As we get psyched up for the 2020 fantasy baseball season, we’re ranking the top players at every position, and here we’re going to tackle outfielders.
A couple of notes before we start this: first, these rankings are not my personal rankings. They are consensus rankings that were established during a rankings roundtable with myself and a handful of other people here at Pitcher List. Second, we’re going to be ranking the top 80 outfielders but to make it a little easier to parse, we’re going to be ranking 20 at a time in four different articles. We finish up here with the top 80!
So let’s get into it! Also, the full list is made up of six tiers, and just for fun, I’ve decided to name the tiers after my six favorite David Bowie albums.
Coming into last year a lot of people were psyched about the idea of Andrew McCutchen having a full season leading off for the Phillies and being out of that awful Pittsburgh Pirates lineup, and for good reason. Since 2011, Cutch has hit at least 20 home runs each year with double-digit steals all but one season. And while his average has diminished as he’s gotten older, it bounced from .256 in 2016 to .279 in 2017 and back down to .255 in 2018. So there was plenty of reason to think Cutch was going to be a 20 home run, 10-15 steal guy with a decent average and a good number of runs at the top of that lineup. Then, he lost the majority of last year to injury. But he’s back now, and he should be good for that kind of a season yet again. Yet he’s being valued like he died last season. I love me some boring old veterans and Cutch fits that role perfectly.
62. Avisail Garcia (Milwaukee Brewers)
I feel like Avisail Garcia is pretty consistently underrated. Last year with the Rays, he slashed .282/.332/.464 with 20 HRs, 61 R, 72 RBI, and 10 stolen bases. That’s a really solid season. Nothing life-changing for an outfielder, but it’s super useful. It came supported by an 11.7% barrel rate, a .275 xBA, and a .494 xSLG, so it feels pretty legit. Now with the Brewers, Garcia could potentially face some playing time questions, depending on what the Brewers elect to do with Ryan Braun, but I still expect Garcia to get a sizeable amount of playing time. In the hitter-friendly park that is Miller Park, I could easily see Garcia contributing in just about every category once again.
Tier 6: The Man Who Sold the World
Nomar Mazara has been consistently mediocre the past couple years, getting you about 20 home runs with around a .250s/.260s average, which is kind of a bummer considering he was a fairly highly-touted prospect. Well guess what? Turns out, he’s probably been playing with a thumb injury since the middle of 2018. Up until that injury, Mazara had been hitting .272/.332/.450 and then plummeted to dark nothingness after that. He’s supposedly healthy now, and while this may feel like he’s “in the best shape of his life,” it could be meaningful. Now, he’s with the White Sox and will likely be hitting in the middle of the best lineup he’s ever been in. Could this be a nice comeback year for Mazara? It just might be.
This year, I’m all about some Franchy fries (I’m not sorry). Cordero lost all of last year to injury and barely had gotten to play before that because the Padres had a crowded outfield, but when he’s played, he’s shown to have some excellent power. In the 40 games he played in in 2018, he posted a 12.9% barrel rate, 51.9% hard-hit rate, a .273 xBA, and a .502 xSLG. He’s got the skills, and now, it looks like he’s going to get the playing time and I love him as a sleeper this year.
Speaking of sleepers, hello Austin Hays. Hays was one of my bold predictions entering last year that he would be the new Trey Mancini for the Orioles and that very much did not happen. But he did get some action late in the year and he looked very good, posting a .309/.373/.574 line in 21 games. He’s going to finally get a full-time role with the Orioles because the Orioles have absolutely no reason not to throw him out there, and he looks like a guy who could hit around 20ish home runs with a solid average and five to 10 steals. Obviously the potential is high, he’s 24 and a top prospect for the team in the second-most hitter-friendly park in baseball, so if you’re looking for a lottery ticket (and this late in the outfield rankings, that’s mostly what you’re looking for), you could do a lot worse.
What can we expect from Corey Dickerson in 2020? I’ll be honest, it’s hard to tell. In 2017, he had a fantastic campaign with the Rays, hitting 27 home runs with a .282 average. Then, with the Pirates in 2018, the average improved to .300, but the power all but vanished. Then last year in limited play thanks to injuries, Dickerson hit .304 with 12 home runs in 78 games, which roughly paces out to a 20+ home run season in a full year. Now with the Marlins, Dickerson will have plenty of opportunity, just unfortunately not much of a lineup around him. Still, he should be good for a solid average and probably around 20 home runs.
