2017 Fantasy Baseball, Knocking on the Door: Left Fielders
The knocking on the door series began as a way to capture up and coming players that hadn’t garnered enough of a major league track record to qualify amongst the top 24 guys at their position. The likelihood is that some of these guys are comfortably in the top 24 moving forward, but without that track record, picking a place for them is mere guesswork. There is a time and a place for guesswork and we will get there eventually, but for now, here are three players you will hear more from this season.
Andrew Benintendi— Boston Red Sox (.295, 2 HR, 16 Runs, 14 RBI, 1 SB, 10 BB)
Bennitendi is the incumbent left fielder in Boston and as such is in a much better position to put up good numbers than any other guy on the list. He is lucky in that there is a good player at nearly every other position on the diamond. Last season, he hit .312 with nine homers and 16 stolen bases in 372 minor league at bats.
He was the 7th overall pick back in 2015, so he comes with a pedigree that screams all-star. In 657 minor league plate appearances he has a .312/.392/.540 slash line. Obviously, he has lived up to the advanced billing so far. A part of that is impressive extra base power that hasn’t manifested itself in home runs yet (16 triples and 38 doubles versus 16 home runs). His 26 steals gives some hope that he could be a decent speed threat at the next level.
Barriers to Launch: Benintendi could be one of those players that brings solid value to the game, but doesn’t light up the board in terms of fantasy baseball. Fantasy baseball is about home runs and steals. He appears to be about doubles, triples, and walks. If you have a sixth category in your league for walks or total bases he will be more valuable. He also will be a good keeper as the power will come down the road.
Ben Gamel— Seattle Mariners (.308, 6 HR, 80 Runs, 51 RBI, 19 SB, 43 BB)
The knocking on the door series is more about opportunity than raw ability. Gamel’s numbers don’t excite anyone, but he is penciled in as the Mariners everyday left fielder according to roster resource.com . So, he gets the nod here over some guys that might become stars down the road. In seven minor league seasons, he has produced a .288/.345/.404 slash line with 94 steals to go along with it. In essence, he is probably most comparable to the recently departed Nori Aoki for the Mariners.
Gamel hit ten home runs only once in a minor league season, so he is likely nothing more than a fantasy backup at his very best. Still, someone that plays regularly and can steal 20 bases has some value in some leagues. I can’t see him being drafted in anything but an AL only league, but he is a name worth watching on the waiver wire.
Barriers to Launch: He has been penciled in as the Mariners every day left fielder in December. Who knows what happens between now and then. Also, the Mariners acquired Danny Valencia and have nowhere to put him. If he hits enough they will find room for him.
Randal Grichuk— St. Louis Cardinals (.240, 24 HR, 66 Runs, 68 RBI, 5 SB, 28 BB)
Wait a minute, hasn’t Grichuk been up for awhile? Yes, he has, but he played almost exclusively in center field last season. With the acquisition of Dexter Fowler, Grichuk will be moving to left field. According to some platforms, he won’t qualify there immediately because of his time in centerfield. With the shift in positions, it was difficult to rank him anywhere. Plus, like many younger players, his projections will be more valuable than using the past numbers.
Following 2015, it looked like Grichuk would become a regular fantasy outfielder, but he took a step back in 2016. That happens more often than we would like to think with younger players. That is why it is so dangerous to simply take numbers in part-time duty and simply multiply them out. That ended up being true of the home runs and run producing numbers, but they came with a loss in efficiency. Cardinal fans hope he will take a step back forward next season.
Barriers to Launch: Grichuk is an established big league player at this point, but where he is in terms of the fantasy landscape remains to be seen. Another season like 2016 and he will establish himself as a fringy fantasy option. If he plays like he did in 2015 for a full season then he is a solid fantasy regular. Obviously, there is a chasm between those two where he probably resides.