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With last minute shopping going on in full force, there is no better way to take a breather than by reading about 2016 outfielder sleepers and busts. Also, with most Fantasy Football leagues slated for their finals this week, there should be plenty of Fantasy players with a little extra time on their hands this week.

Remember, to all those that are walking away without a Fantasy Football championship, bad luck was probably the reason you fell short. If you are vying for a shot at the title, then congratulations are in order since it was clearly your skill and expertise that got you there. Anyway, we are here to help the Fantasy addicts out there fill their time and lay the groundwork for a successful start to the Fantasy Baseball season.

To date, we have seen the hitter rankings for all infield positions: catcher, first base, second base, third base, and shortstop. This week, the So-Called Fantasy Experts rank the outfielders.

On the surface, outfield may seem like an extremely deep position, as the top tiers of the outfield landscape will dominate the early rounds in your drafts next year. However, when you consider most leagues roster at least three outfielders along with multiple utility and bench spots, you might need a player pool that is 80 deep.

You do not want to be giving away value early on in your draft, but you do want to uncover it later on. Once again, we will try to guide you through the ticking time bombs, while at the same time throwing you a few life rafts. In previous weeks we have discussed our sleepers and busts at first base, second base, third base, and shortstop. Now, let’s check out the 2016 outfield sleepers and busts.

2016 Outfield Preview: Sleepers and Busts

Sleepers

Khris Davis, Milwaukee Brewers

AVG BABIP BB% K% LD% GB/FB HR/FB Pull% Soft% Hard%
2015 .247 .285 10.0% 27.7% 17.2% 1.05 24.5% 41.4% 17.9% 34.4%
Career .250 .281 7.6% 24.3% 19.8% 1.03 20.0% 42.6% 13.5% 39.2%

 

The other Davis slugger, the one that spells his first name with a K, can mash nearly as well as the original Crush. Over the past two seasons, amongst outfielders with at least 900 plate appearances, Khris Davis has the sixth best HR/FB ratio, sixth best hard hit rate and the 10th most home runs. Now, with a clear path to a full season of at-bats, Davis has a great shot to exceed 30 bombs for the first time in his career. The strikeouts and batting average should continue to be an issue, but the same thing could be said about a few other power hitters that will be drafted significantly earlier than Davis, such as Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson. As everyone is well aware, power is a scarce commodity these days and finding it late makes it feel so much better. Make sure you are lurking in the weeds and be ready to pounce on Davis at the right time.

Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians

AVG BABIP BB% K% LD% GB/FB HR/FB Pull% Soft% Hard%
2015 .310 .318 10.1% 8.6% 22.5% 1.45 9.9% 42.7% 15.9% 30.6%
Career .292 .313 7.8% 10.6% 22.9% 1.58 7.4% 38.2% 14.2% 28.1%

 

Despite having his season cut short due to a shoulder injury, Michael Brantley still finished within the Top 20 outfielders. In fact, over the past three seasons, the consistent Brantley has ended up with the following rankings amongst outfielders: 32nd, second, and 17th. The return date from his shoulder injury is still up in the air; however, the chatter is he will miss roughly a month of the 2016 season. This creates a great buy low opportunity, as I think most will not even have Brantley ranked within their Top 30 outfielders.

With his league leading BB/K rate of nearly 1.2 and his impressive batted ball profile, Brantley should consistently provide an elite batting average along with an attractive power/speed combination. On a per game basis for 2016, Brantley should provide a Top 15 outfielder performance and you should be able to find a decent replacement outfielder until he returns. Bide your time with Brantley, just don’t sleep too long on this under appreciated Fantasy stud.

Ben Revere, Toronto Blue Jays

AVG BABIP BB% K% LD% GB/FB HR/FB Pull% Soft% Hard%
2015 .306 .338 5.0% 10.1% 26.4% 2.89 2.0% 35.1% 20.0% 18.1%
Career .295 .325 4.4% 9.4% 21.8% 4.08 1.2% 29.3% 22.7% 17.3%

 

Revere is more than just an elite stolen base threat, he should be quite helpful in both the batting average and runs categories. The lack of power has not hurt him over the past two seasons as he has finished within the Top 25 outfielders in back-to-back campaigns. Playing time might be a little bit of an issue next year, with the return of Michael Saunders to the Blue Jays lineup. That being said, his steals should be there in any scenario and the opportunity that he hits at the top of the best lineup in baseball is extremely intriguing. You should comfortably pick Revere later in drafts to fill out your stolen base requirement while passing on some of the other over rated one dimensional speedsters. Do not let Revere’s nearly homerless bat lull you to sleep, snag him and enjoy the ride.

