Top 30 Outfielders For 2011: Take Two

Outfield is one of the toughest positions to rank.  At the top things are not as deep as we would like, but we are flooded with youngsters who have the potential to join the group of elite options.  Can someone like Hunter Pence or Jay Bruce take that next step forward?  Can Mike Stanton or Jason Heyward live up to the hype?  Will Jason Bay, Nick Markakis and Ben Zobrist rebound from disappointing 2010 campaigns?

Let’s take a look at how these questions and all the rest factor into our updated rankings:

  1. Ryan Braun – Milwaukee Brewers
  2. Carlos Gonzalez – Colorado Rockies
  3. Carl Crawford – Boston Red Sox
  4. Matt Holliday – St. Louis Cardinals
  5. Matt Kemp – Los Angeles Dodgers
  6. Josh Hamilton – Texas Rangers
  7. Alex Rios – Chicago White Sox
  8. Andre Ethier – Los Angeles Dodgers
  9. Andrew McCutchen – Pittsburgh Pirates
  10. Hunter Pence – Houston Astros
  11. Jay Bruce – Cincinnati Reds
  12. Shin-Soo Choo – Cleveland Indians
  13. Jason Heyward – Atlanta Braves
  14. Nelson Cruz – Texas Rangers
  15. Justin Upton – Arizona Diamondbacks
  16. Mike Stanton – Florida Marlins
  17. Colby Rasmus – St. Louis Cardinals
  18. Jose Bautista – Toronto Blue Jays
  19. Jayson Werth – Washington Nationals
  20. Jacoby Ellsbury – Boston Red Sox
  21. Ichiro Suzuki – Seattle Mariners
  22. Curtis Granderson – New York Yankees
  23. Chris Young – Arizona Diamondbacks
  24. Shane Victorino – Philadelphia Phillies
  25. B.J. Upton – Tampa Bay Rays
  26. Jason Bay – New York Mets
  27. Nick Markakis – Baltimore Orioles
  28. Ben Zobrist – Tampa Bay Rays
  29. Delmon Young – Minnesota Twins
  30. Carlos Quentin – Chicago White Sox

Thoughts:

  • Andrew McCutchen is a player who has the potential to be one of the elite outfielders in the game.  I know there is a stigma against him, playing for the Pirates and all, but do not let it skew your impression.  There’s a good chance that he moves to the third hole giving him the opportunity to drive in more runs than he did in ’10 (56 RBI).  As I’ve said before, he has the potential to be a .300/20/85/85/30 player in 2011.  Is that something you are going to complain about?  For more on McCutchen, make sure to check my previous article on him by clicking here.
  • While Carlos Gonzalez may not be able to replicate a .384 BABIP, he still brings 30/100/100/30 potential.  What exactly is there not to like about that?  He’s a Top 10 overall option and a great pick in all formats.
  • I know there are people who think extremely highly of Josh Hamilton, but I don’t see him as a Top 5 outfielder.  The risk of injury is always going to hang over him, and he also benefited from an unrealistic .390 BABIP.  He’s an extremely good option, but I would keep your expectations in check.  For more on Hamilton and why I don’t see him as a first round option, click here.
  • With Jayson Werth’s move to Washington his value has to take a bit of a hit.  Of his 87 home runs over the past three years, 50 of them have come at Citizens Bank Ballpark.  You also have to consider the fact that the supporting cast around him is just not going to be what it was in Philadelphia.  You also can’t expect him to replicate a .296 average (.352 BABIP), as he is a career .272 hitter.  All in all he’s a nice player, but someone that should be viewed as an OF2.
  • There certainly is a risk hovering over Jason Bay given his injuries and inabilities in 2010, but I wouldn’t shy away from him.  He has as much upside as anyone to outperform their draft position and, assuming he can fully comeback from his 2010 concussions, he should reemerge as a solid option.  I’ve already stated that he has the potential to produce similar numbers to Hunter Pence, yet at least seven rounds later.  For more on this comparison, click here.
  • Not a believer in Mike Stanton as a Top 20 outfielder?  He has already proven that he has Major League power by hitting 22 HR in 396 AB in ’10.  I know the strikeouts are concerning, but he clearly has the makings of being Adam Dunn v2.0.  Is there anyone who would complain about that?  He’s certainly worth grabbing, especially considering how many players actually have the potential to hit 40 HR at this point.
  • Does anyone really expect Jose Bautista to replicate his 2010 performance?  Just keep that in mind.

