Shuffle Up: Searching for Bryce Harper

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It’s been one of those years for <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/8875/" data-ylk="slk:Bryce Harper">Bryce Harper</a> (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
It’s been one of those years for Bryce Harper (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

Ah, the outfield. Land of all the fun stats. If you can keep your players on the field, you might just get somewhere.

The numbers don’t matter in a vacuum; what matters is how the player prices relate to one another. Assume a 5×5 scoring system, as always. Everyone listed here has outfield eligibility in the Yahoo game at the current time. Players at the same cost are considered even, and don’t fret when players are just a buck or two apart, that’s not a big deal.

I’m not ranking the injured guys; it just becomes a silly game of “Who has the most injury optimism?”

[Yahoo Fantasy Football leagues are open: Sign up now for free!]

And I’m not a doctor. (Somebody get me a doctor.)

Have some disagreements? Have some major disagreements? That’s good! That’s why we have a game. I welcome your respectful disagreement anytime: @scott_pianowski on Twitter.

$44 Mike Trout
$42 Mookie Betts
$37 J.D. Martinez
$32 Andrew Benintendi
$30 Charlie Blackmon
$30 Giancarlo Stanton
$29 Aaron Judge
$27 Christian Yelich
$27 Eddie Rosario
$27 Nelson Cruz
$27 Bryce Harper
$26 Scooter Gennett
$25 Nick Castellanos

The good news with Harper is that he’s still adding value as an offensive player. His OPS+ of 124 is actually the median of his career (though his career average OPS+ is 139). A .366 OBP is still excellent; he leads the NL in walks. He has 20 home runs and a .475 slugging.

Then again, every number in Harper’s slash line is lower than we project. And the .216 average is 62 points lower than his career mark.

Perhaps he’s running into a lot of bad luck. His hard-hit rate is a career high, and his line-drive rate is almost identical to last year’s. He’s striking out a little more this year, but a 3.4-percent boost isn’t cause for alarm. A .223 BABIP is an obvious outlier, especially when combined with his batted-ball profile. Harper’s pull-happy profile also means more outs via the shift — maybe it would be in his best interests to lay down a bunt now and again, take an easy hit (especially when leading off an inning, when a baserunner is a boon for scoring chances).

Harper zone contact is a career low, which is surprising, but he’s not getting himself out — his chase rate is under his career mark.

I’m floor driven with my first-round picks, so I would not make Harper a Top 15 player if redrafting today. But he’s be a ticklish play anywhere in the second round. His bad season isn’t that bad. And his upside remains the moon (or maybe just slight of the moon; perhaps only Trout and Betts can get there).

I don’t know why pitchers keep challenging Castellanos, by far the only formidable stick in the Detroit lineup. Although the Tigers are 6-11 since Miguel Cabrera suffered his season-ending injury, Castellanos keeps rolling along (.288/.356/.667, seven homers). He’s fifth in hard-hit rate (training Olson, Carpenter, Suarez, and J.D. Martinez), and he’s No. 17 overall in soft-contact avoidance. Look at this messy Tigers lineup. I’d take my chances with anyone else . . . Does Rosario look out of place here? He shouldn’t. Here’s his last calendar year: .307/.346/.557, 102 runs, 35 home runs, 102 RBIs, 13 steals . . . Blackmon has too much back class for me to take him out of the 30s. Maybe this means nothing, but June has historically been his weakest month. He turned 32 on the weekend, so it’s too soon to worry about age. A .301 BABIP might not look out of order, but it’s 34 points below his career average. Hang in.

$22 Jose Martinez
$22 George Springer
$21 Marcell Ozuna
$20 Matt Kemp
$20 Starling Marte
$18 Justin Upton
$17 Michael Brantley
$16 Max Muncy
$15 Nomar Mazara
$15 Shin-Soo Choo
$15 Khris Davis
$15 Mitch Haniger
$15 Rhys Hoskins
$15 Odubel Herrera
$15 Juan Soto
$15 Yasiel Puig

Very quietly Choo has been a Top 21 outfielder, producing in every category except stolen bases (and he’s not a total zero there, he has three). You just hope he can stay healthy in his age-36 season (the calendar flips for him on July 13). Choo isn’t getting a bump from Arlington this year (his OPS is 20 points higher on the road), but he does jump to a .933 OPS against right-handed pitching. He’s one of my favorites, an Ibanez All-Star to be sure. Boring but reliable veterans are a lovely target area in all fantasy sports. We don’t have to market our teams, we just want the numbers.

Puig had a .193 average in late April, when a hip injury forced him to the DL. In his 46 games since returning, he’s been solid — .295/.364/.548, nine homers. Somehow Puig only produced 24 runs and 20 RBIs from that slash, but we’ll take it. And for all the mistakes he makes through his mercurial ways, sometimes you get splashy highlights, too.

