With Opening Day of the 2020 MLB season just a few days away, we have a new batch of updated fantasy baseball rankings for you here at RotoBaller. The unpredictable effects of COVID-19 and the implementation of the 60-game season will make the upcoming fantasy campaign the most unique we have ever seen. Not only because of the schedule structure, but because of the inevitable impact of the pandemic.
Drafting healthy players will be like walking through a minefield this year since we've already seen a wide range of players test positive for the virus. Even though these players should recover in time for the beginning of the campaign, the long-term impact could compromise their strength and endurance. The in-season struggle of maintaining the players' well-being will be a balancing act, so we can only hope all players and staff do their part to keep everyone healthy. With two-thirds of games now played within the division and the remaining third versus interleague counterparts, this setup gives some hitters in certain divisions advantages over others. Considering the effect of Park Factors and the pitching staffs they'll face within their division, factoring in these elements is essential in such a short season.
Don't forget to bookmark our main fantasy baseball rankings page which is loaded up with rankings, tiers, auction dollar values, player stats, projections, news and more for Mixed Leagues, H2H Points Leagues, Dynasty Leagues, 2020 Redraft Prospects, Dynasty Prospects and more! With that said, let's analyze the landscape of the outfield. There's a lot to cover, so we'll move swiftly.Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off. Get access to our exclusive articles, rankings, projections, prospects coverage, 15 in-season lineup tools, daily expert DFS research, powerful Research Station, Lineup Optimizer and much more! Sign Up Now!
Updated Outfielder Rankings - 5x5 Mixed Leagues
|Rank||Tier||Player||Pos||Nick M||Nick G||Pierre||David||Riley|
|1||1||Ronald Acuna Jr.||OF||1||1||1||1||1|
|41||6||Lourdes Gurriel Jr.||2B/OF||153||144||184||161||142|
|111||11||Jackie Bradley Jr.||OF||370||373||519||372||441|
|136||13||Steven Souza Jr.||OF||463||497||525||#N/A||434|
|138||13||Dwight Smith Jr.||OF||454||533||520||#N/A||#N/A|
|144||13||Albert Almora Jr.||OF||#N/A||519||#N/A||#N/A||#N/A|
|167||15||Cedric Mullins II||OF||635||#N/A||#N/A||#N/A||#N/A|
Rankings Analysis - Upper Tiers
It’s strange not seeing Mike Trout at the top, right? His wavering attitude towards playing in 2020 has caused drafters (and rankers) to cool on the superstar, who already faced pressure from other stars regarding his No. 1 status. The hesitation to play in ‘20 has pushed him below 10th in some high-stakes drafts, though we all can’t go that far. Pierre and David have him seventh, which is probably the wise move, but I can’t shift him any lower without further news. As of now, he's here and he's spectacular:
Sunny days, Mike Trout HRs, and (air) hi-fives 🖐
— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) July 12, 2020
Usually a group can’t agree on Acuña or Yelich, but we all have Ronald at 1 and Yelich 2. My rationale is just Yelich’s own recent durability concerns, as well as Atlanta being a better target (especially with the AL East in play). No one will feel lousy walking away from a draft with Yelich, though!
Then we’ve got the Hollywood boys, as Cody Bellinger has fiddled with his swing mechanics and Mookie Betts suddenly doesn’t have to hit behind the pitcher slot. I’d been down on Betts for that reason, but now I’m feeling dandy. Bellinger is a bit streakier than the rest of these options, hence my trepidation to elevate him beyond the rest.
Juan Soto calmed fears by reporting to camp last week, allowing us all to exhale. While expectations must be tempered for young players coming off what many would consider a career year, his only fantasy limitation is modest speed. That’s it. Draft with confidence at the end of the first round!
Pierre is down on J.D. Martinez, almost a full round’s worth, which probably has to do with softening metrics and the loss of Betts. His xwOBA was an astounding .428 in 2017 and that held strong at .417 in '18, but slipped to "only" .397 in '19. Going from the top of the leaderboard to the 96th percentile isn't awful, but I get investing in bats trending up rather than down. JDM is such a cerebral bat and that lineup is still well above average, so I’ll stay aggressive with Martinez and the monster as my second-round pick with a smile.
I recently spoke with a colleague about Starling Marte being a great value for the NL MVP futures bet thanks to a +10,000 line -- not just because of Kevin Malone’s adage, I swear. Marte turned in his highest sprint speed last season and AZ shouldn’t be shy about deploying their newest weapon on the basepaths.
