Photo Credit: AP Photo/Morry Gash
In the last article, we went over the top 25 outfielders for your fantasy squad and this time we will cover the next 25. There is still a ton of talent, but the elite production clearly isn’t there. The age difference is much larger in this area as well with names such as Ronald Acuna, Ryan Braun, and Willie Calhoun. The young bats here are being drafted outside the top 25, but a lot of them will likely outproduce their current value and ADP. After the top 40 outfielders, the talent becomes less balanced and much more specialized in speed or power.
The following rankings were done based on standard 5×5 head to head leagues.
You can listen to the guys of Six Man Roto discuss the 26th-50th ranked outfielders on the most recent episode here:
26) Adam Eaton- After being traded before the 2017 season, the Nationals were ready for Eaton to be their tablesetter in front of the big bats of Harper, Rendon, and Zimmerman. Unfortunately, the team only got to see Eaton in 23 games before he tore his ACL as he ran to first base. A knee injury to a guy who is mostly valuable for his speed is never preferable, but Eaton is still one of the best leadoff men in the game. Since 2014, Eaton has maintained an OBP of .361 or better. Even though Eaton doesn’t have one standout skill, he will be a solid 5 category contributor at the top of a dangerous National lineup.
27) Domingo Santana- Santana was one of my favorite sleepers heading into 2017, but I didn’t expect him to put up 30 home runs and 15 stolen bases while hitting .278. His BABIP should jump out to any fantasy owner as his career number is .354, which is sustainable thanks to his high line drive ball rate. There was some concern about playing time after the Brewers acquired both Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, but those worries were put to bed once it was announced Braun is likely to play first base. The big-bodied outfielder still has a ton of upside and comes at a reasonable ADP of 81.
28) Andrew McCutchen- The longtime Pirate is no more. After being on the trade block for the past year, he was finally moved to the San Francisco Giants as a part of the retooling going on in Pittsburgh. The move to a more competitive team will be great for Cutch and his legacy, but the ballpark will not. The Pirates stadium, PNC Park, ranked as the 23rd best park for home runs while AT&T Park came in as the worst ballpark in the majors for home runs. On top of him losing part of the power in his game, it is hard to trust for McCutchen for any more than 10 stolen bases at 31 years old. He can still be a valuable piece of your roster, but don’t expect the same production that you saw from last season.
29) Ryan Braun- It is weird to get this far and think that Ryan Braun is the 4th best Brewers outfielder on this list, but he might not even be considered an outfielder after this year with the potential switch to first base. The Brewers want to keep his bat in the lineup after acquiring Cain and Yelich along with the emergence of right fielder Domingo Santana so they are looking to move him to the infield, which is great for him as well. His body will take less wear and tear at first, which should allow him to have fewer days for rest and nagging injuries. Some drafters believe that Braun is not the player he once was. The power may have faded a bit, but 23 to 25 home runs and 15 stolen bases would be valuable out of a 34-year-old with 1B/OF eligibility.
30) Ender Inciarte- The Braves are on their way up and this is just the first name you will see today. Incarte doesn’t do anything super flashy, but he is always reliable for 16-22 stolen bases and a batting average right around .300. The Braves center fielder nearly quadrupled his power output from the previous year thanks to a jump in his HR/FB rate, which went from 2.5% in 2016 to 6.8% in 2017. Don’t expect double digit power from Inciarte because his home run rate isn’t sustainable with a hard contact rate of 22%. He doesn’t have the highest ceiling, but he could slot into your third outfield spot and be a consistent contributor year round.
31) Ronald Acuna- If you don’t know this name by now, have you been sleeping under a rock? Acuna has flashed every possible tool you could want in a fantasy baseball monster. In 2017, Acuna played in 3 different levels of the minors and improved his production every time he received a promotion. He compiled a triple slash line of .325/.374/.522 through those 3 levels and hit 21 home runs with 44 stolen bases on 64 attempts. The biggest risk with Acuna isn’t in his skills, but the way the Braves will handle Acuna and his service time. It is likely that fantasy owners won’t see him until May at the earliest, but once he does debut, he could be an absolute game changer for fantasy outfields.
32) Steven Souza Jr.- Originally Souza would have been lower on this list had he remained in Tampa, but thanks to the Rays firesale he was bumped up a few spots. While everyone is afraid of the humidor affect in Arizona, it won’t bring down Souza’s power too much since he didn’t hit many wall-scraping type home runs. The lineup boost raises his value because even though the Rays had the 25th most runs scored as a team, Souza was able to score 78 runs while driving in an additional 78. Expect the right fielder to bat either the 4th or 5th spot of the lineup, which will be prime for piling up those counting stats.
33) Marwin Gonzalez- The Astros super utility guy was one of the bigger surprises last year with his .303 batting average and .907 OPS. Even though he had this breakout year, I wouldn’t expect him to provide the same amount of value this upcoming year. His HR/FB rate was 6% higher than his career number, although he did hit fly balls 4% more often. The biggest reason he isn’t likely to repeat his .303/.377/.530 triple slash line is that his batted ball profile actually got worse this last year. His hard contact percentage didn’t change much, but his soft contact percentage rose from 14.7% to 18.6% year to year. Gonzalez will still be valuable in fantasy leagues because of his multi-position eligibility and the fact that he will bat in the 5th or 6th spot of a dangerous Astros lineup like he did in 2017.
