Many typical 5 x 5 rotisserie Fantasy Baseball leagues require that you start five outfielders in your lineup. That might not seem too tough to do, but if you’ve started taking part in mock drafts in preparation for the new season, you’ll notice that the outfielder spot thins out pretty quickly in the middle rounds of a 12-team draft. The growing number of outfielders who are part of a platoon makes it imperative that you really do your homework and keep up with the offseason transactions involving this position.
The market for 2016 outfielders is still evolving. As I write this article, Dexter Fowler is the most prominent free agent outfielder remaining on the open market. His Fantasy value would likely escalate if rumors linking him to the Orioles are true. Fowler could potentially put up 20 homers and 20 steals playing his home games at Camden Yards, but the Orioles have also been mentioned in trade talks with the Reds for OF Jay Bruce. The Padres are rumored to be trying to move Matt Kemp and his big contract via a trade as well.
Let’s take a look back at some of the outfielders who’ll be playing for new teams this season that we’ve previously covered:
Jason Heyward thought he’d have a better chance at winning a World Series title as a member of the younger Chicago Cubs roster. I discussed the Fantasy impact of Heyward’s rejection of the Cardinals and taking his bat and glove to Chicago in this article.
We’ve already spoken about the Tigers’ acquisition of outfielders Justin Upton and Cameron Maybin in this article on Detroit’s offseason moves. Upton should have an outstanding season embedded in that powerful lineup.
Chris Young, went from crushing lefty pitching for the Yankees, and signed a free agent contract with their arch rival Boston Red Sox this offseason. RotoExperts’ Managing Editor Tim McCullough analyzed how Young’s signing by Boston would impact the Red Sox in this article.
We’ve also covered the effect that Denard Span and his base stealing prowess will have on the San Francisco Giants lineup in this article, but there are still a bunch more Fantasy outfielders who’ll be patrolling new grounds in the upcoming season. Here’s a breakdown of some of the ones who are Fantasy relevant and have new homes this season:
Khris Davis, Oakland A’s
Billy Beane must have liked something in Khris Davis’ sabermetric profile. Otherwise, why would he give up two prospects in a trade for him? Davis is a streaky hitter, but in the spirit of the Incredible Hulk, he can certainly smash! He’s a free swinger (27.7 K rate last season) who’ll never hit for high average, but with a career ISO of .244 and an excellent HR/FB rate of 20 percent, there’s no denying that this guy can knock the ball out of the park. Once he returned to the Brewers’ lineup after early season knee surgery, he tore up the league. He hit 21 home runs in the second half, and averaged a home run for every 14.5 at bats (good for third in the league). Davis liked hitting in Milwaukee’s Miller Park. He had a career .269 batting average when he played at home, which was 39 points higher than his average on the road. Playing his home games in Oakland’s pitcher-friendly O.Co Coliseum may put a damper on Davis’ power numbers. Park factors may take his projected seasonal home run total, from the mid to upper 20s range, to the lower mid-20 range. With Davis as the A’s everyday leftfielder, Mark Canha and Coco Crisp stand to lose at bats this season.
Gerardo Parra, Colorado Rockies
The Rockies signed Gerardo Parra to a three-year $26 million dollar deal this offseason. Whenever a hitter either signs with, or gets traded to the Rockies, everyone automatically thinks that their offensive production is going to take a huge leap forward. Parra is coming off a 2015 season in which he hit a career high 14 home runs and stole 14 bases, but he hasn’t hit a home run in 194 plate appearances at Coors Field. Parra does have some pop in his swing, and maybe some of last season’s 36 doubles will leave the park in that thin Colorado air, but his below average 26.8 percent fly ball rate might mean he’ll never develop into a consistent 20-plus home run hitter. With an overall ADP of 211 (according to Fantasypros.com) you should consider Parra as a fourth or fifth outfielder. Expect a stat line close to .285-13-50 with 70 plus runs scored and 10 to 15 stolen bases.
