Fantasy Baseball Focus: National League outfielders
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Editor’s Note: Fantasy Baseball Focus is a breakdown of each league, position by position. Each team receives a fantasy analysis on the starter, backup and future prospect if there is one. In case you’re wondering, is there a schedule? Why, yes! Thanks for asking. On the right hand side of the page (your other right), look for the Fantasy Baseball Focus headline. Jamie Shoemaker will analyze the National League, while Dan Kirby handles the American League. Good luck in your fantasy leagues!
Even though the National League lost a few big boppers at first base, it still has plenty of power in the outfield. That’s the beauty of the outfield position, it’s the deepest position you will find. I’m going to run through the top outfielders you probably have interest in. If I leave someone off the list, it’s probably because they aren’t worth a rundown on why you shouldn’t draft them. If I do leave off someone you think is worth it, let me know below in the comments.
For-sure pick – It means you’ll get consistency, nothing less, nothing more.
Sleeper – Underrated in drafts; can get in later rounds but might produce above-average stats.
Overrated – Might not produce at the hype he’s supposed to produce at.
Long-term value – Might not be the best bet for this year but excellent for keeper leagues.
- Ryan Braun, Brewers — 2011 stats: 33 HR, 111 RBI, 33 SB, .332 AVG
- Matt Kemp, Dodgers — 2011 stats: 39 HR, 126 RBI, 40 SB, .324 AVG
- Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies — 2011 stats: 26 HR, 92 RBI, 20 SB, .295 AVG
- Justin Upton, Diamondbacks — 2011 stats: 31 HR, 88 RBI, 21 SB, 39 doubles
- Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins — 2011 stats: 34 HR, 87 RBI, 30 doubles
- Andrew McCutchen, Pirates — 2011 stats: 23 HR, 89 RBI, 23 SB, 34 doubles
- Jay Bruce, Reds — 2011 stats: 32 HR, 97 RBI, 27 doubles
- Hunter Pence, Phillies — 2011 stats: 22 HR, 97 RBI, 38 doubles, .314 AVG
- Michael Morse, Nationals — 2011 stats: 31 HR, 95 RBI, 36 doubles, .303 AVG
- Matt Holliday, Cardinals — 2011 stats: 22 HR, 75 RBI, 36 doubles, .296 AVG
Starters: The Braves are excited about having Bourn in the lineup for a full season, and fantasy owners are excited he’s the catalyst for the Braves for a full season, as well. Bourn’s value wasn’t where it was in 2010, and any player who played on Houston’s team took a hit in overall draft position. Getting traded to Atlanta was the best thing for teams in keeper leagues, and he’s almost a lock to lead the league in steals. If you are in a category league, he’ll lock your steals down every week, probably by himself. He’ll hit for a high average, and look for him to score well over 100 times this year, as well. Heyward had a rough sophomore year last year, hitting .227/.319/.389 (wow!), and the sad thing is, his draft value will probably stay the same. He has too much hype, too much potential to drop any. Reports out of Braves camp is he’s back to normal and healthy. If only he can produce that way. Long-term value just because he will produce at some point. Prado, like Heyward, had a rough year. Battling injuries and adjusting to a new position has hindered Prado a bit. Prado’s greatest value was that he got on base a lot, and he doesn’t strikeout much. Those in strikeout leagues, where they hurt you, he’s a good option. Those in leagues where that doesn’t matter, he’s a low, mid-level pick.
