MLB Cheat Sheets: Outfield Rankings
After making it into the top five on our list, Carlos Beltran has reason to point skyward at dead people.
By Buck Davidson, Tim McLeod and Herija Green
The crop of outfielders this season is considerably improved from 2008. There are plenty of young kids with upside and lots more on the way.
Note that we listed Mark DeRosa here (where he does qualify), although he spent much of his time at second base in 2008. He’s more valuable as a second baseman, obviously, and if he were listed at 2B, DeRosa would rank No. 9. Also, we list Ian Stewart here, who only qualifies as a third baseman, but will see most of his time as an outfielder this year, barring trade/injury. The same applies for Carlos Guillen, who qualifies at third and first, but not OF heading into 2009.
Also, Jason Kubel is not listed here; we opted to include him in our DH rankings. If he were here, he’d be No. 67.
Gary Sheffield was ticketed for our DH rankings, then he got released and wound up in the NL with the Mets, so now, he has to be an outfielder. If he were here, he’d be No. 86.
As an aside, with this post, we welcome Buck Davidson to the fold. He wrote most of the outfield profiles and did a superb job! We hope to bring you more of his work in the near future, but he’s using Scott Boras as an agent, so negotiations are tense.
1. Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians: Sizemore possesses a rare combination of power and speed, and he displayed those tools by posting his first 30-30 season in 2008. He delivers the goods in four fantasy categories, but those numbers come at a bit of a cost – namely, batting average. Sizemore’s average has fallen from .290 in 2006 to .277 in ’07 to .268 last season, and when you factor in his 600-plus at bats, that mediocre BA can really take its toll on your fantasy cause. Sizemore’s other numbers are just too good to pass on him, but be prepared to grab a player with good batting average numbers later in your draft to balance things out.
2. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers: The Hebrew Hammer delivered on some lofty expectations last season, following up his breakthrough 2007 campaign with another strong showing in ’08. Braun can launch bombs with the best of them, and the fact that he’ll also steal a dozen or so bases just sweetens the deal. On the downside, his batting average took a tumble last season, but fantasy owners will gladly take .280-plus in view of the across-the-board production Braun brings to the party. The thumb injury he has been dealing with this spring looks to be minor, and judging by his excellent performance Opening Day, including a stolen base, it’s a non issue.
3. Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers: The world met Josh Hamilton at the 2008 Home Run Derby, and casual fans discovered what anyone who had seen this kid swing a bat already knew: Hamilton can flat out mash. His power numbers took a sharp dip after his impressive Derby showing (but there’s no Derby Jinx…really…there isn’t) so he carries a bit of risk this season. Hamilton is still a special talent, though, and he’ll play half his games in homer-happy Rangers Ballpark. Look for Hamilton to be back among the league leaders in homers and RBI by season’s end, with respectable peripheral numbers to boot.
4. Carlos Beltran, New York Mets: Beltran racked up his third straight impressive season in 2008, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t pick up where he left off in ’09. The new yard might affect his numbers a bit, but considering the .297-14-61 line he posted at pitcher-friendly Shea Stadium last year, one shouldn’t dwell too long on Beltran’s prospects at Bailout Park…errr…Citi Field. Beltran is a great fantasy performer who makes a fine – and safe – choice as your top outfielder on draft day.
5. Carlos Lee, Houston Astros: Lee looked to be on his way to a monster season when a broken finger ended his 2008 campaign two months early. El Caballo is still feeling some soreness in that digit, and has been slow out of the gate this season. Don’t let it concern you, though: Lee is one of baseball’s most consistent power hitters, and is a safe bet for 30-plus dingers and 100 RBI again in 2009. He’ll also generally finish with an average around .300 and even steal a few bases – despite his ample waistline.
6. Matt Holliday, Oakland Athletics: Everyone has an opinion on Holliday this season, and most of that chatter revolves around how the move from homer-happy Coors Field to Oakland’s McAfee Coliseum will affect his fantasy stud-dom. The numbers do not look good for Matty’s prospects: he has batted just .280 on the road in his career, with a homer rate roughly half what he produced at Coors. That’s all well and good for the historians among us, but we’re more focused on the fact that Holliday’s road batting average has been .301 and .308 the past two seasons. Don’t look for 30 bombs from Holliday this season, but .310-25-100 with 10-to-12 steals is certainly reasonable…and a fine line from your top fantasy outfielder.
7. Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners: It should tell you how good this guy is when he can hit .311 with 43 steals, slap out 213 hits and score 103 runs and still be reckoned to have had an “off year.” That was the case with Ichiro in 2008, and now he has landed on the DL with fatigue due to a bleeding ulcer. You late drafters out there can probably get Ichiro on the cheap, but know that he’s strictly a three-category contributor in standard roto scoring.
8. Manny Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers: Manny’s free agency non-signing dominated the hot stove news over the winter, and after all the innuendo, statements, offers, rejections and retirement threats, he was right back in L.A. That’s a good thing; during his stint with the Dodgers last season, Ramirez treated NL pitching like Godzilla treats Tokyo, and more monster numbers should be in store for Man-Ram in 2009. Expect the usual “Manny being Manny” nonsense at various times during the season, but don’t let that persuade you to pass on one of the best hitters of the past 20 years.
9. B.J. Upton, Tampa Bay Rays: Like Ichiro, Upton will open the season on the DL, but that’s largely due to a hand injury he suffered after being hit by a pitch. His surgically repaired left shoulder seems fine, meaning that, unlike Ichiro, Upton presents some serious upside to owners willing to take a chance on him come draft day. His sore wing limited him to just nine dingers last season, but keep in mind that he launched 24 round-trippers in 2007, and seven bombs in the ’08 playoffs. Oh, by the way, B.J. also swiped 44 bases last season, and more of the same should be in store once Melvin makes it back onto the field. Don’t let him fall too far in your draft, and don’t be afraid to low-ball another owner in trade talks for the talented young outfielder.
10. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers: Kemp burst onto the fantasy baseball scene in a big way last season, and his .290-18-76 line with 35 steals has potential fantasy owners drooling for more five-cat stud-dom in 2009. But stay your spittle, Pavlov: Kemp fanned 153 times last season, and it’s hard to imagine him maintaining a respectable batting average until he slays Whiff the Magic Dragon. Also, bear in mind that those 35 swipes of a season ago was Kemp’s best performance at any professional level. All right, kick off that wet blanket and marvel at this toolsy young outfielder; Kemp is probably not yet a No. 1 fantasy outfielder, but he’s a great No. 2.
11. Nick Markakis, Baltimore Orioles: Nicky Mark had another nice season in 2008, and bumped his OBP up to a lofty .406 in the process. He probably won’t ever be an elite power hitter: 25-to-28 dingers may be his ceiling – but he should rack up the ribbies…and the across-the-board production he provides makes him a very palatable option once the top outfielders are off the board. Keeper league owners take note: Markakis is still only 25 years of age, and may still have some upside – especially in the stolen base department.
12. Vladimir Guerrero, Los Angeles Angels: Vladdy’s battered body showed signs of betraying him in 2008, limiting the slugger to just 143 games and a rather pedestrian (for him) .303-27-91. He looks healthy again following off-season knee surgery, and may be a nice gamble to take once the Big Boys are off the outfielder draft board. Guerrero’s days of stealing double-digit bases are probably long gone, but he remains one of baseball’s best natural hitters. Just be sure to back him up with a serviceable option later in the draft.
13. Jason Bay, Boston Red Sox: Bay is a solid hitter who is entrenched in the middle of what should be one of baseball’s most potent offenses. While he doesn’t have the intimidating presence of his predecessor Manny Ramirez, Bay is a virtual lock for a line around .280-30-100 with close to 100 runs scored. Great stuff for any fantasy outfielder.
14. Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs: Don’t draft Soriano with the starry-eyed expectations of a 30-30 campaign: He hasn’t swiped more than 19 bags since 2006. Since he bats in the lead-off spot for the Cubbies, Soriano’s dingers won’t plate nearly the number of RBI you’d expect, and his free-swinging ways keeps his on-base percentage in the sub-par range. All that being said, Soriano has said he wants to steal more bases this year, and that desire alone should compel you to think that at least two dozen pilfers are in store for the man that some Cubbie faithful call The Fonz.
15. Alex Rios, Toronto Blue Jays: Rios’ last two seasons make him something of an enigma: His homer total dropped from 24 in ’07 to 15 last year, while his stolen base tally jumped from 17 to 32. Which begs the question – is he a power hitter with modest speed, or a speed merchant with some pop? What is for certain is that Rios is a talented and athletic hitter who is capable of contributing meaningful numbers in all five roto categories. We’re impressed by Rios’ 11 dingers in the second half last season, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him make a run at a 25/25 season in 2009 – while still batting his typical .290-something.
