Outfield has long been considered perhaps the deepest position in fantasy baseball. I am here to tell you that isn’t the case. Yes, there are more quality outfielders than at any other position, but you also have to remember that leagues call for each team to have three, four, and sometimes even five guys at this position on their teams. Multiply that by a standard 12 teams, and you are looking at 36-50 outfielders will be STARTING for each fantasy team. Once you read the rankings below and realize when you get to the bottom that some of these guys will be starting for teams in your league, you will agree it isn’t as deep as you think. So, I’m not saying use your first three picks on outfielders, but don’t be silly enough to think that you can continue to wait until the end and you will get quality options.
Are you preparing for your draft? Have you already drafted? Need trade advice? Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will answer you within 18 hours. Also, you can follow me on Twitter @fightingchance for updates, news, and maybe a laugh or two……but no promises on the last one.
1. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
.319 average, 41 homers, 112 RBI, 30 steals, 108 runs
Regardless of the performance enhancing drug rumors that continue to swirl around this guy, the record shows that he is the statistically most effective player in fantasy baseball today. Braun helps you in every category. Batting average, home runs, RBI, steals, and runs are all categories that he helps you in, and excels at. The track record of success with this guy has been going for a good number of years, and although the Brewers aren’t the best team in the National League, there is no reason to expect anything less from Braun. In my opinion he is easily the consensus number one pick in all fantasy baseball drafts.
2. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
.303 average, 23 homers, 69 RBI, 9 steals, 74 runs (106 games)
2011 was quite the banner year for Kemp and many fantasy players were clamoring after him at the start of last year. When a guy is nearly 40/40 that only makes sense. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury did a number on his season and while Kemp’s end line still looks like a pretty good season, those who took him in the top five didn’t get nearly the value they were expecting. The emergence of Mike Trout and possibly Bryce Harper coupled with the injury means that Kemp might be around a couple picks longer than he should. But the guy is just 28 years old and just because he missed part of one season doesn’t mean he lost his ability. Kemp is still a top five player who might be drafted lower than he should be. If you are in the top three to five, I wouldn’t let him pass.
3. Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves
.280 average, 17 homers, 67 RBI, 18 steals, 107 runs
I have no idea why this guy isn’t getting the love in 2013. I know he had a down season last year, but the kid has the world on a plate still. His drop in statistics can be attributed to a thumb injury he suffered in the beginning of the season, and he just wasn’t right all year. Considering that, these numbers aren’t half bad. He is still just 25 years old, and now with the move out of Arizona, he is going to be in the middle of a very good lineup. I know that Upton is very capable of going 30/25 in a season, and he has hit .300 for a full year as well. He still has the chance to get better, and I think he is being grossly undervalued. Upton is one of my primary targets in drafts this year.
4. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
.327 average, 31 homers, 96 RBI, 20 steals, 107 runs
If you have followed me over the last few seasons, you would know that McCutchen is one of my favorite players in all of baseball, and while I have loved him since 2010, I didn’t even think his numbers would get to these heights. However, McCutchen has always had the capabilities to be among the best outfielders in the league and it is awesome to have him live up to this potential. I think there is a chance that his power takes a small step back, but his batting average, RBI, and steals should all stay around the same levels and should be taken among the first four to eight picks of your fantasy drafts.
5. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
.326 average, 30 homers, 83 RBI, 49 steals, 129 runs
No one could have envisioned the type of season that Trout was about to have when he came to the Majors at the end of April. He had one of the best seasons by any rookie of all time, hell he had one of the better season of any player in quite a while and was in the discussion for AL MVP despite Miguel Cabrera winning the Triple Crown. I would love to put Trout number one on this list, the only thing that stops me from putting him at the top is his lack of experience. Trout is a dynamic player that does it all, although his minor league numbers never projected for him to hit for this much power. My head says to be a little worried about Trout, but the numbers say he should be picked within the first half of the first round. 2013 will tell the tale, and fantasy owners are hoping for a repeat.
6. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
.241 average, 27 homers, 65 RBI, 5 steals, 64 runs (90 games)
One of the more prolific home run hitters of the past few seasons missed a decent chunk of last season with a wrist injury, but all reports are that he is good to go for the start of 2013, and connected on his first long ball just a few days ago. The Jays have made some primetime acquisitions this offseason and should have the best offense that they have had in a long time. This will only help Bautista, and he should again be among the top contributors in fantasy baseball. I have a hard time predicting that a guy will hit more than 40 homers, but Bautista should be among the league leaders in homers and his average should be at least 30 points higher than what he hit last year. He’s a great early second round addition to your fantasy team.
7. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
.290 average, 37 homers, 86 RBI, 6 steals, 75 runs
The team around him couldn’t be more different (or awful), but Stanton is still a big time power hitter no matter who is hitting in front of or behind him. The RBI total is disappointing for a guy with so many home runs, but the kid is a bonafide masher, the likes of which not too many are able to match. He kind of reminds me of Adam Dunn without the terrible batting average. I’m slightly concerned that Stanton will lose interest if the team is really bad, wait……when the team is really bad, or that pitchers will avoid him because Justin Ruggiano is waiting on deck. Who? Exactly! That being said though I still think Stanton will see enough fastballs to pop 35 taters out of the yard and be a very effective fantasy player.
8. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies
.303 average, 22 homers, 85 RBI, 20 steals, 89 runs (135 games)
Some of the shine and the luster has fallen off of Gonzalez star over the past couple seasons as his numbers have dropped in each of the last two years since his breakout performance in 2010. But let’s also not act like his numbers from 2012 are bad, just not great. Gonzalez really struggled in the second half of last season as the team fell down the standings with the loss of many of their best players. He needs to be able to play consistently no matter whose name is on the lineup card. Word is he came into camp in fantastic shape and ready to face the long season and play hard the entire season. He is a guy who helps you out in all five categories, and his potential is to go 30/30 easily with 100 RBI and a batting average over .300. There aren’t too many guys like that out there, which is why he still is among the best outfielders in fantasy.
9. Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
.285 average, 43 homers, 128 RBI, 7 steals, 103 runs
The cream of the free agent crop took his talents to La-La Land to join Albert Pujols and the absolutely loaded Angels. There’s just one thing to talk about with Hamilton and that is his health. Because when this guy is on the field, there’s very few players who are more talented with a bat in their hands. When he is able to play even 150 games, Hamilton will be in the MVP race every single time. The problem is in his six year career he has missed 30 games or more four times! When you are a Hamilton owner you hold your breath every day when you check your team to make sure he survived another day. Well, not literally. You would look really crazy and your family would think you were nuts if you literally held your breath while you checked on Fantasy Baseball. But you get the point. Hamilton burned me in two of those four years where he missed extended time, and he and I don’t really play well together anymore. I can’t say it’s a bad pick to take him, but just be sure you stopped for some Tums during the season, you are going to need them.
10. Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
.287 average, 32 homers, 82 RBI, 16 steals, 103 runs
Here comes another guy that I really love. I have to admit that for a few years in Jones’ career I was starting to worry that he might not pan out to the power hitting outfielder we were promised he would be five years ago. But after hitting 25 taters in 2011 my hope again was there, and with his 32 last season I now feel confident that he is going to be the guy I always hoped for. Jones is another guy that helps you across the board, just not quite as much as some of the guys above him. His average is solid, but not spectacular, and his steals are a nice touch but they won’t help you win the category. I’d also like to see him drive in a few more runs considering he hit 32 homers, but these are all minor details. I still think that he can improve on these stats a little more, and is a wonderful choice as a low end first outfielder on your team.
11. Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves
.269 average, 27 homers, 82 RBI, 21 steals, 93 runs
He seems like a wily veteran, but the truth is he is just 23 years old and hasn’t been around that long. However, Heyward has had trouble staying healthy in his short three career, which has caused him to go from fantasy darling, to a guy we look at with a little bit of a disapproving look. He did play basically a full season last year, and the only thing that wasn’t a career high was his batting average. Now, think of him with the Upton Brothers with him in the lineup, and you can see why some fantasy players are getting pretty excited about Heyward’s possibilities this year. The kid is a 35/25 player waiting to happen, and I don’t think you will have to wait anymore to see that potential realized.
12. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
.270 average, 22 homers, 59 RBI, 18 steals, 98 runs
It isn’t often that you find two 20 year olds near the top of any fantasy baseball rankings, but that is what 2012 brought us in the outfield, two magnificent talents. However, I have to admit that I am probably not as high on Harper as others, and while I could be wrong, I’m sticking to my guns. It isn’t that I don’t like him, that’s obvious by where he is in the rankings, but I am not going to draft him as high as some of these other established guys that I pretty much know what I’m going to get. Harper took the world by storm last year, and showed everyone what he could do. Here are my concerns. He hit .240 against lefties. Not the end of the world, as there are far more right handed pitchers out there, but still. He was mired in a two month slump in July and August where he hit .222 and .243 respectively, although in August he still did hit six homers, He was very good, but he did have 500 at-bats and 22 homers isn’t world-beating, and 59 RBI is kinda pedestrian. Granted, the kid was 19 years old in the Majors, but all I’m saying is let’s ease up with the hype a little bit. He’s very good and should improve even more, but he’s not a guy I’m taking in the top two rounds.
13. Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds
.252 average, 34 homers, 99 RBI, 9 steals, 89 runs
He will turn 26 just after Opening Day and already Jay Bruce has established himself as one of the better power hitters in the National League. However, his batting average does leave a little to be desired, and his plate discipline isn’t exactly something for young players to model themselves after. Few guys can match the 91 home runs he has put up in the last three seasons though (to go with 449 strikeouts, yikes!) which makes Bruce a valuable fantasy player. He plays in one of the smallest parks in the Majors to boot, all of which are reasons that I like Jay Bruce. (summoning my inner Jim Carrey)I like him a lot
14. Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox
.271 average, 4 homers, 26 RBI, 14 steals, 43 runs (74 games)
Ellsbury has been all over the fantasy map in his time in the majors. He came to the league like a flash stealing 120 bases over his first two full seasons, missed almost the entire next year, then reinvented himself as an MVP contender and a power hitter! Last year he again missed a huge chunk of time, and his statistics were nothing to get excited about while he was in there. 2013 brings forth a lot of questions for Ellsbury, but you have to think that the window that you should hope for should be part of both of his successes. I don’t think he will steal 70 bags or hit 30 home runs, but why can’t he hit 20 and steal 40? Seems reasonable enough, right? The Sox should naturally be better in 2012, hell they can’t be any worse than they were last year. I expect a rebound pretty much across the board from that roster and that includes Ellsbury. If I had to predict which part of his game would return this year I would say the stolen bases before the power, and you should judge him accordingly.
15. Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
.268 average, 32 homers, 95 RBI, 4 steals, 66 runs
Trumbo finished the season very weakly and that has caused many people to fall off of his bandwagon. However, this is a guy that has hit 61 home runs in the last two seasons. His batting average is never very good, but it isn’t at a level that will hurt you either. Trumbo is capable of playing first, third, and corner infield spots, so he generally has pretty solid position eligibility as well. He will mostly function as the DH for the Angels this year with the signing of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton the past two seasons, but he will get 550 at-bats, so I’m not sure why so many people are down on this 27 year old masher.
16. Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals
.295 average, 27 homers, 102 RBI, 4 steals, 95 runs
Holliday has been a pretty solid producer for the better part of seven years now, although his power has dipped some in recent years. He turned 33 in January, and is starting to get up there in age. However, it isn’t too late for Holliday to still be a contributing member of your fantasy team, and he still should hit around .300 with 25 homers and 90 RBI. He isn’t the be all, end all that he once was, but Holliday is still very good and is a very good second outfielder on your team.
17. Alex Rios, Chicago White Sox
.304 average, 25 homers, 91 RBI, 23 steals, 93 runs
After an absolutely atrocious 2011 that saw him hit .227 with only 13 homers, Rios bounced back in a HUGE way in 2012 as he pretty much doubled his numbers across the board. His batting average has been all over the map in his Major League career, but he has been between 15-25 homers and 70-90 RBI throughout his career (nightmare 2011 not withstanding). It is incredibly hard to predict what you might get out of Rios in 2013, but I guess we have to look at last season and hope he can build for it. You have to figure that he could take a step back, but you also have to hope it isn’t too far of a step back. I’d love to see him continue to succeed, but I can’t be more than 50% sure that he will.
18. Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics
.292 average, 23 homers, 82 RBI, 16 steals, 70 runs (129 games)
The latest Cuban import made quite the impression in his first season in the Majors as he very nearly was a 20/20 player. The production that he came within 2012 wasn’t at all out of the realm of possibility, so the fantasy player shouldn’t consider this to be a fluke or any of his numbers to be out of the ordinary. In fact, if anything I could see Cespedes even doing slightly better in 2013, and he should be a great second outfielder option on your fantasy team.
19. Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees
.232 average, 43 homers, 106 RBI, 10 steals, 102 runs
After back to back 40 homer seasons, Granderson is going to have a hard time duplicating that feat again seeing that he is going to miss the first month of the season with a fractured forearm. Now, I have said before that fantasy championships are not won in the first month of the season, and rarely are they lost either. So, while you might be without this guy for the first four or five weeks of the season, let’s remember that it does last about 24 weeks, so you shouldn’t plummet him down your rankings. Also, a bone break isn’t the worst thing in the world. It heals and it’s done. Tendon issues and things like that are much easier to reaggravate. Granderson has absolutely loved hitting at Yankee Stadium, and seeing that he will be just 32 years old when the season starts, I see no reason to expect a big drop in his numbers, other than the fact he will likely miss the first 35 or so games. If you want to try to wait one more round than you normally would, but if you like him, I wouldn’t wait too long.
20. BJ Upton, Atlanta Braves
.246 average, 28 homers, 78 RBI, 31 steals, 79 runs
When Upton had his career season in 2007, fantasy owners across the universe were paving his way to Cooperstown. Since then he only hit over .250 once, and he has watched his power numbers go all over the map, and his stolen bases drop from 44 to still a solid 31. If he could ever hit for a decent average again, Upton would be a top 15 outfielder at worst. Unfortunately, after four seasons under .250 I don’t think you can hope for that. He could be more motivated and happy playing with his brother, and he has a chance at 30/30, but the strikeouts and low batting average keeps me away.
21. Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers
.300 average, 16 homers, 66 RBI, 12 steals, 103 runs
Jackson has been an amazing roller coaster in his career, and it has only spanned three seasons. He had a very solid rookie campaign with a good batting average and 27 steals. In 2011 he showed a little power, and his average dropped 40 points. Last season he flashed even more muscle and got his average back up, and his steals went in half. I believe that Jackson is just turning into a good all-around player. He is only 26 and just about to hit the best seasons in his career. The Tigers as a team are reportedly focusing on running more, and Jackson has shown the ability to be an efficient base stealer. I believe he can still get better and has a chance to be a 20/20 guy or maybe even 20/25. He’s going to be available a few rounds later, but I think he can give you the value of guys you pick in much higher rounds.
22. Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays
.270 average, 20 homers, 74 RBI, 14 steals, 88 runs
The king of position eligibility, Zobrist is one of the more versatile players in all of fantasy baseball each and every year. He had a pretty good season as he hit a solid number of home runs, although his RBI and stolen bases were a little down from where they were in recent years. Zobrist tends to be eligible all over the diamond which really adds to his value. However, I’ve never been a huge Zobrist fan, and can’t ever think of a time that I have had him on my fantasy team. I’ve always liked a guy with either more power or more speed, and I never end up taking him. The position eligibility is nice, but I like to find my statistics elsewhere, and I urge you to as well.
23. Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers
.260 average, 24 homers, 90 RBI, 8 steals, 86 runs
Cruz seems to have fallen off of a lot of people’s fantasy radar, and I’m not sure I understand why. His average has been in the .260s the past two years, although his stolen bases have fallen for the last four years straight. One of the problems with Cruz is that he always seems to miss a chunk of the season, although last year he played a career high 159 games. Cruz is still a big time power hitter in one of the best parks in baseball. However, his inability to stay healthy and his wildly fluctuating batting average has him dropped down the list. I still like Cruz, but he probably should be a third outfielder on your team.
24. Michael Bourn, Cleveland Indians
.274 average, 9 homers, 57 RBI, 42 steals, 96 runs
I have to say of all of the places that I thought Bourn would go, Cleveland was not one of them. However, he followed what was likely the biggest contract, and a guy like Bourn I don’t think it really matters where he plays. He is going to be atop the Indians’ batting order, and when he is able to get on he is going to run. His batting average isn’t the best, which stops him from running away with the stolen base title, butI don’t see any reason to think he won’t steal 40 bags again so draft Bourn accordingly.
25. Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants
.253 average, 24 homers, 104 RBI, 5 steals, 87 runs
While Pence hit a career low in batting average, it was a career high in RBI, as well as the second season where he changed teams in the middle of the year. He was able to keep his power in a nice steady mid-20s range which is where he’s always been, but his stolen bases fell for the third straight season, and is nearly becoming something not even worth talking with him, although he had 18 swipes just a couple years back. AT&T Park isn’t exactly a hitter’s paradise, but I still see Pence being a mid-20s homer kind of guy in 2013, and I fully expect his batting average to get back over the .270 mark, making him a valuable fantasy outfielder.
26. Dexter Fowler, Colorado Rockies
.300 average, 15 homers, 53 RBI, 12 steals, 72 runs (143 games)
After four years of pretty much disappointing everyone, Fowler finally started to show some sort of promise that we’ve all known he’s had for years. Fowler was a great basestealer throughout his minor league career, but for some reason he’s only topped 13 swipes in one season. Now that he has started to get better, hopefully he can continue to improve and steal 35 bags. Fowler is going to bat leadoff for the Rox, and he turns 27 years old at the end of March. All of this hopefully will add up to a breakout season for Fowler. Obviously you can’t guarantee it, but he’s a great later round selection who could give you much better value.
27. Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers
.284 average, 20 homers, 89 RBI, 2 steals, 79 runs
People caught on to Ethier in 2008 when he hit 20 homers for the first time. The next year when he hit 31 it seemed like he was on the path to fantasy stardom. Then he barely hit 31 in the next two seasons combined. Ethier bounced back last season to post some solid numbers, but it has been his inability to hit left handed pitching that is holding him down. Luckily for him there are far more righties than lefties, but this stat keeps him from being a top 15 outfielder. He is still a solid third guy in your fantasy outfield, but don’t expect another 30/100 season from him and you won’t be disappointed. He could take a small step forward from 2012, but not much of one.
28. Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals
.294 average, 14 homers, 72 RBI, 10 steals, 93 runs
Whenever I hear about a “can’t miss prospect” I always think back to Alex Gordon. At age 20 he was the biggest story in the minor leagues and he was going to take the Majors by storm and start to turn around the culture in Kansas City. Then at age 25 he’s back and forth between the Bigs and the Farm and couldn’t hit his way out of a paper bag. Gordon refound his stroke in 2011 when he connected on 23 homers and stole 17 bases, before coming back to Earth last year. The guy is talented, there’s no denying that, but he’s been so wildly inconsistent in his career, it’s hard to know what to expect. He certainly has the talent to reproduce his 2011 career year where he had his best stats in every category, but I also think he is capable of being average as well. The Royals have enough good players to actually make an impact in the standings at some point, but they will need a guy like Gordon to step up. He’s a little too wishy washy for me to go tell you to be sure you get him, but he is a guy who has the chance to outperform his draft status.
29. Melky Cabrera, Toronto Blue Jays
.346 average, 11 homers, 60 RBI, 13 steals, 84 runs (112 games)
Melky was having himself quite a season and was in the MVP talk last year and people all over baseball were thinking “Really? Melky Cabrera is doing this?” and then we got the reason why. Cabrera was suspended the last 50 games for performance enhancing drugs, ending his season and his hopes at the award. However, let’s not just write him off that everything was due to his little helpers. Take a look at his 2011 numbers in Kansas City, and Melky was doing pretty well there too. Of course, there’s no saying that he wasn’t cheating then too, so I guess you can take that side of the coin. While I don’t think he will hit anywhere in the ballpark of .346, I do think that he will remain a reasonable third outfielder or utility player and is still worth a spot on fantasy teams. I know he was busted, but he isn’t entirely talentless either.
30. Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals
.269 average, 32 homers, 97 homers, 13 steals, 83 runs
I’m not sure how the Cardinals do it, but they seem to have made a habit out of finding guys who are past their primes and revitalizing them for a short period of time. Beltran had a good 2011 split between New York and San Francisco, but nothing like this. Beltran hadn’t stolen 13 bases in four years, and his 32 home runs were the most since2007! He will turn 36 during the first month of the season, and his knees haven’t gotten any younger. I am going to take the same stance with Beltran this year as I did last and only draft him if I am really in need of an outfielder and he lasts longer than he should. I just can’t shake the amount of injuries he had while he was with the Mets. If he plays 150 games I don’t doubt that he will at least be close to these numbers, it’s just betting on those 150 games that scares me.
31. Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay Rays
.246 average, 13 homers, 47 RBI, 31 steals, 85 runs (132 games)
Jennings has speed to burn and a little bit of pop, and he finally got a chance to put a full season together in 2012. Like many prospects he struggled to put his best foot forth in his first try, but there are some things that you take away from Jennings that you like heading into 2013. The steals were a nice total, and you figure that they will increase this season. The home runs actually weren’t too bad, and if he played a full season maybe he hits another three or four. At his best I think he can be a 20/40 guy, but I don’t see him hitting more than 20 homers is unlikely, but he is capable of being among the league leaders in steals. The good news is he always hit for a pretty good average in the minors, so to see him bump that up 30 points wouldn’t be a surprise. At 26 he’s heading into his prime, and while he might struggle for one more year, this kid is the goods.
32. Dayan Viciedo, Chicago White Sox
.255 average, 25 homers, 78 RBI, 64 runs
We always knew that Viciedo could hit for power if he could ever stay healthy and crack the lineup for the White Sox. Well, he did both in 2012, and those of you who were quick on the free agent trigger were rewarded nicely. This Cuban defector was originally thought to be a third baseman, but stuck in left field last season, and that is where he will stay. He has the tools to hit for a little bit better average (think .275), and even a little more power. Again, he’s had some injuries so there is some concern there, coupled with the fact that he only has the one real year of major league experience. But he just turned 24 a few days ago, so there’s still room for improvement. Before you go and take a pick on some old retreaded outfielder, take a shot on Viciedo.
33. Nick Markakis, Baltimore Orioles
.298 average, 13 homers, 54 RBI, 1 steal, 59 runs (104 games)
His season ended when he was hit on the hand with a pitch, and it was a shame as he has been through some tough times with the Orioles and was unable to enjoy their playoff run. Now a disc injury in his neck is threatening the start of his season. Markakis is optimistic that he will play Opening Day, but right now that is really hard to predict. Neck injuries are really easy to reaggravate, so if he was to miss the first couple of weeks or months of the season I can’t say I would be shocked. When healthy he is a solid .300-.310 hitter with late teen to early 20 home run power and can drive in 100 runs. He had been a very reliable player previously in his career, so hopefully he will heal quickly and be back out there for the O’s.
