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Saturday, December 21, 2013

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL TOP 20 OUTFIELDER RANKINGS: AN EARLY LOOK

Once again we continue down the path of our first 2014 fantasy baseball position rankings by taking a look at the outfielders.  Some big names changed teams in this group which of course impacts their fantasy baseball outlook.  Let's take a look at the top 20 outfielders for the coming season which will be followed by the next batch of 20 and so forth the next few days.

1.  Mike Trout:  Once again the 1A or 1B to Miguel Cabrera overall in the draft.
2.  Adam Jones:  Love this kid.  Durable and numbers as consistent from year-to-year as anyone in baseball.  Quite possibly the safest investment after the top 2. 
3.  Andrew McCutchen:  More of a 25 home run guy than a 30 but McCutchen is smack dab in his prime and headed for more MVP-type seasons.
4.  Carlos Gonzalez:  Presents some risk in that CarGo can't seem to make it a whole season without going on the DL at least once.  However his first half of 2013 was headed toward fantasy baseball MVP status so the numbers could be silly if he ever does play 150-plus games.
5.  Yasiel Puig:  Tough call between Puig and CarGo as a sophomore slump is always possible.  But Puig has extreme power/speed game that can be monstrous. 
6.  Jose Bautista:  Getting long in the took and hasn't been able to finish two of the last three seasons.  Power still as good as anyone though.
7.  Bryce Harper:  April 2013 was generating all sorts of excitement and truth be told Harper has immense ceiling.  Injuries and a high K rate though are two issues he has to overcome to get to that ceiling.
8.  Ryan Braun:  Your guess is as good as mine as far as where Braun's numbers will be after the PED's.  Keep in mind that even before he was suspended last season, Braun's numbers were down across the board on a per game basis which lends thought of the erosion he will continue to see going forward.  I wouldn't touch Braun anywhere before the third round and ideally the fourth.  Too much risk and his body has been breaking down since 2012 anyway.
9.  Carlos Gomez:  Another guy I absolutely love.  I have benefitted greatly the last two seasons from the discounted rates Gomez has been going at.  I don't think I will have that luxury again this season as those who were burned by Gomez in the past are no coming around to how dynamic a player he turned out to be.
10. Justin Upton:  Still a bit rough around the edged with a very high K rate and massive slumps that can go as long as a month.  Like his brother, may never reach full height of potential.
11. Matt Kemp:  I continue to drop down Kemp as he continues to have surgery after surgery on his ravaged body.  His 2011 MVP-type season is now a distant memory and Kemp may not even be ready for Opening Day due to all the procedures he has had this offseason.  Not good.
12. Jay Bruce:  Consistent power bat who has settled into his numbers.
13.  Jacoby Ellsbury:  It takes stones to draft Ellsbury who has had two seasons ruined completely by injury.  Will see his price rise after signing with Yankees though and power should go up a bit due to the short rightfield porch. 
14. Jason Heyward:  First half of 2013 was a joke as Heyward still can't stop with the strikeouts.  Once moved to leadoff Heyward settled down and let his talent take over.  Potential remains the word here.  Give him another chance.
15. Yoenis Cespedes:  Took a step back last season as the steals vanished and Cespedes' average shot way down due to his high K rate.  Power is immense though.
16. Wil Myers:  So far so good from the young power hitter.  Looks like the next Jay Bruce to me.
17. Giancarlo Stanton:  Great power but little to no protection in Marlins lineup could lead to another rough season. 
18. Shin-Soo Choo:  This is a safe power/speed bat who could get a slight boost in homers with the Rangers.  Just try and keep him on the bench against lefties.
19. Domonic Brown:  Bust alert as Brown's power outbreak last season was accompanied by a low walk rate, high K rate, and lucky BABIP.  Average is likely to be ugly and power could slide as well as pitcher's will take advantage of low walk rate.
20. Alex Rios:  The guy just keeps on going as Rios set a career high in steals last season.  Rios is getting a bit older and the numbers could slide off at a moment's notice.  However Rios' draft price is never extreme so getting him as an outfielder 2 is a solid decision.
