Outfield Shuffle Up: Mike Trout is still the safest pick you can make

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Ah, the outfield. Generally, a fun place to shop. All five categories are in abundance here. There are many paths to get what you need.

The prices are unscientific and meant as a comparison tool. Assume a 5x5 scoring system, as usual. Players at the same cost are considered even. I retain the right to tweak this list in the first 24 hours of publishing.

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I do every Shuffle from scratch, so it’s possible anything you see today might mildly conflict with past prices. I’m not trying to justify old angles; I just want you to know how I feel today.

Send all reasonable correspondence and commentary to my Twitter account: @scott_pianowski. And please remember the golden rule; no player gains (or loses) a chunk of fantasy value simply because you roster him.

The Big Tickets

$44 Mike Trout

$43 Ronald Acuna Jr.

$43 Christian Yelich

$42 Cody Bellinger

$39 Mookie Betts

$38 Juan Soto

$35 Starling Marte

$35 Austin Meadows

$34 J.D. Martinez

Even when he's wearing an oven mitt, you can't stop Mike Trout. (Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Even when he's wearing an oven mitt, you can't stop Mike Trout. (Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

There are several candidates for the top of the draft, and I’m not going to argue with anyone who prefers the upside of Acuna, the broad skills of Yelich, or the power of Bellinger. Trout gets a slight nod for resume and floor, but it’s extremely slight. I’d be shocked if any of these guys missed in 2020, it’s just a matter of trusting the guy who’s done it for the longest . . . Betts could steal as many bases as he wants, but he realizes it’s a specialty play. And obviously the Dodgers have a truckload of thumpers behind him . . . Soto’s discerning eye is a thing of beauty, the evolutionary Votto . . . Meadows was an easy breakout call last year, you just had to trust Tampa Bay would play him all the time.

Big names, but some risk

$30 Bryce Harper

$30 Ketel Marte

$30 Charlie Blackmon

$29 George Springer

$29 Kris Bryant

$26 Aaron Judge*

$25 Whit Merrifield

$25 Giancarlo Stanton*

$24 Eloy Jimenez

$23 Jorge Soler

$22 Tommy Pham

$22 Yordan Alvarez

Harper has been mildly overrated since his monster MVP season of 2015. Batting average is far from a perfect stat, but it’s what we use for 5x5, and he’s batted .260 or worse in three of the last four years. Oddly, he had a much better slash against lefties last year (100 points higher than the platoon advantage). Maybe he’ll relax a bit in his second Philly go-round, but someone usually wants to chase his upside, and that’s not going to be me . . . You can price the Yankees Gold-Dust Twins wherever you want. Obviously Judge and Stanton get a break from the delayed start of the year. Still, Stanton has missed chunks of the season four times in eight years. At what point does that need to be baked into his profile?

Boring players on the right side of 30 have become my 2020 jam, which makes Bryant a regular purchase of mine. He’s also eligible at third base. He’ll lose some RBI opportunities if he sticks in the leadoff spot, obviously, but he also picks up extra at-bats. I can live with that tradeoff . . . Blackmon no longer runs much, but he can dominate four other categories, and the Rockies seem to be making headway with how to better prepare for their road at-bats. Blackmon is well priced for profit as he enters the boring veteran part of his career.

Proactive Picks

$21 Nick Castellanos

$20 Victor Robles

$19 Luis Robert

$19 Jeff McNeil

$19 Ramon Laureano

$18 Marcell Ozuna

$18 Joey Gallo

$17 Eddie Rosario

$17 Franmil Reyes

$17 Andrew Benintendi

$17 Michael Conforto

$17 Michael Brantley

Getting out of Detroit did wonders for Castellanos, even if he did run especially well in Chicago. He’ll be a lovely fit in Cincinnati . . . Robert’s resume is almost too good to be true, and he’ll be well insulated by a loaded White Sox lineup. The big question: How quickly will he be unleashed on the bases . . . Gallo took a monster step forward in 2019 before injury struck. It’s possible I have him $7-10 too cheaply on this board. Of course, we’re all going to miss the offensive giveaway from Arlington (though fans will enjoy watching a game without the sauna conditions) . . . Ozuna gets an injury pass for 2019, and now he’s parked in a loaded Atlanta lineup . . . Benintendi had all sorts of rotten injury luck last year; this season, I’m willing to give him a modest break. If he can’t stay healthy for 2020, I’ll bake it into his future price . . . Bump McNeil a buck or two for the position flexibility — just hope the Mets don’t mess it up.

