Justin Upton has all the makings of a first-ranked right fielder, but a late-emergence and a park at altitude keep him from that honor for now. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Right field is only disappointing when compared to the position to its left. It's still the second-best spot in the outfield, and it's got some of the best pop you'll find at any position.
We've been over Jose Bautista and Carlos Gonzalez a few times now, but let's recap: Bautista qualifies at third for at least one more year as well as right, and Gonzalez, thanks to Coors, remains a fantasy beast.
Justin Upton just missed five-star value last year, but I'm not quite ready to throw him in there yet. If he can add a few more steals, or consistently keep his average and RBI up, he'd be an easier sell. But there's nothing wrong with being a hair away from five-star value, either.
Mike Stanton's future is brighter than his present, but don't discount the today. He's easily capable of clearing $20 in value with his prodigious power, and the Marlins have surrounded him with a better lineup than the previous one. Jayson Werth was a productive fantasy player last year, even with all of the disappointment. He doesn't have to rebound completely to be worth $20. Jay Bruce's power makes him appealing for the same reasons as Stanton, and his park is likely friendlier. There's no wrong answer in this whole tier, especially when Hunter Pence is bringing up the rear.
Nelson Cruz has a four-star bat with two-star health. Let's split the difference. Carlos Beltran is another who maybe can't be counted on for a full season, but will be able to easily produce close to four-star value. His new park will deflate offense, but so did his previous parks. A change would be playing in a hitter's park.
Ben Zobrist is more valuable at the thinner second, but he's still a three-star player regardless of position. There's another universe somewhere where Nick Markakis retained both his patience and his power, but it's not this one. Lance Berkman likely won't be as good as last year, but he doesn't have to be in order to be productive. Corey Hart, Nick Swisher, and Michael Cuddyer are all above-average hitters with parks that favor them. Torii Hunter has to produce along the same lines without that kind of park assist, but he's another hitter in a better lineup this year than last year. Ichiro Suzuki isn't your prototypical three hitter, but as long as he gets steals and R, he'll contribute to three categories. Matt Joyce won't get full-time playing time, but he does have the bat to produce over 500 PA for you.
|Two-Star ($9 & under)|
|De Aza, Alejandro||RF||CHA|
|Cespedes, Yoenis||CF, RF||OAK|
I like Jason Heyward's potential in a way this ranking doesn't fairly represent. But I'm not willing to pay for it until I start to see more of it in-game. Andre Ethier's splits make him worth far less in fantasy than many people consider him to be. Shin-Soo Choo is a four-star talent normally, but his tough 2011 has me a little leery, if only because the position is so deep. Were he elsewhere, I'd suggest taking the flier on him and expecting greatness, but there's little reason to run that risk here.
Jeff Francoeur was pretty good in 2011, but he doesn't have the track record that makes me care much about that. If you can get him cheap, by all means, but it's likely someone else will pay for his 2011 instead of his 2012. The fences moving in at Citi Field have me excited for Lucas Duda, but until we see just how much that impacts the hitters -- and if Duda is entrenched at a position -- I'll be more cautious with him. Again, he qualifies at two deep positions.
Carlos Quentin's value takes a hit with the move to Petco Park. David DeJesus should be pretty good once again, now that he's, for the first time ever, in a park that doesn't hate left-handed hitters. Cespedes and Harper are potentially both capable of more than this, but without knowing just how much playing time they will get in 2012 (or if they will get any, in Harper's case) it's tough to go much higher on them than this. Partial season plays putting up under $10 is nothing to be ashamed of. Will Venable doesn't excel in any one area, but between the decent homer and steals totals, as well as the R he should get atop the Padres' order, you can squeeze $5-8 out of him easy.
Loads of playing time questions -- all of these players are good choices for AL- and NL-only, but with the right number of plate appearances, your Bryan LaHairs and Chris Denorfias and Dayan Viciedos become a lot more interesting.