2017 Outfielder Busts: The Running Backs of Fantasy Baseball
Outfielder busts are probably the most crucial positional busts to avoid. The majority of time you are taking an outfielder in the first couple of rounds, or as one of your most expensive buys in an auction.
When you take one of these outfielder busts, it can sink your team similar to the recent trend of first-round Fantasy Football running backs. So what can we do to avoid these outfielder busts?
First off, there are obviously the unconditional elite guys like Mike Trout, Mookie Betts and Bryce Harper. You absolutely take any of those three with no questions asked. After the top tier though, question marks abound about the rest of the Top 24, or what would be your OF1s and OF2s in most leagues.
Once again, this compares to what we will be facing with Fantasy Football running backs next season, when David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott are the locks. Then there will be heavy scrutiny over the next group of backs. This is leading me to a Zero-OF type of strategy, but I will get to that in a later article.
So let’s identify some of these possible outfielder busts to see where the position is as a whole. I am sticking to guys ranked within the Top 24 of the SCFE positional rankings. I am also only looking at guys with only outfield eligibility. Kyle Schwarber very likely would qualify as one of the outfielder busts. However, as a catcher he could still be elite.
2017 Outfielder Busts
Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies – SCFE Positional Ranking: 5th
Blackmon burst onto the scene a few years ago after a few meandering years with a decent average but no power/speed numbers to boast about. Once he received full playing time in 2014, he rewarded those that picked him off the waiver wire with a wonderful 19-home run/28-stolen base combination.
He followed up his breakout season with a slight drop in power but his stolen bases really ticked up a notch to an elite-level 43 steals. Last season, Blackmon had a Pikachu-like power surge that saw his home runs increase by over 70% and his RBIs by over 41%.
Some might attribute this increase in power to the Coors Field-effect and he just finally figured out how to use it. I’m on the other side of the fence. I think that it will be really difficult to maintain this influx of power in his now age-30 season.
The other alarming thing about the power boost is his speed dissipated to a below-average 17 stolen bases. He still scored 111 runs and I see him continuing that at an elite-level. But if he sees himself as a power-hitting outfielder and cannot replicate his output from last season, then you have a huge problem.
Honestly, Blackmon will probably settle back in the 17-18 home run range. Hopefully we see an uptick in his stolen bases. The reason he is one of my outfielder busts is the price to get him; 15th overall. At this draft position, give me Madison Bumgarner or Chris Sale over Blackmon every day of the week. The value to obtain the Rockie is just too high.
Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins – SCFE Positional Ranking: 10th
Stanton has been a first-round pick the majority of his career, but has seen his price point dip into the third-round territory this spring. His inability to stay on the field is the driving factor behind this fall in value.
The slugging right fielder has played 124 games in a season just twice in his career. Don’t get me wrong, he still provides elite home run rates when he is playing. I mean he hit 27 bombs in 2015 in only 74 games or less than half a season.
The problem is you can only count on Stanton for about 60-65% of the year. So not only are you using a valuable Round Three pick on the Marlin, you will need a capable fill-in for the other third of the season at his starting roster spot.
Even if Stanton does play the whole year, all you are getting is isolated power. He does not steal bases anymore (he literally had zero attempts last season in 119 games). His average has always been sub-par. His runs and RBIs are not elite since his teammates are not elite. Therefore, all you get are home runs.
Now for my third-round pick, I have to get something more in return. I need a multiple-statistic beast. Not a one-trick pony.
— MLB (@MLB) February 20, 2017
A.J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks – SCFE Positional Ranking: 17th
Pollock is an interesting player. He did not brake into the Big Leagues until he was 24 and was then in and out of the lineup for three years with mediocre numbers. In his age-27 year, he had a near 20/40 season while hitting .315 and scoring 111 runs.
This made him a top pick last preseason. He delivered on that promise for all of 12 games.
So to recap: he played 157 games in 2015. He has averaged about 63 games a year in his other four seasons. And it is taking the 35th overall pick to obtain him.
Pollock is the perfect analogy to an NFL Running Back: Jamaal Charles. Charles has been a dynamite runner when he is healthy and on the field. But it is amazing how much time he has missed over his career.
If you can guarantee me 140-plus games of Pollock, sign me up in the third round. However, he seems like a guy that is destined to be in and out of the lineup. That is something that you cannot have with such a high pick.
Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds – SCFE Positional Ranking: 19th
Hamilton is the perfect inverse to Giancarlo Stanton. Instead of isolated home run production, Hamilton gives you isolated stolen bases.
Don’t get me wrong, he is in the top tier of steals these days. He has swiped at least 56 bases in three straight seasons.
The rest of his numbers are so far behind though. I cannot bring myself to take him in the fifth to sixth round range. Hamilton brings almost no power at all in home runs (three last season) or RBIs (somehow only SEVENTEEN in 119 games). He has a career batting average of .248 and a sub-.300 on-base percentage. He does not even score that many runs for a guy with so many steals.
So is your Round Five or Six pick worth one category? Especially is it worth a category that can be found late or on the waiver wire? I would take one of the elite closers going after him (Mark Melancon, Wade Davis) or one of the power-hitting corner baggers (Chris Davis, Todd Frazier).
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