2015 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide: Center Field Over/Unders
Center field is obviously the glamour position in the outfield. Unfortunately, fantasy baseball players might not see it the same way. Production has been fairly limited outside of the top few guys in recent seasons. Center field is probably as good an example as any as to the shift in the game from hitting to pitching.
Remember, the point of this series is to look at three-year averages and scaled them all to per 150 numbers to give us an idea of what a player might produce in a full season. We’ll see where that production would rank at the position and then decide whether the player is more likely to exceed or fall short of that production and ranking.
Arismendy Alcantara— Chicago Cubs
Per 150 Numbers: .205/21/66/62/17
Per 150 Center Field Rank: 20
Normally, I’d take the over on someone like this, but the Cubs are clearly moving on from the development phase to the competitive phase. They won’t be as patient with someone hitting near the Mendoza line as they might have the past two years. When you consider how many young players they have ready to take over you have to think he will be on a short leash.
Charlie Blackmon— Colorado Rockies
Per 150 Numbers: .293/15/71/56/19
Per 150 Center Field Rank: 8
Last season was a coming out party for Blackmon. The ultimate question is whether he is really coming out or whether it was one of those once in a lifetime seasons that players have sometimes. Considering the proliferation of pitching we’ve seen in the last couple of years, I’m not keen on betting on too many johnny come latelies.
Michael Bourn— Cleveland Indians
Per 150 Numbers: .266/7/87/52/29
Per 150 Center Field Rank: 12
They say the first thing to go is your speed. I can’t remember the second. Bourn’s biggest problem the past few seasons has been his inability to stay healthy. If he could give you 150 games then you could almost guarantee 90 runs and 30 stolen bases. That is if he is healthy enough to play that many games.
Lorenzo Cain— Kansas City Royals
Per 150 Numbers: .276/8/68/65/26
Per 150 Center Field Rank: 13
Let’s keep this as simple as possible. Since Cain and Bourn are ranked next to each other in per 150 numbers, which one do you think will have the better season next year? I’m betting Cain because when you are looking at speed you always bet on the younger guy. He seems to be on his way up.
Coco Crisp— Oakland Athletics
Per 150 Numbers: .256/17/91/63/31
Per 150 Center Field Rank: 6
I know I keep betting the under, but Crisp is in a very precarious situation in terms of fantasy value. He is even older than Michael Bourn and yet he hasn’t seen too much slippage yet. You would have to think that he will slip up eventually. Add that to the fact that Billy Beane has traded away (or let) several players that would have helped along the way.
Adam Eaton— Chicago White Sox
Per 150 Numbers: .281/4/96/44/16
Per 150 Center Field Rank: 19
The running joke when Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson were running the show in Arizona was that they were looking for GARP or Grit above replacement player. Eaton was one of those guys before they traded him for bullpen help. As it turns out, Eaton has some grit and likely will see an improvement in numbers with both Melky Cabrera and Adam Laroche on board.
Jacoby Ellsbury— New York Yankees
Per 150 Numbers: .282/12/86/63/44
Per 150 Center Field Rank: 5
Ellsbury was chronically overvalued until now. When you look at the last three seasons, they more closely resemble the player that Ellsbury really is. When you factor out his 2011 season you see a guy that produces ten home runs and 40 stolen bases a season. In this day and age that makes you definite top five material.
Dexter Fowler— Chicago Cubs
Per 150 Numbers: .280/13/81/52/17
Per 150 Center Field Rank: 11
There is good news and bad news on Dexter Fowler. The good news is that he proved he can produce outside of Coors Field. The bad news is that he can’t seem to stay healthy. The Cubs offense will be far superior in 2015 than the Astros offense was in 2014. If he can stay healthy he will outproduce these numbers.
Carlos Gomez— Milwaukee Brewers
Per 150 Numbers: .277/23/86/68/36
Per 150 Center Field Rank: 3
When someone produces numbers like these for one or two seasons then you can attribute it to luck, but now you have to start banking on it. It’s hard to see him leapfrogging Andrew McCutchen or Mike Trout, but one of them could take a step back. As long as Gomez remains healthy he seems a good bet to hit at least 20 home runs and steal at least 30 bases.
Billy Hamilton— Cincinnati Reds
Per 150 Numbers: .254/5/74/45/63
Per 150 Center Field Rank: 18
This might be the season we will find out whether Hamilton is a real stud or simply the 21st Century Vince Coleman. This isn’t to demean Coleman, but if you look at his numbers he was the epitome of a one category player. Don’t get me wrong, I love his speed, but I’m not that fond of one category players.
Austin Jackson— Seattle Mariners
Per 150 Numbers: .275/11/98/58/14
Per 150 Center Field Rank: 9
I really like Jackson, but he isn’t a starting quality center field fantasy player with the Mariners. His abilities played up in Detroit when he had all-star level run producers hitting behind him. Nelson Cruz is a nice addition, but no one on the Mariners is on the level of Miguel Cabrera, so his numbers are going to slide through no fault of his own.
