I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. We can rank outfielders as a whole group or we can break them down position by position. It may seem counterintuitive, but it is easier to break them down by position and then adjust back to the generic than to do the reverse, so we are looking at left fielders first.
Theoretically speaking, each position should be relatively equal, but it doesn’t turn out that way. Left field is weaker than the other two spots for one reason or another. We are ranking them by their projection in the six categories (walks are the sixth category).
Juan Soto– Washington Nationals
Projection: .292, 26 HR, 84 Runs, 85 RBI, 6 SB, 82 BB
2019 might turn out to be the best outfield in franchise history for the Nationals and it will be without Bryce Harper. Soto and Victor Robles will be the reason why. The key for Soto is the patience he brings to the plate. It adds to his power and ability to hit for average.
Ronald Acuna– Atlanta Braves
Projection: .279, 28 HR, 95 Runs, 77 RBI, 24 SB, 56 BB
It was a battle back and forth between Acuna and Soto for the top spot in the Rookie of the Year race. It makes perfect sense that it would be that way in fantasy. Soto wins in six categories while Acuna wins in five.
Andrew Benintendi– Boston Red Sox
Projection: .286, 18 HR, 98 Runs, 74 RBI, 18 SB, 69 BB
Benintendi does a little bit of everything and as such has more value than the numbers immediately show. He also plays for the best offense in baseball. That counts for something when it comes to the counting statistics.
Joey Gallo– Texas Rangers
Projection: .225, 40 HR, 86 Runs, 98 RBI, 6 SB, 81 BB
We’ve talked at length about chasing single categories. How about when a single category chases you away. Sure, the batting average is horrendous and if you are playing total points the strikeouts will kill you. In five or six category leagues he is still worth it.
Marcell Ozuna– St. Louis Cardinals
Projection: .288, 26 HR, 75 Runs, 89 RBI, 2 SB, 45 BB
Ozuna had one magical season in 2017, but the rest of them have looked like this. Leave it to the Marlins to trade him after his one great season and they still didn’t get much for him. Adding Goldschmidt may help a little, but this is probably who Ozuna is.
Eddie Rosario– Minnesota Twins
Projection: .277, 24 HR, 77 Runs, 83 RBI, 8 SB, 33 BB
A team that added C.J. Cron, Nelson Cruz, and Jonathan Schoop will have to rely on the holdovers getting better. For most, that is Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. However, watching Rosario take another step forward might be more realistic.
Justin Upton– Los Angeles Angels
Projection: .243, 27 HR, 75 Runs. 84 RBI, 7 SB, 61 BB
Billy Eppler is the Ken Williams of the 2010s. He keeps trying to add that one key piece for a team that needs four or five. Upton is taking up a lot of money and he’s good, but he’s just not good enough. That describes most of the supporting cast for Mike Trout.
Khris Davis– Oakland Athletics
Projection: .240, 38 HR, 86 Runs, 102 RBI, 1 SB, 62 BB
Davis’ spot depends largely on whether you are playing left field specific or generic outfield. He suffers with batting average and stolen bases. Only four left fielders are projected to steal ten or more bases, so his output has to be seen in that context. Compared to other outfield spots that is very low. So, plan accordingly.
Kyle Schwarber– Chicago Cubs
Projection: .241, 28 HR, 69 Runs, 76 RBI, 4 SB, 74 BB
Sooner or later you come to accept players as they are. Schwarber looked like a better hitter than this early on, but he is what he is. He is an average outfielder defensively a little bit better than average offensively. Overall, that makes him pretty solid.
Michael Conforto– New York Mets
Projection: .244, 25 HR, 70 Runs, 75 RBI, 4 SB, 70 BB
Yoenis Cespedes would likely be a top five left fielder if he were healthy. He is a name to watch as he could come back at some point this season. Conforto is not nearly as sexy, but he puts up numbers when given opportunities.
Ryan Braun–Milwaukee Brewers
Projection: .265, 22 HR, 63 Runs, 70 RBI, 11 SB, 41 BB
Supposedly, Braun is altering his swing to work on his launch angle. That’s fancy talk for saying he is trying to hit more fly balls and therefore more home runs. It’s an interesting turn in a career that has seen a number of turns.
David Peralta–Arizona Diamondbacks
Projection: .281, 18 HR, 67 Runs, 62 RBI, 4 SB, 42 BB
Peralta hit 30+ home runs last year, so it is a bit of a surprise to see them knock Peralta down a bit. I guess they are going with overall career norms and he has had trouble staying on the field in the past. I suppose two consecutive healthy seasons is too much to bank on.
Shin-Soo Choo– Texas Rangers
Projection: .254, 17 HR, 73 Runs, 55 RBI, 6 SB, 67 BB
Money changes the perception of things and sometimes for the worse. For the most part, Choo has been a very good hitter. He’s been a crummy fielder, but when healthy he is always good with the bat. He is being paid as if he is a great player. He isn’t but that really hasn’t changed.
David Dahl– Colorado Rockies
Projection: .270, 18 HR, 59 Runs, 64 RBI, 9 SB, 33 BB
Dahl is ready to produce, but he never has been able to stay on the field. He is in a perfect ballpark and a perfect situation. He doesn’t have to produce big numbers because they already have four or five guys that do. He just needs to stay healthy.
Michael Brantley–Houston Astros
Projection: .282, 14 HR, 66 Runs, 61 RBI, 8 SB, 40 BB
If you are playing in a total points universe, he jumps up the rankings. If you are playing on a per game basis he might even be top five. The Astros will limit his exposure to lefties, so he isn’t a great bet on a full season basis, but if you can make daily lineup changes he could be an appealing platoon option.
Trey Mancini– Baltimore Orioles
Projection: .261, 23 HR, 68 Runs, 77 RBI, 1 SB, 41 BB
Mancini is an example of an NBA phenomenom. Even bad teams have to have someone that produces runs. Even if that player isn’t good himself, he will produce runs. He might not be around when the Orioles are good again, but that won’t be for another few seasons.
Tommy Pham– Tampa Bay Rays
Projection: .255, 16 HR, 60 Runs, 53 RBI, 13 SB, 56 BB
The Rays play platoons more aggresively than any team in baseball. It worked enough to get them 90 wins even with a mediocre roster. However, it doesn’t exactly help with fantasy value for guys like Pham. It’s the main reason you haven’t seen a ton or Rays players on this list.
Domingo Santana– Seattle Mariners
Projection: .237, 18 HR, 59 Runs, 60 RBI, 6 SB, 60 BB
There was a lot not to like in the Mariners offseason, but picking up Santana was a stroke of brilliance. He could easily be a 20 HR and 10 SB guy when it is all said and done and they got him for next to nothing.
Corey Dickerson– Pittsburgh Pirates
Projection: .275, 17 HR, 57 Runs, 60 RBI, 5 SB, 25 BB
Dickerson has had a few fascinating chapters in his career. His Pittsburgh chapter has been fun to watch. He is a maximum effort guy and never met a pitch he didn’t like. It makes him a very flawed player, but a very entertaining player to watch.
Brett Gardner– New York Yankees
Projection: .245, 9 HR, 48 Runs, 37 RBI, 9 SB, 39 BB
Gardner has forged himself a nice career. He is still an above average defender, but he used to be a great one. All told, he is a below average offensive player at this point, but he used to be a good one. He probably has one more season as a semi-regular before he gets relegated to the bench.