2016 Fantasy Baseball Outfielder Rankings (#1-30)

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Outfield is a fun position because just from the sheer quantity of outfielders that there are, there are so many that can unexpectedly (or maybe it is expected if you’re a fantasy shark) ascend to the top 30 outfielders in any given year. For instance, last season we saw the likes of A.J. Pollock, Lorenzo Cain, Mookie Betts, and David Peralta emerge to be some of the best return on investments in the fantasy outfield landscape. Who will be this year’s risers? Keep on reading to find out who The Backwards K thinks it will be! 

Below are THE BACKWARDS K 2016 FANTASY BASEBALL OUTFIELDER RANKINGS (#1-30). Included for each player is “The Backwards K Quick Take” and a self-produced player projection for 2016.

***Please note the following:

  • The player’s names are color coded to signal different tiers at the position.
  • The rankings reflect standard 5×5 roto scoring settings (AVG/HR/RBI/R/SB) with position eligibility requirements as 10 total games played at a position in 2015, or 5 total games started at a position in 2015 (i.e. Yahoo! settings).
  • The numerical order is not necessarily a suggested order to draft them in, but it is the order that is calculated based on each player’s listed projections, unless noted otherwise.
  • Noted in some players’ “Quick Takes” is if they gain or lose notable value in points leagues that factor penalize hitter strikeouts and reward hitter walks.