What are your thoughts on the rankings?  Whose too high?  Whose too low?

**** Make sure to order your copy of the Rotoprofessor 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, selling for just $5, by clicking here. ****

Make sure to check out our 2011 rankings:

21 comments

  1. TY says:

    Anyone taking bautista as an OF’er isnt very smart. Eithier is overrated here, I’d drop him down past Justin Upton.

    Bruce I can see taking the next step, a 30+ HR season is coming, as for Pence, he’s a 25/10 .280 avg guy. I highly doubt a bigger season than that is coming. He’s showed for 3 years now that’s what he is…. but he is at his peak years right now so we’ll see.

    I’d drop Ichiro down even further. Him or shane victorino? I’ll take shane and his 12-20 HR’s plus the same amount of SB’s anyday. Ichiro’s runs have been in decline and he’s basically a nice average, no power with 35 sb’s. Not worth where he goes in most drafts.

    Good list just a few discrepencies from my personal ranks.

  2. mike says:

    Jason Bay has “as much upside as anyone”? That’s simply not true.

  3. Rotoprofessor says:

    mike – That’s fair. It should have read as much upside as anyone to outperform their draft position. I do think he is one of the better buy low candidates among OF, however.

    Ty – I agree about Bautista, though he has eligibility in the OF so it’s hard not to include him.

    As for Ichiro, he is one of the most polarizing players, isn’t he? There will be people who say he deserves to be higher on the list and people who say he’s over ranked. I agree with you, though. Most people reach for him based on name value.

  4. Eddy says:

    Professor,

    In a 12 team, H2H, 5×5 (OBP instead of AVG) league where CarGo, Miggy and Wright are already being kept, would you opt to go with Adam Dunn, J-Up or McCutchen in the 3rd round.

    In roto I think I go mcCutch, but in H2H, if you wanna lock down a category every week, it’s good to over-saturate it (power, with Dunn) no? I’d also plan to take Pence and Ellsbury if I were to draft Dunn to supplement CarGo.

    Thank you, I look forward to your response.

  5. Nick Tenaglia says:

    Eddy, your comment about “locking down a category every week” is not quite what your strategy should be in H2H. In fact it should be the opposite. In a 5×5 you should be locking OUT a category every week. So maybe you decide to lock out SB, in which case you would definitely go with Dunn. With your 3 keepers (mainly because of Miggy) you should go the approach of locking out SB.

    The approach to winning H2H is not to win ONE category every week, its to win EIGHT categories every week.

    • Eddy says:

      I think I get what you’re saying.

      I tend to draft roto style, in other words, balanced all around, so it’s hard for me to punt a category.

      Would you then say I shouldn’t draft Jacoby to offset Dunn in order to completely nix out SB?

      And of course, I don’t aim for just one category every week. I’m assuming that I at least win HR, RBI, and OBP every week with Miggy, Dunn and CarGo at the helm.

      • Nick Tenaglia says:

        Yes I would say that you should not draft Ellsbury. Pence would be a good option because he will get you 80/25/80 with a .330 OBP, regardless of his SB numbers.

        Also, after you draft Dunn you may want to take the best-available SP that is out there. Again, you want to win 8 categories and 2 of the big pitching ones are ERA and WHIP. If you put together a handful of mid to lower tier SPs then you cannot guarantee solid weekly ERA/WHIP numbers.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Eddy, I think Nick pretty much nailed it. I’m not as big a fan of head-to-head, but the idea should be trying to win as many categories as you can.

      With that in mind, the idea would be to grab Dunn to really cement your hold on OBP, HR and RBI on a week-to-week basis. While having Cabrera/Wright/CarGo is nice, there is no guarantee that they lock up the power categories every single week. Adding Dunn to the mix certainly puts you in a great place.

      After that, someone like Ellsbury is a perfect fit because he would still give you the opportunity to win SB every week as well.

      That said, if this wasn’t a head-to-head league the strategy is completely different. In that scenario, I love McCutchen (who I have ranked at #33 vs. Dunn’s #45). Your team structure and needs have to play a role, however.

  6. Chuck says:

    Can I make the simple observation that Josh Hamilton is too far down this list? What does a guy have to do? I know the health risk still weighs on him, but in the case he’s healthy it would be almost shocking for him not to outperform everyone else on this list. I wouldn’t take Holliday or Kemp first, that’s for sure.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      There are the injuries and the extremely unrealistic BABIP hanging over him.

