Fantasy Baseball 2013: Top 60 Outfielders Heading into Exhibition Play

Jay ClemonsFantasy Sports Lead WriterFebruary 26, 2013

Fantasy Baseball 2013: Top 60 Outfielders Heading into Exhibition Play

0 of 26

    Here's my early top-60 listing of outfielders heading into exhibition play, with an emphasis on 5x5 roto leagues.

    This position will likely produce baseball's largest number of four- and five-category studs by season's end.

    But that star power still cannot obscure the uncertainty of taking inexperienced young players or injury-riddled veterans later in the draft, or household names that will invariably fall short of last year's amped-up stats.

    Hopefully, this listing will eliminate some of the draft-day doubt and consternation that come with the territory.

    Especially with leagues that require five starters at the position.

    Enjoy the show!

Best of the Rest: Nos. 26-60

1 of 26

    Top 60 Outfielders—26 Through 60


    26. Josh Willingham, Twins (above)
    27. Allen Craig, Cardinals
    28. Shin Soo-Choo, Reds
    29. Ben Zobrist, Rays
    30. Angel Pagan, Giants
    31. Carlos Gomez, Brewers
    32. Norichika Aoki, Brewers
    33. Hunter Pence, Giants
    34. Chris Davis, Orioles
    35. Torii Hunter, Tigers
    36. Andre Ethier, Dodgers
    37. Carlos Beltran, Cardinals
    38. Josh Reddick, Athletics
    39. Nelson Cruz, Rangers
    40. Corey Hart, Brewers (fluid injury situation)
    41. Curtis Granderson, Yankees (fluid injury situation)
    42. Alfonso Soriano, Cubs
    43. Ben Revere, Phillies
    44. Shane Victorino, Red Sox
    45. Lorenzo Cain, Royals
    46. Dexter Fowler, Rockies
    47. Nick Swisher, Indians
    48. Nick Markakis, Orioles
    49. Jason Kubel, Diamondbacks
    50. Brett Gardner, Yankees
    51. Jayson Werth, Nationals
    52. Starling Marte, Pirates
    53. Cody Ross, Diamondbacks
    54. Coco Crisp, Athletics
    55. Colby Rasmus, Blue Jays
    56. Andy Dirks, Tigers
    57. Michael Cuddyer, Rockies
    58. Ichiro Suzuki, Yankees
    59. Dayan Viciedo, White Sox
    60a. Carlos Quentin, Padres
    60b. Carl Crawford, Dodgers


    Seven Late-Round Sleepers (25 and Under)

    Adam Eaton, Diamondbacks
    Wil Myers, Rays
    Oscar Taveras, Cardinals
    Billy Hamilton, Reds
    Domonic Brown, Phillies
    Nick Castellanos, Tigers
    Darin Ruf, Phillies

25. Melky Cabrera, Toronto Blue Jays

2 of 26

    2012 Stats: 11 HR, 60 RBI, 84 Runs, 13 Steals, .346 BA


    Reasons To Love This Ranking


    1. Before his 50-game drug suspension with the Giants last year, Melky Cabrera was on his way to claiming the National League batting title.

    2. In 2012, Cabrera also had excellent marks with on-base percentage (.390), slugging (.516) and OPS (.906).

    3. In the previous two seasons, spanning 268 games (Royals and Giants), Cabrera collected 360 hits.

    4. Cabrera should have plenty of motivation to succeed this season—after the embarrassment of the PED suspension.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    For all we know, Cabrera's hitting greatness from 2011 and '12 was largely due to the performance-enhancing drugs. Only time will tell.

24. Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay Rays

3 of 26

    2012 Stats: 13 HR, 47 RBI, 85 Runs, 31 Steals, .246 BA


    Reasons To Love This Ranking


    1. From a runs, RBI and steals perspective, Desmond Jennings showed solid progress in his first full MLB season.

    2. In 2012, Jennings notched four months of 16-plus runs and five months of four or more steals.

    3. Jennings has the capacity for 20 homers, 40 steals in either of the next two seasons.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    1. From a splits perspective, Jennings didn't post a single batting month above .300 last year.

