2011 Fantasy Baseball: Top 15 Outfielders

Look for Carlos Gonzalez to have a monster 2011.

Preseason fantasy baseball position rankings continue here at FBS. We have already listed fantasy baseball catchers, and second basemen, so now it’s on to the outfielders. Such a deep position calls for a top-15 list. Here are my early pre-spring training rankings for the OF position.

Please Note: Stats are listed as: Average, HR, RBI, Runs, SB/Attempts and AB. The player’s age at the start of the 2011 season is next to his team’s name.
1) Carlos Gonzalez (25) No. 1 RF
2010: .336-34-117-111-26/34 (587)
Gonzalez didn’t disappoint in his first full season in MLB. A five-tool player, Gonzalez did everything well across the board in ’10 and finished third in the NL MVP vote. Colorado signed Gonzalez to a seven-year, $80.5 million contract, making him the least experienced player in MLB history to receive such a large deal. Only 25 years old, Gonzalez has the talent to improve on his ’10 numbers. Even with the humidor, Coors Field is still a hitter’s ballpark. Ranking at the top of baseball in HR and runs scored per game. Gonzalez is my pick for first outfielder off the board in ’11.
2) Josh Hamilton (29) No. 1 CF
2010: .359-32-100-95-8/9 (518)
The reigning AL MVP and batting champion continued to fulfill his talent promise in ’10. After injuries limited his ’09 season to 89 games, Hamilton regained the level of production he had in ’08. Few players can match his batting average and power numbers, while his home ballpark and deep lineup add to his appeal. The way Hamilton plays, especially in the OF, makes him an injury risk. It also makes him a great player. The only on the field downside is that he attempted just 9 steals last season and has never attempted more than 11 in his four year career.
3) Ryan Braun (27) No. 1 LF
2010: .304-25-103-101-14/17 (619)
The former NL Rookie of the Year had a great season for the Brewers and his fantasy baseball owners last year, all while having the lowest HR total of his four-year career. Look for Braun’s home run total to get back up into the 30s. He’ll be hitting in the middle of a powerful lineup and in a park that ranks towards the top in total HR hit. It would benefit Braun if Milwaukee keeps 1B Prince Fielder for the entire season, but even with the risk of the Brewers trading Fielder, Braun deserves to be drafted as a top-5 fantasy OF.
4) Nelson Cruz (30) No. 2 RF
2010: .318-22-78-60-17/21 (399)

Cruz was able to put up good numbers last year even despite having to go on the DL three separate times due to hamstring injuries. He has recently said that staying healthy for the entire season is his goal and that he has been training to change his running style in the off-season. Cruz feels that the new training regimen, along with not playing winter ball, has helped his legs feel better for the upcoming season.
5) Justin Upton (23) No. 3 RF
2010: .273-17-69-73-18/26 (495)

I put Upton this far up the rankings because of his ability. It is only a matter of time before he firmly establishes himself as one of the best players in the game. Upton is still only 23 years old and has 30/30 potential. He put up good numbers last year even though he missed time in the last month of the season. I would rather take a chance on him improving than going with a more established veteran who has already got paid.
6) Carl Crawford (29) No. 2 LF
2010: .307-19-90-110-47/57 (600
Speaking of players who already got paid, here is Carl Crawford! I try and stay away from players who just signed a large contract in the off-season but Crawford has the ability and opportunity to lead the league in steals and runs. He is going to bat at the top of the order in one of the most potent lineups in baseball. Even with a returning Jacoby Ellsbury, Crawford’s stolen base chances shouldn’t diminish in ’11.
7) Matt Holliday (31) No. 3 LF
2010: .312-28-103-95-9/14 (596)

Holliday’s track record is fantastic, as he has never hit below .300 aside from his rookie year. While his power numbers are down compared to his days in Colorado, his consistent production is tough to match. His home ballpark is toward the bottom in terms of HR and runs scored per game but that didn’t seem to adversely affect him in his first full-season in St. Louis. Batting behind Albert Pujols certainly helps. The biggest downside to Holliday is that he doesn’t steal a lot of bases. After a career high of 28 in ’08, he hasn’t stolen 15 bags in a year since.
8 Jason Heyward (21) No. 4 RF
2010: .277-18-72-83-11/17 (520)

