Preliminary 2012 Rankings: Top 20 Outfielders

Before we get into the rankings, let me put in a little disclaimer. These are extremely preliminary rankings for 2012 (prior to my projections being done) and have a lot of room for movement as the offseason progresses. They are done just on the surface, so as you look at them keep that in mind (and all numbers are prior to yesterday’s game):

  1. Ryan Braun – Milwaukee Brewers
  2. Matt Kemp – Los Angeles Dodgers
  3. Jose Bautista – Toronto Blue Jays
  4. Justin Upton – Arizona Diamondbacks
  5. Carlos Gonzalez – Colorado Rockies
  6. Curtis Granderson – New York Yankees
  7. Jacoby Ellsbury – Boston Red Sox
  8. Andrew McCutchen – Pittsburgh Pirates
  9. Mike Stanton – Florida Marlins
  10. Josh Hamilton – Texas Rangers
  11. Hunter Pence – Philadelphia Phillies
  12. Jay Bruce – Cincinnati Reds
  13. Matt Holliday – St. Louis Cardinals
  14. Carl Crawford – Boston Red Sox
  15. Shin-Soo Choo – Cleveland Indians
  16. Nelson Cruz – Texas Rangers
  17. Michael Bourn – Atlanta Braves
  18. Adam Jones – Baltimore Orioles
  19. Alex Gordon – Kansas City Royals
  20. Ben Zobrist – Tampa Bay Rays


  • Ryan Braun or Matt Kemp?  Matt Kemp or Ryan Braun?  Could you really go wrong with either one? I prefer Braun slightly due to his consistency year in and year out, while Kemp does have that awful 2010 still hanging over his head slightly.  That said, I wouldn’t have a problem going either way.
  • Injuries plagued Carlos Gonzalez in 2011 but, when healthy, he proved that his 2010 breakout was no aberration.  In 481 AB he hit .295 with 26 HR, 92 RBI, 92 R and 20 SB.  Clearly he’s one of the elite players in the game.  Now fantasy owners just need to hope he can stay on the field for 150+ games.
  • Jacoby Ellsbury had a remarkable season, but does anyone really believe that he’s a 30+ home run hitter?  The fact that he had never hit more than 9 in a season prior to 2011 is a pretty clear indication that we can’t go into the year expecting a repeat performance.  He’s going to be a top outfield option thanks to his ability to steal a significant number of bases, but I would consider him more of a 15-20 HR option at best.
  • After arriving in Philadelphia Hunter Pence hit .324 with 11 HR, 35 RBI, 35 R and 1 SB in just 207 AB.  Granted, the Phillies lineup is going to be quite different in 2012, especially with Ryan Howard’s injury costing him a significant amount of time, but you have to think Pence is going to thrive there.  He’s always been a very good player, now he’s finally getting the attention he deserves.  Of course, a .361 overall BABIP did skew his numbers a little bit.  He should continue to be considered more of an OF2 at this point.
  • There is no questioning the talent that the Rangers outfielders have, but does anyone believe Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz can stay healthy for an entire season?  The threat of injury hanging over them is going to bring them down the rankings a few spots.
  • Does anyone really believe that Carl Crawford was as bad as he showed in 2011?  It’s almost impossible and given how good he had proven to be in previous years I wouldn’t completely plan on sleeping on him.  He’s not going to be considered a Top 5 outfielder, but he’s also not an unusable option.  Consider his spot on these rankings fluid for now, but as an OF2 he’s going to be a good option.
  • What we said about Carl Crawford can be repeated verbatim for Shin-Soo Choo.  He has too much talent to think that he is going to be as bad as he was in 2011.  Consider him a solid bounce back candidate as well.
  • Alex Gordon finally had the breakout campaign we have all been waiting for, hitting .303 with 23 HR, 87 RBI, 101 R and 17 SB.  It’s impossible to call it a fluke considering how highly regarded he was prior to reaching the Major Leagues.  The power/speed is there, I’m just not sure he’s a .300 hitter (.358 BABIP).  Regardless, there’s enough there to think that he’s at least going to be an OF2 once again in 2012.