  1. Mike Trout (Angels) – The Backwards K Quick Take: In real life where defense is included, Trout is certainly the best player in the game. Since he became a full-time Major Leaguer in 2012, his 37.8 WAR towers over the next best during that same time frame, Andrew McCutchen at 27.9. But these last couple of seasons, Trout is leaving fantasy owners a bit disappointed as he has not quite been the best fantasy player in the game. In 2014-15, he posted AVG marks below .300 to go along with evaporating SB totals. The lower marks in AVG seem to be the result of Trout becoming more of a flyball than groundball hitter, but to coincide with that his power has increased. So it’s just a simple trade-off there that fantasy owners shouldn’t mind. But the main concern with Trout is that his SB totals since 2012 in chronological order read as: 49, 33, 16, 11. That’s a radical change over time, especially since he’s still so young at 24. Reading between the lines we see that as a #2 or #3 hitter (the majority of which has been directly in front of Albert Pujols), Trout has attempted a stolen base 10.6% of the time — compared to 23.1% as a leadoff hitter (not directly in front of Pujols). Generally speaking, less SB attempts are made from players who move from the top of the order to the middle of the order anyway, but I think that this speaks more to Trout’s unwillingness to potentially take the bat out of Pujols’ hands and/or Pujols’ discomfort with Trout running during his at-bats. These lower SB totals from 2014-15 also came after Trout stated during Spring Training how he wanted to get back to stealing more bases. Lo and behold, he stated the same thing this Spring Training. Maybe some would label Trout as the “boy who cried wolf” in this scenario, but I’d be inclined to believe him a little bit more this year because I think that Trout knows that he needs to carry the Angels offense in any way possible in the current state that it is in. So I’ll give him a bit of an uptick in SB, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if he turned in another disappointing tally at 15 or less in that department. Nevertheless, Trout is certainly worthy of a top 4 pick in fantasy drafts, but I don’t believe that he’s the “hands down” #1 pick that some people believe he is. He likely has the most upside out of anyone though. 2016 Projection: .302 AVG/37 HR/109 RBI/105 R/18 SB/152 K/91 BB in 675 PA
  2. Bryce Harper (Nationals) – The Backwards K Quick Take: It took Harper a few years, but he finally lived up to his potential last season. However, given that he was only 19-21 years old in the previous seasons, some slack should have been cut for him — hey, not everyone can destroy Major League pitching before the legal drinking age like Mike Trout did. Harper’s improvements were most drastic in his power and plate discipline, which in a way went hand in hand. Harper swung at pitches significantly less from 51.2% to 45.3%, and on pitches out of the zone in particular he went from a swing rate of 35.7% to 28.2%. This not only led to his massive 19.0% walk rate, but it also meant that the pitches that he was swinging at were pitches that were often in his wheel house that he was able to drive for more forceful contact, which was displayed in his 40.9% hard hit rate. Harper’s jump in pull rate from 38.9% to 45.4% and jump in flyball rate from 34.6% to 39.3% also displayed an overall change in approach that led to the greater power. However, some regression should be expected from his HR/FB% of 27.0%. Like Trout, the part of Harper’s game that is lacking is in the SB department. Harper isn’t as blessed as Trout with dynamite speed, but he’s still an amazing athlete with some quickness. But his SB totals from 2012-15 read as: 16, 11, 2, 6. His rookie year total of 16 came when he was the primary #2 hitter, but ever since then he’s hit lower in the order, which is definitely a reason for less SB. But he did iterate in the off-season that he wants to run more this season, and with new manager Dusty Baker rather fond of aggression on the base paths, Harper’s desire could come to fruition. I wouldn’t peg him for a new career high in SB necessarily, but a return to double digits is a great possibility. If you miss on Trout then Harper is a perfectly fine consolation gift. (**GAINS VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .306 AVG/35 HR/104 RBI/106 R/12 SB/128 K/107 BB in 638 PA
  3. Mookie Betts (Red Sox) – The Backwards K Quick Take: It’s no secret that I’ve been one to put all my “bets” on Mookie, even before he debuted in the Majors. I just have always loved his skill set of having a disciplined bat with a high contact rate that has a bit of pop to go with some nice foot speed. His approach to hitting led him to reach base in 71 consecutive Minor League games from 2013-14, which technically tied the Minor League record if post-season games counted toward that tally. The Mookie Monster’s first full season in the Majors last year didn’t get off to the roaring start that I anticipated as he had just a .246 AVG by the end of May, but he hit .315 the rest of the way while displaying all his aforementioned skills very well. Betts will once again be the leadoff hitter for the Red Sox, which is going to put him in a great position to be among the league leaders in runs scored. All players in the turquoise tier are really close and similar, but feel confident with taking Betts as the #3 outfielder off the board because he’s the one player from this tier that I can confidently say that we have yet to see his ceiling. (**GAINS VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .301 AVG/19 HR/75 RBI/106 R/25 SB/83 K/59 BB in 638 PA 
