keyboard_arrow_uptop

For previous articles in this series, follow the links below:

We, at Baseball Prospectus, have been talking about outfielders for a while now (over a week and change to be exact, depending on when you are reading this) and the party continues to rage on. Yet before we rage, we shall calibrate—since rankings aren’t useful without knowing what you’re reading. The list you are about to read here presupposes a 16-team standard (read: 5×5 roto) dynasty format, in which there are no contracts/salaries, players can be kept forever, and owners have minor-league farm systems in which to hoard prospects. So feel free to adjust this as necessary for your individual league, whether it’s moving non-elite prospects without 2016 ETAs down if you don’t have separate farm teams or moving lower-risk, lower-reward players up in deeper mixed or -only formats.

After writing almost 5,000 words on the outfield position, I have no more stamina to write an intro. So let’s start with some players who could be good if they’re not injured!

26) Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
27) Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians
Without the associated injuries knocking them back right now, both of these players would have been on yesterday’s list. Braun had a strong rebound season in 2015, but off-season back surgery has made him questionable for opening day and back injuries in general are not things you want to see in aging sluggers. The real question is whether the stolen base spike stays up—as Braun with 20-plus steals is much different than Braun with 10 steals. Brantley showed that his 2014 season was not as much of a fluke as some believed, and he’s a high-end option in points leagues, but shoulder injuries can have medium-term impact on power and that’s a good part of what pressed him up to this level in the first place.

28) Adam Eaton, Chicago White Sox
29) Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants
30) Jorge Soler, Chicago Cubs
31) Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers
32) Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners
For the last four months of the 2015 season, Eaton was one of the top fantasy outfielders in baseball, hitting 12 homers, stealing 19 bases and hitting .311. If he can continue that into 2016, he’ll easily shoot up into the top 20 of this list, but that batting average may be hard to maintain if his strikeouts continue to be elevated. Pence and Cruz are both old guys who can still play, which makes them good values in most dynasty leagues. Both are strong bets to be OF2s for the next two seasons. Pederson and Soler are interesting right next to each other as both have a ton of name value, but haven’t seen their performances live up to expectations. The Dodgers center fielder got off to a great start before falling off the table and essentially losing his job—hitting .210 on the year. Without speed, that batting average risk is enormous to take on. On the other hand, Soler’s power never quite showed up in 2015, and trade rumors continue to circle around him.

33) Ben Revere, Washington Nationals
Man, he is going to have fun playing for Dusty in Washington.

34) Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers
35) Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals
36) Bradley Zimmer, Cleveland Indians
37) Jacoby Ellsbury, New York Yankees
This ranking is absolutely an admission that Gallo’s floor is still very low for someone who has as much upper level minors and major league experience as he does. There’s a big gap between Adam Dunn and Russell Branyan. Zimmer, on the other hand, might have as high of a floor as any non-Mazara outfielder on this list. He didn’t have a great showing in his first taste of Double-A, but his five-category skillset could find itself in Cleveland as soon as this summer. Gordon is money in the bank these days in fantasy leagues, and there’s a certain amount of value to be placed on that in non-shallow formats (which these rankings presuppose). He might be able to hit .270 with 20 homers and good counting stats in his sleep for the next 3-4 years. On the other hand, the enigmatic Yankee centerfielder just needs to stay healthy in order to make his impact—but another year of reduced stolen base efficiency could change that.

38) Hanley Ramirez, Boston Red Sox
There’s no good place to put Ramirez on this list. By talent, he should be 15-20 spots higher. By performance, he should be about 15-20 spots lower. Then there’s the fact that he won’t have outfield eligibility after next year. Considering the drop from outfield to first base isn’t particularly large, and that I’m willing do give him some benefit of the doubt after a league and position switch, this feels appropriate for me.

39) Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins
40) Nick Williams, Philadelphia Phillies
41) Corey Dickerson, Tampa Bay Rays
42) Lewis Brinson, Texas Rangers
43) Kole Calhoun, Los Angeles Angels
It was a terrible year in many respects for Ozuna, but a 25-year-old who has shown he can hit 20-plus homers in the majors with a decent average already is not going to fall too far down this list—even with Jeffrey Loria kicking him in the shins. This was the Dickerson trade that everyone was praying not to see, but just because he’s not playing in Coors doesn’t mean that his fantasy value is dead. Of course, plantar fasciitis and turf don’t mix well either, so there’s that. Williams and Brinson both have sky-high upsides, but the risk factors are similar for each. If they can hit, even reasonably well, they’re both fantasy stars.

