2011 Fantasy Baseball: Outfielder Rankings

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2011 Fantasy Baseball: Outfielder Rankings
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Now that we’ve made our way around the basepaths, it’s time to head to the outfield and enjoy the depth of this year’s crop of power and speed.

When looking at the C, 1B2B, SS and 3B positions, one trend seemed clear: The majority of fantasy experts had all the usual suspects at the No. 1 positions.

However, with the outfield, no one can agree on who 2011′s best OF should be...at least for fantasy purposes.

In combing over more than a dozen rankings from other sites, two names garnered the most first place votes: Ryan Braun and Carl Crawford. Both are dynamic and fairly consistent players, and I wouldn’t fault anyone for snapping either up first. Yet neither is the first guy on our list. That honor goes to...

  1. Carlos Gonzalez, COL ~ The Rockies center fielder took his first full season for the Blake Street Bombers and turned it into what might be a career year for most guys. He was second only to the fluke season of Jose Bautista in home runs among OFs, first in runs, second in RBI, tied for first in total bases (again with Bautista) and fourth in batting average and slugging percentage. If you buy into the whole “27 years old” philosophy, well, he won’t even get there till playoff time, so one can hope the best is yet to come. CarGo is a legit five-tool player, and while his average may drop a bit from last year’s .336, I wouldn’t expect any slump for the guy. He’s for real, and of course he plays half his games at Coors Field, which never hurts.
  2. Carl Crawford, BOS ~ First, let’s acknowledge that Crawford could quite easily be No. 1 and on ranking alone probably would be. He falls to second only because I feel he and Gonzalez will be equally strong in 2011, and CarGo can be had a round later, freeing up your first-round pick for a quality infielder, or even Carl if you want a perfect OF one-two punch. Carl had an exceptional 2010, and a move to Fenway Park in Boston is likely to improve his numbers, or at least maintain their fantasy consistency. He may very well end up as 2011′s top fantasy outfielder with a boost in his new digs. However, I have just enough concern about the impact of a team shift that I’m putting him at No. 2 instead of first in our rankings. Like CarGo, he is a five-tool player, and his real bonus is in the speed department, where he averages over 45 stolen bases each season.
  3. Josh Hamilton, TEX ~ Can you imagine if this guy could just stay healthy for a full season? He put up Ryan Braun-type numbers while missing about 50 games. He’s a risky pick, but even if he once again misses a quarter of the season, he’ll still net you top five numbers.
  4. Ryan Braun, MIL ~ Some have stated that Braun’s numbers were a bit low last season, but historically they were simply a bit high in 2009. I believe his 2010 stats are more reflective of how he’ll usually do. Those are some damn fine numbers, but not worthy of a No. 1 OF pick, as so many have ranked him.
  5. Matt Holliday, STL ~ His numbers are very similar to Braun’s, and he’ll be picked a round later. You won’t get a ton of speed, but he might put up 10 bags for you. He should also be good for about 100 runs and RBI and 25 to 30 taters.
  6. Matt Kemp, LAD ~ No sooner did Kemp give fantasy owners the five-tool warm fuzzies than his batting average and stolen bases plummeted in 2010. His peripheral numbers, runs and RBI, weren’t awful, but they dipped as well. The question is which season do you have more faith in?
  7. Nelson Cruz, TEX ~ Last year our own Ray Tannock called Cruz a guy who would put up first-round numbers—and he was almost correct. Like his ever-fragile partner-in-crime above (Hamilton), Cruz is a monster...when he’s healthy. He’s never been healthy for a whole season. So buying him here is a big risk, but sooner or later he’s gotta get a full season in...right?
  8. Shin-Soo Choo, CLE ~ What a great name. Choo’s 2009 and 2010 numbers are almost identical, so grabbing him you can almost write in 85 RBI and runs, a .300 batting average, 20 dingers and 20 stolen bases. He’s about as safe as it gets.
  9. Hunter Pence, HOU ~ There’s probably nobody ranking this guy higher than me. He’s hit 25 home runs three straight seasons, and his batting average has been an identical .282 the last two years on a .287 career average. In 2010 the 27-year-old saw his runs and stolen bases increase a bit, and even if he simply remains the same he deserves this spot, but I think he’ll keep progressing.
  10. Andrew McCutchen, PIT ~ In his second season, A-Mac was a model of consistency from his rookie season. His average remained at .286, and his production increased across the board with his increase in playing time. There’s room for improvement in 2011 and no reason to believe he’ll regress. He’s a four-tool player at this point because there aren’t a lot of RBI opportunities in Pittsburgh.
