The last few rounds of standard fantasy drafts are where things get interesting. Anyone can draft Mike Trout first overall. However, that’s not how fantasy championships are won. The real difference makers are the sleepers and upside picks you make in the tail end of your draft that pan out and provide major value for your squad. Some call these picks, “lottery tickets.” I call them, “championship tickets.”
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve ranked the top-50 fantasy outfielders for the 2018 season. Now, we finish up the outfield by ranking players 51-75.
*PLAYER NOTES/ANALYSIS CAN BE FOUND BELOW THE RANKINGS TABLE.
|48||Delino DeShields Jr.||TEX|
|49||Steven Souza Jr.||TB|
|74||Jackie Bradley Jr.||BOS|
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Outfield Player Notes
51. Nomar Mazara, Texas Rangers
With the exception of his RBI total, Mazara’s 2017 was pretty similar to his rookie season in 2016. His slash line almost mirrored 2016, and he hit 20 home runs for the second straight season. Mazara did make minor improvements, though. His ISO rose 17 points, his walk rate was up two percent, his hard contact was up 3.9%, and he hit fly balls 4.5% more often. There’s nothing wrong with Mazara’s stat line, but he just doesn’t excel in any one area. However, his minor league profile and minor improvements last year signal that a little more power could be on the horizon in 2018.
52. Trey Mancini, Baltimore Orioles
Manini is one of the players in this article that has a chance to really shoot up the rankings this season. However, he’ll need to work on a few areas to take that next step. To improve his home run totals, Mancini will need to start hitting more fly balls. Last season, he hit 51% of balls on the ground and only 29.7% in the air. A high HR/FB rate was a big reason why he managed to still hit 24 home runs. Secondly, he’ll have to find a way to make up for a probable drop in his .352 BABIP, which was the 12th highest mark amongst qualified hitters in 2017. Many are calling for a Mancini breakout in 2018, which could very well happen, but there are some red flags here as well.
53. Nicholas Castellanos, Detroit Tigers
It’s about damn time, Nick. We’ve been waiting for this type of production for the last few seasons, and Castellanos finally came through in 2017. His 2016 numbers hinted at a breakout when he slugged 18 home runs in just 411, leading into his 26 home run performance last year. His uptick in power can directly be related to the rise in his ISO and a much-improved HR/RB rate. Still just 26 years old for the 2018 season, another step forward could lead to Castellanos’ first 30 home run season.
For more on Castellanos, check out Keith Farnsworth’s 2018 player profile.
54. Mitch Haniger, Seattle Mariners
Entering 2017, Haniger was gaining a lot of momentum as a sleeper pick. His stellar 2016 minor league season (.321/25/94/79/12) in the Diamondbacks system and strong showing in 2017 spring training were the driving forces behind that. To start the season, he looked poised to become one of the biggest draft day bargains of the season. Haniger was hitting .342 with four homers, 16 RBI, 20 runs, and two steals in April before straining his right oblique. The injury kept him out around a month and a half, and he wasn’t the same after returning until his huge September. Do we believe in his April/September? Probably not to that extent, but the 25/15 upside is certainly enticing.
55. Aaron Hicks, New York Yankees
There are two big red flags here with Hicks: his injury history and lackluster track record in the batting average department. Hicks logged only 301 at-bats in 2017, but the results were enough to intrigue us this spring, especially since it looks like he’ll be the Yankees’ opening day starter in center field. If you project his stats out over 550 at-bats, Hicks would’ve had 27 home runs, 18 steals, 95 RBI, and 98 runs to go along with his .266 average. If I could guarantee he’d be on the field for 550 at-bats, he would’ve easily been included in my top-50 outfielders, but that’s far from a certainty. However, in the later rounds of fantasy drafts, this type of upside is worth gambling on.
56. Aaron Altherr, Philadelphia Phillies
Altherr looks the part of an elite-slugger at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, but he has never been able to put it all together. Last season was the closest he’s come. In 372 at-bats, Altherr hit .272/.340/.516/.856 with 19 home runs, 65 RBI, 58 runs, and five steals. That’s a 28 HR, 117 RBI pace over 550 at-bats. Not to mention the fact that he also has 24 doubles to go with his 19 home runs. There’s some solid upside here if he can play a full season.
57. Eduardo Nunez, Free Agent
From my second base rankings:
“It’s remarkable what going from a pitcher’s park to a hitter’s park can do to a player’s fantasy value. If it wasn’t for the different body type, ethnicity, and 92-year gap in birth year, you would’ve mistaken Eduardo Nunez for Babe Ruth for the first few weeks after his trade to the Boston Red Sox. His 2018 value largely hinges on if he signs with a team that wants to make him their starter at second or third base. If that does happen, bump him up a few spots.”