    2. Along those lines, he had two OBP months of under .300. With Jennings' size, speed and raw talent, that's inexcusable.

    3. Jennings hit just .219 (with nine homers) at home last year, compared to his .268 average away from Tropicana Field.

23. Michael Bourn, Cleveland Indians

4 of 26

    2012 Stats: 9 HR, 57 RBI, 96 Runs, 42 Steals, .274 BA


    Reasons To Love This Ranking


    1. Last year, Michael Bourn established new career highs in homers, RBI and slugging.

    2. With the Indians, Bourn has a reasonable capacity for eight homers, 10 triples, 55 RBI, 97 runs, 45 steals and an on-base percentage north of .345.

    3. From a splits perspective, Bourn posted two batting months of .324 or higher, four months of double-digit RBI and six months of double-digit runs.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    1. In seven MLB seasons, Bourn has never had a slugging rate above .400. Ouch.

    2. If Bourn falls short of 40 steals, he likely wouldn't justify a Round 5 or higher pick.

22. Martin Prado, Arizona Diamondbacks

5 of 26

    2012 Stats: 10 HR, 70 RBI, 81 Runs, 17 Steals, .301 BA


    Reasons To Love This Ranking

    1. With the Braves last year, Martin Prado enjoyed career highs with hits (186), doubles (42), triples (six), RBI and steals.

    2. Prado has notched double-digit homers in each of the last four seasons (2009-12).

    3. From a splits perspective, he posted two batting months of .320 or higher, four months of double-digit RBI and six months of double-digit runs.

    4. With his move to Arizona (via the Justin Upton trade), Prado will take his talents to one of the National League's friendliest hitter parks.

    5. Prado has dual-position eligibility (3B/OF) for at least one more season.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    No complaints here. Prado is a non-sexy, but highly productive pick anytime after Round 9.

21. Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals

6 of 26

    2012 Stats: 14 HR, 72 RBI, 93 Runs, 10 Steals, .294 BA


    Reasons To Love This Ranking

    1. Last year, Alex Gordon established career highs with hits (189), doubles (51) and triples (five).

    2. Splits-wise, Gordon racked up two months of a .400-plus OBP, three months of batting .300 or higher, five months of double-digit RBI and six months of double-digit runs.

    3. Gordon is a reasonable bet for 22 homers, 84 RBI, 95 runs, 13 steals and a .298 batting average.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    1. I no longer live in fear of a sustained Gordon implosion.

    2. This one's hard to figure out: During his August of five homers, 20 RBI and .310 batting, Gordon inexplicably had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 33-5. Ugh.

20. Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

7 of 26

    2012 Stats: 32 HR, 95 RBI, 66 Runs, 4 Steals, .268 BA


    Reasons To Love This Ranking

    1. Mark Trumbo has accounted for 61 homers and 182 RBI in his first two full seasons.

    2. In 2012, Trumbo showed steady improvement with runs, hits, triples, RBI and batting average.

    3. Check out Trumbo's combined tallies from May, June and July: 24 homers, 61 RBI and 40 runs.

    4. For April, May and June last year, Trumbo enjoyed three straight OPS months of .899 or higher.

    5. Trumbo has dual-position versatility (OF/1B) for at least one more season.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    Trumbo needs to flirt with 75 runs to garner more respect in the first-base community. The power numbers are certainly there.

19. B.J. Upton, Atlanta Braves

8 of 26

    2012 Stats: 28 HR, 78 RBI, 79 Runs, 31 Steals, .246 BA


    Reasons To Love This Ranking

    1. For 2011 and '12 with the Rays, B.J. Upton crossed the 20-20 threshold in back-to-back seasons.

    2. Heading into his age-28 campaign, Upton is a reasonable candidate for 30 homers, 30 steals.

    3. At the Disney complex last week, I got a firsthand look at Upton's raw power and superb athleticism. He looks ready for Opening Day.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    1. Upton had a batting range of .237 to .246 for 2009-12, indicating that he probably won't hit .280 or higher with the Braves in year one.

