2015 Pod’s Picks: Outfield

Yesterday, I opened 2015 Pod’s Picks season with my infield bullish and bearish selections. Today I’ll finish my look at hitters by moving into the outfield. The bullish group will only include those I ranked within my top 60 and the bearish only players the consensus ranked within their top 60.

Bullish

Avisail Garcia

Consensus Rank: 58 | My Rank: 39

Garcia missed most of last season after suffering a shoulder injury, but possesses an intriguing blend of power and speed. Despite a high strikeout rate, he’s sports a respectable career average due to a high BABIP. But he’s shown the ability to maintain high BABIP throughout his minor league career. His high ground ball rate caps his power potential at the moment, but even going 18/10, which is what I’m projecting, is quite valuable.

Ben Revere

Consensus Rank: 39 | My Rank: 22

I discussed the speed guys in The Great Valuation Test: The Divisive Players, and it’s likely that the majority of the disconnect in rankings here is due to valuation differences. Sure, he’ll hurt you in homers and ribbies, but he’s actually a three category contributor as his runs scored should be better than replacement, earning positive value.

Carl Crawford

Consensus Rank: 62 | My Rank: 47

Boring, boring, boring. But that typically leads to undervaluation. Crawford can’t stay healthy, as his plate appearance high over the last three seasons has been just 469. But he still possesses a touch of power and excellent speed. So assuming at least decent health, that’s 5-10 homers and at least 15-20 steals. It’s the type of production that comes with a little of everything and the sum of the parts is worth more than you realize.

Michael Cuddyer

Consensus Rank: 61 | My Rank: 48

Not sure how this happened as I immediately became seriously bearish once he signed with the Mets. I guess everyone else did too, even more so than I apparently! It might be a playing time thing, as he has recorded more than 500 plate appearances just once in the last three seasons, yet I’m projecting 550. I certainly wouldn’t say I like him this year, but he is set to hit fifth in what should be a pretty solid lineup.

Corey Dickerson

Consensus Rank: 20 | My Rank: 8

Finally a top ranked player I like significantly more than everyone else. I’m far more optimistic than Steamer as well and you could find my full projection and explanation where I compared my forecast to the computer system. I’m not 100% confident his at-bats against lefties are safe though, so I’ve only projected him for 550 plate appearances. But if he does stay in there against southpaws and record over 600 plate appearances, it’s possible he nudges his way into top five outfielder land.

Bearish

Rusney Castillo

Consensus Rank: 53 | My Rank: 86

From a skills perspective, I love Castillo. He would have easily been a top 30 outfielder if he was guaranteed full-time at-bats. But in both my AL Tout Wars and local league auctions, I wondered if no one heard or simply didn’t believe, Castillo would enter opening day without a starting job. It’s even possible he begins the year in the minors as I would imagine he’s a guy the Red Sox would want to get every day at-bats, and not just be a platoon bat. So this is strictly a playing time thing, and as long as the Sox hold onto Shane Victorino, he remains healthy and they insist on starting him, Castillo is going to be worthless in shallow leagues.

Brett Gardner

Consensus Rank: 34 | My Rank: 50

The power surge was a complete fluke. His batted ball distance, average absolute angle and standard deviation of distance all remained nearly identical to 2013, when his HR/FB rate was half of what it was in 2014. And since his desire to swipe a bag has deteriorated, he’s really not that different than what a healthy Crawford should provide.

Christian Yelich

Consensus Rank: 17 | My Rank: 32

Sure, his batted ball distance suggests serious power upside, but it doesn’t really matter when he’s hitting fly balls less than 20% of the time. Even if Yelich’s 2014 HR/FB rate was actually 15%, which represents quite the spike from his actual 11.5%, he still would have only hit 12 homers, a mere three homer jump from his real total. It just goes to show how much that puny fly ball rate is hampering his home run upside. Batting second now will cost him some plate appearances and he might not attempt as many steals batting directly in front of Giancarlo Stanton.

Curtis Granderson

Consensus Rank: 50 | My Rank: 64

My projection is right in the vicinity of those posted on Granderson’s player page, with my at-bats coming in right between the Fans and the computers. His batting average is a killer, but I would imagine the other rankers are betting the now closer Citi Field fences will help him more than I have (and the other projections) forecasted.

Jason Heyward

Consensus Rank: 25 | My Rank: 37

I am figuring some rebound in power, but just cannot project 20 steals again. In fact, I’m forecasting just 11, which is the most pessimistic of all the projections. He only really has about average speed, maybe marginally better than that, and will be hitting second in front of the heart of the Cardinals order. I also don’t foresee him being successful on 83% of his attempts again.

Jay Bruce

Consensus Rank: 16 | My Rank: 28

This is quite a surprise to me as I actually bought him in my local league auction on Sunday at well below my value. That means that the rest of the rankers would have thought I got an even bigger bargain than I did! I’m assuming a partial rebound, but not a full one back to his glory days. Again, that batting average is a killer. I could easily see Bruce finishing closer to the consensus though if his knee was really to blame last year. He’s obviously been that valuable before, as he finished 12th among outfielders in 2013 and 13th in 2012. It’s not often I own a player in the Bearish group, so I’ll actually be rooting against myself here.





Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Jim S.
7 years ago

Not that I disagree with your overall ranking, but Heyward has definitely more than average speed. He covers a lot of ground with those long legs.

I Like Baseball Sports
7 years ago
Reply to  Jim S.

Yup. The guy can run. This is undeniable. It seems that we need to be mindful of the complete refusal of ATL to embrace the running game, as that is likely the primary reason why more of his speed hasn’t manifested itself in his SB totals.