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FANTASY BASEBALL – 2016 OF Rankings: Seizing Springer


Thorne’s 2016 MLB Fantasy Preview

2016 Positional Ranks: 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | C | OF | SP | RP   Misc: Aroldis Chapman Trade Value
Divisional Break-Downs: AL East | AL Central | AL West | NL East | NL Central | NL West
Podcasts: ’16 Strategy w/ Fred Zinkie
Team Previews: Blue Jays | Orioles | Yankees | Red Sox | Rays | Mets | Nationals | Phillies | Braves | Marlins | Twins | Indians | Royals | White Sox | Tigers | Brewers | Reds | Cubs | Pirates | Cardinals


Thorne’s 2016 OF Rankings

  1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles
  2. Bryce Harper, Washington
  3. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami
  4. A.J. Pollock, Arizona
  5. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh
  6. Charlie Blackmon, Colorado
  7. Jose Bautista, Toronto
  8. George Springer, Houston Drafted in 2011 out of an actual, real-life college, Springer represents the rare super prospect rounding into form by the old school timeline. The 6’3 Connecticut product will turn 27 this September, coinciding with the near completion of his third major league season – one which should redeem those unimpressed with his sophomore campaign. Following a rookie season that saw Springer hit a home run an impressive once every 14.8 at bats, the Astro could only manage one every 24.3 in 2015. Injuries also took their toll, but really, aside from raw power, there was a lot to signify Springer actually improved last year. Sure, his strikeout rate falling from 33% to 24.2% in conjunction with the loss of pop is somewhat reminiscent of Jason Heyward, however, the new Cub has never shown Springer’s surplus of power. I take it purely as a indication of maturity. Add in that even with 2015’s “struggles”, prorated to 600 plate appearances, Springer was still on pace for a 21/21 season and I’m confident in his Top 10 placement.
  9. Starling Marte, Pittsburgh
  10. Chris Davis, Baltimore
  11. Mookie Betts, Boston
  12. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee – In perhaps the quietest redemption season I can remember, Ryan Braun hit 25 home runs in 2015 with a .366 wOBA and, most surprisingly, 24 stolen bases after compiling just 15 the prior two years. In fact, the Brewer was one of only three players last season to hit 20 homers, steal 20 bags, score 80 runs, and drive in 80. The other two? Manny Machado and Paul Goldschmidt – quite the first round pedigree. Now, its likely that this is the post-prime Braun’s peak, at 32, he’s not returning to his 2009-2012 form. Yet, if he can simply recreate last season, and maybe even reach 600 plate appearances, he’ll return fringe OF1 value.
  13. Nelson Cruz, Seattle
  14. Miguel Sano, Minnesota
  15. Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City
  16. J.D. Martinez, Detroit
  17. Carlos Gomez, Houston
  18. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado
  19. Justin Upton, Detroit
  20. Adam Jones, Baltimore
  21. Yoenis Cespedes, New York – Cespedes had a .317 ISO with the Mets last season. Only Bryce Harper, reigning National League MVP, had a higher isolated power over the course of the full year (.319). So, it would stand to reason that Cespedes quite enjoyed hitting in his new Citi Field home, right? Right?! Well, not so much. In 27 games at Citi (small sample, I know), the former Athletic hit .224 with a .769 OPS – not the most surprising thing with New York’s Ebbets tribute sitting third from the bottom in ESPN Park Factors’ overall offensive rankings. Now, that’s not to say Cespedes has ever really hit in a beneficial park, brief Fenway stint aside, but he still didn’t do himself any favors with his most recent contract. Plus, when you consider the Cuban hit just .251 with 48 homers and a pedestrian 106 wRC+ from the beginning of 2013 to the end of 2014, 2015 kind of starts to look like an outlier. With a current ADP of 42, I’m not willing to chance it wasn’t.
  22. Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati
  23. Matt Kemp, San Diego
  24. Hunter Pence, San Francisco – Its curious how quickly the perception of a player can change regardless of how stable said player has been through the years – Hunter Pence being the perfect example. Obviously, two disabled lists stints in 2015 is not ideal, especially with Pence set to turn 33 on April 13th, but there might have not been a more stable player in all of sport the prior seven seasons. From 2008 to 2014, Pence ranked fifth in baseball in plate appearances, never having dipped below 640 in any season during that run. Sure, in an age of unlimited upside, merely showing up isn’t exactly trendy, yet, the results of that consistency can’t be ignored. Pence hit .280, averaging 24 home runs, 89 RBI, 88 runs, and 13 stolen bases, never seeing those numbers stray very far from that mean in a given season. He’s the prototypical OF2. Also, its an even numbered season. Take a Giant.
  25. Kyle Schwarber, Chicago
  26. Jason Heyward, Chicago
  27. Jacoby Ellsbury, New York
  28. Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles
