Staff rankings: Outfield

Last week, you may have noticed our top 25 rankings of catchers, first basemen, second basemen, shortstop, and third basemen. Well, we’re back, this time with the top 50 outfielders. The following writers have ranked their top 50: Josh Shepardson, Ben Pritchett, Brad Johnson, and yours truly.

We used to create our composite rankings, and if you follow the link provided in our rankings, you can see how ours compared with a slew of other experts’. Assume a 12-team, mixed league with standard 5×5 settings. Click on the links with our names to get to our Twitter accounts, where we’ll happily answer your baseball and fantasy questions year-round.

2012 Outfielders Rankings
Player Name Nick
Expert Consensus
Matt Kemp 1 1 1 2 1 view
Jose Bautista 2 2 2 1 2 view
Justin Upton 3 4 3 5 3 view
Jacoby Ellsbury 5 5 4 3 4 view
Carlos Gonzalez 4 3 6 7 5 view
Curtis Granderson 7 6 5 6 6 view
Mike Stanton 6 8 7 4 7 view
Andrew McCutchen 8 7 8 9 8 view
Josh Hamilton 14 11 10 8 9 view
Matt Holliday 11 13 11 10 10 view
Nelson Cruz 9 10 13 14 11 view
Hunter Pence 12 9 18 11 12 view
Desmond Jennings 10 19 9 13 13 view
Ryan Braun 13 14 14 12 14 view
Jay Bruce 18 12 12 16 15 view
Ben Zobrist 21 17 19 15 16 view
Michael Morse 20 16 21 17 17 view
B.J. Upton 16 23 15 22 18 view
Shane Victorino 15 20 23 18 19 view
Alex Gordon 22 18 16 21 20 view
Michael Bourn 19 15 28 20 21 view
Lance Berkman 23 21 20 19 22 view
Adam Jones 17 25 32 25 23 view
Jason Heyward 24 28 26 24 24 view
Corey Hart 25 24 22 33 25 view
Shin-Soo Choo 26 34 24 23 26 view
Carl Crawford 27 29 25 31 27 view
Drew Stubbs 30 31 17 36 28 view
Brett Gardner 28 26 35 26 29 view
Carlos Beltran 34 27 30 30 30 view
Andre Ethier 33 33 34 28 31 view
Logan Morrison 31 36 33 29 32 view
Howard Kendrick 36 22 46 27 33 view
Chris B. Young 32 39 29 35 34 view
Cameron Maybin 29 35 31 43 35 view
Jayson Werth 37 32 38 32 36 view
Ichiro Suzuki 35 40 27 39 37 view
Nick Markakis 40 30 40 37 38 view
Michael Cuddyer 39 44 37 34 39 view
Nick Swisher 38 43 42 41 40 view
Coco Crisp 48 37 45 46 41 view
Jeff Francoeur 47 41 39 42 view
Peter Bourjos 45 45 52 40 43 view
Torii Hunter 46 74 36 44 view
Matt Joyce 52 65 44 38 45 view
Dexter Fowler 53 42 54 42 46 view
Emilio Bonifacio 42 50 47 47 view
Colby Rasmus 43 62 66 45 48 view
Kendrys Morales 67 38 49 view
Mark Trumbo 49 53 41 50 view

Fantasy Baseball Rankings powered by FantasyPros, the leading aggregator of expert fantasy advice.

Tomorrow… Starting pitchers, part one

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  1. Ben Pritchett said...

    Some things I noticed:

    I value speed more than anybody else based on rankings.

    I am going to live-and-die by Howie Kendrick, and I’m not quite comfortable with that.

    Why do we hate Carlos Beltran so much?

    Brad, that’s a good point about Kendrys Morales. He shouldn’t have been ranked. There’s no reasonable explanation as to why he was available in our player pool in the OF. I’ll have to adjust him out.

  2. Ben Pritchett said...

    I must adjust one of my statements above:

    I value speed from two category studs like Bourn and Crisp more than the rest of the guys.

