The top 25 fantasy outfielders were ranked on Thursday and led by Ryan Braun and Carl Crawford. However, there are other outfielders in the league that can contribute to your fantasy team.
The second tier of fantasy outfielders still provides owners with plenty of high-upside players, one-category monsters and youngsters primed to make big impacts on the fantasy world. Many of these players have flaws that will need to be masked by other players on your roster, but still are worthy of owning in just about any fantasy league.
All rankings are based on a standard 5×5 category, 10-team rotisserie league scoring system.
26. Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees
It’s rare for Yankees to be undervalued in the fantasy world, but Granderson may be the exception to the rule. Granderson had a phenomenal second half in 2010, improved his abysmal numbers against lefties, and plays in the most lefty-friendly hitters’ park in the majors. If you can stomach his .250 average, you’ll be rewarded with 30 homers, 15-plus steals and 90 runs.
27. Corey Hart, Milwaukee Brewers
After a disappointing 2009, Hart rebounded to have the best season of his career in 2010, hitting .283-31-103 with seven stolen bases and 91 runs scored. Hart’s power numbers were likely somewhat of an anomaly, but he’s still a good bet for 20-plus homers, and he figures to run a little more in 2011 as well. He’s not an elite fantasy outfielder, but he’s an excellent No. 3 option.
28. Michael Bourn, Houston Astros
The first of several all-speed outfielders who should fly off the board in the middle rounds, Bourn is a lock for 50-plus steals and should score 80-plus runs batting atop the Astros’ lineup. He’s unlikely to ever top his .285 batting average from 2009, but there’s little reason to think he’ll fall below his .265 mark from a season ago either.
29. Drew Stubbs, Cincinnati Reds
Stubbs is shaping up to be an excellent four-category fantasy producer and is being woefully under-drafted in most leagues, going nine rounds later than B.J. Upton despite bringing the same skill set to the field. Stubbs’ inability to take a walk means his average might not top .260, but he’s a solid bet for 20 homers, 30 stolen bases, and 100 runs scored batting atop a talented Reds offense.
30. Torii Hunter, Los Angeles Angels
Hunter’s days as an elite fantasy producer are over, but he can still provide modest five-category production while batting in the middle of the Angels’ improving lineup. Hunter’s speed is clearly leaving him, but his power has largely remained intact, and a .285-20-90 season with 10 steals would make him a solid third or fourth fantasy outfielder. Just be sure not to overdraft him based on name value.
31. Bobby Abreu, Los Angeles Angels
As a model of consistency throughout his career, Abreu had arguably his worst season in 2010, hitting 41 points below his career average and posting his lowest RBI total since 1998. Abreu is 37, so a complete rebound is unlikely, but he can put together another .290-20-80 season with 80 runs scored and 20 steals, and is still worthy of owning in all fantasy leagues.
32. Jason Bay, New York Mets
Bay has been all but forgotten by fantasy owners thanks to his injury-plagued 2010 season and the ballpark he plays in, but David Wright suffered through an eerily similar set of circumstances in 2009 and rebounded quite nicely. Bay may not pass the 30-homer mark in 2011, but a possible .265-25-100 line with 10 steals makes him an excellent buy-low candidate headed into drafts.
33. Juan Pierre, Chicago White Sox
Pierre is the prototypical high-average, high-speed fantasy player. While his predictability and lack of power make him a boring pick, he’s also a very efficient fantasy asset. Pierre has never hit below .275 or stolen fewer than 40 bases in any season in which he’s been a starter, and that doesn’t figure to change in 2011. He’s a good bet for 100 runs scored as well.
34. Brett Gardner, New York Yankees
Gardner is turning out to be a very similar player to Pierre, only with a tick more power and with a worse batting eye. Don’t expect Gardner to match his .277 average from a year ago – a .341 BABIP is high even for someone with his speed – but 45 steals, 50 RBI and 100 runs scored would make him a solid contributor to any fantasy outfield.
35. Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
Jones didn’t seem to regress or improve as a player last season, but simply stagnated and repeated his 2009 numbers. While his lack of patience may prevent him from being the type of star many thought he would be while a prospect, he’s still young enough to develop some more power. Also he should see more RBI opportunities in the Orioles’ new lineup. A .275-25-80 line with 10 steals would be a step in the right direction.
36. Vernon Wells, Los Angeles Angels
After three seasons of mediocrity, Wells rebounded in 2010, hitting .273-31-88 and posting his highest slugging percentage since 2006. He’s unlikely to top 30 homers again, but he shouldn’t fall below 25, and he should reach double-digit steals again playing for the aggressive Mike Scioscia. Draft Wells for a .270-25-90 line with 10 swipes and be comfortable taking him from the 13th round on.
37. Travis Snider, Toronto Blue Jays
This is an optimistic ranking for Snider, but a hand injury prevented him from growing much in his sophomore season and sapped him of much of his power as well. Snider will be just 23 for the entire 2011 season, and if he gets 500 at-bats, a .270-25-80 line is well within his reach. Snider is being drafted after players such as Raul Ibanez and Johnny Damon, and is an excellent buy-low candidate in later rounds.
38. Carlos Quentin, Chicago White Sox
Is Quentin the unluckiest player in baseball? His frequent injury troubles and career .251 BABIP suggest he’s certainly in the running, and fantasy owners have never been able to benefit from a full season of a healthy Quentin. You can dream on him and project a .280-30-100 campaign, but it’s best to temper those expectations and prepare for a .260-25-80 line instead. Still, there’s significant upside here.