$14 Brandon Belt
$14 Andrew McCutchen
$14 Brandon Nimmo
$14 Tommy Pham
$13 Adam Jones
$13 Aaron Hicks
$13 Matt Olson
$12 Whit Merrifield
$12 Carlos Santana
$12 Wil Myers
$12 Jurickson Profar
$12 Kyle Schwarber
$12 Dee Gordon
$12 Cody Bellinger
$12 Adam Eaton
$11 Derek Dietrich
$11 Ian Desmond
$11 Nick Markakis
$11 Ryan Braun
$11 David Peralta
$10 Scott Schebler
$10 Joc Pederson
$10 Brett Gardner
$10 Jesse Winker
$10 Ronald Acuna
$10 Adam Duvall
$10 Eric Thames
$9 Jason Heyward

Is Gordon’s toe injury still a concern? This is what he’s done in 30 games since returning from the disabled list: .246/.261/.285, with five steals in eight attempts. You knew you’d get zero power — no homers, seven RBIs. He’s scored a paltry 13 runs. I don’t think he’s healthy right now; at least, I’m not going to pay for him on the assumption that he is.

Although Heyward’s OBP has dipped a little in the No. 2 slot — a misleading change, since batting eighth in front of the pitcher is a driver of walks — he’s taken to the slot nicely, slashing .313/.347/.473, with 17 runs and 16 RBIs in 26 games. He’s shut down the running game and he is not a major power threat, but perhaps he can be a solid three-category contributor now.

$8 Gerardo Parra
$8 Austin Meadows
$8 Brian Anderson
$8 Randal Grichuk
$8 Chris Taylor
$8 Mark Trumbo
$8 Ender Inciarte
$7 Avisail Garcia
$7 Carlos Gonzalez
$7 Jason Kipnis
$7 Josh Reddick
$7 Ian Happ
$7 Josh Harrison
$7 Stephen Piscotty
$7 Teoscar Hernandez
$7 Enrique Hernandez
$7 Joey Gallo
$6 Gorkys Hernandez
$6 Ben Zobrist
$6 Hunter Renfroe
$6 Harrison Bader
$6 Lonnie Chisenhall
$5 Dustin Fowler
$5 Manuel Margot
$5 Gregory Polanco
$5 Marwin Gonzalez
$5 Jackie Bradley Jr.
$5 Charlie Culberson
$5 Delino DeShields
$5 Kevin Pillar

Kipnis still has horrendous seasonal numbers, but he perked up over his last three weeks: .280/.357/.480, with four homers. His line-drive rate is up six percent from last year. Interestingly, he’s hitting .286 when shifted against, and .221 against a traditional defense . . . Bader would instantly jump into double-digits on my board if the Cardinals made a clear commitment to him . . . Polanco is a pain in the neck for weekly-lineup players, as the Pirates have four outfielders for three spots and he’s not the primary guy in that rotation.

$4 Albert Almora
$4 Michael Taylor
$4 Jon Jay
$4 Corey Dickerson
$4 Denard Span
$4 Jose Pirela
$4 Jonathan Villar
$4 Nick Williams
$4 Niko Goodrum
$4 Michael Conforto
$3 Danny Valencia
$3 Ehire Adrianza
$3 Alen Hanson
$3 Eduardo Nunez
$3 Travis Jankowski
$3 Daniel Descalso
$3 Mallex Smith
$3 Jose Bautista
$3 Curtis Granderson
$3 Mark Canha
$3 Franmil Reyes
$3 Daniel Palka
$3 Max Kepler

Mallex Smith is showing modest growth as a hitter, though a 97 OPS+ is still an eyelash below the league average of 100. Worst of all, he’s not improving as a base stealer —successful on just 15-of-22 swipes. And the Rays don’t prefer him at the top of the order, either; he’s batted seventh or lower in 49 of his 56 starts. Right now Smith is giving you a slightly-favorable average in a mixed league, a handful of steals — hopefully the caught-stealings don’t hurt you — disappointing runs scored, and no pop. It’s not like the fantasy community is going crazy for Smith, but he’s been moderately overrated for a while. The closer you get to Smith, the less fun he is.

$2 Ben Gamel
$2 Tony Kemp
$2 Rajai Davis
$2 Brock Holt
$2 Charlie Tilson
$2 Cory Spangenberg
$2 Jake Cave
$2 Jacob Marisnick
$2 Adam Engel
$2 Chad Pinder
$2 Scott Kingery
$2 Robbie Grossman
$2 Alex Gordon
$2 Billy Hamilton
$2 Lewis Brinson
$2 Trey Mancini
$2 Jarrod Dyson
$2 Kevin Kiermaier
$1 Hernan Perez
$1 Ryan Rua
$1 Matt Joyce
$1 JaCoby Jones
$1 Chris Owings
$1 Kole Calhoun
$0 Dexter Fowler

No debating the injured
Lorenzo Cain
AJ Pollock
Byron Buxton
David Dahl
Franchy Cordero
Jay Bruce
Jorge Soler
Kris Bryant
Leonys Martin
Matt Adams
Steven Souza

Follow the Yahoo fantasy crew on Twitter: Andy Behrens, Dalton Del Don, Bradley Evans, Liz Loza, Scott Pianowski and Tank Williams

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