21. Hunter Pence:  Pence loves the small markets as evidenced by his career year in 2013 while with the Giants.  Always had a knack for RBI's and Pence continues to churn out power/speed stats each season.  Quietly one of the better buys in the game. 
22. Matt Holliday:  Just when we tried to write him off, Holliday responded with a 22 HR/94 RBI/103 R season which would have been better without a DL stay.  Aging and speed is evaporated so there still is danger.
23. Allen Craig:  Has more value in the outfielder than at first base as he doesn't have the top end pop to say at the latter spot.
24. Starling Marte:  Terrific value play last season and comparisons to Carlos Gomez not far off after hitting 12 home runs and stealing 41 bases.  Could improve even more.
25. Carlos Beltran:  Taking his lefty power swing which will keep Beltran as an outfielder 2 for another season.
26. Curtis Granderson:  His days of 40 home runs are finished now that Granderson has signed with the New York Mets.  Strikeouts shooting way up and speed fading.  Lots of bad signs.
27. Alfonso Soriano:  Still has very good power and actually played like a low end outfielder 1 during his half season with the Yankees in 2013.  Full season with the Yanks in 2014 could once again net 30 home runs. 
28. Michael Cuddyer:  You never are thrilled to draft him but Cuddyer hit .331 with 20 home runs in his first season in Colorado. 
29. Alex Gordon:  It looks like his 2011 breakout was a bit of an outlier as Gordon's power and steals have not come close to that season since.  Solid contributor across the board though and price getting cheaper.
30. Nelson Cruz:  Coming off PED suspension, speed has vanished, and average never great.  Curtis Granderson without the stains.
31. Austin Jackson:  I am likely going to drop Jackson down more the next time you read this as his career is going in the wrong direction when he should be in his prime seasons.  The loss of steals is tough to understand.
32. Desmond Jennings:  Not developing the way we thought he would as a power/speed star.  While Jennings has the ability to swipe 30 bags and hit 12-15 home runs, and awful K rate and shaky average are the clear holes in his game.
33. Jayson Werth:  Believe it or not Werth has actually turned into a nice value as it seems no one ever wants him and all he does is continue to hit for power and steal bases with an improving average.
34. Shane Victorino:  Resurrected himself in his first season with Boston.  Offseason thumb surgery a concern. 
35. Brett Gardner:  Loses his leadoff spot which is a big negative and steals are dropping. 
36. Josh Hamilton:  Called that 2013 bust season.  It is only going to continue to get ugly.
37. Will Venable:  Another guy who took some time to break out like Gomez and Gordon.  Few knew the guy went 20/20 last season.
38. Alejandro De Aza:  Two nice seasons in a row now for De Aza who can do a little of everything.
39. Coco Crisp:  Back in Oakland for another season but 2013 saw increase in pop and drop in steals which could be the new trend given his age.
40. Adam Dunn:  Power still great but that is the only stat you get out of this.
41. Evan Gattis:  Keep him at catcher as he plays best at that spot.
42. Adam Eaton:  Gets new starts in Chicago and remember he was a popular sleeper last season before injuries derailed his season. 
43. Nate McLouth:  Right now looking at fourth outfielder status but one injury or trade of Denard Span changes dynamic for the better.  Very good speed and some pop to go along for the ride.
44. Dexter Fowler:  Been waiting forever for the guy to realize his potential and the Rockies won't wait no more.  Loses much of his appeal going from hitting park to neutral one in Houston.
45. Eric Young Jr.  No one would guess Young Jr. led the National League in steals.  Major speed guy who could easily pass the 40 mark again.
46. Norichika Aoki:  Liked him more before last season but Aoki can give you 8-10 home runs with 25 steals and a .280 average.  Works as an outfielder 3.
47. Torii Hunter:  The guy doesn't get old.  Hunter was very good again in 2013 with contributions everywhere but steals. 
48. Marlon Byrd:  Can't buy into the 24 home runs at the age of 36 and off a PED suspension.  However Byrd went to the right ballpark in Philly to sustain that mark.