  29. Shin-Soo Choo, Texas – I don’t want to invest too heavily into Choo, who will hit 34 years of age mid-season in 2016, however the recency bias is pretty strong. Sure, it took a .420 BABIP during 2015’s second half to pull it off, but you can’t ignore a player who posted the sixth best marks in wOBA (.436) and wRC+ (176) over a two and a half month span. It hurts that the absolute loss of stolen base potential, first evident in 2014, appears to be legitimate after a four steal 2015. Not to mention that Choo’s 18.8% HR/FB ratio was a career-high. Yet, when it’s all said and done, the Korean is part of an elite offence in Texas. Its enough to make me confident he’ll return value on his 135 ADP.
  30. Michael Brantley, Cleveland – Speaking of uncertainty, let us talk Michael Brantley and his torn labrum. Initial reports in December had Brantley penciled back in April. Fantastic. Then apparent sources close to the Indians told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer that the timeline could be closer to June. Less Fantastic. Here’s the thing: I love Brantley, he’s a younger, better Hunter Pence who almost never swings and misses, but consistency doesn’t equate to upside. A Brantley with 650 plate appearances is a Top 20 outfielder 99 times out of 100, yet he’s never a Top 5 guy. Consistency is built upon safety and I don’t see enough with Brantley entering February, especially without the sort of returns I’d want for the risk.
  31. Christian Yelich, Miami
  32. Hanley Ramirez, Boston
  33. Brett Gardner, New York
  34. Jorge Soler, Chicago – 2015 was not kind to Soler, who, after just 97 plate appearances in 2014, had done enough to earn the trust of most, including me. What drew me in the most was Soler’s 24.7% strikeout rate which, while not amazing in any sense, looked a whole lot better when juxtaposed to fellow Cubs’ prospects Kris Bryant and Javier Baez. That rate jumped above 30% last season and what value that didn’t dilute, injuries did. Still, this is a classic overcorrection following a down season – a great buy-low opportunity on high-end potential. Soler is talented. No one can deny that. He’s also part of an offence that Clay Davenport projects to be the highest scoring in the National League. I’m not ready to give up.
  35. Kole Calhoun, Los Angeles
  36. Adam Eaton, Chicago – It all seems to be trending in the right direction for Eaton after a second half that made even Hawk Harrelson’s rhetoric seem warranted. The 27 year-old hit .335 post All-Star break with an insane .393 wOBA and, in the grand scope of things, there’s almost no way the White Sox again finish with the worst offence in the American League. Just don’t expect another double-digit home run campaign. Eaton has a career 24.1% fly ball rate and is hitting just .185 on those flies. I’m looking at you too, Jose Altuve.
  37. Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh
  38. Ben Revere, Washington
  39. Curtis Granderson, New York
  40. Alex Gordon, Kansas City
  41. Mark Trumbo, Baltimore
  42. Joc Pederson, Los Angeles
  43. Corey Dickerson, Tampa Bay (traded January 28th) – This is less about Dickerson than it is about there having to be an odd man out. This winter the Rockies signed Gerardo Parra, who, because its clearly a necessity to join the Colorado outfield, is left-handed, joining Dickerson, Carlos Gonzalez, and Charlie Blackmon in that respect. So, the question plaguing early drafters and dynasty owners is simply: Who are the Rockies trading? Gonzalez might be the organization’s top choice if looking for maximum return, the impact of the $37 million he’s still owed lessened by a fantastic second half, but Dickerson is the most likely option. If that’s the case, his power should transcend Coors, however there’s definite concerns about his ability to be an everyday player. The .246 average versus southpaw pitching isn’t terrible, but his .131 ISO isn’t even half of his rate against righties. There’s just too much uncertainty.
  44. David Peralta, Arizona
  45. Kevin Pillar, Toronto – I’ve mentioned a couple different times that player value can be derived from said player’s team, because obviously it can, but there is a point when caution must be utilized. Sure, you have to love a guy like Pillar, who’s incredible defensive ability allows him to accumulate the third most plate appearances (628) on the league’s highest scoring offence. However, don’t forget that he’s just not really that good. His 93 wRC+ ranked him 111th among the 141 players to qualify last season and his career .303 OBP, a product of his free-swinging ways, is pretty uninspiring. Even Pillar’s .306 BABIP, not much of a red flag on its surface, is misleading. At 24.7%, the Blue Jay registered the fourth highest soft contact rate in baseball, trailing only Billy Burns, Jean Segura, and Jose Reyes. I mean, Pillar’s fast, he had 25 stolen bases in 2015, a number that keeps him inside my Top 50, but not enough to fall into the Burns/Reyes archetype.
  46. Ender Inciarte, Atlanta
  47. Billy Burns, Oakland
  48. Randal Grichuk, St. Louis
  49. Will Myers, San Diego
  50. Byron Buxton, Minnesota

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