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February 19, 2014

Fantasy Three-Year Projections


by Craig Goldstein

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For the previous installments in this series, click the links below:

First things first: There are legitimately 125 or so names that could reasonably fit into this ranking of 90 outfielders over the next three years, so if there is an omission, know that it was likely considered and likely ignored for arbitrary and capricious reasons. Also note that unlike previous lists, not every player will be addressed, even within the groupings that appear to have formed. Ranking 90 players precluded that, but if you have a question about someone specific, feel free to drop a comment and I’ll let you know what I was thinking.

Outfield has long been a bastion of depth, but it thins out relatively quickly and while there are some impact prospects on the way, the question is whether they’ll hit quickly enough to fill the void.

No surprises here.

A strong grouping and I can’t say I wasn’t tempted to put Harper at the two spot. Given the immediacy of the three-year rankings though, it’s hard to give him the edge over a fully developed and producing McCutchen. If it’s not clear, I think Braun bounces back with little to no decline.

Ellsbury may never hit 30 home runs again, but he doesn’t need to. Myers is the real deal, and he’ll hit for average and power. Upton has a chance to make this ranking look foolish in multiple ways.

The question about Choo is when the regression hits. The platoon numbers are concerning, but he’s a monster at getting on base, in a favorable ballpark, and hitting atop a dynamic lineup.

2014 should tell us everything we need to know about Kemp. Until we find out though, I believe he can be productive when healthy.

A healthy dose of downside among this group by year three, but 2014 is most important, and outfield gets thin in a hurry.

It’s an open question how long Beltran is effective, and while 2016 might be especially ugly, his talent and the new Yankee Stadium should give us at least two good years, especially with some appearances at DH mixed in.

The bane of most any ranker’s existence. Hamilton was up to 10 spots higher and 25 spots lower. He’ll dominate one, if not two, categories and has the potential for negative impact in the other three.

I’m on record as believing Trumbo can go for 40 homers in Arizona. The question is, what else can he do for you?

While 2014 is the most important, Werth’s age and questionable health play a significant factor in this ranking. Arcia could be a force in the middle of a lineup as soon as this year. He’s not a top-20-type option, but 20-25 home runs without being a drag on batting average has its place. His lineup could improve significantly around him come 2015-16.

Venable is a sneaky 31 years old in 2014, and were this a dynasty ranking, he’d drop a bit. He should be around 20/20 in the next three seasons, though, and in a weak outfield class, that’s valuable.

Springer could arrive as soon as early this year and isn’t quite the boom or bust fantasy prospect he’s been cut out to be. It could be a disaster on the scale of Jaden Smith’s twitter account, but the reality is that Springer’s power and speed should be able to carry him despite an unattractive contact rate. B.J. Upton carried value with the same characteristics for years. The upside is that he adds a respectable average to those carrying tools, making him a top-40 player, rather than outfielder.

Yelich is going to hit and hit soon. How much he’ll add around that is the key to his fantasy value, and given his tender age it’s unlikely the power comes soon, which shouldn’t’ be confused with implying it won’t come at all. Sometimes three years just isn’t as many as you want it to be.

Fun fact: I have thought Shane Victorino was 36 for each of the past three years.

You’ll not find a bigger fan of Aoki than I, but at 31 years old and with a game that relies heavily on contact rate and stolen bases, there’s significant downside potential here. Aoki’s fantasy value comes from being solid pretty much everywhere and a plus in speed. He’s not a burner though, so if the speed starts to slip, the value could go quickly.

I love prospects almost as much as a Kardashian loves a spotlight. Almost. Still, it’s necessary to reign in the prospect love at times. Taveras has a crowded field to work through and an organization that has built itself on patience. There’s also that fact that most prospects don’t hit immediately. Taveras is going to be a monster, but if that first monster year happens in 2016, how much is it worth today?

Buxton and Polanco are hot items, and with good reason. The fact remains though, we’re unlikely to see Buxton in 2014, and while Polanco might reach the majors, we can’t assume every rookie will hit like a Harper or Myers.

Saunders was worse than a post-2006 Adam Sandler movie last year but he is only one season removed from going 19/21. That power/speed combo comes with a bad average and deplorable OBP, but an improved lineup should help with contextual stats.

Moss deserves better company on this list, but he is no lock to accrue the necessary starts to get outfield eligibility for 2015-16.

Ever the example of a prospect who is better in real life than fantasy, that doesn’t mean Bradley has no value. He’s going to be in the majors this year, and he should be solid from the get-go.

DeShields is the boom-or-bust Astros prospect that people think Springer is. He has some work ethic questions, but there’s no question as to his speed. He reached triple digits in stolen bases in 2012, and has the potential to put up 50-plus in the minors with some solid pop (5-10 home runs).

Piscotty lacks the tools that everyone loves to drool over but he can straight up hit, and is going to be the next in the recent line of Cardinals draftees who hit so much they make themselves valuable.

Craig Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Craig's other articles. You can contact Craig by clicking here

Related Content:  Outfield,  Fantasy,  Dynasty Leagues,  Keeper Leagues

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