The fact that he’s still a free agent (like everyone else) is a tad concerning, but someone is bound to pony up a little dough to get a .300 15/30 multi-position dynamo on their roster.
58. Marwin Gonzalez, Houston Astros
From my second base rankings:
“This is another breakout I’m not buying into. Gonzalez’s ISO, BABIP, FB% and HR/FB rate all jumped a decent amount in 2017 from previous years. The odds of all four of those remaining at 2017 levels are slim. He likely won’t revert back to pre-2017 numbers but something between 2016 and 2017 is more likely for Gonzalez in 2018. Early ADP data has him being taken at pick 113. That’s way too high. He’s being drafted for his 2017 numbers, and that’s like going to push the value meter over to the bust side here.”
For more on Gonzalez, check out Anthony Franco’s 2018 player profile.
59. Victor Robles, Washington Nationals
If it weren’t for Ronald Acuna going crazy on minor league pitchers, Robles would be the top outfield prospect that everyone wanted to get their hands on. Granted, his ceiling isn’t quite as high as Acuna’s, but Robles is a phenomenal talent in his own right and a top-five prospect heading into the 2018 season. Robles combines a plus hit tool, blazing speed, and blossoming power to excite prospect hounds like myself. Once he gets his feet wet in the majors, he could put up Carl Crawford like stat lines. Let’s just hope his body holds up better than Crawford’s did. Robles has to deal with Michael Taylor and Howie Kendrick for at-bats, but we all know which one of this trio will win out before long.
60. Odubel Herrera, Philadelphia Phillies
Where did the speed go? After stealing 25 bases in 2016, Herrera could manage only eight last season. On top of that, his walk rate dropped from 9.6% to 5.5%, which is a big reason why he managed to score only 67 runs. If the speed doesn’t come back, Herrera is going to find his name on the waiver wire a lot this season. However, his minor league track record leads me to believe that a rebound in speed is on the horizon in 2018, making him a solid selection in the later round of drafts.
61. Nick Williams, Philadelphia Phillies
Williams has always been one of those rare breeds of hitters that can maintain a decent batting average while having a horrible BB/K ratio. That was exactly the case in 2017. Williams posted a 36/187 BB/K rate in 595 combined at-bats between Triple-A and the majors. However, he still hit .280 with Lehigh Valley and .288 with Philadelphia. He’ll need to make some adjustments to maintain that average long-term, though. William’s strong rookie campaign in 2017 brings hope that a strong 2018 is upcoming for the young outfielder. A .275/25/100/10 type of season is well within reach.
62. Dexter Fowler, St. Louis Cardinals
Fowler’s first season with the Cardinals was a mixed bag. On one hand, he set new career highs in home runs and RBI. But he also stole a career-low seven bases and scored just 68 runs. It’s also a concern that he’s surpassed 150 games and 500 at-bats only once, back in 2015 with the Cubs. Unless he starts to run more, he’s not going to be anything more than a utility or bench fantasy hitter. However, if you play in an OBP league, Fowler carries a little more value.
63. Eric Thames, Milwaukee Brewers
From my first base rankings:
“Well, he wasn’t quite Chris Shelton, but Thames’ production dropped significantly as the season progressed. After launching 11 home runs in 84 April at-bats with an insane 1.276 OPS, he managed only 19 more in 385 at-bats the rest of the season with a .789 OPS. You think pitchers figured out his weaknesses? Sure looks like it. He’s not worth more than a late-round pick in 2018 drafts.”
Basically, I have no faith in Thames hitting above .250 or hitting more than 30 home runs. There are just too many holes in his swing.
64. Lewis Brinson, Miami Marlins
Thank you, Derek Jeter. Wait, did I just say that out loud? I feel dirty now. As hard as it is for me as a Red Sox fan to say that, Jeter and Co. helped fantasy owners out by acquiring Lewis Brinson in the Christian Yelich trade. Brinson now has a clear path to everyday at-bats in 2018 and becomes a prime sleeper candidate. The 30/30 potential is clearly evident, but his batting average is the question mark here. Brinson has bettered his approach and cut down on the strikeouts, but there are still some holes in his swing, which were exploited in his 47 Major League at-bats last season. Expecting him to hit much higher than .260 this season might be a stretch, but there’s a good chance that average comes with a near 20/20 season.
65. Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians
After four straight seasons of 500+ at-bats, all Michael Brantley could muster the last two seasons was 377 combined at-bats, with 338 of those coming in 2017. He performed relatively well in those at-bats with a .299 average, nine home runs, 52 RBI, 47 runs, and 11 steals, but health is becoming a major concern here. If there was more certainty that he could log 500+ at-bats, Brantley could provide some serious value this season. But unfortunately, that’s far from a sure thing.