34) Kyle Schwarber- Schwarber was one of the biggest storylines this whole off-season thanks to him being in “the best shape of his life”.
Kyle Schwarber looks different… pic.twitter.com/NK4DbF57dN
— Baseball Quotes (@BaseballQuotes1) February 27, 2018
There are still a lot of questions surrounding the Cubs’ left fielder because we truly don’t know what kind of hitter he can or will be. The .244 BABIP from last year is bound to regress to a much more normal level since it is hard to remain that unlucky for a long time. Schwarber did get optioned to Triple-A for a time last year and came back on July 6th. His final 225 plate appearances of the year were encouraging as he showed signs of getting back to the potential everyone expected, however the 17.9% infield fly ball rate and 20% soft contact was not very encouraging. There is a ton of upside for Schwarber in fantasy drafts, but beware as he will likely be in a part time role since he isn’t the best defensive outfielder.
35) Mitch Haniger- The Mariners outfielder was a huge sleeper going into this past season and he was one of the hottest hitters to start the year. His 4 home runs and 16 RBI in the first 21 games made all of his fantasy owners happy, but it all came crashing down after Haniger strained his oblique during an at-bat. He returned weeks later, but just couldn’t find the same groove he was in before the injury. Haniger hit the disabled list one more time after taking a deGrom fastball to the face. He returned on August 19th and managed 163 plate appearances over the final month and half. In that time frame, Haniger slashed .318/.344/.580 while smacking 9 dingers, scoring 22 runs, and driving in 23. If Haniger can stay healthy for a full season, he could provide 20 home runs and 10 stolen bases in an underrated Mariners lineup.
36) Ian Happ- Happ had a great rookie year in 2017 as he put up 24 home runs and 8 stolen bases while being in a part time role for the Chicago Cubs. Due to the depth of position players for the team, there would be days where he would only receive one or two at-bats. The Cubs have been looking for a new leadoff hitter since losing Dexter Fowler to free agency after their World Series win in 2016. Happ has been auditioning for it this Spring Training and looks like the front runner thanks to his 3 home runs and .429 OBP in the first 13 at-bats. With it looking more likely with every passing day, Happ will be in a great spot to rack up runs in front of Bryant and Rizzo. Don’t forget about the potential for 30 home runs if they allow him to reach the 500 or so plate appearance mark.
37) Willie Calhoun- Not many people knew the name of Willie Calhoun until the Dodgers flipped him and some other pieces for the Rangers’ Yu Darvish. Calhoun couldn’t have landed in a better situation with Texas willing to give him his chance in left field with the fallback option being that he becomes the everyday DH. Calhoun has an elite bat as shown by his 31 home runs, .300 batting average, walk percentage of 7.8%, and strikeout percentage of 11.4%. Calhoun debuted for the Rangers in September when he finally got his chance and hit the ball with authority almost every time as he only made soft contact 11% of the time. There is a lot to love and while most rookies struggle in their first season, I am going to own a lot of shares of Calhoun thanks to his very unique skill set at such a young age.
38) Aaron Hicks- In his second year of being a Yankee, Hicks only managed 361 plate appearances, but did so in far fewer games (123 games in 2016 versus 88 games in 2017). Had Hicks been able to receive a full workload of 600 plate appearances, he could have easily pushed for 24 home runs and 16 steals in a deadly Yankees lineup. It is unknown where Hicks will bat this upcoming season, but if he continues to bat 2nd like he did last year, you will get a great return on your investment as he is the 238th player off the board.
39) Odubel Herrera- After not tasting failure during his first two seasons in the majors, Herrera was drowning in it until June. Doobie managed a .218 batting average with only 3 home runs and 4 stolen bases on 7 attempts in the first two months of the season. Once the weather got hot for the summer, so did the Phillies center fielder. From June 3rd on, Herrera smacked 11 round trippers, stole 4 bases on 6 attempts, and scored 51 runs. For anyone that still had Herrera, the .318 batting average was just gravy. There is some concern because that .318 average was boosted by a BABIP of .383. There is still a lot of potential in his bat at age-26 and will be in a Phillies lineup that I expect to be better than most people think thanks to the young Rhys Hoskins and veteran first baseman, not the musician, Carlos Santana.
40) Jay Bruce- It took awhile for the power bat of Jay Bruce to find a home this winter, but he eventually returned to the New York Mets on a 3 year deal. He has been fairly consistent the last 2 years as he has averaged 34 home runs, 100 RBI, and a .252 batting average. He won’t be in the best of lineups since the Mets are constantly dealing with injuries. That being said, he put up 29 HR and 75 RBI in 103 games before the Mets dealt him to the Indians. He clearly feels comfortable in his role there and is a great power bat to grab just outside the top 150.