34. Nick Swisher, Cleveland Indians
.272 average, 24 homers, 93 RBI, 2 steals, 75 runs
After a solid career in Chicago and Oakland, Swisher made it even better in New York, although his batting average has never been consistent. Swisher has been a pretty reliable power hitter and is basically a guarantee for 20 homers in a season, as he has been in that range every season of his career. Some might be worried about him leaving the comfy hitting confines of Yankee Stadium, but like I said already, he was basically the same player in the other two stops he’s made in his career. The Indians have made a few moves this offseason to try to improve their offense, and hopefully Swisher will be a big part of that. I think you can count on him for a .260 average with 25 homers and 90 RBI.
35. Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Rays
.314 average, 37 homers, 109 RBI, 6 steals, 98 runs (minor leagues)
For those of you who are unfamiliar with him, this is the top hitting prospect heading into 2013. Myers doesn’t steal bases very much, but that’s the only thing this kid can’t do. He has a pretty decent batting eye, can hit to all fields, and obviously has power in bunches! Myers was traded from the Kansas City Royals to the Rays in the James Shields trade, and I expect him to land a starting job in the outfield right away, or if not very soon into the season. The kid has talent on top of talent and could be the next big thing. I kept him for this season in one of my leagues, and am damn happy about it. I’d be grabbing him this year if you can.
36. Shane Victorino, Boston Red Sox
.255 average, 11 homers, 55 RBI, 39 steals, 72 runs
I never quite understood the fascination with Victorino. He has a so-so batting average, not much power, and he’s not an elite basestealer. He is a solid player and I’m not knocking him, but people have always seemed to take him as a second or third outfielder, and I don’t think he should be that. His 2012 season wasn’t as bad as it was made out to be, and he still has value it’s just more as a fourth outfielder or utility spot. If he is available later on he’s not a bad choice, but my guess is he is going to go earlier than I would want you to choose him.
37. Torii Hunter, Detroit Tigers
.313 average, 16 homers, 92 RBI, 9 steals, 81 runs
There comes a time in every draft where it makes sense to draft an oldie but goodie. When it comes to Torii Hunter that time is late in the draft, but not quite at the end. He clearly isn’t the threat to hit 30 homers anymore like he used to be, nor steal double digit bases, but he is in a good spot. He is slated to hit second in the Tigers order, and that is going to mean he’s hitting in front of Miguel Cabrera, which is a very good thing. If you don’t think pitchers will give him fastballs to hit so they don’t walk Hunter and have to face Cabrera, you are nuts. Look at last season when he hit in front of Pujols. Hunter had never even hit .290 before, and he goes out and hits .313. He’s going to be a 15-20 homer guy and he will likely drive in 80-90 runs, so a fourth outfielder or utility is an ideal spot for Hunter. He’s not what he was, but he’s not useless yet.
38. Adam Eaton, Arizona Diamondbacks
.381 average, 7 homers, 48 RBI, 38 steals, 119 runs (119 games in AAA)
Another of the best outfield prospects in the majors right now, Eaton figures to be an everyday outfielder for the Diamondbacks with the departure of Chris Young. As you can see he is a very impressive hitter, and even better on the basepaths. I mean 38 steals and 119 runs in only 119 games? DAMN! He isn’t a big guy at 5’8” and 185 pounds, so I don’t see him developing into a 30 homer guy, but 15-20 dingers isn’t out of the question and with that speed he could turn into a pretty lethal player. He seems to be getting a decent amount of fantasy attention in spring so you probably aren’t going to be able to wait too long on this kid, but he should be a very good one.
39. Ichiro Suzuki, New York Yankees
.283 average, 9 homers, 55 RBI, 29 steals, 77 runs
After a year and a half of floundering for the Mariners, it seemed as though perhaps Ichiro had finally reached the end of his Hall Of Fame career. But a midseason trade to the Yankees certainly appeared to revitalize him as he hit .322 with 27 RBI and 14 steals in just 67 games in the Bronx. Was he trying to push for his only ring? Was he giving up because his team stunk so bad and then starting trying when contending for a title? If you think the answer is yes, then you think Suzuki will go back to his .320 average and 40 steals of yesteryear. The Yankees certainly hope that is the case given the injuries to their team. He will turn 40 years old in September, so that might not be the best place to bet. I’m going to wait until later rounds to see if he’s still around as my fourth outfielder or a utility spot that can help me in a couple different ways. But age is not on his side, so buyer beware on Ichiro.
