Five More Deviations from Consensus: Outfielders Stars

Yesterday, I used my Way Too Early rankings and our RotoGraphs outfield rankings to discuss my five biggest deviations from consensus. The comments were just a tad grumpy about my decision to focus on the Mitch Hanigers and Lonnie Chisenhalls of the world. Let it be said that I’m a man of the people. Here are five more deviations from consensus – this time focused on stars*.

*Loosely defined…

To me, these are the interesting players to discuss. I’m so tired of writing about Andrew McCutchen (spoiler, I’ll be writing about McCutchen). I’m going to let somebody else draft McCutchen this year. I’m not inclined to take the risk. My ranking reflects that decision. I can elaborate, but it’ll be tedious. You ready?

Andrew McCutchen
My Rank: 29
Consensus: 18
Way Too Early: 28

Hey look! It’s a tedious review of Andrew McCutchen. Proponents of the Pirates’ franchise icon will note that he played through nagging injuries in 2016. His .256/.336/.430 batting line with 24 home runs, 81 runs, 79 RBI, and six stolen bases was a serious disappointment. Per ESPN’s Player Rater, he still ranked 90th overall. That’s a poor return on a second round investment, but it’s still a valuable fantasy asset.

My 29th ranking among outfielders corresponds to a 96th overall ranking. Rather than a rebound season, I’m expecting those injuries to continue nagging. Consider this: since 2010, only Robinson Cano has plate appearances. Over those seven seasons, McCutchen has never made fewer than 648 plate appearances. On the one hand, that’s incredible durability; the type that signals a specific skill in health. It also represents a ton of wear and tear on a now 30-year-old body. I figure further breakdowns are just as likely as a return to full health over 650 plate appearances. It’s an educated guess.

Wil Myers
My Rank: 13
Consensus: 21
Way Too Early: 14 or 15

I didn’t rank Myers as an outfielder in my Way Too Early series, but I did say he’d be adjacent to 14th ranked A.J. Pollock in a comment. Since then, I’ve bumped Pollock up to number 10. Myers has also climbed a short distance.

Any discussion of Myers’ value begins with stolen bases. While I don’t think he’ll repeat his 28 steal season, I still expect him to attempt 30 swipes. Toss in a slight decline in success rate and we’re left with about 20 to 25 steals over a full season. The Padres are terrible. Myers likes to run. Who’s actually going to stop him?

The other talking point is his power. The 28 home runs come with a fluky-feeling 18.7 percent HR/FB rate. Just like with steals, I expect fewer home runs. And just like with steals, I think he’ll still pop between 20 and 25. My one worry is injury. He’s proven to be a fragile player throughout his early career.

Ian Desmond
My Rank: 22
Consensus: 15
Way Too Early: 23

It’s interesting to me that most of my disagreements with the RG staff carried over from the Way Too Early series. I definitely made some large changes between November and now. With Desmond, color me unconvinced that Coors Field will be a panacea for his many flaws at the plate. Despite producing a tolerable season line while with the Rangers, he jammed all of his value into two months. He was terrible in April and worse in the second half. Over the last two years, he’s looked completely lost for two-thirds of his plate appearances.

Desmond proponents like his history of durability and 20/20 production. There’s hope that his home games will help to level out his streaky production. It’s tempting to expect 30 home runs, but Desmond rolls a ton of ground balls. He’s already relying on a high HR/FB rate just to reach 20 homers. Given the Rockies’ ridiculously potent lineup, I wonder if Desmond will be given free reign to run. I suspect we’ll see 10 to 15 steals rather than 20.

Last but not least, altitude negatively affects player health. We’ll see if his 31-year-old body holds up for a full season. For what it’s worth, I’d be ranking Desmond a lot lower if he wasn’t joining the Rockies.

Mark Trumbo
My Rank: 44
Consensus: 24
Way Too Early: 41

You know the famous saying. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, ~we won’t get fooled again!~ I have no intention of being sucked in by Trumbo’s 47 homer age 30 season. His skill set is the type that tends to age rapidly and with very little warning. Maybe he’ll be fine in 2017. After all, he’s in a great power park in a division with some homer prone pitchers. I’d rather divest a year too early.

Perhaps of relevance, I’m still fully on the bandwagon for Trumbo’s clone, Khris Davis (ranked 27, consensus 23). He’s 29. Despite my preference for Davis, I recommend finding a better athlete with actual OBP ability. Guys who get on base have a much more stable floor. Or if you like the pure power skill set, perhaps try Miguel Sano (ranked 23, consensus 32).

Kole Calhoun
My Rank: 32
Consensus: 43
Way Too Early: 32

Upon reflection, I guess Calhoun isn’t terribly interesting. He’s a candidate for 700 plate appearances while batting ahead of Mike Trout. And now that the Angels have added real, actual players to surround, Calhoun, Trout, and Albert Pujols, Calhoun should easily exceed 100 runs. There’s upside for 120 runs with a healthy 80 RBI. Or if he finds himself batting after Trout, 110 RBI are on the table.

In short, Calhoun profiles as a top notch run producer. We often preach selecting skills (i.e. power and speed) over role, but sometimes we overlook the value of run production in our rankings.

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I guess the key is to get Robinson Cano; as the only one to get plate appearances since 2010 (“since 2010, only Robinson Cano has plate appearances”), he is probably the only hitter worth drafting!