41) Adam Jones- By now we all know that Adam Jones clearly fits the profile of every other Baltimore Orioles hitter. He isn’t patient whatsoever and is loves to swing away whenever he can as shown by his swing percentage of 58% (which was the 4th highest in the majors last year). Jones is easy to count on as he has only played less than 147 games once since 2010. Speed stopped being a part of Jones’ game in 2013, so don’t expect more than 2-3 stolen bases in a season, but he is a solid contributor everywhere else as he projects to have 75-80 RBI and runs and 25 home runs with a .275ish batting average.
42) Trey Mancini- And next on the list is another Baltimore Oriole who hates to walk and loves to strikeout, but has 25 plus home run power in his bat. The downside with Mancini is that he hits ground balls around 50% of the time he steps to the plate, which limits his current power upside. The .352 BABIP doesn’t seem sustainable for a guy that has very little speed on the basepaths, so the .293 batting average that he displayed last year is bound for some regression. At only 25-years-old, Mancini has shown some really good potential for power while hitting in one of the best offensive ballparks.
43) Jackie Bradley Jr.- JBJ has never been a high batting average type hitter and last year was no exception, however he didn’t hit the ball with authority the way he usually does. The slugging percentage dropped by 80 points when compared to 2016, and his isolated power, or ISO, dropped by 60 as well. His soft and medium contact rates didn’t change much from the previous year, but his hard contact dropped by 3%. Bradley had a bit of bad luck as shown by his .294 BABIP when compared to his past two years. If the 27-year-old can raise his contact rates to what they were in 2016 (72.2% in 2017 compared to 75.6% in 2016), we may just be able to see him hit 20 home runs again as he only hit 17 this past year. The risk is there, but JBJ comes at a reasonable price outside the top 200 on draft day.
44) Corey Dickerson- Even after his best offensive season, Dickerson was DFA’d by the Tampa Bay Rays. Dickerson was later picked up by the Pittsburgh Pirates and should slot nicely into their lineup. During the 2017 season, he destroyed opponents in the first half with 17 home runs and a .312 average. It all changed once he got past the All-Star Break though. 10 home runs and a .241 batting average while driving in 20 base runners is all he could muster over his final 65 games of the season. The BABIP might have still ended a bit high for Dickerson at .338 and there should be some regression, but Dickerson should easily produce a .265 batting average and 24 home runs for the 2018 season even though PNC Park grades out worse for power than Tropicana.
45) Nick Castellanos- I spoke about Castellanos at length in our third baseman rankings.
46) Kole Calhoun- There isn’t anything flashy about Kole Calhoun, but he provides 20 home runs and a middle of the road average late in drafts. Most of his value will be in deeper leagues or larger outfield formats since 20 home runs isn’t hard to find nowadays. The Angels did lower the right field wall by 9 feet which will work in Calhoun’s favor as a lefty. The improved lineup means we don’t know where he will bat in the lineup as he bounced around the lineup a lot last year.
47) Adam Duvall- Duvall could have been higher on the list thanks to his consistent 30 home run pop over the past 2 years, but the questions about playing time have caused him to drop. Between Winker, Hamilton, Duvall, and Schebler someone is going to have to sit. The loss of playing time limits severely limits the contributions he can give to your fantasy squad. While the power is nice, the one trick pony needs the plate appearances to make him worth taking in your fantasy draft.
48) Manuel Margot- Somehow Margot was able to hit double digit homers this past year after only doing it once in the minors. It is wholly unsustainable though since HR/FB rate was around 4.5% in the minors and the soft contact rate sitting at 26% in the majors. Margot hits more ground balls than fly balls right now, which also limits the likelihood that he will reach the double digit home run mark. The speed is for real though as he stole 17 bases on 24 attempts. Steamer is higher on Margot than I am as they predict him to put up 12 home runs and 19 stolen bases with a .263 batting average, but I think he doesn’t put up more than 7 home runs during the 2018 season.
49) Avisail Garcia- Avi Garcia somehow ended up with the 2nd highest batting average in the American League, but that was held up by the highest BABIP in the majors at .392. Even though Garcia did look like a better hitter last year, expect him to end up around a .280 batting average and close to 20 home runs. Avisail Garcia is built like a power hitter, but the power is currently limited because he hits a ground ball more than half the time he is at the plate. Avi has everything you want physically in a power hitting corner outfielder, but he just needs to make an adjustment at the plate to reach his potential.
50) Nomar Mazara- At only 22-years-old, Mazara had his first 100 RBI season even though he didn’t improve his on-base or slugging percentage. The young outfielder did improve his walk rate by nearly 2% and has started hitting fly balls more often. Mazara is able to drive the ball to all fields as well and projects to keep growing into one of the better outfielders in the league. Even though he is going as the 42nd outfielder off the board, he will end up better than that when the season ends in 2018.
Honorable mentions: Gregory Polanco, Michael Taylor, Dexter Fowler, Austin Hays, Brett Gardner
Thanks for reading the breakdown of who we view as the top 26-50 outfielders. Here at Six Man Rotation we always love to hear from our readers with criticism and opinions as well. You can follow me on Twitter @DadSox or our fantasy baseball podcast Twitter @SixManRoto. You can find the rest of our podcast episodes on Soundcloud here. Our top 25 starting pitcher rankings will be out in the next few days, so keep an eye out for those!