Welcome back all! We are now into February and the Super Bowl is over! That means we have entered prime fantasy baseball research and draft season. Spring training is right around the corner and if you’re just starting your fantasy baseball research, then you’ve come to the right place. I have all of my infield rankings finalized complete with player blurbs below the rankings tables. You can check them out here. As always, my rankings reflect a standard 5×5 rotisserie scoring format but I’d be happy to answer questions that are more specific to your league settings. I’m doing things a little differently with outfielders. Rather than including a blurb for each player (that would take forever on the 130+ players below), I’ll be grouping the rankings in arbitrary 20-player blocks. Let’s do this!
2020 Rankings Table - Outfielders 1-20
|7||J.D. Martinez||Red Sox*|
|17||Eloy Jimenez||White Sox|
Changes due to the Mookie Betts trade to LAD as of 2/5/20. I move Mookie down one spot from four to five. Here’s why. He does receive a small park boost in Dodger Stadium for home runs. However, his batting average could take a dip due to the elevated BABIP that Fenway produces. Fenway is great for singles and doubles. Moving the NL means he won’t have as many RBI opportunities from the leadoff spot. So while it’s a very slight downgrade, Bellinger receives more few more RBI opportunities with Betts added to the lineup. Alex Verdugo is the player with the largest improvement. He will play every day, which was going to be an issue in LA and is a great candidate to leadoff for the Red Sox. His high contact approach should yield a great batting average with a boatload of runs. His power is moderate and he doesn’t have a ton of speed. But, I could see a line that looks like this .300-100-20-60-5 if all falls his way this year. The move to LAA for Joc Pederson is neutral but it does block Jo Adell pushing back his call up. I think he’ll be up in June or July rather than May, so he drops about 10 spots for me. Additionally, more playing time could be had for Matt Beaty, Chris Taylor, and Kike Hernandez especially given AJ Pollock’s injury history.
It’s a Diamondbacks’ Marte Partay at 10 and 11! The move for Starling Marte to Arizona is a slight upgrade for his value. Both the lineup and ballpark are slightly more favorable which should contribute to more run production. I still expect him to hit 20-22 homers with around 25 steals. I’m higher than most on Ketel Marte. I was all over him last year and he surpassed my expectations. Fortunately, the gains seem real and repeatable. He’s ahead of Charlie Blackmon for a couple of reasons. Blackmon’s great, but, he stole two bases on seven attempts last year and turns 34 during the 2020 season. His contact rates are still very good but they’ve dropped (slightly) each of the last five seasons. I believe he’ll once again hit .300 with close to 30 home runs and 3-4 steals. Guess what? My projections for Ketel look like this (AVG-R-HR-RBI-SB) (.301-92-29-87-11). It looks a lot like Blackmon with more speed.
There’s nothing crazy about George Springer hitting a career-high in home runs, RBI, and batting average at age-29. However, there’s the cheating scandal hanging over the Astros heads and the fact that he only played in 122 games is worrisome. He’s great but I won’t pay for last year’s numbers. Expect a slight dip in home runs and batting average similar to where he finished in 2017. I don’t have much to say on Eloy Jimenez except he’s amazing!. 2020 will be the last year you can draft him outside of pick 50 overall for a long time. If he manages to surpass 600 plate appearances this year, I would not be surprised if he reached 40 home runs. Marcell Ozuna was a major under-performer based on his Statcast metrics. My eHR metrics showed that he was very unlucky as well. The move to Atlanta provides a moderate park upgrade along with a fairly large lineup boost. How does .275-35-100-5 sound?
