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Staff Post: Outfielders to Avoid in 2016

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Our writers offer you some outfielders they would avoid in drafts this season, including Joc Pederson, Billy Hamilton, Yoenis Cespedes and others.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

When preparing for your fantasy baseball drafts, it is a must to have a strategy before going into your draft. To assist you in your strategy, we have provided you with our Consensus Top 100 outfielder rankings for 2016, tiered rankings, and NL-only and AL-only rankings as well.

Now that we have provided you all these tools you need to prepare for your drafts, your fantasy draft preparation would be incomplete without some outfielders to target and avoid, which we provide you today.

We asked each of the fantasy baseball writers to provide you with the outfielder they would avoid in fantasy drafts this season, and you can find them along with their reasoning below.

Outfielders to Avoid in 2016

Joc Pederson, Dodgers (Jack Cecil)

Peterson is the classic athlete who lacks the hit tool to make it all work.  Maybe one day he figures it all out, but he'd have to drastically tone down what he's been doing all of his life, and I just don't expect him to figure out how to solve his mechanical and approach problems in one offseason.

After hitting .298 in March and April, he proceeded to not hit above .236 in a single month after, while never having a strikeout rate better than 28%.  His 15.8% line drive rate almost matches his 15.2% infield fly ball rate, and indicates that his entire swing path is bad since he's not blasting 40 homers.  Lastly, he was a dead pull hitter, and is going to face many full shifts next year if he doesn't change his ways.  There's plenty of talent here, and buying low during the year in a keeper or dynasty would be recommended, but I don't think you'll be getting your moneys worth if you draft him in a single season format.

Billy Hamilton, Reds (Ray Guilfoyle)

I am the low guy among our writers on Hamilton this season, ranking him as my #67 outfielder in our top 100 consensus rankings. Here is what I wrote about him earlier this week:

I am pretty down on Hamilton in 2016, as he is coming off a pretty pitiful season at the plate, hitting just .226-.274-.289 with 4 home runs, 56 runs scored, 28 RBI and 57 stolen bases in 65 attempts. The Reds are in a mini rebuild at the moment, so Hamilton's grip on the starting center field job is probably safe heading into the season, but I would not be surprised to see him sit more in 2016, and possibly lose the starting job. Reds manager Bryan Price has already offered support to Hamilton in spring training, saying that Hamilton will return to being his lead off hitter, but did not commit to it long term. The offseason trade for Jose Peraza could impact Hamilton's playing time as there is talk that Peraza could be used all over the infield and outfield this season.

Nelson Cruz, Mariners (Daniel Kelley)

In his first year in Seattle, the now-35-year-old Cruz set a full-season career-high in BABIP and blew past his career best in HR/FB rate. Like, he'd never before topped 21.3 percent, he moved to a bad homer park, and suddenly that number was 30.3 percent. All that despite being a year older and seeing no real change in any of his hard-hit percentages. Cruz has an old-player's skill set in an era where players are becoming old faster than they have in a couple generations. There's not a definite cliff in his future, but I'm very comfortable saying he isn't topping a .900 OPS again, and even .800 might be the ceiling.

Yoenis Cespedes, Mets (Domenic Lanza)

Before diving in, I feel the need to clarify that I would not avoid Cespedes entirely. Rather, this reflects my hesitancy to qualify him as one of the top-35 fantasy assets heading into 2016, which is where he has been drafted thus far. Cespedes' 2015 was largely defined by career-highs in R (by 12), HR (by 12), and RBI (by 5), and the general sense that he had figured out how to consistently drive the ball. Digging a bit deeper, though, 22 of his 35 home runs came after the All-Star break, with 17 of those coming in 56 games from August through the end of the season. Over that time his HR/FB was 23%, which is way out of line with his career norm of 14.1% (and his previous career-high of 14.8%). Moreover, as per ESPN's Home Run Tracker, ten of his home runs were either 'just enough' or 'lucky,' and his average home run distance was middle of the pack for those with 30-plus home runs. Cespedes also took fewer walks than ever last season, while also swinging at more pitches out of the zone. I don't doubt that he'll be a fine fantasy player this year - I'm just unwilling to take the risk that he'll be elite once again.

Ryan BraunBrewers (Michael Schwarz)

Braun turned 32 in November and is coming off back surgery.  His team has no plans to contend this season, which likely means more days off for the ailing slugger and fewer impact bats in the lineup when he does play.  Despite Milwaukee's dumpster-fire of a 2015 season, Braun did manage to post impressive numbers, including 25 HR and 24 SB.  He's certainly capable of repeating those numbers, but the odds, all things considered, are very much against it.  I will let someone else take the risk.

Brett Gardner, Yankees (Tim Finnegan)

I published a short piece earlier this week explaining why drafting Gardy this year concerns me. His wrist, which he injured *five* months ago, is still hurting. Here's what John Harper of the Daily News wrote,

How alarming is it that Brett Gardner showed up for spring training still bothered by a left wrist injury he suffered in the Wild Card game last October?

"I was shocked to hear that," an AL scout said on Friday. "The Yankees have to be awfully nervous about that. If it didn’t heal in, what, five months, then you’d have to think it could linger. Wrists are the worst injury for a hitter. I’ve seen it with plenty of guys. You can aggravate it just swinging and missing."

For that matter, Mark Teixiera can tell Gardner all about it. He admits now that his wrist injury basically cost him two years of his career.

To make matters worse, Gardner was bothered by an injury to his right wrist last season that some Yankee people believe was a significant factor in his poor second half.

"They were a completely different team when Gardner was playing well," the scout said. "He and (Jacoby) Ellsbury both. They need both of those guys healthy all year to have a shot at winning the division."

That sounds terrifying. Gardner is a risk to shut it down at any point, and even if he plays, you'd think a balky wrist would hurt his production.

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