Fantasy Baseball Preliminary 2012 Rankings: Top 20 Outfielders

Eric StashinSenior Writer IOctober 11, 2011

MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 01:  Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers hits a broken bat single against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the fifth inning during Game One of the National League Division Series at Miller Park on October 1, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Before we get into the rankings, let me put in a little disclaimer—these are extremely preliminary rankings for 2012 (prior to my projections being done) and have a lot of room for movement as the offseason progresses.

They are done just on the surface, so as you look at them, keep that in mind (and all numbers are prior to yesterday’s game).

  1. Ryan Braun – Milwaukee Brewers
  2. Matt Kemp – Los Angeles Dodgers
  3. Jose Bautista – Toronto Blue Jays
  4. Justin Upton – Arizona Diamondbacks
  5. Carlos Gonzalez – Colorado Rockies
  6. Curtis Granderson – New York Yankees
  7. Jacoby Ellsbury – Boston Red Sox
  8. Andrew McCutchen – Pittsburgh Pirates
  9. Mike Stanton – Florida Marlins
  10. Josh Hamilton – Texas Rangers
  11. Hunter Pence – Philadelphia Phillies
  12. Jay Bruce – Cincinnati Reds
  13. Matt Holliday – St. Louis Cardinals
  14. Carl Crawford – Boston Red Sox
  15. Shin-Soo Choo – Cleveland Indians
  16. Nelson Cruz – Texas Rangers
  17. Michael Bourn – Atlanta Braves
  18. Adam Jones – Baltimore Orioles
  19. Alex Gordon – Kansas City Royals
  20. Ben Zobrist – Tampa Bay Rays

Ryan Braun and Matt Kemp

Ryan Braun or Matt Kemp?  Matt Kemp or Ryan Braun?  Could you really go wrong with either one?

I prefer Braun slightly due to his consistency year in and year out, while Kemp does have that awful 2010 still hanging over his head slightly.  That said, I wouldn’t have a problem going either way.

Carlos Gonzalez

Injuries plagued Carlos Gonzalez in 2011, but when healthy, he proved that his 2010 breakout was no aberration. 

In 481 AB he hit .295 with 26 HR, 92 RBI, 92 R and 20 SB.  Clearly, he’s one of the elite players in the game.  Now fantasy owners just need to hope he can stay on the field for 150-plus games.

Jacoby Ellsbury

Jacoby Ellsbury had a remarkable season, but does anyone really believe that he’s a 30-plus home run hitter? 

The fact that he had never hit more than nine in a season prior to 2011 is a pretty clear indication that we can’t go into the year expecting a repeat performance. 

He’s going to be a top outfield option, thanks to his ability to steal a significant number of bases, but I would consider him more of a 15-20 HR option at best.

Hunter Pence

After arriving in Philadelphia, Hunter Pence hit .324 with 11 HR, 35 RBI, 35 R and 1 SB in just 207 AB. 

Granted, the Phillies lineup is going to be quite different in 2012, especially with Ryan Howard’s injury costing him a significant amount of time, but you have to think Pence is going to thrive there. 

He’s always been a very good player—now he’s finally getting the attention he deserves.  Of course, a .361 overall BABIP did skew his numbers a little bit.  He should continue to be considered more of an OF2 at this point.

Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz

There is no questioning the talent that the Rangers outfielders have, but does anyone believe Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz can stay healthy for an entire season? 

The threat of injury hanging over them is going to bring them down the rankings a few spots.

Carl Crawford

Does anyone really believe that Carl Crawford was as bad as he showed in 2011?  It’s almost impossible, and given how good he had proven to be in previous years, I wouldn’t completely plan on sleeping on him. 

He’s not going to be considered a Top 5 outfielder, but he’s also not an unusable option.  Consider his spot on these rankings fluid for now, but as an OF2, he’s going to be a good option.

Shin-Soo Choo

What we said about Carl Crawford can be repeated verbatim for Shin-Soo Choo. 

He has too much talent to think that he is going to be as bad as he was in 2011.  Consider him a solid bounce-back candidate as well.

Alex Gordon

Alex Gordon finally had the breakout campaign we have all been waiting for, hitting .303 with 23 HR, 87 RBI, 101 R and 17 SB.  It’s impossible to call it a fluke, considering how highly-regarded he was prior to reaching the major leagues. 

The power/speed is there—I’m just not sure he’s a .300 hitter (.358 BABIP).  Regardless, there’s enough there to think that he’s at least going to be an OF2 once again in 2012.

Make sure to check out all of our preliminary 2012 rankings:


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