2011 Fantasy Baseball Player Rankings- Outfielders
Outfield has long been the buffet table of fantasy baseball (and I mean the good kind of buffet, like you find in nice hotels and not the kind you find in greasy places juts off of the interstate.) Need some speed? Just step right over here. Looking for a little extra punch? It’s over next to the batting average boosters there on the left. Use your outfield to fill in areas of weakness and you will have one tasty offensive attack.
Number One Outfielders– These outfielders will provide all of the ingredients for a fine five-star fantasy dinner.
1. Ryan Braun (.323, 38 HR, 112 RBI, 109 Runs, 17 SB)
Why is Braun the number one outfielder in fantasy baseball for 2011? Well, let’s see:
– He will star in at least four categories, and help out in the fifth.
– He has a track record of stardom.
– He’s durable, so you can count on his health as much as you can for anyone.
– He’s just turned 27.
Yeah, I would say that makes him the top outfielder this year. Bid high and with confidence- Braun will anchor many a title-winning clubs this year.
2. Carl Crawford (.308, 21 HR, 81 RBI, 116 Runs, 53 SB)
How long has Crawford been around? Seemingly forever, but he only turns 30 in August of this season. He’s in his prime, going to Fenway, and joining a team which can put runs on the board. Crawford breaks through the 20 HR barrier this year, all the while keeping those world-class wheels spinning and stealing over 50 bases. The park-added pop of Fenway makes Crawford a solid second choice as your top outfielder.
3. Matt Kemp (.298, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 94 Runs, 31 SB)
Just forget about last season and write it off to Joe Torre’s going from a baseball genius to a cranky old coot in about 3.5 seconds after leaving New York. (People forget that Torre was at best mediocre as a manager before landing in pinstripes.) For some reason, Torre seemed to despise Kemp- maybe Torre wanted to date Rhianna. Whatever, look for a major bounce back from the 26-year old Kemp as he opens the door to his prime.
4. Matt Holliday (.316, 27 HR, 104 RBI, 93 Runs, 10 SB)
I am going to say this as loudly and clearly as I can- MATT HOLLIDAY IS NOT A POWER HITTER! There- now you know a secret. Too many people bid on Holliday as if he was a big bopper, but the fact is that he has only topped the 30-homer mark twice, and both of those times were in Coors Field. The real Matt Holliday is an excellent hitter who has very good- but not great- power. I like to toss his name out early in an auction. If my fellow owners are in a profligate spending mood, Holliday will go for a price way higher than he should, pulling money from the room for when someone like Ryan Braun comes up. If owners are playing it tight, then I might get Holliday for a slight discount. If it is the latter case, stay in the bidding. Holliday is a consistent, high-quality, producer of fantasy numbers.
5. Josh Hamilton (.312, 34 HR, 118 RBI, 100 Runs, 8 SB)
A big risk/reward guy, Hamilton will crank up some astronomical numbers if he plays 150 games. But he won’t so you have to temper your expectations a bit when chasing him. If you land Hamilton, make sure to save a couple of extra bucks to get a good, quality, fourth outfielder, because that guy is sure to play some for you when Hamilton makes his annual visit to the DL. (If you are risk-adverse, drop Hamilton down at least four spots.)
6. Jason Heyward (.288, 26 HR, 97 RBI, 95 Runs, 16 SB)
Last year’s hot rookie didn’t disappoint, and he is capable of much more. This year will be another season of growth for young Mr. Heyward, and my predictions for him may be a bit on the conservative side. It would not surprise me if he topped each number cited above, and it is that upside that earns him this spot. Bid for the projection, hope for a bit more, and do whatever you have to and protect him for 2012 if you can. This year he will be great- next year he will be scary.
7. Justin Upton (.290, 25 HR, 92 RBI, 86 Runs, 23 SB)
Where did the plate discipline go last year, Justin? Aww, we’ll forgive you- you’re just a kid. Look for a return of the batting eye and the increase in production that will go with it. He’s still just a pup (age 23 on Opening Day), has a world of talent, and hits in the desert oasis of the BOB in Arizona.
