Last year 24 outfielders hit 30 home runs or more. The best player at the position was Ronald Acuna (.280 with 127 runs, 41 home runs, 101 RBI, and 37 steals over 626 at-bats), leading to a SIscore of +12.36. Jorge Soler finished with the most home runs (48) and RBI (117).
Twelve players scored over 100 runs, and eight players delivered over 100 RBI.
In 2018, nine outfielders scored 100 runs or more, and four players drove in over 100 runs. Nine batters had over 30 home runs.
Here’s a grid showing the final stats for 2019 for the top 12 players at each position and their value ranked by SIscore:
Last year the average of the top 12 outfielders hit .291 with 105 runs, 37 home runs, 98 RBI, and 14 stolen bases over 549 at-bats. The outfield position ranked first in overall hitter value.
For comparison, here are the projections (3/10) for the top 12 outfielders at Sports Illustrated ranked by SIscore:
The stats highlighted by the yellow line show the average projections (.301 with 111 runs, 33 home runs, 95 RBI, and 24 steals over 568 at-bats) for the top 12 outfielders in 2020.
Here’s a look at the top 12 outfielders by 2020 ADP (From March 1st through March 10th):
Ronald Acuna remains the consensus number one pick in fantasy baseball drafts. His ability to deliver impact power and speed sets him apart from the top players in the game. He does strikeout too much while not looking sharp in spring training (3-for-26 with no HRs, two RBI, and 12 strikeouts). Acuna plays the game hard, which does invite some injury risk while chasing down fly balls. With a better approach in 2020, his batting average should push higher.
Over the last week, no fantasy owner placed a bet on Mike Trout as the first overall pick. His game remains elite, but fantasy owners don’t trust his value in stolen bases. I expect Trout to run more with a chance to set a career-high in offensive production. The addition of Anthony Rendon does improve the quality of the Angels’ starting lineup.
If Christian Yelich didn’t miss time last year due to a knee cap issue, he would have been worth more to a fantasy team than Acuna. His swing path continues to improve, leading to fewer ground balls and more fly balls. His game has reached a level where he should be trusted to hit over 40 home runs with 25 steals while adding a sure edge in batting average. I get the sense he’s on a Barry Bonds path without the juice.
The move to the NL may hurt Mookie Betts some in power, but he’ll still get on base many times. The Dodgers have a great supporting cast, and the escape from Boston may be a relief off his shoulders. Betts is in a contract year, so his stats should be top shelf in 2020.
The fantasy market has stated their case for Juan Soto over the last few weeks. He’s a lockdown first-round pick with one of the best approaches in the game at age 21. In 2019, he added some speed to the equation, and his batting average and power should push to stud levels this season.
In the early draft season, Bryce Harper could have been had in the third round in many drafts. Over the last week, Harper has an ADP of 21, which has been helped by a hot spring training (8-for-16 with three HRs, 11 RBI, and three SBs). He looks motivated to put his name back in the best player in the game conversation. There’s a lot to like here, especially if he improves his approach.
For jump street, Starling Marte has been a targeted piece to a fantasy team in the second round of drafts. The move to Arizona should be a plus, and his base skillset points to a foundation of 25 home runs and 25 steals.
J.D. Martinez remains one of the better high average power bats in the game, but the inventory has improved in front of him in drafts. His lack of speed does push his draft value down a couple of spots.
For a fantasy owner looking for impact speed in the fourth rounds of drafts, Victor Robles should be a target. The Nationals plan on batting him leadoff, which is a big win for him. Some of the public is down on him due to his low hard-hit rate last year. It showed that he needs to get stronger, and many aren’t pricing in some improvement in his second year in the league. I see 50-plus steals with about 15 home runs.
Aaron Judge lost 40 spots off his ADP (69) over the last week or so. He’s on my avoid list until I get a clear update on his return to the field.
At the same time, Giancarlo Stanton backup up in drafts. His ADP (84) fell by 29 picks since the end of February. His outlook isn’t as bad as Judge, but Stanton continues to battle multiple injuries. A great source of power, but I view him as a wild card in drafts in mid-March.
Last year fantasy owners saw an impactful end to the year for Eloy Jimenez. He looks poised to offer an edge in batting average with a high floor and ceiling in power. His only question comes with his ability to stay healthy. Jimenez looks to be a value based on his ADP (63).
The best-balanced players in the second outfield grouping come from the trio of Ramon Laureano, Tommy Pham, and Luis Robert.
Pham continues to battle a side issue in March. The Padres expect him to be ready for opening day. He’ll take plenty of walks while adding value in steals. His low fly-ball rate does limit his explosiveness in power.