  4. A.J. Pollock (Diamondbacks) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Pollock’s breakout in 2015 was well forecasted by The Backwards K as he managed to stay healthy for the entire year and produce even better than expected, narrowly missing becoming part of the 20 HR/40 SB club. Pollock has been dealing with an elbow injury during Spring Training, which is something that can either affect his hitting, force him to miss some time, or both. But for the moment, it doesn’t sound like something that will have any long lasting effects — but you never know. Some slight regression should be factored in all around for Pollock as those levels from last year seem like they could be his peaks, especially with his 3.7% spike in HR/FB% since 9 of his 20 HR were considered “just enough” by ESPN Home Run Tracker. As long as the elbow is fine though and he doesn’t suffer any other injuries, Pollock should be good to go as a very well-rounded fantasy option. 2016 Projection: .298 AVG/15 HR/69 RBI/94 R/34 SB/93 K/46 BB in 641 PA (EDIT on 4/2/16: Pollock appeared to be on track for Opening Day, but he fractured his right elbow (same elbow that has been bothering him in Spring Training) on a head first slide. Terrible news. There’s no current time table for recovery, but I would guess right now that it sidelines him the whole 2016 season)
  5. Charlie Blackmon (Rockies) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Blackmon was a bit of a late bloomer, but he’s proven to be a reliable source in all roto categories except for RBI, since he hits leadoff for a NL team. There is reason to believe in some regression from his huge 2015 campaign though, but he should still remain extremely relevant. The main area of regression would likely come in the SB department. He jumped from 28 SB in 2014 to 43 SB last year, which represented an increase of 7.1% in SB attempt rate from 2014 to 2015. Not even in the Minors did he have a SB attempt rate as he as he did last year. Instead, he was generally around the same 20% mark that he was at in 2014. Blackmon will be 30 in July, so last year very well could have been his speed peak. But playing as a Rockies player will continue to boost his other offensive stats. Like most Rockies, Coors Field greatly aided Blackmon in getting more hits as he had a .331 home AVG vs. a .238 road AVG. But interestingly, Blackmon came away with more HR on the road (10) than at home (7), so that’s a nice sign. Overall, expect more of the same from Blackmon but with a bit less SB. 2016 Projection: .289 AVG/17 HR/66 RBI/95 R/35 SB/101 K/48 BB in 679 PA
  6. Chris Davis (Orioles) – The Backwards K Quick Take: I went over Davis in the 2016 First Basemen Rankings, but he also qualifies at the other deepest hitting position, the outfield. For optimal fantasy value, it really does not make much of a difference if he’s a first baseman or outfielder. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .254 AVG/42 HR/109 RBI/92 R/2 SB/200 K/74 BB in 646 PA
  7. Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Stanton was on his way to a ridiculous season last year before he suffered a broken bone in his hand, which cost him half a season. But that’s kind of been the story for Stanton in his relatively young career, which makes it hard to rely on him for more than 130 games of play. In addition to the broken hand, he’s dealt with knee surgery, a strained hamstring, and facial fractures in his career. Okay, so the facial fractures we really can’t count against him as that was just a pitch gone wild that could have happened to any batter. But the other injuries we can’t erase, and the best predictor of future injuries are past injuries. But going back to his monstrous 2015 performance in 74 games played, Stanton had the highest exit velocity in the league by 4 MPH, he had the highest average distance on flyballs + HR by 7 ft., and he had the highest hard% by 6.5% (minimum 300 PA). This all culminated towards Stanton posting a HR/FB% of 32.1%. Needless to say, that is out of this world. The Marlins are moving the fences in and shortening them in some areas in the outfield of their ballpark. This has no bearing on Stanton though as he booms the ball way past the fences. He destroyed the ball so much that only 4 of his 27 HR last year were considered “just enough.” This projection and ranking is based on around 130 games started for Stanton, but if you factor in value plus replacement player (VPRP), then he would leap to the top of the turquoise tier in the rankings, but not quite in the same territory as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .273 AVG/41 HR/103 RBI/83 R/7 SB/165 K/75 BB in 579 PA
  8. Jason Heyward (Cubs) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Overall, Heyward has produced one fantasy season in his career that can be considered as top 10 production at the position, and that came in 2012 when he posted a line of .269 AVG/27 HR/82 RBI/93 R/21 SB. But after signing on with the Cubs this off-season, the J-Hey Kid appears primed to return to that level in his age 26 season. It looks like Joe Maddon is going to utilize him out of the #2 spot a lot where both his OBP skills and speed are going to play well. And the fact that Ben Zobrist might be the regular #3 hitter behind him will help Heyward to steal a lot of bases because Zobrist goes deep into pitch counts and Maddon won’t mind trying to advance Heyward since Zobrist isn’t a HR hitter. Also, after being a groundball machine last year (57.2 GB%), Heyward is hitting more balls in the air this Spring Training, which could be a sign of things to come — more balls in the air = more HR. Then of course he’s got that electric set of hitters behind him to drive him in, so he’s going to be a candidate to score 100 runs if he stays in the 2-hole. Things are looking up for Heyward and it could be his best all-around season yet. 2016 Projection: .281 AVG/21 HR/76 RBI/97 R/23 SB/103 K/64 BB in 663 PA