8. Andrew McCutchen (.294, 19 HR, 68 RBI, 103 Runs, 47 SB)
Meet Carl Crawford 2.0. McCutchen has a very similar offensive skill set, and is just now growing into his talent. As weird as this sounds, Pittsburgh may be a little better this year, and so expect a slight uptick in McCutchen’s numbers. If nothing else, you know you’ll get speed and double-figure homers from this kid, along with a solid batting average. If he goes for any sort of discount, get in on the ground floor on this future superstar.
9. Jay Bruce (.286, 32 HR, 97 RBI, 95 Runs, 7 SB)
Last year gave you a taste of what to expect from Bruce in 2011. His second-half numbers were excellent, especially in the power department. I love players with minor league track records of success who finally show they are “getting it”. Bruce is young (turns 24 just after the season starts), has a great background, plays in the best little ball park in America in Cincy, and already tacked up three 20+ HR seasons in his “disappointing” years. Look for 30-40 bombs in 2012, with more to come in the future.
10. Shin-Soo Choo (.305, 24 HR, 98 RBI, 83 Runs, 22 SB)
The South Korean Army’s loss is fantasy baseball’s gain, as Choo is now exempt from military service in his homeland- wahoo! Anytime you can get a legit 20/20 guy with a .300 batting average, you have to love it, and that’s what Choo brings to the table. Bid for another rock-solid season and hope his Indian teammates help him pile up even better counting stats.
11. Hunter Pence (.285, 25 HR, 93 RBI, 90 Runs, 20 SB)
Hunter Pence seems like a character from a Faulkner novel, if ol’ William ever decided to do one on baseball. Pence swings, runs, and plays, like he was coached by some sort of bayou mad scientist- but he can give you some real nice production. Best part is Hunter’s still in his early prime (age 28), hits in a great hitter’s park in Houston, and has some ceiling left above him. I’m calling for Pence’s first 20/20 season in 2011, and you might get that at a dollar or two below full market value.
12. Carlos Gonzalez (.310, 27 HR, 102 RBI, 100 Runs, 28 SB)
Too bad we have numbers on the back of uniforms instead of letters. If CarGo wore the letter “S” on his jersey, fans could yell, “Look at that S CarGO!” (Say it fast- yeah, I so funny…) What won’t be funny is if you bid on Gonzalez to repeat last year’s numbers. He will do fine- he was a very good (but not great) prospect, he’s young (age 25), and still plays half of his games in Coors. But last year screams “outlier”, so don’t chase this CarGo. There is still risk here.
13. Nelson Cruz (.278, 27 HR, 81 RBI, 77 Runs, 18 SB)
Nelson Cruz has proven two things- 1) He’s not a Quad-A player, but rather someone who deserves to start in the bigs; and 2) he can get hurt just by looking at a trainer’s table. The injuries are frustrating, since the sky is the limit for Cruz’s numbers if he could stay healthy for a season. But since he makes Josh Hamilton look like Cal Ripken, you know that’s not gonna happen. Get a good fourth outfielder if you get Nelson Cruz.
14. Jose Batista ( .258, 33 HR, 106 RBI, 94 Runs, 7 SB)
Where the heck did those 54 home runs come from? Was Jose storing them up to be unleashed in one massive burst? Actually, Bautista always had some punch, he just never got too much of a chance to show it. Toronto’s park and hitting philosophy (which must be “swing hard in case you hit the ball”) plays right into Bautista’s wheelhouse, so pay for 30 big flies and hope he becomes Adam Dunn-lite.
15. Jacoby Ellsbury (.298, 11 HR, 64 RBI, 114 Runs, 56 SB)
Last year was basically a lost cause for Ellsbury, primarily due to Adrian Beltre trampling him while chasing a pop fly. (Beltre also took out Mike Cameron the same way- it must have been a great relief to both the Red Sox outfielders and their insurance agency when Beltre headed off to Texas to increase the injury threat to both Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton, like they really need it.) Back healthy this spring, Ellsbury has looked good in training camp, so bid for a nice comeback. Hitting atop the Boston batting order along with newly-acquired Carl Crawford should set up the BoSox attack better than any 1-2 punch since the Whitaker-Trammell combo for the Detroit Tigers back in the 1980’s.
