The outfield is overwhelming in fantasy baseball terms in 2011. Each major league team has at least four outfielders, that’s 120 guys to chose from for those mathematically challenged. Most leagues will draft between 40 and 60 of them. That’s a lot of players to be aware of, but the more guys out there means the more chances to get value late. I’ve done close to a dozen mock drafts on Mock Draft Central in the last week. My strategy this year has been to fill the infield first. The problem is after 4-5 or so rounds of drafting just infielders and maybe a top tier starting pitcher, I realize that I don’t have any outfielders…. Before I launch into a Ronnie-Jersey Shore-esque rage, I just take a deep breath and remember that outfield is deep. I’m confident that I can pull 3-5 outfielders (depending on league requirements) after the first 10-20 have been drafted. Guys like Andre Either, Jason Heyward, Drew Stubbs, Adam Jones, and Carlos Beltran are just a few examples of the power/speed combinations that can be targeted in the middle to late rounds.
Norman Notes: League specifics aside, (bench spots and daily transactions, yada, yada, yada…), I like to take 1-2 extra outfielders so I can rotate those guys in and out depending on off days, pitching matcups, etc.
Now lets break down The Fantasy Man's 2011 Fantasy Baseball Outfielders Rankings......
1. Carl Crawford
Norman Notes: The stars aligned for Crawford to have a monster year. The Red Sox have arguably the best lineup in baseball; meaning Crawford could score 120 runs. I have to wonder if he’ll steal as much though. Why risk him running with Pedroia, Youkillis and Gonzalez behind him? He’ll be a stud for sure.
2. Carlos Gonzalez
Norman Notes: The Fantasy Man’s Yellow Caution light is up. Norman agrees. The Golden Rule of fantasy is “Don’t Pay for a Career Year.” If you draft Car-Go top 3, that’s exactly what you’re doing. He had a .384 batting average of balls in play (BABIP). That means a decent amount of luck was on his side last year. That’s an unsustainable stat so there’s no question his batting average drops some. I’ll proceed with caution when it comes to Car-Go. Sure the guy is awesome and had phenomenal year in 2010. But the advanced stats indicate he may have over achieved…
3. Ryan Braun
Norman Notes: This is my #1 outfielder. Just an awe-inspiring combination of batting average, power, and speed.
4. Matt Holliday
Norman Notes: If your worried about some of the other names in his draft vicinity, then draft Holliday and put his 25+ homeruns, 100+ rbis, 10 stolen bases, and .310+ batting average and put it in the bank.
5. Josh Hamilton
Norman Notes: Similar to Alex Rodriguez, I have a problem paying for guys with a history of drug use and injuries. The guy may be the best hitter in baseball when healthy, but your guess is as good as mine as to how his body holds and what toll the drug use had. I’m in the guy’s corner after reading about his struggles and pulling himself out of that situation, but he still leaves me with too many questions to draft as an elite player.
6. Matt Kemp
7. Andrew McCutchen
8. Nelson Cruz
9. Shin-Soo Choo
Norman Notes: Hard to argue with that tier of elite outfielders. I’d consider Ichiro around 7 and weary of Kemp at 6. Kemp failed to perform to his hype last year. Fool me once fine, but please don’t fool me twice…
10. Jose Bautista
Norman Notes: more valuable at third base. See my take in the 3B rankings
11. Ichiro Suzuki
Norman Notes: Horrible supporting offense but the guy gets 200 hits every year.
12. Alex Rios
13. Andre Ethier
14. Hunter Pence
Norman Notes: Still trying to figure out why Pence is this high?
15. Justin Upton
Norman Notes: J-Up has the talent to be a top 5 outfielder. I hope he puts it all together but I’m having déjà vu with his brother BJ Upton.
16. Jayson Werth
Norman Notes: Ke$ha might like your beard, but I’m not buying it. I think the Washington Nationals severely overpaid for Werth’s decent (but not elite stats). I wonder if his beard is over compensating for anything in the past?
17. Jay Bruce
Norman Notes: Bruce certainly has the potential to be #17, but he hasn’t earned it yet. If you like him then you’ll have to reach because hes one of this years most hyped players. Let someone else take that risk.
18. Colby Rasmus
19. Jason Heyward
Norman Notes: On my free time I write haikus about Jason Heyward. I like him to finish the year as a top 10 outfielder with the talent to take out a 10 year lease in the top tier. At only twenty, Heyward showed endless talent, Cooperstown some day.
20. Mike Stanton
Norman Notes: Meet the new Adam Dunn.
21. Jacoby Ellsbury
Norman Notes: Does he qualify for the post hype sleeper tag? He was a top 10 outfielder last year… Injury experts don’t expect any lingering side effects. Hes a serious post hype/post injury target.
22. Grady Sizemore
Norman Notes: Take Grady at 22 with due caution. The guy has shown us talent but more importantly shown us he’s a bum who cant stay healthy.
23. Carlos Quentin
24. Nick Markakis
25. Corey Hart
26. Chris B. Young
27. Curtis Granderson
28. Adam Jones
Norman Notes: He has 5 tool talent but just hasn’t had the year where he puts it together. I like this to be the year. Norman sleeper stamp. I’d take him before at least the six guys above him.
29. Vernon Wells
30. Delmon Young
31. Torii Hunter
32. Jason Bay
33. Bobby Abreu
34. Austin Jackson
Norman Notes: The statistical anomaly of batting average of balls in play (BABIP) award for 2010 go to Car-Go and Austin Jackson. Jackson sported a .396 BABIP. I like his talent but look for a much lower BA.
35. Brett Gardner
Norman Notes: Love the guy in a roto league, but hard to keep in him daily h2h lineups. Too inconsistent between the 1st and 2nd halves.
36. Juan Pierre
37. Carlos Lee
38. Nick Swisher
Norman Notes: Yankee stadium may be his perfect fit.
39. Travis Snider
Norman Notes: I was all in on both Adam Lind and Travis Snider last year, and they both left me under whelmed… I still like Snider but at 39? If I can get him in the 50-60 range then I’m in. He needs to develop more for me.
40. Drew Stubbs
Norman Notes: Nothing frustrates me more than having a guy pegged as your sleeper and then having a big site do the same. I loved Stubbs last year and he came through with a solid roto season. Other sites aside, this is my favorite sleeper regardless of position.
41. B.J. Upton
Norman Notes: I’m still waiting for the Boss Man Junior to put it all together. Don’t hold your breath.
42. Shane Victorino
43. Carlos Beltran
Norman Notes: The perfect post injury sleeper. Could be a Billy Fuccillo “HUGE” value.
44. Magglio Ordonez
45. Denard Span
46. Ben Zobrist
Norman Notes: Ben Zobrist, or Zoby the house elf….yes that was a Harry Potter joke. I play fantasy baseball and have read every Harry Potter book, I’m a cool guy. A classic glass half empty or full guy. Didn’t provide the anticipated power but still managed 24 stolen bases and has second base eligibility. Another classic post hype sleeper.
47. Ryan Ludwick
48. Michael Bourn
49. Jason Kubel
50. Jose Tabata
In summary there is a lot of value to be mined in the outfield. Next up reviewing The Fantasy Man’s starting pitcher Rankings…