16. Shane Victorino, Philadelphia Phillies: The Flyin’ Hawaiian tore up the basepaths for 36 stolen bases last season, and he cemented a starting role for himself in the process. Victorino is not a one-trick pony either, as his homers (14), batting average (.293) and runs total (102) were all plus figures in fantasy terms. More should be in store for Victorino this season, as he again plies his trade in one of the National League’s most productive lineups. He is a fine choice to complement the powerful but ponderous sluggers you may have drafted in the early rounds.
17. Curtis Granderson, Detroit Tigers: Granderson stole a mere 12 bases last season, and saw his average drop to .280 after a stellar .302 showing – with 26 steals – in ’07. Grandy’s bat misses the ball a lot, so there’s reason to believe he may have been a bit over his skis during his breakout 2007 season. He was dealing with a hand injury for most of last season, though, so he may well be back in 20/20 territory by the end of the 2009 campaign. Granderson should score a bushel of runs batting atop the Tigers’ potent lineup, and his 2008 struggles may lower his draft day value to the bargain range.
18. Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay Rays: CC took a step backward last season, and he has tumbled down 2009 fantasy draft boards as a result. Don’t buy it – Crawford battled injuries last season, and managed only 443 at bats during the regular season. His mediocre .273 average marked the first time in four seasons that he had slipped below the .300 mark, and he should be right back at that level again now that he’s healthy. Look for a return to typical numbers for Crawford this year: a .300 average, 50 steals and about 12-15 dingers, all of which should come at a bargain price on draft day.
19. Carlos Quentin, Chicago White Sox: Quentin was pounding out an MVP-caliber season before smacking his bat with his fist in early September. No report on what the bat might have said to warrant such treatment. The resultant broken wrist ended his season and may have ended whatever hopes the ChiSox had for a deep playoff run. He looks fine this spring, so don’t let last year’s injury worry you into passing on Quentin as your No. 2 fantasy outfielder. He won’t steal many bases, but the prodigious power he displayed during his first season as a starter gives Quentin solid fantasy value.
20. Corey Hart, Milwaukee Brewers: Hart has put together back-to-back 20-20 seasons, so it’s a virtual certainty that those sunglasses he wears at night need not be of the prescription variety. All right, now that that’s out the way, so let’s get to it. It’s a bit troubling that Hart’s batting average tumbled 27 points last year, but much of that was due to an anemic .173 showing in September. He has been tearing it up this spring, so a nice rebound season could be in the offing for the Sunglass Man. Draft Hart with the expectation of a line somewhere in the .275-20-80 range, and you shouldn’t be disappointed…and may end up pleasantly surprised.
21. Adam Dunn, Washington Nationals: The move from Cincy to D.C shouldn’t hurt Dunn’s power numbers too much; this guy can hit it out of any park out there – including Yellowstone. You know what you’re getting with the burly blonde slugger: Plenty of bombs, even more strikeouts, and a surprisingly good on-base percentage. His batting average has only eclipsed .250 once in the past five seasons, while his OBP has hovered right around .380 – meaning Dunn’s value can jump considerably in leagues that use OBP or OPS instead of batting average. Fundamental Fantasy Rule: Know your stat cats.
22. Bobby Abreu, Los Angeles Angels: He didn’t hit the free agency jackpot he was seeking, but Abreu landed in a good place in Anaheim. He’ll bat in the middle of a powerful Angels lineup, and centre fielder Torii Hunter will be there to offset Abreu’s ever-decreasing range. What Abreu can do is hit, though he is not the same power threat he once was. Come to think of it, he hasn’t been the same since his historic performance in the 2005 Home Run Derby (there’s no jinx, though – remember?). Look for 15-to-20 bombs, 90-to-100 RBI, 20-to-25 steals and another .300 batting average this season.
23. Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox: Ellsbury’s lack of power limits his fantasy appeal to some extent, but the stolen bases and run production he gives your team will certainly help kill the pain. His homer rate did increase slightly in the second half last season, but expecting more than about 10-to-12 homers is probably unrealistic. If you draft Jacoby, be sure you have some muscle men (or at least some fat guys who can leave the yard) elsewhere on your roster, or your power category numbers will suffer as a result.
