February 19, 2016
TTO Scoresheet Podcast
Episode 76: Outfielders
Just because we released our final keeper rankings, that doesn’t mean we stop working for you. (For anyone who hasn’t seen them yet, be sure to check out the final spreadsheet.) We know that many of you are in private leagues with unusual keeper deadlines, or look to these rankings for trade discussions, plus, if we didn’t participate in outfield week, we’d just plain feel left out.
The disparity in talent between the American League and National League outfielders is perhaps the most substantial divide in the game right now, and compounded even more by the need to fill multiple positions. In the American League, it may be a good year to piece together a corner outfielder from scraps, while in the National League, it may be worth liquidating some draft picks to trade up.
As always, these ratings are based upon a standard, 10-team continuing league, and players who can play multiple positions are being evaluated as an outfielder alone.
This tier is fairly broad, and the few names ranked within it illustrate the American League’s outfield talent shortage as a whole. If you don’t have a star outfielder, look around, and take comfort in the fact that you aren’t alone.
We’ve heard some talk that Upton is the top crossover draft target in the American League this year. From our vantage point, that’s hard to see. Both in real life and especially in this format, Upton helps your team, but he isn’t a star.
A lot of Orioles dollars went into this tier—their placement within these rankings may be somewhat reflective of the Orioles’ chances to contend this season. It’s only .02 of Scoresheet fielding range ratings, but it feels as though Gordon has lost his center-field range, and at his age, that’s likely to be gone for good.
Solid players, all. This is probably a low-water mark on Brantley, but the offseason reports of his health have been vague and somewhat discouraging, to the point where we have some additional long-term worry about his power returning.
15. Nelson Cruz (34)
Please do not look at our Cruz comment from last year. We may have vastly underestimated Cruz’s chances for success. (In an alternate universe, we just wrote this same sentence for Fivethirtyeight.) We’re still mildly skeptical, and the defense renders him a DH for any successful team.
Welcome to the Scoresheet defensive stud bonanza. Bradley leads this pack, as he has more offensive upside, and his strongest defensive ratings will kick in next year. (If you missed the noise on the Scoresheet discussion group, Bradley earned—rightly, in our estimation—a defensive rating beyond that of even the best corner outfielders in years past, but his range will be even higher next year.) Kiermaier is our favorite star fielding Kevin, because in Scoresheet, it is literally accurate that fielding range never slumps.
Below the Keeper Line
1. Bryce Harper (2)
7. Kyle Schwarber (10)
Peralta is a curious player who we’re relatively high on in the coming year. His splits are severe even for a left-handed hitter, which somewhat counter-intuitively makes him more valuable than a player with a more regular platoon rating, as right-handed-hitting bench outfielders are plentiful.
There’s a lot of excitement around Conforto this season. For us, Santana ranks right alongside him, perhaps with greater boom and bust potential. This should go without saying, but Santana is an obvious crossover keeper in just about any league which allows that to happen.
Ozuna is a player who we’ve been targeting in a number of leagues as a bounce-back candidate, although betting on a Marlin to overcome the circus around the team is always challenging. Soler falls a little farther due to his lack of prior track record, but retains enough upside to be useful on your team or as a trade chip. Carlos Gonzalez is tremendously difficult to rank, as a player who will likely have the most value only in the first half of 2016. His extreme splits (behind only Adam Lind, Alejandro De Aza, and Scooter Gennett) and his banked stats will make him a potential playoff star even outside of Coors.
18. Ryan Braun (32)
With McCutchen locked into centerfield for a long time to come, we’ll have to see more power from Polanco before we consider him a team centerpiece.
21. Wil Myers (39; AL: 19)
There’s a good argument to be made that Davis’s trade to Oakland should move him to the back of this tier. Also, as an older rookie without strong defense or a high ceiling, we’re lower on Piscotty than most.
33. Corey Dickerson (57)
Below the Keeper Line