  9. Andrew McCutchen (Pirates) – The Backwards K Quick Take: McCutchen got off to a very slow start in April last year, but he was also dealing with a knee injury that limited him in Spring Training and seemingly carried over to the regular season, affecting both his hitting and base running. So I’m totally willing to give him a pass on that one month of the season. But I’m not going to overlook the fact that his contact% reached a career low at 75.9%, especially given that his K% in the 2nd half of last year was at a high point for him at 23.3%. To complicate matters more, McCutchen has also been striking out at an unusually high rate in Spring Training. This could easily spell out some decline in skill and result in his K% reaching 20% in a season for the first time in his career. It looks like McCutchen will end up seeing a lot of time hitting 2nd this year, which makes sense given that he has posted OBP’s over .400 in each of the last 4 years. It’ll give him the opportunity to score more runs but will take away RBI chances, which really has no effect on his overall value. But what the move up in the lineup could do for his value is add more SB attempts as hitting 2nd in the order is a little more conducive for that. His SB totals have gone down the last couple of years, so any increase would be welcomed. Overall, McCutchen is still pretty firmly a top 10 outfield option in fantasy drafts, but with declining contact% and speed, there is some cause for concern. 2016 Projection: .285 AVG/23 HR/81 RBI/101 R/14 SB/143 K/88 BB in 673 PA
  10. Jose Bautista (Blue Jays) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Ever since Bautista broke out as a 29-year old in 2010, his M.O. has been exactly the same: hit booming home runs, walk a bunch, keep the strikeouts low, and do bat flips. At 35 years old now, it seems the primary worry with Bautista would be health and not a decline in skills. He seemingly has a very similar skill set and career path to David Ortiz who was also a semi-late bloomer. Bautista has had some injuries and nagging ailments in the past, but for the most part he’s been healthy the last two years and he’ll be the same Joey Bats that we have come to know whenever he’s in the batters box. (**GAINS VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .260 AVG/34 HR/97 RBI/97 R/5 SB/99 K/91 BB in 617 PA
  11. Lorenzo Cain (Royals) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Cain had a breakout season last year at age 29 thanks in part to big improvements in hard% and K%. Entering 2015, Cain had been in the low-mid 20%’s in hard%, but he was able to square the ball up very well last year after making it a point to drive the ball better. His hard% of 32.2% was above the league average and resulted in 16 HR, which equaled the number he had hit in his previous three seasons combined in nearly twice as many AB. Cain entered the year with a career K% of 20.9%, but he finished the 2015 season with a rate of 16.2%. The decrease in strikeouts allowed him to hit for over a .300 AVG without needing a crazy high BABIP. So can Cain carry over these improvements to the 2016 season? I think the power can mostly stay as that appeared to be a change in approach and also Cain is unique in the fact that he didn’t begin playing baseball till he was a sophomore in high school. So perhaps his late start to the game has delayed his power development just a bit and what we saw last year is him coming into his prime. However, I can see Cain’s K% creeping back up towards 20% because the only real change in his plate discipline profile last year was that he made much more contact on pitches out of the strike zone, which in turn drove his swinging strike rate down. In Spring Training this year, Cain is striking out a lot, and even though it’s a small sample size and they aren’t even “real” games, strikeout rate for batters are one of the more reliable Spring Training stats to monitor as it is a stat that is one of the quickest to stabilize. Nonetheless, Cain is still a nice fantasy asset to have. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .293 AVG/15 HR/74 RBI/85 R/26 SB/118 K/37 BB in 609 PA
  12. Starling Marte (Pirates) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Marte has developed into a nice player that can be counted on for roughly a .280 AVG with 15 HR/30 SB. There aren’t a whole lot of players who can do that, so the Pirate certainly has value. However, in his underlying stats there are some things that need to be taken notice of. Marte was crushing the ball early on in the 2015 season and he was sporting a HR/FB% over 30% through May. Obviously that was unsustainable and that mark regressed toward the mean, but he still finished the year establishing a new career high at 18.6%. There was likely some legitimate power gain there as his average flyball + HR distance increased from the previous year, but I’d still expect him to post a lower rate this year. Next, Marte experienced a drop in K% from 24% in 2014 to 19.4% last year despite a 6.4% increase in swing% and a 0.9% increase in swinging strike%. Those are clearly contradictory events that could possibly be explained by a large percentage of his swinging strikes coming on 0 or 1 strike counts, which would be something that we can’t expect to be sustainable. So a strikeout rate increase back toward that 24% mark could be expected. Marte can give very nice stats all across the roto board and is a nice player to have — just don’t mistake last year’s improvements in outcomes as the player that he has become. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .277 AVG/17 HR/75 RBI/80 R/30 SB/150 K/29 BB in 638 PA