16. Andre Ethier (.294, 24 HR, 97 RBI, 83 Runs, 4 SB)
Someone needs to tell Billy Beane in Oakland that constantly dealing prospects for “established vets” will eventually bite you in the butt. How good would Oakland’s outfield look if they still had Ethier (dealt to the Dodgers for Milton Bradley) and Carlos Gonzalez (shipped to Colorado as part of the Matt Holliday deal) in the middle of the Oakland lineup? Another player who seemed to suffer under the thumb of Joe Torre, look for at least a minor rebound now that Don Mattingly holds the reins.
Number Two Outfielders– Not meant to carry your team, these guys should compliment your number one outfielder, and cover any weakness he may have.
17.Nick Markakis (.302, 22 HR, 101 RBI, 89 Runs, 8 SB)
Where did Nick’s power go? Did Shane Victorino steal it? 12 homers and 60 RBI is a ridiculous low total for a hitter like Markakis, and will be the low outlier for his prime. Markakis has been getting dogged by a lot of pundits this spring. Take advantage of the bad press and scoop up a perfect second outfielder at a reduced price.Alex Rios (.274, 18 HR, 78 RBI, 87 Runs, 32 SB)
Step right up and get your ticket for the Alex Rios Carnival Ride! Will he hit .290? Will he hit .190? 20+ or less than 10 HR? You pays your money and you takes your chances- all I can guarantee you is a wild ride.
18. Ichiro Suzuki (.322, 6 HR, 45 RBI, 78 Runs, 38 SB)
Ichiro will hit .300 and steal over 30 bags three years after he’s died. If Seattle had any sort of major league-equivalent offense backing this all-time great, Ichiro would rank a lot higher. As it is, he’s a number two outfielder in a 16-team mixed leaguer.
19. Jayson Werth (.277, 24 HR, 87 RBI, 92 Runs, 14 SB)
Leaving the hitting mecca that is Philly to go to Washington cannot help your numbers, and Werth will miss out on some bennies that came from hitting in such a powerful lineup. But he is a good player, and will continue to post solid numbers in his new home.
20.Colby Rasmus (.287, 28 HR, 83 RBI, 88 Runs, 16 SB)
In 2010, Rasmus took a step toward stardom. In 2011, he will take a bigger stride (if Tony LaRussa lets him). All of his numbers got to the useful level last year, and he is only 24. If he and his manager can get on the same page, we will see exactly what has made Rasmus such a prospect in the eyes of scouts who should know. Pay the extra two bucks- he will be worth it, either in St. Louis or somewhere else after a trade.
21. Michael Stanton (.271, 26 HR, 74 RBI, 68 Runs, 10 SB)
He’ll boom or bust this year, so I went with numbers between the two. If you think these numbers are too low, pay the extra money and bet on the boom. If you think they are too high, let someone else spend their budget. Me, I’ll go for the gusto and chase for two reasons- 1) If nothing else, he will give you 20+ HR; and 2) if he doesn’t explode this year, he will in 2012, and I want to have his rights when he does.
22. B.J. Upton (.264, 20 HR, 68 RBI, 93 Runs, 44 SB)
Only 26, there is still time for Upton to blossom into the five category stud we all hope he can become. But man, owning him is not for a nervous person, because B.J. has as wide a range of possibilities as anyone in spikes. He makes Alexis Rios look like Matt Holliday. Upton could hit .300, he could hit .230. He could go for 20 big flies, he could hit 10. At least you know you will get plenty of steals from Upton- he’s topped 40 each of the past three seasons. Too much uncertainty to hitch your wagon to B.J., but a fine play if your number one outfielder is a consistent source of numbers.
