This post is the sixth in a series of position rankings catered specifically to fantasy baseball head-to-head points leagues and the first of three focused on outfielders.
Review infield rankings:
All hitters in this post and previous/future points league rankings are based on these scoring values:
(1B x 1) + (2B x 2) + (3B x 3) + (HR x 4) + (R x 1) + (RBI x 1) + (BB x 1) + (SB x 2) + (SO x -1) = Total
For my thoughts on draft strategies and stats to track in H2H points leagues, consult the top of the catcher's rankings post here.
Notes on Outfielders:
Depth - As expected, outfield has by far the most depth of any position with at least 30 players able to reach 400 or more points in 2012. While Ellsbury, Kemp, J. Upton, Gonzalez and Granderson should all approach or exceed 500 points, making them worthy of a 1st or 2nd Rd. pick, I'd target elite pitching or position scarcity early in the draft as opposed to choosing one of those studs.
Bounce backs - Outfield offers quite a few bounce-back candidates that could be potential steals later in the draft. Pay close attention to ADP regarding Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth, Jason Heyward, Shin-Soo Choo and others and don't let them slip from your radar on draft day.
One year wonders - Players like Melky Cabrera, Jeff Francoeur, Matt Joyce and Alex Gordon all came from nowhere last year to post by far the best seasons of their career. It seems possible that Gordon could be a mainstay, but don't just look at their point totals from last season and expect a repeat.
Angels in the outfield - Four players from the Angels made the Top 50 outfielders (Hunter, Wells, Kendrick, Bourjos) with Abreu not far behind and Trout and Trumbo both potential candidates to see significant ABs there. Hunter seems the safest bet of the bunch to retain his 2011 ABs as well as Kendrick thanks to his multi-position eligibility, otherwise, draft the others with caution as playing time could be a serious issue in Anaheim.
Rankings after the jump:
2012 Fantasy Baseball Head-to-Head Points League Outfield Rankings: 1-25
1) Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS
2011 Points Scored: 620
Jacoby Ellsbury put his injury-riddled, soap opera of a 2010 season behind him fast as he scored more points than any other hitter in 2011 thanks to his newfound power stroke. The Red Sox leadoff hitter finished with 32 HR in ’11, 23 more than his previous career high, which directly led to his 119 runs scored (25+ career high) and 115 RBI (45+ career high). Even better, his power didn’t come at the cost of a significant SO% (1% + career average). Otherwise, his AVG, OBP and SB output were vintage Ellsbury, with his .336 BABIP actually below his ’07-09 average. Even if you assume his HR are likely to drop in the mid to low twenties, he should still come close to 600 points in 2012 atop the dominant Sawx lineup, especially if he steals another 5-10 more bases. Giddy up!
2) Matt Kemp, LAD
2011 Points Scored: 581
Matt Kemp came one HR away from being the fifth member of one of baseball’s most exclusive groups, the 40/40 club, which should tell you just how out-of-this-world his 2011 season was. And, it’s not as if he couldn’t repeat it in 2012, it’s just more likely he won’t. Expect his .324 AVG to decline a bit, and with that his RBI and run totals, since his BABIP was .380 and 30 points above his career average. His 23.4 career SO% is also something to keep in mind, and while it didn’t hurt him in ’11 (thanks to a 3% BB increase), it didn’t go away either. Even with all that, 30/30 almost seems like a lock, which isn’t something you can say for any other player in the MLB.
3) Jose Bautista, TOR
2011 Points Scored: 559
Read my Jose Bautista profile here. Depending on your league, Bautista should qualify at 3B/OF in 2012.
4) Justin Upton, ARZ
2011 Points Scored: 81
J-Up put up big numbers in 2011 and probably will for a while as he will only be 24 years old at the start of this season. Besides BB%, all of Upton’s stats trended in the right direction, including his SO% which dropped 5% below his career average. Good news is he could even improve on his AVG next season as both his BABIP and LD% came in just under his career averages. Things are looking up for Upton, with a 30/30 season a not too distant possibility.
