By Derek of The Sportmeisters
Here we are. After just about two months in the season, I thought I would bust out my pre-season rankings and adjust them a bit to show how right or wrong I am.
1. Ryan Braun – Milwaukee Brewers
2. Grady Sizemore – Cleveland Indians
3. Josh Hamilton – Texas Rangers
4. Matt Holliday – Oakland Athletics
5. Carlos Beltran – New York Mets
6. Ichiro Suzuki – Seattle Mariners
7. Manny Ramirez – Los Angeles Dodgers
8. Carlos Lee – Houston Astros
9. Nick Markakis – Baltimore Orioles
10. Alfonso Soriano – Chicago Cubs
11. Carl Crawford – Tampa Bay Rays
12. Carlos Quentin – Chicago White Sox
13. B.J. Upton – Tampa Bay Rays
14. Jason Bay – Boston Red Sox
15. Vladimir Guerrero – LA Angels Of Anaheim
16. Alex Rios – Toronto Blue Jays
17. Matt Kemp – Los Angeles Dodgers
18. Nate McLouth – Pittsburgh Pirates
19. Magglio Ordonez – Detroit Tigers
20. Curtis Granderson – Detroit Tigers
21. Bobby Abreu – LA Angels Of Anaheim
22. Adam Dunn – Washington Nationals
23. Shane Victorino – Philadelphia Phillies
24. Jacoby Ellsbury – Boston Red Sox
25. Vernon Wells – Toronto Blue Jays
26. Hunter Pence – Houston Astros
27. Corey Hart – Milwaukee Brewers
28. Torii Hunter – LA Angels Of Anaheim
29. Raul Ibanez – Philadelphia Phillies
30. Jeff Francouer – Atlanta Braves
1. Raul Ibanez – Philadelphia Phillies
2. Carl Crawford – Tampa Bay Rays
3. Jason Bay – Boston Red Sox
4. Torii Hunter – LA Angels Of Anaheim
5. Adam Jones – Baltimore Orioles
6. Nelson Cruz – Texas Rangers
7. Justin Upton – Arizona Diamondbacks
8. Matt Kemp – Los Angeles Dodgers
9. Johnny Damon – New York Yankees
10. Curtis Granderson – Detroit Tigers
11. Carlos Beltran – New York Mets
12. Nick Markakis – Baltimore Orioles
13. Ryan Braun – Milwaukee Brewers
14. Jacoby Ellsbury – Boston Red Sox
15. Shin-Soo Choo – Cleveland Indians
16. Shane Victorino – Philadelphia Phillies
17. Adam Dunn – Washington Nationals
18. Jermaine Dye – Chicago White Sox
19. Denard Span – Minnesota Twins
20. Brad Hawpe – Colorado Rockies
21. Juan Pierre – Los Angeles Dodgers
22. Ichiro Suzuki – Seattle Mariners
23. Jayson Werth – Philadelphia Phillies
24. Alfonso Soriano – Chicago Cubs
25. Nate McLouth – Atlanta Braves
26. Carlos Lee – Houston Astros
27. Scott Hairston – San Diego Padres
28. Michael Cuddyer – Minnesota Twins
29. Bobby Abreu – LA Angels Of Anaheim
30. Hunter Pence – Houston Astros
Wow, what a difference! The Manny Ramirez suspension and injuries to Grady Sizemore, Vladimir Guerrero and Josh Hamilton have greatly affected their place on my rankings, but I’m sure you will see them back on my list by the end of the year. Let’s go over each player and why I have them ranked so high.
1. Raul Ibanez – Philadelphia Phillies – .335 BA, 44 R, 19 HR, 53 RBI, 4 SB
WOW! Coming from the AL to the NL, I never thought that Ibanez would have this kind of start. I had him ranked 29 in my preseason rankings, projected to hit .288 with 25 home runs and 100 RBI’s. Well, right now he is hitting .335 and already has 19 home runs and 53 RBI’s and it’s only June. He is currently on pace for 60 home runs and 160 RBI’s and although I know he won’t reach those numbers, it appears he will blow my predictions out of the water.