  3. Brad Johnson said...

    Beltran probably could go a little bit higher. He’s a classic high variance guy. If healthy, he’ll provide 3-4 strong categories and probably average steals. If injured, he (obviously) provides nothing.

    Put another way, he’s probably either going to put up around #15 ranked value or unranked value. It’s very unlikely he’ll be around the 30th ranked OFer this year.

  4. Kenny said...

    What do you guys think about Ethier?  Based on 09-10 numbers I see a guy who could easily jump into the top 20 OF, if not higher, if he can stay on the field for 150 games.

  5. Brad Johnson said...

    His ISO and swinging strike rate are trending in the wrong direction and his teammates offer little support outside of Kemp. I see him more as solid roster glue than upside play. I have him pegged for 70/16/70/0/.285. His absolute upside line would look something like 80/23/85/2/.298.

  6. Ben Pritchett said...

    Agreed with Brad.. I loved Ethier heading into the 2011 season, but he disappointed. All stats are now trending negatively. He blames last season’s struggles to his knee injury. He says he’s healed so if Ethier is being truthful, he’s definitely a guy to monitor going into drafts. Personally, he’s on my short list. However, I’m not quite as smitten as I was last year.

  7. Ben Pritchett said...

    Also I think Ethier’s absolute ceiling is higher than what Brad thinks: Something like .310/30/100 is more like his ceiling if he stays healthy. I don’t think you pay for that stat line, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he put those numbers up.

  8. Steve said...

    What about Carl Crawford at 27? Is he that low because of his wrist concerns or are you guys just not buying into a bounce back season for him?

  9. Brad Johnson said...

    When I first made this list, he was 21. Now he’s 31 on my list and trending down if anything. Since that initial list, the news regarding his wrist has been bad. Taken with his poor performance last year, it’s just an ugly combination to get in bed with. Somebody in your league is going to pay quite a lot hoping for a bounce back, I know it won’t be me.

  10. JoeC said...

    Hi. My name is Carlos Lee. You may remember me from such classic hits as the 2003 Chicago White Sox, the 2006 Texas Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers and the 2007 Houston Astros.

    I put together a pretty nice season last year, hitting .275 with 18 home runs and 94 RBIs. I suffered from a ridiculously low HR/FB rate of 6.6% (lowest of my career) and expect a bounceback this season.

    Why am I not in this list when, say, Colby Rasmus is? He sucks.

  11. Steve said...

    Brad has Stanton at 4?  Wow.  I think 6-8 range is ok.  But, I think I’d still wait a round or two and pick up the similar production of Bruce (few less homers/xbh/rbi’s, but not a ton).  Very similar players imo.

  12. Mark Himmelstein said...

    @Joe C

    We sometimes discuss HR/FB as a “Luck” for two reasons:

    1.  For pitchers, it mostly is (though not always, like BABIP).

    2.  We can usually find evidence whether a change is flukey or not in hitters (i.e. using hittracker, changes in other elements of batted ball profile, etc.)

    For most hitters, HR/FB tends to actually be one of the more stable/predictve stats.  Carlos Lee appears to fall into this camp.  He’ll be 36 in June and is on a four year HR/FB decline.  He also can’t run anymore and plays in perhaps the weakest lineup in baseball, so his upside in other areas is limited.  This list only goes to 50, so there are a bunch of guys left off here who will get rostered in 12 team 5 OF leagues (where there’s a decent chance you’ll see 70-90 OF drafted, depending on bench size).  Carlos Lee may have some 5th OF/UTIL/bench type value in these formats, but I prefer those pieces to either have a higher ceiling (if they’re limited to three or fewer categories, so i.e. Brandon Belt, Lucas Duda) or a more balanced production (i.e. Alex Presley, though this deep in the rankings these types are pretty rare).

    FWIW, I’m not as high as some on Rasmus either, but he did go .276-85-66-23-12 in just 536 PAs in 2010.  Even if we call that his ceiling, its quite a bit better than Lee’s at this point.  Plus he’s actually in a much better ballpark than and lineup now than 2010 and should have a nice chance at 600+ PAs if he’s hitting, so his ceiling might be at least a bit higher.

