2018 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Outfield Part 2 (26-50)
Last week we covered the top-25 fantasy outfielders for the 2018 season. However, the outfield position is so deep and there’s no way I could fit in all I want/need to write about each player into just one article, so I decided to break up the outfield into three separate articles. In this article, we’ll break down outfielders ranked 26-50.
A lot of these players come with some sort of concern, whether it’s injuries, track record, or lack of experience. However, there’s no debating the talent each player possesses. After missing out of the top-25, speedster Billy Hamilton finally cracks the ranking, but at what spot? And which player can you get over 100 picks later that could provide the same sort of fantasy value? Only one way to find out, so let’s get started.
*PLAYER NOTES/ANALYSIS CAN BE FOUND BELOW THE RANKINGS TABLE.
OUTFIELDER PLAYER NOTES
26. A.J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks
If he had combined for more than 466 at-bats in the last two seasons, Pollock would probably have cracked the top-20 of these rankings. But unfortunately, the injury bug seems to have acquired a taste for Pollock’s flesh. He had a phenomenal 2015 season, hitting .315 with 20 home runs, 39 steals, 76 RBI, and 111 runs scored, but that’s about it thus far in his career.
Fantasy owners have drafted Pollock high each of the last two seasons, in hopes that he could rekindle some of that 2015 magic. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened yet and maybe never will. However, Pollock is a highly talented outfielder, and even 80% of his 2015 season would yield a top-75 fantasy campaign. Just cross your fingers and hope he can stay healthy if you decide to draft him.
27. Lorenzo Cain, Free Agent
I’m not going to sit here and lie to you. The fact that Cain is still a free agent worries me a tad. There have been little to no rumblings or rumors about teams making a serious run at him, and we’re now nearing the end of January. Cain offers a very similar skill set to Pollock, albeit with a lower ceiling and higher floor. He usually settles in with an average around .300, 10-15 home runs, and 25-30 steals. His 2018 value largely hinges on where he ends up signing and hitting in his new team’s order. Keep an eye on Cain and adjust him up or down a few spots depending on where he signs.
28. Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
Adam Jones is becoming the gold standard for solid, yet unspectacular fantasy production. Since the 2011 season, Jones has ended with between 25-33 home runs, 73-108 RBI, and a batting average between .265 and .287. He’s never had a season with elite production, but we also have to look at the other end of this, too. He’s also never had a “bad” season and has 546+ at-bats in eight straight seasons. Sometimes we need to put upside aside and draft some stability. That said, I probably just jinxed him and he’ll either stink or get hurt this season. Oh well.
29. Michael Conforto, New York Mets
If Conforto never injured his shoulder and needed surgery, he’d be a borderline top-10 outfielder in these rankings. He was on a 40/100/105 pace before ending his season in late-August. Furthermore, his .939 OPS ranked seventh amongst outfielders and 17th overall for players with 300+ plate appearances. The shoulder injury and subsequent surgery have left a daunting looking black cloud over him to start 2018, but once he’s back to 100%, you’re looking at a potential top-10 outfielder. Let’s just hope his shoulder can get back to 100%.
For more on Conforto, check out The Baseball Show’s 2018 video profile.
30. Chris Taylor, Los Angeles Dodgers
From my second base rankings:
“There were plenty of breakout players at this position in 2017, and Chris Taylor was at or near the top of them all. After three seasons as a backup totaling just 291 at-bats, Taylor suddenly transformed into arguably the most productive hitter for the Dodgers in 2017 after Cody Bellinger. There are a lot of reasons to expect some regression in 2018, but with Taylor hitting near the top of a strong Dodgers lineup, he should still flirt with top-10 second baseman numbers.”
For more on Taylor, check out Keith Farnworth’s 2018 player profile.
31. Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers
It’s really too bad that Puig can’t put it all together. He has a linebacker’s build, plus power, plus speed, and a cannon for an arm. He’s one heck of a raw specimen, but all of that raw potential hasn’t quite translated into the elite production that was expected of him. Last season was the closest we’ve seen to that potential since his rookie year back in 2013. Man-Bear-Puig swatted a career-high 28 home runs, swiped a career-high 15 bags, and stopped a three-year downward OPS trend. Maybe Dave Roberts is getting through to him, who knows. Puig remains one of the biggest boom or bust fantasy outfielders.
Yasiel Puig hitting bombs in batting practice. Makes a different sound coming of his bat. pic.twitter.com/TO4vrXd9o3
— Pete Byrne (@PeteByrneWSBT) October 17, 2017
32. Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds
Don’t even start with me Billy Hamilton supporters. I don’t want to hear it. Hamilton is a black hole in three categories and average in a fourth. He has about as much power as the Reds’ water boy and has a career .248 batting average and .632 OPS. He steals a ton of bases, I get it. But that’s basically it, besides some okay runs scored totals. He’s ranked this high because of his speed, which does have value. But if you put all your speed eggs in the Hamilton basket and he gets injured, then what? You’re SOL in stolen bases, that’s what. You can get cheaper speed much later in the draft.
