2020 Outfield Preview: Rankings, Tiers And More
Welcome to the next installment of my positional previews for the 2020 fantasy baseball season. We have finished up the infield and now that leaves us with just the outfield position left prior to jumping into the starting pitcher madness. Let me not get ahead of myself.
I will be discussing and breaking down the outfield position. Yes, plenty will still change, and players will be moving up and down this list as more information is provided and signings or trades occur. This list will be updated throughout the off-season.
Until then, I will break down my top 80 outfield rankings as they now stand. I will also provide tiers and discuss players individually. Lastly, I included the 2020 steamer projections as well. Outfield is littered with talent from top to bottom. There is everything from high-end talent to sneaky sleeper options late as well. Let’s get to it!
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2020 Outfield Preview: Rankings, Tiers And More
Tier 1: The Elite
This tier highlights the clear-cut, elite options at the position. Outfield really starts off strong and features the “Big 3” of the 2020 season. These three consistently change in order of preference depending on the ranks you look at.
Who I rank first overall is a constant question I get from the fantasy baseball community. I have had all three of these players ranked at No. 1 overall at various times throughout the offseason. I have finally landed on this order as my top three… for now.
Mike Trout has had issues with health of late. Even with that said he has the highest floor of any player. There is no doubting the greatness or skill and to take Acuna over him simply for one category just does not make sense to me. I understand the allure of a 40-HR and 40-SB season from Ronald Acuna. That really is hard to pass on but I honestly do not see it happening.
I understand steals are a premium but to take him over Trout for the steals is not enough of a reason. We have seen this before over the years and it has not worked out. I will take Trout at 1 and Acuna at 2 and I will not regret passing on Acuna for what is the safest player to own in fantasy baseball. It truly is a 1A, 1B and even 1C situation for me.
This leads right into Christian Yelich at three in my ranks. A.K.A the 1C. He has his own health concerns coming into 2020 with that continuously nagging back and that knee cap injury that ended his 2019. He offers a very high floor but I believe the other two in Trout and Acuna have a higher ceiling.
Tier 2: The Next Best Thing
This tier offers three names that provide a great floor accompanied by a high ceiling as well. These are all first-round talents and it just shows how great and top-heavy the outfield position is.
Mookie Betts is who he is by now. He is as safe as it gets and it is a boring pick. It lacks the flashy feel of other names in this tier but he gets the job done and is a great player to build your team around.
Cody Bellinger is coming off an MVP season and he still barely cracks the top 5 at the position. Again, it is an embarrassment of riches for the position. The first half of 2019 was amazing. He hit a bit of a lull in the second half but ultimately ended the year with an amazing overall line and winning the MVP. I do believe the ceiling is higher for Bellinger than that of Betts but the floor is also lower. I tend to lean towards who I believe is the safer option when I am torn on two players and in this case it is Betts.
Juan Soto just sneaked into this tier for me. He is that flashy name that brings excitement to the game. He was an all category producer last season. I would not be surprised if he falls into double-digit steals again in 2020. Not to mention the growth should continue to occur. Soto is inside my top 10 overall for 2020. I am not ready to take him over any of these five names I placed ahead of him but if he kept pace or out-produced any of them I would not be shocked. Draft Soto in the first round with confidence.
Tier 3: High Floor and High Upside
I love this tier. All three of these names are falling to what I feel is a great value so far in early drafts. You will likely see one of these three on every one of my teams entering 2020.
Bryce Harper is coming off the first year of the mega-deal. The pressure has began to calm and the team around him continues to improve and get healthy again. Although the batting average is a concern at times, he did show some changes at the plate in the second half and there were batting average improvements. I think the days of Harper hitting over .270 may be over but the upside for that remains, and with such a high floor in every other category, it makes him an intriguing target in fantasy drafts.
Aaron Judge and J.D. Martinez are just great power sources to fall into in the early rounds. Judge does carry some injury concerns but he offers difference-making power in what is arguably the most potent lineup in baseball. It does not hurt when he gets to hit in one of the best ballparks in baseball as well.
J.D. Martinez is the definition of “boring” it seems. I have not seen anyone saying much about him yet in the off-season. There is no hype building and no one I speak with is excited about having him on their roster. You can essentially pencil in his stats and move on. Drafting a “boring” player does not always win you championships but it rarely loses them for you.
Tier 4: Solid and Safe
Solid and safe says it all. With the exception of maybe one player here, you can basically pencil in what you are going to get from the players in this tier.
Starling Marte may be on the move this offseason. If that happens, it could actually be a boost in his value. I already am really high on him. You just know you are getting five-category production with a chance at difference-making speed. These days getting a 20 home run and 30 stolen base threat is very rare. I believe that is what he can bring to the table. There are typically a couple of minor health issues each year but I am willing to look past it to chase the steals a bit here.
