2012 Outfield Preview
Mar 20, 2012 by Dan Wheelock
The outfield position has a lot to offer fantasy owners. 10 outfield-eligible players hit 30 or more home runs in 2011 and an additional 24 hit 20 or more. There are speed specialists (8 stole 40 or more bases) and guys with a nice combo of power and speed (10 went 20/20 or better). So if you miss out on power at first or third base, or miss out on speed at second or short, the outfield is a nice place to fill in the gaps.
Five Outfielders I Love
Justin Upton – Upton is coming off his first 30/20 season and he also hit .289. He is only 24 entering 2012 and the sky is the limit for this kid.
Nelson Cruz – man-crushes don’t die easily and Cruz is still the apple of my eye. A new off-season workout routine gives me hope that he will have just one DL stint instead of three and that could mean 40 home runs.
Michael Morse, WAS – I jumped on the Morse bandwagon before last season and he didn’t disappoint. If you think his 2011 numbers were a fluke take a look at his second half numbers from 2010.
Adam Jones, BAL – Jones hit a career-high 26 home runs and swiped 12 bags in 2011. At 26, he is just entering his prime and a 30/10 season is a good possibility.
Shin-Soo Choo, CLE – Choo had back-to-back seasons of hitting .300 with at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 2009 and 2010. I’m willing to give him a pass for last year’s mess. He was plagued with injuries and had to deal with a DUI. Choo is primed for a bounce-back campaign.
Five Outfielders I Will Avoid
Carlos Gonzalez, COL – Sure, he has a pretty high ceiling stats-wise but he also has the lowest floor (because of injury history) of any of the top-8 outfielders. I’d rather have the aforementioned Justin Upton for the same price.
Hunter Pence, PHI – Pence’s numbers didn’t change from 2010 to 2011 except for his batting average, which should regress a bit, but he’s being drafted as if he made great strides. I can get .285/80/25/90/10 cheaper somewhere else.
Carlos Beltran – Beltran had a resurgent season a year ago, hitting .300 with 22 home runs. I just don’t trust the soon-to-be 35-year-old. He has averaged just 96 games played over the last three seasons.
Brett Gardner, NYY – I’m not a huge fan of speed specialists in mixed leagues, especially ones that only hit .260 or .270. Give me a 20/20 player over Gardner any day.
Five Mixed-League Sleepers
Lucas Duda, NYM – I expect Duda to take full advantage of the new Citi Field dimensions in 2012. He hit .292 with 10 home runs and 50 RBIs in 302 at-bats down the stretch for the Mets last year.
Brennan Boesch, DET – Boesch made strides in his batting average and his at-bats per home run as a sophomore in 2011. This year he gets to hit second in front of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Ever heard of them? Fastballs all day for Boesch.
Emilio Bonifacio, MIA – The speedy center fielder will hit between Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez this year. Ozzie Guillen loves to run and Bonifacio is eligible at three positions. What’s not to love?
Mike Carp, SEA – Carp hit 33 home runs last year between Triple-A and the majors. The Mariner’s order could be pretty good this year with youngsters Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero getting better.
Delmon Young, DET – Young tore it up after getting traded to Detroit last season. He is slated to hit fifth behind Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Yes please!
Five Only-League Sleepers
Lorenzo Cain, KC – Cain seems to be a lock to be KC’s starting center fielder this year. He is tearing it up so far in the spring. Cain went 16/16 at Triple-A last year and he will be leading off for a solid Royals lineup.
Alex Presley, PIT – Presley is the Pirates’ starting left fielder this year and could end up hitting leadoff. He swiped 31 bags between Triple-A and the majors last year despite missing a month with a thumb injury. He also has some sneaky pop in his bat.
Ryan Raburn, DET – he has 6 home runs so far this spring and has the starting second base gig. Expect a slow start, but when the weather heats up so will Raburn.
Alejandro De Aza, CHW – With Juan Pierre and Carlos Quentin gone, De Aza will have a full-time outfield gig and hit leadoff for the White Sox this year. He hit .329 with 4 home runs and 12 stolen bases in 152 at-bats last year. Extrapolation leads to some pretty nice numbers.
Photo from Flickr user MissChatter
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