In case you missed the infield positions, let’s get you caught up:

Fantasy Three-Year Projections: Catcher

Fantasy Three-Year Projections: First Base

Fantasy Three-Year Projections: Second Base

Fantasy Three-Year Projections: Third Base

Fantasy Three-Year Projections: Shortstop

With that out of the way, it’s time to order the outfielders. If you’ve been following along or you’re familiar with this exercise from years past, you know that these rankings function best as something like a cross between keeper preferences and dynasty rankings for those whose window of contention is open in the immediate future. It’s important to state that these rankings are mine alone. They no doubt vary from the opinions of other writers on this site and that’s okay. Good, even. This wouldn’t be much fun if we all thought the same thing about every player and couldn’t learn from each other in the cases where we diverge.

Off we go:

1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

Don’t get cute.

2. Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox

3. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

This time last year, Harper was coming off the best offensive season since Bonds registered a 1.421 OPS (1.421!) and the precocious 23-year-old had an argument for the top spot. There’s really no other way to put it: Harper was a massive disappointment in 2016. It’s hard to find a bright spot other than the surprising 21 steals that nearly carried him to a top-20 finish at the position. A rumored shoulder injury may be to blame for diminished power and a dip in batted ball velocity contributed to his cratered batting average. It would be irresponsible to hand wave the results, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Harper reclaims second chair in the 2018 rankings. He’ll have to overtake Betts, whose floor is incredibly high. Don’t expect a repeat of 2016 – those may well go down as career best numbers across the board – but you’d gladly take 80 percent of that production if I gave it to you right now.

4. Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates

5. Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies

6. Christian Yelich, Miami Marlins

7. George Springer, Houston Astros

8. Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates

Speaking of balance, each of these five in-their-peak options has the goods to explode for a position-best season at some point in the next three years. Marte is a firmly speed over power, and as I covered earlier this winter, he’s due for a significant bump in his contextual stats going forward. Blackmon finished as fantasy’s third best outfielder in 2016 despite missing a couple weeks in April. Don’t discount him much, if at all, if he becomes the subject of trade rumors again. Sure, leadoff for the Rockies is a cushy assignment, but Blackmon batted .313 with 17 home runs on the road in 2016. Yelich finally began lifting the ball with more regularity, more than doubling his previous career high HR output while not sacrificing any batting average. Locked into the third spot in the Marlins lineup, you can count on him for counting stats aplenty. Springer went the other way on the lineup card, slotting in as Houston’s leadoff hitter for most of 2016 and is poised to do the same in 2017. A repeat of triple digit runs is likely, with ample power. He was caught stealing more than he was successful last season, a curious and sudden development considering his previous success on the bases. Last of the group is Polanco, who requires the most projection to validate this placement. After a first half that looked like what we’ve been waiting for since he broke into the majors in 2014, Polanco faded badly down the stretch thanks to nagging injuries and poor batted ball luck. He’s entering his age-25 season and I’m expecting full realization of his considerable talent sooner rather than later.

9. A.J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks

10. J.D. Martinez, Detroit Tigers

11. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins

12. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers

13. Justin Upton, San Diego Padres

14. Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets

Pollock lost most of 2016 to injury after out-earning all outfielders in 2015. On skills, he fits somewhere in the group above. A broken wrist in June didn’t sap any of Martinez’s power upon his August return. The new J.D. Martinez isn’t that new anymore; we’re 1500+ plate appearances into his Tigers career, during which only 11 qualified players have a higher OPS. If you don’t believe yet, I’m not sure what it’ll take. Mike Stanton rarely missed a game in his minor league career and played almost every day from his call-up in 2010 through the conclusion of the 2011 season. Giancarlo Stanton has played more than 125 games just once in the five seasons since then. Someone point that man to the nearest Dade County DMV. I have concerns that Braun won’t reach 2016’s power and speed numbers ever again, but he’s too good a hitter to fade hard, even as he approaches his mid-30s. Upton gets the slightest edge over Cespedes for his longer track record, two-year age advantage, and handful of steals.

15. David Dahl, Colorado Rockies

16. Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox

17. Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs

18. Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins

19. Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds

We spilled a lot of ink last week telling you how impressive the young core of shortstops is. The outfielders aren’t too far behind. I was slow to come around on Dahl, even as he quickly ascended from Double-A to the big leagues in 2016 and produced all the while. He won’t be as good as his .315/.359/.500 stint in Denver might lead you to believe, and doesn’t need to be to justify this placement. Coors and speed—not a combination I recommend outside of a baseball context—will help hide some of the short-term growing pains. Benintendi’s 80th percentile PECOTA projection looks awfully similar to Betts’ 50th percentile, less some stolen bases. Given PECOTA’s (or any system’s) bearishness on players who have limited major league experience, are you sure there’s a wide gap between the two? Schwarber is a beast, but much like Kris Bryant last year, I want to see Schwarber hit his way through the elevated swing-and-miss number before I jump him to the next tier. Buxton has a strikeout problem of his own that needs correction before he can reach his considerable ceiling. As promising as last August was, he did strike out in 38 of 101 plate appearances to go with the nine dingers. Buxton has fantasy’s scarcest asset to lean while he figures the rest out. To be honest, I’m not spending much time trying to figure out what Hamilton is going to do at the plate. He’s good for 50 steals regardless of what the answer is and that alone makes him a top-20 option.