George Springer is such a quality bat at a very fair price. There aren’t really any questions as far as expectations but the health issues do concern me some. He typically picks up nick-knack injuries throughout the season but ultimately provides you a solid overall stat line. Oh, and no I am not concerned in the slightest about the sign-stealing scandal. He has had solid road numbers as well as home numbers.
Austin Meadows was a guy I loved in 2019. He broke out and now he has landed among the top 15 overall at the position. There is a five-category floor and I believe it comes with upside even beyond what we saw in 2019.
Ketel Marte also broke out in 2019. There was a tangible change to back up the breakout. Although I expect some regression, I feel this is a very safe player and a good roster stabilizer early on in drafts.
Yordan Alvarez is the only real wild card of this tier. He showed how great he can be in 2019. I am just a bit concerned after seeing a few struggles in the playoffs. Not to mention the chance of a sophomore slump potential. We have seen sophomore slumps time and time again. I think it is more likely than not to happen in some capacity to Alvarez. I believe the upside is too high to ignore but there is more risk in him than most want to acknowledge.
Kris Bryant and Charlie Blackmon are lumped together at the end of this tier for me. They are very much one and the same as far as you know what you’re getting. These two players are solid, high floor, four-category producers. I do have a few more concerns with Blackmon. Not so much due to the age but rather the chance he is traded away. If you take any hitter out of Coors it has a negative effect and there is a chance that occurs at some point in 2020.
Tier 5: Risk/Reward
When you look at this tier it is filled with three-player that come with difference-making potential. That is the reward. The risk is in the health concerns or lack or track record.
Jorge Soler is a player I am completely bought into. There was a lot of growth in the profile all around In 2019 and the numbers followed. There is still some swing and miss in his game but if the improvements hold up or continue to improve, which is very much a possibility, then there is great value to be had in where Soler is being drafted right now.
Tommy Pham is the opposite of Soler in the fact that he has a track record. The issue with Pham is always health. He offers such high upside but you draft him for the safe, high floor and hope for the health not to fail him.
You can take what I said about Pham and plug it in here with Giancarlo Stanton. He arguably offers the most power upside in all of baseball. We have seen what he is capable of but the injuries continue to pile up as he enters his 30’s. The good news is that the health, or lack thereof, is starting to be built into the price.
Tier 6: Solid Floor and High Upside
This is a mixed batch here. There are high floor types as well as high ceiling types. This is a part of the ranks where you either take a roster stabilizer type or swing for the fences.
I admit I am lower on Whit Merrifield than most. I just am not sure he is who we want him to be. He offers a good batting average floor but the other categories are less than desirable. Not to mention Mike Matheny is his new manager so the stolen base upside may very well be capped. There is multi-positional eligibility and a solid floor that carries value for him.
Marcel Ozuna is a StatCast darling and underperformed in just about every metric in 2019. What this suggests is that there is better yet to come for the slugger. Where he lands will affect his value. He will likely land in a better place than Miami or St. Louis where he has spent the entirety of his career. Both parks are favorable to pitchers, so if he lands in a hitter’s park he could be in for a big season. He is one of my favorite targets in early drafts.
Eloy Jimenez and Victor Robles are very similar in that they offer a good amount of upside, but where they differ is in the stats they contribute in. Eloy started off slow last year but came on strong in the second half and really showed us the power upside. This year he enters his second full season and is surrounded by what is turning into a great lineup around him. This should lead to better counting stat potential.
I am not optimistic about Victor Robles. His steals carry his value. The Nationals roster is set at the top and they are not likely done adding pieces. Robles is already projected to hit in the bottom half of the lineup and would likely require an injury to move up. This limits the counting stat potential. Also, fewer plate appearances equal less steal opportunity among other things. There is definitely upside to be had here but the downside needs to be acknowledged as well.
Eddie Rosario is consistently overlooked. He hits in the heart of a great lineup and is surrounded by talent. There is no reason to question him or his production.
Ramon Laureano and Yasiel Puig couldn’t be much closer in projections. Their early ADP difference does not make sense to me. They are roughly 30 spots apart but I value them very similarly. I understand the risk for suspension with Puig is always a concern but I also think the ceiling is just as high. What puts Ramon Laureano ahead of Puig for me is we know where he is playing next season and he is hitting atop what is a very good lineup.
Tier 7: Filling Your Needs
You really have a little of everything here. There are roster stabilizers, speed upside types, big power bats and some players in between.
Trey Mancini is not getting much love. He is coming off a great season and there is a tangible change to back up the success he had. The multi-positional eligibility never hurts either. There is a solid four-category floor here.