  13. Brad Johnson said...

    Shrug. Maybe I’m a year early, but I see Stanton as having 50 HR upside now. I have him projected for 42. That’s more than few better than my 27 projection for Bruce.

  14. Mark Himmelstein said...

    I’m a bit worried about Holliday, though at #10/11 I suppose you guys are too.  Nothing in particular jumps out about his production level, but he missed time last year, is 32, doesn’t run anymore, doesn’t have Pujols to help his counting numbers anymore, and really relies on BABIP to buoy his plus AVG.  He’s probably a higher variance guy than a lot of people will realize, and a decline phase could be sharp for fantasy purposes if/when it hits, with a drop in both AVG and HR coming suddenly, dragging everything down to ground level.  I’d rather be too early in assuming its coming than too late. 

    I’m with Ben/Josh on Bruce.  His .256 AVG from last year isn’t nearly as big a negative as it used to be (a 6th place finish in AVG in 12 team 5 OF/2 C leagues last year was somewhere in the ~.260 range, ~.267 in single catcher) and nothing looks out of line in his numbers from last year (HR/FB, BABIP, K%, BB%, GB/LD/FB% all very much his career norms).  Plus he’s still only 25 so a repeat of 30+ HR seems very plausible and there may be room for more.  He also steals a handful of bases.  His floor is a three category guy who’s a touch below average in AVG and SB, and it wouldn’t take much to get him above the hump in AVG and SB and make him the rare five category, positive value guy.  I wouldn’t draft him before the 3/4 turn in standard or pay more than $23 or $24 for him, but he’s actually going quite a bit cheaper than that in Yahoo right now.  Even if the production would likely be a bit better, I’d rather have him than 100 games of Braun plus a dead bench spot for two months. 

    I’m also higher than you guys on Bourjos, though a lot of it depends on where in the lineup he hits, and either way he’s high variance.  He could provide good production in four categories, or he could barely eek out positive production in just one.  I’d probably have him in the 38-41 range, though if we get to mid March and its clear he’ll be hitting 9th, that would drop quite a bit.

  15. Brad Johnson said...

    The rankings don’t show this, but Stanton (4th on my list) to Morse (17th on my list) are probably separated by about $5-7. Morse to Victorino (18th) is about a $4 drop by itself.

    Tiers as I see them:


  16. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ Steve,

    The wrist injury is mostly what bumped Crawford down for me.  Guys have off years, if not for the injury I’d have been willing to rank him a bit higher for a bounce back.  The data I have been to lazy to look up that would be very helpful in slotting Crawford on draft cheat sheets is Bobby Valentine’s running tendencies.  Is he a manager that is aggressive with his runners or not?  To be honest, I don’t know that answer to that.

  17. Josh Shepardson said...

    Question for my fellow rankers.  When placing Kendrick on your lists, did you take into account his multi-position eligibility?  When I placed him on the list, I did not.  I did, however, factor it in when placing him on my overall rankings.  In the scope of this list, though, I viewed him strictly against his outfield peers.

  18. Josh Shepardson said...

    The Beltran discussion.  I like him, and have more faith in his health than most I believe.  My problem is that a lot of his previous value was in the fact he stole bases (and was damn efficient).  I can’t see him stealing more than a handful if that.

  19. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ Mark

    Bourjos, in my eyes, is a bit of a Stubbs-lite.  His defense should keep him from losing time due to the OF crunch.  That’s nice, but I wonder if he’ll get enough counting stats.  I also hate his poor line drive rate.  There is talent there, and probably some upside.

  20. Brad Johnson said...

    re Kendrick:

    I did it the same way you did Josh. I have very bullish projections on his R/RBI totals. Combined with a .285 BA and low teens HR/SB, that seems very useful even without positional flexibility.

