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Staff Post: Outfielders to target in 2020

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The Fake Teams writers tell you their favorite choices in the outfield for 2020.

Getty Images/Pete Rogers Illustrations

Welcome to Outfield Week! Staff targets right now, and staff avoids later today. There are some great names on this list, and we hope it helps at least one person today!

Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Eloy Jimenez, White Sox (Jonathan Butler)

NFBC ADP: 56.60

While 2019 wasn’t the big breakout we all wanted and expected, it was filled with a lot of excitement for this young slugger. In the first half of 2019, Eloy dealt with a couple of injuries and it definitely hampered him, but he put together an excellent September with nine homers and a .292 batting average. Jimenez has the swagger that everyone loves, as he thinks he could hit 50 long balls this year and I am not one to argue with him. Jimenez isn’t one who will walk a lot, but his bat-to-ball skills are top tier and his power is real, juiced ball or not. Eloy is currently going behind guys like Giancarlo Stanton and Whit Merrifield, but to me neither of these players have the same ceiling that the young White Sox left fielder has. Give me all the shares of Eloy this year as the 57th player overall.

Oakland Athletics v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Ramon Laureano, Athletics (Zack Waxman)

NFBC ADP: 78.66

Ramon Laureano is going above his already lofty ADP in every draft I do. This is partially because I wilL not allow him to be drafted after his ADP. He is only 25 years old and has 590 career at-bats. In those at bats, he’s slashed .288/29/20 with a combined 192 runs and RBI in his age 23/24 seasons. Moreover, he mainly batted at the bottom of the order with the vast majority of his at-bats from the 7th or 8th spot. I think it was overlooked that he was a top prospect in the Astros system, as he was a 16th round pick. The Astros produce so much talent in that farm they have to basically give away the excess—J.D. Martinez, J.D. Davis, Teoscar Hernandez, Domingo Santana, etc. He is going to run with elite speed and a 20-for-23 success rate in the majors to date. His projected totals from last season across 600 plate appearances are 30 homers, 16 steals, 99 runs, 84 RBIs, and 41 doubles. That is basically from the bottom of the order. Take his Triple-A stats across 600 plate appearances you have .297 with 30 homers and 23 bags. Victor Robles is being drafted ahead of him. This makes no sense. He is projected to bat second in a great lineup and that is as far as it goes in terms of me believing his projections. To get a balanced player with this combination of safety and upside is a steal in the sixth round of a 15-team league.

Atlanta Braves Workout Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Marcell Ozuna, Braves (Garrett Atkins)

NFBC ADP: 95.72

Get Marcell Ozuna in every draft you do. This is not hyperbole, I’m serious. Ozuna could put up a top 10 outfielder season. In 2017, Ozuna hit 37 home runs with 124 RBIs and a .924 OPS. This was while playing in one of the worst home parks for a hitter. In 2019, Ozuna greatly underperformed based on his expected stats. This includes an xBA of .288, an xSLG of .548, and an xwOBA of .382. He had the biggest gap between expected stats and actual stats in baseball. He was also top 20 in baseball in both average exit velocity and hard hit percentage. This season, Ozuna is likely to bat fourth behind Ronald Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies, and Freddie Freeman. He could lead baseball in RBIs. I have Ozuna as a top 50 pick. His current going rate is closer to 100 overall.

Cincinnati Reds v Cleveland Indians Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

Oscar Mercado, Indians (Mark Abell)

NFBC ADP: 116.72

Sitting well into the 100s is a talented young outfielder who should get plenty of playing time with the Indians. Last season in his first full year he had 15 homers, 70 runs, and 54 RBIs...not to mention 15 stolen bases and a .269 average across 115 games. Given a full season, those stats inflate to 21 homers, 98 runs, 76 RBIs and 21 stolen bases. His strikeout rate is below 20%, his BABIP last season was low if anything, he had a 40% hard contact rate, and he makes solid contact. For the draft position to get 20/20 with a .270 average, that’s not too shabby.

Cleveland Indians Workout Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Domingo Santana, Indians (Heath Capps)

NFBC ADP: 331.33

One of these is not like the others, at least with regard to ADP. But I figured I could go pretty deep here. Santana has a starting job with Cleveland, where he is expected to be the full-time DH and focus on mashing—which is great, because defense isn’t his strong suit. For reference, in 2019 Santana ranked in the 1st percentile for Outs Above Average and the 2nd percentile for Outfielder Jump. Yikes. With the stick, though...

Santana’s hard hit rate (69th), xwOBA (69th), and xSLG (74th) were all well above average. And if we’re talking Fangraphs leaderboards, among outfielders in 2019 his 42.9% hard hit rate ranked 19th and his 26.6% line drive rate ranked second. Sure, he’s got some swing-and-miss to his game, with a career 32.0% strikeout rate. But he also posts consistently high BABIPs (career .357), no doubt aided by how hard he hits the ball and by the fact that he can run just a little bit (26.7 ft/s). His .257 xBA from last year was close to his actual .253 mark, and more closely resembled his breakout 2017 season (.275 xBA, actual .278) than his flop of a 2018 season. If it all breaks right, I think he could hit .260 with 25 home runs and chip in with 6-8 steals. At his rock bottom ADP, I’m taking that in all of my deeper leagues as my last outfielder or one of my primary bench options.

That’s it for targets, so let us know who we missed. And circle back around for staff avoids later on in the day!