A lot of platforms treat all outfielders the same. At first blush, center fielders would seem to be the cream of the crop based on their overall reputations. A lot of that comes from defensive value. Obviously, that has nothing to do with fantasy baseball. We will reveal the medians for all three outfield positions even though we are only directly comparing center fielders with the median center fielders. Some of you will want to see how they compare with the whole outfield universe.
Instead of ranking the players 1-24, we are comparing each player to the median. The median is defined as the average between the 12th and 13th ranked player in that particular category. Players that meet or exceed the median will be labeled in green font. Players that don’t meet the median will be labeled in red font. Of course, simply looking at whether you meet the median is one part of it. It’s also important to look at how much you exceed or fall short of the median. We will also include their three year averages when appropriate.
Center Field Median: .268/16 HR/78 Runs/62 RBI/21 SB
Left Field Median: .261/20 HR/71 Runs/70 RBI/12 SB
Right Field Median: .263/21 HR/68 Runs/74 RBI/7 SB
Adam Jones— Baltimore Orioles
PECOTA: .272/30/97/92/5 (+4)
3 Year: .272/28/83/87/4
There is a hole in Jones’ game. It isn’t the lack of speed. In the grand scheme of things, speed doesn’t necessarily determine whether you are a star or not. Plate discipline has a much bigger effect on the success or failure of a player. Jones will always be good, but he will never be great because he just doesn’t draw enough walks. Still, the Orioles have a nice lineup and he is certainly a part of that.
Kevin Kiermaier— Tampa Bay Rays
PECOTA: .257/16/85/64/24 (+3)
3 Year: .257/11/51/37/15
We said earlier that defense doesn’t matter, but that’s not exactly true. Great defenders get more time than their counterparts. Kiermaier is the best defensive center fielder in the game. So, he has had the time to evolve as a hitter. The PECOTA numbers reveal that the experts believe he will take another step in that evolution this year.
Starling Marte— Pittsburgh Pirates
PECOTA: .280/15/78/67/37 (+4)
3 Year: .296/10/76/61/36
The Pirates shuffled their defensive alignment this offseason after Andrew McCutchen turned in a historically bad defensive campaign according to defensive runs saved. So, McCutchen moves to right field, Gregory Polanco moves to left, and Marte moves to center. Marte is one of those players that fills in every category of the stat sheet, but doesn’t dominate in any of them. That’s still worth a lot on draft day.
Leonys Martin— Seattle Mariners
PECOTA: .249/13/69/56/25 (+1)
3 Year: .247/9/55/37/23
Martin is not quite as good defensively as Kiermaier, but he is one of the better fielding center fielders in the business. Therefore, the Mariners are willing to look past some of the offensive limitations. Right or wrong, they plan to employ an entire outfield of players like Martin. Martin just might be a little better offensively than the other two.
Tyler Naquin— Cleveland Indians
PECOTA: .264/14/60/56/9 (+0)
3 Year: .296/14/52/43/6
Naquin put up the numbers last year in approximately half a season. PECOTA is projecting a little more playing time, but they numbers are making the jump. Second year players often struggle especially when they were midseason callups the season before. Now, pitchers have a book on him. Luckily, the Indians don’t need him to take a huge step forward with their other hitters in tow. He would make for a nice bench piece in a standard 12 team league.
Joc Pederson– Los Angeles Dodgers
PECOTA: .233/29/84/85/9 (+3)
3 Year: .226/26/66/61/5
The Dodgers have spent all kinds of money on this and that, and their hopes ride on the players developed in their own system. If he continues to take baby steps forward the Dodgers will have a fairly deep lineup. He has good patience at the plate and that helps mitigate the lower batting average. If he gets a little batted ball luck he could be a really dangerous hitter.
Kevin Pillar— Toronto Blue Jays
PECOTA: .274/11/63/55/17 (+1)
3 Year: .272/10/68/55/20
The Blue Jays have four players that really should be regulars in their outfield. There is no way they are sitting Jose Bautista, so the remaining three (Pillar, Melvin Upton, and Steve Pearce) will have to share the two remaining spots. Pearce can play some infield positions, so he will probably settle into a super sub role. Still, with Upton also able to play center, Pillar is not going to get a full complement of at bats. This is good for the Blue Jays as they can exploit favorable matchups, but bad for fantasy owners because he won’t accumulate big numbers.
A.J. Pollock— Arizona Diamondbacks
PECOTA: .285/16/90/66/31 (+5)
3 Year: .287/10/54/35/19
The three year numbers include last season where he missed most of the year to a freak injury. He shouldn’t have any lingering effects, but fantasy players tend to be focused on recent performance. Pollock was a five category previous to 2016 and should be again if healthy. You might be able to take advantage of this on draft day and snap him up before the others get wise to his hidden value.
Denard Span— San Francisco Giants
PECOTA: .274/6/75/51/19 (+1)
3 Year: .290/7/67/37/18
Span has carved out a nice career for himself as a decent leadoff guy. He isn’t the fastest guy in the world, but he’s been a good stolen base threat through the years. Speed is usually the first thing to go and I can’t remember the second. He is a decent bench guy since he can offer some speed and some counting numbers along the way, but not enough of anything to be a regular.
George Springer— Houston Astros
PECOTA: .253/26/96/79/13 (+3)
3 Year: .256/22/73/58/10
Like the Pirates, the Astros are rearranging their outfield, but in this case it is for the purpose of getting more bats in the lineup. Springer was a plus defensive right fielder, so hopefully he can play a passable center fielder. He is a swing and miss guy, but he will take quite a few walks. He served as the leadoff man last season and flourished. Let’s see what they do with their lineup this season.
Mike Trout— Los Angeles Angels
PECOTA: .301/31/102/104/19 (+4)
3 Year: .300/35/114/100/19
Trout is only a four category guy, so he shouldn’t be the first guy you pick. When you stop laughing you’ll be in on the joke. Obviously, every methadology has its logical limitations. Trout is the best player on the planet and should be the number one pick in every league. The key is the distance between him and the median in every other number other than stolen bases. Even there he exceeds the overall outfield median.
Christian Yelich— Miami Marlins
PECOTA: .277/16/78/75/15 (+3)
3 Year: .294/12/78/65/15
The Marlins could be moving Yelich to center field. It depends on who you ask. In each case they will be eligible in both center field and left field. Yelich took a huge step forward when he hit 22 home runs last season. Power was always the one element he was missing in his game. PECOTA is progressing a bit of a step backwards, but it is still more power than he had through 2015.