23.Chris Young (.261, 26 HR, 87 RBI, 86 Runs, 32 SB)
A key component of many title-winning fantasy clubs last year, Young will always strike out too much to ever have a good batting average, and all those K’s will cost him some RBI as well. But he’s a good bet for 20/20 and is always a shot to go 30/30, and that’s valuable regardless of the batting average. Make him a second outfielder and you might just get lucky in his Batting Average of Balls in Play, which would allow Young to put up some truly magnificent numbers.
24.Shane Victorino (.284, 16 HR, 65 RBI, 88 Runs, 31 SB)
Last year we saw a new Shane Victorino, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. For some reason it looked like “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” wanted to replace the flyin’ with the tryin’ for more homers, and left his owners cryin’. I’m thinking Victorino will drop his pursuit of the home run record this year and go back to what makes him valuable to us- a solid batting average, plenty of steals, and a good amount of runs scored.
25.Vernon Wells (.275, 30 HR, 91 RBI, 82 Runs, 8 SB)
His wrist finally healed, look for Wells to make up for some lost time in the power department again this year. He’s got 30 HR thunder in his bat, is going to be in a RBI spot in the Angels lineup, and shouldn’t be under as much pressure in LA as he was in Toronto due to his insane contract. Love his potential this year, and he shouldn’t cost as much as the number two outfielders listed above.
26.Curtis Granderson (.263, 25 HR, 74 RBI, 80 Runs, 10 SB)
Granderson made a pretty significant change to his swing in the second half of last year, and it appeared to help him against lefties, his longtime nemesis. It won’t turn him into Ichiro, but the batting average should move up to at least a decent level, and hitting in the Yankee lineup and home park will keep his counting stats up. Forget about his running, though- his job in New York this year will be clear the table, not set it up.
27.Ben Zobrist (.267, 16 HR, 82 RBI, 83 Runs, 22 SB)
Also qualifies at 2B, Zobrist is a valuable guy to have on your fantasy team. His bat obviously plays best at second, but you can get by with him in your outfield. The quality of outfielders drops pretty significantly after the top 20 or so- everyone else has some sort of serious questions about their game. If you’re going to have to get an outfielder with questions, it might as well be one who can also start for you at second base.
28.Austin Jackson (.293, 10 HR, 58 RBI, 102 Runs, 33 SB)
Yes, the strikeouts are a concern, and Jackson did get more than a bit lucky on his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) last year. But there is a lot to like about his game- he’s young (age 24), already draws some walks, has a nice, sweet, swing, and is fast enough to both beat out infield hits and steal 30 bases. The power won’t be there this year, but 15-20 home run years are coming. I’ll take a young, hard-working, hustling, talent like Jackson over the old guys or injury risks left on the board at this point.
29.Nick Swisher (.253, 28 HR, 82 RBI, 85 Runs, 0 SB)
He’ll never hit over .280 again as he did last year- it just isn’t in his record. But Swisher will take walks, which helps his Runs total. What you see with Swisher is what you get- he’ll help you in HR, RBI, and Runs. Pay for those three categories and you won’t be disappointed.
30.Carlos Lee (.256, 25 HR, 86 RBI, 65 Runs, 2 SB)
Downside first- Lee is getting old and creaky, and his bat has slowed just a bit. Now for the upside- he can still go deep, and we know how chicks (and fantasy owners) dig the long ball. Houston doesn’t have anyone to replace him in the lineup, so Lee will get his swings in, which will lead to decent power numbers. Don’t pay for the .300 hitting Carlos Lee of a couple of years ago. But if your fellow owners think he’s ready for the glue factory, Lee can be a nice source of cheap power.
31.Carlos Quentin (.253, 25 HR, 85 RBI, 74 Runs, 2 SB)
Was this guy born injured? Is he made out of balsa wood? I honestly think that Quentin could think himself into a DL stint. But like I said, the outfield just isn’t as deep as it has been in the past. Try for a discount and hope you get 500 AB’s from Quentin. If that happens, you will be happy with the power numbers.
