This is the sixth article in the series of our 2013 fantasy baseball rankings looking at the position of outfield. This year we see a changing of the guard in the top 20 as several young stars, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Jason Heyward are now firmly entrenched in the group.
The biggest question mark in the top 20 to me is Jacoby Ellsbury who was injured once again last season and when he did play, he showed none of the power that we saw in 2011. I think for forecasting purposes, throw that 2011 year out and anything he gives you over 10-15 home runs take as gravy on your fantasy baseball team.
Here is a look at the top 20 fantasy baseball outfielders for 2013.
1. Ryan Bruan - 2011 was 30-30, last year was 40-30 so 2013 should be somewhere in between those two seasons.
2. Mike Trout - is it possible we just saw his career season as he was turning 21? Underlying stats say there is regression coming across the board, but I have still have him slightly ahead of Kemp.
3. Matt Kemp - expected to be ready for the start of the season as he comes back from arthroscopic shoulder surgery. Missed two months of the season with a hamstring injury that impacted him on the base paths. For now I have him with a conservative total for stolen bases in the low 20s.
4. Andrew McCutchen - I expect some pullback in his home run total but he should steal a couple of more bases.
5. Giancarlo Stanton - I think 40 home runs and 100 RBI is a given if healthy and he isn’t walked twice a game. Runs scored may be impacted by weak lineup around him.
6. Carlos Gonzalez - fly ball rate fell for the third straight season which makes a return to 30 home runs again unlikely unless he reverses that trend. Bating average on the road fell for the second year in a row; luckily his home park is Coors Field where he hit .368 in 2012.
7. Josh Hamilton - swung for the fences in his contract year, pounding out 43 home runs, but also jumping his strikeout rate by 10 percentage points. Batting average will not return to .300 unless a higher contact rate returns. His 562 at bats were the most since 2008 so pay attention to the every other year 500+ at bat totals and project accordingly.
8. Matt Holliday - solid player every year but as he starts to move closer to his mid-30s, the confidence in projecting similar type season slowly starts to fade. Stolen bases have dropped the last couple of seasons as well as his contact rate so any drop in performance will likely be gradual and not cliff like.
9. Curtis Granderson - strikeout rate rose for the 4th consecutive season which puts the top of his batting average now in the .245 to .250 range. Has stolen 20+ bases every other season since 2007 so maybe he runs a little more this year.
10. Yoenis Cespedes - had little trouble adjusting to major league pitching in his first season. Second half of the year serves as a good preview for what’s to come, hitting .311 with 14 home runs, 46 RBI and 10 steals.
11. Justin Upton -power disappeared in a big way last year so perhaps there was an injury that impacted him. With the trade rumors now behind him and playing with his brother in Atlanta, he should be back closer to his 2011 season.
12. Jose Bautista - the dreaded two words for fantasy owners to hear in regards to power hitters; wrist surgery. Bautista is not expected to face live pitching until spring training begins as he recovers which casts a fair amount of caution in projecting is home run numbers.
13. Jason Heyward - two good signs from Heyward, one, he cut his ground ball rate by 10 percentage points which led to his home run increase and two, he was consistent both halves of the year. If you check his first and second half splits, every single number in the key counting stat categories were almost identical.
14. Jay Bruce - has hit more home runs every season than the previous year so there is no reason for that trend not to continue in 2013.
15. Jacoby Ellsbury - throw out his 2011 power outburst and 2012 home run pace was right in line with previous seasons. Ten home runs seems much more likely than 20 at this point.
16. Bryce Harper - should get his first of many 20-20 seasons this year. Hit 14 home runs after the All Star break in 285 break, but hitting second in order limits his RBI chances.
17. Adam Jones - home run total impacted by an additional 80 at bats and a few more fly balls going over the fence. I expect his home run total to pull back under 30 in 2013.
18. Shin-Soo Choo - always seems to flirt with the 20-20 line, but with no real upside beyond that, other outfielders are starting to pass him up in the rankings.
19. B.J. Upton - has a better than 50-50 chance this becomes his first 30-30 season though I think he comes up just short of that mark. Batting average keeps him out of the top tiers of outfielders.
20. Alex Gordon - regression across the board in all categories in 2012 as expected, expect something between his 2011 and 2012 season.