    2. Last year, Upton had an OBP below .300—a baffling occurrence for a guy who notched 28 homers, 29 doubles and 31 steals.

18. Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers

9 of 26

    2012 Stats: 16 HR, 66 RBI, 103 Runs, 12 Steals, .300 BA


    Reasons To Love This Ranking

    1. Last season, Austin Jackson either matched or eclipsed previous career highs in homers, RBI, runs, batting average, OBP (.377), slugging (.479) and OPS (.856).

    2. In Detroit's star-studded lineup, Jackson is a reasonable bet for 18 homers, 78 RBI, 107 runs, 17 steals and an OBP north of .400.

    3. Jackson has amazingly notched double-digit triples in all three major league seasons (2010-12).

    4. From a splits standpoint, Jackson had three batting months above .300, four months of double-digit RBI and six months of double-digit runs.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    There is no downside to landing A-Jax at his current ADP slot value of 101 (Mock Draft Central). In fact, he'd be a great roto addition anytime after Round 6.

17. Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds

10 of 26

    2012 Stats: 34 HR, 99 RBI, 89 Runs, 9 Steals, .252 BA


    Reasons To Love This Ranking

    1. The remarkably consistent Jay Bruce has averaged 33 homers, 98 RBI, 87 runs, 145 hits, 8.5 steals and .255 batting in the previous two seasons.

    2. In 2012, Bruce cracked the .500 slugging rate for the first time in his five-year career.

    3. Heading into his age-26 campaign, Bruce has a reasonable upside for 13 steals and 37 homers.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    Bruce's consistency also includes strikeouts. For 2011 and '12, he produced back-to-back seasons of 155-plus punch-outs.

16. Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox

11 of 26

    2012 Stats: 4 HR, 26 RBI, 43 Runs, 14 Steals, .271 BA (74 games)


    Reason To Love This Ranking

    Jacoby Ellsbury gets a relative free pass from his injury-riddled campaign last year, based on his amazing 2011 numbers (32 HR, 105 RBI, 119 runs, 39 steals, .321 BA).


    Reason To Loathe This Ranking

    That said, it's worth noting that Ellsbury had 20 total homers from 2007-10. In other words, he likely won't crack 30 homers again (single season).

15. Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves

12 of 26

    2012 Stats: 27 HR, 82 RBI, 93 Runs, 21 Steals, .269 BA


    Reasons To Love This Ranking

    1. Last season, Jason Heyward notched new career highs with hits, doubles, triples, homers, runs, RBI and steals.

    2. The listing of 20-20 outfielders before their 23rd birthday is a short one. The 30-30 scroll is even shorter.

    3. From a splits standpoint, Hewyard posted three months of five-plus homers, five months of double-digit RBI and six months of double-digit runs.

    4. Check out Heyward's monster numbers from last June—six homers, 15 RBI, 18 runs, .348 batting, .348 OBP and 1.053 OPS.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    Heyward had three batting months of .260 or less last year.

14. Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics

13 of 26

    2012 Stats: 23 HR, 82 RBI, 70 Runs, 16 Steals, .292 BA


    Reasons To Love This Ranking

    1. Yoenis Cespedes and Bryce Harper experienced similarly stellar breakthroughs as rookies last season—although the latter is seven years younger.

    2. Heading into his age-27 campaign, Cespedes is a good bet for 20 homers and 20 steals...maybe even 25-25.

    3. Splits-wise, Cespedes posted two batting months of .300 or higher, three months of double-digit runs, four months of four-plus homers and four months of double-digit RBI.

    4. Cespedes enjoyed five months of OBP goodness last year, going .333 or higher during every period (sans May).


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    1. Just like Harper, the proverbial sophomore jinx is a tangible concern.