20. Mark Trumbo, Baltimore Orioles

21. Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners

22. Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics

23. Ian Desmond, Colorado Rockies

24. Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles

25. Matt Kemp, Atlanta Braves

26. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

27. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies

Don’t be the dope who holds Trumbo’s real life value against him in fantasy. He made real changes to his swing that resulted in more pull side fly balls and returns to an ideal park for a power hitter. Just because the leaguewide power surge has devalued home runs in our game doesn’t mean you should turn your nose up at the guys with a shot to lead the league. The bottom half of this list are the veterans I’m arguably too low on. Desmond’s second half terrifies me, Jones swings too much, McCutchen is done running, and CarGo is only going to be in Colorado for, at most, one third of the time period these rankings consider.

28. Adam Eaton, Chicago White Sox

29. Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City Royals

30. Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays

31. Odubel Herrera, Philadelphia Phillies

32. Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston Red Sox

33. Stephen Piscotty, St. Louis Cardinals

A few power-speed guys, led by veterans with longer track records. As I said last year in this space, I’m not sure why Kiermaier doesn’t get more attention. He’s still at a point on the aging curve where you don’t have to work too hard to imagine further offensive development. There’s a 15-30 season in there and the contextual stats should benefit greatly from a full season in the top third of the order instead of the bottom third. I confess to having little idea just how impactful Herrera was in 2016 until I dug in for this rankings. If he can continue to trim his chase rate and attack pitches in the zone the way he did in 2016, I like his chances of continued success. Bradley is a fine player, but his strong earnings were largely a product of run and RBI totals that he has a slim chance of replicating. I’m not sure what to do with Piscotty, the outlier profile in this group. On the one hand, he’s solid and should hit in the middle of the Cardinals lineup. On the other, I don’t think it gets any better than the 86/22/85/7/.273 roto-slash line he offered up in 2016. That was good for 27th at the position.

34. Yasmany Tomas, Arizona Diamondbacks

35. Randal Grichuk, St. Louis Cardinals

36. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays

Lump Tomas into the large group of players who benefitted from shifting their batted ball mix around to emphasize pull side power. He has enough raw to challenge 30 bombs routinely if he keeps that approach. Grichuk slashed .269/.300/.554 with 16 dongs in 70 games after a brief demotion to Triple-A. He also struck out 34 percent of the time. There’s a distinct chance he whiffs himself right out of a job. Bautista is obviously the best short-term bet of the group. This ranking is a hedge against health and age.

37. Nomar Mazara, Texas Rangers

38. Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers

I feel similarly about present day Mazara as I do Piscotty. There’s value in the floor, I just don’t see where the impact is going to come from. He’ll play 2017 at 22 years old and I trust him as a long-term asset; I just don’t want to pay a price that requires the power to arrive now in order to break even. Pederson made incredible progress in 2016, raising his contact percentage by 8.5 percentage points. Trouble is, he was dreadful against lefties on the rare occasions he was allowed to face them. A .125/.250/.219 line isn’t going to buy him more chances, and the Dodgers are flexible enough that they have no need to force him out there.

39. Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers

40. Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians

Puig has been an above-average offensive player every season by your advanced metric of choice and still possesses enough upside to reach heights that most in this area of the list aren’t capable of. I love Brantley’s skillset but I’d be lying if I said I had a good read on what to expect. My hunch is that he’ll hit for average and rack up enough contextual stats in the middle of Cleveland’s loaded lineup to be valuable even if the low-teens power and speed never come back.

Thank you for reading

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I'm curious how Randal Grichuk, Khris Davis (or even Mark Trumbo) could be Top 40, yet Adam Duvall is not? They all have similar profiles. Do I overvalue Duvall's youth and production, or do I undervalue his team context?
Youth? Duvall is three years older than Grichuk and a few months younger than Davis.

Duvall had a track record of hitting for power in the minors, but I think it's fair to say that nobody really saw his 2016 season coming. For better or worse, I tend not to trust older, pop-up guys, especially ones that fade as the league gets a longer look. Duvall hit .231/.306./.434 in the second half.

He'll be towards the front part of the 41-100 ranks that run tomorrow, but I think Trumbo and Davis are substantially safer and Grichuk more likely to have impact over the full three year period these rankings cover.
Upton is still with the Tigers.
My bad, must've blacked out and thought it was 2015
Maybe lay off the "Coors and speed" a bit? :)
I would be interested in hearing more about your very positive 3 year outlook on AJ Pollock. A lot of his perceived value stems from the ability to steal bases and hit for a bit of power. However, he's managed a single year in which he stole more than 15 bases and hit more than 10 home runs. Moreover, he's approaching his age 29 season (read ageism). Granted, he's only had 1 year in the last 3 which he had a full amount of at bats, but doesn't that at least throw up an orange flag when considering his age? In other words, do you see a little more, a little less, or about the same of a 2015 AJ Pollock over the next 3 years? Why? Is it fair to consider 2015 the outlier/career year?
Yes, I think it's more than fair to red flag the fact that Pollock only has one complete MLB season on his resume. And yes, 2015 will almost certainly be his career year.

I think his skillset is well-rounded, stable, and more insulated from aging than your typical player. He has elite in-the-zone contact ability that will result in a batting average pushing .300, a 15-30 power-speed combo, and a likely leadoff spot for a top-heavy Arizona offense in a favorable home park. You don't have to take my word for it. PECOTA has him projected for 90/16/66/31/.285. If you run that through the PFM with standard settings, Pollock grades out as a top five OF.

There's plenty of risk, but I have complete confidence in his production while healthy. If the health lasts a full season (or three), he'll have little trouble delivering on this ranking.