5) Carlos Gonzalez, COL
2011 Points Scored: 420
CarGo missed 35 games in 2011 due to a nagging and at times serious wrist injury. Yet he was still able to score the sixteenth most points at fantasy baseball’s most competitive position thanks to a .295/.363/.526 (899 OPS) slash line, 26 HR, 92 RBI, 20 SB and 92 runs scored. He still has not played in a full season and injuries seem to be somewhat of a concern (even in his explosive 2010 season he missed 17 games). Therefore, for 2012 I think it’s reasonable to split his ’10 (536) and ’11 (420) output and expect somewhere between 480-500 points for Gonzalez in 2012.
6) Curtis Granderson, NYY
2011 Points Scored: 543
In August of 2010, The Grandy Man switched to a more pull approach at the plate which led to 17 HR in the second half of that season, and a whopping 41 HR in 2011 (second most in MLB). Not only that, but he set a career high in SB, RBI, BB and runs scored in his eighth season and second with the pinstripes. It’s hard to predict 41 HR again for someone of his stature, and it’s unlikely that as he gets older his SB continue to rise, but his AVG should remain close the same while he could see a slight decrease from last season’s SO%. It would seem to me a 30/20 season is more likely in ’12 which should put Granderson just shy of 500 points.
7) Andrew McCutchen, PIT
2011 Points Scored: 446
There was a lot of give and take from Andrew McCutchen in 2011. On one hand, he hit 7 more HR than 2010. On the other hand, he stole 10 less bases. On the other hand, his BB% rose 3%. And on the other hand (McCutchen has four hands apparently), his SO% rose 5%. So, what happens now? McCutchen is only 24 years old with time to develop a swing that can increase his SLG without killing his AVG and SO% and it would seem that he’ll take that next step in 2012 with a likely increase to 30-35 SB in the meantime.
8) Shane Victorino, PHI
2011 Points Scored: 441
In 2011, The Flyin’ Hawaiian failed to reach 600 PA for the first time since 2007 (thumb injury), however, thanks to an increase in SLG in the first half, his overall production hardly suffered from it. When Victorino returned from the DL his production never came back and his AVG/OBP/SLG all significantly dropped. His thumb woes should be behind and if Victorino is able to return healthy for 600+ PA in 2012, and maintain a level close to last season’s SLG, there’s a good chance he drastically outperforms his ADP, even if his SB total continues to slowly decline with age.
9) Hunter Pence, PHI
2011 Points Scored: 433
After three nearly identical seasons from 2008 to 2010, Hunter Pence (his name just sounds like a baseball player) switched things up a bit in 2011. His HR and SB totals both dropped while his AVG rose (22 points + career average). Still, all in all, it was about what you’d expect from Pence and about what you can expect from him this season. Considering he was traded to the Phillies before the deadline, there’s a good chance his RBI and run totals could increase from last year’s first half and his HR and SB should return somewhere close to his norm, whereas he likely won’t repeat his .361 BABIP.
10) Shin-SooChoo, CLE
2011 Points Scored: 177
Simply put, 2011 was an utter mess for Shin-SooChoo in large part, OK, completely due to injury. In his two full seasons, Choo averaged 440 points with his ratios trending in the right direction. There’s no reason he shouldn’t be able to get back on track in 2012 and return to his consistent 20/20 output with an AVG around .330.
11) Ben Zobrist, TB
2011 Points Scored: 453
Read my Ben Zobrist profile here. Depending on your league, Zobrist should qualify at 2B/OF in 2012.
12) Josh Hamilton, TEX
2011 Points Scored: 397
It would be fun to project Josh Hamilton’s points for 600+ PA, but since that’s only happened once, it really isn’t realistic. Hamilton’s 2010 AL MVP season earned him 487 points in this format, therefore, it seems fair to factor in that season (his best), injury and last season’s total and hope that Hamilton could score somewhere close to 440 points in 2012. At this point, his name costs more than his worth and his already achy body isn’t getting younger.
