2020 Fantasy Baseball Outfield Preview: The Bouncebacks

by Mike Sollicito
2020 Fantasy Baseball Outfield

Outfield is one of Fantasy Baseball's deepest positions each year, especially 2020. Come draft time, there are so many names who can each provide tremendous value in their own ways. It's up to the drafter to decide which picks to make. Do they want to go with outfield studs early on, or grab some cheap options later in the draft? Sometimes, the later options prove important for your team, as most leagues have multiple OF positions, ranging from three to five outfielders per fantasy team. Grabbing someone who can bounceback provides a huge risk, but with great reward. Let's take a look into some of the key players in the 2020 Fantasy Baseball Outfield Preview.

When drafting a fantasy baseball team, I like to grab a few stud outfielders early on. I do this because I like to have a good outfield in fantasy, especially because you carry many outfielders. While you sometimes cannot pass up value, during the middle rounds I round out my infield and starting pitching. Then, I'll take a few dart throws on bounce-back players, usually to complete my outfield.

It's easy to only draft the surefire players, but it can be just as easy to draft the players who can perhaps breakout or bounceback. While many of you may have your own draft strategy, there are some tips that may help you. Making the right choice can be hard, but I'm here to give you some analysis on outfielders for the upcoming Fantasy Baseball season.

2020 Fantasy Baseball Outfield Preview

One of my favorite ways to prepare for the 2020 Fantasy Baseball season is to do mock drafts. To get a feel for where you can draft players for your 2020 Fantasy Baseball outfield, take a look at the Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft Simulator by FantasyPros. This takes multiple expert's opinions and rankings and puts them together so you can do mock drafts that feel like the real deal!

How Does the Arrival of Nick Castellanos in Cincinnati Change His Fantasy Value?

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Signing a four-year, $64 million contract with the Reds this offseason, it looks like the Reds are going to compete. However, it seemed like the Reds had their outfield set after the signing of Shogo Akiyama, a Japanese outfielder who recently came to the MLB. With an array of outfielders, the Reds now have Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel, Nick Castellanos, and Aristides Aquino. To find the fantasy value of Castellanos, we have to take a look at how playing time will turn out.

As of now, it seems like Castellanos is the only one with guaranteed playing time. While not a good defender, Castellanos will probably see time in Right Field.

That leaves Centerfield and Left Field up for grabs. Akiyama was a Centerfielder in Japan, and Senzel was the Centerfielder for the Reds last year. With Senzel injured to start the year, it can be assumed that these two will take up most of the time in Center.

That leaves Jesse Winker and Aristides Aquino. Both could split time in Left Field, as Aquino's power is no joke, but after struggling mightily in September, Aquino very well could start the year at Triple-A.

With playing time basically guaranteed and an improved lineup around him, Castellanos should be a great outfielder to grab in the 2020 Fantasy Baseball draft. Hitting 27 HRs last year, he very well could hit more this year. Losing some HRs to Comerica Park's Centerfield, playing most of his games in hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park, Castellanos can push for 30+ this year. Always a great hitter, couple that power with a .280+ average, and you're looking at a great outfielder for your 2020 Fantasy Baseball outfield who may come at a small discount due to signing late.

What Does Starling Marte's Arrival in Arizona Mean?

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It's a Marte Parte in Arizona! Joining Ketel Marte, Starling Marte is now a Diamondback. Being traded from the rebuilding Pirates is a nice boost to Starling's fantasy value. While he goes to a much better lineup and overall team, the ballpark represents a bit of a downgrade, albeit very small. Adding the humidor proved well for Chase Field, as it is no longer as hitter-friendly as it once was.

Looking at the lineup, however, Starling Marte should be able to steal many bases and in turn, score lots of runs for a Diamondbacks team that continues to be underrated. Probably becoming the main Centerfielder, Starling Marte will be flanked in the outfield by a now-healthy David Peralta in Left, and Cole Kalhoun in Right.

This will probably lock up Ketel Marte as the team's starting second basemen. Eduardo Escobar should slide over to third base. A once-promising Jake Lamb is now on the outside looking in. Christian Walker will take over first base, with Nick Ahmed at shortstop. There's no room for Lamb anymore, as he'll be relegated to a bench role.

While the park downgrade may dampen his fantasy outlook, Starling Marte should reward fantasy managers who draft him at his current price. Moving from the Pirates to the Diamondbacks may have been one of the best things that could happen to a fantasy darling like Starling.

Will Bringing in Another Veteran For the Braves Prove Ideal?

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The Braves opted to go with a similar route that they went last year. They signed Josh Donaldson to a 1-year deal, hoping that he could rediscover some of his old MVP form. While Donaldson didn't have an MVP year, he was still great. The Braves had the right idea and it worked for them. They have done the same thing with Marcell Ozuna this offseason. The Braves signed Ozuna to a one-year, $18 million deal.

