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2016 Fantasy Baseball: Center Field Projections

There are many ways to rank players. I don’t claim to have a monopoly on the truth, but I hope my methods balance analytics with common sense. The analytics part is probably the most involved. We take runs above replacement from the past three seasons according to three different sources (Baseball Prospectus, Baseball Reference, and Fangraphs). We apply a multiplier to make sure the most recent performance is given the most weight. That creates an index score for each platform. We then take the average of those three to provide a single score for each player.

Outfielders tend to be interchangeable. Some fantasy platforms treat them generically, but others are position specific. For the purposes of keeping our sanity, we will use rosterresource.com’s listing to sort them out by position. That might mean that some players are moving around from where they have played in the past.

  1. Mike Trout— Los Angeles (84.9)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 93.4 84.6 83.5 85.5
BR 98.0 82.0 85.0 86.2
FG 96.9 72.9 84.9 82.9

The difference between the all-time greats and the guys who we remember fondly from our youth are separated by the length of their primes. At this point, we don’t know what the future holds for Trout, but he has been the best player in baseball for the past four seasons. If he does this for another four or five years then he can write his ticket to Cooperstown. Verdict: Under

  1. Andrew McCutchen— Pittsburgh Pirates (64.3)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 65.4 73.8 62.1 66.6
BR 71.0 74.0 57.0 65.0
FG 78.1 62.5 54.8 61.3

At any other position, McCutchen would likely be the best guy at his position. Unfortunately, he has Trout at his position. McCutchen is definitely still a first round fantasy pick, but he slipped a little last season, so there is room for concern here. Verdict: Under

  1. A.J. Pollock— Arizona Dbacks (42.4)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 15.9 22.8 57.9 39.2
BR 19.0 27.0 59.0 41.7
FG 32.9 30.0 61.8 46.4

Pollock had a breakout year last year and hardly anyone noticed. That being said, he gives the Dbacks two big time players to go along with three pretty strong starting pitchers. It may not be enough to get them to the playoffs, but they will be an interesting team to watch. Verdict: Over

  1. Lorenzo Cain— Kansas City Royals (37.7)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 3.9 19.7 45.4 31.1
BR 6.0 22.0 50.0 33.3
FG 24.9 44.3 61.8 49.8

Some platforms don’t separate the fielding. Usually, this isn’t a big deal, but with players like Cain it is a big deal. He is a legitimate Gold Glove quality defender, so you have to be careful to make sure you aren’t buying the fielding in addition to the hitting. Verdict: Under

  1. Jason Heyward— Chicago Cubs (37.5)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 17.9 28.6 37.0 31.0
BR 20.0 27.0 39.0 31.8
FG 31.6 47.5 57.0 49.6

Heyward is an interesting case, because he is the right fielder version of Cain. At this point, the Cubs plan on playing him in center field, but that could change before opening day. Again, make sure you don’t buy the defense along with the hitting. Verdict: Under

  1. Adam Jones— Baltimore Orioles (35.0)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 44.2 40.7 17.8 29.8
BR 45.0 42.0 27.0 35.0
FG 38.9 49.8 34.2 40.2

Jones had a down year last year and it looks like Chris Davis is likely going elsewhere. I usually don’t buy into protection and lineup construction, but Jones’ weakness is that he often expands the strike zone. Pitchers might be inclined to make him fish more often. Verdict: Out

  1. Carlos Gomez— Houston Astros (33.6)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 37.9 43.5 17.0 29.3
BR 41.0 46.0 17.0 30.7
FG 68.9 51.6 24.3 40.8

Supposedly, Gomez is working himself into the best shape of his life. We’ve heard this before and we’ll hear it again. Sometimes it means something, but often it doesn’t mean anything. In Gomez’s case, the issue wasn’t his health in Houston, but the fact that he was trying way too hard. If he settles in he could be a prime time player again. Verdict: Under

  1. Mookie Betts— Boston Red Sox (33.1)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 16.7 40.4 30.9
BR 17.0 46.0 34.4
FG 16.8 45.4 34.0

Like many players on struggling teams, Betts flew under the radar for most of the season. Now, the team is flanking him with a couple of young outfielders. Considering the amount of money they’ve spent this offseason, it looks like they will be back in the heat of competition. Verdict: Over

  1. Adam Eaton— Chicago White Sox (31.1)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 3.1 27.3 40.6 29.9
BR 3.0 36.0 51.0 38.0
FG -5.6 27.7 34.1 25.4

There was a common joke about the Dbacks back when Kevin Towers was in charge that they relied heavily on grit above replacement player. In other words, they valued guys that had intangibles over guys that had the tangibles. Eaton was one of those guys. However, it turns out that he was one of the good ones. Verdict: Over