Michael Conforto and Max Kepler are pretty similar. Both lack the batting average of Mancini but both offer slightly better home run upside. If you can afford the lower batting average and need power, take one of these two to fill that need.
Speaking of power, Joey Gallo is exactly that. Gallo offers elite power potential but it comes at the expense of the batting average. You need to build your roster right to take on his batting average issues.
Luis Robert is a true wild card. He has both struggled and excelled in the minors. Most recently he has excelled and shot up prospect boards. Robert is the top prospect taken in redraft formats. There is power and speed upside and he has little left to prove in the minors. This leads me to believe he should be up rather quickly. He will likely be up once the service time issues for the extra year of control are met. There is a question as to where he hits due to the strength of the lineup. However, the strength of the lineup should lend itself nicely to provide overall protection and less pressure to succeed right away.
Andrew Benintendi may just not be who we want or expect him to be. There is a little power and speed to be had here but I wonder if the expectations were just set too high. I see a limited ceiling and that leads me to rank him where I do.
Tier 8: Pick Your Poison
This title says it all. There really is just a little bit of everything in this tier. There are prospects with questions, some proven commodities, power and speed types. This is where you take what you need or take a shot at upside. Essentially, pick your poison.
I was all about Oscar Mercado last year. He was free off the wire and a player I was able to stash. This is not the case entering 2020. The price is not all that bad but there’s a chance at empty stolen bases. He was very streaky and tough to hold onto at times throughout 2019. I think there are options available later with a similar upside. What he does have going for him is the surefire starting gig and little threat to playing time.
J.D. Davis is one of my favorite targets this year. There was a swing change entering last season, a more all fields approach and growth vs. right-handed pitchers. It all came together and he had what appeared to be a mini-breakout. This year I think he completely breaks out and provides great value on draft day. Some people have concerns about his playing time. I do not. I draft him with confidence.
Kyle Schwarber is another player I’m buying into in a big way this offseason. He offers big power potential and is another who benefited from a batting stance and swing change. He also took an all-fields approach and really made strides vs. lefties in the second half. I want all the Schwarber shares I can get my hands on.
Nick Senzel and David Dahl both offer tremendous upside but both carry what have become big question marks in the health department. I do really like Senzel but if you draft either of them you know the risks involved.
Kyle Tucker is one injury or trade away from an everyday role. He offers five-category upside and will shoot up draft boards if an everyday spot in the Houston outfield opens up.
Jo Adell is a big question mark for me. I have not found myself in a position to take him in an early draft. I feel he could stay down longer than most anticipate. He will get seasoning in the minors without a doubt and if he struggles out the gate he could be down beyond the minimum needed for service time.
Danny Santana is what he is. He offers 20 home run and 20 stolen base potential but the batting average could bottom out. The plate discipline is not very pretty and could lead to a lot of struggles.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was having himself a nice little breakout last season. Injury derailed it but it appeared to be pretty legit. He comes with a cheap price tag and should offer solid return on investment this year.
Franmil Reyes is a power upside play. There are easily 40 home runs in that bat. If you miss on power bats early on, target Franmil in this tier.
Willie Calhoun is just a good overall hitter. Texas has made room to keep his bat in the lineup this year. The hit tool was never an issue but the defense has. Assuming there are everyday at-bats for Calhoun he may very well be a steal in drafts.
Garrett Hampson has the most question marks of any player to this point in the rankings. There is literally a chance he can move up over 10 spots or drop out of the top 80 overall. It all depends on how the playing time situation plays out in Colorado. There is still a lot to be determined.
Tier 9: Wily Old Vets and Fall Back Options
I love grabbing a name or two here. This outfield tier offers solid discounts on rather proven commodities. There are a few hidden gems here as well.
If you need some runs or OBP go with McCutchen. If you need some speed and overall upside go with Lorenzo Cain and Justin Upton. Upton more so fits the upside rather than the speed these days but if he stole 10 bases I would not be surprised.
You have Mitch Haniger coming off a lost season and provides a ton of value and upside this late. Of course, this is assuming the health issues are behind him.
Shin-Soo Choo is just a high floor guy to grab late. He gives you a bit of everything.
Joc Pederson holds more value in daily leagues due to platooning but it is the strong side of a platoon and the power is very real. He should easily give you 30 home runs.
Byron Buxton and Aristides Aquino are all upside plays. Buxton offers more speed and Aquino offers more power. Both have high ceilings but both offer a floor that could lead you to drop them. You should temper your expectations.
Hunter Dozier is a great stabilizing piece to a lineup. The same can be said for David Peralta. He is coming off a lost season and is almost forgotten in general. I love the value he offers and he should slot right back into the middle of what is a pretty good Diamondbacks lineup.
