2010 RotoRob MLB Draft Kit: Outfield Rankings
Jason Bay solemnly swears to turn around the New York Mets.
By Tim McLeod and RotoRob
We’re back with more of the 2010 RotoRob MLB Draft Kit today, so with the regular season about to kick off Sunday night, let’s take a look at the top outfielders for 2010.
This year, there are speed options all over the place, with guys like Juan Pierre, Scott Podsednik and Rajai Davis, plus there are plenty of speedy kids coming up. In fact, there’s more speed available than there’s been in many years, so it’s advantageous to grab power in OF and leave speed for later on.
1. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers (2): Braun stayed healthy last year, reaching 20 bases for the first time as he added speed to his already potent power-average combo, truly bringing him into the Fantasy elite. His BA really bounced back after a dip in his sophomore season, but despite Braun’s monster year, the Brewers couldn’t finish .500.
2. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers (10): After a nice season of development as a hitter in which his power bounced back big time, Kemp has now entrenched himself as a mid first round pick. Last season, he took home both a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award, giving you an idea of what an all-around talent he’s become. And at the age of 25, there’s likely still plenty of upside for Kemp.
3. Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay Rays (18): Crawford’s huge rebound season earned him consideration as the 2009 RotoRob Fantasy Baseball Stud of the Year. His power bounced back, he swiped 60 bases for the first time and hit over .300 for the fourth time in a simply fantastic season. Unfortunately, Crawford may not be long for Tampa Bay as the team needs to cut payroll and make room for Desmond Jennings soon. Regardless, Crawford should remain a Fantasy stud for several more years, so don’t let any trade talks factor into your decision to draft him.
4. Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals (6): One of the top hitters in this free agent class, Holliday re-signed with the Cards for seven years. That’s music to the ears of his Fantasy owners as he really exploded in St. Louis after struggling with the A’s in the first half of the season. Overall, Holliday’s power slipped slightly, but he should bounce back nicely in a full year as the clean-up hitter for the Cards.
5. Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians (1): A season after he struggled with injuries, saw his extra-base pop, walk rate and batting eye all regress and had the worst slugging percentage since his rookie season, Sizemore has slipped to a mid second round pick. On the plus side, with Sizemore shifting from leadoff to the two-hole, we can expect him to drive in more runs in what should be a solid bounce back effort this year.
6. Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks (62): This incredibly talented youngster took his game to a new level in 2009, soaring up the rankings as a result. Upton’s extra-base pop keeps developing, and although his walk rate slipped, he emerged as a successful base stealer, swiping 20 bases in 25 tries after managing just 1-of-5 in 2008. Upton’s BA keeps soaring as well, and he’s now a .300 hitter. Did I mention he’s just 22? No wonder Arizona just penned him to a US$51.5 million extension that will buy out Upton’s arbitration years and the first couple of his free agent seasons.
7. Adam Lind, Toronto Blue Jays (49): Lind is another outfielder who made a quantum leap last year, and now he finds himself going in the third round of recent drafts. He finally delivered on his power potential, mashing 35 dingers and even slightly cutting his strikeout rate. Lind also upped his BA and OBP significantly, and has now entrenched himself as the focal point of the Toronto offense.
8. Jason Bay, New York Mets (13): Bay rode career highs in homers and RBI to a lucrative free agent deal with the Mets, which seemed to contradict New York’s 2010 goals. Regardless, he should again be a very valuable Fantasy outfielder, although it’s worth bearing in mind that he’s moving from one of the best hitting parks in the majors to one of the worst. Having said that, judging by the fact that 21 of Bay’s 36 homers were hit away from Fenway last year suggests that any drop off will be minimal.
9. Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers (36): Back in late-July, we identified Ethier as a player poised for a big second half, and for the most part we were right as he really came into his own in August (his best month of the season) before cooling in September and then bouncing back at the very end of the schedule in October. Ethier stayed healthy last year, and his walk rate has continued to rise every season. At the age of 27, that tells me that his best is still ahead of him, and given that he enjoyed the finest power year of his career in 2009, Ethier could be capable of 35 homers and close to 120 RBI this season.
10. Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners (7): Despite enduring the worst batting eye he’s had since coming to the majors, Ichiro still racked up a fourth 225-hit season. And while his stole base total was its smallest yet, he can obviously still leg out those extra-base hits, enjoying his finest pop since 2005. Suzuki will remain at the top of the Mariner batting order despite the fact that Chone Figgins is in town, and I don’t know how much I like that decision. However, it shouldn’t affect Suzuki’s ability to put up another fine campaign for his Fantasy owners.
11. Adam Dunn, Washington Nationals (21): We already discussed Dunn in our first base rankings.
12. Carlos Lee, Houston Astros (5): Lee stayed healthy last season, but his runs were restricted in a weak Houston offense. His extra-base pop also took a bath, reaching its lowest level since 2000. Lee will swipe a few bases for you, but he’s no longer a threat to reach double digits. Still, thanks to a very consistent batting eye, he has racked up four straight .300 seasons, and his Spring Training results (currently .364) suggest that he’ll reach that mark again in 2010.
13. Bobby Abreu, Los Angeles Angels (22): After a decent first season with LA – not as good as his final season in pinstripes, but not too shabby – Abreu is going in the eighth round in 10-team leagues this spring. His power slipped on the West Coast (just one homer every 37.5 AB), but his speed and walk rate bounced back as he recorded his sixth 30-steal campaign and put up his finest OBP since 2006. Now 36, Abreu will likely get a few more days off during the course of the season than in the past.
14. Nick Markakis, Baltimore Orioles (11): Some are down on Markakis after he failed to come close to duplicating his big 2008 campaign. Yes, his overall pop slipped, but we’re talking about a player who has recorded back-to-back 45-double seasons, and it stands to reason that at the age of 26, some of those two-baggers may soon start clearing the fence. Markakis is one of the headliners of a suddenly robust collection of young talent Baltimore has amassed and I fully expect him to take it to another level as this team matures.
15. Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox (23): Ellsbury still hasn’t been able to flash the same kind of extra-base pop he showed when he first arrived in Boston, but the rest of his game continues to improve. He was more productive and really stepped up his base-stealing skills while taking a more patient approach. Overall, 2009 was a nice step forward in Ellsbury’s development, and I expect further gains in 2010. With Boston adding Mike Cameron to man centrefield, Ellsbury will shift over to left to take over from the departed Jason Bay. This is a great move as not only is Ellsbury a weaker fielder than Cameron, the move away from spacious centre will help save his legs and keep him fresher over the course of the season.
16. Shin-Soo Choo, Cleveland Indians (50): After finally become a full-time player last season and enjoying a sweet 20-20 season with a second straight BA of at least .300, Choo is going as high as the sixth round in some drafts. He could last to the seventh round, which could be fine value considering Choo is blazing this spring (.396).
17. Jayson Werth, Philadelphia Phillies (40): Werth tends to be going as high as the fourth round in some drafts as I’ve heard of some owners even taking him ahead of Bay. After Werth’s career year in which his walk rate bounced back and he put up a second straight 20-steal season, it’s hard to completely discount that thinking.
18. B.J. Upton, Tampa Bay Rays (9): This free swinger stayed healthy enough to record a career high in at-bats last season, but Upton’s productivity keeps dipping. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that he’s striking out almost a quarter of the time? I dunno…just hazarding a guess there. Upton remains part of a core group of talent in Tampa Bay that is among the best in the game, but with just 20 homers in the past two seasons combined, he’s in perilous danger of becoming a low average speedster who offers little in the way of pop.
19. Torii Hunter, Los Angeles Angels (31): It’s now been three years since the former Twin star left Minny and he’s now part of a solid, but aging Angel outfield. Hunter missed plenty of time last season, and had to deal with a groin injury earlier this spring, however he appears to be fine now. But will he be as fine as last season? When Hunter was in the lineup in 2009, he was fantastic, enjoying an extremely productive campaign and slugging homers at his highest rate since 2006.
20. Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees (17): The Yankees gave up a lot to get Granderson including hot prospect Austin Jackson, and despite the fact Tiger fans hate this deal, I believe over time both teams will be happy with the outcome. Granderson stayed healthy last year, and while his OPS dropped for a second straight year, he racked up a career high in dingers while also having his swipes bounce back.
21. Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers (3): We all know Hamilton is extremely talented, just as we all know he’s incredibly injury prone. That’s why we already expressed concern when he was dealing with a shoulder problem among other health woes this spring – hell, Hamilton was even suffering with a root canal issue. Shifting him to left field this season should really help save his body, and that’s a good thing as Hamilton again played under 90 games last year, and the injuries really restricted his offense – especially his home runs. Hamilton’s OBP was also way down, but reports suggest that he’s maturing as a player, so I still believe he can have a huge season, assuming of course, he can maintain some semblance of good health.
22. Manny Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers (8): After a season in which he missed 50 games with a PED-related suspension and never was the same afterwards, Ramirez is lasting until the 12th round of 10-team H2H leagues this spring. After all, it’s not like he’s going to help you in the SB department. But consider this: Ramirez has put up 15 straight seasons of at least .290 and last year enjoyed his highest walk rate since 2006. He remains a key component of the Dodgers and one of the best outfields – at least offensively – in the game.
23. Carlos Beltran, New York Mets (4): We’ve already expressed our worries about Beltran’s knee for 2010, and this is coming off a 2009 when he missed half the season. Obviously, his counting totals slipped badly last year, and his homer rate also plummeted, but Beltran did manage the best BA and OBP of his career last year, so the news wasn’t all bad. The Mets’ window for success with Beltran is running out as he’ll be a free agent after 2011, so it will be interesting to see how they deal with this situation over the next 18 months or so.
24. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates (NR): The Pirates finally cleared space for uber prospect McCutchen last year when they dealt Nate McLouth to the Braves. The kid sure didn’t look like a rook, doing some excellent work on the basepaths and showing advanced on-base skills, a very nice walk rate and a strong batting eye. McCutchen is for real, and could easily be a top 10 outfielder on this list a year from now.
25. Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles (44): Jones is going in the seventh round in recent mock drafts, and if he can stay healthy this year, that could prove to be a serious bargain. Despite his injury issues last year, Jones was still very productive and I could see his stolen bases exploding this season. He has consistently improved his on-base skills and his extra-base pop was way up. Judging by his power surge this spring (five homers, 11 RBI), something tells me Jones is on the cusp of something very special this season.
26. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies (NR): Once Gonzalez was brought up the Rox, he was ready to roll and his breakout over the final two-thirds of the season earned him a place on our NL All Wire Troll Team. He’s currently going in the 15th round of 10-team H2H leagues, and after a season in which he cut his strikeout rate, massively improved his walk rate and enjoyed a power surge, Gonzalez is ready to become a serious Fantasy force. The Rockies have stockpiled a nice collection of young outfielders, and Gonzalez is one of the brightest young stars they have.
27. Hunter Pence, Houston Astros (25): Pence, who is going in the 12th round of 10-team H2H leagues, has proved durable in his brief career. Last season, he took a step forward at the plate, although his extra-base pop slipped a bit. On the plus side, his walk rate was up, and he’s enjoying a fine spring, perhaps portending another step forward in 2010.
28. Jason Kubel, Minnesota Twins (3 at DH): Kubel, who went in the 10th round of a recent mock draft, has been showing great power this spring (four homers, 10 RBI). This is a great sign, coming off the heels of his extra-base pop breakout last season. Hell, Kubel even hit .300 for the first time last year. Why does he remain so underrated?
29. Ryan Ludwick, St. Louis Cardinals (30): Okay, maybe Ludwick isn’t as good as he showed in 2008, but I don’t think he’s as bad as he seemed to be last year when his extra-base pop crashed and his BA plummeted. I’ve seen him lasting to the 24th round of 10-team H2H leagues, and I think that’s a bargain. There’s a reason why Ludwick wound up as one of our Top 10 Sources of Cheap Power.
