With football season a thing of the past, and Spring Training rapidly approaching, it’s time to prepare for the game that doesn’t take place between the white lines, but rather on computer screens across America. That’s right, it’s time to prepare for your Fantasy Baseball season. With arguably the best rotation in baseball, and a lineup full of sluggers, the New York Mets have fantasy value at every turn. In this post, the first edition of “Fantasy Focus,” we’ll take a deeper look at the outfielders in the Big Apple, and we’ll hopefully bring you that much closer to fantasy immortality.
ESPN Overall Batter Rank: #37 Outfield Rank: #16. Yahoo! Overall Rank: #57 Outfield Rank: #20
For obvious reasons, Yoenis Cespedes is the Mets’ top rated outfielder, and for that matter, player. With the exception of steals, Yo stuffs the stat sheet, producing in just about every category. Backing up his contract extension, Cespedes posted a .280 batting average, with 31 home runs, 86 RBIs, and 72 runs in 2016; doing so whilst playing in 132 games. ESPN projects him to post similar numbers in 2017 (.275, 35 home runs, 98 RBIs, 87 runs). Cespedes has moved from somewhat of a question mark in his Oakland, Boston and Detroit days, to a safe, projectable fantasy asset. To support the claim that Cespedes will continue to thrive in NY, ESPN ranked La Potencia one spot ahead of outfielder Nelson Cruz, who crushed 43 home runs for Seattle a season ago.
With a solidified role in one outfield position in 2017, rather than platooning between both left and center, we expect Cespedes to stay comfortable and continue to put up difference-making numbers. Yoenis should provide third-to-fourth round value, with second round upside. High floor, high ceiling. Yo Knows.
ESPN Overall Batter Rank: #97 Outfield Rank: #42. Yahoo! Overall Rank: #185 Outfield Rank: #51
Unfortunately for fantasy owners, the certainty with Mets outfield production starts and stops with Cespedes. Ranking in the number two spot in the New York outfield is none other than midseason acquisition, Jay Bruce. Bruce, once ferociously trying to be dealt by Sandy Alderson this offseason, has reportedly been informed that he’ll be the starting right fielder in 2017. Bruce batted just .250 in 2016, but put up an extremely productive 33 home run, 99 RBI, and 74 run line. Most of Bruce’s numbers were produced whilst the slugger still resided in Cincinnati. Though, with the reassurance that he is the starting right fielder, Bruce may use his newly found confidence to return to form. A constant power threat, the lefty could end up being a reliable source of home runs and RBIs. Unlike Cespedes, though, Bruce’s floor is much lower, which is reflected in him being ranked 60 spots behind Yo in ESPN and a whopping 128 spots behind him in Yahoo! leagues.
For context, Bruce is slotted in just behind Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera and Angels outfielder Kole Calhoun. If hoping to find relatively cheap power, Bruce may be a pleasant surprise to fantasy owners who are bold enough to put him on their team.
ESPN Overall Batter Rank: #109 Outfield Rank: #48 Yahoo! Overall Rank: #207 Outfield Rank: 59
Fitting in just behind Bruce is another slugging lefty, Curtis Grandson. Grandy, who seems to be fitting into a more defined role in center field this season, hopes to continue to produce atop the lineup in the Big Apple. A reliable source of power, Curtis put up 30 home runs in 2016, but his absurd amount of solo shots put him on his way to only producing 59 RBIs. With that being said, Grandy did cross the plate 88 times, an extremely respectful showing. However, the 2017 Mets could find themselves a new leadoff man, in the name of Jose Reyes. This may indeed decrease Granderson’s run totals, but he may see a spike in RBIs if he hits behind the meat of the lineup. It’s a pretty safe bet that Grandy’s average will be, for lack of a better term, below average, but his inexpensive power and ability to get on base gives him sleeper appeal. The one major concern for Curtis could end up being his playing time; Juan Laggers has a real shot of starting again lefties and being inserted in center late in games. Granderson will probably not make or break your team, but he could provide a much needed power boost in deeper, mixed-leagues.
Hey, what happened to the Michael Conforto we saw in April of 2016? In April of last year, the promising young outfielder batted .365, with 4 home runs, and 18 RBIs, in just 74 at-bats. His stat line at the end of the year looked vastly different; .220 BA, 12 home runs, and just 42 RBIs. So, the question must be asked. Which Michael Conforto will we see in 2017? Well, the first question that must be asked is how much the young lefty will actually play. With Bruce being told that he is the right fielder, there seems to be a log jam in the New York outfield, with no room for Conforto. Conforto could presumably start the season in the minors, extending the effort to try and recapture that April magic.
The pressure put on Conforto was admittedly unfair for most 23 year olds. He batted third much of that first month in a lineup that was underachieving. However, he did show glimpses of greatness, which excited fans and coached everywhere.
As for fantasy, Conforto will go undrafted in most leagues. If Bruce does struggle out of the gate, though, he could quickly be slotted into right field. And we’ve seen before, when Conforto is right he has a chance to be an elite producer. So, maybe don’t draft Michael Conforto, but have a clear eye on the waiver wire for a potential breakout.