High atop Houston’s batting order, George Springer should have another strong season compiling power numbers with a healthy average and R+RBI tally nearing 70 during this sprint. He could lead the MLB in plate appearances and the shorter season could help his body not wear down. The last time he topped 140 games played was 2016, but that's baked in at his ADP and he still crushed 39 homers in just 122 games last year! Most would kill for that in a full 162.
My Austin Meadows rank is tied to the coronavirus diagnosis, as he was Marte’s AL MVP bet counterpart in the aforementioned conversation. Alas, the risk is too great here against several other players with similar output sans illness. If not for this, I’d be right there with my colleagues around the 30 range. He’s a little behind Yordan Álvarez on an estimated recovery track, hence Álvarez being 44th for me. Others might gauge the situation differently and also still not trust Yordan’s knees throughout the year.
I love Eloy Jiménez in that budding White Sox offense, but not as much as I love Giancarlo Stanton’s potential in the Bronx. I know, the calf is already dinged and he’s likely DHing to start, but the man has first-round potential when healthy. This is an acceptable risk-reward discount, with many drafts seeing him nab him and Aaron Judge in back-to-back rounds.
Kris Bryant made news by starting at first base on July 20, which isn’t a good sign for Anthony Rizzo (back) but helps Bryant’s fantasy stock. But if Rizzo isn’t batting behind Bryant, I can’t say I see the path that David does with that 32nd rank. That said, summer at Wrigley can be quite the power tunnel.
Charlie Blackmon is back with the Rockies and should be ready around Opening Day, if not the opener itself. You can draft him with confidence, especially if his program to help with the Coors hangover yields results.
I fear I’m woefully underweight on Nick Castellanos’ potential in Great American Ballpark this year. That man is a Statcast darling, just look at all of these red top-10 percentage markers:
Alas, Comerica Park has done him dirty thus far, but GABP can help make this man that’s ranked 16th or better in barrels in each of the past three seasons into a stud. EVAnalytics has GABP ranked with the third-friendliest park factor for homers in the game.
Rankings Analysis - Mid Tiers
The only one I’m highest on here is Ramon Laureano, who had a plus .272 xBA last year (70th percentile) with 84th-percentile sprint speed. My dream is that he improves against non-fastballs, but his power-speed combo while likely batting second behind Marcus Semien and ahead of Matts Olson and Chapman is a dream spot. Churn the PAs and good things will come.
Then you have to ask yourself some serious questions:
-Can Victor Robles make a Year-2 leap? I say meh, leap is a strong word but power-speed gets you far as a baseline -- Nick G seems to believe, though.
-Will Andrew Benintendi rebound and earn Boston’s vacated leadoff slot? Most of us think so, but his ceiling doesn’t justify much more risk than around pick 100.
-Does Jorge Soler’s power regress to simply “above-average” rather than world-beater? Doubtful, not unless the baseballs change -- unless you ask Pierre!
-Is Luis Robert the next Acuna, or does he struggle against breaking stuff and hit the bench? He’s not being drafted like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was last season, so I think most are aware of the floor here.
Nick G has both Danny Santana (89) and Kyle Schwarber (97) inside his top 100, the only ranker to have anyone that high in this set. Let it be known that I still drafted Santana in our RotoBaller Experts League draft and my fellow Nick was not pleased. But that Zobristian eligibility with power and speed in this era is so valuable, especially since we have to anticipate plugging myriad roster leaks throughout the year.
I want to buy into David Dahl, but every time I get there some news surfaces about missing a workout due to core soreness or something.
David Dahl- Core- #Rockies manager Bud Black said today that Dahl was held out of the team's last two intrasquad games due to "core soreness," Thomas Harding of https://t.co/wznV8oM89I reports. He is day to day for now.
— Fantasy Baseball Injury Guru (@mlbinjuryguru) July 16, 2020
With so many other talented players that can spell Dahl, I don’t think the playing time is there for a big year. I hope I’m wrong, but there's similar ceiling with less risk later in drafts.
The aforementioned loaded Halos lineup has a hopeful renaissance season out of Justin Upton, whose toe and knee simply ruined 2019. Prior to that, he’d slugged 30-plus homers in three straight years and had swiped at least eight bases in each of his last 10 seasons. He debuted at 19 so you may think he’s eligible for an AARP card, but he’s only 32 years young. Even if Trout opts out, Upton, Anthony Rendon, and Shohei Ohtani can create excitement.