    2. Cespedes had a sluggish OPS of .788 last August. Ugh.

13. Alex Rios, Chicago White Sox

14 of 26

    2012 Stats: 25 HR, 91 RBI, 93 Runs, 23 Steals, .304 BA


    Reasons To Love This Ranking

    1. Last year, Alex Rios matched or eclipsed career highs with homers, RBI and slugging (.516).

    2. At home last season, Rios rolled opposing pitchers for 16 homers, 56 RBI, 53 runs, 13 steals and a .324 batting average.

    3. From a splits standpoint, Rios posted three months of five-plus homers, four batting months of .300 or higher and five months of double-digit runs/RBI.

    4. Personal ranking aside, Rios will go largely ignored by roto owners for the first seven rounds of 12-team drafts.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    Nit-picky alert: Rios' days of 30-plus steals are likely gone.

12. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

15 of 26

    2012 Stats: 22 HR, 59 RBI, 98 Runs, 18 Steals, .270 BA


    Reasons To Love This Ranking

    1. National League Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper, one of the most-hyped hitting prospects of the last 10 years, had a fantastic campaign in 2012. Solid in all five categories.

    2. In the final two months, Harper (then a teenager) accounted for five steals, 13 homers, 30 RBI, 45 runs and a .289 batting average.

    3. In the final 31 games (September/October), Harper had scintillating marks of .330 batting, .400 OBP, .643 slugging and an OPS of 1.043.

    4. Harper's lightning-fast bat and supreme work ethic suggest he's in line for another big breakthrough.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    1. This should be an excellent test involving the mystical powers of the sophomore jinx.

    2. Harper curiously had a cumulative OBP of .299 for July and August.

    3. Harper is probably one year away from being a top-five outfielder.

11. Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles

16 of 26

    2012 Stats: 32 HR, 82 RBI, 103 Runs, 16 Steals, .287 BA


    Reasons To Love This Ranking

    1. Last year, Adam Jones established career highs with runs, homers, hits (186), doubles (39), steals, batting average and slugging (.505).

    2. Check out Jones' excellent numbers from last May: 10 homers, 22 RBI, 20 runs, four steals and .298 batting.

    3. Of the first four months last season, Jones notched a slugging rate of .500 or higher three times.

    4. Splits-wise, Jones enjoyed four months of five-plus homers, five months of double-digit runs and five months of double-digit RBI.

    5. Jones is an outside candidate for 30 homers, 20 steals.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    1. Jones has never drawn more than 36 walks in a given season. Not good.

    2. The Orioles star posted five batting months of under .300 last year.

10. Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals

17 of 26

    2012 Stats: 27 HR, 102 RBI, 95 Runs, 4 Steals, .295 BA


    Reasons To Love This Ranking

    1. Matt Holliday enjoyed a terrific season with the Cardinals, belting 27-plus homers for the fourth time in his career and crossing 100 RBI for the fifth time.

    2. Since 2006, Holliday has tallied 94 or more runs six times.

    3. For three consecutive months last year (May, June, July), Holliday batted .340 or higher.

    4. Splits-wise, Holliday posted three OBP months well above .400, four months of four-plus homers and six months of double-digit runs/double-digit RBI.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    1. At 33, this could be Holliday's last season as a top-10 positional asset.

    2. The days of Holliday notching double-digit steals have likely passed.

9. Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves

18 of 26

    2012 Stats: 17 HR, 67 RBI, 107 Runs, 18 Steals, .280 BA


    Reasons To Love This Ranking

    1. In odd-numbered years since 2009, Justin Upton has averaged 29 homers, 87 RBI, 96 runs, 20.5 steals and .293 batting. This should serve him well for the 2013 season.