2020 Rankings Table - Outfielders 21-40
|28||Luis Robert||White Sox|
|33||Andrew Benintendi||Red Sox|
|36||Lourdes Gurriel||Blue Jays|
Kris Bryant at 21 is odd to see. His metrics continue to be underwhelming and lingering health issues have held his production back a little bit. When I compare him to Nick Castellanos, who is two spots below Bryant, I don’t see much of a difference. Remember, Castellanos goes from an awful park for home runs to the unquestioned number one ballpark for home runs in Cincinnati. I expect both players to hit for a good batting average with 30 homers and solid run production. Neither player runs (Bryant has six steals on 10 attempts over the last two years), so Bryant no longer holds an advantage there. I should touch on Luis Robert due to his rank inside of the top-30. I fear that he’s going to strike out 30% of the time but then again talented rookies like Fernando Tatis proved that an elevated strikeout rate isn’t a killer. Robert is cut from a similar cloth as Tatis expect that Robert’s SwStr% in the minors is actually worse than what Tatis showed before the call-up. So, while Robert may hit .240, he could hit 25 homers and steal 20 bases which is basically what we expect from Tommy Pham sans the solid batting average.
I know Oscar Mercado is just outside of the top-30, but if there’s anyone that could vault into the top-20 it’s Mercado. His stolen base total could be better than projected and I could see similar production to what I expect from Robles. In fact, while both players had poor batted ball profiles, it was Mercado that ended up with a better hard hit% and exit velocity on fly balls and line drives. Robles is actually three years younger, so there’s a reason Robles is ahead of Mercado but there’s a lot to like about Mercado who should bat second between Lindor and Ramirez this year.
2020 Rankings Table - Outfielders 41-60
|57||Alex Verdugo||Red Sox|
|60||Randal Grichuk||Blue Jays|
David Dahl and Kyle Tucker are paired together and it makes sense to me. Dahl is still just 25 and has flashed the sought after power/speed combination. However, he has yet to put it all together, let alone stay healthy. With the backdrop of Coors Field, 2020 could be the breakout we’ve been waiting for but his injury risk drops him outside of the top-40. Tucker isn’t injury prone but hasn’t been given the opportunity to start every day by the Astros. After playing 225 games at Tripe-A over the last two seasons and closing out 2019 with a 30-30 season, he has nothing left to prove. That being said, Josh Reddick is still under contract. Tucker seems like an upgrade based on potential but it’s anyone’s guess as to when Tucker will get his shot. With my best estimate, I like Tucker to produce around a 20-15 type of season across 450 plate appearances. Solid veterans Andrew McCutchen and Justin Upton missed significant time with injuries in 2019 and are coming at discounts this season. I like both to outproduce their ADPs providing OF3 in most formats.
Bryan Reynolds is going to have to hit second in the Pirates lineup right in front of Josh Bell. That’s good but the lineup around him is awful, outside of Bell. That being said, he’s a little more than an empty batting average. He could hit .290 with 18-20 homers and a good bet to reach 85-90 runs. We don’t know what to expect from Shogo Akiyama and my ranking reflects that. He’ll be playing in a favorable park but the outfield is crowded. He has shown moderate power/speed but great on-base skills overseas. If he becomes the Reds every day leadoff hitter, I expect Adam Eaton 2.0 with slightly more power and speed. NOTE: With the trade to Boston, Verdugo gets a major bump as he’s projected to hit leadoff for the Red Sox when healthy. This is the injury section of the rankings. Alex Verdugo is dealing with back issues but claims he’ll be ready for opening day. As part of an already crowded outfield, that gives me concerns. I do believe that when healthy, he can be a .300 hitter with 20-homer pop, so I do like him a lot. If the rumors come to fruition and Verdugo heads to Boston in a Mookie Betts deal, he becomes an intriguing option and I’d move him up about 10 spots.
2020 Rankings Table - Outfielders 61-80
|61||Nomar Mazara||White Sox|
|72||Jackie Bradley Jr.||Red Sox|
|78||Teoscar Hernandez||Blue Jays|
Jo Adell was not healthy for most of 2019 injuring his ankle and hamstring early last spring but still managed an impressive 173 wRC+ at Double-A before struggling in 27 games at Triple-A. Because of his injuries and poor performance to close the season, he’ll start 2020 on Triple-A. The Angels are pushing their chips in this year and will enter the season starting Brian Goodwin in right field. Eye roll. It won’t be long before Adell is patrolling the outfield next to Mike Trout. I have some concerns about Adell’s strikeout rate and he may struggle to hit over .260 immediately, but the power should play. If he was up day-one, I’d project him for .250-28-12. Playing time projections for Dylan Carlson aren’t great. He’s projected for around 60 games above Triple-A for 2020. That’s not a lot. However, he’s probably the best outfielder in the Cardinals system right now. Yes, that includes the Majors. He hit 26 homers and stole 20 bases across AA/AAA. I think he gets the call early this year as the Cardinals will be competing in a tight NL Central. If he’s able to go 20/15 in five months this ranking is definitely justified.