      Holliday’s went .312/28/103/95/9 last season. He’s a career .317 hitter and a virtual lock for 100 RBI and 95 R. With a career BABIP of .348 and a .331 mark in ’10, you can argue that he is going to better his numbers.

      As for Kemp, we all know about his struggles last season. However, I think we have seen enough from him to know that he will likely improve on his K% (28.2%) and BABIP (.295). He still hit 28 HR and is a potential 30/30 threat. He is also a year removed from hitting .297 with 26 HR, 101 RBI, 97 R and 34 SB. It’s hard not to like him.

      With Hamilton, it is rare that he stays healthy. That’s a big negative. He also brings little speed (career high of 9 SB), a batting average that is going to plummet (.390 BABIP) and similar HR/RBI/R potential to the other two.

  7. Bas says:

    Here is a trivia question for you:

    Q: Two players have provided top-12 value in six out of the last seven years, Albert Pujols is one. Who is the other?

    A: Carl Crawford

    Yes, my point is that Crawford is vastly underrated. Other than Pujols, there is no greater bet that you will get your money’s worth than Carl Crawford.

    Yes, he may not hit 20 home runs. However, he is one of the most consistently excellent players in the game. It is time to look past what he can’t do and look at what he can do, which is produce value across the board. In my opinion this easily makes him the number one outfielder in the game.

  8. Kyle Johansen says:

    On Pence, his steals have gone 11, 14, 18 the past three years. After a .274 babip in the first half last year, he went .302/.335/.498 with 13 jacks in his final 291 at bats. He’s only going to be 28 so it wouldn’t be surprising if he built on his 25 homers. If he takes another step he could go 30/20 with an average nearing .300

  9. foolintherain says:

    I’m a big fan of Choo and have tried to get him in my keeper league, but to no avail. You seem to have him ranked lower than other sites. Could you please explain your reasoning?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I have always had concerns regarding his average. Yes, his BABIP fell last season to .347 (he had been .367 or better the prior two years), but he also saw a drop in his strikeout rate (21.5% vs. 24.7% for his career). I’m not sure that he can maintain a .300 average and see him more in the .285 range.

      Yes, he is also a 20/20 player, but is there much upside beyond that? It’s great to be that type of player, but I’d much rather have a McCutchen or Rios, who have the potential to be 20/30 or better with a similar average.

  10. Keeper says:

    How would you rank these guys from in a keepers league for 2012?
    B.Posey, E.Hosmer, D.Ackley, Y.Alonso, Domonic Brown, M.Moustakas, D. Price, T. Hanson

    I’m keeping Verlander, Wainwright, Kemp, Mccuthen, Stanton with 8 keepers allowed, so i can keep 3 more of the above. Thanks in advance.

    • Keeper says:

      and I also have M. Bourn and A. Lind

    • SimonJ - Trade Counsel says:

      How many teams in your league? I’d probably keep Hosmer, Price and Hosmer from those, but I might also consider keeping Bourn over Wainwright. There’s no guarantee on how he will be in 2012, and I’d prefer to take my chances on Hanson rather than Wainwright.

      If you are in a deeper type league then you may want to try to trade a couple of guys for an upgrade as discussed in my column last week.

  11. Another Keeper Question says:

    14-team 5-player keeper league. Who do you think among:

    Andrew McCutchen
    Felix Hernandez
    Brett Lawrie
    Mike Napoli
    Desmond Jennings
    Shin-Soo Choo
    Josh Johnson
    Danny Espinosa
    Jason Heyard

    Thanks guys

    • SimonJ - Trade Counsel says:

      Well Felix and McCutchen are no-brainers. After that, you are left with some tricky decisions.

      I guess when you acquired Heyward that you figured he’d be a mainstay for many years. I preseason that he was getting drafted too early, but had no idea his 2011 would be this bad.

      Similarly, between injuries and some awful form, Choo has been a pretty bad bust this year.

      The concerns with Johnson revolve around health. If you could guarantee his health then he’d certainly be a top 10 SP, but there’s a real risk involved here.

      Jennings is a wild card here. He’s looked really good since he came up, but you have to be careful not to get too carried away with 200 ABs. The same applies to Lawrie as well.

      It really depends on how much risk you want to take on injuries and unproven young guys. Johnson, Jennings and Lawrie could prove to be an inspied choice or a dreadful bust.

      My gut says Choo, Johnson and Jennings but a lot will depend on when your keeper deadline is and what news comes out between now and then. I’d also consider trying to package Heyward with one of these guys to get a less risky option if you can.

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