We come to our last position amongst hitters with right fielders and oddly enough this is the deepest position on the diamond. Right field has more studs and really good young players than any positions, so choosing a top ten was brutally difficult. The rankings this year have taken a beating from the readers, so it becomes important to reiterate how the rankings were arrived upon.
At each position, we went with only the players that played a majority of their games at that position. That obviously ignores multiple position eligibility and when we look at weaker positions that could exclude players that should be considered. If we did that then we would be profiling some players more than once and excluding others. Secondly, rankings are primarily based on aggregate numbers from the past five seasons. We are including per 162 numbers and Steamer projections, but most of the rankings are based on the past.
We are showing you the total points data because some of you may be less familiar with that format. It is what daily fantasy baseball is based on and a growing number of season long leagues are using. Each platform has its own formula, so we will be using our own. The formula we use is profiled below.
Total points = Total Bases + Runs + RBI + SB + BB + HBP – SO – CS – GIDP
Aaron Judge—New York Yankees
Aggregate: .284, 52 HR, 128 Runs, 114 RBI, 9 SB, 127 BB 5 Category: 1
Per 162: .270, 50 HR, 123 Runs, 110 RBI, 8 SB, 121 BB 6 Category: 1
Steamer: .254, 37 HR, 92 Runs, 96 RBI, 7 SB, 91 BB DRS: +9
Judge ironically was a central figure in the new debate over wins above replacement. He performed poorly in pressure situations (relative to Jose Altuve) and was exposed some in the postseason. Steamer is projecting he takes a step backwards, but some of that is due to an expectation of fewer plate appearances. Given the same PAs he should reach 40 home runs again and be in the thick of the MVP race.
Mookie Betts—Boston Red Sox
Aggregate: .291, 20 HR, 87 Runs, 78 RBI, 20 SB, 48 BB 5 Category: 2
Per 162: .292, 25 HR, 111 Runs, 99 RBI, 26 SB, 62 BB 6 Category: 2
Steamer: .300, 27 HR, 103 Runs, 90 RBI, 21 SB, 65 BB DRS: +31
When all things are considered it is easy to claim that Betts should have been the MVP in 2016. The combination of his all-around offensive game with the fielding is hard to ignore. I know it is hard to believe, but Betts is more valuable in total points because he doesn’t have the strikeout problem that other sluggers have. When you throw in the speed element he adds (that no other right fielder adds) then you can see a defensible reason for putting him in the number two slot.
Bryce Harper—Washington Nationals
Aggregate: .288, 26 HR, 82 Runs, 72 RBI, 9 SB, 80 BB 5 Category: 3
Per 162: .285, 32 HR, 107 Runs, 89 RBI, 13 SB, 96 BB 6 Category: 3
Steamer: .303, 37 HR, 100 Runs, 104 RBI, 9 SB, 102 BB DRS: +4
Every once in a while, you get someone that is referendum on the financial health of the game. Will Harper be the first 40 million per year player? A lot depends on his health in 2018. If he can play 150 or more games he certainly could be and could vault himself back to the number one spot. He’s only done that once in the past five seasons, so odds are pretty good that he will come up short again.
Giancarlo Stanton—New York Yankees
Aggregate: .265, 35 HR, 75 Runs, 88 RBI, 4 SB, 67 BB 5 Category: 6
Per 162: .268, 44 HR, 95 Runs, 110 RBI, 6 SB, 80 BB 6 Category: 6
Steamer: .283, 55 HR, 112 Runs, 127 RBI, 3 SB, 78 BB DRS: +10
I suppose the Steamer projections make sense in a vacuum. He was great last year and he’s moving to a better lineup and a better hitter’s park. Plus, he is likely moving to DH, so he should play a full slate of games unlike in the past. Unfortunately, reality is rarely ever as nice and neat as it should be. Like Harper, he has been unable to put together back to back healthy seasons, so predicting it takes a little more faith.