    2. Upton has evolved into a comfortable lock for 25 homers, 98 runs and 20 steals in his mid-20s.

    3. For each of the last five seasons (2008-12), Upton had a remarkably consistent OBP range of .353 to .369.

    4. Upton has enough raw power to be a viable threat for 30 homers every spring.

    5. In 17 career games at Atlanta's Turner Field, Upton holds a .288 batting average and .388 OBP.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    1. There's no logic behind Upton's deflated power numbers last year.

    2. Upton only has one career homer at Turner Field.

8. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins

19 of 26

    2012 Stats: 37 HR, 86 RBI, 75 Runs, 6 Steals, .290 BA


    Reasons To Love This Ranking

    1. Giancarlo Stanton needed only 123 games last year to blast 37 homers and post an absurd slugging rate of .608.

    2. In 2012, Stanton either matched or eclipsed previous career highs with doubles (30), homers, steals, batting average, OBP (.361), slugging and OPS (.969).

    3. Check out Stanton's monster numbers from May: 12 homers, 30 RBI, 23 runs, three steals, .343 batting and 1.201 OPS.

    4. Stanton has 45 homers in his (near) future—especially if/when the Marlins trade him over the next 18 months.

    5. Splits-wise, Stanton broke the hallowed OPS barrier of 1.000 four times last season. Unreal.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    Here's the lone problem with the above statements:

    With the Marlins' anemic lineup, I fully expect MLB pitchers to circumvent Stanton in the form of one, two or even three intentional walks per game (at least the close ones).

    If no other Marlins player is a lock for .300 batting or even 15 homers...what's the pitchers' motivation for handling Stanton honestly, especially with runners on base?

7. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies

20 of 26

    2012 Stats: 22 HR, 85 RBI, 89 Runs, 20 Steals, .303 BA


    Reasons To Love This Ranking

    1. Carlos Gonzalez notched his third straight 20-20 season with the Rockies last year.

    2. Gonzo has tallied an OBP north of .363 in each of the last three years.

    3. Check out Gonzalez's combined numbers for May and June: 13 homers, 40 RBI, 41 runs, six steals and a .350 batting average.

    4. Splits-wise, he posted three batting months of .300 or higher, four months of four-plus steals, five months of double-digit runs and five months of double-digit RBI.

    5. With 81 potential games at Coors Field, Gonzalez has the reasonable capacity for 30 homers, 110 RBI and 25 steals.

    6. Gonzalez didn't have the lineup protection of Troy Tulowitzki for a good chunk of last season.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    1. Gonzalez didn't bat above .300 in the final three months last year.

    2. His usually stellar OBP plunged to .308 in September/October. Ugh.

6. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays

21 of 26

    2012 Stats: 27 HR, 65 RBI, 64 Runs, 5 Steals, .241 BA (92 games)


    Reasons To Love This Ranking

    1. Jose Bautista gets a relative free pass from last year's injury-riddled campaign.

    2. From 2010-11, Bautista led all MLB hitters with 97 combined homers.

    3. When healthy, Bautista is a lead-pipe cinch for an OBP north of .340 and slugging rate above .500.

    4. Last June, Bautista rolled opposing pitchers for 14 homers, 30 RBI, 24 runs, one steal, .271 batting, .408 OBP and an eye-popping slugging rate of .750.

    5. Bautista's wonderful plate discipline rivals that of Reds slugger Joey Votto.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    1. Bautista no longer has eligibility at third base.

    2. For a fantasy superstar, Bautista's batting splits were dangerously low last year. Let's hope it was an anomaly.

5. Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

22 of 26

    2012 Stats: 43 HR, 128 RBI, 103 Runs, 7 Steals, .285 BA


    Reasons To Love This Ranking

    1. Last year with the Rangers, Josh Hamilton experienced the highest of highs (21 HR, 57 RBI, .360-plus batting in April/May)...and lowest of lows (.177 batting, .253 OBP in July).

    2. Hamilton's six-day, nine-homer, 18-RBI explosion in May was the signature spurt of 2012.

    3. He notched a .310 or above batting average for three months (April, May and August). He also enjoyed four months of OBP excellence (.355 or higher) and slugging brilliance (.575 or higher).

