With starting pitcher getting pushed up in many drafts, I see a ton of value at the outfield position after round eight in 15 team drafts and round 10 in 12 team leagues. The first goal is finding the right skill set to balance your team development. Here is a list of outfielders with ADPs higher than 150 who I expect will take a step forward in 2017:
Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays
If the Rays give Kiermaier a chance to bat leadoff in 2017, he should be in position to have his best season in the majors. Kiermaier had a career high walk rate (9.7), which is in a range to hit at the top of the batting order. Over the last three seasons, Kiermaier has 32 HRs over 1202 at-bats. This projects to about 15 HRs over 550 at-bats. His AVH (1.667) points to more upside in power. His minor-league resume (86 SBs in 1453 at bats) points to 30 SBs with running opportunity. Possible .270 with 80+ runs, 15+ HRs, 60+ RBI, and 30+ SBs.
Joc Pederson, Los Angele Dodgers
In 2016, Pederson was my breakout player, but I was beat by the manager. Joc finished with only 406 at-bats while missing some time with a DL stint. He was also given the day off most games when the Dodgers faced a left handed pitcher. Over 886 at-bats in the majors, he has 51 HRs while falling well below his minor-league resume in steals (113 SBs over 1649 at bats). Pederson will draw a ton of walks (14.9 percent in the majors) while cutting down his K rate (27.3). In his minor-league career, he only struck out 21.0 percent of the time so he could improve dramatically in this area. Power swing with underlying speed. His batting average has a chance to surprise and the Dodgers suggested he will see more time against lefties in 2017.
Max Kepler, Minnesota Twins
His bat was very productive in July and August (13 HRs and 44 RBI over 198 at bats), which just shows his immense upside. Over seven seasons in the minors, he hit .281 with 35 HRs, 273 RBI, and 42 SBs in 1704 at-bats. His walk rate (9.4) is strong enough to hit at the top of the Twins batting order with a league average K rate (20.8 – 15.4 in the minors). Kepler may be a poor man’s Grady Sizemore early in his career, a possible 20/20 hitter with growth in batting average expected. The key for Kepler’s value in 2017 is to maintain his growth in power. He only hit .203 vs. lefties over 118 at-bats in 2016 with two HRs and 14 RBI. If he doesn’t improve in this area, Kepler could be a platoon hitter this year.
Hunter Renfroe, San Diego Padres
Renfroe is expected to get the full-time starting job with the Padres in 2017. He had a great 2016 season in Triple-A (.306 with 30 HRs and 105 RBI) while handling himself well over 35 at-bats in the majors in September (.371 with four HRs and 14 RBI). Over four seasons in the minors, Renfroe hit .281 with 77 HRs, 283 RBI, and 23 SBs in 1716 at-bats. He is a former first round draft pick (13th overall in the 2013 June MLB Amateur Draft). Renfroe has the talent to be an everyday player in the majors while offering a 20/80 skill set in his first season. His K rate (23.0) was below the league average in the minors pointing to some batting average risk early in his career.
Manuel Margot, San Diego
The path for starting at-bats for Margot isn’t as clean as Renfroe’s with Travis Jankowski and Alex Dickerson in the mix for playing time in the outfield. Over five seasons in the minors, Margot hit .288 with 29 HRs, 230 RBI, and 162 SBs. His success projected over 550 at-bats would be a 10/40 player. His walk rate (8.0) is about league average with a low K rate (11.4). Margot could be a late round speed value with upside if he earns a top of the order opportunity.
Corey Dickerson, Tampa Bay Rays
Dickerson is overlooked by Fantasy owners in 2017 due to his poor finish in batting average (.245). He did hit 24 HRs with 70 RBI over a career high 510 at-bats. Dickerson has a sharp decline in his CTBA (.332 - .406 in 2014 and .405 in 2015 in Colorado) with some risk against lefties (.241 with two HRs and 11 RBI in 108 at bats). He did try to hit more fly balls (45.0 percent) last year, which was part of the reason for some fade in his batting average. His CTBA (1.912) points to 30 HRs if he’s able to get 550 at-bats. Nice backend power option with correction in batting average expected.
Mitch Haniger, Seattle Mariners
Haniger was acquired in the Jean Segura deal with the Diamondbacks. Over five seasons in the minors, Haniger hit .290 with 61 HRs, 268 RBI, and 38 SBs over 1617 at-bats. His game improved last season in Triple-A (.341 with 20 HRs, 64 RBI, and eight SBs over 261 at-bats). His K rate (17.5) was better than the league average with strength in his walk rate (10.1). He looks to be in position for a full-time starting job and Haniger has suggested he will run in 2017.