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The Market Report: Outfielders

The Market Report is a weekly analysis of player valuations in the fantasy marketplace in an effort to find undervalued commodities.

Pitchers and catchers have officially reported, and the rest of the position players should return this week. Don't worry; Opening Day will be here soon enough. Let's take a look at outfielders this week. Once again, ADP values are provided in parentheses.

Tier One

1. Mike Trout (1)

2. Andrew McCutchen (5)

3. Carlos Gonzalez (7)

Tier Two

4. Adam Jones (10)

5. Bryce Harper (13)

6. Ryan Braun (15)

Tier Three

7. Giancarlo Stanton (22)

8. Jacoby Ellsbury (23)

9. Yasiel Puig (24)

10. Jay Bruce (27)

11. Carlos Gomez (29)

Tier Four

12. Justin Upton (34)

13. Matt Holliday (35)

14. Matt Kemp (35)

15. Jose Bautista (37)

16. Allen Craig (42)

17. Alex Rios (43)

18. Shin-Soo Choo (46)

Tier Five

19. Wil Myers (52)

20. Hunter Pence (56)

21. Yoenis Cespedes (60)

22. Starling Marte (62)

23. Mark Trumbo (62)

24. Jayson Werth (69)

25. Alex Gordon (71)

Undervalued

Shin-Soo Choo (ADP 46)

Prior to a draft I make an effort to identify targets for each round by comparing ADP values to my own player valuations. I've written previously that if I don't get a top-two pick this year, I'll be targeting a reliable hitter like Robinson Cano or Adam Jones in the middle of the first round. Then I hope to come back with a power-hitting corner infielder such as Adrian Beltre or Edwin Encarnacion in Round 2. In the third round I have my eyes set on grabbing an ace like Justin Verlander or Stephen Strasburg to anchor my staff. Then, to me Shin-Soo Choo is the ideal fourth-round pick.

I'm not exactly sure why Choo isn't viewed as a #1 outfielder in a 12-team league at this point. Rangers Ballpark doesn't boost HR quite like Great American Ball Park; however, the Ballpark in Arlington is still rather friendly to hitters. This OBP machine will be moving from an above-average offense to a potentially elite one. Other than Mike Trout, who's a better bet to lead the MLB in runs scored than the new Rangers leadoff hitter? In three of his past four full seasons, Choo has gone 20/20. Moreover, aside from an injury-shortened 2011 campaign, he's hit over .280 every year in the Bigs. In an era in which finding a reliable top-flight hitter has become a daunting task, here's a player who represents one of the safest options on the board in the early rounds. 

Carlos Beltran (ADP 83)

I'm already on record with this one. I think Beltran is criminally undervalued this year, and I'll just leave you to read 700 words as to why I think that is the case.

Norichika Aoki (ADP 195)

Aoki is one of those players who derives sneaky value from the categories that fantasy owners fail to fully appreicate. Hitting atop the Brewers lineup the past couple years, Aoki put together very similar seasons with significant contributions in runs, SB, and AVG. The move from Miller Park to Kauffman Stadium would be awful for a power hitter but shouldn't affect his value that much. It's also worth pointing out that he was rather unlucky in the batted ball department, posting a .295 BABIP compared to a .330 xBABIP. All told, this is a player who's a relatively safe bet to approach 10 HR and 20 SB while hitting around .290 with 80 runs scored. I like power as much as the next guy, but that line adds up to a top-30 outfielder for a player currently going dirt cheap in drafts.

Overvalued

Matt Kemp (ADP 35)

Oh, where should I begin with this one? Let's count the reasons why you shouldn't draft Kemp in the third round. First, he's probably going to start the season on the DL. Do you really want to select a player who may not be ready for Opening Day when there are so many other viable alternatives at such an early stage in a draft? Second, this is a player who landed on the DL three times last year. Even if he's ready for Opening Day, do you have much faith in his body holding up this season? Third, the speed is clearly in decline, as he has just 18 SB in more than a season's worth of games over the past two years. How many would you project for a player who's suffered so many injuries? Fourth, the power might not be all that great anymore either. Can we really count on 25 HR for someone who only hit six in roughly half a season in 2013? Last but not least, somehow Matt Kemp is currently going in the third round despite the fact that he might not play everyday. Are we sure that Manager Don Mattingly will continue to pencil in his name if he gets off to a slow start with such a crowded outfield?

Overall then, I'm a firm believer in drafting a highly skilled player with some injury risk if he's available at a significant discount. In Mixed Leagues there are plenty of options available on the waiver wire, and the combination of an elite player for most of the season and a replacement-level player for part of it can return a profit. The only problem is that Matt Kemp is no longer elite even when he's healthy. Save yourself the headache and let someone else draft this plummeting stock.




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