    4. Heading into his age-32 campaign, Hamilton is once again a viable candidate for 40 homers.

    5. Hamilton has an outside shot at double-digit steals.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    1. In 2012, Hamilton had three batting months of .245 or less.

    2. Hamilton struck out 67 times in the final two months. Ugh.

4. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

23 of 26

    2012 Stats: 31 HR, 96 RBI, 107 Runs, 20 Steals, .327 BA


    Reasons To Love This Ranking

    1. Andrew McCutchen rolled for 20 homers, 20 steals in each of the last two years.

    2. In 2012, McCutchen notched career highs with runs, hits (194), homers, RBI, batting average, OBP (.400), slugging (.553) and OPS (.953).

    3. Splits-wise, A-Mac enjoyed four months of seven-plus homers, five months of double-digit RBI and six months of double-digit runs.

    4. For good measure, McCutchen also had three OPS months above 1.000 and six OBP months of .347 or higher. Amazing!

    5. For my money, McCutchen is baseball's third-best 40-40 candidate (not saying anyone will do it), behind Ryan Braun and Mike Trout.

    6. At this point, I'm absolutely torn between McCutchen and Matt Kemp.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    No complaints here.

3. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers

24 of 26

    2012 Stats: 23 HR, 69 RBI, 74 Runs, 9 Steals, .303 BA (74 games)


    Reasons To Love This Ranking

    1. Extrapolating his 2012 stats over 150 games, Matt Kemp could have notched 45 homers, 128 RBI, 127 runs and 17 steals (ambitious, but plausible).

    2. Check out Kemp's numbers from last April: 12 homers, 25 RBI, 24 runs, two steals, .417 batting, .490 OBP and an otherworldly OPS of 1.383.

    3. On his best day, Kemp can be the No. 1 asset in fantasy. At his worst, when healthy, Kemp is still a top-seven outfielder.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking


    Given his hamstring issues, Kemp is likely a long shot for 35 steals this year.

2. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers

25 of 26

    2012 Stats: 41 HR, 112 RBI, 108 Runs, 30 Steals, .319 BA


    Reasons To Love This Ranking

    1. Ryan Braun has reached the magical threshold of 30 homers, 30 steals in back-to-back seasons.

    2. Last year, Braun netted career highs with homers and walks (63).

    3. Heading into his age-29 campaign, Braun has evolved into a comfortable lock for 37 homers, 111 RBI, 109 runs, 37 doubles, 31 steals and .322 batting.

    4. From a splits standpoint, Braun enjoyed three OPS months above 1.000, five batting months of .300 or higher and six months of five-plus homers...double-digit runs and double-digit RBI.

    5. Braun is likely the National League's best hope for 40-40 in 2013.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    You could make a strong case for Braun as the No. 1 overall draft pick...so there's no downside whatsoever.

1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

26 of 26

    2012 Stats: 30 HR, 83 RBI, 129 Runs, 49 Steals, .326 BA


    Reasons To Love This Ranking

    1. Mike Trout, the American League's Rookie of the Year in 2012, had a WAR value of 10.7 (Baseball-Reference)—high above any other MLB player (including MVP Miguel Cabrera).

    2. Let's remember that Trout accomplished the above stats off only 139 games with the Angels.

    3. It's scary to think Trout's a realistic candidate for 150 runs someday. It's even scarier to project him as baseball's first 50-50 man (2015?).

    4. For June and July, Trout combined for 13 homers, 39 RBI, 59 runs, 23 steals and an absurd batting average of .378.

    5. From May to October, Trout's lowest OBP tally was .366.

    6. Trout should be the No. 1 overall player in most roto, weekly and keeper-league drafts.


    Reasons To Loathe This Ranking

    Trout came to Angels camp noticeably thicker from last season (maybe 10 or 12 pounds heavier), which should improve his power numbers.

    On the flip side, it might detract from his elite-level speed.