to the ground. For any hitter in any fifty-two states. I know the psycho killer, Curt Casali. Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa! Damn, I’m like Girl Talk up in here mixing shizz. ODB should be the leadoff man in Philly, but he’ll likely hit third, which is solid for his value. His margin of error isn’t as bad as Yelich, but he does hit a lot of ground balls and not a ton of fly balls. He does do a lot of things right though — ODB gotz OBP! which is also his latest album. 2017 Projections: 79/11/83/.292/27 in 551 ABs