Even at 21, Heyward may be unparalleled in terms of raw talent. In his first year in MLB last season, he showed why there was so much hype surrounding him. He hit .337 in May before sliding to .181 in June because of a thumb injury. After his DL stint he hit .356 in 15 July games. Heyward continued his production finishing the season strong, helping the Braves win the Wild Card. A 20/20 season is well within his reach and Heyward has the ability to outperform his draft position.
9) Shin-Soo Choo (28) No. 5 RF
2010: .300-22-90-81-22/29 (550)

One of the baseball’s most underrated players, Choo has now had back-to-back 20/20 seasons. The Indians lineup will not be that powerful, especially if Grady Sizemore and Carlos Santana don’t come back from injuries. However, Choo has done fine in similar situations the past two years. Another 20/20 season is likely and even 30/30 is possible.
10) Chris Young (27) No. 2 CF
2010: .257-27-91-94-28/35 (584)

Young’s batting average will likely never be his strong suit as his .257 average last year was his career high. Where he excels is in the speed and power departments. Young is one of the few players in the major leagues that have a legitimate shot at a 30/30 season. He is still only 27 years old and plays his home games in a ballpark that ranked in the top half of HR and runs scored in ’10. If you can handle the low average, Young is an OF to target for your fantasy baseball team.
11) Corey Hart (29) No. 6 RF
2010: .283-31-102-91-7/13 (558)

After back-to-back 20/20 seasons in ’07 and ’08, Hart increased his power numbers in ’10 but declined in steals. It seems like that trend will continue, which is fine when Hart can give you 30 plus homers and over 100 RBI. He settled into the second spot in the batting order last year and that position usually leads to stolen base opportunities but Hart only attempted 13 steals last season.
12) Hunter Pence (27) No. 7 RF
2010: .282-25-91-93-18/27 (614)

Pence has been extremely consistent in his young career, hitting exactly 25 HR in each of the last three seasons. He has also been trending upward in overall production, increasing his stolen bases and attempts the last three years while decreasing his strikeouts. Pence does it all for the Astros, leading the team in HR, RBI, runs, hits, and OPS last year. That could be looked at as Pence being a great player but also one that doesn’t have much protection in the lineup. Even if Carlos Lee doesn’t start producing again, Pence is a worthy starting outfielder on any fantasy team.
13) Matt Kemp (26) No. 3 CF
2010: .249-28-89-82-19/34 (602)

Expected to take a step forward last year after finishing tenth in the NL MVP voting in ’09, Kemp instead regressed, hitting a career low .249. He was still a steal away from a 20/20 season though and is only 26 years old. If Kemp can keep his off the field distractions to a minimum and focus on getting the most out of his baseball talents, he can be a top-10 fantasy baseball OF again.
14) Andrew McCutchen (24) No. 4 CF
2010: .286-16-56-94-33/43 (570)

In only two years in MLB, McCutchen has become the Pirates best player and one of the best outfielders in baseball. If Pittsburgh’s young position players improve, McCutchen’s runs scored will go up. McCutchen will give you solid fantasy stats across the board and should improve on them in ’11.
15) Andre Ethier (28) No. 8 RF
2010: .292-23-82-71-2/3 (517)

After getting off to a fast start last season, Ethier’s production dropped after he missed time with a broken pinkie. He was a Triple Crown threat for the first 6 weeks of last season, hitting .392 with 11 HR and 38 RBI before being sidelined in mid-May. He never regained his early season success but with an off-season to heal, he could out-produce his draft position.

Honorable Mentions

Mike Stanton (21)
.259 22 59 45 5/7 (359)
Alex Rios (30)
.284 21 88 89 34/48 (567)
Jayson Werth (31)
.296 27 85 106 13/16 (554)
Jay Bruce (23)
.281 25 70 80 5/9 (509)
Delmon Young (25)
.298 21 112 77 5/9 (570)
Ichiro (37)
.315 6 43 74 (lowest of his career) 42/51 (680)
Drew Stubbs (26)
.255 22 77 91 30/36 (514)
Grady Sizemore (28)
.211 0 13 15 4/6 (128)
Jose Bautista (30)
.260 54 124 109 9/11 (569)
Colby Rasmus (24)
.276 23 66 85 12/20 (464)
B.J. Upton (26)
.237 18 62 89 42/51 (536)
Adam Jones (25)
.284 19 69 76 7/14 (581)
Curtis Granderson (30)
.247 24 67 76 12/14 (466)
Nick Markakis (27)
.297 12 60 79 7/9 (629)
Jacoby Ellsbury (27)
.192 0 5 10 7/8 (78)
Austin Jackson (24)
.293 4 41 103 27/33 (618)

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