Desmond Jennings— Tampa Bay Rays
Per 150 Numbers: .248/14/88/52/25
Per 150 Center Field Rank: 10
Jennings reminds me a lot of his predecessor. Everyone seemed to think he could do more, but he was pretty good as he was. The same is true of Jennings. When he came up, people thought he was going to be a star. That hasn’t happened, but if you remove batting average he’s still pretty darn productive.
Adam Jones— Baltimore Orioles
Per 150 Numbers: .284/29/91/89/12
Per 150 Center Field Rank: 4
Like Carlos Gomez, he has been steadily producing for the past several years. He has gotten progressively better this year. He should continue to produce unless something drastic happens. I don’t know if he will leapfrog any of the top three guys, but he is as good a bet to continue to produce as anyone.
Juan Lagares— New York Mets
Per 150 Numbers: .262/5/51/51/12
Per 150 Center Field Rank: 24
Lagares seemed to come into his own last season. His average rose above .280 and he doubled his stolen bases as well. Mind you, he is nowhere near being ready to front a fantasy team, but if you are searching for a productive bench guy you could do a whole lot worse. The key is getting him to play everyday.
Leonys Martin— Texas Rangers
Per 150 Numbers: .264/7/64/44/32
Per 150 Center Field Rank: 21
Martin was one of the original Cuban bonus babies and up until now is seen as a cautionary tale against betting huge money on foreign born players. Still, he has the ability to make good if he can stay healthy this year. Even if produces the numbers you see above, that is whole heck of a lot better than a simple reserve outfielder.
Andrew McCutchen— Pittsburgh Pirates
Per 150 Numbers: .319/25/96/86/21
Per 150 Center Field Ranking: 2
Call me crazy, but I would take him as my number one center fielder right now. Yeah, I know that’s nuts with Trout on the board, but McCutchen was actually the better player last year when healthy. He’s hit at least .314 three seasons in a row and he has OBPs above .400 three seasons in a row.
Marcell Ozuna— Miami Marlins
Per 150 Numbers: .268/17/69/79/5
Per 150 Center Field Ranking: 14
The Marlins certainly have added quite a bit to their roster, but it will be the improvement of Ozuna and Christian Yelich that will determine how far the Marlins offensive attack will go next season. Ozuna’s power took a huge step forward last season. I’d look for some smaller strides, but some strides nonetheless. He will grow enough to be a solid fantasy regular.
Angel Pagan— San Francisco Giants
Per 150 Numbers: .315/7/91/53/25
Per 150 Center Field Rank: 7
If I could guarantee that Pagan will play 150 games next season I’d be all over it. The problem is that twice in nine big league seasons. My math is pretty shaky, but I’d say that isn’t a good percentage. He’d be good to take a flier on late in the draft in case he does exercise good health, but I wouldn’t bet heavily on it.
A.J. Pollock— Arizona Diamondbacks
Per 150 Numbers: .278/10/70/43/17
Per 150 Center Field Rank: 22
Pollock and Eaton might end up being the subject of one of those comparison articles we love to do on the site. The Dbacks chose Pollock. The returns are way too early to tell whether they chose the right player, but Dbacks fans will be curious to see the results. Everyone in Arizona should play better this season, so I’d suspect we will see more out of Pollock too.
Colby Rasmus— Houston Astros
Per 150 Numbers: .240/26/73/75/3
Per 150 Center Field Rank: 17
Jeff Luhnow took a one year flyer on his former draftee. Unfortunately, Rasmus has washed out in St. Louis and Toronto already. There have been whispers that he wasn’t the most popular guy in either clubhouse. On a one year deal, you could get almost anything here. I’m betting that Rasmus is motivated to continue getting seven figure contracts.
Ben Revere— Philadelphia Phillies
Per 150 Numbers: .301/1/74/32/46
Per 150 Center Field Rank: 15
Again, I’m not a fan of one dimensional players. Revere played very well last season, but he’s still a limited player. If you need speed off the bench he is a very good candidate, but I wouldn’t make him a starter with the Phillies looking the way they are. He could be a fringe starter in NL only leagues though.
Denard Span— Washington Nationals
Per 150 Numbers: .288/5/84/44/24
Per 150 Center Field Rank: 16
Putting Span and Revere together is interesting given the fact that they were former teammates in Minnesota. Span offers just enough additional power to make him slightly preferable to Revere. However, the biggest reason he gets the nod is simply the fact that the Nationals are a better offense and therefore he will likely score more runs. Neither is a starting quality fantasy outfielder.
Mike Trout— Los Angeles Angels
Per 150 Numbers: .311/31/117/96/32
Per 150 Center Field Rank: 1
The average dipped below .300 last season. He really is human. I committed to never taking a push at the beginning of this process, so I see no reason to stop now. Trout will be the number one overall pick in most drafts and deservedly so, but unless you play in a six category league, he may not actually be the best guy on the board at the end of 2015.
Will Venable— San Diego Padres
Per 150 Numbers: .245/13/58/44/19
Per 150 Center Field Rank: 23
I’m assuming he will be traded before the first pitch of 2015. If he isn’t then no one should draft him next season. He’s always been a very versatile and that makes his numbers play up a little. Plus, a trade out of San Diego can only help his offensive numbers.