You better get used to a lot of the names on these rankings because you’re going to be seeing a lot of them for many years to come. The outfield position has long been known for its overall talent and star power. Eash and every year it seems to get stronger and stronger, especially when it comes to dynasty and keeper formats.
Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are still locked in at the top. And the scary part? They’re still just 26 and 25, respectively. In fact, there’s only one man over the age of 30 in my top-10 and just three in the top-25. There are plenty of good veterans, but there’s just so much youthful talent these days. That includes prospects, where super phenom Ronald Acuna leads the way.
The Top Dogs
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
This doesn’t need any explanation. While I still think Harper has just as much statistical upside, Trout has health and track record in his corner, which is something Harper can’t lay claim to quite yet. Trout has averaged 35 home runs, 29 steals, 100 RBI, and 122 runs per every 600 at-bats in his Major League career. Before his thumb injury last season, Trout has played in 157+ games in each of the last four seasons. Don’t overthink things. Trout is still the top dog in the outfield.
Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
Here are the men that have posted an OPS of 1.100 or higher since the start of the 2005 season: Albert Pujols (2006, 2008, 2009) and Bryce Harper in 2015. That’s it. Not even Mr. Trout has a 1.100 OPS under his belt. Harper was on pace for another monstrous season when he slipped on a wet bag during a game that should never have been played and suffered a really bad bone bruise in his left knee.
If you haven’t seen that injury, keep it that way. Especially if you have a weak stomach.
The one consistent weakness in Harper’s game has been his stolen base totals. He has 20+ steal wheels, yet he has reached double-digit steals only once in the last four years. So far this spring, he’s stolen two bags in 33 at-bats, so let’s hope that translates over into the regular season. Harper is risky, that’s for sure. However, no one else outside of Trout possesses this kind of upside.
On the Rise
Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves
What else can be said about Ronald Acuna that hasn’t already been said? One scout even compared him to a young Hank Aaron for crying out loud. Speaking of crying, Acuna made minor league pitchers cry after that onslaught he put on them last season. Between the minors and the Arizona Fall League, Acuna hit .325 with 28 homers, 46 steals, 98 RBI, and 110 runs. Do those stats look familiar? Well, they should. A certain first-round fantasy pick with the last name of a fish posted a line similar to that during his rookie season in 2012.
Will Acuna become the next Trout? That remains to be seen. But for now, he’s doing a damn good job making everyone drool over his offensive potential.
Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
Byron Buxton has become the ultimate tease. He’s like that crush you had in high school that flirted with you to make you think he/she was interested, then when you make your move, BOOM, friend zoned. Why do you have to be like that Byron? Buxton flirted with us all for the last two months of the 2017 season.
In 207 second-half at-bats, Buxton racked up 11 home runs, 13 steals, 35 RBI, 40 runs, and a .300/.347/.546/.893 slash line. Extrapolate that out over 600 at-bats and you’d have 32 homers, 38 steals, 102 RBI, and 116 runs. The problem is, he hasn’t been able to do that for an extended period of time. Buxton also had a 27.6 K% and 13/63 BB/K ratio over that same timeframe, so he still has his warts.
We’ve been waiting for Buxton to break out for years. After that hot stretch to end the season, it’s starting to feel like we’re really close to seeing him put it all together for a full season. This might be the last time we see him outside of the overall top-25 dynasty ranks.
On the Decline
David Dahl, Colorado Rockies
An asterisk stating “for now” needs to be included here. Dahl declined in these rankings from last season due to missing the entire season with a rib injury. Just because he’s dropped a little doesn’t mean that his upside still isn’t massive. Dahl averaged 19 home runs and 29 steals per every 600 at-bats in the minors with a .307 career average and will eventually play half his games at Coors Field. There’s still a lot to get excited about here, but the risk surrounding him is a tad concerning.
A.J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks
Injuries are a fickle S.O.Bs. Pollock captivated the fantasy world in 2015 when he hit .315 with 20 home runs and 39 stolen bases. Unfortunately, that’s been the only season in which he’s exceeded 450 at-bats. Still just 30, Pollock has the skills to put together more 15/35 seasons if his health allows him to.
|51||Delino DeShields Jr.||TEX||25||NR|
|67||Steven Souza Jr.||TB||28||40|
|98||Jackie Bradley Jr.||BOS||27||46|
Thank you for reading another edition of Dynasty Dugout here on Fantrax. 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? Follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask there.