Every time we get to outfielders we get the fateful decision of whether to split them up by position or just treat them all the same. Since most outfielders are eligible at multiple outfield positions, we are taking them in one group. So, this time we will look at the preseason top twelve and see where they are now. We do this for a couple of reasons. First, it is just an interesting time to take a look back because the fantasy playoffs are just around the corner. Secondly, we prove a point that managing the waiver wire is far more important than executing the perfect draft. Simply put, the perfect draft doesn’t exist.
We are using six category formats to rank these players. The rankings come from Yahoo and represent where players were before the season and where they are as of Saturday night. Statistics are also accurate to that point as well. For those that haven’t been initiated, walks are the sixth category. Some leagues include OBP as well, but looking at walks will probably get us to the same spot.
Mike Trout– Los Angeles Angels
What can we really say about Trout? He is somehow better this season than he has been in past seasons. He currently sits at 8.2 bWAR with a little over six weeks left in the season. At this pace, he will surpass 50 home runs, 130 runs, and 130 RBI. The only downside is that he might wind up with “only” 15 steals. Geez, what a bum.
Mookie Betts– Boston Red Sox
Imagine that Betts is supposedly having a down season. He is on pace to score more than 140 runs. It is his fourth season in a row scoring more than 100 runs and he will likely average over 90 RBI a season over that same span. He is the last of the megastars without a long-term deal. It will be an interesting offseason to see what the Red Sox do with Betts longterm.
J.D. Martinez– Boston Red Sox
Supposedly, Martinez is having a down season. That’s news to me. He went on a tear in 2017 that saw its way through 2018 as well. He is back to career norms. He is hitting over .300 and is on pace to drive in and score more than 100 runs. Furthermore, he will likely surpass 35 home runs and could get close to 40 if he finishes on a hot streak. Last year’s numbers were unrealistic.
Christian Yelich–Milwaukee Brewers
How does one interpret these rankings? They are saying that Trout, Acuna, and Bellinger are better. How do they figure this? Well, it all comes down to counting numbers and even though Yelich is awesome, his runs and RBI are not as awesome as those other guys. I still might favor him when you consider everything else he brings to the table, but to each his own.
Ronald Acuna Jr.– Atlanta Braves
Acuna is only 21 years old. We can get excited about where his career is heading, but I just like enjoying the here and now. The problem is you never know how players age. Some have nice bell shaped curves where they start to gradually fade when they reach their early thirties. Others have something interrupt their progress. He is one of the best players in baseball now. That’s all that matters.
Bryce Harper–Philadelphia Phillies
On the one hand, Harper is a top ten fantasy outfielder in six category formats. On the other hand, he is the perfect example of the big time contract boost. He is not one of the best players in baseball. He is just a shade below that, but he is being paid like one of the best. Players don’t suddenly become better when they get paid. In five category formats he starts looking really ordinary really fast.
Aaron Judge– New York Yankees
Injuries happen. Unfortunately, attendance is part of the grade. He will reach 450 plate appearances if he finishes the season strong and he likely will surpass 20 homers and 70 runs scored. He might also eclipse 75 walks. These are all good numbers considering that he missed two months of action. If Judge owners hit the waiver wire wisely they could have made it through and will get a nice boost down the stretch.
Giancarlo Stanton–New York Yankees
He might come back in September. It’s been a lost season for Stanton, but for anyone that bet heavily on him they should consider the fact that he’s played in 150 or more games three times since 2010. He also doesn’t offer much in terms of batting average or speed. That’s fine if he’s hitting 40+ home runs, but he’s only done that once. Here is a spot where owners had to play the waiver wire well to survive.
Starling Marte–Pittsburgh Pirates
Believe it or not, he has been one of the ten best fantasy players in all of baseball since the all-star break. In fantasy we have to suspend disbelief sometimes. Marte is a flawed player because of his lack of patience. In five category leagues you don’t care. Even in six category leagues you don’t care nearly as much as you do in real life. What you do care about is consistent power and speed production.
Juan Soto–Washington Nationals
Baseball history has been littered with direct comparisons between contemporaries. There was the Mantle and Mays debate in the 1950s and 1960s. We can certainly look at the shortstop debate of the 1990s and 2000s. Now, you have a debate between Acuna and Soto. It’s actually very similar to the early Mays and Mantle debate. Mays was a superior all-around player, but Mantle had excellent patience and power. Similarly, Acuna will get more votes because of his athleticism, but Soto brings superior plate discipline to the table. It will be fun to watch this one unfold.
Charlie Blackmon–Colorado Rockies
We could waste our time wondering where Blackmon stands historically. He’s averaged over 100 runs scored over the past six seasons and is on pace to score 120 or more again this season. He’s averaged that total for the past four seasons. Since he didn’t really get started until his age 27 season, he likely won’t have enough juice to get serious Hall of Fame consideration, but he’s putting up Hall of Fame numbers on a short-term basis. The fact that half of his games are played in Denver matters in real life, but as a fantasy owner you shouldn’t care how he does it.
Andrew Benintendi–Boston Red Sox
Let’s make sure we understand this. On average, twelve man leagues were treating Benintendi as a first outfielder. That means the Red Sox had three such guys and it means players thought he would show some growth. That makes some sense given his first two seasons, but when you analyze the numbers he really didn’t grow that much. When you look at these numbers he will likely fall somewhere between those first two seasons. Benintendi is what he is and what he is is a solid second outfielder.