The outfield position reminds of a glorious place known as Cowtown. In addition to putting on a rodeo during the more temperate months, it includes yards and yards of people hocking all sorts of things at incredible discounts. You can even haggle, good naturedly, with the folks. It’s amazing. It has everything you would ever need (including cheese fries!).
Where was I? Oh right, the outfield position offers you everything you’d ever need for a fantasy baseball team. You want power? 10 outfielders hit 30+ HRs. Oh, speed’s your thing? Well, 10 players stole 39+ bases and 15 stole over 30. Basically, you need to use outfield to get multiple category contributors, one-category studs or, later in drafts, fill in your statistical needs.
One player who fills a number of needs and could be a huge discount is Michael Bourn. Over the last three years, the top three base stealers are Bourn, Carl Crawford and Rajai Davis. Bourn has 174 steals, Crawford and Davis have 125. There are almost as many steals separating #1 and #2 on the list as separating numbers 2 and 22 (Bobby Abreu with 75). Bourn is also in the top 15 in runs scored and has a respectable .283 average during that span. While Bourn is somewhat a one-trick pony, no one else has his trick in such Cowtown-esque quantities. At the early parts of a draft, I’m going to pay for consistency, and no base stealer has Bourn’s consistency. He’ll top 100 runs next year, bat at a respectable level and help you win SBs single-handedly.
It seems there is more publicity around the Rays trading BJ Upton than his actual immense potential and value. Everyone seems to put Upton in the bust box and forget about him. Well, hello, he’s just entering his age 27 season, with 90 HRs and 201 steals to his name. He’s a lock for a 20 HR, 35+ SB campaign, yep I said it. While his average might never win a title, I wouldn’t be shocked if he hit .270 this season (obviously, he’ll more likely be in the .250-.260 range). There just seems to be upside oozing out of Upton’s aura. A 30 HR, 40 SB campaign wouldn’t shock me. I’m trying to own Upton everywhere.
Until last year, Shin-soo Choo was a 20-20 lock with a .300 AVG. Then a whole bunch of bad things happened and he just sucked. A year older, a year wiser, and a year removed from his issues, Choo should regain the form that made him a top targeted player last year. A career .291 hitter (including last year’s wretched .259 AVG), Choo should be a stable, undervalued option, who could hit near .300 with 20 HRs and 20 SBs. In addition, if some of the young players take a step forward in Cleveland, Choo could get close to 100 runs and RBIs. He’ll likely fall short, but should be, at worst, around 90 of each.
At a certain point, Cameron Maybin is going to file a restraining order against my lofty amorous posts about him. When that happens, I’ll be sad. Until then, I’ll remind people that he hit nine HRs and stole 40 bases in just 137 games for the Padres as a 24-year-old. He still strikes out a lot, but he hit more balls soundly last year than ever before. Maybin will hit .270 with 13 HRs and 40 SBs, you can book it. We’ll openly mock the Marlins as they search for a centerfielder in 2012.
If someone can explain to me why Chris Young loves infield fly balls, that’d be nice. Last year, Young hit more line drives and less ground balls and fly balls than during his breakout 2010 campaign. Of course, his infield fly rate was over 20%, his BABIP was .275 (.296 in 2010) and he batted just .236. It seems, every other year, Young just decides he wants to be the infield fly king. I guess that means 2012 will be a down year for him and an up year for fantasy players. If Young manages to maintain his rate stats and keeps the infield flys down, he could post a .280 or so BABIP. If he does that, he could easily hit .250. A .250 hitter with 25-25 potential is welcome on my team. I’m betting on a mini-resurgence for Young and see him posting similar stats to 2010.
It seems like I’ve followed Dayan Viciedo’s career forever, but he won’t be 23 until March (three days before I turn 30 actually…yikes). Anyway, Viciedo has done nothing but post 20 HR campaigns in the minors. He’s had little time to prove himself at the major league level, but the path is cleared for him in 2012. With full playing time, Viciedo should approach 25 HRs, and should reach 75 RBIs or so. I’m not overly worried about his batting average even though he likes to swing a lot. At worst, he’s a .265 hitter, but he could easily improve upon that. For someone as young as he is, there’s always a good bit of risk/reward. I’d be willing to roll the dice on him.
Speaking of the Chicago White Sox revamped outfield, Alejandro de Aza is going to be the starting center fielder and bat leadoff. De Aza has batted quite well at AAA the last three seasons, and looked good for the White Sox in 171 plate appearances last year (.329/.400/.520). He has virtually no power, but is fast (although he is only 16/22 in SB attempts at the MLB level). That said, he should steal 30 bases or so, bat .290 and score 80 runs. Not bad for a late round flier.
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