July 27, 2021

Clearing The Bases: Outfielders

March 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Outfield seems to be a jumbled mess of players once you get thru the first dozen or so.  This position is nowhere near as deep as it once was, and even most of the top ten players come with question marks, whether it be their injury history or resume.  This list assumes you are playing in a basic 5×5 league so players whose sole value is speed will find a place in the top 40.

1.       Carl Crawford, Boston Red Sox:  Crawford signed with Boston as a free agent this off-season which should only enhance his value as a fantasy player.  Sure you will need to find power someplace else as his upside seems to be 20 HRs, but he will hit all of the other cats, and if he bats third all season, this could be his best season yet as far as run producing.

2.       Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies:  CarGo could be the definition of a one-year wonder who has flown up the draft board because of that career season.  CarGo started to show the kind of talent he possesses during the 2009 post-season and carried that into 2010 with 34 HRs, 117 RBIs, 111 Rs, 26 SBs, and a .336 AVG.  Who wouldn’t take those numbers this season.  The worry is his ability to hit the curve ball as he is bound to see a truck load of those this season.  If you want him better grab him early, he’s going mid-late 1st round in almost all drafts.

3.       Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers:  I’m not as high on Braun as some others, as I haven’t even thought of drafting him or purchasing him in any draft I have participated as of yet.  The reason for this is because GB/FB ratio has been heading in the wrong direction.  Seems Braun wants to raise his average at the expense of some power.  That may be good for the Brewers, but not as good for fantasy owners.

4.       Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals:  It may have taken Holliday a little bit to get used to life outside of Coors Field, but after seeing the kind of numbers he put up in his first full season in St. Louis, I think it’s safe to say he’s comfortable.  Never a bad thing hitting around Albert Pujols either.  Fantasy owners are worried about the Cardinals due to the loss of pitcher Adam Wainwright for the season, but that won’t hurt the Cards offense.

5.       Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers:  Hamilton could certainly find himself up a few rungs on this ladder if I trusted him to be able to play 150+ games this season.  Unfortunately I can’t as it seems like you could be using a high pick on a player that is likely to play around 125 games.  Granted when he’s in the lineup he produces like few others can, but for my money I try to stay away from players that have a hard time staying on the field, especially early in my draft.

6.       Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers:  Kemp had an extremely disappointing season in 2010, letting down just about every fantasy owner who drafted him.  Things were so bad in LA last season that he was benched more than once to try and snap him out of his slump.  This season owners are hoping for a rebound and most are expecting Kemp to put up numbers closer to 2009, than 2010.  New manager Don Mattingly and Kemp have always had a strong relationship, that should help things along also.

7.       Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates:  There are two players that come to mind that might all of a sudden put up the big numbers that CarGo did last season, and McCutchen is definitely one of those players.  He can do it all, the only question is where he will hit in the lineup, 1st or 3rd.  Fantasy owners would prefer 3rd as that is a power spot and would allow him to drive in more runs, not to mention that new manager Clint Hurdle has stated that he expected McCutchen to steal bases no matter where he hits in the order.

8.       Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays:  I already wrote up Bautista in the 3B column.  You have to love that he has dual eligibility, certainly helps him move up the draft board.  Once again I don’t think you can expect 54 HRs again, but the ball flies out of the Skydome nicely, and 30+ HRs is not out of the question.

9.       Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers:  Like his teammate, Josh Hamilton, there is only one reason Cruz isn’t higher on this list, health.  Last season he battled multiple hamstring injuries and only played in 108 games.  Sure he puts up amazing stats when he plays (22HR, 78 RBI, 17 SB), but once again you’re going to pay a premium price for a player who is almost guaranteed to spend at least one stint on the DL.

10.   Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks:   Injuries derailed Upton’s 2010 season as his numbers regressed and he seemed to take a step back.  Big things have been expected of Upton almost from the first day he put on his DBack uniform.  He has yet to reach that potential but people have to realize he is just 23 years of age, and should only get better.  That being said, I have him ranked #10, but if I didn’t have any OFs on my roster, I would probably go in a different direction, maybe a Choo or an Ethier.

11.   Shin-Soo Choo, Cleveland Indians:  Because Choo plays in Cleveland, he seems to fly under the fantasy radar.  Choo reminds me of Carl Crawford with the exception that he will steal around 25 bases instead of 45, but will hit 25 home runs instead of 15.  There is an added bonus in keeper leagues as owners no longer have to worry about Choo having to go back to South Korea to serve in the military as he was given an exemption when he helped South Korea win the gold medal in the Asian Games.

12.   Hunter Pence, Houston Astros:  Pence is another player who can get lost in fantasy drafts, perhaps it’s because he doesn’t have that natural fluid swing.  It never looks like baseball comes easy to him, but he is fun to watch.  Pence got off to an awful start last season, but recovered to put up his usual numbers across the board.  Pence has hit exactly 25 HRs in three straight seasons and will be relied upon to be a major force in the Astros offense now that the last of the killer bees, Lance Berkman, is no longer with the team.