24. Nate McLouth, Pittsburgh Pirates: McLouth was a popular breakout pick last season, and after winning the starting job he never looked back. When the dust had settled, McLouth had quietly (which is the way baseball-related things happen in the Steel City these days) become what can best be described as Grady Sizemore Lite. He may not be a fantasy stud like his C-Town mate, but Nate Mac does many of the same things that make Sizemore a top 10 fantasy player. There is some risk here, as McLouth’s power numbers took a dive in the second half of last season, but he had a strong spring and is well worth a mid-round draft selection.
25. Hunter Pence, Houston Astros: Pence was a “can’t miss” who did just that last season, slipping to .269 after raking out a .322 mark in 2007. Amid all the hand wringing amongst his fantasy owners, though, Pence still managed 25 bombs, plated 83 RBI and swiped 11 bases. His eye will need to improve before he ascends to the next level, but for now Pence is a low-end No. 2 or top-notch No. 2 fantasy outfielder – with a fair amount of upside if he can improve his on-base skills.
26. Jermaine Dye, Chicago White Sox: Is your top fantasy outfielder a speed merchant with about as much pop as a wet firecracker? Well, pay attention, because we’ve found you a running mate to Dye for. The ChiSox slugger has averaged 34 homers and 95 RBI over the past four seasons, and with a .276 lifetime batting average, he won’t kill you in that department, either. Dye can be a bit streaky, but he’s still a solid major league hitter – especially in the friendly confines of U.S. Cellular Field, where he batted a cool .336 last season. Dye doesn’t get enough respect in many fantasy drafts, and he’s a great source of power that is often available in the latter stages of the middle rounds.
27. Brad Hawpe, Colorado Rockies: Hawpe stands to be one of the prime beneficiaries of Matt Holliday’s departure, and he could be in for a breakout year. Why? Because after two seasons of struggling against left-handed pitching, Hawpe batted .282 against southpaws last year. His success is not tied to Coors Field, as he’s an equally good hitter on the road. If he can continue to fare well against lefties, Hawpe has the potential to get back to the kind of performance he displayed back in 2007, when he posted a fine .291-29-116 line. He is a great choice as your No. 3 fantasy outfielder – with the upside to perform like a No. 2.
28. Vernon Wells, Toronto Blue Jays: The two key words when discussing Wells are “when healthy.” Injuries again limited Wells in 2008, but his .318-11-36 line in 44 second half games shows what he’s capable of when he’s on the field. Take a look at his numbers the last time he recorded 600 at bats, which was back in 2006: .303-32-106 with 17 stolen bases. A sore hammy and left wrist troubled him this spring, but Wells says the hamstring is doing well now and his upside makes him worth a pick as your third or fourth outfielder. If you do draft him, make sure you have a viable back-up plan in place for when – not if – the injury bug bites again.
29. Magglio Ordonez, Detroit Tigers: Maggs is simply one of the best hitters in baseball, but he doesn’t get a lot of love on fantasy draft day. Why? Some still see him as an injury risk, though he has played at least 146 games each of the last three seasons. It’s not a question of productivity, as he has amassed at least 21 homers and 103 RBI in each of those campaigns, while batting .363 and .317 the past two years. Ordonez turned 35 years old in January, and he does have an extensive injury history, so he’s bound to start slowing down one of these days. Meanwhile, though, he should rack up plenty of ribbies and hit for a high batting average, while providing modest home run numbers. Maggs is a great No. 3 outfielder and serviceable No. 2.
30. Ryan Ludwick, St. Louis Cardinals: Here’s another bopper to draft if one of your first two outfielders is what used to be called a “Punch and Judy hitter.” Judy, meet Punch, AKA Ryan Ludwick. Ludwick came out of nowhere to put up huge numbers last season, and there is some risk that he may be right back in nowhere by the end of the season. His 2008 splits are solid, though, so he looks like a safe bet for another 30-homer campaign. The big question is whether he’ll bat .299 again, but even if he slips a dozen points or so, Ludwick is still a good No. 3 fantasy outfielder.
31. Torii Hunter, Los Angeles Angels: Modest across the board fantasy production is what you’ll get from Hunter; the veteran doesn’t do anything particularly well, but he’ll contribute a little of everything without killing you in any fantasy category. He had something of a down season his first year with the Angels, so he may be available at a bargain price on draft day. Don’t expect a return to his 30-homer ways of a few seasons ago, but Hunter is a virtual lock for 20-to-25 bombs, an average around .280, 15-to-20 steals and about 80-to-90 RBI. Nice numbers for a No. 3 fantasy outfielder, huh?
