We’re through with the infield and moving out onto the grass! We’re nothing but sunshine and positivity today as we focus on the Dudes in the outfield. Since it’s such a deep position, we’re going with a quattro of Dudes!! Is that a word that people use meaning “four”? Perhaps I’m just thinking about the name of my Schick razor. A cadre of Dudes? I guess that works, although it’s less specific…in any case, here are my favorite outfield values this year.
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Dokken’s Outfield Dudes and Don’ts for 2019
The First Dude – Jesse Winker
Jesse Winker is going to be so good this year that he’ll be upgraded to Jesse Blinker. Yes, it’s an upgrade, stop questioning the nickname! It’s not too often that I am all over a hitter coming off shoulder surgery, yet here we are. Winker has never been a power hitter, but he’s allegedly been dealing with shoulder issues for years. That actually leads me to believe that the surgery could lead to more power rather than a downturn.
Another reason I’m optimistic about Winker’s power is his elite plate discipline. He was one of just five hitters with at least 300 plate appearances to walk more than he struck out in 2018. His company isn’t too shabby: Jose Ramirez, Carlos Santana, Alex Bregman, and teammate Joey Votto. High walk rates and strong plate discipline often feed into power, and Winker is the only one on that short list who isn’t considered a power hitter (yet).
Even if he doesn’t hit more than his Steamer projected 15 home runs, he’s giving you great four-category value. His ADP has largely been so low because of his questionable playing time now that Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig are in town. However, it seems like Kemp is poised to take on more of a fourth-outfielder role, leaving at least the strong side of a platoon for Winker. Regardless of how they are deployed out of the gate, I expect Winker’s incredible on-base ability to win out and make him very difficult to sit. His AVG/OBP makes him a candidate to bat first or second in the order, and as a result, he could potentially lead the entire league in runs scored. He’s a filthy steal as the 48th outfielder and 215th player off the board and could finish as a top-20 outfielder.
Projection: 625 plate appearances, 25 HR, 105 R, 80 RBI, .300 AVG
The Second Dude – Franmil Reyes
Despite having a very fun name, Franmil Reyes wasn’t even a very highly regarded prospect until 2017 when he clubbed 25 home runs and drove in 102 at Double-A San Antonio. Then, last season, he got his first taste of the big leagues. At first, it did not go well. He eventually got sent back to Triple-A, but when he came back up, he was a much better hitter. Check out the first/second half splits:
1H: 105 PA, 5.7% BB%, 39% K%, .222/.267/.434
2H: 180 PA, 10% BB%, 21.7% K%, .315/.383/.537
His second-half 152 wRC+ was 14th best in baseball (min. 180 PA). It is a very, very talented top 13 ahead of him. Such an extreme improvement in plate discipline is rare, and he’s still just 23 years old. As is the case with Winker, Reyes’s playing time situation is largely what is keeping his ADP down so low. The Padres signing Manny Machado created a playing time crunch, pushing Wil Myers to the outfield. The Daddies also have to find at-bats for Franchy Cordero, Manny Margot, and Hunter Renfroe. It was actually an even murkier situation until Travis Jankowski fractured his wrist, believe it or not.
Reyes has improved dramatically as a young player over the past couple of years, and I expect him to hit his way into full-time at-bats. His monstrous raw power and improving plate discipline could make him a middle of the order thumper by midseason. He’s right behind Winker as the 49th outfielder and 217th overall player. I nabbed them both myself in The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational. While a pepper mill will make you sneeze, a Franmil will always please. Thank you, thank you, I’ll see myself out. Try the veal.
Projection: 575 Plate Appearances, 30 HR, 75 R, 85 RBI, .270 AVG
The First Deep League Dude – Christin Stewart
I have a propensity to play in deeper leagues, so I’m providing not one but TWO Deep League Dudes. The first is not the Twilight actress, but beefy outfielder (and eventual DH) Christin Stewart. Stewart gets no love on prospect lists because of his poor defense, but fortunately for him, the Tigers play in the American League. Miggy should play first base more often than not, and now that Victor Martinez is finally out of the way, the path to playing time is pretty clear for Stewart.
For being a power-over-contact type of bat-first profile, Stewart actually makes decent contact. Granted it was a tiny sample size in 2018 when he first got the call, but over those 72 plate appearances, he made 78% contact and sprayed the ball to all fields. He would offset his strikeout rates with high walk rates throughout the minors, but at Triple-A last season he only struck out at a 20.7% clip while walking 12.8% of the time. I think the fantasy community is underestimating his ability to make contact while also having the ability to absolutely obliterate baseballs. He’ll still be a better play in OBP leagues, but down here at OF80/ADP312, the typical rookie risk is lower than sunlight to a glittery vampire. Does sunlight even kill them in those movies? Nevermind, I don’t want to know.
Projection: 600 Plate Appearances, 25 HR, 70 R, 75 RBI, .265 AVG
The Second Deep League Dude – Greg Allen
The generically named Greg Allen appears set to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Tribe’s payroll-slashing offseason. With Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall, Melky Cabrera, and Rajai Davis all out of town, Allen has a shot at making the team out of camp. His competition is a real “who’s who” of “who’s that”, with the likes of Tyler Naquin, Leonys Martin, and Jordan Luplow. If he doesn’t completely fall on his face in Spring Training, he should make the roster as a fourth outfielder at least.
Allen’s improvements in 2018 were anything but generic. Have a look at his first/second half splits:
1H: 150 PA, 4% BB%, 24% K%, .209/.245/.288
2H: 141 PA, 5.7% BB%, 15.6% K%, .310/.379/.405
There isn’t much hope for power or RBI with Allen, but what you’re buying him for is speed. He swiped 16 bases in the second half of 2018 and 33 overall between Triple-A and Cleveland. He’s shaping up to be one of the cheapest rabbits you can buy in a deep league, and Greg the Bunny is looking right at me and saying, “What’s up, Dokk? Draft me!” Man, two fake rabbit references in the same sentence. Sometimes I amaze even myself.
Projection: 550 Plate Appearances, 5 HR, 65 R, 45 RBI, 30 SB, .275 AVG
Are you down with Dokken’s Dudes and Don’ts? For more great rankings, strategy, and analysis check out the 2019 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit. We’ll be adding more content from now right up until Opening Day!
Nathan Dokken is a member of the FSWA and has had his work featured in numerous books and magazines. He has also appeared on many podcasts and radio shows and hosts the Nasty Cast and Fantrax Dynasty Baseball podcasts. His written work can be found exclusively at Fantrax HQ, and his personal thoughts and opinions can be found on Twitter @NathanDokken.
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