  13. Brandon Belt (Giants) – The Backwards K Quick Take: I went over Belt in the 2016 Fantasy Baseball First Basemen Rankings and I view him as quite a breakout player for 2016. He’s not eligible at outfield in all fantasy leagues, but that shouldn’t stop you from drafting him as a first baseman once all the top names are off the board. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .294 AVG/24 HR/85 RBI/84 R/10 SB/136 K/60 BB in 603 PA
  14. Kris Bryant (Cubs) – The Backwards K Quick Take: I went over Bryant in the 2016 Fantasy Baseball Third Basemen Rankings. Bryant barely missed qualifying universally at outfield, which would have been a nice luxury to have for all leagues, but it is third base where he is more valuable. Expect a solid sophomore campaign from the young Cubbie. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .263 AVG/32 HR/99 RBI/89 R/11 SB/198 K/76 BB in 664 PA
  15. J.D. Martinez (Tigers) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Martinez has emerged as one of the premiere sluggers in the game thanks to some important mechanical adjustments that he made a couple years ago. There’s nothing to suggest that he’s going to go away either. His HR/FB% the last two years has been in line with his average batted ball distance, his hard% combined over the last two seasons is strong at 43% (led the Majors last year), and the spray chart for Martinez’ home runs last year is just mystifying — 14 HR to LF, 11 HR to CF, and 13 HR to RF. Now that is truly power to all fields. I could see Martinez striking out more and losing some BABIP, but another 30+ HR should be in his future if he keeps healthy. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .271 AVG/35 HR/100 RBI/82 R/3 SB/184 K/48 BB in 636 PA
  16. Kevin Pillar (Blue Jays) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Pillar got the chance to start full time last year with the Blue Jays and he finished the year with a roto line of .278 AVG/12 HR/56 RBI/76 R/25 SB. That’s a promising looking stat line. But something that drove Pillar’s counting stats was the fact that he started in 155 games and played in 159 total games, and he was able to do so because his incredible center field defense is something that forced manager John Gibbons to pencil him in everyday. So it’s not often that you think of a player’s defense having value for fantasy baseball, but in Pillar’s case it certainly does. Looking for a player to be this year’s A.J. Pollock? Pillar would be one of the front runners. However, instead of a projected breakout in skills based performance, much of Pillar’s projected value is based on a heavy playing time load due to his defense, as well as his projected spot in the lineup. Pillar is most likely to be the new leadoff hitter for the Blue Jays, despite not having the strong OBP skills that are valued in a leadoff hitter. Needless to say, hitting leadoff in front of Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Troy Tulowitzki is an amazing spot to be in to see good pitches to hit and to score a lot of runs. One thing that this lineup spot may not be conducive for though is stolen bases as there comes a risk in costing the team an out when the hitters behind him could drive him in with one extra base hit (see Ben Revere as a Blue Jay last year). So for that reason, I did not project in increase in the rate of stolen base attempts for Pillar. In fact, all of his projected stats are all derived from relatively the same rates that he had last year, with the exception of his runs scored rate getting a big boost. So that shows how this ranking is really just based on the projected move up the lineup, but there could be some room for growth too for the 27-year old Pillar. 2016 Projection: .284 AVG/14 HR/65 RBI/93 R/26 SB/86 K/34 BB in 699 PA
  17. Marcell Ozuna (Marlins) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Ozuna debuted in 2013 as a 22-year old with the Marlins, but he wasn’t a meaningful player until 2014 when he hit .269 with 23 HR and 85 RBI. However, he failed to build on that last year and instead was jettisoned to AAA to figure things out after going 0 for 14 in July. In AAA, he got back on track with a .317 AVG and 5 HR in 33 games before earning another shot back in the bigs. Upon his return, Ozuna was hitting the ball harder, hitting more line drives, and he went from being a heavy groundball hitter to close to a 1:1 ratio in GB/FB (good sign for power). And despite his first half struggles, Ozuna managed to rank pretty well in exit velocity for the season as a whole. Soak all of that in. Now consider the fact that Barry Bonds is the Marlins new hitting coach. Say what you want about Bonds (I hate him), but the guy does know a thing or two about hitting a baseball and can help out Ozuna (and other Marlins hitters) a lot. I’ll point to Ozuna’s Spring Training stats where the main thing I care about are his K’s and BB’s. At the time of this writing, Ozuna has 3 K/4BB in 44 PA in Spring Training. Yes, that is more walks than strikeouts and a microscopic K%. Need more convincing on Ozuna? The Marlins are moving in the fences and lowering them in certain parts of their ballpark. Unless you’re Giancarlo Stanton where every ball hit in the air goes 400+ feet, this is great news for all Marlins hitters and it should only help Ozuna set a new career high in HR. Still not convinced? Ozuna is set to hit #2 in Don Mattingly’s lineup, which is not only a nice spot to drive in Dee Gordon and a nice spot to score runs with Stanton a couple spots behind, but it can also be a spot where he increases his stolen base attempt rate in front of a relatively light hitting Christian Yelich. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .292 AVG/26 HR/85 RBI/90 R/7 SB/128 K/42 BB in 653 PA
