by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Outfield is full of young players with tremendous upside. How do we balance the youngsters with unlimited potential against the veterans who have done it over the years? It’s a tough dynamic, but one that we need to dig into. Let’s take a look at how our rankings currently look:
- Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels (22-years old)
- Andrew McCutchen – Pittsburgh Pirates (27-years old)
- Bryce Harper – Washington Nationals (21-years old)
- Jay Bruce – Cincinnati Reds (26-years old)
- Giancarlo Stanton – Miami Marlins (24-years old)
- Carlos Gonzalez – Colorado Rockies (28-years old)
- Ryan Braun – Milwaukee Brewers (30-years old)
- Yaisel Puig – Los Angeles Dodgers (23-years old)
- Wil Myers – Tampa Bay Rays (23-years old)
- Jason Heyward – Atlanta Braves (24-years old)
- Adam Jones – Baltimore Orioles (28-years old)
- Justin Upton – Arizona Diamondbacks (26-years old)
- Yoenis Cespedes – Oakland A’s (28-years old)
- Carlos Gomez – Milwaukee Brewers (28-years old)
- Jacoby Ellsbury – New York Yankees (30-years old)
- Byron Buxton – Minnesota Twins (20-years old)
- George Springer – Houston Astros (24-years old)
- Christian Yelich – Miami Marlins (22-years old)
- Hunter Pence – San Francisco Giants (30-years old)
- Billy Hamilton – Cincinnati Reds (23-years old
- You could argue moving Bryce Harper up to the #2 spot on these rankings, and he certainly has the ceiling for it. That said, is there really a guarantee that he reaches that total ceiling, given the breakneck speed he plays at and risk of injury it brings with it? Compared to Andrew McCutchen, who has several top seasons in front of him and is already one of the elite, it would be a very tough decision.
- I know there are going to be people who want to push Puig even further up the rankings (putting him in the same tier as Harper). He definitely had an impressive rookie campaign (.319, 19 HR, 11 SB over 382 AB), but does anyone buy into a .383 BABIP or the power, given his 50.2% groundball rate? He’s going to be a very good player, but a Top 4-5 outfielder for the forseeable future? I wouldn’t be so sure…
- Power is becoming harder and harder to come by, and that helps to elevate a pair of young sluggers in Jay Bruce and Giancarlo Stanton. Both could routinely hit 35+ HR for the next several seasons.
- Adam Jones is a Top 10 outfielder for 2014, but how long will it be before he falls behind guys like Myers, Heyward and Puig? Considering he hit .267 with 14 HR in the second half of ’13 (and has shown limited fly ball rates the past two seasons at 32.6% and 32.0%), it could come sooner than you think.
- While Ellsbury is going to get a little bump moving to Yankee Stadium, he’s a 30-year old with an injury history that depends on his legs. You have to consider that a risky proposition.
- The question regarding Springer is if he is going to be able to make contact on a consistent basis in the Major Leagues (27.3% in the minors last season). That said, how do we not love that power/speed combination, with 37 HR and 46 SB last season? The upside is extremely alluring and you can argue that he’s worth the gamble even higher on this list. The average is obviously a concern, which suppresses him slightly, but not enough.
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Make sure to check out all of our 2014 rankings: