Mock draft season is well upon us, and most of us at this point are familiar with those top performers in the outfield who can secure a strong foundation for any fantasy team as they start a new season. Making the decision to draft an upper tier talent like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper or Mookie Betts is an easy call, and you can be reasonably sure that you will net above average production should you be fortunate enough to land any of those three fantasy studs.
While having those top-tier guys can obviously put you one step closer to championship contention, finding value outside of the upper level players in any positional group can be the best way to separate yourself from the field while allowing you to secure stronger players at shallower positions on your squad.
With this in mind, here are three outfielders whose ADP is currently outside of the Top 100 that could outperform their current draft position and put you one step closer to bragging rights for the sad, dark months after the season ends.
Brett Gardner, Current ADP: 184.5
Brett Gardner had a very strong bounce-back year in 2017, finishing the season as one of six outfielders in MLB with at least 20 HR and 20 Steals. While some people may worry about Gardner due to his age (33 in 2017) and his powerless performance in 2016 (7 HR), I see a durable player whose advanced statistics support the idea of 2016 as an outlier in production rather than the coming standard.
In 2016 Gardner saw close to a 7% increase in his GB% paired with a 7% decrease in his FB%. His Home Run to Fly ball ratio cratered as a result, dropping him all the way to 5.9% from the average of 11% he had seen the previous two seasons. 2017 saw him correct back to his previous performance levels, and while he may see a small dip in power production in 2018, I am confident that we will see pretty strong production out of Gardner as he sets the table to Stanton, Judge & Co this season. Gardner could be a good draft value alternative for owners looking at Andrew Benintendi, (Current ADP 43.92), and could be a safer bet to outperform other similar power/speed OF currently available at his ADP.
Stephen Piscotty, Current ADP: 314.75
Last year was a complete disaster for Piscotty as he looked to build on a strong 2016 campaign. He was injured early and often, spent some time in the minors and really only had one strong month of production in the entire season. Outside of these issues he also dealt with some pretty strong personal struggles as well due to the declining health of his mother, who currently suffers from ALS. 2018 will see Stephen Piscotty wearing Kelly green after his trade to the Athletics, and this new start plus other factors has me targeting Piscotty as a potential value late in drafts.
When he did play last season, Piscotty had some interesting results in his advanced batting profile. He gained 5% in his BB%, jumped 6% in GB% and dropped 3% in his FB%. While those changes in GB% and FB% might look like bad news for his power moving forward, I am willing to chalk up these changes and his drop in ISO to lack of health rather than a foreshadowing of declining skills or approach. The uptick in his BB% could mean he gains a bit in OBP moving forward, adding to his value. Overall, the combined effect of entering the season healthy, being closer to his family and joining an Oakland lineup that jumped from 27th to 7th overall in offense during the second half has me believing in Piscotty as a great candidate to outperform his current ADP.
Jay Bruce, Current ADP: 161.79
Jay Bruce to me is the ultimate boring fantasy outfield bat. Since he broke into the league in 2008 he has been a virtual lock for around 30 HR, solid RBI numbers and an underwhelming second half. Last season saw much of the same from Bruce, and while his second half numbers did tumble, the drop was less significant than we have seen in previous years and he was still a valuable bat down the stretch. To me Bruce is a great alternative to higher priced power bats, (looking at you Khris Davis), and should net you similar production at a much lower draft spot.
Davis’s current ADP sits at 71.54, close to 100 spots above where Bruce is currently averaging. The total difference in production between Davis and Bruce for 2017? 7 home runs, 9 RBI’s, 9 runs and some slight differences in SLG and OPS with Davis sitting at .528/.864 respectively and Bruce coming in at .508/.832. Add in that Bruce has averaged a K% of 21.95% the past two seasons compared to 28.8% for Davis in the same period, and I see a safe bargain who will offer similar production. Bruce resigned with the Mets for the 2018 campaign, and will have good lineup protection in Yoenis Cespedes, the recently signed Todd Frazier and Michael Conforto when he returns from his shoulder injury.
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