Fantasy Baseball Rankings – Outfielders (Part 1)
Fantasy Baseball Rankings – Outfielders (Part 1)
By: Kyle Brown (@CavghtLooking)
My outfield rankings will be in two parts. The first will be my top 36 outfielders. Most leagues have twelve managers and three starting outfielders, so 36 seemed like an appropriate number. The second part will rank players that provide value as 4th or 5th outfielders.
Tier 1 – Unfair To Own
1. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee (.319/.391/.595)
The hubbub this year is all about the magical Mike Trout. While I think the excitement is justified, I have seen about five times as many ridiculous seasons from Braun as I have from Trout. Braun won’t turn 30 until after this season and he has posted back-to-back 30-30 campaigns. As long as he avoids a PED suspension, Braun is going to put up another 30/30 year with close to 40 home runs. He merits a first overall selection. (Note: Given this tweet by @joebesceglie, the guy who had the Melky suspension almost a month before anyone else, I am very concerned about a Braun PED suspension. Thanks, SportsGrid.)
2. Mike Trout, Los Angeles of Anaheim (.326/.399/.564)
Mike Trout is the greatest thing since sliced bread. No, he’s more than that. Mike Trout is the greatest thing since the Internet. The 30 home runs he hit as a 20-year old (!) was an unexpected bonus, but I watched every one of those dingers and I can tell you that the power is real. Many forecasters are predicting a decline in his homer output, but I would like to remind everyone that Trout was able to hit 30 home runs in just 139 games. Even if his power regresses slightly, Trout should hit at least 25 dongs and steal 50 bases. With a full season of games, an improved lineup, and a year of experience under his belt, the sky is the limit for Magic Mike. Feel free to draft him first overall.
Tier 2 – Dreads, Dingers, Steals And Wheels
3. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh (.327/.400/.553)
Oh how I love me some Andrew McCutchen (so much so that I call him by his pet name: “Cutch”. The dreaded Pirate (Editor’s Note: Wesley from “Princess Bride” is not eligible as an OF) was a monster last season. Cutch has managed to increase his home run total in each year of his career. Left-handed pitchers are probably better off just walking him (.392 vs. lefties last year). However, his stolen base numbers have been declining for three seasons. Cutch has vowed to steal more bases this year, but the problem doesn’t lie in the number of attempts he gets but in the number of failures he endures. As fast as Cutch is, it is flatly unacceptable to be caught 12 times in a season. If he can improve on his success rate this year, then he should have a shot at a 30/30 season.
4. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami (.290/.361/.608)
If Stanton has a healthy career, then I think he has a legitimate shot at the all-time home run record. Yep, I think he is that good. I also don’t believe any of the popular speculation that he will be unable to produce without support. Why? Well, Stanton didn’t have any real support last season and he still put up a .608 SLG%. If you want an example of a high-powered season with no support all you need to do is look at McCutchen’s 2012 season. I fully expect Stanton to lead the majors in dingers this year.
5. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles (.303/.367/.538)
Kemp would be higher on this list if it weren’t for all the injuries he has endured over the past two seasons. Whenever I read the word “detached” in an injury report I get very worried. The shoulder Kemp injured is the one he uses to pull the bat through the zone, so I am expecting him to lose some of his power this season. If he can get back to stealing 30 bases then a 20/30 season with a high average should be attainable. Do not draft him expecting 40/40.
6. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado (.303/.371/.510)
Despite his sluggish home run output, I still really like Gonzalez. CarGo’s home runs have slowed because his GB% has increased and his FB% has decreased for three consecutive seasons. If you play in the thin air of Colorado it is probably a good idea to hit as many balls in the air as you can. The 27-year old season is supposed to be a magical year for most baseball players, so I think Cargo’s power will rebound. I am expecting a 25/25 campaign with a high average.
Tier 3 – We Swing Hard
7. Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles of Anaheim (.285/.354/.577)
Josh Hamilton is a crazy hitter to analyze. Who led the league in swinging strike percentage last season? Josh Hamilton. His 20% SwStr percentage was 4.5% higher than the next guy, Chris Davis. The other players at the top of the list are far from elite hitters. However, when you look at his 43 bombs from last year in conjunction with his batted ball numbers all you can really conclude is that Josh Hamilton loves to swing the bat. Luckily for his owners, Hamilton hits enough balls out of the park. The bigger dimensions in Anaheim will certainly zap some of his power, but he should still hit 30+ bombs with an elite number of runs and RBI.
8. Jose Bautista, Toronto (.241/.358/.527)
Joey Bats is coming off wrist surgery this offseason and since I used to be a big Rickie Weeks fan I am very scared of wrist injuries. If Bautista can get back into the swing of things then he has a chance to reach 40 home runs again. However, because of my aforementioned fears I think it is more reasonable to predict Bautista’s home run total to be somewhere in the low 30’s. His OBP skills will play very well in the potent Toronto lineup, so draft him expecting great numbers in HR, runs, and RBI.
