Fantasy Baseball

2016 Fantasy Baseball: Generation Next — Left Fielders

When we begin looking at outfielders, we begin to see some flexibility between corner outfielders. Players listed as left fielders could easily switch to right field and vice versa. Obviously, when we mention someone as a left fielder it precludes us mentioning them in right field. We also might have some players we hold back on purpose. Hopefully, we will get the top twelve rookie outfielders in all three outfield articles.

Randal Grichuk— St. Louis Cardinals

Key Stats: .276, 17 HR, 49 Runs, 47 RBI, 4 SB

Overview

There’s a reason why the Cardinals keep clipping along despite losing veterans to injury and free agency. Jason Heyward looks like he will take the later option this winter. Matt Holliday was the veteran hurt during the regular season. Grichuk had 350 plate appearances, so we could assume two more months of production if he had played regularly. That puts him somewhere between 25 and 30 home runs and maybe 80 runs and RBIs. That’s not great production, but you can’t beat the price.

Barriers to Launch

Grichuk spent most of his time in left field, but he will likely switch to right field since Matt Holliday has two more seasons on his contract. The Cardinals have a glut of young outfielders (Steve Pischotty), so there will be plenty of competition if things don’t go well at the beginning. There’s a difference between holding down the fort and being a major cog in the attack. We’ll see if Grichuk is taking the next step.

Eddie Rosario— Minnesota Twins

Key Stats: .267, 13 HR, 60 Runs, 50 RBI, 11 SB

Overview

The Twins were the seventh best team in the American League. That may not seem like great shakes, but they were in it until the final weekend of the season. Eddie Rosario was one of the reasons why. Throw in Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton and you can see why the Twins are excited about their future. Rosario missed about a month of action at the minor league level, so the numbers don’t look that great. Unfortunately, we have to adjust our expectations in our day and age. He has the look of a 20/20 guy if he matures. That’s good for this era of good pitching.

Barriers to Launch

I don’t see much getting in his way. Torii Hunter is retiring, so there is room for Rosario to slide into right or left field full time next season. Buxton will likely be a fixture in center for the next decade or so. Aaron Hicks began to play well towards the end of the season, so he could be poised the take the other spot in the outfield. All that being said, there doesn’t seem to be a lot in Rosario’s way.

Michael Conforto— New York Mets

Key Stats: .270, 9 HR, 30 Runs, 26 RBI, 0 SB

Overview

Beware October and November heroics. Conforto was the breakout star from Game 4 of the World Series. He had one of those “youngest player to do that” kind of moments when he hit two home runs. Yes, that was impressive, but it isn’t necessarily anything more than a player having a great game at the right time. After all, he had a .735 OPS in the postseason as a whole. He had an .853 OPS in the minors before coming up. In other words, he’s good, but let’s hold off the comparisons with Reggie Jackson (not that there were any).

Barriers to Launch

Yoenis Cespedes is the regular left fielder and he is ready to walk. Sandy Alderson has to feel good about that with Conforto ready to take his slot. Curtis Granderson will take one of the other slots, so that leaves one outfield slot to go between Michael Cuddyer and Juan Lagares. Obviously, the Mets have options, so one of those could be bringing Conforto off the bench if he struggles.

Mikie Mahtook— Tampa Bay Rays

Key Stats: .295, 9 HR, 22 Runs, 19 RBI, 4 SB

Overview

Like the Cardinals, the Rays stay in the hunt consistently with a farm system that keeps producing talented players. Mahtook is one of the latest to come out of that system. David Dejesus was nominally the left fielder of record this past season, so there should be no problem in Mahtook taking over. Mahtook was a first round pick in 2011 and produced a .820 OPS in AA and AAA last season. So, what we saw in the short time in Tampa is likely a little above his head, but he should be a solid hitter moving forward.

Barriers to Launch

Like the Cardinals, the Rays have plenty of options in case things don’t go well. We didn’t even mention Brandon Guyer and he was on the bench with a .750+ OPS as well. Logan Morrison and Brad Miller could potentially find time in the corner outfield as well after their acquisition. The Rays are good at rotating players in and out as they need, so Mahtook will have to prove himself again this next spring.

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