13) Alex Gordon, KC
2011 Points Scored: 457
The Hype Machine that once was Alex Gordon finally started producing some results in 2011 with a .303/.376/.502 (.879 OPS) slash line, 23 HR, 87 RBI, 17 SB and 101 runs scored. There’s reason to believe his AVG could decrease as he’s unlikely to repeat his .358 BABIP, but, with his SO% and BB% trending in the right direction, it might not be as much of a concern. Gordon turns 28 in February and is in the middle of his prime. It’s unfortunate it took him so long to get this point, but now that he’s reached it, Gordon figures to be a mainstay of the Top 15 at the position for the near future thanks to his pedigree and 5-tool talent.
14) Lance Berkman, STL
2011 Points Scored: 454
Read my Lance Berkman profile here. Depending on your league, Berkman should qualify at 1B/OF in 2012.
15) Ichiro Suzuki, SEA
2011 Points Scored: 404
Ichiro had by far the worst season of his MLB career in 2011 and it’s easiest to attribute it to his age (38 years old). However, in 2010 he was 37 and put up close to his career averages which currently sit at 506 points per season. There’s reason to believe his .295 BABIP can return closer to his norm while his SO% continues to trend downward. It would be wise not to simply brush off ’11 entirely when considering drafting him and his SB totals could continue to decline, but overall, a better season in 2012 is almost certainly in order for the future Hall of Famer.
16) Matt Holliday, STL
2011 Points Scored: 363
Things are heading in the wrong direction for Matt Holliday, and the absence of Albert Pujols in St. Louis isn’t likely to help matters. His 30 HR days are getting further and further in the rearview mirror while his double-digit SB potential is history (feel lucky if you get 5 SB from him in 2012). Meanwhile, nagging injuries are starting to pile up and take their toll as his .296/.388/.525 (.912 OPS) slash line, 22 HR, 75 RBI and 83 runs scored were amongst his career worst. But, when that’s a player’s worst, it shows how good that player can be. In all fairness, ’11 was the first sign of wear on his body and if he shakes that in ’12, there’s a chance for an additional 100-150 PA, 4-5 HR and 10+ RBI and runs scored to accompany a likely increase in his BABIP and decrease in his SO%.
17) Carl Crawford, BOS
2011 Points Scored: 281
I really can’t envision Carl Crawford’s 2012 season being any worse than last year. The question is how much better can it be? Prior to last season, there was an argument to be made that he was amongst the top three outfielders in fantasy baseball, and it would seem unlikely that that talent/potential all vanished in one year in Boston. Questions will still remain as to where he will hit in the lineup and whether his big market surroundings are a good fit for him, but in terms of statistics, there is room to improve on his .299 BABIP, 19.3 SO% and 18 SB (all career worsts). Similar to Ichiro, I wouldn’t entirely disregard last season, but I’d take a chance at a significant bounce back, depending on cost, of course.
18) Nick Markakis, BAL
2011 Points Scored: 416
Nick Markakis has sat on the cusp of stardom now since 2007, but for whatever reason has been unable to breakthrough and become one of the premiere outfielders in baseball. With that being said, what he lacks in “wow” factor, he makes up for in consistency as he has averaged 433 points over his six MLB seasons and he could return to or exceed that number again with a better BABIP and slight increase to his HR/FB rate in 2012. If not, he won’t hurt you with strikeouts and is as sure of a bet as any, after say Hunter Pence (#10), to reach 400 points again next season.
19) Desmond Jennings, TB
2011 Points Scored: 192 (minor leagues)
Desmond Jennings showed what all the fuss was about in August when he posted a .333/.415/.611 (1.026 OPS), 7 HR, 12 RBI, 9 SB and 16 runs scored in 124 PA. That month’s production didn’t carry over into September, but proved that he was worthy of the hype surrounding him since 2006. For 2012, a good comparison would be Jacoby Ellsbury’s 2008 (his first full MLB season) with about 7+ HR, 10+ RBI and -7 SB.