30. Shane Victorino, Philadelphia Phillies (16): Victorino’s homer rate and steals keeping dropping, and that’s bad news for Fantasy owners, but that’s not to say he isn’t showing signs of development. In setting a career high in at-bats last year, Victorino showed his best walk rate ever and his batting eye keeps improving, suggesting to me that he’s on the cusp of becoming a .300 hitter. With Placido Polanco arriving in Philly, however, Victorino will be shifted down in the batting order, so it’s likely we’ll see a big dip in his runs and steals, but he could experience a nice uptick in ribbies.
31. Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers (38): Cruz is a player we still believe has some upside, even though – not surprisingly – he was unable to duplicate the lofty numbers he teased Fantasy owners with during his brief run in 2008. He did finally emerge as a more-or-less full-time player last year, and while he moved around the batting order quite a bit, Cruz saw more time in the six hole than anywhere else. This season, however, he’s expected to slide down to seventh. Last year, Cruz obviously experienced a huge bump in his counting stats and he was a fine source of steals, but his walk rate and especially his BA plummeted. Will PT be an issue for Cruz this season? It shouldn’t be, considering how well he hit righties last year, but who knows what Ron Washington has in mind for Cruz?
32. Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds (35): We already identified Bruce as a serious sleeper for 2010 and you can read our more detailed description of him there, but suffice to say that he should experience a major bump in his batting average this season (check out his .326 BA in the second half for evidence of this). Injuries derailed Bruce last year, yet he still improved his extra-base power significantly. He combines with Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips to give the suddenly exciting Reds three of the best young sticks in the game.
33. Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves (NR): What’s this? A player without a single major league at-bat who ranks in the top 35? Well, Heyward is no everyday rookie; in fact, we’ve already identified him as the top freshman in the game. And the fact that he’s already won the starting RF job in Atlanta forced us to shift him up the rankings. Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year in 2009, Heyward is already becoming legendary for his amazing BP sessions. Just wait until we get to see him in a real game.
34. Denard Span, Minnesota Twins (47): Span, who is going for around $10 in auction leagues, became a full-timer last season, and showed some nice development in certain areas offensively. However, his extra-base pop and walk rate slipped, and he wasn’t as successful on the basepaths. What impresses me is that Span cut his strikeout rate, and that’s vital for his improvement as a lead-off hitter.
35. Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs (14): Soriano is going in the seventh round of our recent mocks, but that’s a risk considering he’s been in free fall since arriving in Chicago in what looks like a major albatross of a deal for the Cubs. There’s just nothing positive to take from his 2009: his extra-base pop was at its worst since 2001; his homer rate was way down; he was not very productive, batting just .216 with RISP; his walk rate was down; and he failed to record double-digit steals in another injury prone year. And with Soriano’s knees still a concern, you’ve got to have no fear to draft him this season.
36. Michael Cuddyer, Minnesota Twins (61): We already discussed Cuddyer in our first base rankings.
37. Raul Ibanez, Philadelphia Phillies (32): Ibanez is struggling badly this spring, but he’s coming off a huge season in 2009. Even though he missed a big chunk of time, he still managed a career best in homers and even did a better job on the basepaths than normal, but that’s never really been a big part of his game.
38. Brad Hawpe, Colorado Rockies (27): Hawpe, who is being considered in the 11th round, saw more action last year, but I’m worried about his rising strikeout rate and declining batting eye. So far, it hasn’t prohibited him from being a consistent .280-.290 hitter, but I wonder when his BA will be affected. Hawpe, who played plenty of first base in the minors before being converted, could see his first big league action there this year, so it will be interesting to see if he gets enough time to qualify at a second position.
39. Carlos Quentin, Chicago White Sox (19): Three years ago, Quentin was dealt straight up for Chris Carter, and while that deal looked like a steal for the ChiSox for the first two years, now that Carter is one of the top prospects in the game and Quentin is coming off a dismal and injury-marred season in which his batting eye slipped, the jury is still out on this trade. One thing’s for sure, both the White Sox and Quentin’s Fantasy owners desperately need him to stay healthy and return to his 2008 form this year. He’s expected to bat third in what may be a weak attack, so resurgence from Quentin is vital.
