After displaying my less-than-stellar infield in yesterday’s post, today we’ll be highlighting my outfielders and utility hitter. Given that my first two picks both went to outfielders, I like the offense my green field roaming players bring much more than the infield.
OF — Carlos Gomez, 12th
With my first round pick I took a power and speed option in Gomez. While Steamer doesn’t believe in him maintaining a .284 average — something he has done for the past two seasons — it does project him to crack 20 home runs and nab 30 steals for the third consecutive season. As Steamer projects a .261 average, both his runs and RBI projection seems light to me as well. I’d take the over on his offensive stats, easily making Gomez worth a first round pick.
OF — Yasiel Puig, 13th
Speaking of power and speed, I have Puig rated as a 20-15 guy with a .300 average. Given the nature of the slow draft I had both Gomez and Puig queued up and just drafted them together; I don’t have any significant love of Gomez over Puig. As high as I am on Puig’s steals given his 4.7 and 5.8 speed scores in 2013 and 2014, I worry about his success rate. He stole 11 bases in both seasons however Puig was caught seven and eight times each year. Puig’s 5.6 speed score in his two MLB seasons is 22nd best in baseball since 2013, but his -2.2 ultimate base running (which does not include SB or CS) ranks just 84th out of 122 qualified batters. Both early picks here seemed right at the time and still do today.
OF — Rajai Davis, 229th
After grabbing two studs early, I felt like I could wait on filling the rest of my outfield and address needs as the rest of the draft developed. As noted yesterday, a key stat lacking from my infield was steals, so I made an effort to grab someone I could comfortably pencil in for another 25 or 30 steals. I’m not counting on Davis repeating his .284 batting average, just to get his usual stolen base totals. As a primarily one category guy, Davis has limited value, but in the 20th round everyone has warts.
OF — Torii Hunter, 253rd
Outside of Gomez, Puig and Votto, my batting average was in trouble. Despite being 39 years olds, Hunter’s .301 average ranks 18th best among qualified hitters since 2012. Getting double digit home runs and an AVG north of .280 — Steamer projects .284 — is great for a 22nd round pick. The move to Target Field will hurt him a bit, as Comerica has a right-handed home run index of 100 versus 98 in Minnesota, as will the lineup around him. After hitting in front of Miguel Cabrera for two straight seasons, presuming Hunter continues to hit second or maybe even lead-off, Hunter may not score quite so many runs. The Tigers scored the second most runs in baseball last season at 757 against the 715 of the Twins, ranking a respectable seventh. Still, I expect Hunter to continue to hit at an above average rate and for that to translate to a relatively nice bargain player. Fantasy Pros rankings have him at 136th and Mock Draft Central has Hunter’s ADP at 175 for three qualifying drafts from January 7 – Jan 10.
OF — Allen Craig, 276th
I tackled the Craig situation back in August of last year and with Yoenis Cespedes now in Detroit, Craig’s playing time should open up a bit more. Still, Boston certainly has no shortage of outfield options, especially with Hanley Ramirez moving to left field. I’m counting on Craig seeing time at first, both corners and DH on occasion. I believe his skills are still there but if my 23rd round pick doesn’t pan out, so be it.
UTIL — Matt Adams, 205th
I was pleasantly surprised to see Adams available in the 18th round. He’s a starting first baseman and owns a career .288 average in almost 1,000 plate appearances. I’d like to see more power out of him, as his .183 ISO ranks 22nd out of 39 first baseman since 2012, minimum 950 PA’s. His 15 home runs last year was a step back from 17 in 2013, however Adams did have 34 doubles in 2014. If a few more of those doubles manage to clear the outfield wall, Adams could become a steal. The handsome and brilliant Chris Cwik noted earlier this offseason, Adams’ splits were an issue as was his average fly ball distance. As per Baseball Heat Maps, Adams saw his average fly ball fall to a 274 feet average last season from 289 in 2013. Also of note is the shift in Adams’ batted ball profile, last year we saw Adams hit fewer ground balls and of course as a result more balls in the air. As deep as first base is and given Votto’s injury concern, I wish I had another first base eligible player outside of Craig and Adams.
Overall my outfield is much better than my infield, however that is a pretty low bar to jump. On its own, I’d give this outfield a B- or maybe a B rating. Lots of top talent in Gomez and Puig as well as a nice piece in Hunter, but no shortage of platoon issues and question marks in guys like Davis, Craig and Adams.
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