Nelson Cruz—Seattle Mariners
Aggregate: .283. 39 HR, 83 Runs, 100 RBI, 3 SB, 56 BB 5 Category: 4
Per 162: .276, 37 HR, 87 Runs, 104 RBI, 9 SB, 56 BB 6 Category: 4
Steamer: .274, 37 HR, 87 Runs, 104 RBI, 2 SB, 61 BB DRS: -1
There are two forms of bias that permeate the fantasy world. The first is what I would call “magical thinking.” It’s what causes some people to project a player like Stanton to hit 60+ home runs in 2018. The other bias is a close relative and it is the “recency bias.” In other words, we put too much stock into what happened last year. Those that would put J.D. Martinez higher are guilty of that bias. He was legitimately better than Cruz last year. Cruz has been putting up these numbers four years in a row. The implication is that the chances are much better he does it a fifth year in a row than Martinez a second year in a row.
J.D. Martinez—Free Agent
Aggregate: .291, 27 HR, 66 Runs, 77 RBI, 3 SB, 39 BB 5 Category: 8
Per 162: .285, 32 HR, 82 Runs, 100 RBI, 3 SB, 52 BB 6 Category: 10
Steamer: .277, 37 HR, 86 Runs, 103 RBI, 3 SB, 59 BB DRS: -5
In all fairness, he was a completely different player in 2013, so if we remove that season he averages 337 points per season and 2.60 points per game. That ends up being seventh in both categories. The key for him will be where he lands. If he lands as a DH in Boston he could see more games and healthier overall numbers. A return to Arizona would likely result in more of the same over the past four seasons. That’s good production, but likely some time missed each season.
Jay Bruce—New York Mets
Aggregate: .242, 29 HR, 78 Runs, 92 RBI, 7 SB, 52 BB 5 Category: 7
Per 162: .249, 32 HR, 86 Runs, 96 RBI, 7 SB, 60 BB 6 Category: 7
Steamer: .241, 25 HR, 62 Runs, 73 RBI, 2 SB, 45 BB DRS: +6
Bruce lands here based primarily on past performance. Admittedly, there are a group of guys who are likely to outproduce those Steamer numbers, but those same players will struggle to outproduce the aggregate numbers. So, it comes down to what you trust more: past performance or projected performance. I will choose past performance nearly every time.
Domingo Santana—Milwaukee Brewers
Aggregate: .257, 16 HR, 48 Runs, 48 RBI, 7 SB, 42 BB 5 Category: 24
Per 162: .261, 28 HR, 81 Runs, 81 RBI, 12 SB, 71 BB 6 Category: 21
Steamer: .258, 27 HR, 78 Runs, 79 RBI, 10 SB, 72 BB DRS: -5
Most players are similarly ranked no matter the platform. Santana changes dramatically in total points because of all those strikeouts. With his long arms he isn’t likely to improve much in that department, but he does have awesome power potential. Add in better than average speed and he becomes a pretty good five or six category prospect. A slightly longer track record would vault him above Bruce, but he fits comfortably here for now in spite of what past rankings say.
Shin-Soo Choo—Texas Rangers
Aggregate: .261, 17 HR, 76 Runs, 54 RBI, 9 SB, 70 BB 5 Category: 12
Per 162: .278, 21 HR, 95 Runs, 79 RBI, 16 SB, 84 BB 6 Category: 8
Steamer: .260, 23 HR, 90 Runs, 72 RBI, 10 SB, 76 BB DRS: -6
One of the problems with huge contracts is that people often expect you to become something you aren’t. Admittedly, Choo had a brilliant 2013 season before he signed his huge deal, so I suppose some of that is forgivable. Still, Choo has been who he has always been when healthy. Still, the Rangers would love to unload him and if that happens he likely would drop a few notches. Steamer is bullish on him, so he slips into our top ten.
Avisail Garcia—Chicago White Sox
Aggregate: .272, 11 HR, 50 Runs, 50 RBI, 5 SB, 25 BB 5 Category: 23
Per 162: .277, 17 HR, 76 Runs, 75 RBI, 7 SB, 38 BB 6 Category: 26
Steamer: .281, 19 HR, 62 Runs, 69 RBI, 5 SB, 38 BB DRS: +1
Garcia stands at the intersection between a group of aging stars and up and coming players. 2017 was either a breakout season or a once in a lifetime fluke. A .392 BABIP tends to point towards the latter, but he did lower his K rate and he had better batted ball metrics across the board. They weren’t outrageously better, so a regression is expected. Even with that regression he should be good and if he is dealt before the season or at the deadline he could see a bump in these numbers.