39. Aubrey Huff, San Francisco Giants
Huff had a surprisingly good season in 2010, hitting .290-26-86 with a career-high .385 OBP while batting in the middle of the Giants’ lineup. I can see Huff matching his RBI total from last season, but would expect a modest reduction in homers and batting average, as he has little in terms of lineup protection except for Buster Posey. His first base eligibility adds to his value though.
40. Nick Swisher, New York Yankees
Swisher’s career-high .281 batting average in 2010 was simply a function of a high BABIP, but he’s still an excellent three-category fantasy producer with a surprising amount of power. As a very steady player, expect another .250-25-85 line with 90 runs scored. If you can absorb the hit in batting average, take the safe, predictable Swisher over the riskier players to follow.
41. Nick Markakis, Baltimore Orioles
Markakis has seen his homerun totals fall for four consecutive seasons, and while his high OBP and ability to hit doubles makes him a very good player, he’s somewhat overrated in the fantasy world. Markakis will contribute solidly in average, runs and RBI in 2011, but don’t expect more than 18 homers or 8 steals, and don’t treat him as an elite fantasy outfielder.
42. Rajai Davis, Toronto Blue Jays
Davis isn’t quite in the same category as the speedsters listed above him, but he’s stolen over 40 bases in each of the past two years and figures to see over 500 at-bats for just the second time in his career in 2011. Davis’ low OBP will always limit his upside, but fantasy owners would be thrilled with a .280 average, 45 swipes and 80 runs scored.
43. Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians
The ultimate risk-reward pick, Sizemore was an elite fantasy player from 2005-2008 but has been largely devoid of value over the past two seasons. It’s unclear how much Sizemore will be able to run on his surgically repaired knee and how rusty he’ll be after playing in just 33 games last season, so while a .275-25-80 line with 20 steals is plausible, it’s also far from likely.
44. Carlos Lee, Houston Astros
Lee is quite clearly entering the twilight of his career, and the aging slugger posted the lowest average of his career in 2010. Lee also saw his power decrease for a fifth consecutive season. He’s still worthy of drafting thanks to his RBI potential and first base eligibility, but don’t expect more than a .280-25-90 line, and keep in mind that that’s Lee’s ceiling at this point in his career.
45. Angel Pagan, New York Mets
Pagan finally got a chance to play everyday in 2010 and responded in a big way, hitting .290-11-69 with 37 steals. Pagan struggled some after the All-Star break and 2010 likely represents his ceiling. However, he should bat second in the Mets’ potent offense, and a .280-10-60 follow up campaign with 30 steals would please fantasy owners everywhere.
46. Denard Span, Minnesota Twins
Span suffered from bad luck and injuries last season, resulting in a career-low .264 average and a steady drop in runs, RBI and homers from his 2009 numbers. Expect a moderate rebound from Span and draft him for his three-category fantasy production. A .290-5-60 line with 90 runs scored and 25 steals would make him a solid fourth fantasy outfielder.
47. Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays
Zobrist hit just .238-10-75 last season but still produced some value thanks to his multi-position versatility and his 24 stolen bases. Zobrist is a candidate for a moderate rebound, but don’t expect more than 15 homers or 20 steals next season. He’s more useful as a middle infielder than an outfielder, but should be owned in all leagues thanks to all he brings to the table.
48. Jason Kubel, Minnesota Twins
Kubel’s true value likely lies somewhere in between his monster 2009 and his disappointing 2010, but that middle ground is still valuable enough to warrant owning him in most leagues. Kubel should sit against lefties in daily leagues, but should otherwise be a solid producer, hitting around .275-25-85 with 70 runs scored.
49. Dexter Fowler, Colorado Rockies
Fowler hasn’t shown much during his time as a starter to this point in his major league career, but he comes with a big amount of upside as well. Fowler will be just 25 for the duration of the 2011 season and should bat atop the Rockies’ potent offense, meaning 90 runs and 30 steals are within his reach. If he can hit above .260 and reach double-digit homers, he’ll be a fantasy steal.
50. Manny Ramirez, Tampa Bay Rays
Austin Jackson and Andrew Torres offer more speed, and Jose Tabata and Logan Morrison are better plays in keeper leagues, but Ramirez still offers more potential value for 2011. He’s almost a lock to see fewer than 500 at-bats, but DH-ing should allow him to see over 400, and that’s all the time Manny needs to post a .290-20-80 line batting in the middle of the Ray’s order.
Three More Prospects To Watch For 2011
1. Chris Carter, Oakland Athletics
Carter was given a chance to prove he belongs in the majors with 70 at-bats at the end of the 2010 season, but the big power-hitter was unable to take advantage of his opportunity. The A’s outfield situation is currently very crowded, but Carter has more power than anyone else in the system, and will only need 250 at-bats to hit 15 homers.
2. Brett Jackson, Chicago Cubs
The Cubs are in need of youth and left-handed hitters, and could get an influx of both if Jackson joins the scene late in the 2011 season. Jackson’s strikeout rate will prevent him from posting a high average, but he has double-digit homer and steal potential. Jackson needs more time in the minors, but could warrant a September call-up.
3. Jerry Sands, Los Angeles Dodgers
Sands burst onto the prospect scene in 2010, hitting 38 homers and 106 RBI between three minor league levels. Sands needs to repeat his performance if he’s going to be considered an elite prospect, but he can play both left field and first base, and the Dodgers lack long-term solutions at both positions.
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