2017 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

2017 Fantasy Baseball: Center Fielders A-J

As we approach the end of the series for ranking hitters it becomes important to reiterate that these rankings are all about what has been and not necessarily what will be in every instance. I’m a big believer in the idea that past is prologue. However, there are occasional instances where this is not the case. For younger players, we have the knocking on the door series. Some others simply need to accept that their past ranking may not be completely appropriate. There is more than enough time to cover projections and how that changes things.

We are taking the top 24 guys projected to be center fielders and ranking them according to five and six category leagues over the course of three and five seasons. Their numbers represent the best conglomerate of those three or five year averages. They will be given a rank based largely on those rankings, but with some adjustment given current situations.

Charlie Blackmon—Colorado Rockies (.300, 21.7 HR, 95.3 Runs, 70.7 RBI, 29.3 SB, 40.0 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 2

3 Year 6 Category- 2

5 Year 5 Category- 3

5 Year 6 Category- 3

Real baseball and fantasy baseball are two different animals. The sooner we realize that the better. Yes, Coors Field artificially inflates numbers. Yes, players in Denver aren’t really this good. We can protest this too much because it simply doesn’t matter. In fantasy baseball, it only matters what numbers you actually produce and the Blake Street Bombers put up some pretty impressive numbers. Rank: 2nd 

Jackie Bradley Jr.—Boston Red Sox (.237, 12.3 HR, 60.7 Runs, 53.3 RBI, 6.7 SB, 40.3 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 21

3 Year 6 Category- 19

5 Year 5 Category- 22

5 Year 6 Category- 19

Yes, this is one of those instances where the three year and five year averages are out of whack. However, when you take a closer look at his 2016 season you discover he had a .233/.315/.412 slash after the all-star break. That’s not incredibly different than the numbers you see above. So, while others will focus on the 26 home runs he hit a season ago, it might be a better idea to let him slip by you on draft day. Rank: 19th

Lorenzo Cain—Kansas City Royals (.298, 10.0 HR, 70.7 Runs, 60.3 RBI, 23.3 SB, 30.7 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 5

3 Year 6 Category- 7

5 Year 5 Category- 14

5 Year 6 Category- 18

Baseball history is littered with players that produce great numbers in seasons where their team wins the title. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. In order for your team to win, you have to have some out of context performances. For Cain and the Royals, that came in 2015 when they won the World Series. He was an MVP candidate. Naturally, everyone assumed he would continue to play that way. Looking back, the drop off makes more sense. Rank: 11th

Adam Eaton—Washington Nationals (.290, 9.7 HR, 88.3 Runs, 50.0 RBI, 15.7 SB, 54.7 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 8

3 Year 6 Category- 6

5 Year 5 Category- 7

5 Year 6 Category- 7

At first blush, it is easy to understand how Eaton could become a hot ticket item. He is moving from a bad team to a good team. He already puts up good numbers and now he’ll put up even bigger numbers. Slow down the bandwagon. Offense was never why the White Sox were an also-ran. At least, it didn’t slow Eaton down. I’d expect similar numbers which means some fantasy fans will walk away disappointed. Rank: 7th

Jacoby Ellsbury—New York Yankees (.264, 10.7 HR, 69.3 Runs, 53.0 RBI, 26.7 SB, 46.0 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 10

3 Year 6 Category- 9

5 Year 5 Category- 10

5 Year 6 Category- 12

Back in 2011, Ellsbury had a 30/30 season for the ages. You almost understand why some fantasy owners can’t quite let that go. Yet, as we get further removed from 2011, we see how out of context that season was. He is a guy that will give you ten home runs and 20 steals when he is healthy. That has value, but barely enough value to be a regular. Rank: 10th

Dexter Fowler—St. Louis Cardinals (.267, 13.0 HR, 82.3 Runs, 43.0 RBI, 14.7 SB, 76.3 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 12

3 Year 6 Category- 10

5 Year 5 Category- 12

5 Year 6 Category- 10

Fowler is a lot more valuable in six category leagues because of the addition of the walks. I often find myself bending over backwards to support six category guys and that often gets me in trouble. So, we will stick with the five category ranking here to prevent us from overreaching. However, I love guys that get on base because they give themselves more opportunities for steals and runs. Rank: 12th

Carlos Gomez—Texas Rangers (.257, 16.0 HR, 67.0 Runs, 60.7 RBI, 23.0 SB, 37.3 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 7

3 Year 6 Category- 12

5 Year 5 Category- 5

5 Year 6 Category- 4

Here is another player where we have a difference between real baseball and fantasy baseball. Fantasy baseball are simply numbers on a page. Watching Gomez play baseball is a maddening experience. He tries to hit everything 700 feet and ends up looking like a fool in the process. He has physical talent coming out of his ears and fails to live up to that talent because of what is in his ears. Step away and don’t look too hard at how these numbers are arrived at and you will be fine. Rank: 8th

Curtis Granderson—New York Mets (.237, 25.2 HR, 78.4 Runs, 63.2 RBI, 8.2 SB, 69.2 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 9

3 Year 6 Category- 5

5 Year 5 Category- 8

5 Year 6 Category- 8

Back in Detroit, Granderson hit 30 home runs and 20 steals in his last season. In another year he had 20+ home runs, steals, and triples. He’s not that guy anymore but he has successfully reinvented himself as a patient slugger. The five category numbers won’t bow you over, but when you add in the walks he is still a pretty good player. Rank: 9th

Billy Hamilton—Cincinnati Reds (.245, 4.3 HR, 65.7 Runs, 31.0 RBI, 57.0 SB, 32.7 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 19

3 Year 6 Category- 22

5 Year 5 Category- 21

5 Year 6 Category- 20

Put Hamilton on the bases and he is the most dynamic player in the game. Much like Vince Coleman before him, stealing first base has always been the problem. His single category dominance probably makes him better than where I’m putting him, but I would much rather have guys that contribute in multiple categories. Rank: 20th

Odubel Herrera—Philadelphia Phillies (.292, 11.5 HR, 75.5 Runs, 45.0 RBI, 20.5 SB, 45.5 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 6

3 Year 6 Category- 4

5 Year 5 Category- 6

5 Year 6 Category- 5

I understand the cynicism as it pertains to players like Herrera. He is not an elite performer in any particular category, but he contributes in all of them. Plus, with two seasons under his belt, it is reasonable to expect some growth. All that being said, I will be as conservative as I can because he is not an elite fantasy performer. Rank: 6th

Ender Inciarte—Atlanta Braves (.291, 4.3 HR, 70.7 Runs, 33.7 RBI, 18.7 SB, 32.0 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 15

3 Year 6 Category- 17

5 Year 5 Category- 16

5 Year 6 Category- 15

Inciarte is another one of those players who is great at real baseball. His defensive value is off the charts, but that does little for you in fantasy baseball. He will find his way into the lineup though and so he is valuable in that sense. So, if you are looking for a safe reserve outfielder you could do a lot worse. Rank: 16th

Jon Jay—Chicago Cubs (.277, 3.4 HR, 54.2 Runs, 37.8 RBI, 7.4 SB, 30.4 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 24

3 Year 6 Category- 24

5 Year 5 Category- 24

5 Year 6 Category- 24

Jay isn’t a bad baseball player. He has bounced around some because he has struggled to stay healthy and has struggled to hold down a starting job, but he is a useful player to have around. He caught fire with the Padres last season and so he was rewarded with a nice contract to play with the Cubs. If he plays regularly he could be worth a slot. Rank: 24th

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