13.   Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers:  Ethier was on his way to a huge season last year before a broken finger derailed those plans.  Whenever you’re dealing with a hitter, you hate to see any kind of hand or wrist injuries as even though Ethier only spent the minimum amount of time on the DL, he never seemed to be the same player once he returned.  That being said, Ethier should be at 100% this season, and could be a steal this far down on your draft list.

14.   Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals:  Did the small dimensions of Citizen’s Field help Werth, or does it not matter where he plays.  This is a huge question that needs to be answered before you decide to draft Werth.  I’m not convinced that he will have anywhere near the kind of offensive season to just a top draft pick or the kind of contract that Washington gave him.  I’m staying away.

15.   Alex Rios, Chicago White Sox:  Rios justified general manager Ken Williams faith in him after he was claimed off the waiver wire in 2009.  The Blue Jays just wanted to get rid of his salary, so they gave him to Chicago for nothing.  Rios looked terrible finishing out that season with the White Sox but made up for it with a huge 2010 with 20+ HRs and 30+ steals.  Numbers that could be exceeded this season as the White Sox are loaded offensively.

16.   Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves:  Hard to judge Heyward’s rookie season as the performance didn’t quite live up to the hype, not to mention the thumb injury that cost him some time.  Still he hit 18 HRs, drove in 72, and stole 11 bags, all while hitting .277, to finish runner up in the Rookie of the Year balloting.  Makes you wonder what another year’s experience to go along with a healthy season could do for his numbers.

17.   Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox:  Doing a podcast the other day, one of my co-hosts stated that Ellsbury was made of fiber glass, insinuating that his body is brittle and he gets hurt to often.  Hard to argue with that statement as Ellsbury missed most of last season dealing with multiple injuries, but he won’t have to worry about running into Adrian Beltre anymore, and if he is indeed fully recovered from those injuries, Ellsbury could have a huge season on top of the Red Sox lineup.

18.   Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners:  I have Ichiro much lower on my lists than many people and truth is I could easily have him 5-6 spots lower.  I just don’t trust a player who will be drafted as high as he will because of his name.  Sure he will bat .330, but there’s not a lot to like after that.  He will steal bases in the first half of the season, but seems to slow down during the second half, there is not much of an offense around him, so you can forget about him being a huge run producer or the lineup around Ichiro driving him home, and we all know there isn’t much power there.  Just not my type of player.

19.   Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds:  Count me among those rankers who believe that Bruce could be in for a big season this year.  His power numbers have gone up each year he has played in the majors and he may just be coming into his own as an offensive power house.  I don’t believe 30/100 is out of the question, but I’m leaning more towards 28/90 which once again would be an increase for the fourth year in a row.

20.   Chris Young, Arizona Diamondbacks:  Young has a nice collection of power and speed, the kind of combo that fantasy owners salivate over.  The question now is, was 2010 a career year, or are those the kind of numbers we can now expect out of Young?  27 HRs, 91 RBIs and 28 SBs doesn’t seem to be asking to much and if he is able to duplicate those numbers year in and year out, he’s going to climb up this list quickly.

21.   Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees:  A couple of days ago, Granderson was a few ticks higher on this list as I’m a believer that after taking a season to get used to life in the Bronx, he will have a big year.  A strained oblique however has me concerned even though both the Yankees and Granderson don’t believe it’s all that serious.  I’ll take the cautious route however and keep him out of the top 20.

22.   Mike Stanton, Florida Marlins:  You have to love that in his first game against major league pitching this spring against Boston today, he went 3-4 with two HRs and seven RBIs.  The sky is the ceiling for how good Stanton could be.  Even better news is that the Marlins wouldn’t have played him in a major league game if they didn’t think he was 100% healthy.

23.   Colby Rasmus, St. Louis Cardinals:  Rasmus is the last on my players whom I believe could have a huge, CarGo like season.  Rasmus hit 23 HRs last season and drove in 66 runs even though manager Tony LaRussa refuses to play him every game for reasons that seem to baffle quite a few people.  Rasmus and LaRussa don’t seem to have the greatest of relationships, but assuming he is left alone to play 150+ games, a 30/20 season is not out of the question.  You would like to see him cut down on his strikeouts however, as 148 is just to much.

24.   B.J. Upton, Tampa Bay Rays:  You want to talk about a riddle wrapped around an enigma inside a conundrum, we present you B.J. Upton.  There is little doubt that Upton has all the tools and talent to do whatever it is he wants on the baseball diamond, the problem is getting him to want to use said tools.  Even if you have your doubts about him, I know I do, he’s still going to provide you with good speed and a decent amount of HRs, the average has upside so he’s not a bad 2nd or 3rd outfielder.

25.   Drew Stubbs, Cincinnati Reds:  If there was such a thing as a “sleeper” in fantasy leagues, with all the places you can find fantasy information sleepers are getting harder and harder to find, Stubbs could be it.  He has the speed to steal as many bases as he wants, and in the Great American Ballpark 20+ home runs is a given.  Some pundits truly believe he could be a top 10 outfielder by the time the season ends.

