There is, potentially, a lot to like about the Brewers’ outfield this season. After a second straight season with a wOBA over .360, Carlos Gomez has settled in as a top-10 option in most leagues, and close to a sure thing as far as production. Ryan Braun, on the other hand, seems to have gone in the opposite direction. Much of the Brewers’ value in the outfield will be based on whether Braun can get back to his mashing ways, and whether Khris Davis can regain his midseason surge. There’s opportunity for a fantasy bonanza here, but it comes with a fair amount of risk.
It may have taken six seasons for Carlos Gomez to breakout, but it was well worth the wait. The 29-year-old has become a true five-category monster, and a consensus top-10 option in the outfield regardless of format. If there’s a reason for complaint, it’s that Gomez has been able to succeed despite a less than stellar approach at the plate. He doesn’t have elite plate discipline like most of the outfielders ahead of him, and he strikes out in over 20 percent of his plate appearances. While that maybe makes him less of a sure thing than Andrew McCutchen, there’s really no reason to doubt Gomez’s ability heading into 2015. He’s basically a lock to go 20-20, with the potential for more steals, and he should hit for a high enough average to add value elsewhere. Even if the average were to plummet, Gomez does enough to justify a high draft pick.
Here’s where things start to get tricky. A thumb injury limited Ryan Braun’s production last season, and became a pretty worrisome issue as the season dredged on. During the year, Braun gave some worrisome quotes, basically saying there was no way to know whether surgery would solve the issue. He wound up having the surgery, and reports have been solid thus far. That’s always the case during spring training, and the true test will be whether Braun is able to hold up under the stress of taking at-bats every day. Problem is, it’s unclear how soon Braun will have that answer. Remember, he hit .417, with three home runs last spring, but still wound up having thumb issues later in the year. So, even if Braun mashes again this March, he’s not going to be out of the woods. At his best, Braun probably still has a top-5 season left in his bat. He’ll cost much less than that this season, but there’s going to be considerable risk.
Khris Davis remains a bit of an enigma after his first full season in the bigs. Things started and ended poorly, but Davis managed to sandwich a .270/.340/.523 slash line in the middle of his season. During that stretch, Davis clubbed 16 of his 22 home runs. There’s potential here for 25+ bombs and an acceptable average, but that depends on which Davis shows up. There’s some belief that he can build on last year’s .275 BABIP, meaning his average should at least jump to acceptable levels. That would be enough to make him a mid-to-late round pick in shallow leagues. There’s potential for more, though.
Gerardo Parra is a strong player, but he continues to be cast as a fourth-outfielder. He’s turned in solid years in the past, though his full-season numbers are typically underwhelming, as he doesn’t stand out in any one category. He would be a decent injury fill-in if he moved into a full-time role, but he’s a better real-life player than fantasy asset due to his defense.
Logan Schafer cannot hit in the majors. He plays good defense, but that won’t help your fantasy team. He’s not much of an asset even if he starts 160 games.
Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.