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February 19, 2016

TTO Scoresheet Podcast

Episode 76: Outfielders

by Ian Lefkowitz, Ben Murphy and Jared Weiss

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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.

American League

1. Mike Trout (Overall Ranking: 1)
2. Mookie Betts (5)
3. George Springer (8; NL Ranking: 6)

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.

4. Jose Bautista (12)
5. Lorenzo Cain (13)
6. J.D. Martinez (17)
7. Justin Upton (18; NL: 12)

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.

8. Adam Jones (22)
9. Chris Davis (23)
10. Alex Gordon (24)

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.

11. Adam Eaton (28; NL: 18)
12. Carlos Gomez (29; NL: 19)
13. Michael Brantley (30)
14. Shin-Soo Choo (31; NL: 20)

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.

16. Jackie Bradley (35)
17. Kevin Kiermaier (37)
18. Josh Reddick (38)
19. Kevin Pillar (46)

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.

20. Melky Cabrera (48)
21. Kole Calhoun (49)
22. Colby Rasmus (50)
23. Hanley Ramirez (53)
24. Jacoby Ellsbury (55)
25. Steven Souza (60; NL: 36)
26. Preston Tucker (61)

Below the Keeper Line
Evan Gattis owners should be thankful for that one extra year of catcher eligibility, and wish him well on his voyage to the 17th round of everyone’s draft. Cameron Maybin is an intriguing draft target for AL owners who don’t have a player with CF range, but he is unlikely to break out to become even a short-term keeper at this point. Delino DeShields had a fun year, but it’s likely to be something of a high-water mark, and he has nearly zero star potential. You could say the same for Eddie Rosario, who will be kept in far too many leagues this year due to his fluky power spike. Carlos Beltran’s once-great defense is shot. Mark Trumbo is a right-handed power bat with no defensive value, which means his best role on a Scoresheet team is as an infrequent pinch hitter. Dalton Pompey owners should be furious that he got just enough playing time to be a tough protect—we have him well on the other side of the keeper line because we disbelieve in the bat. Keeping Rusney Castillo is your funeral at this point.

National League

1. Bryce Harper (2)
2. Andrew McCutchen (3)
3. Giancarlo Stanton (4)
4. A.J. Pollock (6)
5. Jason Heyward (7)
6. Yoenis Cespedes (9; AL Ranking: 4)

Heyward and Cespedes both rank highly on the speculation that they’ll finish a season playing primarily center field, which will inherently boost their defensive rankings in 2017 and potentially beyond.

7. Kyle Schwarber (10)
8. Yasiel Puig (11)

Our positional rankings consider the player as though the outfield were their primary position, but Schwarber should catch for your team, and if he isn’t, you’re probably leaving some value on the table. We’re still big believers in Puig and would love to grab him as a potentially distressed asset.

9. Joc Pederson (14)
10. Christian Yelich (15)
11. Starling Marte (16)
12. David Peralta (19)

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.

13. Michael Conforto (20)
14. Domingo Santana (21)

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.

15. Marcell Ozuna (25)
16. Jorge Soler (26)
17. Carlos Gonzalez (27)

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)

19. Ben Zobrist (33; AL: 15)
20. Gregory Polanco (36)

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)
22. Matt Holliday (40; AL: 20)
23. Khris Davis (41)
24. Dexter Fowler (42; AL: 21)
25. Matt Kemp (43)
26. Stephen Piscotty (44)
27. Charlie Blackmon (45)
28. Hunter Pence (47)

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.

29. Curtis Granderson (51)
30. Andre Ethier (52)
31. John Jaso (54)
32. Jayson Werth (56)

We like Werth as a potential candidate to bounce back from a lousy, injury-marred season that likely caused many of his owners to cut him outright.

33. Corey Dickerson (57)

Moving from Coors to the Trop is just about the worst thing that can happen to a fantasy player, and landing on a team with outfield depth only compounds the issue. He’s barely a keeper now, which is a severe fall for someone who was anchoring your team just two years ago.

34. Josh Harrison (58)
35. Derek Dietrich (59)
36. Jay Bruce (62)
37. Denard Span (63)
38. Yasmany Tomas (64)

Below the Keeper Line

Randal Grichuk had a breakout power season, which will lead him to be kept in nearly every league. We don’t think it will stick, and in fact, we would prefer Tommy Pham if there was any chance of him actually seizing a job. Nick Markakis was exciting once, and now he’s a well-paid version of Nori Aoki. Gerardo Parra has a job in Coors Field now, which feels illusory (just ask Dickerson)—even with it, all that he has left is his contact skill and a glove that will never be rated as highly in Scoresheet as in real life. Ender Inciarte had a fantastic season in real life, unfortunately, he did most of that work in an outfield corner. We like Odubel Herrera, the new Baby Bull, but just as with DeShields in the AL, we’d need to see more before committing a valuable keeper spot to a player with such limited upside. Please do not keep Billy Hamilton.

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2016 Prospects: Arizon... (02/18)
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Fantasy Article TTO Scoresheet Podcast... (02/26)
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