26.   Torii Hunter, Los Angeles Angels:  Hunter is right around where my next tier of outfielders begins.  Hunter only stole nine bases last season leading some to worry if that is a sign of things to come.  Hopefully a full season away from centerfield will allow his legs to feel a little fresher as the season goes along and he can give you a little more bang for your buck.

27.   Shane Victorino, Philadelphia Phillies:  I’m never quite sure why Victorino is quite a big higher on many lists.  I’m actually down on the Phillies offense as a whole this season as they are entirely to left-handed and seem to be incredibly injury prone (Chase Utley, Dominic Brown, Placido Polanco).  If you’re looking for someone who will give you a little pop along with a good amount of speed however, you could do worse than Victorino.

28.   Carlos Quentin, Chicago White Sox:  Minus the stolen bases, Quentin is a poor man’s Nelson Cruz.  When he is in the lineup he will produce, but he’s made of fine China and will miss more than his share of games.  Quentin didn’t hit the DL last season, yet still only played 131 games as he always seems to have some kind of minor injury that makes him day to day.  With that lineup in Chicago and that ballpark to hit in, he is absolutely worth the risk as an OF3.

29.   Corey Hart, Milwaukee Brewers:  Hart had a career season last year as he reached highs in HRs (31), RBIs (102), and Rs (91).  Problem is, like Curtis Granderson he is in danger of missing the beginning of the season with an oblique strain.  Hart should slide down some draft lists as there will be plenty of non-believers that he can repeat last year’s numbers, plus those that won’t touch him due to this injury.

30.   Delmon Young, Minnesota Twins:  While most of the Twins hitters complained about Target Field, Young was not one of them as he set career highs in HRs with 22, RBIs with 119 and AVG with .298, all of this at the tender age of 24, which means the best may still be yet to come for Delmon.

31.   Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles:  For all intensive purposes Jones put up the same numbers in 2010 that he did in 2010.  The problem is he played 30 more games in 2010 yet didn’t increase his production.  What happened?  That’s what everyone is wondering.  The Orioles and Jones will have the best lineup they have had in quite some time, so the pressure won’t be all on Jones to produce.  Jones is the definition of high upside.

32.   Michael Bourn, Houston Astros:  Bourn will start the run on speed guys who aren’t going to help you in any category other than SBs and runs.  If anything were to happen to his legs, he would be useless to a fantasy team.

33.   Nick Markakis, Baltimore Orioles:  Ordinarily Markakis would be a bit higher on this list, but 2010 was a near disaster.  He played in 160 games yet only hit 12 HRs and drove in 60 runs.  Those are numbers that would be considered average for an average middle infielder more or less a corner outfielder.  Markakis did manage to hit .297 but with didn’t run all that much on the bases either.  Markakis has name value and some owners might reach for him, but remember, even in his best seasons he never hit more than 23 HRs, he should produce more than last season, but the upside is limited.

34.   Nick Swisher, New York Yankees:  If only Swisher would lighten up and learn to enjoy life.  If there is a player who has more fun on the baseball diamond than Swisher, I don’t know him.  Swish plays in a stacked lineup that usually sees him hitting on the bottom third, but that won’t stop him from hitting 25+ HRs, driving and driving in around 90 runs.

35.   Brett Gardner, New York Yankees:  If Gardner were to bat leadoff for the Yankees this season, than I might actually draft him ahead of Bourn.  The Yankees have already said they want Gardner to run the bases with reckless abandon so a 50+ SB season would almost be a lock.

36.   Juan Pierre, Chicago White Sox:  Like Bourn and Gardner, owning Pierre will go a long way towards solving your SB category, no power though, he is what he is.

37.   Carlos Lee, Houston Astros:  Like many of the Astro players, Lee got off to a terrible start to the 2010 season.  He did pick it up however as the season went along to hit 24 HRs, an amount he should be able to reach once again this season.  In most leagues he will also qualify at 1B, which should help his value in leagues that have CIs.

38.   Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays:  Zobrist had a career year in 2009, than saw all his numbers with the exception of SBs plummet last year.  If you like looking for players who could have rebound season or like the fact that he will probably have 2B eligibility in your league, than go for it, I however am not a fan.

39.   Aubrey Huff, San Francisco Giants:  Huff was a Godsend for the Giants last season as he helped lead them to a World Series championship.  Can he do it again?  The outfield and 1B is getting awfully crowded in San Francisco and I’m wondering if he could lose ABs if he were to get off to a slow start.  Not to mention SF isn’t really conducive to hitting the long ball.

40.   Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians:  Just a couple of years ago Sizemore was easily a Top 5 outfielder, now I sort of have to cheat to get him in the Top 40.  Amazing what a couple of injuries can do.  Sizemore may or may not be able to start the season with Cleveland, but even if he is, Sizemore is the definition of high risk, high reward.

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