The A’s will hit Laureano second in the batting order, which is a win for him in runs. His resume gives him a chance at a 30/30 season. At the very least, a fantasy owner should expect 20 home runs and 20 steals with a neutral batting average.
The new kid on the block is Luis Robert. His speed should be trusted more than his power out of the gate. He doesn’t take many walks, which hurts his chance to hit at the top of the batting order early in his career. I expect him to hit the ground running with a chance at a 25/25 season. Robert played well so far in spring training (10-for-30 with one home run, two RBI, and three steals).
Nick Castellanos looks to be on the verge of a big season in power. Last year he finished 58 doubles and 27 home runs. The change to Cincinnati should be a win for him in power. His ADP (91) moved up a half of round over the last week or so.
In the second grouping of outfielders, Jorge Soler is the player with the most movement (ADP – 83) since the end of February. Fantasy owners pushed him up 11 spots in drafts. Soler underperformed for most of his early career in the majors, but his previous resume supported his growth in power.
The third group of outfielders is getting messy with Oscar Mercado and Michael Conforto suffering injuries.
Mercado has a minor left wrist sprain, which led to a drop of 11.5 spots in his ADP. I expect he’ll trend back up due to his ability to steals bases and add some value in power.
The Mets suggested that Conforto may miss the start of the year due to an oblique issue. His injury is recent, which hasn’t been priced into his current ADP (117). He has a developing power bat, which should have worked well in this area of the draft.
The Orioles haven’t released an update on Trey Mancini after having surgery over the last week. It isn’t injury-related, which is cause for concern. I’m avoiding him until there is a better update. Mancini slid 27 picks in drafts over the last few days.
Andrew Benintendi looks to be the go-to guy for a balanced skillset, but there hasn't been much movement in his draft value.
The upside in power for Franmil Reyes led to him moving up 19 drafts slots since February. The Indians will have him in the lineup almost every day, leading to a run at 40-plus home runs.
The opening day starting lineup for the Cubs should have Kyle Schwarber batting cleanup. His bat has plenty of power while needing to improve his batting average. On the verge of a 40/100 season.
Byron Buxton had surgery on his left shoulder on September 10th. He just started taking batting practice on March 10th. A real tough player to get a handle this spring. I trust his speed more than his power while looking to avoid him as a target on draft day.
David Dahl lost about a round of draft value since the end of February, with no negative news tied to his name. I like his upside while understanding his injury risk. Based on draft flow, a fantasy owner should be able to handcuff him with Ian Desmond or Sam Hilliard, which should add up to a productive player.
Kyle Tucker comes into 2020 with repeated questions with his ability to get everyday at-bats and hit in a favorable part of the batting order. He has two years under his belt at AAA with the game to be a 30/30 player. Houston has to find a way to give him maximum playing time.
The injury to Michael Conforto should ensure that J.D. Davis has full-time at-bats out of the gate. Davis was an ADP riser over the winter, but his momentum slowed after suffering a left shoulder injury in late February. A significant power bat that needs to be in the lineup every day for New York.
Mallex Smith is the double speed guy in this area of the draft, where a fantasy owner that loaded up with power will try to get out in speed with one-stop shopping. His bat has been quiet in March (5-for-24 with eight Ks). His ADP (179) fell by 26 picks since the end of February.
Willie Calhoun took a pitch to the face this week, which led to jaw surgery. I guess that he'll miss three to four weeks of the season. His draft value should fade over the next two weeks.
Yasiel Puig remains unsigned. His ADP slipped by four rounds over the last week or so.
Before last year, Bryan Reynolds hit the ball hard many times, but he lacked the loft and strength to be productive in home runs. His growth with Pittsburgh in 2019 should be repeated this year while adding more volume to his chances. He’ll hit in the right part of the batting order with batting average expected to be an asset. Reynolds has the look of an 80/20/80 hitter in his sophomore campaign.
Justin Upton lost momentum in his draft value this year due to an injury-prone season in 2019. He’ll hit behind Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, which will give him plenty of RBI chances. With a full season of at-bats, Upton should have some batting average risk with 80-plus, 30-plus home runs, 90-plus RBI, and a run at double-digit steals. His ADP (207) climbed 15 draft slots over the last ten days.
As tempting as Nick Senzel might be, I’m going to pass on him this year. His game and upside project well and the Reds would love for him to seize a top of the order opportunity. I’m always cautious with players coming off shoulder injuries. Last September, Senzel had his left shoulder surgery to fix a torn labrum issue. Just by getting back on the field, his ADP (212) moved up 14 picks in March.