Another Friday is upon us. That means that it’s time for some more early positional rankings. Today, we wrap up the offense with the outfield. In case you missed any of our previous Top-10’s, take a look back at catcher, first base, second base, third base, and shortstop.
Since you need a few outfielders, let’s go a little deeper than Top-10 and stretch it into the Top-25, shall we? We shall. Let’s do it.
- Mike Trout: Nothing off the board here in any way. Trout is a legitimate 40-40 candidate. The only categories he’s not the best in the business in are the ones that depend a lot on where you bat in the order, and he’s very good in those. If you have the first pick and don’t take him or Miguel Cabrera, I hope for your sake that you have some serious inside information.
- Andrew McCutchen: Probably not a serious 40-40 candidate, but has been 20-20 in each of the last three seasons. As the talent around him gets better, his runs scored and RBI production will only get better.
- Adam Jones: Not that different from McCutchen. Doesn’t steal as many bases or have as good an average, but has a slight edge in the power categories. Cutch’s edge in batting average is just too great, but Jones is solid across the board, and very durable. Never underestimate that, especially after seeing the outfielders who are going to follow.
- Carlos Gonzalez: Outside of Trout and another few guys you’ll see in a few spots, there’s more talent from Cargo than anyone else, Throw in Coors Field, and you have a star. The problem is that you can chalk him up for 25 or more missed games just about every year.
- Ryan Braun: This guy was the consensus No. 1 player at this site before the 2013 season, and I know that we didn’t stand alone in that. The looming questions around how legitimate his great play has been and what his psyche will be like coming off of the suspension are valid. But Braun’s only 30 has just been too good for too long for me to drop below this spot. He was closer to No. 4 in my head than No. 6.
- Bryce Harper: Great across the board potential, but needs to be more disciplined at the plate. Going a lot on potential and a strong 20-20 (or better) possibility. But he needs to be closer to .300, and that starts by swinging at better pitches.
- Yasiel Puig: Another youngster in the Top-10. There’s a rawness to Puig and like Harper, he needs to be more disciplined at the plate. But unlike Harper, Puig hit .319 in 2013.
- Jacoby Ellsbury: Would probably be No. 6 on the list if I knew where he will be playing next year, and that he’ll suit up. But Jacoby is an injury-prone free agent.
- Matt Kemp: Do you remember when he said he wanted to be a 50-50 guy. I didn’t think he’d do it but after what I saw in 2011, I wouldn’t have bet against him. Missing so much of 2013 does raise a question, but lingering injuries don’t appear to be a concern as far as 2014 is concerned.
- Hunter Pence: As unothodox and inconsistent as he can be, his fantastic 2013 stat-sheet was basically on par with his career averages. If he does that again, this is definitely a Top-10 outfielder. Plus, you know he’ll be out there. We profile him here.
- Shin-Soo Choo: I’m not crazy on ranking free agents who were in good situations too high. Still, Choo was good in Cleveland two years ago, and was actually better this year in Cincinnati. Probably the best “Poor Man’s Mike Trout” going in fantasy baseball today.
- Alex Rios: I get the feeling I’m going to get some backlash here, but he’s responded to a dismal 2011 campaign very nicely and is now in a good situation in Texas. Very good potential in every category, even if he’s not great in any of them.
- Matt Holliday: Mr. Consistency. Just wish he stole a few bases. He’ll be 34 on opening day, so trending down. But this about as safe a play as you’ll find in the game.
- Justin Upton: Crazy to think that Upton’s only 26. It feels weird having him this low, but it’s right. He’s a five-tool player, but has never stolen more than 20 bases or hit more than 31 homers in a year. Until he can either excel in a few stats, or not be below average in a few of them, Upton will linger in this range.
- Carlos Gomez: The batting average is a question, but this guy is basically a lock for 20-20 with real 30-30 potential. The fact that his .284 average in 2013 was his career best by 24 points doesn’t help Go-Go’s cause, but he’s pretty good everywhere else.
