Last week and I broke down the top tiers in the outfield – players that will basically serve as the foundation. This week I’d like to point out some outfield targets that give you upside, value, or ideally – some combination of the two. As I previously mentioned, my plan for the outfield is fairly simple this year. I want to get at least one guy in the top 15-20 to anchor things around, and then fill out the rest with mid to later round picks. This is basically what I have recommended and done with starting pitchers the past few seasons. Here are a few of the players I will be targeting.
Adam Eaton (Current OF rank and ADP: 38/155)
This guy used to be boring as heck when he was with the White Sox. He would put up decent counting stats, but was not really a threat to be much better than a top 30 outfielder. Last year he got off to a pretty impressive start. It was a limited sample size of just 97 plate appearances, but I loved what I saw from him hitting towards the top of the lineup. His skill-set in the vaunted Nats lineup can lead to some very good things. Because of the injury I think many people are forgetting about his strong start and are more focused on the final line.
ADP is obviously shaky because of how early it is, but if he’s going in the 140s- that’s a great value. He’s not that different than Benintendi or Yelich, but they are currently going in the 30s and 60s respectively. Give me Eaton in the 140s all day.
Yoenis Cespedes (Current OF rank and ADP: 24/97)
Another established player coming off of some injury issues, you might be sensing a theme here. Cespedes was an absolute stud for the better part of the last three years, and he did not lose a step during his injury shortened 2017..
His hard hit rate is on a three-year climb, reaching 41% in 2017. That goes hand and had with an ISO of .250 and fly ball percentage over 40 during that span. Walks, strikeouts, contact rate – everything has stayed solid giving no signs of a deteriorating skill-set.Yet, he is an injury risk, and there is a narrative that some of his injuries are a result of all the extra muscle he has added over the past three seasons. However, given the upside is that of a top-10 outfielder, the risk is well worth it .
Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and J.D. Martinez are generally going in the top-two rounds. Martinez and Stanton are injury risks yet nobody bats an eye, and I can’t hear anything the “Judge” says over the screaming cries of regression. They are all younger than Cespedes and probably have a higher ceiling. That said; Cespedes will not be far off offensively comes season’s end to warrant a five round discount. Expect a healthy and profitable year from this 7th round pick.
Yasiel Puig (Current OF rank and ADP: 28/112)
I’ve long loved Yasiel Puig, dating back to 2013 when he was the first of the Cuban imports to really explode on the scene. Puig is also one of the more exciting players to watch as a fan. It’s been an up and down ride since he came into the league, but was never able to put it all together until 2017.
He did all this in spite of a .274 BABIP and totaling 294 at bats between the 7th and 9th spot on the order. Puig also posted career bests for both walk and strikeout rates. He made better contact with an improved approach, but had some bad luck on balls in play for some reason.
I am still in on Puig, especially given that he’s currently going outside the top-120 on average. If the BABIP normalizes, you have yourself a .280-.290 hitter with 25-30 homer potential. I also forgot to mention the 15 steals – adding double-digit speed to all that is fantasy gold. The only thing keeping me from being all-in on Puig is his propensity for being a bonehead. He has all the talent in the world and we got a taste of what he is capable of when he is dialed in. There is little reason not to pull the trigger in round 10 or 11.
Manuel Margot (Current OF rank and ADP: 37/148)
Margot had 13 bombs and 17 swipes in 529 PAs last year. That’s pretty valuable on it’s own. From 2014 to 2016 he averaged 38 stolen bases per season so expecting him to double last year’s output is not unrealistic. That’s obviously huge in the current landscape where steals are extremely scarce. The power was unexpected as he is not profiled as a power hitter. However, he is still young (23) and had a respectable ISO and fly ball rate last year so I think double-digit totals are with reach annually.
He also didn’t kill your batting average last year with a respectable .263. Ihere’s room for improvement here given his speed, 23% career line drive rate in the bigs, and career .287 minor league average. Margot is currently going in the 140s between the likes of “old man” Adam Jones and “I don’t believe in this guy” Trey Mancini. I think there’s 15/30 potential here along with a batting average north of .270.
Stephen Piscotty (Current OF rank and ADP: 78/297)
I know Hunter already covered Piscotty last week as a late round value pick, but I really like this signing by Oakland. I really like Oakland, even though they never actually manage to put it all together. Their lineup is pretty solid, albeit unsexy, heading into the 2018 season, and Piscotty is a part of that.
If you look back to any ranking sites coming into 2017 – even our own – you will see Piscotty ranked next to names like Ozuna, Cain, and Benintendi. After one disappointing season his ADP is in the 280s. He is a guy who walks a ton (13.4% in ‘17) and keeps his K rate respectable (21.7% in ‘17). While the ISO was down, the hard hit and fly ball rate were in line with 2016. And he actually posted a better contacgt rate while dropping his swing rate 5%. There’s no excuse for the .235 average, but I’ll give him a mulligan given the lower BABIP, decreased line drives, injuries, and personal issues he was forced to endure.
I will be targeting Piscotty in basically every league. Value and production wise he is the same type of player as Eaton, Yelich, Benintendi, and others going in the early/mid rounds. I think he is likely to hit .275-.285 with 17-22 homers and decent counting stats in the heart of the order. Piscotty won’t be a boon for you in stolen bases, but those 5-10 steals will come in handy. There’s basically no risk at this point in the draft, and I feel quite confident about him bouncing back.
Those are some of my favorite values based on early ADP. There are definitely lots of other names worth looking into: Bradley Zimmer, Michael Brantley, Matt Olson, Gregory Polanco, Jay Bruce, Corey Dickerson, Steven Souza, and Mitch Haniger to name a few. Ian Happ would also be one of my favorites if I was confident that he was going to play every day. There is a lot of outfield value, upside, and potential throughout the entire draft so do your best Not to fill up your outfield too early.
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