  1. Odibel Herrera— Philadelphia Phillies (30.9)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 27.9 27.9
BR 28.0 28.0
FG 36.8 36.8

Like several other performers, Herrera is a mixture of strong defense and solid offense. When you put those two together you get a very good baseball player. However, you still get a solid offensive performer. Furthermore, with only one season under his belt you wonder if he can do it again. Verdict: Under

  1. Kevin Kiermaier— Tampa Bay Rays (28.3)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 15.0 17.7 16.6
BR 18.0 26.0 22.8
FG 36.1 51.8 45.5

Again, we have a guy that has a lot of his value tied up in his defense. Last season, he was the leader in defensive runs saved at all positions. Offensively, he tends towards the mediocre, but he will be in the lineup every day, so he is probably worth a late round pick. Verdict: Under

  1. Denard Span— San Francisco Giants (26.4)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 13.7 42.8 22.4 27.8
BR 22.0 42.0 19.0 27.2
FG 31.2 36.3 13.5 24.1

It’s sad when a player of Span’s caliber has to resort to doing a public workout to get a job. The Giants took advantage of his perceived diminished value and got him at a relative bargain (three years, 31 million). He might also be an option in left field. Verdict: Under

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury— New York Yankees (24.3)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 33.9 26.9 13.3 21.3
BR 40.0 35.0 17.0 26.8
FG 51.9 36.5 8.1 24.9

Eventually, you start getting to the guys we can classify as sleepers. Ellsbury is not necessarily the same guy that had an out of character 30/30 season several years ago, but he is a guy that can hit 10-15 home runs and steal more than 30 bases when healthy. That’s good enough to be a fantasy starter. Verdict: Over

  1. Ender Inciarte— Atlanta Braves (22.5)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 10.3 27.1 20.4
BR 13.0 22.0 18.4
FG 25.1 31.1 28.7

The Braves are certainly in sell mode, but there are garage sales and there are high stakes auctions. The Braves have been bartering off their talent, but they are bringing quite a bit of talent in return. Inciarte may not be a prime time player, but he is a good piece for a rebuilding team. He would make a nice bench piece on any fantasy team. Verdict: Over

  1. Charlie Blackmon— Colorado Rockies (21.8)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 12.1 14.1 31.1 22.3
BR 13.0 23.0 33.0 26.3
FG 6.3 17.8 19.8 16.9

There is always a conversion table needed to look at what happens in Coors Field in addition to what happens everywhere else. In point of fact, Blackmon is probably a starting quality center fielder when he is healthy. Verdict: Over

  1. Marcell Ozuna— Miami Marlins (18.2)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 7.2 30.3 15.2 18.9
BR 6.0 34.0 9.0 16.8
FG 15.8 34.1 10.0 19.0

Ozuna had a rough season last year and now he appears to be on the trading block. The Marlins always seem to misuse their young players. Instead of letting him ride through his struggles they sent him down the minors. A change of scenery would be beneficial for him. Verdict: Over

  1. Joc Pederson— Los Angeles Dodgers (17.3)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP -1.2 32.9 19.3
BR -1.0 28.0 16.4
FG 0.7 26.7 16.3

On the one hand, Pederson would almost seem to be a lock to outproduce the projection considering what he did last season. On the other hand, most of that production came in the first half. Has the league figured him out? He’s a nice sleeper candidate though. Verdict: Over

  1. Delino Deshields Jr.— Texas Rangers (16.3)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 17.2 17.2
BR 20.0 20.0
FG 11.8 11.8

Deshields began the season as a sort of draft and stash candidate that the Rangers hoped could be a speed threat off the bench or maybe a super utility guy. He turned into their regular center fielder and looks to open the season there at this point. Verdict: Over

  1. Randal Grichuk— St. Louis Cardinals (16.2)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP -1.0 25.9 15.1
BR -1.0 24.0 14.0
FG 5.2 29.1 19.5

Grichuk may have been the most valuable player last season for the Cardinals. He saved their bacon when Matt Holliday went down, but he also came through when all of their center field options underwhelmed. He should produce closer to what he did last season than the projection. Verdict: Over

  1. Juan Lagares— New York Mets (14.6)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 0.5 20.0 8.0 10.8
BR 5.0 24.0 6.0 11.8
FG 27.7 36.3 9.2 21.3

Alejandro De Aza was brought into compete and perhaps platoon with Lagares. Add in the fact that Cespedes is coming back and the Mets outfield suddenly got really crowded. That likely will limit his effectiveness and his value moving forward. In terms of the counting numbers he won’t be worth a pick, but in terms of percentage statistics he might actually be better. Verdict: Under

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