    Kendrick did get a very small bump for 5 category production, even if he might not be a standout in any one spot. Guys who give average or better performance across the board are rare, but they also make it so much easier to build a roster.

  21. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ Brad

    No argument with your ranking.  I’m not as high on Kendrick, but your five category point is valid and often overlooked.  He has some upside on your production as well probably.

  22. Jeffrey Gross said...

    I still have a lot of work to do nuancing my rankings, but here is my preliminary top 45:

    Rank   Player Name
    1   Matt Kemp
    2   Justin Upton
    3   Jose Bautista
    4   Carlos Gonzalez

    5   Jacoby Ellsbury
    6   Curtis Granderson
    7   Mike Stanton
    8   Andrew McCutchen

    9   Josh Hamilton
    10   Matt Holliday
    11   Hunter Pence
    12   Jay Bruce
    13   Ryan Braun
    14   Nelson Cruz
    15   Shin-Soo Choo

    16   Desmond Jennings
    17   B.J. Upton
    18   Michael Bourn

    19   Jason Heyward
    20   Alex Gordon
    21   Shane Victorino
    22   Carl Crawford
    23   Ben Zobrist
    24   Adam Jones
    25   Michael Morse
    26   Howie Kendrick

    27   Chris Young
    28   Andre Ethier
    29   Lance Berkman

    30   Drew Stubbs
    31   Cameron Maybin
    32   Jayson Werth
    33   Brett Gardner
    34   Ichiro Suzuki
    35   Logan Morrison
    36   Corey Hart
    37   Michael Cuddyer
    38   Carlos Beltran
    39   Nick Swisher
    40   Melky Cabrera
    41   Carlos Quentin
    42   Torii Hunter
    43   Coco Crisp
    44     Jose Tabata
    45     Nolan Reimold

  23. Ben Pritchett said...

    @Josh & Brad- I ranked all players in accordance with their positional eligibility see Joe Mauer in the first base rankings. I subscribed to the theory that no one in my overall ranks should have their ranking differ in the positional ranks. Wrong or right, that’s the way I did it. I see that most people won’t have Kendrick as their third OF but they will draft him much higher than what you guys have ranked. I might go back and adjust, but I still like Kendrick for his flexibility and five-cat upside.

  24. Brad Johnson said...

    I don’t really use a big board so I essentially just do a lot of mental math when it’s my turn to pick, decide which positional “need” has the best players and then move forward. If there comes a time when a guy like Zobrist or Kendrick is near the top of one or more lists, I might pop him early over another guy who I like more.

    More often than not, I find I trade for one or more players like this via some stockpile or other.

  25. Mark Himmelstein said...

    @Josh re: Bourjos

    Right, that’s why I want to see where he’s hitting before I sell out on him.  If he’s hitting in the top of the order most days and starts 150 games, 80 runs seems like a decent conservative projection.  Stubbs and Bourjos were pretty similar basestealers in the minors, and Bourjos actually has a better speed score.  He did have a SB% issue last year, but Scioscia isn’t known for the red light.  Stubbs gives you a better BB% and likely OBP, but he’ll also give you a near-30% K%, while Bourjos seems unlikely to be over 25% and might have some upside to get under 20% (hadn’t cracked 20% in the minors since rookie ball in 2006). Stubbs probably has a touch more projectable HR and SB value, but its not by a whole lot and the gap could close pretty quickly.

  26. Brad Johnson said...

    I’m not high on Stubbs by any means, but he has a LOT more power projection than Bourjos. Maybe I’m smoking something, but I see 25 HR upside for Stubbs vs 15 for Bourjos.

  27. Mark Himmelstein said...

    I think that’s pretty high on Stubbs.  His GB% was 47% last year, and while it was a bit lower before, I suspect that was at least partly by design a la Dusty Baker.  I mean, in GABP, I suppose anything’s possible, but I’d say that’s an absolute best case scenario and would require him to improve his GB%, K%, and HR/FB while getting 650ish PAs.  The projection systems seem to think he’ll hit 17 or 18 he gets 650 PAs.  For Bourjos, if he cracks 650 PAs (likely if he’s hitting first or second, unlikely if he’s hitting 8th or 9th), 15 is about what I’d expect without much change, along with a somewhat bullish 30 SB (and maybe around 35 for Stubbs).

