Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fantasy Baseball: Ranking the top outfielders

Outfield can be a tricky position in fantasy baseball, mainly because you start three of them. Not to mention that there are so many different types of players manning the grass between the infield dirt and the warning track.

Fantasy Baseball: Ranking the top outfielders

B.J. Upton, left, and Carl Crawford rank among the league´s best outfielders. (AP Photo)
B.J. Upton, left, and Carl Crawford rank among the league's best outfielders. (AP Photo)

Outfield can be a tricky position in fantasy baseball, mainly because you start three of them. Not to mention that there are so many different types of players manning the grass between the infield dirt and the warning track.

A prudent manager can use their outfield spots to help bolster categories that often get overlooked, like steals and runs scored.

For example, if you were lucky enough to snag guys like Albert Pujols, Joey Votto and Adam Dunn in the earlier rounds, you can afford to draft at least one speedy outfielder to help compensate for the rest of your team's inability to steal bases. If you find yourself in this position, Carl Crawford, Andrew McCutchen and Michael Bourn will fit your need.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have the big guns filling out their infield spots, and for those of you who find yourself in this position, don't despair.

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There are plenty of outfielders who have the ability to rack up home runs and RBI's. Josh Hamilton, Jose Bautista and Carlos Gonzalez all had over 30 home runs and 100 RBI.

Be wary with those three, considering all of them had seasons well above their career averages. At least one of them is due for a down year.

The top spot on my list, however, goes to Crawford, and not just because I drafted him in my league. With the rare ability to combine power with speed, Crawford will thrive in a loaded Red Sox lineup. He does play in the AL East, one of the tougher divisions in baseball, but he should be used to that by now.

It will be interesting to see what Jayson Werth can do in Washington. With Dunn gone, and no Ryan Howard to hit behind, Werth will be the centerpiece of that Nationals lineup, something he's never been asked to do in his career. Couple that with the fact that he just cashed in one massive payday, and it will be interesting to see how motivated he'll be when his team is 20 games out of the playoffs in early August.

Ryan Braun continues to be consistent for the Brewers, and there is no reason to think his numbers will drop off this season. Braun's teammate, Corey Hart, made my list despite having one of the worst tattoos I've ever seen. Hart had 31 home runs last season, and hits in a lineup full of good hitters, so he will have plenty of chances to drive in runs this season.

Up-and-comers Jayson Heyward and Mike Stanton also made my list. We saw more out of Heyward last season, but both have tremendous up-side and could wind up being in the upper-echelon of fantasy outfielders by the end of the season.

As I said, outfield is a great position to fill out some needs that might not be available at other positions, and since there are so many different types of outfielders, you should be able to find what you are looking for.

Here are the rest of my outfield rankings:

2010 Statistics R HR RBI BB K SB AVG OPS
1. Carl Crawford (BOS) 110 19 90 46 104 47 .307 .851
2. Carlos Gonzalez (COL) 111 34 117 40 135 26 .336 .974
3. Ryan Braun (MIL) 101 25 103 56 105 14 .304 .866
4. Josh Hamilton (TEX) 95 32 100 43 95 8 .359 1.044
5. Matt Holiday (STL) 95 28 103 69 93 9 .312 .922
6. Matt Kemp (LAD) 82 28 89 53 170 19 .249 .760
7. Andrew McCutchen (PIT) 94 16 56 70 89 33 .286 .814

8. Justin Upton (ARI)

73 17 69 64 152 18 .273 .799
9. Jayson Heyward (ATL) 83 18 72 91 128 11 .277 .849
10. Nelson Cruz (TEX) 60 22 78 38 81 17 .318 .950
11. Shin-Soo Coo (CLE) 81 22 90 83 118 22 .300 .885
12. Jayson Werth (WAS) 106 27 85 82 147 13 .296 .921
13. Ichiro Suzuki (SEA) 74 6 43 45 86 42 .315 .754
14. Jose Bautista (TOR) 109 54 124 100 116 9 .260 .995
15. Andre Eithier (LAD) 71 23 82 59 102 2 .292 .857
16. Mike Stanton (FLA) 45 22 59 34 123 5 .259 .833
17. Alex Rios (CWS) 89 21 88 38 93 34 .284 .791
18. Shane Victorino (PHI) 84 18 69 53 79 34 .259 .756
19. Hunter Pence (HOU) 93 25 91 41 105 18 .282 .786
20. Corey Hart (MIL) 91 31 102 45 140 7 .283 .865

Don't forget to sign up for our FanDuel $25,000 Grand Slam event, taking place on April 1. I recommend signing up now, as you will be able to edit your team up to the first pitch.

Matt Mullin is a sports producer at Philly.com. You can reach him by email at mmullin@philly.com or follow him on Twitter at @matt_mullin.

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