40. Jason Kubel, Arizona Diamondbacks
.253 average, 30 homers, 90 RBI, 75 runs
Kubel has long been a nice power supplier with a wildly fluctuating batting average that not everyone was aware of because he played in Minnesota, and tended to get hurt every year. Not to mention being overshadowed by Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. But he finally got the fantasy love last season when he hit the 30 homer plateau for the first time, although now I think he is getting too much attention. First of all, he pretty much misses games every year. Now, usually it isn’t a ton, he’s played 141-146 games in four of his seven full seasons, but you know there’s always going to be a month or two that you are going to be without him. And outside of 2009, his average has always been right around .250 which isn’t going to kill you, but it’s not helping you either. Kubel is not a bad player, I just feel like he is being overvalued this year, and isn’t a bad third outfielder on your team, I’d just prefer him to be your utility guy or fourth outfielder if your league plays with that.
41. Shin-Soo Choo, Cincinnati Reds
.283 average, 16 homers, 67 RBI, 21 steals, 88 runs
A broken thumb cost him much of the 2011 season, but Choo came back to Cleveland last year and put together a pretty typical Choo type of year. The homers were a little down, as were the RBI, but all in all it was a pretty solid campaign. He now goes to the National League, and I don’t really see it having much of an impact on his numbers. He will likely hit a few more homers with half of his games at the Great American SmallPark in Cincinnati, and he could run a little more. All in all, I think you should expect a bump of about 20% across the board in his numbers and more of what he was in Cleveland before the injury.
42. Norichika Aoki, Milwaukee Brewers
.288 average, 10 homers, 50 RBI, 30 steals, 81 runs
In his first season in the National League, Aoki had a pretty successful start. He isn’t much of a power hitter, but ten isn’t too bad. His average should stay around the same level, and he was able to steal 30 bags and score 80+ runs. He will again bat leadoff for the Brewers, and I think that Milwaukee is going to be better than some people give them credit for. He is a good option for some insurance and depth in your outfield, or a pretty good choice if you fail to draft some speed with your early selections, he shouldn’t hurt you from the utility spot. He isn’t a well known player so he should be available fairly late, and can help you in three categories.
43. Ryan Ludwick, Cincinnati Reds
.275 average, 26 homers, 80 RBI, 53 runs (125 games)
After being a part time player and bit role man for many years, Ludwick became a legitimate threat for the Cardinals in ’08 and ’09. However, he seemed to lose all of his power in the next two seasons with the Padres (no surprise there) and Pirates and fell off of the fantasy map. Also no surprise, the power seem to come back when he came to Cincinnati and one of the smallest ballparks in the majors. That being said, Ludwick still plays for the Reds, and still hits at home, and therefore I can see him having some fantasy value again this year. You can probably wait until the very end of your draft to get him, and he could pop you out 25 and drive in 80 again. And with a .275-.280 average that’s not too shabby.
44. Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs
.262 average, 32 homers, 108 RBI, 6 steals, 68 runs
Just when you think that Soriano is done, he continues to have some pretty good statistical seasons. He is 37 years old, and has to be near the end of the road. He clearly doesn’t run as much as he once did, but somehow he keeps his fantasy value. It has to come to an end sooner or later, and you have to figure it is going to be sooner rather than later. I can’t see drafting him, but if he happens to go unchosen and gets off to a good start, maybe Soriano can keep the magic going one more season.
45. Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins
.260 average, 35 homers, 110 RBI, 3 steals, 85 runs
Speaking of injury proned power hitters, Willingham has also had the hardest time staying healthy with back and other injuries. He was able to break the 30 homer plateau after falling just short with 29 the year before, but his average is always in the lower ranges. I just don’t trust this guy to stay on the field, and although someone in Minnesota has to drive in runs, I’m going to let someone else draft The Hammer this year. If he can do it for a third straight season, then I will happily have egg on my face, which I will be happy to have, as long as it comes with some bacon.
46. Carl Crawford, Los Angeles Dodgers
.282 average, 3 homers, 19 RBI, 5 steals, 23 runs (31 games)
Crawford is still recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery and there’s a chance that he could miss the start of the regular season. He has had a great career until he got to Boston. He had a trainwreck of a 2011 and then the injury plagued 2012. Can Crawford rekindle his career in Los Angeles? I have no idea. He had a career low in stolen bases last full season, and I guess the good news is that the injury isn’t to his legs. I’m going to stay away from Crawford this season, the risk is just too high. Will I get burned? Possibly, but I’ll sleep better at night after the draft and for the rest of the Spring wondering if he is going to miss more time.
47. Carlos Quentin, San Diego Padres
.261 average, 16 homers, 46 RBI, 44 runs (86 games)
Quentin has always been a great power hitter when he has been healthy, unfortunately, that hasn’t been very often. His career high is just 131 games, and he’s only topped 100 three out of his seven seasons. He’s now 30 years old, and these nagging injuries are only going to nag longer. He had offseason knee surgery, and apparently it is still giving him trouble, and as of the 13th he still hasn’t played in a game. If you draft Quentin for your outfielder you better be damn sure you draft yourself some depth out there in case he pulls another 85 game season. Love the guy and he is a guarantee for 30 homers if he can ever play 150 games, but that is really hoping beyond hope.