Corey Dickerson, Tampa Bay Rays
With the signing of Parra, the Rockies desperately needed to move one of their outfielders. Corey Dickerson, because of his reasonable long term contract, was the easiest player to trade. The Rockies dealt him to the Rays and in exchange got back some much needed bullpen help in LHP Jake McGee. History tells us that Dickerson’s offensive stats could decline now that he’ll be playing his home games in the pitcher-friendly confines of Tropicana Field. Over his career, Dickerson has a .355 batting average with a 1.085 OPS when playing at Coors Field, and a .249 average with a .695 OPS on the road. Don’t worry, all is not lost for Dickerson. His above average career line drive rate should keep his batting average from falling too far, and although he has a high chase rate, he was still able to keep his OBP close to his career .345 average last season. Dickerson will turn 27 in May, and he put up some strong power numbers in his minor league career. The key to Dickerson’s season is that he needs to stay healthy. His stats may regress a bit, but if he takes a few more walks and improves his batting average against lefty pitching, he should still have a productive season. If he gets 550 at bats, a stat line of approximately .280-20-80 with about 10 steals is a distinct possibility.
Mark Trumbo, Baltimore Orioles
Unlike Dickerson, Mark Trumbo should benefit from playing in his new surroundings this season. Trumbo, who should have dual eligibility as a first baseman and outfielder, is garnering a lot of interest from savvy Fantasy players due to his power potential. Over the course of his career, when Trumbo was given at least 500 at bats he has been a lock for at least 20 home runs, and in Camden Yards he could even approach 30 dingers this season. He’s your prototypical power hitter. He’s aggressive at the plate and swings at a high rate of pitches that are out of the strike zone, which causes him to have a high swinging strike rate. With a 193 ADP, Trumbo often gets overlooked in Fantasy drafts until the later rounds, but with a potential stat line of .255-27-85 he could prove valuable as your Fantasy corner infielder or outfielder.
Aaron Hicks, New York Yankees
Is 2016 the season when Aaron Hicks finally makes his mark as a Fantasy outfielder? The former 2008 first round pick was given, and subsequently relinquished, the starting centerfielder’s job by the Twins in 2013 and 2014. Although he had his ups and downs last season, he ended up with 11 home runs and 13 stolen bases in limited action, and some think that given enough at bats he has 15 homer, 15 steal potential. Hicks is a patient hitter who has a fantastic 22.7 percent chase rate and a great walk rate. He’s become a more disciplined batter, lowering his 24.9 percent K rate from 2014 eight percentage points last season. Hicks might not get to play every day, but with his ability to hit left-handed pitching and a 351 ADP, he could be a nice end game pick in drafts who can be plugged in when the matchup is right. His success against southpaws could also make him useful in DFS play.
Ben Revere, Washington Nationals
Given the choice between having either Billy Hamilton or Ben Revere on my Fantasy team, I’m going to take Revere every time. Up until recently, Hamilton was being drafted much earlier than Revere but Fantasy players are getting smarter and smarter every season. Based on Hamilton’s ADP of 94 and Revere’s of 109, they are usually being drafted within the eighth and ninth rounds of a typical 12-team draft. Hamilton has the potential to steal 50 bases a season, but that’s all that he provides you with. Revere is a career .295 hitter who can steal anywhere from 30 to 40 bases in any given season. He should benefit from being traded from the Blue Jays, since they are known for scoring their runs via the long ball, and might have limited Revere’s stolen base attempts. Revere should excel as the Nationals’ projected leadoff hitter. He doesn’t strikeout much, doesn’t chase bad pitches, and with his speed and career contact rate of just under 92 percent, he should find himself on base quite often. Look for him to score a bunch of runs, and have plenty of base stealing opportunities.
Ender Inciarte, Atlanta Braves
Ender Inciarte’s Fantasy value should increase with his move to the Atlanta Braves. He is expected to bat leadoff this season and with an ADP of 214, he should allow you to pick up some speed in the later rounds of your draft. Inciarte has an above average career groundball rate, but his speed allowed him to set career highs in batting average (.303) and stolen bases (21) last season. Inciarte’s high career contact rate (89.1) and low career swinging strike rate (4.9) make him an offensive threat at the top of the Braves’ batting order with the potential to eclipse his career best 73 runs scored from last season. Inciarte stole 40 plus bases twice in his minor league career. If he learns to walk more (5.1 percent career BB rate), he is still young enough that he could approach his minor league stolen base numbers. As the Braves lead-off hitter, Inciarte could set a career high in at bats this season, but if he doesn’t improve his batting average against lefty pitching (.227 last season), he could eventually find himself being part of a platoon.