I continue with the review of my 2012 Top 100 Outfielder Rankings, and today I will take a look at my Top 20 outfielders from 2012. As a result, I will split the review pieces into four parts and spread it out over the next week or so. When writing up these rankings in the offseason, I always have in the back of my mind, where would I rank this guy or that guy if I think he will be a bust next season. No one is perfect, so you are bound to rank some one way too high or way too low, because, like the stock market, one cannot predict with much certainty how every player will perform.
Onto my Review of my 2012 Top 100 Outfielder Rankings:
1. Matt Kemp , LAD
Kemp got off to a terrific start to the 2012 season, hitting .417 with 12 HRs, 24 runs and 25 RBI, picking up where he left off in 2011, and attempting to make good on his promise of hitting 50 home runs and stealing 50 bases. Well, he was on pace to hit 50 home runs, but he had stolen only 2 bases in April, so he was way off in the SB category. He injured his hamstring in early May, and after two DL stints returned from the DL in early July. He played through assorted injuries for the rest of the season, ending the year hitting .303-.367-.538 with 23 HRs, 74 runs, 69 RBI and 9 stolen bases while playing in just 106 games. He had offseason shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, so he could miss some of spring training.
2. Ryan Braun, MIL
Braun is the National League MVP for me. Braun silenced all his doubters who thought he put up his MVP numbers on PEDs in 2011. All he did was hit .319-.391-.595 with 41 HRs, 108 runs, 112 RBI and 30 stolen bases. He hit 8 more home runs, scored one less run, drove in one more run and stole three less bases than in 2011, but hit 13 points lower. Many thought his numbers would drop with Prince Fielder moving to the AL, and that was not the case. He is a top two pick for me in 2013, and I would take him over Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout if i had the #1 pick next year.
3. Justin Upton, ARI
It is well known that Upton disappointed fantasy owners this season, as I expected him to go 30-100-100-.300. He actually performed well in most categories except in the power categories. Upton hit .280-.355-.430 with 17 HRs, 107 runs, 67 RBI and 18 stolen bases. After 75 extra base hits in 2011, Upton had just 45 this season, and I wonder if his shoulder issues was the cause for the drop in power. I expect a bounce back season from him in 2013.
4. Carlos Gonzalez, COL
Gonzalez had his third straight 20-20 season in 2012, hitting .303-.371-.510 with 22 HRs, 89 runs, 85 RBI and 20 stolen bases. His power has dropped in each of the last two seasons, as his home run total has dropped from 34 in 2010 to 26 in 2011 to 22 in 2012, and it's not a coincidence that his fly ball rate has dropped in each of the last two seasons as well. He hit less than 30% of his batted balls in the air, down from 34% in 2011. He has a good shot at going 20-20 again in 2013, but the Rockies will have a new manager next season, so he may try to keep Cargo on the field more by limiting his stolen base chances.
5. Curtis Granderson, NYY
Granderson followed up his monster 2011 season with a 43 HRs, 102 run, 106 RBI and 10 stolen bases season in 2012. But, that all came with a .232-.319-.492 triple slash line and 195 strikeouts. His strikeout rate has increased in each of the last four seasons, along with his power, so he is the new three true outcome hitter in the American League.
6. Giancarlo Stanton, MIA
One of my favorite hitters in baseball, Stanton has yet to turn 23 years of age, but already has hit 93 home runs in his 2.5 seasons in the big leagues. Stanton played just 123 games, but made the most of it, by hitting .290-.361-.608 with 37 HRs, 75 runs, 86 RBI and 6 stolen bases. If he could ever play a full season, maybe 150-155 games, he could hit 50 home runs. Not many guys running around MLB that can hit 50 bombs in a season. I think he will have multiple 50 HR seasons before the age of 30.
7. Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS
Ellsbury missed more than half the season, so he was a huge disappointment in 2012. A year after his 39 HRs, 119 run, 105 RBI and 30 stolen base 2011 season, Ellsbury hit just .271-.313-.370 with 4 HRs, 43 runs, 26 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 2012. I am not sure how to project Ellsbury as he has had one great season in between two injury riddled seasons. His 2011 season is a huge aberration, and he won't be stealing 70 bases again, so he will be pretty far down my 2013 outfield rankings.
8. Jose Bautista, TOR
Bautista hit less than 30 home runs this season, just as I predicted last offseason. Well, not exactly. Bautista was limited to just 92 games this season due to a wrist injury, but he hit 27 HRs, scored 64 and drove in 65 before the injury. Wrist injuries tend to sap power for awhile, so i could see Bautista's power drop in 2013.