I likely still have a healthy Alex Verdugo too low, but major back operations scare the daylights out of me. Another major scare comes with Willie Calhoun’s hip strain and that he’s still reportedly uncomfortable in the batter’s box when pitches come up and in. You would be too if you got your jaw broken by one. Empathy aside, we must be willing to address and react to the human parts of the game as well as the metrics.
Byron Buxton may get hurt on the hill that I’m dying on for him, but I will gladly join the fight. Minnesota’s offense is simply too stacked and Buxton’s respectable pop and insane speed could create such a profit here. I can’t say no to this. He gave us a scare by getting his cleat stuck in the grass and getting carted off last week, but he ran in the outfield on July 18 and Rocco Baldelli says the swelling isn't becoming an issue. He can push for 60 R+RBI with 8 HRs and 10-plus swipes.
If you miss out on these flashy players, it seems like every draft has Adam Eaton, Andrew McCutchen, and Ryan Braun all going quite cheap. The DH could help them all see additional playing time, or simply be more rested for when they do play. Don't let yourself get blinded by shiny new toys and miss out on the vets. Of course, I must now add that Braun is dealing with apparent injuries to his neck, oblique, and back. So maybe passing on him is wise!
Pierre and I are out here making sure y’all remember the name, Shin-Soo Choo. Now a spry 38-year-old, Choo is coming off a career-high 24 homers and his highest steal tally (15) since 2013. I’m a tad worried by his rising strikeout and whiff rates, with the swinging-strike rate climbing from 8.8% in 2017 to 11.7% last year, but the results are there. If you need a steady hand in the late rounds, go Choo. He's still got an extra gear!
How about this.. With runners at first and second.... Josh Jung stole third base... heads up play.... then Shin-Soo Choo drops a bunt and beats it out for an RBI hit.... the game is 6-6..... Two heads up plays by a rookie and the oldest player on the team
— TR Sullivan (@Sullivan_Ranger) July 19, 2020
I spy quite the polarizing figure in Tommy Edman, who Riley, Nick G, and myself have around 160th compared to David (253) and Pierre (287). On Edman’s side is a potential everyday 3B role if Matt Carpenter is preserved in the DH role. The youngster delivered 11 homers and 15 steals with a .304/.350/.500 slash line in 349 PAs as a rookie, with results coming against both lefties (.964 OPS) and righties (.810 OPS). My hope is for 50 games, about five homers and 6-7 steals with a plus average.
Both Garrett Hampson and Kyle Tucker have serious talent, with Tucker boasting first-round-fantasy-pick skills, but they’re on teams that won’t commit to playing them. Tucker is behind veteran Josh Reddick, while Hampson is surrounded by an aging Daniel Murphy and Matt Kemp, with Brendan Rodgers knocking at the door too. Targeting skill blocked by lesser roadblocks is a savvy move here, just be sure to track how much risk you’ve taken on by this point in drafts.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane...it’s Aaron Hicks! His ADP is suppressed on most sites thanks to his recovering from Tommy John surgery this offseason. Now he represents a cheap ticket to the Yankees lineup and hitter-friendly park that may bat leadoff if DJ LeMahieu isn’t ready, or near the five- or six-hole if DJL can go. If you can get on this NYY ride at a discount, you do it.
Here is a glut of NL players who are helped by the DH addition. A.J. Pollock gets some more paths to playing time in LA, while Austin Riley could either open in the OF or DH. Dylan Carlson is provided with an avenue to play if STL wants to see what he can do in the bigs, while Wil Myers could keep his legs fresh and, along with the Franchy Cordero trade, may break 50 games in ‘20. Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of all is Yoenis Cespedes, who will hope to avoid aggravating his heel injuries or any soft-tissue strains.
I want to put Sam Hilliard in that group, but it seems the Rox are giving the first crack at DH to Mr. Matt Kemp. And Ian Desmond’s vacated starts are reportedly going to Raimel Tapia first, who does deserve his own chance but doesn’t boast the fantasy ceiling of Hilliard. More on that in a bit. Topping 40 homers and 20 steals on the year deserves priority, dadgummit.
Kyle Lewis is getting loads of buzz lately as videos of casual homers trickle out of Seattle, with many wondering if he’s finally put things together. Inconsistency has defined his pro career thus far, but we saw a glimpse of his potential last September. Let’s hope for the best here. And shoutout to one of the quietest 10-homer threat in this short season, Tesocar Hernandez.
Let’s take a step back from walls of text and simply see who everyone’s top three is in this tier:
Mine: Jose Peraza (206), Cameron Maybin (225), and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (240).
Nick G: Anthony Santander (243), Jesse Winker (279), Gregory Polanco (301).