48. Leonys Martin, Texas Rangers
.174 average, 0 homers, 6 RBI, 3 steals, 6 runs (24 games)
Another Cuban defector, Martin has a bunch of speed and a little bit of power. He is battling to be the everyday center fielder for the Rangers with the departure of Josh Hamilton, and I believe it is his job to lose. Martin has gotten off to a great start this Spring, and I think he is going to be a surprise this upcoming season. He has the ability to hit near .300 and I think he can easily steal 30 bases. I also expect him to be the Rangers leadoff hitter when he is given the center field job, and is a great late round option that is going to far surpass his draft value.
49. Delmon Young, Philadelphia Phillies
.267 average, 18 homers, 74 RBI, 54 runs
Another one of the top ‘can’t-miss’ prospects who has just missed, Young was once thought to be the future of the Major Leagues. A bat throwing incident in the minors, and a lack of production and poise when he came to the Big Club left Young expendable and he is now on his third team. Young flashed his potential in 2011 when he nearly hit .300 with 21 homers and 112 RBI. He was OK for the Tigers last year, and now will bring his excessive baggage to the Phillies. I like the switch to the National League as well as to a wonderful hitters park that hopefully can re-energize his power numbers. He did have offseason ankle surgery and is expected to miss the first two or three weeks of the regular season, but that still leaves him plenty of time to produce for you when he returns. By no means should he be an early pick, but towards the end, Delmon isn’t a bad guy to take a chance on.
50. Coco Crisp, Oakland Athletics
.259 average, 11 homers, 46 RBI, 39 steals, 68 runs (120 games)
After what seemed like an entire career of being sort of above average stealing bases, Crisp has taken his running to a whole new level in the past three seasons since coming to Oakland. After being over 25 steals just once in seven seasons, he has now swiped 32, 49, and 39 in the past three seasons. Unfortunately, his batting average has continued to drop over the past three seasons as well, and his durability is a major concern as he has only played135 games once in the last five years. He is 33 years old, so it isn’t like you should expect some major improvement from Crisp in the coming years. He is what he is, which is a guy with an ok batting average, pretty good stolen bases, and not as many runs as you’d like to see from a guy who steals as much as he does. He does seem to be pretty popular in fantasy, so he probably will go before you should take him. He’s a last few round guy, nothing more.
51. Colby Rasmus, Toronto Blue Jays
.223 average, 23 homers, 75 RBI, 4 steals, 75 runs
Once thought to be the jewel of the St. Louis Cardinals minor leagues, Rasmus hasn’t exactly been what we all thought he might be since he came to the majors four years ago. Now, that’s not to say that he is bad, but so far I would have to call him a mild disappointment. He had a solid rookie season, and then followed that up with an even better sophomore campaign. But problems with then Manager Tony LaRussa started his decline, and now in the past two years he hasn’t even been able to top a .225 average. He showed better power last season, and he is capable of more, but when your average is that low, 23 homers just isn’t enough to cut it unless you play a prime position like catcher or shortstop. He was never thought to hit for a high average, and never did in the minor leagues either, but he is capable of hitting .260-.270. With a new home in Toronto and some pretty good bats around him, I expect Rasmus to have a better season than he did last year from an average perspective, and perhaps a few more homers but not many. He is a good fourth outfield/utility option and in the ‘teen’ rounds, he isn’t a bad selection.
52. Cody Ross, Arizona Diamondbacks
.267 average, 22 homers, 81 RBI, 70 runs
Ross has had to fight for playing time throughout his career and has always been a little known power hitter that has long sat on fantasy players benches. He is now with his eighth MLB team, and I have to say that while he figures to see plenty of playing time for the Snakes, I don’t see him getting any more respect in the world of fantasy and I’m not sure how much he deserves. He hasn’t topped 130 games in the past two seasons, and his home run total will likely be in the low 20s. His batting average isn’t high enough to make up for that fact, and while he is a good guy to have on your bench for a short term fix, I wouldn’t want him to be an everyday player for my team.
53. Angel Pagan, San Francisco Giants
.288 average, 8 homers, 56 RBI, 29 steals, 95 runs
Another aging speedster who seems to still be holding on to some fantasy value, Pagan was the leadoff hitter for the Giants on their way to another title, but I can’t see using this guy for anything but a bench role. His batting average has been pretty good in three of the last four seasons, and his 29 steals were actually his fewest in the last three years. He will be at the top of the order again for the Giants, and even at age 31 (he will turn 32 in July), he still has some wheels. He gets some increased value from runs scored, and you know that San Francisco loves to generate runs. Pagan to me is best served in a bench role, but again if you failed to acquire any steals earlier in the draft, he won’t kill your team if he is a utility or fourth outfielder on your squad.