66. Teoscar Hernandez, Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays adding Randal Grichuk and Curtis Granderson creates a messy outfield logjam north of the border. Due to his defense, Pillar assuredly has center field locked up, which leaves several players battling for two corner spots. I’m sure I’m not the only fantasy manager that wants Teoscar Hernandez and Anthony Alford to win those jobs. In a brief 88 at-bat cameo last season, Hernandez slugged eight home runs with a .261 average and .908 OPS. The downside? How about a catastrophic 37.9 K%? Hernandez has shown 20/20 upside throughout his minor league career and could easily challenge that in 2018 if given enough at-bats. His power/speed upside makes him an intriguing late-round flier.
67. Corey Dickerson, Tampa Bay Rays
If you draft Corey Dickerson with reasonable expectations, you’ll probably end up rather pleased with your selection. In three out of his four full seasons, Dickerson has hit above .280 with 24+ homers and 60+ RBI. He doesn’t run much but does enough in the other four categories to provide some back-end fantasy value. Dickerson is the poster boy for what to expect with a late-round draft pick.
68. Avisail Garcia, Chicago White Sox
It’s insane that a player that hit .330 last season with 18 home runs and 80 RBI is barely cracking this list. In 2017, Garcia bathed in a pot of gold, avoided all black cats, broken mirrors, and walking under ladders. He was an avid collector of rabbit feet and horseshoes, and it was rumored he polished off two bowls of Lucky Charms every morning before working out. Long story short, he was insanely lucky. To put it in perspective, only three players in the last 10 seasons (and nine this millennium) have had a higher BABIP that Garcia’s .392 mark in 2017. Saying regression is coming is the understatement of the century.
For more on Garcia, check out Nathan Dokken’s course correction article.
69. Mark Trumbo, Baltimore Orioles
Can any Baltimore hitter have back-to-back good seasons? Seriously. After leading the majors with 47 home runs in 2016, Trumbo proceeded to follow that up with a .234 average and just 23 home runs last season. The 47 home runs will likely be the outlier in Trumbo’s career, but he’s shown that he’s better than his 2016 numbers. To return to the circle of trust, Trumbo is going to need to get back above .250 and 30 home runs in 2018.
70. Carlos Gonzalez, Free Agent
The fact that Cargo is still a free agent almost made me not include him in my top-75 outfielders. It’s not like he’s J.D. Martinez waiting for a contract. Gonzalez is coming off one of his worst seasons of this career and has proven to be about as durable as a wet paper bag. However, I refuse to write off a 32-year-old who combined for 65 home runs, 197 RBI, and 174 runs in 2015 and 2016. It’s hard to image the tank is empty here. However, Gonzalez is going to need to get the power numbers back up to offset his newfound lack of speed.
71. Josh Reddick, Houston Astros
A stacked Houston lineup helped Reddick post 82 RBI and 77 runs scored, both of which were his highest since 2012. Reddick lacks upside at this stage of his career, but he has become a relatively safe late-round pick. He’ll give you a little of everything without hurting you in any one category.
72. David Dahl, Colorado Rockies
The 2017 season was supposed to be David Dahl’s breakout season. Apparently, his body didn’t agree with that, as multiple injuries kept him out for the entire season. Such a shame, too. Dahl has that kind of across-the-board upside that puts your name in the top-25 picks of fantasy drafts. Playing half your games at Coors Field doesn’t hurt, either. Recent reports say that Dahl is 100% healthy, which is wonderful, but he currently doesn’t have a starting gig heading into 2018. Regardless, his high upside makes him a great pick in the later rounds.
73. Kole Calhoun, Los Angeles Angels
Calhoun is about as blah as fantasy players can be. He’ll get you around 20 home runs, 75 RBI, 80 runs, and a batting average in the .250 to .270 range. That makes for a fine bench hitter as long as you remember that the upside is limited here.
74. Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston Red Sox
If defense were factored into fantasy rankings, Bradley would’ve been included in my top-25. However, his offensive game has majorly lagged behind his defensive prowess. Bradley had a career year in 2016 but had a statistical drop across the board in 2017. Fantasy owners and Red Sox fans alike will hope for a rebound, but there are plenty of better upside picks in the last few rounds that potentially could provide much more value than JBJ.
75. David Peralta, Arizona Diamondbacks
You can tell that we’re in the range of players that are solid, yet lack upside. Peralta is a career .293 hitter but lacks any standout tools. However, he provides enough stats across the board to give some value and is a relatively safe selection overall near the end of your draft.
BONUS – 76. Jose Bautista, Free Agent
Bautista is a shell of himself these days, but as a full-time DH, there might be one last productive season left in that bat of his. He can still draw plenty of walks and hit home runs in bunches when he’s making consistent contact. At this point of the draft, what the heck, right?
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.