32. Raul Ibanez, Philadelphia Phillies: Ibanez had to be happy to get out of Seattle and wave goodbye to spacious Safeco Field, where long fly balls go to die. The sweet-swinging slugger batted just .276 at home last season, versus .309 on the road. Back in 2007, Ibanez’s home/road split was .274/.306. Goodbye Seattle, hello Citizen’s Bank Park. Skip the cheesesteak and grab a bat…that right field wall has your name all over it. Ibanez is a bit long in the tooth – he turns 37 in June – but the cozy confines of the Philly yard should mean a nice boost to his already solid numbers. Ibanez has averaged 113 RBI over his past three seasons, and he’s a lifetime .286 hitter. Don’t worry about the lack of a DH; Ibanez played 153 games in left for the M’s last season. Consistent and productive, Ibanez is a very nice choice as a No. 3 outfielder.
33. Johnny Damon, New York Yankees: Can he do it again? Damon woke up the echoes of his younger days last season, and at least temporarily laid to rest any talk of his eminent demise as a Yankee regular. Of course, every time he uncorks a 27-hop throw to the plate that chatter starts right back up again, but such is the way in Yankee Land. Don’t draft him for defense – there are very few guys not named Molina that he can actually cut down trying to score – but Damon is a good source of cheap speed and modest power in the middle rounds of the draft.
34. Chris Young, Arizona Diamondbacks: We’re still waiting for Young to become the five-category fantasy stud many thought he’d turn into last season. The tools are there — the kid has plus power and good speed, but every time he shows signs of living up to the hype, he falls victim to his arch enemy the Whiff Monster. Young fanned 165 times last year, and he has struck out 306 times over the past two seasons. All those misses drag his batting average inexorably downward, and if he’s on your fantasy roster, he’ll do the same to your team’s batting average numbers. Now then, the good news is that he had a great spring, and perhaps this is the year that the 25-year-old becomes all that he can be. Draft him as a No. 3 outfielder, but be prepared to bolster his average if need be.
35. Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds: After a torrid five-game stint in May to begin his rookie season, Bruce was surrounded by more hype than the Queen City had seen since the days of the Big Red Machine. The youngster’s early hot streak quickly fizzled out, though, and by the All-Star break his line read a good-not great .270-6-21 in 44 games. He slumped a bit after the break, but that downturn was accompanied by a nice power surge: 15 homers in 250 second half at bats. Bruce is a talented hitter, but at just 22 years of age, he’s bound to endure his ups and downs. Grab him as your fourth outfielder if you can, and bench him when he hits a rough stretch of road.
36. Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers: Count Ethier among the people happy to see Manny Ramirez back in Dodger blue. The young outfielder thrived while he was preceding Man-Ram in the batting order last season, including the softball-esque .462 average Ethier racked up in 22 September games. Manny helps, but Ethier is a fine hitter in his own right, so feel free to draft him as your third or fourth outfielder a dozen rounds or so into your fantasy draft.
37. Milton Bradley, Chicago Cubs: Maybe you’re thinking of avoiding Bradley because think he has had more issues than National Geographic. Do so at your own risk: This is a guy who, when healthy and happy, has shown the ability to flat out rake – and carry entire fantasy teams in the process. He seems to be both healthy and happy in Chicago right now, and he has been absolutely crushing the ball this spring. Until there’s a blow-up or a blow-out (and yes, history tells us that such grievous events will almost certainly come) on the north side, savvy fantasy owners should hitch their wagon to Bradley and ride just as long as they can.
38. Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers: Cruz has shown slashes of brilliance at the big league level, but has gained a reputation as a “Quadruple-A” player who tears up the minors, but can’t get it done long term in the bigs. Maybe, just maybe, the .330-7-26 line he laid on the board in just 31 games last season is a turning point for Cruz. The 28-year-old has shown plus power and the ability to steal a few bases during his minor league tenure, and his hot spring brings hope that he’s finally in the bigs to stay. There’s huge upside here, but Cruz obviously carries a lot of risk. Sound like a fourth outfielder to you? Us too.
