With pitching on the attack and offense declining in the post-steroid era, batters that can consistently contribute across multiple categories are in short supply. In 2015, you’ll mostly find them in the OF position. Of the top 100 players taken, on average, 29 of them are outfielders. Depending on your league settings, you’ll be starting at least three players with OF eligibility, so your selections from this group are extremely important. Let’s take a look at several over/underrated players, breakout candidates, and our top sleeper picks at the outfield position.
Ozuna was sneaky-good in 2014, and eventually I took notice. I think this is the year that everyone will take notice. With very little fanfare, Marcell went for 23 HR and 85 RBI in a Miami lineup that featured more injuries than MLB quality starters. The Marlins have made major upgrades over the offseason, and 24 year-old Ozuna won’t be asked to do as much. He’ll have many more opportunities to drive in runs with a health Stanton and Dee Gordon batting in front of him.
I love me some Marlins offense this year. I truly believe some of their young studs are ready to break out, and the addition of more talent will allow them to reach their full potential. Yelich is definitely ready. He threw together a 94 / 9 / 54 / 21 / .284
line with very little around him, He was 22 at the time. With Dee Gordon now slated to bat in front of him, he’ll have plenty of hit-and-run chances, and plenty of fastballs to chow down on as pitchers pay more attention to Dee and less to Christian. 15 / 25 this year seems possible if his power continues to progress.
Wasn’t it just last year that Choo was a consensus top-50 pick? After struggling through a terrible inaugural season in Texas, as well as being shut down early due to injury, Choo now sports an ADP outside the top 150. He’s now 32, but that risk is built into the low cost. I think he’s a great candidate to go 15 / 15 with some upside if the cards fall right for him. He’s certainly in the ballpark for it. I love the bounce back play here.
I’ll skip the Soler Power jokes. Jorge busted out down the stretch and won folks who were lucky enough to grab him more than a few championships. He’s slated to hit cleanup for the Cubs this year, and I’m expecting him to be a force out of the gate. There’s some risk that he could do the sophomore flop, but that risk seems like it’s built into his low draft day price. I’ll be happy to add all the shares I can and chase the monster upside.
This one is pretty easy for me. Take an injury-prone guy I don’t really love to begin with, remove him from his loaded Dodgers lineup, and trade him to possibly the
worst MLB park for hitters. As we’ll see with the next note, I’m not high on these former power-hitters translating well to PetCo, and as such I don’t love this new-look Padres batting lineup either. Kemp could be pretty good, but at ADP 51 I’m planning on letting someone else find out.
Upton has a slightly better injury history than Kemp, but I still just can’t see him being worthy of the 39th pick overall. I think he’ll be good, but I simply don’t think he’ll justify such a lofty price. I might be more interested in Upton at the Kemp price, and Kemp around ADP 80-90. But it isn’t going to happen – someone is going to see them as a worthwhile investment (and they might be right) and they just won’t end up on my teams.
Gordon had offseason surgery on his wrist, and reports have him not being ready for Spring Training. Gordon is nothing if not consistent – if he’s right you can book him for .270 / 17 / 70 / 70. But this latest injury definitely has me looking elsewhere for an OF 2/3. Wrist injuries are notorious for sapping power, and I dislike drafting players who are unwilling to disclose when they might face live pitching. Maybe I’m risk averse, but his upside when healthy isn’t high enough for me to gamble on him potentially hurt unless the price comes down a bit more.
Hamilton already had offseason shoulder surgery, which was slated to delay his start to 2015 due to recovery. But news broke in late February that he was meeting with MLB regarding infractions to the substance abuse policy. Leaked reports suggested he relapsed into cocaine use, and his punishment / rehab timing has yet to be determined. We wish him all the best, but there is no reason that Hamilton needs to be drafted in virtually any format at this time.
Arcia might have hit the most unnoticed 20 HR of the 2014 season, and he did it in just over 400 total AB. The power is legit. He was a roller coaster to own, and could carry your team one week and kill it the next. He struck out nearly 30% of the time without a corresponding walk rate to support it, so he certainly has his warts. But if Oswaldo got 550 AB, think of the things he might do. At an ADP of nearly 250, he’s the definition of a excellent cheap-power flier pick.
I love Fowler as a super sleeper for 2015. He’s slated to lead off for the Cubs and play center field. He got on base at a .350 clip last year, so there should be plenty of runs coming to his investors with Castro, Rizzo, and Soler backing him up. Fowler’s power isn’t prodigious, but I could see him hitting 10 HR with 15 SB if he gets 600 AB from the leadoff spot. Joe Maddon has been known to be an aggressive coach, and if Fowler can improve his 67% success rate, a great season could come next. He’s not a must-own player by any means, but he certainly is worth watching with a eye during Spring Training.
Average draft position (ADP) information is courtesy of FantasyPros and is aggregated from Yahoo, CBS, and ESPN draft data.