The MLB season is upon us which means it is time for the Fantasy Baseball season. We here at the Sports Script want to do everything possible in setting you up for draft day and helping you throughout the season to win a Fantasy Baseball Championship. We are gathering a team of Sports Script writers as well as some special guest to answer 5 key questions about each position for the upcoming 2014 Fantasy Baseball Season. Today we have gathered myself (Ricky Valero), Matt Bell, Matt Wincherauk and special guest Jonathan (@Jonathan_TTF) from Top Team Fantasy (@TopTeamFantasy) as we are going to take a look at the Outfield.
5 Questions surrounding Fantasy Baseball Outfielders
1 – Which player or players are you targeting?
Jonathan – Carlos Beltran: Everyone always looks for the sexy guys like Yasiel Puig (more on him later) and Billy Hamilton, but you win your leagues by grabbing those value players like Beltran. He’s 36 years old, but based on his 10th round ADP; I love the 8-time all-star who is moving from a tough ballpark to a launching pad in New York (check this out for a great read on the subject). He’s been more durable than you may thing in his last three seasons and will be almost a lock for a 25 HR season. I’d be shocked if he finishes outside the top 20 OFs.
Ricky – Unlike my buddy Jonathan and many others that I have had some nice chats about in the past, Yasiel Puig is a guy I not only want on my team, I am willing to reach in the middle of the 1st round for the guy. If you are drafting around the 5th or 6th spot in this year’s draft there is a bunch of uncertainty. After Cabrera and Trout, the field is wide open. Now I think Goldschmidt is a shoe-in at #3 but after him you have McCutchen, Cano and Davis lined up right after all of whom have some serious questions. If you are drafting 4th-6th you are more than likely not going to have a chance at Puig in round 2. I present the following things to you.
He ranked 6th in batting average (Min. 400 PA)
He scored 66 runs in only 104 games
His 19 HRs/382 PA (20.1% AB/HR) ranked 25th in baseball
12th in OBP (.391) higher than Cano/Davis/Beltre/Ramirez
His 160 wRC+ was 4th in baseball and was 60 points higher than the league average
Of the 56 players with over a 20% K% only 5 players hit .300 or better last year. Only Chris Johnson had a higher batting average than Puig did.
That’s all from a guy in his first season in the MLB. While there is talks questioning is work ethic (he’s “30” pounds heavier) or questioning his “character” but I am taking him based on his talent. End of story.
Matt Bell – If I have one of the top picks in any of my drafts I’ll be targeting Mike Trout who I think is primed for another huge year. That pick is obvious, so the other outfielders that I’ll be looking to target include Bryce Harper and Josh Hamilton. Harper is no secret to any fantasy player as he’s burst onto the scene pretty quickly in the past two years. He spent some time on the DL last year which really hurt his numbers. I see Harper if healthy hitting for an average of .275 with 30 home runs and over 20 stolen bases. Josh Hamilton probably makes some people throw up in their mouth hearing his name, but I really think he’s primed for a bounce back year. Hamilton is going to have a ton of value at the spot he will fall to in most drafts. He’s coming off his worst year hitting for an average of .250 with only 21 home runs. Hamilton will improve over last year and being ranked 32nd in the ESPN rankings leads me to believe he can be had in the later rounds of most fantasy drafts.
Matt Wincherauk – Mike Trout. Not adventurous enough? Fine. I’ll go with Bryce Harper here. I feel like he’s about to really break out, like many thought he would last year before injuries got to him. More on him in a later question.
2 – Which player are you staying away from?
Jonathan – Curtis Granderson: We just spoke about the impact of Beltran moving to Yankee stadium, well Granderson leaving Yankee stadium will have an opposite effect. Here’s his home/away splits since joining the Yankees (given in per 100 AB numbers):
Home: 19.75 R, 7.03 HR, 17.41 RBI, 2.9 SB, 0.254 AVG
Away: 18.75 R, 5.8 HR, 16.85 RBI, 3.24 SB, 0.236 AVG
As you would expect, his power was significantly down on the road, and moving to a more neutral park (Citi Field) will only make matters worse for the aging (former) star, not to mention the stark difference in lineup around him. He’s already 33 years old and is coming off a year in which he was limited to only 61 games, so you’d have a hard time convincing me a comeback year is in the works. Don’t let his name value trick you into overpaying for Granderson on draft day.
Ricky – Bryce Harper – He is being over drafted in so many leagues this year and it’s insane. He started off with a Monster April last season and boom just died for months on end. He struggles really badly against lefties as seen below.
Vs. LHP – 131 AB – 12 R – 25 H – 2 HR – 16 RBI – .214 BA – .327 OBP
I think this is a make or break season for Harper if he is going to be among the élite Fantasy outfielders or not. With a current ADP of 12, I am staying as far away from Harper as I can.