49. Colby Rasmus:  I refuse to ever draft the guy again but those who are so inclined will point to the home run ballpark.  You can have him.
50. Raul Ibanez:  Shocked everyone and his mother with 29 home runs at 41.  Chop about 10 of those homers off for this season and that looks right.
51. Michael Bourn:  Been calling him overrated for years and Bourn really helped that argument along with awful 2013 season.  Average is never great, home runs in past were fluky, and speed is fading.
52. Ben Zobrist:  Keep him in the infield.
53. Martin Prado:  Same deal as Zobrist.
54. Nick Swisher:  Boring as hell to own but you can write down 20 home runs and 80 RBI in ink.
55. Andre Ethier:  Career has really taken a dive.  Looking at fourth outfielder status for now but with Matt Kemp always hurt Ethier should get enough at-bats to stay relevant.
56. Carl Crawford:  I wouldn't pick him up even if he was sitting there on waivers.  Nothing but an injury mess with vastly shot skills.
57. Angel Pagan:  Does decent enough when on the field but Pagan screams out fourth outfielder.
58. Nate Schierholtz:  Can hit some home runs and collect some RBI but that's the end of the story.
59. Josh Reddick:  Nailed it before last season when I said there was no way Reddick would repeat 2012 due to his vast K rate.  Yup.
60. Leonys Martin:  I am going to look to Martin as my cheap speed source this season.  Could go off for 50 if all breaks right.
61. Avisail Garcia:  Potential here and name not recognized by all which could mean a major late round investment.
62. Matt Joyce:  There is no question that Joyce can be a nice help to your team the first half of the season as long as you sit him versus lefties.  Always fades out in the second half though so send him on his way beforehand.
63. B.J. Upton:  This might look like an overly harsh ranking but really Upton was just about the worst performing player in the game when you factor in salary during last season.  Insane K rate, eroding steals, and truly horrific average makes him more of a hurt than a help.
64. Ryan Raburn:  Will be in a platoon with David Murphy but had a very nice 2013 season with his pop.
65. Garrett Jones:  Still carries 1B/outfielder eligibility and is one of the more cheaper sources of 20-home run power in the game.
66. Cody Ross:  Can't seem to stay healthy to show off a decent home run swing.  Getting older too.
67. Denard Span:  Really is the classic player who is better in real life than in fantasy baseball since he does nothing great.
68. Chris Young:  Has quiet power/speed skills but like with B.J. Upton, average is a joke and he goes to a rough ballpark.
69. Ryan Ludwick:  Could fall into 20 home runs in his sleep but that is about all he can offer.
70. Michael Brantley:  Same deal here as with Span.
71. Rajai Davis:  Always love the steals but that truly is the only thing Davis can contribute and he will be in a timeshare with Andy Dirks.
72. Logan Morrison:  On a per game basis Morrison has interesting power but he hasn't been useful since 2011.
73. Chris Denorfia:  Sorry but I can't go crazy recommending any Padres hitter.
74. Gerardo Parra:  Surprised in playing better than one would think last season as Parra offers up some light power and solid speed.
75. A.J. Pollock:  Interests me as a late round flier as Pollock shows decent pop and speed as a leadoff guy.
76. Jarrod Dyson:  Even I was surprised to see Dyson had stolen 34 bags last season.  Have to see what the arrival of Norichika Aoki does to his status.
77. Lucas Duda:  Wasted of a pick if you go here.  No improvement made from Duda the last two seasons.  Only the occasional homer here.
78. Jordan Schafer:  Pretty much like most guys in this area code in that Schafer does one thing well (steals) and is shaky elsewhere.
79. Darin Ruf:  Can never depend on Ryan Howard staying healthy which will give Ruf another chance to show his power.
80. Ichiro Suzuki:  Right now needs a trade to get out of his fourth outfielder status on Yankees.
81. Daniel Nava:  Word is Nava could lead off for the Red Sox this season.  No speed at all but Nava has 15 homer pop.

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