32.Juan Pierre (.281, 1 HR, 44 RBI, 97 Runs, 62 SB)
He is Juan Pierre, and he has always been Juan Pierre, so you know what you’ll get- a pretty good average that will fluctuate depending on the park (his dying quails get caught more often in smaller parks like Comisky), no power at all (if he played in a park the size of a decent junior high field, he wouldn’t hit any), lots of runs scored (he does walk a good deal), and an aircraft carrier-load of stolen bases. Pierre is as good a bet as any to swipe 60 this year and, with his history of run scoring and helpful batting average, is an underrated three-category helper.
Number Three Outfielders- If you can get help in two categories out of these guys, then they are worth the money you spent.
33.Michael Bourn (.278, 3 HR, 41 RBI, 87 Runs, 59 SB)
One of these years, Bourn is going to wake up and realize that his upside is to become the next Juan Pierre. When he does this, he will never again swing for the fences, take a few more walks, bunt for hits twice as often, and we will love him more. He’s shown flashes of realizing this the past couple of years, so perhaps this is the season that he fully embraces his destiny.
34.Adam Jones (.287, 22 HR, 74 RBI, 83 Runs, 11 SB)
Slow and steady wins the race, and that looks like it might be the career path of Adam Jones. Let’s look at his last couple of years. Two years ago, nice stats for 500 AB’s, so he proved he could play. Last year he had pretty much the same numbers, but it took about an extra 100 AB’s to get them. Some say this is bad- to me, I say it shows he can stay healthy for 600 AB’s. Combine the positives of the last two years- production in 2009, health in 2010- and you have a serious breakout candidate. I’m willing to spend a couple of extra bucks to see if my theory holds up, but maybe you won’t have to.
35. Drew Stubbs (.253, 21 HR, 73 RBI, 85 Runs, 32 SB)
For the sake of honesty, I’ll admit this up front- I don’t like Drew Stubbs. Don’t like his swing, don’t like his approach, and I don’t think he should get major league starting at-bats. In fact, I think there is at least twenty guys listed further down who would be better than Drew Stubbs if they got those at-bats. But my likes or dislikes are irrelevant here- Dusty Baker seems to like him, and Baker’s the guy who sets the lineup. So as long as Dusty keeps trotting Stubbs out there, he will hack and whack his way to around 20 bombs and 30 steals, which is all we fantasy owners care about, anyway. The only legitimate reason I have for ranking him this low is he hasn’t shown any concept of what the strike zone is, which is a failure that has torpedoed many a career.
36. Delmon Young (.296, 17 HR, 84 RBI, 80 Runs, 8 SB)
Many were shocked at how productive Young was in 2011, and I have to wonder why. They only thing that jumps out at you from his stat line is the power bump, as he topped the 20 HR mark for the first time, which helped increase his RBI numbers. But aside from that, Young did what he does basically every year. He hit for a good average, didn’t swipe many bases, and was in all respects a playable fantasy outfielder. So how will he do this year? Pretty much the same as last, I expect. He does have upside, as he is just now entering the prime of his career. That upside is tempered by Target Field, which just doesn’t yield that many homers. So if you have power coming from other spots, move Young up a bit and grab him for his consistency.
37. Bobby Abreu (.260, 16 HR, 75 RBI, 84 Runs, 21 SB)
The end is coming for one of fantasy baseball’s all-time stars. Abreu spent over a decade being a five-category horse, and many an owner rode that pony to fantasy baseball titles. But Father Time catches up to all of us eventually, and it looks like Bobby is in his crosshairs. He can still help your team- he’ll score a good amount of runs, even with the declining batting average, due to his exceptional eye at the plate. He is a very smart baserunner, so 20 steals is still likely. But the power and batting average are on the wane, and so with them will go the RBI. This may be the last year Abreu ranks as a starting outfielder. If it is, thanks for the ride, Bobby- you’ll be missed.
