2017 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

2017 Fantasy Baseball: Center Fielders J-U

Center field might be one of the deepest positions on the fantasy diamond. Outside of the top two or three guys there are few legitimate superstars, but the position runs through the top fifteen without skipping much of a beat. In that world, ranking the players becomes a bit challenging, so we can take these rankings in the spirit that they are intended. Remember, rankings are largely based on what players have done coming into this season. We have taken the three and five year averages for the five and six categories we normally see in fantasy leagues.

Adam Jones—Baltimore Orioles (.272, 28.3 HR, 82.7 Runs, 87.0 RBI, 4.0 SB, 27.3 BB) 

3 Year 5 Category- 4

3 Year 6 Category- 8

5 Year 5 Category- 4

5 Year 6 Category- 6

Jones seemingly was on his way to becoming a superstar, but he has plateaued. There is nothing wrong with being very good instead of great. Jones has never taken the next step because he hasn’t developed plate discipline. That explains the gap between the five and six category rankings. Rank: 4th

Kevin Kiermaier—Tampa Bay Rays (.257, 10.7 HR, 50.7 Runs, 37.3 RBI, 14.7 SB, 29.0 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 23

3 Year 6 Category- 23

5 Year 5 Category- 23

5 Year 6 Category- 23

Kiermaier is the American League version of Ender Inciarte. He is a brilliant defender and so his overall value is considerable. Like Inciarte, he will play every day because of that defense. So, he will put up some numbers in the process. Rank: 23rd

Leonys Martin—Seattle Mariners (.250, 8.8 HR, 58.0 Runs, 40.3 RBI, 26.3 SB, 31.8 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 20

3 Year 6 Category- 20

5 Year 5 Category- 19

5 Year 6 Category- 21

Martin has been a solid player in three out of the last four seasons. Those down seasons have a way of wreaking havoc on the overall numbers. Last season he hit a sneaky 15 home runs to go along with 24 stolen bases. If he puts up those numbers again he will be a borderline fantasy regular. So, he ranks low down, but he might be worth a late round pick. Rank: 20th

Andrew McCutchen—Pittsburgh Pirates (.287, 24.0 HR, 87.0 Runs, 86.0 RBI, 11.7 SB, 83.7 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 3

3 Year 6 Category- 3

5 Year 5 Category- 2

5 Year 6 Category- 2

2016 was a down season for McCutchen. The question for fantasy owners is whether it was simply a down season or whether he is on the downward slide. For years he was the second fantasy option in center field, but he has been surpassed by Charlie Blackmon. He may have dropped a few rounds in the draft, but he is still a dangerous player even if he produces like last season. Rank: 3rd

Marcell Ozuna—Miami Marlins (.264, 18.7 HR, 64.7 Runs, 68.3 RBI, 1.7 SB, 38.0 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 14

3 Year 6 Category- 15

5 Year 5 Category- 17

5 Year 6 Category- 16

If you remove 2015 from the equation, Ozuna is clearly a guy that will hit between 20 and 25 home runs with 80 or more runs and RBI. Then again, if its and buts were candy and nuts we’d all have a merry Christmas. The Marlins are one of those middling teams that could be a wild card contender or at the bottom of the standings. Ozuna seems to follow the direction of his team. Rank: 16th

Joc Pederson—Los Angeles Dodgers (.228, 25.5 HR, 65.5 Runs, 61.0 RBI, 5.0 SB, 77.5 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 16

3 Year 6 Category- 13

5 Year 5 Category- 15

5 Year 6 Category- 13

The natural assumption was that Pederson would take a significant step forward in year two and in some ways he did. He hit .246 rather than .210 and he reduced his strikeouts from 170 to 130. On the other hand, his walk rate went down, so the overall OBP was nearly the same. Still, Pederson is not a fantasy regular in five category leagues. He is considerably underrated in six category leagues. Rank: 14th

Kevin Pillar—Toronto Blue Jays (.272, 9.5 HR, 67.5 Runs, 54.5 RBI, 19.5 SB, 26.0 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 13

3 Year 6 Category- 16

5 Year 5 Category- 13

5 Year 6 Category- 14

As usually happens, when teams lose high profile players, analysts love to overdramaticize the effects of losing that particular player. The Jays are possibly losing three regulars from last year’s lineup. They’ve added two free agents to take their spots. The Jays had a bit of a back log at some other spots and those have been opened up. Pillar might be one of the beneficiaries as he gets to play every day. Rank: 15th

A.J. Pollock—Arizona Diamondbacks (.283, 9.3 HR, 56.3 Runs, 35.5 RBI, 17.3 SB, 27.5 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 18

3 Year 6 Category- 21

5 Year 5 Category- 18

5 Year 6 Category- 22

On a long enough timeline, the survival rate drops to zero. In 2015, Pollock exploded on the scene with a .315/20/111/76/39 season. Some people were even flirting with making him a first round pick. Then, he spent most of last season on the disabled list. The ranking doesn’t reflect the true value here as we have to assume he will be healthy. However, expecting 2015 to happen again may also be a bit much. Rank: 18th

Denard Span—San Francisco Giants (.290, 7.0 HR, 67.3 Runs, 37.3 RBI, 18.0 SB, 42.7 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 17

3 Year 6 Category- 14

5 Year 5 Category- 11

5 Year 6 Category- 11

The days of Span being a big time center fielder are done. In his days with Minnesota he combined very good defense with very good speed on the basepaths to be a dynamic player. The years have zapped much of that speed, so now he is only valuable when the batted ball luck is going his way. Rank: 17th

George Springer—Houston Astros (.256, 21.7 HR, 73.3 Runs, 58.0 RBI, 10.0 SB, 59.0 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 11

3 Year 6 Category- 11

5 Year 5 Category- 9

5 Year 6 Category- 9

2016 saw Springer turn in a healthy campaign for the first time in his career. He responded with over 100 runs and nearly 30 home runs. The speed game hasn’t come along with Springer, so he hasn’t quite gotten to fantasy stud status. With more talent infused into the Astros lineup, he might be ready to take the next step. Rank: 9th

Mike Trout—Los Angeles Angels (.310, 32.6 HR, 116.0 Runs, 96.2 RBI, 27.8 SB, 93.6 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 1

3 Year 6 Category- 1

5 Year 5 Category- 1

5 Year 6 Category- 1

We could say a whole lot here, but there really isn’t a lot to say. Mike Trout is the best player in the game today and there really is no one close at the moment. Bryce Harper was brilliant in 2015 and Kris Bryant was great this past season, but no one has put together a period of sustained excellence quite like Trout in quite some time. Rank: 1st

Melvin Upton Jr.—Toronto Blue Jays (.235, 12.3 HR, 51.3 Runs, 37.7 RBI, 18.7 SB, 38.3 BB)

3 Year 5 Category- 22

3 Year 6 Category- 19

5 Year 5 Category- 20

5 Year 6 Category- 17

Upton surged back from oblivion last season with a 20/20 campaign. Now, he has returned to fantasy relevance after being in fantasy Siberia for the previous three seasons. People still don’t know what to make of him after all these years. He will hit for a low average, but when productive will fill out the rest of the stat sheet. He is worth a late round flier just in case 2016 wasn’t a fluke. Rank: 19th

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