20) Jay Bruce, CIN
2011 Points Scored: 387
Bruce Almighty finally put a full season together for his owners and it paid off with a .256/.341/.474 (.814 OPS), 32 HR, 97 RBI and 84 runs scored. Bruce should be the Reds’ cleanup hitter to start 2012 batting directly behind Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto, which means the RBI won’t be going anywhere anytime soon while the AVG could increase via his LD% percentage and BABIP. While his SO% is still his biggest weakness, he countered it to some success with an increase in BB%. But, it’s the power you pay for with Bruce and it’s power you should get as he doesn’t turn 25 until April. Last season’s 32 HR are likely to be his floor for the foreseeable future with 40 not too far off in the distance.
21) Michael Bourn, ATL
2011 Points Scored: 432
Last season was a career year for Michael Bourn as he continued to solidify his identity (Get it? Bourn Identity … anyways) as the league’s top speedster with 61 SB. Not only that, but he finished with a career-best .294/.349/.386 (.734 OPS), 2 HR, 50 RBI and 94 runs scored between Houston and Atlanta. It’s possible he could repeat his .369 BABIP considering his speed, but it would be better to assume it drops closer to .341 (his career average). With that the runs, RBI and SB opportunities could take a slight hit, but I don’t see a significant drop-off (maybe closer to 50 SB instead of 60) as Bourn enters his last season of arbitration.
22) Carlos Lee, HOU
2011 Points Scored: 428
Read my Carlos Lee profile here. Depending on your league, Lee should qualify at 1B/OF in 2012.
23) Mike Stanton, MIA
2011 Points Scored: 357
Mike Stanton is a beast. I love the guy and am excited to watch him hit moon shots for the next 10-15 seasons, but I’m not excited to have him in a H2H points league. Why? He strikes out way, way, way too much. Close to 30% of his ABs, to be exact. It’s very possible he reaches 40 HR, 100 RBI, 10 SB and 90 runs in 2012, but, since it’s likely to be accompanied by 180 or more strikeouts, it makes it next to impossible for him to reach anything far beyond 400 points. He’s only 22 years old and there is plenty of time for him to improve his SO% rate, I just don’t see it being drastic enough in ’12 to merit a ranking much higher than this. And I might be being generous. Let someone else waste the high pick he’s sure to cost and go with a more veteran, solid producer at a much cheaper cost.
24) Adam Jones, BAL
2011 Points Scored: 355
Adam “Not Pac-Man” Jones had his best overall season in 2011 and is just now entering his prime. It’s very encouraging that his SO% declined at the same time he increased his SLG% and ISO% and makes a 30 HR season seem entirely possible sometime in the near future (although 25-30 seems more likely). Expect his AVG to stabilize somewhere around the .280 range while he could reach as many as 15 SB in 2012. If all goes well, and he gets a little luck in his BABIP, Jones could have a similar season to Alex Gordon’s ’11.
25) Logan Morrison, MIA
2011 Points Scored: 301
If Tweets accumulated points, Logan Morrison would jump to number one on this list with a bullet. Instead, we’ll just have to hope his stats continue to propel him up the charts, and there’s reason to believe they will. Since Ozzie Guillen loves Twitter almost as much as Morrison’ it’s unlikely he is sent down to the minors next season for his social media addiction and instead receives 100+ PA in 2012. With that, Morrison is capable of another 4-5 HR and possibly a drastic increase in his AVG/BABIP as his .265 last season was way below the MLB average. Let’s say a .270 AVG and increased power batting fifth in the Marlins new-and-improved lineup. #LoveLoMo2012
Ryan Braun, MIL
2011 Points Scored: 587
As a Milwaukee Brewers fan, this one hurts. Word is still out as to how much time (if any) Ryan Braun will miss due to his PED/banned substance allegations, but the consensus is even if he acted out of ignorance and not intent, he’ll still face the mandatory 50 game suspension. Therefore, to keep things extremely simple (this is by no means an exact science), his 150 games from 2011 become 100 in 2012 and his 587 turn into 392. Factor in a slight regression and he could score somewhere between 370-390. Good news is the suspension will be in April/May not August/September during H2H playoffs.
Is there an outfielder you thought should've made the Top 25? Comment below with any questions and check back tomorrow to see outfielders 26-50.