39. Pat Burrell, Tampa Bay Rays: Burrell left Philly in search of free-agent gold, but wound up a member of the Rays at a bargain-basement price. He figures to be the everyday DH in St. Petersburg, and his powerful bat gives the Rays some much-needed pop from the right side. Burrell is a virtual lock for 30 homers and close to 100 RBI, but his batting average figures to be closer to .250 than .275. If your league uses OBP or OPS, though, Burrell’s on-base skills make him a more palatable option. He is a streaky hitter; so keep track of his daily lines if you add him as a reserve outfielder. When he’s going well, get him in there.
40. Jayson Werth, Philadelphia Phillies: Werth still tears up left-handed pitching (16 homers in 155 at bats last season), but he also held his own against righties last year – winning a regular starting job in the process. His breakout season came at age 29, so there’s legitimate concern that his combination of power and speed could have been a mirage. We don’t think so – his split stats were good, and he may have simply taken advantage of an opportunity that was too long in coming. Be sure that Werth’s in your lineup against southpaws, but he’s more of a platoon starter when the Phils face a tough right-hander.
41. Xavier Nady, New York Yankees: Nady put up some decent numbers for the Yanks after arriving via trade: .268-12-40 in 59 games. His batting average with the Yanks was savaged by a brutal September, in which he batted just .223. Nady will be the Yanks’ regular right fielder in 2009, and should be a solid three-category contributor if he can stay healthy. That’s been a problem for Nady over the years, as the 148 games he played last season marked the first time in his seven-year career he had appeared in more than 125 contests.
42. Lastings Milledge, Washington Nationals: Opinions about Milledge are all over the board, and it seems that no one’s willing to take the middle ground. His detractors point to his history of attitude problems, his pedestrian numbers in his rookie season and the slow spring he has endured. Advocates, meanwhile, point to the nifty .299-7-29-11 line Milledge posted in just 221 at bats after the break last season, and claim that a run at a 30-30 season is in the offing. We’re not so sure about that, but Milledge is the Nats’ undisputed centre fielder, and he’ll get every chance to turn his great natural ability into a big league career. If nothing else, Milledge should pilfer close to 30 bases this season, and that alone makes him worth a late-round grab as your fourth or fifth fantasy outfielder.
43. Coco Crisp, Kansas City Royals: Crisp never delivered on his potential in Boston, but he may thrive in the low-stress environment of Kansas City as the everyday lead-off hitter. Recall that back when he was with the Tribe, Crisp put together two successive seasons of roughly 15 homers, 70 RBI, 15 steals and a batting average close to .300. He may not quite get back to that level in K.C., but there’s reason to believe he may swipe close to 20 bases for a team that figures to play a lot of small ball. Coco is a nice reserve outfielder that could fill in for an injured or slumping starter when the need is at hand.
44. Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles: If Jones did not get drafted in your league, run – do not walk – to the waiver wire and grab him now…or at least put your finger on the button. Jones had a torrid spring, including seven stolen bases, and he has made no secret of the fact that he intends to run a lot this year. Thirty stolen bases and 20-to-25 dingers is not an unreasonable forecast, though Jones is bound to suffer through some extended dry spells. Considering the hot start he’s off to, Jones is flying off waiver wires in a hurry, so it may pay off to close your eyes (just like he’s doing in his ESPN profile picture) and take the chance that he’s in for a breakout year.
45. Willy Taveras, Cincinnati Reds: Taveras is not only fast, he’s also rapid, swift, speedy and quick as a hiccup. Translation: He’s a one-trick pony…and that trick is stealing every base except first. Unfortunately, all those pilfers come at a cost of, well…just about everything else. Taveras has just seven homers and 107 RBI in 1,973 major league at bats, and his respectable .283 career average is offset by a less than awe-inspiring .331 lifetime OBP. He should manage to score at least a serviceable number of runs as the Reds’ lead-off hitter, but there’s no telling how long he’ll stay in that spot.
46. Jeremy Hermida, Florida Marlins: Hermida was a popular breakout candidate last season, but he couldn’t replicate the fine .296-18-63 line he put up in 2007. There is definitely talent here, though, and Hermida’s five dingers this spring and one so far in the regular season may be a harbinger of good things to come. Like all fantasy sleepers, grab Hermida late in your draft, and don’t base your team’s fortunes on him delivering the goods.
47. Denard Span, Minnesota Twins: Span was one of the waiver wire heroes of the 2008 campaign, but a crowded Minnesota outfield limits his fantasy potential for the upcoming season. He is a sound hitter with fair power and excellent speed, but he probably won’t have a full-time job unless one of his mates slumps or succumbs to injury. Span is worth drafting in larger leagues, but he’s probably best suited to a waiver-wire grab when the situation dictates.