38.Michael Cuddyer (.272, 18 HR, 86 RBI, 84 Runs, 6 SB)
He will qualify at both outfield and first base in your league, and fills the same role at either spot- that of a low-level starter who won’t hurt you, but won’t earn you a Yoo-Hoo shower at the end of the season, either. The vastness of Target Field is a drain on the home run totals of any Twins hitter not named Justin Morneau, but the Twins still get lots of guys on base, and Cuddyer is a solid, line-drive, hitter who will get them home. A smart play with Cuddyer is to get him, pick up a comparable guy as your number four outfielder (which frees Cuddyer up to be your backup first baseman, if you need him), and then go after a Brandon Belt or similar big-upside prospect at first. If the prospect comes through, you’re sitting pretty. If he doesn’t, you can still plug Cuddyer in at first in case of injury.
39. Jason Bay (.260, 16 HR, 78 RBI, 66 Runs, 8 SB)
While he has been a steady and, at times, superior, producer over the years, Bay is getting old before our eyes. The move to Citi Field doesn’t help- it’s the NL’s version of Target Field, and has the same effect on power. Compounding that effect on Bay’s power was his concussion last year, which must have been a granddaddy of a concussion, as it continued to be a problem over the off-season. Now back playing, Bay headed directly to the DL with a strained oblique, the sort of injury that can linger for half a season or more. Just way too much uncertainty for me to call Jason Bay anything more than a third outfielder, and you want to be certain to back him up with someone who can help in a couple of categories. Don’t spend high here.
40. Brett Gardner (.275, 4 HR, 42 RBI, 88 Runs, 42 SB)
If Michael Bourn should aspire to become Juan Pierre, than Brett Gardner should aspire to become Michael Bourn. Despite showing an ability to get on base throughout his minor league career, last year’s OBP of .383 isn’t sustainable- this isn’t Rickey Henderson we’re talking about. Best guess is pitchers begin to pump their best fastballs in on Gardner for strikes and try to knock the bat out of his hands, since he’s no threat to go yard on them. His speed is legit, and the Yankees do let him run, so pencil Gardner in for about a .350 OBP and 40 steals. The risk here is real- last year was a best case outlier, but he’s a Yankee, so his price could get inflated. Be aware that he could get pounded right back to the bench.
41. Torii Hunter (.273, 22 HR, 84 RBI, 72 Runs, 7 SB)
A remarkably consistent fantasy asset over his career, the bell is beginning to toll on Hunter. The tread on his wheels is wearing thin, and that takes away the assets of 20+ steals and 80+ runs away, as well as costing him some points on his batting average. He will still get his 20 taters, his RBI count will help, but the only direction for Torii to go now is down. Don’t bid on his past, bid on his present, and there is no need to kick in the extra buck to have a hold on his future.
42. Denard Span (.283, 5 HR, 62 RBI, 91 Runs, 27 SB)
A safe play at your third outfield spot, Span will hit somewhere between .275 and .295, drive in about 60, and score around 90, give or take. There’s no power to be found here- Target Field took care of that. But Span won’t hurt you, he’ll get you 25-30 steals, and has some upside being only 27 years old. If you’re risk-averse, he is a good choice for you, even if he is boring.
43. Travis Snider (.264, 23 HR, 68 RBI, 81 Runs, 5 SB)
We have been hearing about Snider for three years now, and a cursory check of his career stats gives us reason to ponder if we’re all nuts. He hasn’t done much in the three major league seasons he’s had, but a closer examination of the record is intriguing. In those three years, he has basically completed one full MLB season of 600 AB’s over a 162 games. His line? .255, 22 HR, 66 RBI, 79 Runs, 6 SB. If Snider was a rookie who hung that stat line up in his first season, we would be talking about him in the same breath as Jason Heyward and Michael Stanton. Am I saying he is as good a prospect as those two? No- but I am saying that he isn’t far behind, he has more MLB experience than either, just turned 23, and you should take full advantage of this knowledge to grab Snider and then use him to beat your fellow owners over the head.
44. Magglio Ordonez (.304, 14 HR, 73 RBI, 77 Runs, 0 SB)
Mags is getting’ long in the tooth, but he has settled into a pretty nice little groove in his elder days. He can still give you a .300 batting average and a good OBP, which is nice from a third outfielder, and he has Miggy Cabrera and Victor Martinez hitting behind him, so he will score runs. He won’t deliver the long ball for you, and he couldn’t steal more than one base this year unless he was armed, but for a minimal investment, you’ll get good value. The wild card is his RBI, which are totally dependant on the Tigers’ first two hitters in the lineup. If Austin Jackson and whoever hits second can get on base, Ordonez can get them home, which would be a pleasant little bonus for his owner. The injury/age risk is the only reason Ordonez is ranked this low.