Kingery is a nice piece to have because he contributes fairly well across the board except in batting average, where he’ll be below average but won’t absolutely kill you. There’s 20/20 potential there pretty obviously, the question will be his average, as he posted a pretty meh .247 xBA last year. There’s also the potential question of playing time next year. Could Alec Bohm show up fairly quickly and supplant Kingery? I could see it, especially if Kingery struggles for a good portion of the beginning of the year. But absent that, Kingery could be a pretty solid fantasy player.
68. Teoscar Hernandez (Toronto Blue Jays)
Teoscar Hernandez was another one of my bold predictions last year as I predicted he’d lead the league in home runs (again, I remind you these are bold predictions). While obviously that didn’t happen, Hernandez did go on a nice little power tear at the end of the year, posting a .333 ISO in the second half of the year including a July where he slashed .284/.346/.662. He’s got the skills, he posted an 11.7% barrel rate last year alongside a 42.3% hard-hit rate, and his 15.5% barrel rate in 2018 was among the best in baseball. It’s just a matter of consistency. But he’ll get the opportunities this year, so if you want another lottery ticket, Hernandez is interesting.
Obviously if we knew that Adell was starting the year in the majors, he’d be up much much higher, but we don’t know that. In fact, we really don’t know when Adell will come up this year, if at all. He’s still just 20 and the Angels have a fairly workable outfield with Justin Upton, Mike Trout (who’s he?), and Brian Goodwin. While Goodwin isn’t exactly amazing, he’s a very usable major league outfielder, and if the Angels don’t have a reason to bring Adell up, I doubt they will. But if he does come up, he’s got a very nice skillset with a power/speed combo that looks to have the ceiling of something like peak Matt Kemp. He’s another interesting flier worth taking in the later rounds if you’ve got the space to hang onto him.
This is another speculative pick where you’re hoping Hampson gets a solid amount of playing time. As of now, it doesn’t look like he will. The outfield is full and likely Ryan McMahon is going to start at second base instead of Hampson. But if Hampson is able to get some playing time, he’s got good potential. His speed is ridiculous, he stole 51 bases in High-A and stole 38 between Double-A, Triple-A, and the majors in 2018. He doesn’t have a ton of power, though Coors Field can help a bit for that. Were he to get a full season (which he almost definitely won’t), he looks to be a guy who could approach double-digit home runs with 25-30 steals and a solid average. This late in your draft, I don’t have a problem chasing that upside.
Braun’s value is going to depend on playing time. Given a full season, we’ve got a decent idea of what Braun is likely to do, he’s been fairly consistent the past few years. He’s going to hit around 20 home runs with a decent average and a good handful of steals. But now that the Brewers have signed Justin Smoak, it seems likely that Braun and Smoak will be in a platoon at first base. It’s also possible that Braun could play in the outfield some. Still, Braun has decent fantasy potential in just about every category, making him a worthwhile bench bat in deep leagues.
The Angels were very kind to Kole Calhoun last year, lowering their right field wall and letting him hit 33 home runs, which was a career-best for Calhoun by a good bit. Now in Arizona, Calhoun is almost definitely going to see a bit of a power drop considering Chase Field now leans more pitcher-friendly since it added the humidor. Still, Calhoun hits the ball pretty well, posting an 11.2% barrel rate last year alongside a 42.6% hard-hit rate., and he’s likely got a consistent gig. There’s still 25ish home run potential here for Calhoun with a decent average. Yes, he hit .232 last year, but that came with a .247 xBA, so I think he could do a bit better.
In 2018, David Peralta hit 30 home runs while batting .293 thanks to a major gain in hard-hit rate up to a career-best 45.7% and an increase in barrel rate to a career-best 7.4%. Then, last year, Peralta lost pretty much all of that and went back to being the David Peralta of old, with a 5.4% barrel rate and a 40.9% hard-hit rate. Sure, he lost a good bit of last year to injury, but with a full season, I don’t think you can expect the 30 home run power to come back. Still, 20 home runs with a .270s-.280s average seems very doable for him, and that has some value, even if it’s kind of boring.