Busts

Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners

AVG BABIP BB% K% LD% GB/FB HR/FB Pull% Soft% Hard%
2015 .302 .350 9.0% 25.0% 20.4% 1.34 30.3% 38.6% 15.9% 35.6%
Career .273 .306 8.1% 22.5% 17.4% 0.99 18.8% 38.4% 16.2% 35.6%

 

In 2015, Nelson Cruz justified his free agent contract with the Mariners and then some. His career high 44 home runs were good for second in all of baseball and more surprisingly, he hit over .300 for the first time since 2010. A repeat of both those feats will not occur in 2016. He notched a HR/FB ratio of over 30-percent, while his career mark sits under 19-percent. This was despite his batted ball profile being very close to his career norms, especially his hard hit rate and pull rate.

Cruz is not the prototypical high BABIP hitter given his lack of speed and line drives in addition to his tendency to hit fly balls and popups. Yet, last year he managed an unsustainable BABIP of .350. The statistics suggest a fairly severe production regression across the board, even more so when you throw in the fact that he is going to turn 36 in July. When you look at the early 2016 rankings that are out there, you can see the consensus is clearly optimistic on Cruz. Go against the herd and let another sucker take the Seattle slugger.

Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies

AVG BABIP BB% K% LD% GB/FB HR/FB Pull% Soft% Hard%
2015 .271 .284 7.6% 21.9% 16.5% 1.29 25.8% 41.4% 16.8% 34.1%
Career .290 .335 7.8% 22.3% 19.4% 1.28 19.7% 40.8% 18.1% 34.9%

 

Cargo is a brittle as they come as he always seems to be hurt. Last year, he defied the odds and recorded over 600 plate appearances for only the second time in his career. There is no doubt that Gonzalez was tremendous last year, notching 40 home runs, including an incredible 27 in the second half. Despite the power binge, all was not great for Gonzalez. He is no longer a threat on the base paths as he has swiped a total of five bags over the past two years combined. He has also posted back-to-back seasons with a less than stellar batting average, mainly due to paltry line drive rates of 15.3-percent and 16.5-percent.

His home run total in 2015 seemed to be aided by a little luck as he posted a career best HR/FB rate of nearly 26-percent. However, when you look at his batted ball profiles and especially his hard hit rates over his career, it appears that a HR/FB rate under 20-percent should have been expected. Last year, Gonzalez was a Top 15 outfielder, but with the expected power decline coupled with the likely event of fewer at-bats, I think 2016 sets up for a disappointment, especially when you take into account where he will drafted. Pass on Cargo and let another Fantasy owner deal with the Rockie road.

Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers

AVG BABIP BB% K% LD% GB/FB HR/FB Pull% Soft% Hard%
2015 .255 .296 8.4% 21.2% 17.1% 1.14 13.1% 35.5% 20.7% 31.3%
Career .294 .350 9.3% 20.8% 16.6% 1.46 14.6% 39.9% 16.8% 34.7%

 

There is no debating whether or not Puig is supremely talented. There is a debate as to whether or not he is a Top 25 outfielder. It seems like a given that someone will select Puig way too early, pointing to his name value and potential. Over this three year career, Puig has never once topped 20 home runs, 70 RBIs, or 11 stolen bases. Also, last year his batting average cratered over 40 points to a very pedestrian .255.

His .296 BABIP seems about right given his batted ball profile, a significant drop from back-to-back seasons of over .350. Puig’s power is in question too as his hard hit rate and pull rate have both declined every since his rookie campaign. Optimists will say that last year’s numbers were the result of injuries. My concern is Puig’s past suggests that injuries will continue to be a problem for him over his career. It does not make sense to me to take such a big risk early in a draft. Dodge the Dodger and avoid a major headache.

 

Your outfielders will likely be some of the cornerstones of your Fantasy roster. Consider a player’s floor early in drafts and worry more about a player’s ceiling as the draft unfolds. Enjoy the holidays and be sure to come back next week when we look at starting pitcher sleepers and busts.

Data courtesy of www.fangraphs.com

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