2. Carl Crawford – Tampa Bay Rays – .327 BA, 43 R, 4 HR, 26 RBI, 34 SB
Ladies and Gentlemen, Carl Crawford has arrived. Crawford has been a good fantasy player the past few years, but now he is becoming elite. He is hitting .327 with 43 runs scored and an astounding 34 stolen bases. He is currently on pace for the first 100 stolen base season since Vince Coleman had 107 in 1987. Plus, he will hit at least 12 home runs and drive in at least 75 runs and hit around .300. He should never leave your lineup and should be your first choice for next year’s keeper. Did I mention he is only 28? Can you say fantasy stud for years to come?
3. Jason Bay – Boston Red Sox – .283 BA, 41 R, 16 HR, 53 RBI, 5 SB
Boston isn’t missing Manny nearly as much as people thought, and that is largely due to Jason Bay. Bay had a good second half last year after being traded to Boston and that has continued on to this year, where he is hitting .283 with 16 home runs and 53 RBI’s. He is on pace for over 40 home runs and 150 RBI’s, but he won’t reach those numbers. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if he hit 35 home runs and drove in 120 RBI’s, so keep him active at all times.
4. Torii Hunter – LA Angels Of Anaheim – .312 BA, 39 R, 12 HR, 43 RBI, 11 SB
Hunter has been the steadiest player in the Angels lineup so far this year. He has kept them afloat while Vladimir Guerrero was out with an injury. Hunter is hitting .312 with 12 home runs, 43 RBI’s, and has 11 stolen bases. He is on pace for over 30 home runs and stolen bases plus 130 RBI’s. Keep him active, especially now that Vladdy is back.
5. Adam Jones – Baltimore Orioles – .345 BA, 42 R, 11 HR, 36 RBI, 4 SB
People knew that Jones was good, but who knew he was this good? Jones is among the league leader in batting average with a .345 average, plus has 11 home runs and 36 RBI’s. He only has one full season in the majors, so he is a bit unproven, but he is on pace for 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s, so keep him active and hope he keeps it up.
6. Nelson Cruz – Texas Rangers – .295 BA, 32 R, 16 HR, 41 RBI, 9 SB
Where did this guy come from? Cruz had never had more than 307 At-Bats in a season and only hit nine home runs that year. He already has 190 At-Bats and has career highs with 16 home runs and 41 RBI’s. He is on pace for 40+ homers and 115+ RBI’s, so ride him while he’s hot.
7. Justin Upton – Arizona Diamondbacks – .322 BA, 34 R, 10 HR, 33 RBI, 7 SB
The other Upton has been the better Upton so far. Justin Upton has 10 home runs and 33 RBI’s to go along with his .322 batting average and seven stolen bases. He has yet to have a full season in the majors, but had 15 home runs in 356 At-Bats last year. He is on pace for 30 homers, 100 RBI’s, and 20 steals, so make him a permanent fixture in your lineup and think about him as a keeper for next year and years to come as he is only turning 22 in August.
8. Matt Kemp – Los Angeles Dodgers – .311 BA, 33 R, 6 HR, 30 RBI, 12 SB
Kemp has been coveted as a 5-tool player for years now and the Dodgers gave him his shot last year as an every day player and he rewarded them with a .290 average with 18 home runs and 35 stolen bases. This year, he started out on fire, hitting .325 with three home runs, 16 RBI’s, and five stolen bases in April, then followed that with three more home runs, 14 more RBI’s, and seven more stolen bases in May. He is becoming an elite fantasy player in just his second full season and will be even better when Manny Ramirez returns in July. Keep him active and he’s another keeper prospect for next year and beyond, as he is only 24.
9. Johnny Damon – New York Yankees – .297 BA, 43 R, 11 HR, 33 RBI, 5 SB
Damon has been a huge shock for the Yankees this year. He was expected to hit leadoff, but then Joe Girardi changed the lineup and hit him second before the season started and he has responded with 11 home runs. He is on pace for his first career 30 home run season and will eventually start to steal more bases. He is a must start in your lineup while he is playing in that monster Yankee lineup.