- Jay Bruce: He can mash it, but he’s never stolen 10 bases, scored 90 runs, or hit more than .281. Actually, over the last three years, Bruce has been a .257 career hitter.
- Giancarlo Stanton: Has all the power in the world, but two big problems. One – He can’t seem to get through a season without a few trips to the DL. Two – He needs to get out of Miami ASAP. I’m a fan of his so I wish he could be higher, but my head tells me that if anything, he’s overrated here. Not all his fault, but that doesn’t really matter.
- Jose Bautista: You’ve got to like a guy who can still threaten 30 home runs when he can’t play 120 games. That said, the batting average, mounting injuries, and age really hurt Joey Bats. Still, if he stays in Toronto (not a small if), you’ve gotta like that situation. We compare him to Dominic Brown here.
- Josh Hamilton: I’m guessing this either looks way too low or way too high. I don’t know if he’ll ever be an MVP again, but he’s just too good a player to repeat the first four months of 2013.
- Allen Craig: A good hitter and while RBI is always a tough category to predict, you should be able to bank on at least 90 from him. The problem, well problems — He’s not a great home run hitter. If you get more than 20 from him, consider it like finding money. The other problem, he’s had a hard time getting on the field throughout his career. His 134 games in 2013 were a career high, which is always a concern. Lastly, he’s probably best from a fantasy perspective at first base.
- Wil Myers: There is a lot to like about Myers, but he carries a fair amount of risk. The fact that he struck out 91 times in only 335 at-bats really worries me that we’ll be seeing some regression here. Now, I’m a big fan of Myers and I believe he’s going to have a big career. But I can’t justify putting him ahead of any of these names, at least not right now.
- Torii Hunter: You may think this is overrating him, but Hunter was better than this on ESPN’s player rater in both 2012 and 2013. Hitting in front of Miguel Cabrera, Hunter should score 90 or more runs, hit 20 or more homers, bat .300 or better, and probably drive in 80 or more runs. Don’t overthink this one.
- Carlos Beltran: Similar things can be said about Beltran. But I’m pretty sure that with Oscar Taveras looming and the Cardinals’ outfield already loaded, that Beltran will be somewhere else. Unfortunately for his numbers, there aren’t many situations that rival what he’s had in St. Louis.
- Jayson Werth: If I knew he’d repeat 2013, he’d likely be in the Top-20. The problem is that he only played 129 games in 2013, and I don’t even know that he can get to that total again. We profile him here.
- Domonic Brown: I like his power, but he does have some holes in his game, notably a .255 career average. Also, 2013 was his first year as a full-time player. Now that pitchers know him better, I can’t help but wonder if we’ll see some regression. We compare him to Jose Bautista here.
Just missed the cut: Michael Cuddyer (Love his game at Coors Field, but he’ll be 35 next year can’t be counted on to stay on the field), Ben Zobrist (Would probably be a Top-25 outfielder but he’ll have eligibility at both middle infield positions. Play him there if you get him, Alex Gordon (That .233 batting average from June 1 on just worries me, as does his dramatic drop-off in doubles), Nelson Cruz (coming off of a PED suspension, not much more than power anyway, free agent leaving a good situation. Bad kinda hat trick. We profile him here.), Yoenis Cespedes (if he stays on the field and becomes a bit more disciplined, he’s in next year’s Top-15 with room to spare), Jason Heyward (So much potential, no consistency), Leonys Martin & Starling Marte (Both will steal bases and have lots of potential in the other categories, but aren’t quite complete enough yet to crack this list. We profile Marte here.), Coco Crisp (22 home run season came out of nowhere), Mark Trumbo (If I believed he’d hit .250, he’d be in the Top-25. Better as a first baseman, anyway), Shane Victorino (The .294 average just came out of nowhere), Michael Brantley & Brett Gardner (better real players than fantasy).