Initial 2016 Outfielder Rankings & Projections

The start of the 2016 season is quickly upon us so it’s time to start talking about baseball again. Below you’ll find my top 81 outfielders. The rankings are based on NFBC style leagues with 12-teams.

The first thing that stands out is Mike Trout is my fourth outfielder and I do not believe it’s going to change. In fact, it’s possible he falls a couple of spots as we get closer to Spring Training. The Angels lineup is Trout and Kole Calhoun and a bunch of replacement level players. Daniel Nava and Todd Cuningham are slated to be everyday players. If Albert Pujols misses a lot of time I have doubts if he can score 100 runs. The Angels lack OBP atop the lineup so Trout is going to have a lot plate appearances with no runners on-base. Most importantly, his stolen bases have decreased year-over-year since 2012. If steals less than ten bases I wouldn’t be shocked. Trout is seen as a sure thing and I get it; he’s one of the top 2-3 players in baseball. However, he may not steal bases and his accounting statistics may be suppressed by the players around him.

When drafting Ryan Braun and Giancarlo Stanton you’re rolling the dice health-wise. Braun had back surgery in the offseason and said, “The only surprise is the rehab is a little longer than I was anticipating, just a couple months of rehab. Other than that, everything was as expected.” (source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). The Brewers are not going anywhere next year and he’s owed $105M for the next five years. If he has any type of nagging injury the Brewers are going to play it safe and not play him. Stanton missed half of the season with a fractured wrist. He injured the wrist swinging and missing. At the time of the injury he led the majors in home runs and RBI (27 and 67 respectively). He’s only played more than 123 games in two of six seasons.

Adam Jones’ batting average was career low last year, which concerning. However, his hard hit rate suggests he had some bad luck with BABIP. He missed the last two weeks of the year with back spasms. Maybe back issues were the reason why he only had four stolen base attempts (all of which came in the first two months of the season). Either way, it looks like the days of 14-plus bases are gone. The resigning of Chris Davis will help Adam Jones in runs scored.

Among all qualified hitters last year Billy Burns had the lowest hard hit rate and the highest hard hit rate. Despite those numbers he hit .294 and stole 26 bases. The A’s fan in me is trying hard to not think of Jemile Weeks. If you forgot, Weeks had a great rookie season that was entirely BABIP fueled and was never good again. Both are/were speed-first switch hitters without a lot of power. I watched a lot of Burns and I think the hard hit numbers do not tell the whole store. I’ve seen his home runs and the doubles in the gaps; he has the enough power to keep pitchers honest. The A’s are going to give him every chance to be the leadoff hitter. I projected 35 stolen bases, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he steals 40-plus.

I’m only projecting 480 at-bats for David Peralta because he’ll probably be platooned against lefties. However, Peralta can flat out hit. Against right handed pitching he had the 17th best hard hit rate. He only has 171 plate appearances against lefties and I wished the Diamondbacks gave him a chance to play every day to see if he can hit lefties or not. He’s going to hit fourth behind AJ Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt so he’s going to have a lot of plate appearances with runners on-base.

I love Michael Conforto, but my biggest question is: where will he hit in the lineup? Based on the current roster I expect him to bat seventh, which means he’s not going to have many RBI opportunities and little run scoring opportunities. After Yoensis Cespedes leaves after 2016 I think Conforto will bat fourth in 2017. Conforto’s power is legitimate, but I don’t know how many men will be on-base when hits those home runs.

Based on the early NFBC ADP data I’m not going to own Miguel Sano. His power is legitimate, but my question is at what cost will be the power come from? It’s hard for me to project more than a .240 batting average for a player who strikes out 35.5 percent of the time. The bottom line with Sano is there’s a really wide set of outcomes. He could struggle immensely the first five weeks of the year and he could be back in triple-a. He could also have 18 home runs and a .270 batting average after the first two months.

I Would Not Be Shocked If He Finishes Year As Top 10 Outfielder:

Christian Yelich has been incredibly consistent every year in the majors. Last year he went on the DL twice: a right knee contusion in August and a lower back strain in April. Despite his home run totals he makes a lot of hard contact. Last year he finished 18th, right behind Nolan Arenado. He has a career 17.7 percent HR/FB rate on the road compared to 4.3 percent at home. He’s only 24 years old and I wouldn’t be shocked if finishes the year as a 20/20 player with a .290-plus batting average.

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