  28. BOBA said...

    Chris B. Young is ranked 26 picks later than McCutchen yet here are their projections:

    McCutchen 99R 22HR 92RBI 22SB .279
    Young   84R 22HR 81RBI 18SB .244

    I’ll wait the 26 picks.

  29. JoeC said...

    Mark, I forgive you for your sacrilege, but I can’t be sure that El Caballo will.

    Let’s play point-counterpoint:

    - He’ll be 36 in June

    The guy has been pretty durable (over 600 PAs in 9 of 12 seasons). Thus the nickname.

    - he is on a 4 year decline in HR/FB percentage

    No he’s not. These are his HR/FB rates for the last 5 seasons:

    2007: 10.5%
    2008: 12.8%
    2009: 8.4%
    2010: 8.6%
    2011: 6.6%

    Now you could say that, overall, his rate is trending downwards, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t be able to rebound to his admittedly lower baseline HR/FB percentage of ~8% (which means low twenties in home runs).

    - He can’t run any more

    No, he cannot. But he can hit home runs and drive in runners, certainly much better than Colby Rasmus (and others on the list).

    Of course, Rasmus only stole one more base than Caballo last season so YHMS (Your Horse May Suck).

    It is true that Rasmus may have more “upside” (the fantasy players crack cocaine equivalent!), but what El Caballo gives you is CONSISTENCY. That has it’s own intrinsic value.

    But it’s fine. I will load up on some CLee in my drafts and let others speculate on the Great Rasmus Resurgence or scream for the writhing hips of Alex Presley. Me and my Caballo will ride off into the sunset, victorious as always, smoking a victory cigaro and clutching our money bags of fantasy baseball winnings tightly to our chests.

  30. Brad Johnson said...


    I like Hamilton the most rankings wise, yet I’m pretty sure I actually like him the least.

    We definitely have the most deviation pick to pick with this list. Case in point – Howie Kendrick – ranked 22nd to 46th.

    He’s ranked 49th so it doesn’t really matter, but what makes Kendrys Morales eligible for this list (I for one did not notice him as an option)?

  31. Mark Himmelstein said...


    Only $10?  Hmm….would have thought it was a bit more. 


    I’d have Rios in the 45-50 range, probably Presley too.  These are ZiPs projections for Rios, Presley, and some of the guys ranked in that range who could be similar:

    Rios:  .259-74-63-16-20
    Presley:  .275-84-64-10-19
    Hunter:  .261-69-71-20-9
    Fowler:  .258-86-50-7-19
    Bonifacio: .263-76-34-3-31
    Joyce: .254-68-71-19-10

    The Rios line is clearly the best of these, and Presley is in the same range as the others, if not better, and probably the most well balanced (plus I’m a bit more bullish on his AVG potential).

  32. JoeC said...

    I wonder where Presley is going to hit in the lineup? If he’s not at the top, 84 Runs seems a bit optimistic.

    I’d rather take a chance on Presley than Alex Rios “The Pollo Loco”. You never know what that guy’s gonna do.

  33. JoeC said...

    Torii Hunter should stop trying to steal. Only 14 successful steals in 33 attempts the last two seasons.

    Somebody change that light to red!

  34. Mark Himmelstein said...

    Presley never hit lower than 2nd last year.  Pretty safe bet that he does again this year unless he struggles.  My guess is the Pirates are hoping to go Tabata, Presley, McCutchen to break up the two righties at the top. 

    Don’t see a reason not to take a shot on Rios for $1 or even $2.  He actually had the best K% of his career last year, and a better LD% than the last two years.  The only thing about his numbers that looks out of whack is his .237 BABIP.  He’s only one other time had a BABIP below .300, 2009 (.273), and he’s never had an AVG lower than .284 in any of the years he had a BABIP of at least .300.  He could be a real steal, even if he can be a pain to own sometimes.  Now on the wrong side of 30, I’m not necessarily expecting a vintage .295-17-30, but even 75% of that is worth much more than a roto $1.