  11. Jayson Werth, WAS ~ Just how much is Jayson worth in 2011? He made a name for himself over the last three seasons playing on a potent Phillies team. However, 2011 finds him playing for the Nationals. That’s gotta hurt a bit.
  12. Andre Ethier, LAD ~ Ethier put up reasonable numbers last season despite missing 40 games due to a fractured finger he received in May. Expect the slugger to pick up where he left off in 2009 and 2010, pre-injury.
  13. Jay Bruce, CIN ~ He was Ryan Braun-lite last season, matching the slugger with 25 HRs but about 10-20 percent off the mark everywhere else. I believe he will close that gap this season. He may not match Braun, but he could...and at the very least he’ll get damn close. Not bad for a guy getting drafted some 80 picks later.
  14. Jason Heyward, ATL ~ Heyward got his career off to a fine start in his rookie season. He put up numbers similar too or better than Justin Upton, but he has far more upside going forward.
  15. Ichiro Suzuki, SEA ~ He has no one around to support his talent, so his run and RBI totals have dropped, but he’s still a career .331 hitter who can swipe 40 bags for you.
  16. Alexis Rios, CHW ~ Rios is getting the fantasy cold shoulder from many “experts” this year, though I don’t see why. In 2010 he put up a 20/30 season with almost 90 runs and RBI, plus a .284 average.
  17. Justin Upton, ARI ~ A lot of rankings have this kid higher than this, but a potential 20/20 guy with moderate peripherals just doesn’t get me all excited.
  18. Drew Stubbs, CIN ~ What’s all the hubbub on Stubbs? In his first full season, Stubbs put up numbers similar to what I expect from Jose Bautista this season. In 2011 he could begin to move into the elite stratosphere. The same can be said for the next guy on this list...
  19. Michael Stanton, FLA ~ The rookie mashed 22 long balls in his first 359 at-bats. That’s like one every fourth or fifth game. The kid’s 21. He’ll get a full season in 2011. Here fishy fishy.
  20. Delmon Young, MIN ~ This guy scares me. We’ve waited so long with great expectations for this kid that when he finally delivered last season, it left us (or at least me) feeling gun-shy about his ability to repeat. If he does, this ranking is 10 slots too low.
  21. Shane Victorino, PHI ~ Vicci was a touch off his mark last season, but I expect a return to his normal performance in 2011.
  22. Chris Young, ARI ~ He’s going to put up numbers similar to what I expect out of Jose Bautista this year...about seven rounds later. Oh, and he enters the season at that magical age of 27. Hmmm.
  23. Jose Bautista, TOR ~ I guess if I think the guy above will equal or best him, I have to put Jose here. Blech. I’m not a believer or a fan. I have good reason to believe he’ll plummet big-time in 2011. Draft with care...if at all.
  24. Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS ~ Be kind, rewind...to 2009. The guy stole 70 bases and hit .301 in 2009. Rib problems limited him to a mere 18 games in 2010. He should be back with 50-plus SBs and close to 100 runs in 2011.
  25. Carlos Lee, HOU ~ Perhaps I have a cracked cranium, but despite hitting a career-worst .246 last season, old man Lee still tied for 14th in RBI with 89 and still managed 24 homers. While he may be nearing the end of his career, I see him getting back closer to the .300 average we’re used to, with 25 HRs and between 80 and 90 RBI. Others may have written him off, but he’s still got legs.
  26. Corey Hart, MIL ~ An impressive 31 HRs in 2010 with over 100 RBI and close to 100 runs. I can see another 25 HR season with double-digit steals.
  27. B.J. Upton, TB ~ Can you say 20/40 season?
  28. Colby Rasmus, STL ~ The one thing you want to see from a young player is progression, and Rasmus gave us just that in 2010. Look forward to more in 2011.
  29. Nick Swisher, NYY ~ A four-tool guy on an elite team. No speed, but I’ll take 25-30 HRs with 90 runs and RBI.
  30. Carlos Beltran, NYM ~ Beltran’s had an awful two-season nightmare due to nagging knee issues. He should be back and healthy in 2011, in a contract year no less. He’s lost a step, but he’s still got fantasy oomph when healthy.
  31. Juan Pierre, CHW ~ The career .298 hitter had 68 stolen bags last season and 96 runs. He also struck out less than 50 times.
  32. Nick Markakis, BAL ~ The arrival of new DH Vlad Guerrero should help Markakis.
  33. Brett Gardner, NYY ~ Ichiro-lite, 30-point lower batting average, but all the stolen bases and runs, and he’s 100 years younger. The batting average could improve.
  34. Ben Zobrist, TB ~ 2010 was a season to forget for Ben-Z, so I’ll look back to 2009 and forward to 2011.