  18. Matt Kemp (Padres) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Kemp’s offensive production was expected to drop when he was traded from the Dodgers to the Padres as he was going to be in a worse lineup and in one of the worst hitters parks in the league. But when all was said and done, his 2015 was probably actually unlucky in a couple of ways. He got to the 100 RBI mark off just a .265 AVG and 23 HR — now that was rather fortunate. But he could have easily had an AVG that was 15 points higher with a few more HR tacked on. Despite posting the highest hard% of his career at 41.6% (3rd in the Majors) and posting a pretty solid 293 ft. average batted ball distance on flyballs + HR, Kemp was left with just a 14.3 HR/FB%. When healthy, Kemp had been posting marks 20% or higher with the Dodgers, and those were with worse hard hit rates. The home park likely had some effect on Kemp here, but he still could have had better fortune. As for his AVG, with that type of hard% and not being an extreme pull hitter, Kemp also deserved much better than a .311 BABIP. This is player who has drilled the ball his whole career to earn a .345 BABIP. If he keeps pummeling the ball like this and doesn’t experience a huge jump in strikeouts, then a rebound in BABIP and AVG can be easy to forecast. Kemp doesn’t have the best lineup around him, but that shouldn’t prevent him from being perfectly usable fantasy outfielder. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .283 AVG/25 HR/91 RBI/80 R/11 SB/149 K/44 BB in 635 PA
  19. Justin Upton (Tigers) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Upton’s stats throughout his career have been all over the place. There aren’t any consecutive seasons in his career where all five of his standard roto stats were within a close range. This makes him incredibly difficult to project, but one thing is for certain — now with the Tigers, this is going to be the best lineup that he’s ever played in. Upton is projected to hit 2nd for the Tigers behind Ian Kinsler and in front of a pretty fearsome trio of Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and J.D. Martinez. It’ll be a good spot for him to see good pitches and score runs, but it also might hurt his SB total, which is an area that drove his fantasy value up last year. All in all though, expect another solid season from Upton in his first season in Motown. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .260 AVG/28 HR/82 RBI/99 R/11 SB/169 K/65 BB in 659 PA
  20. Ryan Braun (Brewers) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Braun was viewed as a nice bounceback candidate prior to the 2015 season as he had a procedure done in the off-season to treat a thumb issue that hampered him in 2014, but little did the baseball world know that his thumb getting healthier would jumpstart his legs. Braun stole 30 or more bases in each of the 2011 and 2012 seasons, but saw his total dip to 4 in 2013 (injury shortened season) and 11 in 2014. So it was presumed that his running days were behind him, but he showed up last year to swipe 24 bags to go with his 25 HR. It was a very nice season and he didn’t even need PED’s to do it. Heading into this season, he’s recovering from surgery to repair a bulging disc in his back that nagged him late last year, and it’s certainly an issue to monitor as he’s already dealt with lower back soreness this spring. With the types of nagging injuries that he’s dealt with the last few years, it could be assumed that the primary reason that he used PED’s before was to help him manage his injuries and recover better. This makes Braun a bit of a risk, but he’ll probably do well as long as health permits. 2016 Projection: .286 AVG/23 HR/81 RBI/77 R/16 SB/117 K/49 BB in 578 PA
  21. George Springer (Astros) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Springer posted a beastly 37 HR/45 SB season with a .303 AVG and 14.1 BB% between AA and AAA in 2013, so the expectations for him as a Major Leaguer have been pretty high. But in 102 games played last season, Springer tapped into that potential with a .276 AVG to go with 16 HR/16 SB and 11.1 BB%. The problem was the low total of 102 games played. It’s the second season in a row where he has failed to play 2/3 of the season. If you’ve ever seen Springer play, you know that he goes balls to the wall on defense with seemingly no regard for his body. It really is awesome to watch, but it also makes him more vulnerable to injury. For example, he landed on the DL with a concussion last year after crashing into the wall. It’s not just on the defensive side of the ball either though. As a hitter, he crowds the plate and it leaves him susceptible to being hit by pitches, which has happened at an above average rate for him and last year he suffered a fractured hand on a HBP. It is a frustrating scenario for fantasy owners because the 30 HR/30 SB potential is just so juicy, but the time spent away from the DL is very unpredictable. With a 130 game projection, this is where Springer ranks. Essentially, that projections is factoring in a DL stint at some point in the season, so with value plus replacement player (VPRP), Springer would be somewhere in the upper half of the lime green tier. But the problem is even a 130 game projection may be too optimistic. 2016 Projection: .269 AVG/24 HR/72 RBI/83 R/20 SB/144 K/71 BB in 594 PA
