2024 Fantasy Baseball Outfield Preview: Star power is crucial early, then it's time to find draft value


Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez will get plenty of hype going into the season, but the Astros have another outfielder worth attention later in fantasy baseball drafts. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

To compete in the hitting categories, fantasy baseball managers must get notable production from their outfielders. The position is loaded with superstar talent, including seven potential first-round picks and many more men who will populate the early rounds of drafts. And as managers move into the middle of their draft, there are a wide variety of skill sets to choose from, which makes this position an essential part of balancing a roster.

Managers in rotisserie leagues need to get plenty of stolen bases from their outfield group. This doesn’t mean that they need to draft five speedsters but getting at least two players who will post sizeable steals is an absolute must. There are few catchers and corner infielders who regularly steal bases and leaving all the steals in the hands of the middle infielders is too much to ask of them.

Whether a league requires the manager to start three or five outfielders, wise drafters will anchor the position with at least one superstar and then will slowly chip away with additional picks throughout the selection process. A good plan also includes leaving an outfield position open until the later rounds, as the volume of options at the position means that there should be some intriguing players who slip through the cracks. Here are a few men who fit that description.

[More Baseball Positional Previews: 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | C]

Balanced Contributors

Chas McCormick took a big step forward (22 HR, 19 SB) but has plenty of room for improvement after appearing in just 115 games. He hit .285 with 14 homers and 10 steals in 64 games during the second half and is now a fixture in one of baseball’s best lineups. It’s easy to envision game-changing production across 150 games.

The Dodgers deserve plenty of credit for being patient with James Outman, who remained a lineup regular despite posting a .552 OPS across May and June. The rookie rewarded his organization by logging an .851 OPS in the second half, and the club’s offseason moves have left the 26-year-old locked into a full-time role in center field. Making strides against southpaws (.665 OPS in 2023) is the next step for a power-speed threat who compiled 23 homers and 16 steals last year.

Winston Churchill would have described Tyler O’Neill as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” St. Louis soured on O’Neill after two unproductive, injury-impacted seasons, but it’s hard to forget that he hit .286 with 34 homers and 15 steals in 2021. A fresh start in Boston could be just what the 28-year-old needs to rediscover his top form.

[Join or create a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball league for the 2024 MLB season]

It’s possible that Jarred Kelenic is hopeless. Maybe he simply cannot cut it as a major leaguer. But the former elite prospect has an incredible opportunity to turn around a lackluster start to his career now that he is part of a Braves offense that torments opposing hurlers. Kelenic is a terrific late-round option in shallow leagues, as he should show in April if he is waiver-wire fodder or a potential 20-20 player.

Power Options

Kerry Carpenter elicits some comparisons to both McCormick and Outman. The McCormick comparison comes with wondering what Carpenter will do with more playing time this year after he hit .278 with 20 homers in 118 games. And like Outman, Carpenter is a lefty batter who has plenty of room to improve against same-sided hurlers. As you can see, there are multiple ways for the 26-year-old to take a step forward.

Surprisingly, managers can get a 30-homer outfielder in the last round of their draft. Brent Rooker accomplished that feat last year, albeit with very little fanfare due to being on the lowly A’s. The slugger was incredibly inconsistent, going deep nine times in April and on eight occasions after September 1. Like Kelenic, Rooker is the type of boom-or-bust player to target near the end of drafts.

Nelson Velazquez could be an even better late-round power source than Rooker. The 25-year-old hit 33 homers between the majors and minors last year, with 14 of those long balls coming in 40 late-season games with the Royals. Velazquez hits oodles of fly balls, and his Statcast data suggests that his power totals from last year were justified. If installed as the Royals full-time DH, he could go deep 30 times.

Speedsters

Jarren Duran enjoyed a great first half before enduring a miserable August that included a slump at the dish and a toe injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season. He should open 2024 as the team’s leadoff hitter, which provides the potential to collect 85 runs and over 30 stolen bases. The one caveat is that he will likely experience some regression on his .295 average and .381 BABIP from a year ago.

Those who need speed at the end of their draft can consider Johan Rojas. The 23-year-old stole 62 bases in the minors in 2022 and totaled 44 swipes between the majors and minors last season. Reaching base will be the key for Rojas, as most projection systems have him pegged for an OBP in the range of .300. If he can play everyday and beat that mark, the Phillies prospect could tally 30 swipes.

[2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP]

Finally, here are the best of the superstars who were mentioned at the start of this article.

  1. Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves

  2. Julio Rodriguez, Seattle Mariners

  3. Corbin Carroll, Arizona Diamondbacks

  4. Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros

  5. Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers

  6. Aaron Judge, New York Yankees

  7. Juan Soto, New York Yankees

  8. Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres

  9. Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros

  10. Luis Robert Jr., Chicago White Sox

  11. Avisail Garcia, Texas Rangers

  12. Randy Arozarena, Tampa Bay Rays



Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top