10. Curtis Granderson – Detroit Tigers – .271 BA, 36 R, 13 HR, 33 RBI, 9 SB
Here’s a guy who started out hitting leadoff and is now hitting in the heart of the order. Granderson has hit over 20 home runs the past two years and is on pace for 40 this year. He obviously won’t hit 40, but 30 isn’t out of the question, plus he has the speed to steal 30 bases. Keep him in your lineup at all times.
11. Carlos Beltran – New York Mets – .356 BA, 32 R, 7 HR, 32 RBI, 7 SB
Beltran has been pretty good for an underachieving Mets team. He missed a few games last week with a stomach bug, but was back in the lineup yesterday. He should wind up with 20+ home runs, 20+ stolen bases, and 100 RBI’s by season’s end, so keep this elite fantasy Outfielder active.
12. Nick Markakis – Baltimore Orioles – .293 BA, 38 R, 7 HR, 40 RBI, 1 SB
Since his arrival in 2006, Markakis has been a steady fantasy player. He had 16 home runs in 2006 and 23 and 20 in 2007 and 2008. He has also been very good in the batting average department too. He hit .291 in 2006, .300 in 2007, and .306 last year. He is hitting .293 right now with seven home runs and 40 RBI’s and will probably end up around 20 home runs, 90 RBI’s, and 10 stolen bases with a .300 average. Keep him active and on your keeper radar.
13. Ryan Braun – Milwaukee Brewers – .316 BA, 36 R, 10 HR, 34 RBI, 3 SB
The preseason number one fantasy outfielder has been good, but not great so far this year. He is hitting .316 with 10 home runs and 34 RBI’s. By season’s end he will be back around 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s, so don’t panic and keep him active because he is still an elite fantasy player.
14. Jacoby Ellsbury – Boston Red Sox – .313 BA, 30 R, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 22 SB
This guy is a regular Speedy Gonzalez. Ellsbury has proven to be an elite base stealer in the Majors by stealing 50 bases last year, his first full year in the Majors. He won’t get you many home runs or RBI’s, but he will hit near .300, steal 50+ bases, and score 100 runs, so keep him active in all formats.
15. Shin-Soo Choo – Cleveland Indians – .297 BA, 32 R, 7 HR, 32 RBI, 9 SB
Choo finally got his first real chance to play last year and cashed in with 14 home runs in 317 At-Bats. He was expected to have a breakout year this year, and he has started off on the right foot. He is hitting .297 with seven home runs and 32 RBI’s and nine stolen bases. He could wind up hitting 20 home runs, stealing 25 bases, and hitting .300. If you were able to draft him or snag him off waivers, keep riding him while he’s hot.
16. Shane Victorino – Philadelphia Phillies – .300 BA, 38 R, 4 HR, 27 RBI, 9 SB
The Flying Hawaiian has started this year right where he left off last year. He had 14 home runs and 36 stolen bases last year and has four home runs and nine stolen bases so far this year. He is currently injured, but it is not a serious injury and he should be back by next week. Expect 12 home runs and 30 stolen bases and when he comes back from injury, put him right back into your lineup, where he belongs.
17. Adam Dunn – Washington Nationals – .261 BA, 29 R, 16 HR, 42 RBI
Dunn has been what you expected. He won’t get you a high average, but will slam you 40+ home runs, like he has the past five straight years. If you have him, keep him active and enjoy the home runs and RBI’s.
18. Jermaine Dye – Chicago White Sox – .278 BA, 34 R, 14 HR, 37 RBI
Dye has been just like Dunn. Steady as he goes. He has 14 home runs and is on pace for 40. Expect 35 home runs and 100 RBI’s and enjoy.
19. Denard Span – Minnesota Twins – .307 BA, 34 R, 4 HR, 24 RBI, 12 SB
Span has been a surprise. He played well last year in 347 at-bats, hitting .294 with 18 stolen bases. He has started his first full year with a .307 average and 12 steals. If you have him, keep him active and enjoy a 30+ stolen base season.
20. Brad Hawpe – Colorado Rockies – .348 BA, 28 R, 8 HR, 41 RBI
Hawpe is hot right now, on a five-game hit streak with one home run and four RBI’s. He has 41 RBI’s on the year and is on pace for 125. He may not reach that, but I could see 100 RBI’s if he stays healthy.