Pierre: Kevin Kiermaier (289), Hunter Pence (339), Ender Inciarte (355).
David: Ian Happ (200), Franchy Cordero (288), Ender Inciarte (291).
Riley: Anthony Santander (264), Kole Calhoun (275), Jon Berti (309).
Barely any crossover! The point here is that this is where you really need to just get your guys. Don’t let ADP sway you into taking someone you might not want. Your personal ranks are likely to really separate from the crowd once you dig this deep. Believe in yourself (or those of us that you like, cough me cough) and go for it.
Rankings Analysis - Lower Tiers
As discussed earlier, “the starting left field job is Raimel Tapia’s to lose.” per The Denver Post’s Kyle Newman and MLB.com’s Thomas Harding talked up his improved physique back in March. I’m not here to sell you on the “best shape of his life” stuff, but I will try to sell you on “playing time in Coors Field” stuff.
Expecting big things from #Rockies OF Raimel Tapia. He just sent one into the bullpen for a home run off Wade Davis. I wrote about some adjustments he made during original Spring Training: https://t.co/di6iBPixZo
— Thomas Harding (@harding_at_mlb) July 14, 2020
It can’t all be sunshine and rainbows, though, as we must accept that Aristides Aquino isn’t starting the season with the big boys. He had quite a run in ‘19 but still has to work on a more consistent swing. It isn’t all about raw power! Not to mention, Cincy’s lineup is a tough one to crack and they don’t want him wasting away on the bench when he could be training with full reps every day off-site.
And I’m the pessimist with Eric Thames, who I’m probably being way too harsh towards. If he grows against southpaws through seeing them more than I’m willing to be wrong, but I don’t want a platoon bat this high up. Hitting .197 in 314 career ABs against lefties isn’t a death sentence, but I’d rather avoid the headache.
I know, most of you aren’t dealing with Billy Hamilton again. He only reported to camp a few days ago and is a one-dimensional asset on a crummy offense. But if you’re punting speed until the bitter end then here’s your stash to compete. Another option is Philadelphia’s Roman Quinn, a more talented hitter with big wheels who simply cannot stay healthy. Check out number five:
JaCoby Jones should get consistent playing time in Detroit alongside Cameron Maybin while Christin Stewart and Victor Reyes split the third OF spot. If you value volume here then players such as Josh Reddick and Alex Gordon are here for you. And those speculating on late power can go with Jay Bruce at Citizens Bank, while Tampa Bay’s Jose Martinez providing some pop with a plus average.
If you missed on Billy Hamilton or simply refuse to roster him (I get it) then peek at Arizona’s Tim Locastro, 2019’s sprint speed champion. San Diego’s trade of Franchy Cordero opens the door for Josh Naylor to get meaningful PAs, but that’s an NL-only move. Others in that camp would be Steven Souza Jr. recapturing his form at Wrigley or Matt Kemp’s senior tour at Coors Field.
The 35-year-old slugger is in the right place for a swan song. He’s not the star bat of 2012 anymore, but he’s said how well he sees the ball at Coors and it shows. In 375 career PAs a mile up, Kemp owns a .327/.389/.616 slash with 21 homers. He won’t get to face Rockies pitching here and is probably limited to DH appearances, but those with deep benches could do worse than siding with Coors.
Tiers 14 & 15
I know, you’re scraping here. You’re going for any sort of ceiling at this point. This is where drafters see if Chad Pinder can get consistent work in Oakland. Does Atlanta insert Adam Duvall into their powerful lineup enough for streamers to take advantage? I still have a twinkle of hope for Jake Bauers but I admit the path to relevance is long and arduous.
My favorite lottery ticket is Miami’s Monte Harrison, who has Harold Ramirez in right field blocking one avenue. Center could also be in play thanks to Jonathan Villar’s versatility, as well as the DH spot. Lest we forget he hit nine homers with 20 steals (on 22 attempts) through 56 Triple-A games last year. Reports were surfacing that he could crack the Opening Day roster. Alas, Harrison is not on the initial 30-man roster to start the year but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him up by early August. Even Craig Mish noted the surprise that Harrison wasn't on the team:
The Miami Marlins travel roster to Atlanta to take on the Braves Tuesday & Wednesday. Outfielder Monte Harrison is on the trip, but in a bit of a surprise, I’m told he did not make the Marlins final 30-man roster. He will head over to the Jupiter Camp after the exhibitions. pic.twitter.com/yqKOgvSwzk
— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) July 20, 2020