3 UP / 3 DOWN: 2014 Outfield Position

Bryce Harper - Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Matt takes a look at which outfielders you should target and avoid for the 2014 fantasy baseball season.

One of the most important elements of winning in fantasy baseball comes down to finding those players that take a step forward and outperform their draft positions by breaking out or having their career years. We will be reviewing certain players at each position and discussing whether their fantasy value will be on the rise or decline heading into the 2014 baseball season and if you should target or avoid them in your draft. Every Friday we will be reviewing a new position here at faketeams.com. The next position we will be taking a look at is the outfield, a deep position that should contain plenty of late round sleepers. Now, let’s take a look at the outfielders that could improve or hurt their fantasy value during the upcoming baseball season.

↑↑↑3 UP↑↑↑

Bryce Harper – The 21 year-old outfielder is already a very popular selection in fantasy leagues. But Harper might just be starting to realize his potential. After hitting 22 HR’s along with 98 runs scored in 2012, Harper wasn’t able to match those totals in 2013. The main reasoning behind the downtick in stats was due to the nagging injuries that Harper dealt with all season. The left-handed hitter admitted towards the end of the year that he was playing hurt for most of the season after two hazardous crashes into the outfield wall in April. Add that to the fact that he was only on the field for 118 games, and the 20 HR total becomes a little more impressive. ESPN analyst Tim Kurkjian recently made the bold prediction that Harper will win the Triple Crown in 2014. That should give you an idea of the immense talent that this young phenom possesses. Bryce Harper is one of the only athletes on the planet that rivals Mike Trout in terms of pure baseball abilities. 2014 could be the year that Harper taps into that potential and establishes himself as a perennial 1st round fantasy selection.

Khris Davis – This outfielder was very impressive after receiving his call to the show in 2013 when injuries struck the Brewers organization. He displayed plenty of power, hitting 11 HR’s in just 136 AB’s (56 games) after his call-up. Over the course of a full season, that would project out to over 30 homeruns. The Brewers are considering moving Ryan Braun to right field after trading Norichika Aoki this off-season to the Kansas City Royals for Will Smith. Moving Braun to right field would open up the room for Khris Davis to start in left field, his natural position, to begin the 2014 season. The front-office in Milwaukee believes that their young outfielder could become a nice young weapon and a premier power threat in the National League Central. While most of your league mates are chasing the other Chris Davis in the 1st round, think about adding this bat later in your draft for power.

Adam Eaton – The Diamondback’s speedy prospect was a popular sleeper pick headed into the 2013 season after winning the Triple-A Pacific Coast League MVP in 2012. But the outfielder dealt with injuries and missed an ample amount of time during his first year in the big leagues. Eaton returned late in the season, and demonstrated the run scoring promise that he displayed in the minor leagues. In December, the D-Backs traded Eaton to the Chicago White Sox in a 3-team deal to acquire Mark Trumbo. The White Sox expect their new acquisition to take over in centerfield and bat lead-off for the South-Siders in 2014. If this young outfielder can stay healthy, Adam Eaton could top 100 runs scored while also contributing nice stolen base totals for the new look White Sox line-up in 2014.

3 More Up: Christian Yelich, Desmond Jennings, Eric Young Jr.

↓↓↓3 DOWN↓↓↓

Domonic Brown – The left-handed power hitter broke-out in 2013 and started to display the promise that made him a top prospect just a few years ago. But there are a few reasons to be cautious with the outfielder moving forward. After a torrid start to the season and remarkable 1st half that led to an All-Star Game selection, Brown struggled in the 2nd half. After hitting for 23 HR’s, 67 RBI’s, and 49 R’s before the All-Star break, Brown accumulated just 4 HR’s, 16 RBI’s, and 16 R’s after the break. Brown’s 2013 stat line was driven by a hot month of May when he accumulated 12 homeruns. He also failed to hit as well against left-handed pitching, which could lead to a future platoon. Brown was dealing with an achilles injury at the end of the season, which may have attributed to his 2nd half performance. But the splits are too drastic, and Brown has not performed at an elite level for long enough to be trusted as an early pick in fantasy leagues just yet.

Nick Markakis – Another one of the players that constantly gets over-drafted based on name value. Markakis was once a highly regarded prospect and had a stellar 2007 season with 23 HR’s and 112 RBI’s. But the outfielder has since failed to replicate those numbers, and hasn’t even come close to the same production since 2010. Take a look at the following stat lines from 2013…

“Player A”- 624 AB, .271 BA, 10 HR, 59 RBI, 89 R, 1 SB.

“Player B”- 473 AB, .279 BA, 10 HR, 47 RBI, 67 R, 10 SB.

The main difference between the two stat lines is that “Player A” has about 35 more RBI + R with about 10 less SB’s than “Player B”, which should equate to a similar overall value. “Player A” is obviously Nick Markakis. Any guesses as to who “Player B” might be? Hint: He was the 4th outfielder on a team that plays in one of the toughest hitters parks in the big leagues. Give up? “Player B” = Chris Denorfia, an outfielder that could be found on most leagues waiver wire throughout the season. But Markakis continues to be owned in practically all leagues. He is drafted as if there is a reasonable chance that he could produce the same level of production we saw many years ago out of the 30 year-old outfielder, which grows even more unlikely as each year passes. Let someone else overdraft Nick Markakis in 2014.

Marlon Byrd – This one should be pretty obvious. If you were thinking at all about this outfielder at all during the 2013 season, you were probably wondering when the hot streak would end. As a Marlon Byrd owner, I was just waiting for everything to come crashing back to earth so I could leave the former-Cub back on the waiver wire where I found him. But the Byrd-man just never slowed down. He finished with a career high 24 homeruns and was fantasy-relevant all season. But Byrd had averaged just 7 HR’s per year over the past 3 seasons. It would be unreasonable to expect the 36 year-old to continue to produce at the same level in 2014. The Phillies have a few younger players that could step in and take over for Byrd if he struggles. Someone will draft Marlon Byrd hoping for a repeat in production, don’t be that owner.

3 More Down: Melky Cabrera, Andre Ethier, Ichiro Suzuki.

Which outfielders do you think could break-out next year?

Which outfielders will be over-drafted in 2014?

Make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below...

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