9. Andrew McCutchen, PIT
McCutchen put up an MVP-like season in 2012, hitting .327-.400-.553 with 31 HRs, 107 runs, 96 RBI and 20 stolen bases. His triple slash line benefitted from a very high .375 BABIP this season, so I expect his BA and power to return to normal levels in 2013.
10. Jay Bruce, CIN
Bruce quietly had a very nice season in 2012, hitting .252-.327-.514 with 34 HRs, 89 runs, 99 RBI and 9 stolen bases. He turns 26 years of age in April, and I think he can approach 40 home runs within the next few seasons. He hits in hitters park, but is one of the streakiest hitters in the game as well.
11. Josh Hamilton, TEX
There will be many words written about Hamilton this offseason, as he will be the most sought after free agent of the offseason. He and his agent have to be doing backflips seeing the Yankees struggle to hit and score runs in the playoffs. Hamilton had another solid season at the plate, and like Bruce, he was very streaky this season. He hit .285-.354-.577 with 43 HRs, 103 runs, 128 RBI and 7 stolen bases this season. He set a career high in HRs, runs and strikeouts in 2012.
12. Alex Gordon, KC
I was higher on Gordon than many others, with the thought that he would duplicate his breakout 2011 season. He did not hit for as much power as he did in 2011, but did triple slash .294-.368-.455 with 14 HRs, 51 doubles, 93 runs, 72 RBI and 10 stolen bases this season. Some of those 51 doubles should clear the fence next season, so he could approach 20 HRs again. He has benefitted from a .350+ BABIP in each of the last two seasons, covering over 1,400 plate appearances, so you can count on a .290-.300 BA from him in 2013.
13. B.J. Upton, TB
Upton provided us with another B.J. Upton type season in 2012, hitting .246-.298-.454 with 28 HRs, 79 runs, 78 RBI and 31 stolen bases. He put up his second straight 20+ HR, 30+ SB season, and will be a popular free agent this offseason. The 28 year old outfielder will never be a high BA hitter, but provides solid power and excellent stolen base totals for fantasy owners year in and year out.
14. Matt Holliday, STL
I ranked Holliday too low, as he was a top 10 outfielder in 2012 and will be among my Top 10 outfielders heading into 2013. In 2012, Holliday hit .295-.379-.497 with 27 HRs, 95 runs and 102 RBI, his seventh straight 20+ home run season, and fifth 100+ RBI season of his career. He is as steady as they come and should be ranked accordingly.
15. Hunter Pence, PHI
Pence quietly performed better at the plate than he had in 2011, even though his batting average dropped about 60 points. Pence hit just .253-.319-.425 with 24 HRs, 87 runs and 104 RBI. His 24 HRs was hit fifth straight season with 20 or more home runs. He doesn't have the sweetest swing, but is a consistent performer for fantasy owners.
16. Adam Jones, BAL
Jones finally put up the year that many felt he had in him in 2012, hitting .287-.334-.505 with 32 HRs, 103 runs, 82 RBI and 16 stolen bases. My question is: can he do this again or was this a career year in the power department. Then again, his power has steadily increased over the last two years. With the said, I don't see his HR total increasing in 2013.
17. Carl Crawford, BOS
Crawford missed most of the season due to a variety of injuries, and was eventually traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in August. But while he was healthy, he hit .282-.306-.479 with 3 HRs, 23 runs, 19 RBI and 5 stolen bases in 117 at bats. He had Tommy John surgery back in August, so there is a chance he misses the beginning of the 2013 season.
18. Desmond Jennings, TB
I obviously was a year too early on Jennings, as he struggled in his first full season in the big leagues. Lesson learned. He hit .246-.314-.388 with 13 HRs, 85 runs, 47 RBI and 31 stolen bases in 505 at bats this season. I see him hitting 15-18 HRs and stealing 35+ bags in 2013.
19. Michael Morse, WAS
Morse missed the first two months of the 2012 season, but when he returned he hit like he did in 2011, as he hit .299 or better in three of the four months he played. For the season, he hit .291-.321-.470 with 18 HRs, 53 runs and 62 RBI in just over 400 at bats. There is talk that he may get traded this offseason, and he would make sense for an American League team so he can DH or play first base. The Rays are one team that come to mind as a trade partner for the Nationals.
20. Ben Zobrist, TB
Zobrist is slated to be the Rays starting shortstop in 2013 where he will be one of the top 4-5 at the position for fantasy purposes. Zobrist put up his third 20 home run season in the last four years in 2012, hitting .270-377-.471 with 20 HRs, 88 runs, 74 RBI and 14 stolen bases.