Fantasy Baseball Rankings 2011: Review of Preseason Outfielder Rankings

PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 28: Matt Kemp #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a two run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the seventh inning of the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on September 28, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Here is the sixth in the series where I review my 2011 preseason position rankings. Today we cover my Preseason Outfielder Rankings, and my #1 outfielder was one of the biggest busts of 2011. 

Onto my preseason outfielder rankings:

1. Carl Crawford, BOS-I wrote about Crawford here. He was one of the biggest busts in 2011 for me. I wouldn't touch him till the 3rd round in 2012 drafts. What Crawford has in his favor is that he has never been THIS bad before, so he is definitely a solid bounce back candidate in 2012.

2. Ryan Braun, MIL-Braun had his first 30-30 season of his career this season, hitting .332-.397-.597 with 33 HRs, 111 RBI, 109 runs and 33 SBs. He set career highs in stolen bases and batting average, and is one of the top 2 candidates for NL MVP. Looking at his K% and BB trends, Braun could duplicate his 2011 season:

year- BB%/K%

2007- 5.9%/22.8%

2008- 6.3%/19.5%

2009- 8.1%/17.1%

2010- 8.2%/15.3%

2011- 9.2%/14.8%

I just wonder how he will perform without Prince Fielder hitting behind him in 2012. No protection didn't seem to affect Matt Kemp this year.

More review of my preseason outfielder rankings after the jump:

3. Matt Kemp, LAD-I think everyone knows I am a big fan of Matt Kemp. I predicted a 30-30 season from him this year and he said "is that all?", and came within one home run of joining the 40-40 club. As Eric Stephen from TrueblueLAreported yesterday, Kemp will be named the Baseball America Major League Player of the Year. I voted for Kemp as the NL MVP in SB Nation's NL year end awards. Kemp hit .324-.399-.586 with 39 HRs, 126 RBI, 115 runs, 40 SBs and according to Eric Stephen, he lead the National League in OPS+, total bases, runs scored and RBI. 

4. Carlos Gonzalez, COL-Cargo had a better year than I expected, hitting .295-.363-.526 with 26 HRs, 92 RBI, 92 runs and 20 stolen bases despite playing just 127 games in 2011. He played most of the season with minor injuries and toward the end of the year, he battled several wrist injuries, which ended his season early. He maintained a 20% HR/FB rate, but his fly ball rate dropped from 37% to 34%. I will be curious to see if 2012 brings more wrist injuries for Cargo, which could sap his power.

5. Matt Holliday, STL-Holliday had the quietest .296-.388-.525 season in baseball, but his home run production dropped as he played just 124 games this season due to a variety of injuries. He hit 22 home runs, drove in just 75, scored 83 runs and stole only 2 bases. The drop in his home run totals could be explained by a huge drop in his fly ball rate from 41% in 2010 to just 34% in 2011, so he could approach 30 home runs again should he increase the number of fly balls he hits. 

6. Josh Hamilton, TEX-another guy who battled injuries in 2011, Hamilton still hit .298-.346-.536 with 25 HRs, 94 RBI, 80 runs scored and 8 stolen bases. He played just 121 games this season, after playing 133 in 2010, so he is prone to injury, which should impact his value in 2012. Since becoming a full time player, Hamilton has played 156, 89, 133 and 121 games, so if you draft him in 2012, you have to expect him to miss time to the DL. 

7. Jason Heyward, ATL-Heyward was another big bust in 2011, hitting just .227-.319-.389 with 14 HRs, 42 RBI, 50 runs and 9 stolen bases. He battled injuries all year, and many expect to hear that, in fact, was the reason for his poor performance at the plate this season. ESPN's Keith Law has been quoted saying that he believes that whatever injury Heyward played with affected his swing, and it showed in his BABIP, which dropped from .335 in 2010 to .260 in 2011. Like Crawford, he is an excellent candidate for a bounce back season in 2012. And in the "just in case you didn't hear" department, ESPN's Buster Olney reported a few weeks ago that there are some people in the Atlanta front office that wants to deal Heyward. I'd be shocked if he was traded.

8. Andrew McCutchen, PIT-I predicted McCutchen would approach 20 HRs and steal 40+ bases this season back in the preseason. McCutchen hit 23 HRs, but "only" stole 23 bases, and hit just .259-.364-.456 with 23 HRs, 89 RBI, 83 runs and 23 stolen bases this season. McCutchen may have been a bit unlucky this season, as his BABIP dropped below .300 for the first time, but his batted ball data indicate he was hitting more fly balls-38% in 2010 to 42% in 2011- and maintained a solid line drive rate in the 20% range. In addition, his HR/FB rate increased from 8.7% to 12.2%, but I can't see his fly ball rate getting much higher than 42%, but still see him top his 2011 power output in 2012.

9. Justin Upton, ARI-Upton had his best year as a major leaguer in 2011, hitting .289-.369-.529 with a career high 31 HRs, 88 RBI, 105 runs and 21 SBs, establishing career highs in all 4 categories. He walked less and had a lower batting average of balls in play in 2011 vs 2010, but he also cut down his strikeout rate significantly, from 26.6% to 18.7%.

10. Shin Soo Choo, CLE-Choo makes 5 of my top 10 outfielders who underperformed expectations in 2011 due to injuries. Choo ended the season hitting .259-.344-.390 with just 8 HRs, 36 RBI, 37 runs and 12 stolen bases, but I have to think that this was a fluke season for him, and he will be back to his normal triple slash line of .300-.400-.500 in 2012.

11. Jayson Werth, WAS-another outfielder who was a bust in 2011, Werth hit just .232-.330-.389 with 20 HRs, 58 RBI, 69 runs and 19 SBs. Other than his stolen base totals, all of his other stats were down compared to his 2010 walk year. I am sure some of that was Werth pressing due to the large contract he received from the Nationals last offseason. Werth will be 33 in May 2012, so I am not sure I can predict him to improve much on his 2011 stats, but do see him improving his batting average and RBI totals.

12. Hunter Pence, PHI-Pence had to be the happiest player in baseball when he was told he was traded from the Astros to the Phillies, where he probably dreamed of playing in the World Series this season. We all know how that turned out, but Pence had an excellent season at the plate, hitting .314-.370-.502 with 22 HRs, 97 RBI, 84 runs and just 8 stolen bases. While his triple slash line and RBI totals were career bests, his HR total was his worst since 2007 and his SB total was his worst ever. I have a feeling the Phillies will allow Pence to run more in 2012, as they realize they won't be playing for the 3-run home run as much as they have in the past.

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