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33. Jay Bruce, New York Mets
If you’re looking for your run-of-the-mill, above-average power bat, let me introduce you to Jay Bruce. In the last two seasons, Bruce has averaged 34.5 HR, 100 RBI, and 78 runs. He doesn’t make enough contact to produce an average much above .250 and his speed is basically non-existent, but Bruce’s power contributions make him a solid selection in the middle rounds.
For more on Bruce, check out Jeff Zimmerman’s analysis of Bruce’s three-year contract with the Mets.
34. Adam Eaton, Washington Nationals
A torn ACL in late-April abruptly ended what was on pace to be Eaton’s best year yet. Even though his debut season with the Nationals ended on a sour note, his last two seasons with the White Sox were both good and eerily consistent.
- 2015: 610 AB, 175 H, 28 2B, 9 3B, 14 HR, 18 SB, 98 R, 56 RBI.
- 2016: 619 AB, 176 H, 29 2B, 9 3B, 14 HR, 14 SB, 91 R, 59 RBI.
As you can see, he’s not going to single-handedly win you any categories. However, Eaton provides solid value thanks to his average, runs, and double-digit pop and speed. The upside isn’t overly high here, but at the same time, the floor is also relatively high.
35. Brett Gardner, New York Yankees
I’m not usually a fan of Brett Gardner, but how can you not like his 2018 potential hitting in front of Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Gary Sanchez? With the exception of an injury-shortened 2012, Gardner has scored between 80 and 97 runs every season since 2010. Expect him to break that trend and easily top 100 runs in 2018. Add in 15-20 home runs and 20-25 steals, and you have yourself a top-100 fantasy player that you can draft outside the top 150 picks.
36. Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs
Yes, I know Ian Happ doesn’t currently have a starting spot for 2018. And, yes, I know that Joe Maddon is kind of crazy with his lineups. Please see Anthony Rizzo’s second-base eligibility in some leagues for proof of that. Frankly, I don’t give two you know what’s about all that. Well, I do to a degree, but I’ve always been a firm believer that talent wins out in the end. Happ slugged 24 home runs with 68 RBI, 62 runs, eight steals, and a .253/.328/.514/.842 slash line. He swings and misses too much to hit for a high average, but we could be looking at another Brian Dozier-type of player.
37. Manuel Margot, San Diego Padres
The main return piece in the Craig Kimbrel deal is beginning to show why the Padres coveted him in trade talks with the Boston Red Sox. Margot has 40+ steals in those legs once he figures out how to be an effective base stealer at the major league level. There’s also a bit of pop in his bat as well. Margot finished 2017 with a .262 average, 13 home runs, and 17 stolen bases. With some continued improvements at the plate and on the bases, a .280/15/30 type of season could be in play for Margot in 2018.
For more on Margot, check out The Baseball Show’s 2018 video profile.
38. Bradley Zimmer, Cleveland Indians
After averaging 15.5 home runs and 41 steals his last two seasons in the minors, Zimmer got the call to Cleveland last May and immediately put that same power/speed combo on display. He finished 2017 with eight home runs and 18 steals in just 299 at-bats. The biggest factor in his 2018 value is where he hits in the Indians lineup. He batted leadoff or second 19 times but spent the rest of his time near the bottom of the order. Zimmer registered a .372 OBP in the minors, so there’s some hope he can turn into a productive leadoff hitter. The Indians might have Grady Sizemore 2.0 on their hands.
39. Matt Olson, Oakland Athletics
It’s not often that a player hits 24 home runs in 189 at-bats and goes basically unnoticed. You can thank Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger, and Rhys Hoskins for that. No seriously, thank them, because now Olson can be drafted later than he probably should be. Don’t expect a high batting average or any speed here, but Olson looks to be a solid three-category contributor with some added value in OBP leagues.
40. Willie Calhoun, Texas Rangers
Man, I love little guys that can just flat-out mash. So, logically, I’m a big fan of Willie Calhoun. The Rangers acquired him in the Yu Darvish deal, and it’s easy to see why. In 486 Triple-A at-bats, Calhoun slugged 31 homers with 93 RBI, 80 runs, and a .300/.355/.572/.927 slash line. That production earned him a September cup of coffee with the Rangers. Calhoun has really matured as a hitter over the last couple of seasons and shows promise of future .300 seasons. The red flag here is that he’s almost non-existent on the bases. However, he should provide enough in the other categories to make up for the lack of speed.
— OKC Dodgers (@okc_dodgers) May 12, 2017
41. Eddie Rosario, Minnesota Twins
That might’ve been one of the quietest top-100 fantasy seasons I can remember. Rosario flew in under the radar in 2017 and finished with a .290 average, 27 home runs, 78 RBI, 79 runs, and nine steals. Rosario has hinted at this type of production in both 2015 and 2016 but didn’t get enough at-bats in those seasons to rack up the counting stats. He should once again hit in the middle of an underrated and improving Twins lineup, setting him up for a strong encore season to his 2017 breakout.
42. Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates
This ranking would seem ludicrous if you saw it following the 2016 season. Polanco was shooting up the outfield ranks thanks to a 22/17 season and looked poised to join the outfield elite. And then 2017 happened. He was limited to just 379 at-bats and saw a drop-off in production across the board. His OPS dropped 91 points and he was on pace for only a 15/11 season if he reached the 527 at-bats he got in 2016. There’s still a lot of talent here, so don’t write off Polanco completely, but expecting him to become a top-10 outfielder is now a stretch.
43. Ian Desmond, Colorado Rockies
Like with Polanco above, Desmond also had an injury-shortened down season in 2017. In just 339 at-bats, Desmond hit .274 with seven home runs, 15 steals, and a lackluster .701 OPS. I’m going to take that with a grain of salt, as Desmond had seven straight 500+ at-bat seasons heading into 2017 and recorded a 20/20 campaign in four of his last five seasons. If he can stay healthy, a strong bounce-back season should be in store for Desmond.
44. Kevin Kiermaier, Baltimore Orioles
Mark my words: One of these days, Kiermaier is going to stay healthy, put it all together and have a near 30/30 season. It’s going to happen, just not sure exactly when. Who knows, maybe it happens this season. Kiermaier was on a 25/25 pace last season, but he was limited to just 98 games. He also had the highest batting average of his young career in 2017 at .276. All the pieces are here for a breakout season. All Kiermaier has to do is figure out the puzzle. I can’t do that for you, Kevin. I suck at puzzles.
45. Ender Inciarte, Atlanta Braves
Ender Inciarte is probably one of the most boring guys to own in fantasy. But hey, he is coming off his best fantasy season to date. In a National League-leading 662 at-bats, Inciarte hit .304 with 11 home runs, 22 steals, 57 RBI, and 93 runs scored. He popped only 13 homers in his previous three seasons, so expecting double-digits again might be foolish, but another 20 steals, 80-90 runs, and a solid average should be in the cards.
46. Austin Hays, Baltimore Orioles
Some of you might be asking yourself, “Who the fluff is Austin Hays?” Well, let me introduce you. Hays is a 22-year-old rookie coming off a season where he hit .329 with 32 home runs, 95 RBI, and a .958 OPS across two minor league levels. He possesses a plus hit tool, plus power, and the speed to steal 10-15 bags annually. Unless Joey Rickard turns into Adam Jones all of a sudden, right field is Hays’ spot to lose in 2018. A .280/25/10 season is well within reach, making Hays one of my biggest breakout picks this season and a dark horse Rookie of the Year candidate.
47. Adam Duvall, Cincinnati Reds
Some players, like Adam Duvall, are just late bloomers. There’s nothing wrong with that, but these late bloomers seem to take a while before they fully earn the trust of fantasy baseball managers. Perhaps back-to-back 30 home runs seasons will move Duvall into the circle of trust. The average has been hovering around .250, which isn’t horrible, but is also likely never going to get any better with Duvall’s swing and miss tendencies. Hitting directly behind an on-base guru like Joey Votto certainly doesn’t hurt, either.
48. Delino DeShields, Texas Rangers
Time for a blind test. Both players below were given the same number of at-bats. Which would you rather have on your fantasy team this season?
Player A: 4 HR, 38 RBI, 85 R, 59 SB, .247/.299/.335/.634
Player B: 9 HR, 34 RBI, 116 R, 45 SB, .269/.347/.367/.714
You can probably figure out who these two players are. Player A is Billy Hamilton and player B is Delino DeShields. Players like DeShields are EXACTLY why I will never pay top dollar for a guy like Hamilton. He can get you very similar stats and is going over 125 picks later in drafts, according to early ADP data. Deshields is the early favorite for the center field spot and likely will bat leadoff, which means there’s a good chance those stats above could come to fruition in 2018. Sleeper alert.
49. Steven Souza Jr., Tampa Bay Rays
Like with his teammate several few spots above, health has been an issue in Souza’s career. In 2017, he managed to stay on the field for 148 games and easily posted career highs in all the counting stats. His .239 average isn’t anything to write home about, but as long as he can stay healthy and build off his 30/16 season last year, Souza should provide solid value in the middle rounds of fantasy drafts.
50. Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs
Can someone in the greater Chicago area please find Kyle Schwarber and ask him if he’s going to figure out if he wants to be a good hitter or not? Cause I’d love to freaking know. Schwarber mashed 30 home runs in just 422 at-bats last season, but that came with a .211 average and 30.9 K%. With home run totals on the rise, Schwarber is going to need to up his average to provide positive fantasy value in 2018. A .211 average with 30 home runs won’t get it done this season and he no longer has catcher eligibility to fall back on. It’s time to show us something, Schwarby.
STAY TUNED FOR THE REST OF MY OUTFIELD RANKINGS IN THE NEXT SEVERAL DAYS.
Thank-you for reading and I hope you can use this article to your advantage and get a leg up on your fellow league members. Got a question that I didn’t cover here? Then follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask there.