Fantasy baseball rankings have come out across many of the major sports sites, with a keen eye on drawing early interest for the 2017 MLB season. As with every season, there are some players who receive a lot of early buzz, but it appears that Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista is going in the opposite direction. A report by ESPN.com reveals the updated fantasy baseball rankings for the site, naming the top 300 players as the season draws close. Bautista is ranked No. 61 overall, but also as the 20th outfielder on the list.
Breaking that down a bit further, it means that Jose Bautista should be drafted in the seventh round or earlier if owners in 10-team leagues are following the rankings. In a 12-team league, this would mean that Bautista needs to be off the board in the fifth round or earlier. So why is it that Bautista has been falling in many of the early mock drafts hosted on Yahoo Sports and ESPN? The answer may be a mixture of reasons, with many fantasy baseball owners seeing him as a risky selection this year.
There are three main reasons that owners are bucking the fantasy baseball rankings and going rogue in many leagues when it comes to Jose Bautista. Those reasons are that he struggled through injuries in 2016, he took a hit in popularity following a bat flip and onfield incident with Roughned Odor, and then he remained a free agent for far too long during the MLB offseason. Although he ended up re-signing with the Toronto Blue Jays, it seemed that there was very little interest on the market. That lowered opinion has carried into fantasy baseball.
During the 2016 MLB season, Jose Bautista played in 116 games for the Blue Jays, posting 517 plate appearances in that time. He finished with a 0.234 batting average, 0.366 on-base percentage, and 117 OPS for the year. In his counting numbers, he finished with 22 home runs, 69 RBIs, 68 runs scored, and two stolen bases. Those aren’t numbers that would warrant selecting a player in the top 100, let alone the top 60. This is where owners selecting him early have to hope that he is ready to bounce back in a big way.
Outfield depth is also hurting Bautista in mock drafts, as the players getting selected around him have the potential for huge upsides. A.J. Pollock should be healthy with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Billy Hamilton could offer more than 50 stolen bases for owners, and Justin Upton had a huge second-half for the Detroit Tigers. Those are the three outfielders ranked closest to Bautista, and they all have the potential to put up big numbers in 2017. There are several other positional players that owners appear to be taking risks on this year before selecting Bautista as well.
The Blue Jays still have a really good offense this year despite losing Edwin Encarnacion to the Cleveland Indians in free agency. Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson will continue driving in runs for the team, adding to the number of at-bats that Bautista should get. It’s possible that he could easily return to his 2015 form, where he had 40 home runs, 114 RBIs, and 108 runs scored. What he has to do is remain healthy, though, which was easier to do in his younger years. Now he is 36.
Projecting the numbers that Jose Bautista should be able to get in 2017 suggest he will finish with around 30 home runs, 100 RBIs, and 100 runs scored. He could be rough on the batting average category but makes up for it with a nice on-base percentage. Leagues that use OBP as a category should see him coming off the board much earlier than leagues using AVG. Owners may want to heed the early fantasy baseball rankings in regard to Bautista because he could be in for a big year at the plate.
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