44) Shin-Soo Choo, Texas Rangers
45) Matt Kemp, San Diego Padres
46) Josh Reddick, Oakland Athletics

Hey may be 33 years old, but Choo was impactful after a miserable April last year and right in line with the high-end of expectations. There’s not that much of a difference between him and Hunter Pence. It’s true: Matt Kemp drove in more runs last year than Bryce Harper or Kris Bryant. He also hit 23 homers and stole 12 bases. While his demise may be greatly exaggerated, his days of being a top-20 outfielder are likely over. Reddick took a shockingly great step forward in making contact last season and continued to hit for power while doing so. If he retains even half of that strikeout dip (he struck out 65 times in 582 plate appearances), he’ll have an OF3 floor when healthy.

47) David Dahl, Colorado Rockies
48) Denard Span, San Francisco Giants
49) Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
50) Clint Frazier, Cleveland Indians
If you want risk, this is the tier for you. Span has been producing like a top-25 outfielder when he’s been healthy, but he only played in 61 games last season and should probably not be counted on for more than about 120-130 this year. Dahl could produce like a healthy Span at his peak if the power doesn’t really come—which is the biggest risk of his profile. On the other hand, power is not an issue for either Judge or Frazier. Both of them are potential low-contact, low-average hitters and if that happens, it will diminish some of the value that they could provide by hitting 30 homers.

51) Stephen Piscotty, St Louis Cardinals
52) Austin Meadows, Pittsburgh Pirates
53) David Peralta, Arizona Diamondbacks
54) Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds
55) Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox
56) Dexter Fowler, Free Agent
If you don’t like risk, this is the tier for you. Piscotty and Winker are pretty much the same thing, except that Winker will be playing in a better ballpark for power, and has a better chance to hit 20 than his St Louis counterpart. Of course, Peralta is doing that in the majors right now—he’s just already 28 and doesn’t have the background that makes his 2015 performance feel ultra sustainable. Meadows and Benintendi are mostly the same thing as well, as both of them project to be all-around contributors without any one area of focus (though both could contribute nicely early on in steals). Fowler is essentially doing that right now, but he has the small detail of not having a team (yet).

57) Randal Grichuk, St Louis Cardinals
58) Curtis Granderson, New York Mets
59) Manuel Margot, San Diego Padres
60) Victor Robles, Washington Nationals
61) Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds
62) Dalton Pompey, Toronto Blue Jays
63) Wil Myers, San Diego Padres
64) Max Kepler, Minnesota Twins
If you showed someone this list two years ago, they’d be really depressed about where the career trajectories for Bruce and Myers must have gone. For the former, it’s the consistency of power and non-deathly average that has gone away, leaving him floating in space with the other unreliable sluggers. For the latter, it’s been injuries that have blocked his true talent from showing. I’m more optimistic about Bruce being an OF3 in the next two years than Myers, but if either is going to rocket out of post-hype space, it’s Myers. Pompey will be forgotten about slightly after being reduced in Toronto this year, but he should play and he should be productive. Robles is the hot new name on the block, and while he’s not as risky as other prospects at his age/level due to his advanced feel/approach, there are only so many disclaimers you can throw on an 18-year-old who hasn’t played full-season ball.

65) Gerardo Parra, Colorado Rockies
66) Matt Holliday, St Louis Cardinals
67) Mark Trumbo, Baltimore Orioles
68) Steven Souza, Tampa Bay Rays
69) Raimel Tapia, Colorado Rockies
70) Rusney Castillo, Boston Red Sox
71) Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs
72) Billy Burns, Oakland Athletics
73) Colby Rasmus, Houston Astros
74) Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics
75) Kevin Pillar, Toronto Blue Jays
I refuse to believe that the lights have gone out at the Holliday Inn yet. He may be 36, but last year was the first year since 2005 that he didn’t hit 20 homers and his batting average remains solid. Parra going to Colorado is great news for his owners, but he’ll have to stay there to maintain anything more than OF4 value, even in his prime. They may be viewed differently, but there’s no real difference between Davis and Rasmus—well, except for the hair—and you can likely guess which is being overrated and vice versa. This should be the last year for a while in which Happ is ranked with the outfielders, but since he hasn’t played any second base as a pro yet, he sits here. Once he does, his offensive upside could make him a potential top-five option at the position. Finally, this is higher than I thought I’d ever be on Burns, but I’m not optimistic about his continued ability to hit at this level.