Matt Bell – The player I’m staying away from is Carlos Gomez as he was much in the spot light for the Brewers last year with Braun hurt. I think Gomez is going to struggle to hit anywhere close to the .280 mark he hit for last year. The previous years he hadn’t hit anywhere close to that mark with .260 being his highest average. He has some power, but I don’t expect him to hit over 20 home runs next year and he just won’t be able to justify his early draft pick status.
Matt Wincherauk – I’m avoiding Ellsbury like I talked about in the first question. His power numbers might benefit from being in New York, but he is the biggest injury risk in baseball, and I can’t trust him. That and he’s a little traitor.
3 – Who is the biggest sleeper heading into 2014?
Jonathan – Melky Cabrera: How much of Melky’s excellent 2011 and 2012 seasons were due to steroids? We’ll probably never know. But the hate has gone too far. Melky was drafted as a top 25 OF last year, and although he’s coming off a terrible year that was largely due to injuries. He’s still going to be starting in left and looks likely to be starting in the #2 hole. There is absolutely no reason not to gamble on him considering his 281.7 ADP (79th OF).
Ricky – Khris Davis is someone I really have an eye on in all my upcoming drafts. He is coming off the board in the 15th-17th round right now and I think he has a much higher ceiling than that. He hit a pretty solid .279 and hit 11 homers in 136 ABs which equated to 1 in every 12 at bats. While it’ll be tough for him to match those types of numbers in 2014 but even if he balloons to 1 in 20, he will still hit 20+ HRs, hit for a decent average and may even steal you a few bags. I would take him in the 12th or 13th round ahead of guys like Michael Bourn and Torii Hunter.
Matt Bell – The biggest sleeper in the outfield is tough as there are just so many players to choose from, but the player that I think could have a big year that no one is talking about is Mark Trumbo. He’s coming off a year where he only hit for an average of .234, but he still hit for over 30 home runs and now he finds himself in a hitter’s park in Arizona. He’s got the potential to smash 40 home runs there and if he gets his average back up to around .270 you’ve got one heck of a steal in the outfield.
Matt Wincherauk – I’m going to go with Shin-Soo Choo here, just because he’s such a consistent player. Yes please I’ll take a player with a .300+ average, and a 20/20 guy, who should also benefit from playing in the Rangers ballpark.
4 – Which player will be a bust for Fantasy owners?
Jonathan – Yasiel Puig: We all know how talented Puig is, but a top 10 OF this year? You gotta be kidding me! In 2013, he hit .319 with 19 HRs, 66 R, 42 RBI and 11 SB in only 104 games. That means in 2014 with a full season he’s a good bet to go 30-20 with a .300 average right? Wrong!
If you look deeper, you will see regression coming up the wazoo. 0.383 BABIP, a contact rate of just 67%, a ground ball rate of over 50%, HR/FB% of 22%, the average will drop significantly this year and the power numbers should suffer as well. We saw that regression already coming when he only batted .214 in September and October. As a top 10 OF, there is no benefit to grabbing Puig; he can’t possibly outperform his draft position. I’m letting someone else overdraft him and grabbing safer players at a value instead.
Ricky – Can I put Matt Kemp? Anyone that drafts him is in line for a huge disappointing season again. He is hurt again, may or may not start the season and could be on a short leash with the Dodgers having some depth in the OF. Another guy I won’t be drafting is Ryan Braun, while I believe he will be a nice fantasy option this year, I just don’t think he will match up to his ADP.
Matt Bell – The biggest bust that I see looking at the top of the OF rankings is Joey Bautista. He’s going to hit his home runs, but other than he doesn’t give you much value. He’s also missed games in every season but two that he has played in as a professional baseball player. Bautista just scares me as a player that can be taken way too high and spend more of the season on the DL than on the field.
Matt Wincherauk – Jose Bautista is my pick for being a bust this year. I think this is the year that we finally see Bautista fall off a bit from his usual gaudy power numbers. He’s constantly hurt, and his attitude doesn’t help him much either. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a name being floated around in trade numbers.
5 – Give a bold prediction for one player.
Jonathan – Ryan Braun has his third 30/30 season in four years and finishes the year as a top 3 OF.
Ricky – Mike Trout finally wins the MVP? Okay that’s not bold. Matt Kemp won’t play more than 120 games, not bold really either. Give me Yoenis Cespedes to hit .265 with 32 HRs and 98 RBIS.
Matt Bell – The Bold predictions that I’ll make for the outfield position involves Giancarlo Stanton. He’s missed some time over the last couple of seasons with injuries, but this year he stays healthy. The prediction for me is that he will hit for 45 home runs and be one of the top 5 fantasy players at the outfield position
Matt Wincherauk – My prediction will be that Bryce Harper tops 30 home runs, and solidifies his spot as a top 5 outfielder, in that group of Trout, McCutchen and Gonzalez.
If you have any questions about the upcoming Fantasy Baseball season make sure to hope on over to twitter and ask. You can follow me @rickygangster @mattbell211 & @TheMattyWin and we will answer any and all questions.
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