  35. Austin Jackson, DET ~ In his rookie season he notched 103 runs with 27 SBs and a .293 average. No power yet, but he should continue to be a solid bet.
  36. Angel Pagan, NYM ~ Had 37 steals and a .290 average in his first season as an everyday player.
  37. Adam Jones, BAL ~ Jones hit 19 HRs in each of his last two seasons. He’s still young and coming into his own.
  38. Vernon Wells, ANA ~ He hit 31 bombs last season, and now he’s on a new team in a new ballpark. The once vaunted fantasy stud is now getting a bit long in the tooth. He’ll likely go sooner than he should based on last year's HR numbers and his name.
  39. Rajai Davis, TOR ~ The career .281 hitter takes Vernon Wells' spot in the Blue Jays lineup. He will steal a ton of bases. Bank on it.
  40. Grady Sizemore, CLE ~ He’s at camp, but will we ever see the return of a healthy Sizemore? This is a high risk, high reward gamble.
  41. Curtis Granderson, NYY ~ After a great career start he’s become mediocre in fantasy. Still, he plays for the Yankees, so opportunities abound.
  42. Bobby Abreu, ANA ~ So he’s 100 years old and now relegated to DH duties. He’ll still get you a 20/20 season with 80-plus runs and RBI to go with a .290 average.
  43. Vlad Guerrero, BAL ~ He’s a DH now, but he should still qualify at OF. He had a resurgence in 2010, and if he comes close to that again, he’s going to make some fantasy GM very happy.
  44. Jose Tabata, PIT ~ He hit .299 in his first 100 games. This season he is the team’s regular left fielder. I predict 80-plus runs and RBI with 20-plus stolen bases and a .289 average. The power isn’t there yet, though, and may never be.
  45. Jason Bay, NYM ~ Could be a serious steal if he rebounds and finds his 2009 form.
  46. Torii Hunter, ANA ~ He just keeps on truckin’.
  47. Andres Torres, SF ~ He’s been floating around the majors for a few years, but 2010 marked his first full season, and he made it count with 84 runs, 16 HRs and 26 SBs. He seems a bit late to be blossoming, but he could repeat 2010.
  48. Denard Span, MIN ~ 90 runs, 60 RBI, 25 SBs and a .280 average are what you can expect from this soon-to-be 27-year-old.
  49. Peter Bourjos, ANA ~ If he gets the starting gig as expected, look for a 20/20 season from this kid.
  50. Carlos Quentin, CHW ~ How much are you willing to pay for 20-25 HRs and a .250 batting average?
  51. Raul Ibanez, PHI ~ Mr. Consistency took a fantasy hit last season. He is older than dirt in baseball years, but even in a down year he managed decent numbers. If he gets back on track, he’s a huge steal; if he is tailing off, he still won’t hurt you this late.
  52. Jason Kubel, MIN ~ Look for a plus-.270 average with 90-plus RBI and 20-plus HRs.
  53. Michael Cuddyer, MIN ~ Quietly proficient.
  54. David DeJesus, OAK ~ Look for a 20/20 season with a near .290 average in his first year in Oaktown.
  55. Michael Bourn, HOU ~ Born to run is his theme song, and 80-plus runs and around 45-50 stolen bags is all you’ll get.
  56. Manny Ramirez, TB ~ He’s nearly 40 and playing with a huge chip on his shoulder. Don’t write the former stud off just yet.
  57. Magglio Ordonez, DET ~ Expect a .300 season with 20 home runs.
  58. Travis Snider, TOR ~ With a full-time gig, Snider could impress.
  59. Ryan Raburn, DET ~ He closed out 2010 in huge fashion, hitting .308 in August and .358 down the stretch, with 13 HRs in that span.
  60. Domonic Brown, PHI ~ I’m very high on this kid, and I think before the season is over he’ll make some noise, but right now he’s waiting in the wings and not on the field.
  61. David Murphy, TEX ~ The potential is there, but so far he’s without an everyday gig. Then again, with the fragile Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton, he’s still likely to eke out 130 games, but a 10/10 season isn’t that exciting.
  62. Desmond Jennings, TB ~ All promise and potential but no starting job.
  63. Scott Podsednik, TOR ~ Pods signed with the Blue Jays, but he has no regular gig. Still, in 98 starts for KC last year he swiped 30 bags with a .310 average. Just sayin’.
  64. Franklin Gutierrez, SEA ~ Nothing exciting here, but he could swipe 20-plus bags.
  65. Tyler Colvin, CHC ~ If he can nudge Marlon Byrd or Kosuke Fukudome out of the way, this kid's got power to spare.
  66. Coco Crisp, OAK ~ 30 stolen bases.
  67. Josh Willingham, OAK ~ Has starting job in Oakland. Has ability.
  68. Alfonso Soriano, CHC ~ The speed is gone, and the average has become a travesty, but he can still wallop 20-plus dingers.
  69. Dexter Fowler, COL ~ Young and raw, but big potential.
  70. Will Venable, SD ~ 29 SBs in 2010, but nothing else...yet.
  71. Logan Morrison, FLA ~ Look for 15-plus HRs and around a .280 average in his first full season.
  72. Nyjer Morgan, WAS ~ All speed and nothing else.
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