2018 Fantasy Baseball: Fantasy Center Fielders 11-20
Fantasy leagues are won and lost in the last half of drafts and on the waiver wire. Picking players at the second half of each position is an inexact science dependent more on the philosophy of the fantasy player than on how good or bad the player is. Some fantasy players like to roll the dice at the bottom of the draft while others go for sure bets that will give their teams more quality depth. Admittedly, I tend towards the latter, so my rankings tend to reflect that bias. Feel free to disagree or move in a different direction.
Rankings are based on a composite of five and six categories, total points, per 162 data, and Steamer projections. However, when it gets close it comes down to a player’s expectations in terms of playing time. We are specially profiling total points because some of you may not be familiar with it. We are using our own formula below.
Total points = Total Bases + Runs + RBI + SB + BB + HBP – Strikeouts – GIDP – CS
Ender Inciarte—Atlanta Braves
Aggregate: .294, 6 HR, 76 Runs, 40 RBI, 20 SB, 36 BB 5 Category: 13
Per 162: .295, 7 HR, 92 Runs, 48 RBI, 23 SB, 44 BB 6 Category: 14
Steamer: .282, 9 HR, 77 Runs, 53 RBI, 19 SB, 49 BB DRS: +5
Inciarte may not be the sexiest guy left on the board, but he is probably the safest. For one, he is one of the better fielders at the position, so he will play even when slumping. More importantly though, he doesn’t slump often. He has hit .290 or better three seasons in a row. He doesn’t hit for power, but that might develop with each passing season. If he continues to hit between 10 and 15 home runs and steal around 20 bases he will give fantasy owners a lot more than a typical marginal fantasy regular.
Michael Conforto— New York Mets
Aggregate: .256, 16 HR, 47 Runs, 45 RBI, 1 SB, 37 BB 5 Category: 22
Per 162: .256, 28 HR, 83 Runs, 80 RBI, 2 SB, 65 BB 6 Category: 20
Steamer: .261, 26 HR, 70 Runs, 68 RBI, 4 SB, 58 BB DRS: -2
Okay, we broke our own rules here. Conforto actually played more games in left field than center field last season. However, he finished the season and center and is projected to play there next season following their signing of Jay Bruce. The past rankings also don’t reflect the upside we saw in 2017. So, much of this ranking is based on spec.
Odubel Herrera—Philadelphia Phillies
Aggregate: .288, 12 HR, 73 Runs, 49 RBI, 16 SB, 41 BB 5 Category: 11
Per 162: .288, 14 HR, 80 Runs, 53 RBI, 18 SB, 45 BB 6 Category: 8
Steamer: .276, 15 HR, 74 Runs, 67 RBI, 14 SB, 48 BB DRS: +4
Positive impact fielders often get a longer rope than average or below average fielders. Steamer is betting on growth based on the fact that the Phillies added Carlos Santana and will hopefully see growth from other young players around him. He isn’t quite good enough to be a fantasy regular, but he would be a very good fourth fantasy outfielder. His slippage keeps from finishing in the top dozen though.
Kevin Kiermaier—Tampa Bay Rays
Aggregate: .262, 12 HR, 52 Runs, 38 RBI, 15 SB, 30 BB 5 Category: 17
Per 162: .262, 16 HR, 73 Runs, 53 RBI, 21 SB, 41 BB 6 Category: 22
Steamer: .257, 18 HR, 75 Runs, 68 RBI, 20 SB, 49 BB DRS: +22
If fantasy baseball were WAR based then Kiermaier would become a top five center fielder. In fact, he might be top ten overall performer. As it stands, his fielding elevates him here because he will be in the lineup whenever healthy. That elevates him over many of the guys below him because they simply can’t guarantee their playing time. Steamer has him projected to take another step offensively. I’m not sure how much I would bet on that, but even if he simply remains healthy he should put up respectable numbers.