45. Carlos Beltran (.272, 17 HR, 71 RBI, 68 Runs, 2 SB)
Forget about Beltran ever getting back to near he once was- those injuries are scary, and he never really was as great as his image, anyway. Buy him now and you are paying for number three outfielders power numbers. If you can get him for under what you what you budget for that, go ahead and take him. Don’t pay your budget, and make sure you don’t pay over- he won’t be worth it. If you’re going to do that, go with someone with more upside…
46. Logan Morrison (.285, 16 HR, 68 RBI, 76 Runs, 3 SB)
…like young Mr. Morrison here. In his MLB debut, Morrison showed the skill set we have heard about while he was in the minors- a discerning batting eye, line drive doubles power, and a good approach at the plate. He has yet to grow into his power, so don’t rely on him for home run help in 2011. What you can look for from Morrison is a steady batting average, decent counting stats, and the prospect of having the rights to him again next year.
47. Jason Kubel (.264, 20 HR, 84 RBI, 70 Runs, 0 SB)
Like so many Twins, Kubel is boringly predictable, with little upside. Yet that predictability has value, as you know Kubel with give you around 20 jacks and 80 RBI. His batting average will flail around depending on how many lefthanders he has to face (he isn’t very good against any decent southpaw), but the rest of the stat line will be there. A worthy third outfielder in a 16-team league.
48. Grady Sizemore (.263, 23 HR, 71 RBI, 67 Runs, 7 SB)
Coming back from microfracture knee surgery, Sizemore is a wild card for 2011. The procedure is still new, so we don’t have a track record of how players respond to the work. Best guess is Grady will still have 20+ home run power, but you can forget about double figure steals, at least for this year. He’s running OK in spring training , which make him a worthwhile gamble here. If someone else in your league is willing to bet more than you, don’t go all-in for Sizemore. The risk is too great, the likely reward too small.
49. Aubrey Huff (.254, 18 HR, 73 RBI, 58 Runs, 3 SB)
Huff has had some surprising years in the past, but noting beats last season. That production came totally out of the blue, and anyone who expects a repeat is certifiably nuts. That said, Huff does have some advantages as a fantasy player- he qualifies at both first base and the outfield, he usually hits double figure HR’s, and…er, well, that’s about it. He’s a fourth outfielder to me, and I suggest you bid accordingly.
50. Jose Tabata (.287, 8 HR, 44 RBI, 89 Runs, 33 SB)
The latest in the Juan Pierre/Michael Bourn/Brett Gardner line, Tabata carries some potential that separates him from his fellow speed demons. He has some power potential- double figure home run seasons are in his future. He’s starting out at a younger age (22 years old), so he has time to learn. He plays in Pittsburgh, which seriously reduces the pressure on him during his learning period. All added together makes Tabata a great chance to take as your number four outfielder. He is one of the guys with whom you could get real lucky.
There are your top 50 outfielders. While not deep in four and five category beasts, you can find a lot of help throughout this list. Mix and match to fill the needs you have on your squad, and don’t be afraid to walk away from the table on most of the players in the bottom twenty or so- there is redundancy in the skills those players bring to your club.
I’ve mentioned this in my other articles, but I’m not proud, so I’ll do it again- if you enjoy my work, please consider picking up a copy of my new ebook, “Who Da Man? The Quintessential History of the NBA Draft 1947-2010”, now available on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. In the book, I break down each NBA draft since 1947 by slot, list each player picked at each slot, and choose a best and featured player for each slot. Each player selected has a recap (there are some fascinating stories in there), and the top 30 slots have a top five players drafted at each. There is also my ranking from worst-to-first of each NBA draft. Thanks for reading my stuff, and I will get that second baseman article out toot sweet!