2017 Fantasy Baseball Center Field Rankings

Crying Tiers of Joy: 2017 Fantasy Baseball Center Field Rankings

I present to you my 2017 fantasy baseball center field rankings.

The top 25 center fielders have been grouped into four tiers, with the top and bottom player of each tier profiled below.

Honorable Mentions: Jacoby Ellsbury (NYY), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Jason Heyward (CHC), Kevin Pillar (TOR), Kevin Kiermaier (TB), Leonys Martin (SEA), Travis Janikowski (SD), Mallex Smith (TB), and Eddie Rosario (MIN).

Exceptions include: Ian Desmond (COL), who is out six to eight weeks after undergoing hand surgery this spring training.  

 

Tier 1

2017 Fantasy Baseball Center Field Rankings

Mike Trout or Micky Mantle? (Courtesy of the Huffington Post)

 

  • Mike Trout LAA

 

By this point, everyone should recognize that Mike Trout stands alone as the top player in fantasy baseball.  The two-time MVP is a perennial threat to bat .300, score 100 runs, produce 100 RBIs, and steal 30 bases. In leagues that take OBP or OPS into consideration, Trout’s value is increased even more so, as he has a monster career OBP of .405 and OPS of .963. The 25-year-old will be the first player taken in all 2017 fantasy drafts.

 

 

Tier 2

2017 Fantasy Baseball Center Field Rankings

Will Charlie Blackmon finish the season as a Colorado Rocky? (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

 

  • Charlie Blackmon COL
  • Trea Turner WSN
  • A.J. Pollock ARI
  • Yoenis Cespedes NYM
  • Christian Yelich MIA
  • Andrew McCutchen PIT
  • Lorenzo Cain KC

 

Charlie Blackmon surpassed career highs in nearly every category last season, while only appearing in 143 games. Blackmon had 29 home runs, 111 runs scored, 82 runs driven in, and stole 17 bases, while batting an astounding .324. The 30-year-old will continue to bat atop an incredibly strong Colorado Rockies lineup that is guaranteed to produce in 2017.

There has been talk about the Rockies potentially moving Blackmon out of Coors field if they are struggling at the trade deadline, although Blackmon’s talent is sure to translate to another park, team, and position in the lineup. He is well worth a pick in the top 20 as he has 30/30 potential with a career batting average of .298.

Lorenzo Cain is being severally overlooked and undervalued in 2017. The Kansas City Royals’ three-hitter is batting .300 over his last three seasons, while averaging 30 steals per 162 games. Cain managed to hit 16 home runs in 140 games in 2015, which I believe show that he has the potential for a 20/30 season.

The 30-year-old’s major issue is staying on the field, as he is yet to surpass the 140-game mark, although if he can stay healthy, he is a sure-fire top 20 outfielder in 2017.

 

 

Tier 3

2017 Fantasy Baseball Center Field Rankings

Dexter Fowler is headed to the division rival. (Gene J. Puskar, AP Photo)

 

  • Dexter Fowler STL
  • Adam Jones BAL
  • Adam Eaton WSN
  • Odubel Herrera PHI
  • Carlos Gomez TEX
  • Byron Buxton MIN
  • Keon Broxton MIL

 

Dexter Fowler will move from Chicago to the division rival St. Louis Cardinals in 2017. Fowler will bat leadoff for the always productive Cardinals, who are looking to back bounce from missing the playoffs in 2016.

The 31-year-old has a career .270 average, and will be a threat to score 100 runs and steal 10 to 20 bases. Fowler is a safe a selection within the top 150 players, as he is a lock for above average production in three out of the five major categories, while also offering average production in home runs and RBIs. The only caveat with Fowler is his inability to stay on the field, as he has only reached the 150-game mark once in his nine-year career.

Keon Broxton has yet to play a full season at the major-league level, although 2017 will be his year to break out. As a career .255 hitter at the minor-league level, Broxton clearly has room to improve, although he is averaging 15 home runs and 31 steals per 162 games.

The 27-year-old will receive his first opportunity to play an everyday role, as he will be the starting center fielder and six-hitter for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Broxton’s ADP of 225, according to fantasypros.com, makes him well worth a late round selection if you miss on a more proven commodity.

 

 

Tier 4

2017 Fantasy Baseball Center Field Rankings

Brandon Phillips, Jose Peraza will finally have an open spot in the Cincinnati Reds lineup. (Courtesy of MLBdailydish.com)

 

  • Jose Peraza CIN
  • Billy Hamilton CIN
  • Joc Pederson LAD
  • Randal Grichuck STL
  • Rajai Davis OAK
  • Jarrod Dyson SEA
  • Ender Inciarte ATL
  • Denard Span SFG
  • Tyler Naquin CLE
  • Cameron Maybin LAA

 

Jose Peraza is a top 100 prospect according to MLB.com, Baseballprospectus.com, and Baseball America. He will primarily play second base, and will presumably start the season batting at the bottom of the order, but a promotion to the leadoff spot could occur if he continues to find success at the plate. He has a career batting average of .312 at all levels and has stolen 244 bases in 611 career games. The 22-year-old offers tremendous value through his speed, contact, and versatility in 2017.