Starters: Stanton comes into the season as one of the favorites to lead the league in home runs. Given Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols are now in the AL, it’s not a reach for Stanton to claim that title. He had 34 HR in his first full year but was a disappointment in the RBI category (87) and strikeouts (166). Stanton offers a little bit of speed, as well, stealing five bases with five triples. For-sure pick and long-term value. With Jose Reyes setting the table for the Marlins, look for his RBI totals to top 100 this year. Morrison broke out in his sophomore season, jacking 23 HR, 72 RBI and 25 doubles in only 123 games. His only downfall was that he batted below .250 on the year, and I look for that to be closer to .270 average. Like Stanton, Morrison will benefit from the Marlins offseason signings. Bonifacio will get the chance to see if he can start off where he finished last year when he hit .305/.364/.403 in the second half, where he also added four homers and three triples while stealing 24 bases (40 total). Nice second half, but would like to see it throughout a full year. He’ll be sandwiched between Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez to start the season, which isn’t a bad spot to be. Sleeper.
Starters: Bay figures to be the most prominent Mets outfielder, although that’s not saying much. Bay was a mainstay in hitting 30 HR a year until he made the trip to the Big Apple. His last two years have been injury prone — not finishing more than 125 games, and he hasn’t hit more than 12 HR in a season since. To put it more in perspective, he has decreased in every category. Want to hear the shocking part to all of this? People will still draft him in the first 10 rounds. Yes, it’s true; apparently moving and lowering the fences of Citi Field will increase every category and add 20 HR back on his total. Yeah … can you say overrated? Pretty much like everything in NY. (Zing!)
The rest of the outfield will probably start the season with the likes of Torres and Hairston (who you shouldn’t draft) and will most likely finish with the likes of Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Cesar Puello. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nieuwenhuis starts the year in the majors, to be honest. Torres and Hairston aren’t exactly flashy, and the Mets don’t stand a chance in hell of winning, so why not give the promising prospect a shot. He was spending some quality time at triple-A last year and had a season-ending injury that required surgery on his non-throwing shoulder. He was having one of his better seasons, hitting .298 at the time with six homers going into 50 games or so. He’s an interesting pick. He’s got a huge frame at 6′-3″, 215 pounds and has decent power. Given a full season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see 15 HR, but I don’t think his average will top .270, and he strikes out too much for my liking. Puello has stellar baserunning skills with some pop. He needs to work on making contact more often, but we could see him up in the bigs by mid-summer.
Starter: Like Bourn, Pence owners were ecstatic to see him head to Philadelphia. Being surrounded by better players and protection in the lineup usually yields better results. It showed, too. In 50 games, he batted .324 with 11 HR. He’s a for-sure pick. Steady numbers. The same goes with Victorino, he’s a for-sure pick. I’d take him on any team I have. He doesn’t strike out much, swipes bases, hits for decent power (15-20 HR) and gets his share of runs and RBIs. Brown is the odd-ball of the group, as he’s a far from a sure pick, but I like his potential and upside better than what else the Phillies might throw out there to start the season. In a full, healthy season, Brown can put up similar numbers to Victorino, he just strikes out more often and will probably have a lower average as a result of less contact. Everything else will be identical. But that’s a perfect scenario.
Starters: Werth did what every critic and human thought he would do with his first year in Washington … sucked. Werth’s numbers dropped in every category, including a 60-plus point drop in batting average. He’s never hit over .300, and we can expect a little better season, but he’s not worth the money. Bernadina isn’t worth drafting, hits like Werth with little power. It’s hard to not get excited about superstar Harper (long-term value), knowing he can push a contending fantasy team into contention. It’s unknown if he will start the season in the majors or if they will bring him up after a month or two to delay service time, but once he’s up, he should be in your lineup. Expect 15-20 homers with just as many stolen bases in his short time up.
Starter: Reed Johnson, Byrd, DeJesus are all about the same player and each one will battle each other for playing time all year, which isn’t good any way you look at it. Jackson figures to get a shot at starting this year. He’s definitively a sleeper, and he hit .274/.379/.490 with 20 HR, five triples in only 115 games between double-A and triple-A last year. Soriano isn’t a .300 hitter anymore, and he’s actually declining every year in that category. One year he might hit 30 home runs, one year he might hit 40 doubles, one year he might even walk more than 40 times, but we do know one thing: He will kill your on-base percentage and you have no idea what to expect out of him. Overrated.
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