  22. Yoenis Cespedes (Mets) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Cespedes went on a monumental post-trade deadline rampage when he got to Queens last season as he hit 17 HR in 57 games for the Mets. But I’m not going to buy completely into that small sample size data. His big season was on the heels of a big improvement in hard%, so it’s not that his numbers were lucky or not validated, but I’m not ready to say that this is the new Cespedes. I’ll peg him for somewhere in between his stats from last year and his previous seasons. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .268 AVG/29 HR/93 RBI/79 R/7 SB/132 K/34 BB in 628 PA
  23. Delino DeShields (Rangers) – The Backwards K Quick Take: DeShields was a Rule 5 pick that the Rangers snagged from cross-state and divison rivals, the Astros, and it’s looking like they got a pretty nice player. When he was basically given a starting job last year upon the demotion of Leonys Martin, DeShields took it and literally ran with it and became the team’s leadoff hitter. But DeShields could have more in store for 2016 as he didn’t quite display the pop he had in the Minors nor was he as aggressive on the base paths as he was in the Minors. He won’t hit for a high AVG because he’s always been one to strikeout 20% or more, but his high walk rate will get him on base enough to make up for it and give him the opportunity to steal bases and score runs. The rate at which he scored runs last year can be expected to regress, but even so he should still be a threat to score 100 times while adding 40 SB, and there even could be some 10 HR pop in that bat. 2016 Projection: .262 AVG/7 HR/48 RBI/94 R/41 SB/133 K/72 BB in 666 PA
  24. Adam Jones (Orioles) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Jones consistently is one of the freest swingers in the game and taking a walk is like the death penalty to him. But somehow this approach has worked pretty well for him throughout his career. However, his numbers have been gradually declining in all areas and because of his ultra aggressive approach he could quickly fall off if things don’t bounce the right way for him. His BABIP fell below .300 for a full season for the first time in his career last year, so that could possibly be an aberration and might mean he can rebound in AVG some. Still though, he can’t ride his raw power forever and at this point he doesn’t really have any real fantasy upside. He is what he is but could be worse. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .274 AVG/28 HR/90 RBI/84 R/4 SB/125 K/25 BB in 659 PA
  25. David Peralta (Diamondbacks) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Peralta has taken one of the more interesting paths to becoming a Major Leaguer. He started out as a pitcher in the Cardinals organization, but injuries derailed his progress and he then found himself playing in an independent league…as an outfielder. He then caught on with the Diamondbacks in 2013, debuted in the Majors in 2014, and he has been a pretty good hitter ever since. The fact that he made the transition from pitcher to outfielder at such a late stage in his professional career erases the fact that he’s 28 years old and it should give him more time to further develop in all facets of hitting. In particular, being a left-handed hitter, he’s had struggles against left-handed pitching so far in his career, as he’s hit just .224 against them with only 1 of his 25 HR coming off a southpaw. The past two seasons, he’s taken a seat against lefties much of the time, but he’ll get the opportunity this year to play more regularly against them. That will help his counting stats, but could prevent him from hitting over .300 again. But there’s still a lot to like about Peralta. He’s going to be the team’s cleanup hitter behind Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock (against righties at least), he hits the ball hard and far often, he has a little bit of sneaky SB potential, and as mentioned he has the upside to develop further since he’s relatively new to being a full-time hitter/position player. At worst, if you have the luxury, he’s someone to start in fantasy against right-handed pitching and bench him against lefties until he proves he can hit them better. 2016 Projection: .288 AVG/22 HR/87 RBI/76 R/10 SB/117 K/47 BB in 608 PA
  26. Billy Hamilton (Reds) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Hamilton’s life story was told cinematically before he was even born. The movie is Major League. The character is Willie “Mays” Hayes played so well by Wesley Snipes (and then not as well by Omar Epps in the sequel). Hayes’ whole gimmick is that he’s lightning fast but thinks he’s a home run hitter, so he’s always hitting the ball in the air. His manager then implores him to hit the ball on the ground to utilize his speed better. In the movie, Hayes goes on to be pretty successful, but that’s yet to be determined for Hamilton and he may only have one more shot at it before he’s given up on as a starting player. Since coming into the Majors, Hamilton’s groundball rate has been 42.2%. To put that in perspective, the league average last year was 45.3 % and Dee Gordon, a player of similar speed, was at 59.8%. Gordon knows what his skill set is and he catered to it and ended up winning a batting title because of it. Meanwhile, Hamilton, a player with little power, is putting the ball on the ground much less than the average Major Leaguer, which results in easy outs and lots of slow jogs back to the dugout instead of a sprint and slide toward second base. Will Hamilton finally figure it out? The early look from Spring Training doesn’t look too promising, but he’s also been making his way back from shoulder surgery, which could be a factor in his poor spring performance. I would project him to be better than last year with some better fortune as well, but not too much of a difference overall. He can get to 60 SB with ease, which certainly has value, but is it worth it to take on all his negative stats? It’s easier to find cheap speed on the waiver wire than it is to find power, so despite the relatively good ranking here, I personally would be very hesitant to draft Hamilton in roto leagues. 2016 Projection: .249 AVG/5 HR/37 RBI/61 R/60 SB/90 K/31 BB in 523 PA