  35. JoeC said...

    Even if I have Rios on my roster for $1, I’ll still hate him.

    Please don’t take away my hatred of Alex Rios. It’s all I got left! It’s all I got left. (said in a Richard Gere “An Officer and a Gentleman” voice)

  36. Mark Himmelstein said...


    That actually looks about right to me….

    Maybe I’m just bullish on McCutchen, I’d probably take the over on that projection (at least the AVG/HR/SB), though not by a whole lot.  But +.035 in AVG, +36 R+RBI, +4 SB, that’s a pretty sizeable difference.  I’d probably also take the under on both for the R+RBI totals, but its pretty much a wash compared to each other. 

    The ranking here is expecting maybe a $15-20 difference.  I’d say that’s about a $15 difference, so maybe they should be a touch closer, but like I said, I’m also bullish on McCutchen.


    Where are you getting your HR/FB data from?  Fangraphs has it as such:

    2008 – 16.4%
    2009 – 10.5% (already below his career rate as it is now)
    2010 – 9.5%
    2011 – 7.7% (I assumed 6.6% was possibly a typo and you were also using FG)

    The difference, of course, is probably the source of the batted ball data.  To correct for this, we can simply use StatCorner’s HR/BIA, which is as follows 11%, 7.1%, 7.0%, 5.3%.  So a bit closer to your data.

    Another way to look at this is using the numbers from Hit Tracker.  The following are Lee’s “AVG True Distance” and “AVG Speed Off Bat” for the same years (MLB AVGs for 2011:  396.3 / 103.4):

    2008 – 393.1 ft / 104 mph
    2009 – 391 ft / 103.7 mph
    2010 – 384 ft / 102.3 mph
    2011 – 376.1 ft / 100.1 mph

    So for four straight years, he’s hitting his HR less far and with less velocity.  I wouldn’t necessarily expect a sudden return to ~8%+ HR/FB.  No matter how you slice it, there’s a significant decline going on here.  Perhaps it will level off in 2012, but if his power drops any more than it already has, he’s probably not rosterable at all in standard format.  He needs those HR to maintain a decent RBI total (especially in that lineup)—a .265-55-70-15-2 line is pretty useless outside of NL-Only.

    Also, again, I’m not a huge Rasmus guy, I doubt he’ll be on any of my teams this year.  He’s definitely not “My Horse”.  The ZiPs projections for both are as follows:

    Colby Rasmus:  .250-86-67-23-8
    Carlos Lee:  .273-63-89-19-4

    So ZiPs actually sees them as pretty close in overall value—Lee with the superior AVG and RBI, Rasmus better in R, HR, and SB.  I’m personally pretty bearish on both guys, but those projections look reasonable enough.  FWIW, MDC has Rasmus going about 20 picks later and Yahoo about 10 picks later. 

    I’d take guys like Alex Rios or Alex Presley, who are going around the same spot, over either.  And I’d also have Rasmus ranked ahead of Lee.  I tend to be a high-activity manager, so I prefer high variance guys to fill out my bench, and making up the difference by playing the wire.

  37. Nick Fleder said...

    BOBA: Using those projections, McCutchen would be the 10th most valuable outfielder (scaled against last years numbers)…

    Using those same projections for Young, he would’ve been the 25th most valuable OF. The difference, though, is merely $10.

    Good observation.

  38. JoeC said...


    If you look under the “Ratio Batting” table, there will be a column “HR/FB”.

    Those are good points about his batted ball velocity and average distance. Perhaps El Caballo needs to be put out to pasture… but no, I forget myself!

    I enjoy betting on the horses, so I will take El Caballo and you can have Alex Rios (blech!) or Sexy Presley. Caballo will stomp them all with his mighty hooves!

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