21. Juan Pierre – Los Angeles Dodgers – .367 BA, 27 R, 0 HR, 21 RBI, 11 SB
Boy, have times changed. At the beginning of the year, Pierre was buried on the bench as the fourth outfielder. Now, after the Manny Ramirez suspension, he is a superstar. He is hitting .367 with 11 stolen bases and you can expect that to continue until Manny returns in July. After that, Pierre becomes useless again, so ride him while he is of use and enjoy 25+ stolen bases.
22. Ichiro Suzuki – Seattle Mariners – .353 BA, 22 R, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 9 SB
Ichiro missed the first eight games of the season with a bleeding ulcer. Since then, he has been back to normal. He is on a 27-game hitting streak and has an average of .353. He will start to steal more bases soon and you can expect the usual .330 average with 30 steals. Don’t bench him.
23. Jayson Werth – Philadelphia Phillies – .257 BA, 36 R, 8 HR, 28 RBI, 10 SB
Werth had his breakout season last year, hitting 24 home runs and stealing 20 bases. He was also the reason the Phillies decided not to keep Pat Burrell. He was drafted largely for his 20-20 potential and has been decent so far with eight homers and 10 steals. Expect 20+ home runs and 25+ stolen bases and keep him active, especially hitting behind Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard and Ibanez.
24. Alfonso Soriano – Chicago Cubs – .243 BA, 37 R, 13 HR, 26 RBI, 5 SB
So far, not so good. Soriano has always been a streaky player and boy, is he on a bad streak right now. He will eventually break out of his slump and will reach his usual 25 home runs and 25 stolen bases, so keep him active and be patient.
25. Nate McLouth – Atlanta Braves – .256 BA, 27 R, 9 HR, 34 RBI, 7 SB
The move to Atlanta will prove to be extremely helpful for fantasy owners that were brave enough to grab McLouth while he was rotting in Pittsburgh. He now has Chipper Jones, Brian McCann and Jeff Francouer hitting behind him and my original 24 home run, 25 stolen base prediction looks like it could become 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases now that he has some lineup protection.
26. Carlos Lee – Houston Astros – .315 BA, 27 R, 9 HR, 31 RBI, 1 SB
Lee hasn’t been bad, but hasn’t produced like the high draft pick that he was. He has nine home runs and 31 RBI’s to start, but I fully expect those numbers to climb as the season progresses. My original prediction of 32 home runs and 115 RBI’s might be a bit much, but I expect 25+ home runs and 95+ RBI’s.
27. Scott Hairston – San Diego Padres – .327 BA, 21 R, 8 HR, 23 RBI, 6 SB
And the injury bug strikes again. Hairston was off to a great start until he strained his bicep and landed on the DL on Wednesday. He isn’t in a great lineup, but I could see 20 home runs. If you snagged him, keep him stashed until his return.
28. Michael Cuddyer – Minnesota Twins – .276 BA, 30 R, 9 HR, 33 RBI, 4 SB
Cuddyer was on fire until he was slowed by an index finger injury that may end up landing him on the DL. He has nine home runs and 33 RBI’s so far and could wind up with 20+ home runs and 95 RBI’s. If you grabbed him off waivers, stash him until we know more about his injury status.
29. Bobby Abreu – LA Angels Of Anaheim – .297 BA, 23 R, 2 HR, 25 RBI, 15 SB
His speed numbers are there, but where’s the power? Abreu has only two home runs and 25 RBI’s so far, but has stolen 15 bases. He will eventually start hitting for more power and should eclipse 30 steals, so keep him active.
30. Hunter Pence – Houston Astros – .339 BA, 28 R, 6 HR, 22 RBI, 5 SB
It looks like Pence has finally come around. He had a disappointing 2008 season, only hitting .269 with 25 home runs and 83 RBI’s. Not a bad season power wise, but the average was down from his .322 2007 rookie season. He is hitting .339 so far this year and should wind up with 20 home runs, 15 stolen bases, and hit around .300.
There are my rankings for the Outfield position after the first two months. Any arguments or questions, feel free to email me at Derek@Sportmeisters.com.