Manuel Margot—San Diego Padres
Aggregate: .263, 13 HR, 53 Runs, 39 RBI, 17 SB, 35 BB 5 Category: 15
Per 162: .261, 15 HR, 68 Runs, 50 RBI, 23 SB, 42 BB 6 Category: 15
Steamer: .258, 13 HR, 67 Runs, 51 RBI, 20 SB, 38 BB DRS: +8
The question here is a simple one: how much growth can we expect in Margot’s second year? Growth is rarely ever linear. Steamer might be more or less right and that doesn’t look like growth. Opposing pitchers will figure out new ways to get him out and Margot will have to adjust to them. When a player more or less breaks even in their second year it means some growth has occurred. Much like Kiermaier he will play based on his defensive contributions, so he might be a better bet than others that could be superior offensive players.
Jackie Bradley Jr.—Boston Red Sox
Aggregate: .230, 11 HR, 52 Runs, 47 RBI, 6 SB, 36 BB 5 Category: 24
Per 162: .239, 18 HR, 79 Runs, 72 RBI, 9 SB, 55 BB 6 Category: 23
Steamer: .259, 19 HR, 71 Runs, 72 RBI, 8 SB, 55 BB DRS: +10
Bradley is the last of the good field/flawed bat types that we see in center field. At most positions, he would be good enough to be a fantasy regular, but that shows the depth of center field. Steamer projects a step forward for him and if that is the case he could be a borderline regular. The truth is often somewhere in between and if so he would make for an excellent late round selection to add to your bench.
Billy Hamilton—Cincinnati Reds
Aggregate: .246, 4 HR, 71 Runs, 33 RBI, 58 SB, 36 BB 5 Category: 18
Per 162: .248, 5 HR, 88 Runs, 40 RBI, 73 SB, 43 BB 6 Category: 19
Steamer: .242. 7 HR, 66 Runs, 43 RBI, 49 SB, 43 BB DRS: +9
Total points has a way of distilling out the crap and leaving you with a realistic view of a player. Yes, Hamilton steals 50 or more bases every year and yes that has value, but people often put too much value into it. The truth is that Hamilton is not a very good offensive player. He is this century’s Vince Coleman. After you strip away the hype you are left wanting.
Jacoby Ellsbury—New York Yankees
Aggregate: .271, 10 HR, 73 Runs, 50 RBI, 31 SB, 45 BB 5 Category: 6
Per 162: .284, 14 HR, 98 Runs, 67 RBI, 45 SB, 52 BB 6 Category: 5
Steamer: .259, 5 HR, 29 Runs, 23 RBI, 8 SB, 37 BB DRS: -3
Ellsbury is an interesting study in market inefficiency. Based purely on the past numbers he would rank somewhere between 6th and 8th. Even if you allowed for the aging process he would still be a top ten fantasy center fielder. If he gets traded to a team with a hole there he would get regular playing time and likely get close to that. The problem is that he is being paid like a top five center fielder and nobody (including the Yankees) wants to pay that rate. So, he’s stuck.
Denard Span—Tampa Bay Rays
Aggregate: .284, 7 HR, 70 Runs, 40 RBI, 17 SB, 42 BB 5 Category: 14
Per 162: .283, 8 HR, 94 Runs, 57 RBI, 23 SB, 62 BB 6 Category: 13
Steamer: .269, 8 HR, 47 Runs, 36 RBI, 9 SB, 32 BB DRS: -27
The Steamer projections might be based on what he was expected to do in San Francisco. Admittedly, he is untenable as a center fielder at this point in his career, but he is projected to play in left field in Tampa. There is also some conjecture that he will be dealt before he plays in Tampa.
Carlos Gomez—Free Agent
Aggregate: .262, 18 HR, 66 Runs, 61 RBI, 24 SB, 36 BB 5 Category: 8
Per 162: .256, 16 HR, 77 Runs, 62 RBI, 31 SB, 36 BB 6 Category: 9
Steamer: .243, 13 HR, 46 Runs, 47 RBI, 11 SB, 29 BB DRS: -4
Gomez stands as a shining examples that scouts will never be completely replaced by computers. Look at his numbers and he seems like a guy that can still be a decent regular center fielder. Watch him play long enough and you either go away laughing hysterically or crying uncontrollably. It all depends on whether he is on your team or the other. If Pedro Cerrano were real and had some speed he would probably look a lot like Gomez. Seriously though, his fantasy value all depends on where he lands and whether he gets to play every day again.