48. Conor Jackson, Arizona Diamondbacks: Jackson’s lack of pop makes him persona non grata among fantasy owners seeking a first baseman (where he also qualifies in 2009). As an outfielder, though, Jackson’s modest speed and ability to hit for a strong average makes him an ideal choice as a roster filler late in your draft. He’s not likely to produce elite numbers in any category, but Jackson’s all-around contributions can be a blessing to an injury-plagued fantasy roster.
49. Adam Lind, Toronto Blue Jays: Last year, Lind showed flashes of the form that evokes dreams of .290-20-80 seasons among fantasy owners. Unfortunately, he faces a stiff challenge from fellow phenom Travis Snider this season, but fortunately, the Jays have solved that by making Lind the full-time DH. He should also see plenty of playing time in the OF too, so this very talented hitter is quite capable of 20-to-25 bombs and a .290-to-.300 average. Lind, and for that matter Snider, are great speculative picks as your fantasy draft reaches its latter rounds.
50. Shin-Soo Choo, Cleveland Indians – Another member of the 2008 Waiver Wire Hall of Fame, Choo batted a ridiculous .343-11-48 in just 58 games after the All-Star break, and carried many fantasy managers to championship glory. Can he do it again? Almost certainly not – and his tepid stickwork this spring bears that out – but he is still someone worth considering as roster filler for when one of your studs throws a rod. Know this, though: Choo’s career history indicates that he may have been way over his skis last season, so temper your expectations accordingly.
51. Fred Lewis, San Francisco Giants
52. Hideki Matsui, New York Yankees
53. Carlos Gomez, Minnesota Twins
54. Travis Snider, Toronto Blue Jays
55. Daniel Murphy, New York Mets
56. Nick Swisher, New York Yankees (also qualifies at first base)
57. Mark DeRosa, Cleveland Indians: Is it just me or did DeRosa put up the quietest .285-21-87 line in history? Completely overshadowed in the Cubs’ lineup, DeRosa might play a more prominent role in Cleveland… unfortunately, there isn’t as much offensive talent on the Tribe, which means a reduction in power numbers may be in the cards. His ability to play second base and third base raises his value considerably and makes him a great depth addition even in shallow leagues. – H.G.
58. Cameron Maybin, Florida Marlins
59. Colby Rasmus, St. Louis Cardinals
60. Ian Stewart, Colorado Rockies (qualifies at third base)
61. Michael Cuddyer, Minnesota Twins
62. Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks
63. J.D. Drew, Boston Red Sox
64. Ryan Spilborghs, Colorado Rockies
65. Eric Byrnes, Arizona Diamondbacks
66. Garret Anderson, Atlanta Braves
67. David DeJesus, Kansas City Royals
68. Randy Winn, San Francisco Giants
69. Rick Ankiel, St. Louis Cardinals
70. Luke Scott, Baltimore Orioles
71. Delmon Young, Minnesota Twins
72. Juan Pierre, Los Angeles Dodgers
73. Michael Bourn, Houston Astros
74. Mike Cameron, Milwaukee Brewers
75. Carlos Guillen, Detroit Tigers (qualifies at third base and first base)
76. Jose Guillen, Kansas City Royals
77. Elijah Dukes, Washington Nationals
78. Jeff Francoeur, Atlanta Braves
79. Brett Gardner, New York Yankees
80. Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners
81. Cody Ross, Florida Marlins
82. Jordan Schafer, Atlanta Braves
83. Chris Dickerson, Cincinnati Reds
84. Josh Anderson, Detroit Tigers
85. David Murphy, Texas Rangers
86. Felix Pie, Baltimore Orioles
87. Ben Francisco, Cleveland Indians
88. Ryan Church, New York Mets
89. Chris Duncan, St. Louis Cardinals (also qualifies at first base)
90. Aaron Rowand, San Francisco Giants
91. Nyjer Morgan, Pittsburgh Pirates
92. Franklin Gutierrez, Seattle Mariners
93. Chase Headley, San Diego Padres
94. Kosuke Fukudome, Chicago Cubs
95. Dexter Fowler, Colorado Rockies
96. Brandon Moss, Pittsburgh Pirates
97. Gary Matthews Jr., Los Angeles Angels
98. Fernando Tatis, New York Mets
99. Josh Willingham, Washington Nationals
100. Ryan Freel, Baltimore Orioles
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