Reasonable, plausible upside

$15 Max Kepler

$14 Kyle Schwarber

$14 Oscar Mercado

$14 Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

$13 David Dahl

$12 Danny Santana

$12 Tommy Edman

$11 Byron Buxton

$10 Brandon Lowe

$9 Scott Kingery

I suspect Kingery would be progressing more quickly if the Phillies would let him own a position. It also seems like he did a smart thing buying out his arbitration years; maybe he’s destined to be a good player, not a star . . . Dahl’s a question of health, because he’s an obvious star if he plays a full Colorado schedule . . . Schwarber’s defense has improved to the point that the Cubs don’t have to race him off the field 2-3 times a week. That certainly adds to the upside profile . . . Santana is almost impossible to price; he was so good last year, yet one of baseball’s worst hitters prior to that. He might be $20 on our first in-season shuffle, or off the board completely . . . I want as many legacy Blue Jays as possible, especially the non-Vlad guys, as they’re not prohibitively priced.

Do you feel lucky?

$8 Trey Mancini*

$8 J.D. Davis

$7 Willie Calhoun*

$7 Justin Upton

$7 Shin-Soo Choo

$7 Brett Gardner

$6 Kyle Tucker

$6 Bryan Reynolds

$6 Lorenzo Cain

$6 David Peralta

$6 Ian Happ

$5 Hunter Dozier

$5 Mallex Smith

$5 Andrew McCutchen*

$5 Mark Canha

$5 Nomar Mazara

$4 Garrett Hampson

$4 Adam Eaton

$4 Avisail Garcia

$4 Brian Anderson

$4 Nick Senzel

$4 Hunter Renfroe

$4 Randal Grichuk

$4 Ryan Braun

The goal of any draft is to avoid Smith; I want a worker-bee approach to stolen bases. Yes, there are less bags around in the current version of baseball, but that means we need fewer to be competitive. Smith could wind up batting ninth for a bad Seattle team, or out of a gig completely . . . Hampson was a monster in September, but the Rockies are notorious for having a short memory. Any non-star player on this team is just one 2-for-12 stretch from getting a benching . . . Mazara steps into an age-25 season and is getting a change of scenery at a good time . . . Gardner won’t match last year’s power, but his stolen-base interest could perk up a bit. He’s been underrated for most of his 30s.

Bargain Bin

$3 Joc Pederson

$3 Luis Arraez

$3 Corey Dickerson

$3 Mike Yastrzemski

$3 Teoscar Hernandez

$3 A.J. Pollock

$2 Dylan Carlson

$2 Shogo Akiyama

$2 Niko Goodrum

$2 Domingo Santana

$2 David Fletcher

$2 Trent Grisham

$2 Anthony Santander

[Yahoo Rankings: Overall | C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP]

$1 Yasiel Puig

$1 Alex Verdugo*

$1 Jo Adell

$1 Jon Berti

$1 Austin Hays

$1 Gregory Polanco

$1 Sam Hilliard

$1 Wil Myers

$1 Austin Riley

$1 Kole Calhoun

$1 Jose Peraza

$1 Brandon Nimmo

$1 Yoshi Tsutsugo

$1 Kevin Pillar

$1 Kevin Kiermaier

$1 Ender Inciarte

$1 Jackie Bradley

$1 Jarrod Dyson

$1 Harrison Bader

$1 Mike Tauchman

Previous Episodes

• Starting Pitcher Shuffle Up

• Middle Infield Shuffle Up

• Corner Infield Shuffle Up

• Catcher Shuffle Up

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