Presumably the Braves everyday Left Fielder, Ozuna will join a solid lineup featuring Ronald Acuna Jr. Ozzie Albies, and of course, Freddie Freeman. The stadium change is a lot more helpful to Ozuna, as Busch Stadium is a lot friendlier to right-handed hitters.

Also, the Braves lineup is arguably better than the Cardinals. Ozuna had a down year in 2019, so it remains to be seen what he has in store for 2020, but chances look good on him bouncing back.

Some may be worried that the signing of Ozuna means that Braves star outfield prospects Christian Pache and Drew Waters will have to wait another year. While this may be the case, an aging Nick Markakis is in Right Field. This means that if Pache or Waters push to get promoted, Markakis could find himself on the bench if he is struggling.

This is definitely something to keep an eye on, as they could bring a boost to the lineup. Ozuna's power should be better this year, and the lineup is still great. The Braves seem to have made a nice move by signing Ozuna to a 1-year prove-it deal.

When's the Best Time to Draft An Outfielder?

All Fantasy Baseball players have different draft strategies. Some like to load up on a killer outfield early, while others like to wait and grab a bunch of backend bounceback guys.

While both approaches completely make sense, I like to mix both of them. This means that if I see a killer outfielder available early in the draft, I'll take him because sometimes you can't pass up that value. However, the outfield is always a deep position, as you can tell from the 2020 Rankings, so don't feel obligated to fill your outfield quickly.

There are often some good players that you can get later in the draft. These players either are coming off down years or were injured, so their stock has dipped. Being able to blend some of these players with your main outfield core can usually prove helpful. Let's take a look at some of these outfielders that you should either stay away from or draft at their discount and get paid back nicely.

Players on the Rise

Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees

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We all know what a healthy Stanton can do, he's a first-rounder. Stanton has tremendous power, and playing in Yankee Stadium only helps his power even though he can hit it out anywhere.

The 2019 season can be classified as a lost season for Stanton. He missed all but 18 games last year. Now that he is seemingly healthy and going at an ADP of 60, he is a bargain. It is impossible that he doesn't improve on last season.

Stanton hits in an amazing lineup, and the value he can return if healthy is almost immeasurable. A healthy Stanton instantly puts him in the conversation for 40+ home runs. And it isn't out of the realm of possibilities that he can hit 50+.

Getting Stanton as the 15th OF is crazy, and he is someone that I'd be looking to grab if I have another OF who is a safe option. I wouldn't want him as my first outfielder on my team. But at the price he is going, you should have other outfielders on your team before him.

I would grab Stanton in the draft before it is too late, as his ADP is very low for someone who can give you back first-round upside. Remember, he was drafted right outside the first round the past two seasons. Make him a big part of your 2020 Fantasy Baseball outfield.

Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia Phillies

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Rhys Hoskins is an interesting player, as he's virtually disappeared in the second half the past two seasons. However, if he can carry over his usual first-half excellence into the second half, we're looking at a great value. Going off the board around pick 100, Hoskins has the ability to hit 30-35 HRs. While his average might be a killer, he hits in a great lineup so the counting stats should be plentiful.

Another aspect that Hoskins offers is the unique position eligibility of 1B and OF. Being able to move Hoskins between 1B and OF will prove helpful throughout the season. While Hoskins isn't the sexiest player out there, I think that between where he is going and his pure power, he should be in store for a big year. One that should reward fantasy managers for drafting him at the discounted price they got him at.

Players on the Decline

Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox

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Benintendi had looked like a very valuable piece for a competitive Red Sox team. As they now try to save money, Benintendi lacks the shine he once had. He only hit 13 HRs with 10 Stolen Bases last year, stats that you could find on the waiver wire.

He hit .266, a big reason being his hard-hit rate was down. Benintendi wasn't hitting the ball as well as he used to, and whether that was because of injury or decline, I don't want the risk.

Still a very young player, Benintendi is being drafted also around pick 100, as fantasy managers hope he can recapture the star power that some thought he possessed. While the upside for Benintendi may be that of a 20/20 player, he had such a down year that I'm not sure I want to take the risk when I can grab players that have more upside in the later rounds.

If you think 2019 was the outlier, by all means, draft him. But with his hard-hit rates going down, and his place in the lineup fluctuating, I'll let someone else deal with the burden of Benintendi. He seems to be a better real-life player than someone for fantasy purposes. Keep him far off of my 2020 Fantasy Baseball outfield.

Danny Santana, Texas Rangers

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Danny Santana has been in the league for a few years now, but just last year he experienced his first breakout. I try to stay away from players like this, who seemingly come out of nowhere.

Santana plays for a Rangers team, who despite having a few core pieces, is a relatively deprived lineup. Put that on top of Santana's price, and I am steering far away from him. Santana hit when he came up last year, and he stole some bases along with giving fantasy managers some pop.