40. Michael Bourn, Houston Astros (73): Don’t look for the speedy Bourn to offer much help in the RBI department, but he took some steps towards improving his contact rate last year, and that helped facilitate a big improvement in his BA. I’d like to see even less strikeouts if he plans to take another step forward. Bourn started sluggishly, but is heating up this spring just in time for the games to start counting.
41. Franklin Gutierrez, Seattle Mariners (92): After a breakout 2009 which saw him soar up the OF ranks, Seattle wisely locked up Gutierrez to a long-term extension. He’s a simply fantastic gloveman, but what has Fantasy owners excited is the offensive steps Gutierrez took in his first season as a full-timer. He put up a decent amount of runs and ribbies considering how weak Seattle’s offense was; he improved his base-stealing prowess; his extra-base pop was better; and he enjoyed the finest walk rate of his career. There’s still some upside here for Gutierrez as he’s entering his prime power years.
42. Rajai Davis, Oakland Athletics (NR): Davis, who is going in the 10th round of recent mocks, is struggling this spring, but has recently shown signs of life. Last year, he received near full-time action and gave a glimpse into what we can expect this season: a boatload of runs, decent extra-base pop, tons of steals, a fine average and solid on-base skills. The fact that he reduced his strikeout rate last year bodes well too. Davis will bat second this year, and he needs to be on base even more often that last year to help breathe life into a moribund Oakland attack.
43. Nate McLouth, Atlanta Braves (24): McLouth is going during the speed run that starts around the ninth round of your draft. He really slipped last year, and while he did manage a second straight 20-homer season, McLouth wasn’t nearly as productive as he was in 2008. He’s part of the most recent Pittsburgh fire sale, dealt at the deadline to the Braves last year.
44. Nick Swisher, New York Yankees (56): We already discussed Swisher in our first base rankings.
45. Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays (NR): We already discussed Zobrist in our second base rankings.
46. Johnny Damon, Detroit Tigers (33): Damon is enjoying a fine spring, and he’s very durable, having accumulated at least 550 at-bats in 11 of the past 12 seasons. But I’d be a bit wary about him this year. His BA and steals slipped last year, but he made up for that with more walks and homers. However, 17 of Damon’s 24 jacks last year came at new Yankee Stadium, and now that he’ll be playing half his games in Comerica – notoriously tough on left-handed power hitters – don’t expect him to come anywhere near the same number of dingers. And if the 36-year-old doesn’t bounce back in BA and steals, he’s going to be a bit of a Fantasy albatross.
47. Magglio Ordonez, Detroit Tigers (29): Ordonez suffered through a difficult 2009, not only missing a third of the season with injuries, but also finding himself in a platoon in RF for a spell. He struck out more often and was far less productive than normal. Yet, he still managed to post a .310 mark for the sixth time in his career. Still, at the age of 36, Ordonez is clearly in decline. He’s enjoying a fine spring, so there’s hope for a rebound, but it’s obvious that his best days are behind him.
48. Julio Borbon, Texas Rangers (NR): The Texas system has all of a sudden become one of the best in the game, and is producing some real gems lately, including Borbon. Yes, he’s plenty green, but that didn’t stop the Rangers from handing him the lead-off job this year. In his first taste of the Show, Borbon sure as hell impressed people, scoring plenty of runs and driving in his share, while drawing lots of walks and swiping a ton of bases in his partial season. Hell, he even acts as a translator for some of his Spanish teammates.
49. Juan Rivera, Los Angeles Angels (NR): Part of a solid but aging outfield, Rivera is expected to bat sixth in the Halo order this year after spending most of 2009 hitting fifth. He enjoyed a career high in homers, and while he has no speed, he rode some improved patience to his finest season since 2006. Another year removed from his horrible leg injury, Rivera also showed more range in LF last year.
