Here is the sixth article in the series for our 2012 fantasy baseball rankings looking at the position of outfield. Lots of change in position of the top 20 outfielders from last season as several players had comeback seasons and others suffered injuries which impacted their performance.
Here is a look at the top 20 fantasy baseball outfielders for 2012 with my comments. A longer list with 2012 fantasy baseball projections is available in the 2012 FBT Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide which is on sale now.
1. Matt Kemp – number of at bats the last four seasons, 606, 606, 602, 602 so that number to project is the easy part. His 2011 season was magical in every category but I don’t think he maintains that rate in 2012 as his fly ball rate and home runs per fly ball jumped from past seasons. He should be right in between 2010 and 2011 in terms of power with lots of stolen bases. I have him almost dead-even with CarGo so I am comfortable with flip-flopping them between now and draft day.
2. Carlos Gonzalez – his numbers weren’t quite as far off from 2010 as one might think since he had 106 less at bats. Hit much better at Coors Field again with a .331 average compared to .252 on the road. Home run rate picked up the second half of the season when he hit 13 in 163 at bats. Neck-and-neck with Kemp for the first outfielder to go off the board.
3. Jacoby Ellsbury – his home run total was a surprise as the rate for his fly balls going over the fence was so much higher than any other season it would be unrealistic to expect something similar in 2012. More home runs of course means less time on the bases which yields less stolen bases so you need to adjust those two numbers accordingly depending on how many home runs you expect him to hit in 2012. Hit 21 home runs after the All-Star Break with 11 stolen bases.
4. Curtis Granderson – he ended 2010 with 17 home runs in 241 at bats after the All-Star Break and he was able to carry that same home run rate over the course of the entire 2011 season. His strikeout rate has risen for three straight seasons as he has swung for the fences more and he has enjoyed hitting in Yankee Stadium where he now has 36 home runs in 523 at bats there. His fly balls flew over the fence at a much higher rate in 2011 so expect that to pull back slightly.
5. Justin Upton – biggest reason for improvement in 2011 was good health and he was able to drastically cut his strikeout rate by 10 percentage points. Crushed the ball at home with 20 home runs and a .333 batting average at Chase Field. Increased his power output the second half of the season with 16 home runs in 244 at bats.
6. Josh Hamilton – numbers were in line with 2010 as was another season with time missed due to injury. Has one season with more than 518 at bats in four years which limits his chances to ever exceed his projected dollar value knowing he his bound to miss time at some point during the year.
7. Matt Holliday – nagging injuries impacted him at the plate as his strikeout rate was up five percentage points, but from a counting stats perspective, he would have outperformed his 2010 numbers if he had reached the same number of at bats as he had in 2010. Likely goes a few picks later in drafts this year since he missed time with injury which gives you a chance for a little profit.
8. Mike Stanton - showed what you want to see from a player in his first full season with growth the second half of the year. All numbers were higher the second half of the season including his walk rate which was significantly higher. Hit .271 in 214 at bats with 16 home runs and 36 RBI while drawing 40 walks after the All-Star Break.
9. Andrew McCutchen – traded contact for power which resulted in a lower batting average but more home runs. More at bats hitting third in the lineup than the previous season helped to boost his RBI total. Hit just .216 the second half of the season as strikeout rate ratcheted up.
10. Carl Crawford – a miserable first season with the Red Sox as he looked lost at the plate and when he did get on base he wasn’t running with only 24 stolen base attempts for the season. It was just recently announced that he had left wrist surgery which could impact his readiness for Opening Day. Struggled against left-handed pitching batting just .195 in 164 at bats. It stands to reason for a bounce back season in his second year of a massive contract but not all of the way back to 2010 levels as his strikeout rate has risen the last three seasons..
11. Hunter Pence – the move mid-season to the Phillies led to an increase in all of his numbers except for stolen bases as he attempted just two steals in 54 games with his new team. Has hit .318 in his career at Citizens Bank Park in 129 at bats with three home runs and 18 RBI. Expect more home runs in 2012 and fewer stolen bases than in past seasons.
12. Jay Bruce – it looked like he made improvements in 2011 but really the main ingredient was an additional 76 at bats then the previous season. His RBI total was helped by hitting a spot higher in the lineup in 2011. Was better when hitting 5th (15 home runs, 46 RBI) vs. 4th (10 home runs, 33 RBI) in the batting order.
13. Shin-Soo Choo – injuries limited to half of a season in 2010. Nothing in his stats showed much change so there is nothing to suggest he won’t be at his 2009-2010 levels in 2012. He has been getting knocked lower in mock drafts which is good news for astute fantasy owners.
14. Nelson Cruz – injuries have held him under 476 at bats the last three seasons. Massive difference when he hits at home compared to the road. He hit .293 vs. .233 (2011), .371 vs. .267 (2010) and .286 vs. .232 (2009). Given the amount of time he misses each season, you need to have a good outfielder on reserve to fill in for him.
15. Desmond Jennings – hit .294 for his career in the minor leagues with an 85% success rate stealing bases. He is not a 20 home run hitter yet so don’t make the mistake of pro-rating his power numbers out over the course of a full season. Should be in the low teens in terms of power and should be close to 40 stolen bases for the season.
16. B.J. Upton – batting average tanked at home with a .209 average in 273 at bats at Tropicana Field. Strikeout rate remained the same which limits his batting average. Would really like to see him get a full season hitting second or third in the batting order where he has hit much better in his career. If that happens, bump his value up a notch or two.
17. Michael Bourn – stolen bases did not fall off with the trade to Atlanta last season as he had 29 attempts in 53 games. Should be close to 60 steals again but his batting average will be lower after an inflated hit rate in 2011. Has hit .273 with a home run and 11 RBI in 43 games at Turner Field in his career.
18. Shane Victorino – reversed decline against right-handed pitching from the previous two seasons which helped to boost this batting average back up. Stolen bases were under 20 for the first time in the last five seasons, but that was due more to a lack of attempts rather than a decline in skill.
19. Corey Hart – better second half than first when he hit .297 with 16 home runs in 266 at bats. More than half of his at bats came hitting first in the batting order which reduced his RBI total so that should be headed up as he moved lower in the order in 2012.
20. Alex Gordon - magical season in 2011 but don’t pay for a repeat. Batting average was propelled by some luck, plus the fact he finally hit left-handed pitching. Kansas City was aggressive on the bases last season which drive his stolen base total.
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