Santana is closer to someone that I would draft at the backend of my draft. He isn't someone that I would draft using a mid-draft pick. His positional eligibility is nice, but I can't see anything that warrants him repeating. His hard-hit rate wasn't very high, and while the power is nice, it seems everyone nowadays has some power.

Good luck to whoever drafts Danny Santana in your league, as I don't think he has much appeal past a late-round flier. He is not someone I want as a part of my 2020 Fantasy Baseball outfield.

Players on the Horizon

Tommy Edman, St. Louis Cardinals

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Tommy Edman is an interesting name in the fantasy community. A relatively quiet prospect, Edman came up last year and all he did was hit for the Cardinals. A good hitter in the minors, I think we're looking at someone similar to Jeff McNeil. By this, I mean someone who hits the ball well and while may not be a lock for plate appearances, I think he'll hit his way to an everyday job.

With the Cardinals losing Ozuna to the Braves, their outfield is not the greatest. With Tyler O'Neill, Dexter Fowler, and Harrison Bader as the projected starters, I see Edman taking one of their spots. Edman's average was inflated by a high BABIP, .346 to be exact. That is in line with what he did in the minors, and while Edman may not hit the ball hard, he hits it to the right places.

Edman is going around pick 160, and in some drafts even later. Taking Edman as one of your backend outfielders should prove well. On top of hitting for a good average, Edman also brings steals to the table, something that is increasingly valuable in Fantasy Baseball. When you look at Tommy Edman, you're looking at a mini Whit Merrifield in my opinion. Draft with confidence.

Willie Calhoun, Texas Rangers

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Willie Calhoun will always be my sleeper, from now until the end of time. He tore up the minors and has proven that he can be a solid middle of the lineup power bat. While his defensive woes may keep him in Left Field or DH, he is someone you can grab at the end of your drafts.

The Rangers finally opened up playing time in their outfield, shipping away Delino Deshields and letting Hunter Pence remain unsigned. Willie should be the everyday Left Fielder, and even though his upside is relatively unknown, wouldn't you want him on your team when he breaks out? Grab him with one of your later round draft picks, and watch him develop into a solid power hitter who will hit in the middle of the Rangers' order.

Power is Willie's game, but he was a fantastic all-around hitter in the minors. Calhoun also had great plate discipline throughout the minors, as he walks quite a bit. He's got an eye for the strike zone. If Willie is given full playing time this year, he could be a .280+ hitter with some nice pop. Now that's some nice late-round value, and someone I'll gladly take as part of my 2020 Fantasy Baseball outfield.

Players to Avoid

Jorge Soler, Kansas City Royals

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Jorge Soler had a monster season last year. Hitting 48 HRs, Soler broke-out last year and is coming to draft day as a premium power hitter.

While I think the power is legit, there are some concerns about the lineup around him. Plus, his proneness to strikeouts is not very inviting and it has always been a problem for him.

I tend to shy away from players with a history of strikeout issues. I do this because I don't want to have that player get into a slump. Strikeout prone players are also more prone to slumps.

Going in the top 100, I'd rather find someone more consistent, and with a better history and track record than Soler. If you're in desperate need of power, I suppose you could grab him, but make sure that your team can account for the average drop Soler may bring.

Even though he hit .265 last year, that may not be repeatable, as we may be looking at someone who is similar to Joey Gallo - lots of strikeouts, but lots of homers.

I'll pass on Soler for this year, as I don't want to go through any growing pains or be stuck with the Soler of the past. It is tough to draft players in the top 100 who broke out the year before, especially when they have some underlying issues.

Victor Robles, Washington Nationals

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Victor Robles, yes, the once top prospect is a player you should avoid. Robles was not very good last year, as he had some rookie struggles. He did flash some of his speed and power that he is growing into, but don't expect him to be a big power threat.

In fact, he actually increased his launch angle last year, which could explain the sudden drop in average. The speed will always be nice, and playing on a Nationals team fresh off a Championship, he could hit at the top of the order.

However, he made some not so smart plays last year both on the base paths and in the field. But I'm not sure he steals as much as we'd want him to. Plus, I don't really see the average all of a sudden shooting up. He at times struggles with pitches in the strike zone, and in turn, strikes out a bit more than he should.

If you're in dire need of speed, draft him. At his current price, however, I'm not sure he'll be on a lot of my teams.

Keep an Eye Out

If you enjoyed this preview of outfielders for the upcoming 2020 Fantasy Baseball season, be sure to check out some of the other fantasy advice here at Fantasy Six Pack. Our writers are great and always push out the best work that they can. Full of fantasy advice for any sport, check out my fellow writers. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter at @mikesollicito1.

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Blue February 11, 2020 - 9:36 am

Hoskins is only 1B eligible for this season – 158 games @ 1B, 2 @ DH. Small adjustment that should reduce his value somewhat.

Other than that, kudos! Great article.

Joe Bond February 12, 2020 - 8:52 am

Good catch, Fantasy Pros still has him eligible in the OF so we used it.

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