2019 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers and Busts - Outfielders
Another day, another category! Today, we profile outfielders, and there's an absolute ton of them, so finding the sleepers in such a large group should pay even more dividends since you'll need multiple starting at the position. Conversely, there's quite a few to question their ADP and their productivity heading into 2019. Myself and Steve will profile a couple of outfield sleepers to help your squad and a couple of outfield busts to keep a watchful eye on. Make sure you give both of us a follow on Twitter, @ktompkinsii and@fantasygeek37 !
Harrison Bader, St. Louis Cardinals
“Another damn Cardinal, Kev? Just because your lady is a Cardinal fan doesn’t mean you can use Fighting Chance Fantasy as a way to earn brownie points, Kev!”
I’m only kidding, that was never uttered by Ryan, Steve, or by anybody in FCF, but after the shortstop sleeper profile of Paul DeJong a couple days ago, I profiled another Cardinal in Redbird speedster Harrison Bader.
Coming off of just shy of a 4 WAR season, Bader may couple that 2 dWAR with a healthy jump in offensive WAR in 2019 to complete his breakout. He increased his prowess on the basepaths and added 12 home runs in his 1st full season. Continuing that trend, a 20/20 season is not out of the question. To support this, look to Bader’s line drive rate of 26.8%, good for 14th in baseball. Those line drives should turn into home runs down the line as he matures, but he flashed some power in the minor leagues as well, belting 39 between AA and AAA and his fly ball % increased up above 40% as the season progressed. A big knock on him is a much ballyhooed strikeout rate of just under 30% and the rest of his counting stats. The counting stats were mainly a result of him batting lower in the order or pinch hitting for a good portion of 2018. Becoming more aggressive at the plate would do wonders for his overall profile, thought I’m not sure he becomes even a .285 hitting in his peak. His BABIP is a question mark as well at a .358 clip for 2018, but it’s more often than not inflated with speedier players.
His speed and defense will get him lots of playing time, so even with the logjam of Cardinals’ outfielders, Bader will get even more of a shot. As roughly an OF40 at this current time, Bader should surpass that projection and be a heck of a bargain as a backend starting outfielder and a borderline 5-category player in rotisserie. For you 1990's wrestling fans, IT'S... BADER... TIME!
Adam Eaton, Washington Nationals
I know it's a risky bet when you look towards players that have been plagued with the injury bug, but I think Adam Eaton is a risk worth taking. He's currently being drafted as the 53rd outfielder off the board outside the top 200 picks in the NFBC and that's a price I'm readily worth taking a chance on.
Eaton missed virtually all of the 2017 season with a torn ACL and substantial time at the beginning of last season with ankle issues. However, after he returned he proceeded to hit over .300 with nine stolen bases in 95 games. He has a history of hitting close to .300 and if he does happen to stay healthy, there is no reason why he couldn't hit close to it again and chip in double digit home runs with 25 or so stolen bags. He will be hitting in the front of the potent Nationals lineup and his average draft position has injury concerns already build in, so there is nowhere to go but up for the talented, yet injury prone, center fielder.
Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies
I actually wanted to follow this up with another Cardinal, but I couldn’t ignore somebody who is going in the first three rounds that may not be a great buy at his stage of his career, Charlie Blackmon. Now while Blackmon should put up quality counting stats, you can’t help but ignore the steady decline heading into his age 32/33 season. His stolen bases have declined each of the last 3 seasons, he may not be a guarantee of a .290 batting average if his career high strikeout rate of 19.3% in 2018 keeps increasing, and his home/away splits keep going in opposite directions. Coors Field has propped up a lot of hitters in its time, but for Blackmon (.334/403/.567 at home vs. .262/.315/.430 on the road), the splits become even more pronounced.
A solid .285/27/80/10 SB should be a nice, attainable line for Blackmon, who admittedly has the best beard in baseball (even better than mine!), but as an end of 2nd/beginning of 3rd round bat? I’d much rather have somebody on the upswing rather than buying into what could be more of a declining asset in 2019. Not a typical bust, but at his ADP of the late 20’s, I likely won’t have any shares of him in 2019.
George Springer, Houston Astros
George Springer is a very talented baseball player. However, I'm worried we may have seen the best of him, at least in terms of fantasy production.
First and foremost, we can't really count on him for many stolen bases anymore. In the Minors, Springer stole over 30 bags in 2012 and over 40 in 2013. He stole 16 bases in only 102 games in 2015 but things have gone downhill since then. Over the last three seasons, he has a total of 20 steals in 41 attempts. That just wont do if he ever wants to venture into the world of fantasy superstar.
A lack of steals would be ok if he hit for good average and power. However, his ground ball rates have continued to go up, his exit velocity has gotten worse, his strikeout rate has gone up, and it resulted in him only smacking 22 home runs last year. With a career batting average of only .265, if the power doesn't return, unfortunately, neither will his fantasy value.