This is the sixth edition of a continuing series. If you missed the previous rounds, catchers, first basemen, second basemen, third basemen, and shortstops can be found via the links. Yesterday, we evaluated what outfielders did in 2016. Today, we’ll take a first stab at ranking them for 2017.
As a reminder, these rankings represent my first reactions rather than a truly rigorous approach. I’ve used an absolutely objective technique called mental math to compile the lists. I’m assuming a standard 5×5 format.
The purpose of this exercise is two-fold: to get an early start on 2017 rankings and to crowdsource missing or misranked players. That’s where you come in. Let your thoughts and feelings be known in the comments. As we’ve done in previous editions, we’ll break this into digestible chunks.
Outfield is a very large position. I’ll be focusing written analysis on the players who most interest me. There’s a very high likelihood some players have slipped through the cracks – either because I only ranked them at another position or missed them entirely.
Since there are so many outfielders to cover, let’s try to focus on the guys who probably stand out. After being Turner’s number one doubter when he was a prospect, I’m now the guy who’s very aggressive about him next season. See, I can admit when I’m wrong (and possibly overcorrect). Turner’s utility has much to do with his placement here. He’s certainly less reliable than several of the names below him. The stolen bases plus modest power will be very valuable.
I’m probably a little higher on JDM than most of my colleagues, but I think we’d all generally agree that the Braun through Cespedes band is comparable. Pollock is risky, but he performed well the last time he recovered from this injury.
I’m sure my high ranking of Dahl will raise a few eyebrows. In taking a closer look, it’s possible I’m assuming too high of a floor. He should be a five category monster as part of a Coors lineup I expect to massacre the league in run scoring.
Herrera has more power in his bat, but he’s taken an opposite field approach in his early career. There are obvious adjustments he can make to improve again. I’m obviously expecting him to make them – he’s proven more than willing to tinker before and during a season. If you’re less bullish, then you’d have him ranked somewhere in the early 40s.
|Jackie Bradley Jr.||31|
Peraza is kind of a very poor man’s Turner. I expect big stolen base totals with just enough in other categories to be useful. The lack of home runs may present a challenge if you don’t also roster at least one leader in that category. In fact, combining Davis and Peraza on the same roster would be fantastic.
Zobrist, Bradley, and Benintendi probably wouldn’t rank this high without their excellent supporting casts. They’ll earn more plate appearances and run scoring opportunities as a result of their team.
My ranking of Maybin may look very aggressive. I’m excited about his new home with the Angels. If he can stay healthy, he’ll probably bat ahead of Trout. I also like Reddick’s new role at a homer friendly park.
It may seem overly pessimistic to rank Brantley 46. I’m still a big fan of his, but I worry about his inability to return this season. The injury-free projection is probably comparable to or slightly better than number 18 ranked Ramirez.
As we get farther into these rankings, I lose certainty/conviction with the picks. More analysis is needed. A lot of these are veterans on the wrong side of their career. Some of them will have renaissance seasons similar to Mike Napoli. Most will continue to decline.
There are a few exciting names in here too. Puig is still a fantasy heartthrob even though I haven’t understood the allure for years. Buxton, Mazara, Conforto, and Renfroe could soon be powerhouses at the position. I’m uncertain if Contreras will play enough outfield to continue qualifying. I suppose we’ll see. The Cubs once again project to have a very crowded roster.
|Steven Souza Jr.||81|
|Melvin Upton Jr.||84|
|Hyun Soo Kim||98|
Many of the down-ballot outfielders are boring roster filler. There are also plenty of high ceiling, low floor lottery tickets. Speed is available in the form of Perez, Smith, Jankowski, Quinn, Broxton, Dyson, Margot, and possibly Revere.
Of all the rankings in this tier, Bruce is probably the most questionable. He’s coming off a $13 season in which he was terrible for large swathes. His mega-slumps would be tolerable in the real world if he could play defense. Since he can’t, Bruce is very likely to lose playing time throughout the season, especially if he slumps and Conforto doesn’t.
Now brace yourself, there are a lot of leftovers.
Here we have platoon options, waiver wire patches, and even a few upside plays like Dozier. I’ll have my eye on Burns, Hicks, Gamel, and Frazier.
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