Cameron Maybin will move out west to join the Los Angeles Angels in 2017. Maybin is a career .259 hitter, although he managed to bat .315 last season in 94 games for the Detroit Tigers. He is a threat to steal 20 or more bases as well as provide runs with a solid average.

If Maybin can remain healthy, career highs in RBI’s and home runs could be in order as well, as the 29-year-old will bat primarily sixth to start the season.

 

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NL East Roundup: Washington Nationals

Here I’ll be continuing my NL East review with the Washington Nationals.  You can also see my thoughts on the Phillies, Braves, and Marlins.

The Nationals, despite ending with a winning record, were perhaps one of the more disappointing teams last season.  For the second straight year they came in as the preseason favorite to win the National League and failed to deliver, missing the playoffs entirely in 2015.  The team started off strong, but began faltering in the second half of the season, and ended up collapsing by the end.

The Nats, however, look to shrug off last season’s blunders and make a statement this season.  They are in a strong position to do so, with new manager Dusty Baker, along with last year’s unanimous NL MVP Bryce Harper and pitching ace Max Scherzer.  Baker provides a much needed mix up in the dugout, as previous manager Matt Williams certainly had his fair share of questionable decisions last year, especially during the Nationals second half slump.

Michael Taylor will look to earn the starting spot in center field for the Nationals. Taylor hit 14 home runs and stole 16 bases in 19 attempts in 2015. Photo courtesy of Washington Post

The Nationals return a majority of an offense that was top 3 in the National League in both runs and home runs in 2015.  The team brings a lot of experienced hitters to the plate, along with a couple of seasoned veterans in Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth.  Honestly with Spring Training starting March 2nd for the Nationals, I still think there is a fair bit of malleability in who makes the starting 9 for Opening Day.

I think the battle for center field between Ben Revere and Michael Taylor is probably the highlight as we head into Spring Training.  With the loss of Denard Span, the Nationals are going to want a consistent bat and speedy baserunner out of his replacement. Of the two, Revere is definitely the safer option at the start of the year, as he has more professional experience and has proven his ability to hit for average. With that in mind, I think Taylor has the higher potential of the two. While he does need to work on cutting down the strikeouts, he is absolutely lights out on the bases, and has shown that he is the superior of the two when it comes to power (Revere has 4 homers in his 6 year career, Taylor had 14 last year).  I think both players will be given ample opportunities to prove themselves in both center and left field, as current starter Jayson Werth’s endurance is beginning to fade after 13 years of playing.

The rest of the batting order looks very strong as well.  The acquisition of Daniel Murphy from the Mets in the offseason looks to be the most fruitful acquisition for Washington.  Murphy absolutely exploded in the postseason series against the Dodgers and the Cubs, homering in 7 of 8 games and being named NLCS MVP.  Fans are certainly hoping Murphy will continue to swing that hot of a bat come April.

On the other side of second base, it will be interesting to see how Danny Espinosa does in the field. Longtime shortstop Ian Desmond seemed to be somewhat of a liability there, so it can only be hoped that this offseason provided him with enough time to acclimate himself.  I think that regardless of who the Nationals choose for their starting 9, there will be plenty of talent at the plate.

For Jonathan Papelbon, strangling the National League MVP may not have made the best first impression with Nats fans. Photo courtesy of: http://sports.cbsimg.net/images/visual/whatshot/414papgrabsharpbyneck.jpg

The real concern for the Nationals pitching-wise doesn’t come from their rotation. If Strasburg can stay healthy and Scherzer can have even half the season he did last year, I think they should be in good shape.

The real concern comes from the bullpen. The Nats had the 5th lowest save percentage in the NL, converting just over 64% in 64 opportunities.  Jonathan Papelbon seems to be the undisputed closer now, with Drew Storen moving to Toronto. While Papelbon did have issues meshing with the team originally, (including one altercation where Papelbon seemed to strangle Bryce Harper) the players seem willing to move past them.

With a lot of firepower on offense, and arm in every slot in the rotation, the Nationals are primed for another great season. Hopefully the team chemistry will continue to increase throughout Spring Training, and some veteran ex-starters (Oliver Perez and Yusmeiro Petit) will be able to adapt to their new bullpen roles with some of the younger talent. The offense should be consistent throughout the year, so the Nats success will hinge a lot on Stephen Strasburg remaining healthy in the rotation, along with Tanner Roark and Joe Ross continuing to improve as young starting pitchers.  If these three can live up to their potential, it will then be up to the bullpen to ensure that their efforts are converted into curly W’s.