  27. Nelson Cruz (Mariners) – The Backwards K Quick Take: After posting a career high of 40 HR season in 2014 as a member of the Orioles who play in a very hitter friendly stadium, Cruz was not supposed to post another career year as a member of the Mariners who play in a pitcher friendly park. That’s exactly what he did though, but there will be some immediate regression flags waved as we enter the 2016 season. First of all, that .302 AVG that he had last year was aided by a .350 BABIP. Cruz did increase his LD% and GB%, both of which are helpful in increasing BABIP, but the degree to which his BABIP increased did not really match well with his LD% and GB% gains. And then his total of 44 HR was supported by a HR/FB% of 30.3%, which was 9% higher than his previous career best. There’s almost undoubtedly going to be regression toward the mean there. Cruz is kind of cut from the same cloth as guys like David Ortiz and Jose Bautista as late blooming sluggers, but Cruz’ penchant to strike out makes it more likely that he will begin to flame out sooner than those other guys. Cruz isn’t a bad selection at all, just pay for what you’re most likely to get from him — not for what he did last year. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .260 AVG/33 HR/95 RBI/77 R/3 SB/149 K/49 BB in 606 PA
  28. Gregory Polanco (Pirates) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Polanco made improvements in the 2nd half of last year as a sophomore and that is the level of play that I would expect him to perform at in 2016, but he does certainly have the upside for more. He does struggle against left-handed pitching (.183 AVG in career), so he’s going to have to eventually improve on that if he’s going to have the breakout that he is capable of. It appeared that Polanco was set to hit leadoff or #2 against righties like he did last year, but those plans may have changed because the Pirates do have some better OBP options to fill those roles. It looks like they will roll with John Jaso and Andrew McCutchen at the top against righties to start the season, but I would expect Polanco to work his way up there eventually. As for against lefties, he definitely should not be sniffing the top half of the lineup. Draft Polanco for a .270 AVG with 10 HR/30 SB and be happy if he gives you more. 2016 Projection: .274 AVG/13 HR/65 RBI/74 R/28 SB/111 K/55 BB in 621 PA
  29. Ben Revere (Nationals) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Revere has now been traded twice since last year’s trade deadline and he winds up in D.C. to leadoff for the Nationals. It’s a pretty favorable spot for him to land as there are some nice hitters behind him to drive him in and the Nationals new manager, Dusty Baker, loves veterans and loves to be aggressive on the base paths. When Revere was traded from the Phillies to the Blue Jays at the deadline last year, he went on to be an excellent leadoff hitter for the team, but the rate that he attempted stolen bases went from 23.8% with the Phililes to 10.7% with the Blue Jays. This of course had to do with the Blue Jays style of offense where they didn’t need Revere to be a base stealer since they had so many bats behind him that could hit doubles and home runs with ease. But now with a manager that likes to run, Revere should see his SB total go back up near 40. One concern with Revere is that he could end up losing some playing time to Michael Taylor who was the talent to be worked into a rotation of sorts with Revere in CF and Jayson Werth in LF. Even so, Revere is a strong bet for a good AVG and SB total and a decent amount of runs. (**GAINS VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .305 AVG/2 HR/34 RBI/75 R/39 SB/55 K/28 BB in 585 PA
  30. Stephen Piscotty (Cardinals) – The Backwards K Quick Take: I went over Piscotty in the 2016 Fantasy Baseball First Basemen Rankings. He’s got a real chance to breakout and do some damage from the #2 spot in the Cardinals lineup. 2016 Projection: .282 AVG/18 HR/72 RBI/82 R/10 SB/116 K/50 BB in 628 PA


UNDERVALUED OUTFIELDERS (#1-30) TO TARGET (Based off positional ADP):

Charlie Blackmon (Roto and Points leagues)

Jason Heyward (Roto and Points leagues)

Lorenzo Cain (Roto leagues)

Brandon Belt (Roto leagues)

Kevin Pillar (Roto and Points leagues)

Marcell Ozuna (Roto and Points leagues)

Delino DeShields (Roto and Points leagues)

David Peralta (Roto and Points leagues)

OVERVALUED OUTFIELDERS (#1-30) TO AVOID (Based off positional ADP):

Andrew McCutchen (Roto and Points leagues)

George Springer (Roto and Points leagues)

Nelson Cruz (Roto and Points leagues)

Adam Jones (Roto and Points leagues)


One thought on “2016 Fantasy Baseball Outfielder Rankings (#1-30)

  1. Pingback: 10 Bold Predictions & the End of Season Predictions | The Backwards K

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