Bryan Reynolds is just another high floor, set and forget type. I don’t see too much upside but there is not any downside either.
Austin Riley has big power potential but the strikeouts are a problem. He should hit in the heart of lineup but any signings could mess with that. This is a situation to monitor.
Nomar Mazara gets a nice change of scenery and maybe it is just what he needs. He is now a part of this exciting Chicago White Sox lineup. You know what to expect from Mazara but the potential is still so alluring. I am just beginning to think he will not reach that said potential and this is who he is.
Tier 10: Late-Round Targets and Fifth Outfielder Types
This is where we enter almost a lull at the position. Sure, there is some upside but it is limited. These are players you are targeting for a need later in drafts or to fill your outfield slots.
Adam Eaton is simply a high floor player with a little power and a little speed. He is injury prone but that is baked into the price. He has played 150 or more games in three of the last five years.
I am not that high on Alex Verdugo. The skillset is not all that special and the upside is limited. A good back end outfield type but I would not expect much more.
Ian Happ came up in 2019 and did just enough to remind fantasy owners of his potential. He will never do much for your batting average but there is easily 30 home run and 10 steal potential. He is currently slotted to start for the Cubs entering 2020. If the growth in plate discipline he showed in 2019 holds true, he may have that breakout we expected in 2018. He is well worth the flyer right now.
Ryan Braun is similar to Eaton but the playing time may be less frequent. He receives regular rest days. Braun does offer a higher ceiling than say an Eaton type. I just do not trust the health. He has only played 140 or more games just twice in the last five years.
Hunter Renfroe moving to the Rays is bittersweet. I tend to trust in the Rays and not doubt their moves. The Rays can get the best out of Renfroe. I just hope it is not in a platoon situation. He crushes lefties but vs. right-handed pitchers, he struggles mightily. Maybe with a change of scenery and some of that Rays magic he can correct that a bit and have himself a solid season.
Scott Kingery has a full-time job as of now and will have a chance to come around on those expectations. The power and speed mix is there so let’s see if he can work on that plate discipline a bit and bring it all together.
Austin Hays is a post-hype sleeper who has had to overcome injuries the last couple of seasons. The potential is there for Hays. Between playing every day and having Camden Yards as your home park you can’t ask for much more.
The same cannot be said for Mike Yastrzemski. His home park is a hindrance to his power potential. With that said, he projects to hit in the middle of an order and someone has to drive in runs over in San Fran.
Trent Grisham is slated to start for the Padres and currently projected to hit in the heart of that order in the 5-hole. He is a decent power/speed upside grab late in drafts.
When Avisail Garcia first signed with the Brewers, I expected him to start every day and I was very excited about his potential. They have since made other signings and it has now become a somewhat crowded situation over in Milwaukee. He may have fallen into a fourth outfielder role which no doubt limits the upside. This is another situation to monitor as we enter spring training.
Wil Myers and Dylan Carlson are both power and speed combination players with no direct line to playing time. Myers is frustrating to own. Last season I was huge on Myers and he was a bust. I believe he will improve and where he is going in drafts there is no risk at all if you want to take a shot on him.
I have cooled off of my Dylan Carlson love… for now. There is just no direct path to playing time. I do believe the talent will win out eventually but with the crowded outfield situation they currently have in St. Louis I am starting to back off just a tad on Carlson. If the other outfielders struggle to get going in 2020 I believe Carlson will be given the first shot out of Triple-A. He is one of my favorite stash candidates.
Tier 11: Deep League Dart Throws
These are players to take shots on at the end of drafts. Some offer more upside than others but all are worthy of a roster spot.
Sam Hilliard and Josh Rojas really stand out for me here. I want to leave my draft with at least one of these two players. They offer solid speed upside late but playing time is the only concern. We will see how things shake out in spring training. These two could be big-time movers in the ranks if an everyday role is awarded to them entering 2020.
Domingo Santana and Kevin Pillar are solid grabs late in drafts. Both are without a team at the moment but I assume both will sign and start in the outfield for these respective teams. These two are solid late values.
Mark Canha is a cheap, late power source. He should slot into the middle of the A’s lineup and provide good home run and RBI totals. Canha is far from exciting but he gets the job done.
I do not like drafting “rabbits”. If you are unaware of the term, it is simply a player you draft for steals. Mallex Smith is exactly that. I won’t have any shares. He is essentially a negative in 4 other categories and chasing the steals just is not worth it. However, it is a late steal source and is worth grabbing with a last round pick but I doubt he will ever be available that late.
That is going to do it for the outfield preview. A lot has yet to happen in regards to signings, trades and spring training. Stick around for updates as the off-season continues. Fantasy baseball season never ends over here for us at Fantrax.
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