Gregory Polanco hasn’t been healthy in a couple of years. He used to provide a nice power/speed combination but I fear that he’s lost some of his stolen base potential. At this point, I’m not expecting more than 400 plate appearances from GP and his ranking here reflects that. Mitch Haniger has had a rough calendar year. He’s expected to need core muscle surgery and I’ve already ruled out the possibility of him being ready for opening day. This lingering issue could keep him out for a few weeks into April or potentially miss a good half of 2020. I don’t feel comfortable ranking him any higher and won’t be drafting him until further notice.
2020 Rankings Table - Outfielders 80-137
|133||Billy McKinney||Blue Jays|
I was in shock when I looked back at Sam Hilliard‘s minor league numbers. He’s a late-bloomer and will be 26 this season. As a pitcher in college, he didn’t transition until 2015 when he was moved to the outfield. So, I’m not going to hold his development against him given that he’s only played the outfield for four years. He hit 21 homers and stole 37 bases in 2017 at Single-A and last year the power really came through with 42 home runs and 22 steals between Triple-A and the Majors. Now, Colorado Springs is like hitting on the moon, so maybe he’s not a 40-homer guy but given his growth and Coors Field, he could hit 25-30 home runs with 10-15 steals if given the opportunity to play. Unfortunately, the Rookies have a history of avoiding playing their young talent, so I won’t invest too heavily in Hilliard.
I’ll touch on a couple of players you may not know a lot about in Jacoby Jones and Monte Harrison. Jones is slated to start in centerfield for the Tigers and could bat leadoff given the lack of depth on the roster. He crushed the ball last year with a 45.9% hard-hit% and his 91.3 mph average exit velocity ranked 27th among all hitters in 2019! He’s going to strikeout but showed improvement in his contact and chase rates last year, so a 20-10 season isn’t out of the question. With Harrison, he’s an uber-athletic freak with plus-speed and power. In his prime, he could hit 25-30 homers with 30 stolen base upside. He’s worth a flier in deep leagues but I probably won’t draft him in standard mixed leagues because he’s going to start in Triple-A. While everyone lives C-Dick, I’m definitely a believer in A-Dick. Alex Dickerson looks like a potential deep-league sleeper if he can stay healthy. Oracle Park is brutal for left-handed batters but Dickerson’s metrics are strong. His career hard-hit% is over 40% with an average launch angle of 16 degrees to go along with a strikeout rate that’s better than the league-average. He’s one of 50 players to hit a ball above 113 mph last year as well. At 100 overall, there’s no risk, so I’m taking my shot here.
Outside of the top-100, there are some deep-league darts that I like. It appears Yoenis Cespedes may actually enter the season “healthy” but he’s also 34 and has played in just 119 games since the 2016 season. I could see a stretch of streaky power from him if healthy but nothing sustainable. Adam Duvall is another power bat without any minor league options, so he could see some time in the outfield platooning with Nick Markakis. A few other power bats who just need to find their way to playing time include Josh Naylor, Christin Stewart, and Jordan Luplow.
If it’s speed you’re looking for, Billy Hamilton is still a free agent but I don’t really have interest in him now that he’s approaching 30 and his bat continues to somehow get worse. There’s still Manual Margot, Jarrod Dyson, and Roman Quinn who all have great speed but will be part-time options at best. A few prospects who could receive the call and provide power and speed mid-season include Christian Pache, DJ Stewart, Taylor Trammell, Drew Waters, Khalil Lee, and Daz Cameron. Stay active on the wire and keep these guys on your radar.
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