50. Cody Ross, Florida Marlins (81): Ross is one of those unhyped outfielders who can definitely help your team’s power numbers, hence his inclusion in our list of cheap sources of power. Note that due to a wonky calf, he could start the season on the DL, but it’s doubtful he’d miss more than a few games, so don’t let this worry you much. Last year, Ross enjoyed a career high in ribbies, raised his BA 10 points and even swiped a few bases again, although speed is definitely not a big part of his game.
Others to Consider
51. Chris Coghlan, Florida Marlins
52. Nyjer Morgan, Washington Nationals
53. Garrett Jones, Pittsburgh Pirates (also listed in our first base rankings)
54. Dexter Fowler, Colorado Rockies
55. Vernon Wells, Toronto Blue Jays
56. Nolan Reimold, Baltimore Orioles
57. Colby Rasmus, St. Louis Cardinals
58. Alex Rios, Chicago White Sox
59. Mark DeRosa, San Francisco Giants (also listed in our third base rankings)
60. Juan Pierre, Chicago White Sox
61. Corey Hart, Milwaukee Brewers
62. Conor Jackson, Arizona Diamondbacks
63. Josh Willingham, Washington Nationals
64. Lastings Milledge, Pittsburgh Pirates
65. Luke Scott, Baltimore Orioles
66. Drew Stubbs, Cincinnati Reds
67. Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers
68. Marlon Byrd, Chicago Cubs
69. Milton Bradley, Seattle Mariners
70. Chris Young, Arizona Diamondbacks
71. Rick Ankiel, Kansas City Royals
72. Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians
73. Matt Diaz, Atlanta Braves
74. Travis Snider, Toronto Blue Jays
75. Jack Cust, Oakland Athletics
76. Kyle Blanks, San Diego Padres
77. Ryan Sweeney, Oakland Athletics
78. J.D. Drew, Boston Red Sox
79. Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers
80. Mike Cameron, Boston Red Sox
81. Scott Podsednik, Kansas City Royals
82. Melky Cabrera, Atlanta Braves
83. Cameron Maybin, Florida Marlins
84. Jeff Francoeur, New York Mets
85. Aaron Rowand, San Francisco Giants
86. David DeJesus, Kansas City Royals
87. Chris Dickerson, Cincinnati Reds
88. Scott Hairston, San Diego Padres
89. Skip Schumaker, St. Louis Cardinals (also listed in our second base rankings)
90. Daniel Murphy, New York Mets (also listed in our first base rankings; will miss 2-to-6 weeks with a knee injury)
91. Kosuke Fukudome, Chicago Cubs
92. Gerardo Parra, Arizona Diamondbacks
93. Jose Guillen, Kansas City Royals
94. Brett Gardner, New York Yankees
95. Delmon Young, Minnesota Twins
96. Will Venable, San Diego Padres
97. Chase Headley, San Diego Padres (also listed in our third base rankings)
98. Ryan Raburn, Detroit Tigers
99. Seth Smith, Colorado Rockies
100. Felix Pie, Baltimore Orioles
101. Tyler Colvin, Chicago Cubs
102. Jeremy Hermida, Boston Red Sox
103. Jerry Hairston Jr., San Diego Padres (also listed in our shortstop and third base rankings)
104. Carlos Guillen, Detroit Tigers
105. Coco Crisp, Oakland Athletics
106. David Murphy, Texas Rangers
107. Xavier Nady, Chicago Cubs
108. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays (also qualifies at third base)
109. Nate Schierholtz, San Francisco Giants
110. Mark Teahen, Chicago White Sox (also listed in our third base rankings)
111. Randy Winn, New York Yankees
112. Tony Gwynn Jr., San Diego Padres
113. Chris Heisey, Cincinnati Reds
114. Elijah Dukes, FA
115. Ben Francisco, Philadelphia Phillies
116. Eric Patterson, Oakland Athletics
117. Ryan Church, Pittsburgh Pirates
118. Gary Matthews Jr., New York Mets
119. Willie Bloomquist, Kansas City Royals (also listed in our shortstop rankings)
120. Bill Hall, Boston Red Sox (also listed in our third base rankings)
121. Matt Joyce, Tampa Bay Rays
122. Fred Lewis, San Francisco Giants
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