76) Brett Phillips, Milwaukee Brewers
77) Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros
78) Leonys Martin, Seattle Mariners
79) Brett Gardner, New York Yankees
80) Ender Inciarte, Atlanta Braves
81) Anthony Alford, Toronto Blue Jays
82) Eddy Julio Martinez, Chicago Cubs
83) Jackie Bradley Jr, Boston Red Sox
84) Trent Clark, Milwaukee Brewers
The barrage of prospects continues with a couple of Brewers who could be five-category contributors. Clark has Phillips beat on upside, but he’s much further away. Alford is going to be mostly a runs/steals contributor, but could get his batting average up to the .280-.290 range in time. If someone tells you they know what to expect from Martinez, just walk away from the conversation—the tools are exciting, but this isn’t a Cuban import with a lot of high-quality exposure. Of course, he doesn’t even have the highest ceiling in this group—that belongs to the younger Tucker. Gardner, Inciarte, and Martin are all boring, but fine because they steal bases for now.

85) Aaron Hicks, New York Yankees
86) Cornelius Randolph, Philadelphia Phillies
87) Harold Ramirez, Pittsburgh Pirates
88) Yusniel Diaz, Los Angeles Dodgers
89) Odubel Herrera, Philadelphia Phillies
90) Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals
91) Delino DeShields Jr, Texas Rangers
92) Oswaldo Arcia, Minnesota Twins
93) Billy McKinney, Chicago Cubs
94) Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers
95) Michael Taylor, Washington Nationals
96) Derek Fisher, Houston Astros
97) Alex Jackson, Seattle Mariners
98) Melky Cabrera, Chicago White Sox
99) Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays
100) Aaron Altherr, Philadephia Phillies
We’re getting to the point where we need to see real production from Hicks and Arcia in order to justify them being ranked this high. Hicks should benefit from Yankee Stadium and play in the near-term, but his former Twins farmhand is going to have to break into a starting lineup that looks full without him. DeShields and Herrera can steal bases, but Herrera’s defense gives him a much better opportunity to stick long-term than whatever you call what DeShields does while standing in the outfield. Ethier and Taylor both need new teams in order to maximize their fantasy value, and at least there are rumors on the former. There’s also plenty of prospect upside in this group. Randolph may be a first baseman long-term, but shows really strong hit/power tools. Diaz has a history of facing much tougher competition than Martinez in Cuba, but is slightly behind in overall raw tools. And Fisher still has 20/20 potential if he can just hit.

101) Hunter Renfroe, San Diego Padres
102) Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay Rays
103) Eddie Rosario, Minnesota Twins
104) Jarrod Dyson, Kansas City Royals
105) Cameron Maybin, Detroit Tigers
106) Nori Aoki, Seattle Mariners
107) Roman Quinn, Philadelphia Phillies
108) Daz Cameron, Houston Astros
109) Michael Saunders, Toronto Blue Jays
110) Garrett Whitley, Tampa Bay Rays
111) Brandon Moss, St Louis Cardinals
112) Nick Markakis, Atlanta Braves
113) Albert Almora, Chicago Cubs
114) Hyun-soo Kim, Baltimore Orioles
115) Rymer Liriano, Milwaukee Brewers
116) Jake Marisnick, Houston Astros
117) Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers
118) Avisail Garcia, Chicago White Sox
119) Austin Jackson, Free Agent
120) Domingo Santana, Milwaukee Brewers
121) Desmond Lindsay, New York Mets
122) Braxton Davidson, Atlanta Braves
123) Steve Pearce, Tampa Bay Rays
124) Carlos Beltran, New York Yankees
125) Chris Colabello, Toronto Blue Jays
And now I just feel like a hoarder. Everyone in this tier has very real weaknesses, but not everyone can own players just in the top 100. Some have no power or power potential, like Aoki, Markakis, and Kim. Some have questions about their ability to stay healthy, like Jennings, Quinn, Saunders, and Hamilton. Some are forever and a half away, like Cameron, Whitley, Lindsay and Davidson. Some are just terrible at baseball, like Garcia. This is going to be the make or break year for Liriano, as he should be able to lock down playing time in a hitters’ park, but nothing with him is ever guaranteed. Same with Santana, who could be playing alongside him in Milwaukee. Jackson needs a home in order to have some semblance of fantasy value, but with over $18 million in career earnings, I’m sure he has a very nice home. Dyson is on track to start in left field for the Royals this year, but I have a hard time seeing him having that job in August—of course, he doesn’t need to be a starter to be valuable though. Finally, I feel shame for believing in the early season Marisnick breakout and further shame for still thinking it could happen. This ranking was made with the oversight of my sponsor.