Sleepers & Busts: Outfield
Searching for the ever-elusive fantasy baseball gold and kryptonite, we continue a series on sleepers and busts at the outfield position.
Besides identifying who we feel is being under- or overrated in drafts, we are going beyond our own projection system and rankings to find a favorite and least favorite to tweak their stat prediction.
SLEEPER: Steven Souza
Some fans may have been surprised to see the Rays trade Wil Myers and have the key player they get back be “only” Souza. But prospect hounds were all over the late-blooming five-tool outfielder, especially after his mega-breakout last season – triple-slash of .350/.432/.590 with 18 homers and 26 steals in 96 games. Souza has excellent plate discipline as evidenced by his 12.8 BB% and 18.4 K%. He may have been blocked in Washington, but he’s getting first crack at a starting spot in Tampa Bay where he is a preseason favorite to win AL Rookie of the Year. We have upped his projection to .262 average, 68 runs, 20 homers, 73 RBIs and 22 steals with a .347 OBP, ranking him as our No. 30 outfielder while his ADP is 65th.
BUST: Matt Kemp
The Dodgers knew it was a good time to sell high after Kemp finished the 2014 season on a roll, hitting 14 of his 25 homers in the final two months. L.A. had to pay a big chunk of Kemp’s salary and there was even more behind-the-scenes negotiating when the Padres turned up two arthritic hips in a physical. Our main concern is Kemp’s body, which has been decimated by shoulder and ankle surgeries as well as multiple hamstring strains. Throw in moving to cavernous Petco Park and we have Kemp projected for a line of .277 average, 69 runs, 22 homers, 78 RBIs and 8 steals. We rank him as our No. 27 outfielder while his ADP is 15th.
Gregory Polanco: There seems to be a little post-hype sleeping going on after the Pirates’ 23-year-old struggled a bit in his debut last season as his ADP is 41st. We have Polanco ranked No. 29 with a line of .270, 74 runs, 14 homers, 67 RBIs and 27 steals.
Leonys Martin: The Rangers’ 27-year-old should be able to crack the 30-steal barrier for a third straight season and he should benefit from a return to health by a Rangers lineup that was decimated by injuries last year. We have Martin as the No. 37 outfielder while his ADP is 48th.
Steve Pearce: It’s hard to believe that a journeyman who turns 32 in the first couple weeks of the 2015 season could repeat one of the biggest surprise breakouts of last year, which has kept Pearce’s ADP down at 55 while we have him ranked as the No. 43 outfielder.
Joc Pederson: The Dodgers are hoping that the 22-year-old five-tool outfielder is ready for prime time after stumbling in a September cup of coffee. There’s nothing lefty for Pederson to prove in the minors, so it’s sink of swim time. We have him ranked No. 38 in the outfield while his ADP is 52nd.
Coco Crisp: The 35-year-old once again battled injuries last season which is driving down his price this year as his ADP is 71st while we have him No. 53.
Desmond Jennings: Another post-hype sleeper – way past – who should at least provide a decent blend of power and speed at a cheap price is the 28-year-old Rays outfielder who we have ranked No. 55 while his ADP is 73rd.
Ben Revere: We’re not big fans of empty speed and the 26-year-old Phillies outfielder is the poster boy for it, projected to steal 41 bases with just one homer and 31 RBIs. We have him ranked No. 51 while his ADP is 38th.
Lorenzo Cain: There is a premium being paid for a career season and a strong postseason, rarely a good combination. We have Cain projected for 24 steals and eight homers, good enough for No. 66 while his ADP is 53rd.
Michael Cuddyer: Another year older, leaving Coors Field and coming off a serious neck injury, we just don’t see it with Cuddyer, ranking the 36-year-old Mets outfielder 63rd while his ADP is 56th.
Marlon Byrd: The 37-year-old journeyman lands in Cincinnati, where his fly-ball style should serve him well enough for 20 homers, but that’s only enough to rank him No. 81 while his ADP is 59th.