Mark Canha sorta jumped out of nowhere last year and ended up slashing .273/.396/.517 with 26 HRs, 80 R, and 58 RBI. Unfortunately, I have a hard time expecting that again, as it came with a .248 xBA and a .469 xSLG. I still think Canha can be a useful hitter, but I’d doubt if he can repeat last year, at least from an average perspective. But could he hit in the .250s with 20-25 home runs and a decent handful of RBI? Sure, that’s possible, and that still makes him worth owning in some leagues.
Trent Grisham’s debut season with the Brewers didn’t exactly go great, but that’s no reason to give up on the guy. He’s now moved his way to the San Diego Padres and looks to likely be on the strong side of a platoon in the outfield, potentially with Juan Lagares, whom the Padres recently signed. Grisham projects as a guy who should be able to contribute a bit in most categories. He’s probably a .240s hitter with around 20 home runs and double-digit steals, assuming he gets a sizable amount of playing time, which I would expect he will. Hitting in Petco Park isn’t great, but that Padres lineup looks pretty nice, and Grisham will be right in the middle of it.
Brian Anderson is very boring. Even his name is boring; he doesn’t sound like the #3 hitter for the Miami Marlins, he sounds like your old fifth-grade math teacher. But while Anderson’s 20 home run, .261 production from last year feels as vanilla as it can be, it’s worth noting that Anderson amped up his barrel rate to a career-best 8.9% last year and also cranked up his hard-hit rate to a career-best 45.7%, the latter of which was good for 35th-best in baseball, just below Trevor Story and ahead of Bryce Harper, Cody Bellinger, and George Springer, among others. That’s not bad company to be in. Sure, he’s on the Marlins in a terrible home ballpark for hitting, but there are definitely some interesting skills there that might be worth an investment.
Yaz kind of popped onto the scene and showed us that we should know who he is not just because he’s Carl Yastrzemski’s grandson, but because he’s actually a pretty good ballplayer. In 107 games he slashed .272/.334/.518 with 21 HRs, 64 R, and 55 RBI, supported by an 11.2% barrel rate and a 42.9% hard-hit rate. Now, that average came with a .258 xBA which suggests some regression, but his power seems to be legit, and there’s some interesting potential there. Our own Matt Wallach wrote a good piece on Yaz’s potential if you want some more.
I’ve been dying for Tyler O’Neill to get full playing time ever since he was tearing up the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate and now, finally, it looks like he might get it. Maybe. Or he’ll get platooned with Dexter Fowler, which, if we’re being honest, is probably what’s going to happen. Unfortunately, from what we’ve seen of O’Neill, he doesn’t seem like he’s going to carry over the high average he had in the minors, but the raw power is very much there. The strikeouts will be rough, but he’s someone who could easily hit 25 home runs even in a platoon. Let’s not forget that it was just 2018 when he posted a 22.7% barrel rate (in just 61 games of course, but still), and yes, that barrel rate dropped precipitously last year, but the talent is there. He’s another interesting upside shot.
Gregory Polanco is healthy, supposedly, and if he’s healthy, he’ll have the starting gig in Pittsburgh. There’s a lot of unknowns surrounding Polanco though. We don’t know how much he’ll be stealing bases—those have declined a good bit in recent years—we don’t know how healthy he’ll be, and we don’t know how much power he’ll have after his shoulder injury. We’ve seen what he can do, and what he can do is be a 20/20 hitter batting in the .250s. However there is no way on earth you can count on that. He’s still just 28, so hopefully the downswing of his career hasn’t quite started yet, but late in drafts if you wanna take a shot on the hopes that Polanco hits around the .250s with 20+ home runs and a handful of steals, go for it. This late, the risk is minimal and Polanco’s potential is nice.
Kevin Kiermaier is an interesting guy. He’s got good speed, solid power, and a batting average that’s fluctuated from .276 in 2017 to .217 in 2018 and .228 last year. But Kiermaier has been tweaking his swing this offseason, and if you wanna take a shot on someone, why not take a shot on a guy who’s got a really nice power/speed combo and is tweaking his swing? If this change works, the payoff could be very nice.
Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)