9. Jason Heyward, Atlanta (.269/.335/.479)
Heyward broke out last year in a big way. After a preposterous rookie season in 2010, when he had a .394 OBP as a 20-year old, Heyward suffered through a distressing sophomore campaign. However, Jay-Hey put it all together in his third year and was able to post his first 20/20 season. Hittracker classifies 14 of Heyward’s 27 dingers as “Just Enough” or “Lucky,” so it’s unlikely that we will see him hit 30 this season. That said, he should be able to go 20/20, hit around .280, and have an elite number of runs scored.
10. Matt Holliday, St. Louis (.295/.379/.497)
I am higher on Matt Holliday than most forecasters this year. I love the security he gives you as a manager. Holliday can be counted on for 25+ home runs, a .300 average, and 90+ marks in both runs and RBI. This might be the last season he can be considered for the top ten, but the confidence I have in his steady production keeps him in the third tier.
Tier 4 – That’s A Clown Tier, Bro
11. Justin Upton, Atlanta (.280/.355/.430)
Justin case everything goes wrong Upton Atlanta this year you should avoid paying top dollar for my 11th ranked outfielder (Boom!). There are several players beneath J-Up who are more reliable. That said, not many players have the raw talent that the younger Upton possesses. Upton will be playing close to his hometown, next to his brother, and in a stacked lineup. In other words, he is out of excuses. I fully expect a 95/25/100/20 season with a .290 average. The only thing keeping him out of the top ten is his proclivity to underachieve.
12. Jay Bruce, Cincinnati (.252/.327/.514)
I love it when a young player increases his home run total every season. If Jay Bruce continues that trend then he is going to hit 40 home runs very soon. I’m penciling Bruce in for 35 home runs with runs scored and RBI numbers above 90. Just don’t expect him to hit above .260.
13. Bryce Harper, Washington (.270/.340/.477)
Bryce Harper is a golden child. I have seen him go in the first round of some of my mock drafts. That is a little ridiculous. In order to justify a first round selection, Harper would need to go 30/30 with a .300 average. I just don’t see that happening this year. However, I do think Harper will hit 25 home runs and steal at least 15 bases. He’s probably going to be a top-ten outfielder going into next year, but people need to temper their expectations for 2013.
14. Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees (.232/.319/.492)
Granderson has abused the short porch at Yankee Stadium for the past two seasons to the tune of 84 home runs. In 2013, only two of his 43 dingers went to the opposite field. Unfortunately, Grandy fractured his forearm this spring and is going to miss about six weeks of the regular season. All things considered, that’s not so bad. The injury will probably keep him from hitting 40+ bombs for a third year in a row, but he should still be able to smack 32-36. Grandy’s average will be bad, but the power will make up for it. (Note: Granderson was on the same list as Braun for a potential PED suspension this year)
Tier 5 – As Long As They Aren’t My Best Guy
15. Adam Jones, Baltimore (.287/.334/.505)
Adam Jones had his best season ever in 2013. Jones is another example of a young player who has gradually increased his power output over the past few seasons. Everything went right for Jones last year in terms of BABIP and HR/FB%. As such, I don’t see Jones repeating his 32 home runs, but a .280/25/15 season is still very good.
16. Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland (.292/.356/.505)
I’m pretty high on Cespedes this season. He had a great showing in his first year in the big leagues and seemed to get better as the year went on. His second half triple slash was .311/.376/.533. If Yoenis hadn’t missed 31 games last season due to injury he would have gone 20/20. As long as he hasn’t changed his workout routine, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cespedes go .290/30/20 this year.
17. B.J. Upton, Atlanta (.246/.298/.454)
I wish B.J. Upton’s 2007, when he went .300/.386/.508 as a rookie, hadn’t been so good. Maybe then I would not be so disappointed with his production. B.J. almost went 30/30 in 2012 and I am still frustrated by him. His OBP skills have slowly evaporated, but his power/speed combo makes him a very good player in 5×5 formats. Hopefully he can feed off the good vibes in Atlanta and put up a monster season. Don’t bet on it, though.
18. Allen Craig, St. Louis (.307/.354/.522)
The only thing holding Allen Craig back is his frail body. Apparently, he did not drink enough milk as a child, much to the chagrin of fantasy owners. As long as his knee holds up this year he will hit 25+ home runs with a .300 average.
19. Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay (.270/.377/.471)
20. Shoo-Shin Choo, Cincinnati (.283/.373/.441)
The big question: will Great American Ballpark offer the Korean sensation a chance to return to his 20/20 form? If Choo increases his 27.1 FB% from last season, then the answer is “yes.” Hitting atop the Reds lineup will at least give him ample opportunity to score runs and steals bases, even if he misses the 20-homer mark.
Tier 6 – The Glass Menagerie
21. Carlos Beltran, St. Louis (.269/.346/.495)
This ranking might raise some eyebrows, but I am still a Beltran fan. I also think that there might be a fountain of youth in St. Louis. I’m not expecting Beltran to hit over 30 homers again, but a modest .270/25/10 season with solid run production numbers will do just fine.
22. Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston (.271/.313/.370)
I am an Ellsbury hater. He is made of glass and his crazy 2011 season always struck me as a fluke. If he can stay healthy, which is a big “if,” then he should steal 40+ bases and score 90+ runs. However, do not expect more than 10 home runs.
23. Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay (.246/.314/.388)
Jennings has racked up a lot of injury time in his young career. He is a popular breakout pick for the 2013 season, but from what I can see his ceiling is not that high. His value lies in his exceptional talent for stealing bases, so if Jennings nabs 40+ to go along with 10 homers he will be a very useful outfielder.
24. Alex Rios, Chicago White Sox (.304/.334/.516)
After falling off the table in 2011, Rios came back with a vengeance last year. Rios is a candidate for regression, due to his inflated BABIP, but hitting in US Cellular should keep his home run total over 20. Do not let 2011 scare you away. Rios is a legit 20/20 talent.
Tier 7 – As Long As They Aren’t My Second Guy
25. Hunter Pence, San Francisco (.253/.319/.425)
After one of his best seasons in 2011, Pence’s number fell off the table in 2012. Two things worry me about the drop in Pence’s average: 1) his contact % dropped to a career low (72.6), and 2) his swinging strike % was the highest of his career (12.9). On top of that, Pence has stopped running. He will hit his usual 20+ home runs, but he has to curtail his free-swinging ways in order to boost his average.
26. Michael Bourn, Cleveland (.274/.348/.391)
At this point, Bourn is a known entity. He will give you a decent average, 40-50 steals, and 90+ runs scored. He won’t repeat his career high home run total (9) from last year, but everything else will be in line.
27. Alex Gordon, Kansas City (.294/.368/.455)
Alex Gordon is a good lesson in tempering expectations for highly touted prospects. He won’t ever turn into a 30-bomb behemoth, but you shouldn’t hold that against him. Gordon traded his power for line drives and the swap has yielded two very nice seasons. He will hit in one of the top three spots in the Kansas City’s lineup every day, so you can count on another .290 season, 15-20 home runs and close to 100 runs. If he can get his stolen base total back to around 15, then he is going to be a very good player in 2013.
28. Josh Willingham, Minnesota (.260/.366/.524)
Josh is certainly willing to hammer (well, I tried). Willingham hit a ridiculous 35 home runs last year. The 21.2 HR/FB% will probably fall back a few points, but the regression won’t keep Willingham from hitting close to 30 bombs. Expect at least .260/80/25/90.
29. Austin Jackson, Detroit (.300/.377/.479)
A-Jax has slowly quieted his detractors each season. His BB%, K%, and home run numbers have all gone in the right direction for three consecutive campaigns. It is a bit odd that his .377 OBP came with only 12 stolen bases, but I still like Jackson to go 15/20 this year with a .285 average and 100 runs scored.
Tier 8 – Crap, I Need A Third Guy
30. Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles of Anaheim (.268/.317/.491)
It was a tale of two seasons for Trumbo last year. In the first half, Trumbo hit .306 with 22 home runs. In the second half, he had a paltry .227 average and hit just 10 home runs. That said, you are drafting Mark Trumbo for his power, not his average. With 61 homers blasted in just two seasons, Trumbo is a safe bet to hit at least 30 bombs.
31. Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee (.260/.305/.463)
Everyone take a deep breath. Carlos Gomez is not going to go 20/50 this season. CarGo-lite (patent pending) has a good chance to go 15/30. That said, I am worried that his average could be very, very low. If he gets even a little bit unlucky on BABIP, then his average could dip to .230. Gomez is the epitome of a high-risk/high-reward player.
32. Andre Ethier, Los Angeles (.284/.351/.460)
After his power took a year off in 2011, Ethier was back to his reliable 20-homer self in 2012. There is not too much else to say about Ethier. He is a reliable player who is relatively boring to draft and own. However, a .280/75/20/85 season does have value.
33. Nick Swisher, Cleveland (.272/.364/.473)
Leaving the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium will hurt Swisher’s numbers, but the fall will not be dramatic. Swisher is going to hit 22-26 home runs, have a .275 average, and net 75+ in both runs and RBI.
34. Corey Hart, Milwaukee (.270/.334/.507)
Hart is coming off his second knee surgery in as many years, this time for a microfracture and a busted meniscus. Despite that, Hart is a solid option for power and average in the later rounds of your draft. I don’t think he is going to 30 home runs again, but he should have no problem hitting 25.
35. Norichika Aoki, Milwaukee (.288/.355/.408)
The 5’9” outfielder from Japan put together a very respectable season for Milwaukee. Aoki handled major league pitching with aplomb in 2012, posting a 7.8 BB% with just a 9.4 K%. He complimented his 51 extra-base hits with 30 steals and a .288 average. His 2013 encore should be no different.
36. Martin Prado, Arizona (.301/.359/.438)
I already wrote up Prado in my third base rankings.