Make sure to check out all of our preliminary 2012 rankings:


  1. TY says:

    Guys like Crawford will be steals in 2012, you can probably get him into the 3rd round maybe once drafting starts again. I love it when a guy tanks after so many solid years. I believe Carl will bounce back and provide huge fantasy #’s once again.

    I like Cargo more than Upton. I dont know why.

    Granderson and Ellsbury will be overvalued big time this next year. I can see some whack jobs taking Grandy in the 2nd round, you watch, and big disappointment will follow as they watch him for 2012, who knows maybe he is a 40HR HITTER! (sarcasm)

    I’ll also go out on a limb and say Hunter Pence could be #5 on that list easily. I trust him more in that Philly line up, now alot depends on Howard, Utley and if the Phillys do anything in the offseason, but he was the best player in HOUSTON always and got his #’s, victorino and others are better protection/surrounding players than he ever had in Houston…. even without Howard and Utley.

  2. Marky Mark says:

    Where would Mike Morse land on this list? He’s going to have OF-eligibility in many leagues next year I would imagine with 50-something games played in LF.

    Specifically, I want to sell high on Ellsbury this offseason, but only if Morse is legit enough to hold down his spot.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      He’s probably in the #21-30 range, but I really need to dig a little bit deeper into him. I think he’s a lock to be viable in all formats, though I’m not sure he’s going to be able to maintain the power he showed.

      I think selling high on Ellsbury makes a lot of sense. Any idea what your leaguemates are willing to give up for him?

      • Marky Mark says:

        Not sure yet, but I know I’m holding out for a no-doubt 1st rounder.

        Ideally, I’ll convince the guy that owns Tulo and CarGo to give me both of those guys for Ellsbury, Andrus, and Cain.

  3. yummy says:

    Bruce at 12? I would draft anyone you have listed after Bruce beofre I would pick him up, including Berkman, Morse and Victorino.

  4. TY says:

    yummy- berkman, morse and victorino? really? haha…. i agree i’d go with holliday and carl before, they’ll bounce back, although matt’s days of stealing 20 bags may be over…

  5. Rotoprofessor says:

    I agree that Bruce could easily drop a few spots once I dive into the rankings a little bit more. I would say that Berkman/Morse/Victorino is a little bit extreme, though.

    I don’t think I’d put him lower than the 15-17 range, most likely.

  6. jmax says:

    Im very intersted in Braun and Stanton for similar reasons. How will Braun fair without Prince behind him?? I know he’s a great talent and I know his succes isn’t a result of having Prince behind him but the loss of an elite hitter hitting behind anybody will have an impact. Stanton I believe will be at the other end. A young emerging lineup around him (including a healthy Hanley) can only present him with more rbi chances.
    And in response to the post above; If you take Morse, Berkman and Victorino before Bruce…..I’d gladly make room for you in my league.

    • yummy says:

      Here are the career averages for Morse, Berkman, Victorino, and Bruce. Not in that order though. Take your pick on who you would rather have. Remember Berkman and Morse also have multi position eligibility, which I always take into account. In addition here are my standing for the 5 leagues I played in this year. Three 1st places.

      PLAYER A 96 14 62 29 279 783
      PLAYER B 86 32 87 6 256 805
      PLAYER C 62 22 77 3 296 855
      PLAYER D 101 33 109 4 296 954

      • jmax says:

        Comparing Bruce’s career averages with vets such as Victorino and Berkman is silly. Bruce is a young player on the rise Victorino and Fat Elvis are when taken early in 2012. And 3 first place finishes is only a feat when you aren’t playing against grade schoolers

      • Rotoprofessor says:

        Obviously Bruce is still developing, but he is on the upside of his career. Does anyone really believe that Berkman can come close to repeating what he did a year ago?

        • Jaems D says:

          Sounds a lot like what we said about Konerko and Huff following 2011

          Berkman has the pedigree to hold up again, even more so now that he’ll be 1b next year

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