Okay, this is the creme de la creme, the top, the absolute best. The title that used to be bestowed upon first base where you can basically take anyone in the top 15 and get one of the best of the game now applies at OF. There are probably 5-10 guys outside the top 20 listed here who could be the top outfielder in the game in 2013 that wouldn't surprise me. That doesn't mean I expect it, or they'd be in the top 20. Because most leagues require 3-5 outfielders, I rate 20 outfielders rather than 10. Enjoy!
1. Ryan Braun - He's not just my #1 outfielder, he's my #1 fantasy player. Draft/buy with confidence.
2. Mike Trout - Trout's the #1 player in many lists, and I'm completely fine with that. That said, he was a rookie last season, and expecting a full season of 2012 would be ridiculous. He's a hair below Braun right now for me.
3. Giancarlo Stanton - This is where you can get into some heated arguments. Every guy from 3-9 on my list I've seen #3 on some website somewhere. I choose Stanton because of the incredible upside the guy has. I still see a .300/40/120 guy in his prime. He's not got a great lineup around him now, but he still should give a ton of good stats without the lineup to give him 120+ RBI.
4. Andrew McCutchen - In real baseball, there's not another outfielder I'd rather have than McCutchen, not Braun, not Trout. He's an excellent defender, and he provides the power, speed, on base, and contact to hit in any spot in the lineup. In fantasy, he hits for very good average, solid power, solid speed, and gives solid runs/RBI. Absolute elite.
5. Matt Kemp - People see 23 homers and 9 steals in 2012 versus 39 homers and 40 steals in 2011 and think Kemp had a major failure. Kemp still had a .900 OPS with .300+ batting average. Kemp had a rough 2010, but otherwise, he's been very elite in production. He'll be an easy first round pick, making 5 outfielders all in the first round.
6. Josh Hamilton - Hamilton suddenly struck out twice as much, mostly in the second half after a tremendous first half in 2012. Hamilton is now surrounded by arguably the best lineup in baseball, so he could put up some great numbers. He misses games plenty, averaging 39 games missed over the last four seasons. There are few swings as pretty as Hamilton's in the game, though.
7. Matt Holliday - Holliday is on the wrong side of 30, but he's a consistent high average hitter with solid power with 90-100 RBI/runs. He's this high simply because he's so incredibly consistent year-to-year.
8. Jose Bautista - Even in a year where he was out nearly half of the year, Bautista hit 27 homers with 60+ runs/RBI. Bautista will have a much, much better lineup around him in 2013 to drive in as well. He could easily be a top 3 guy with a full season again.
9. Carlos Gonzalez - Gonzalez is just entering his prime. He's averaged .313 over the last three years along with 27 homers, 22 steals and 95+ runs/RBI. He's still got upside, which is ridiculous to consider!
10. Jason Heyward - This will be his age 23 season, and he's already accomplished a 20/20 season. I am a huge fan of his talent. I could see 30/20 this year with a creep up in his average to the .280+ range.
11. Justin Upton - After a year of turmoil in Arizona, Upton joins what could be easily the best fantasy outfield in the league, and possibly the best overall outfield as well. He has a solid eye with huge power and speed. Upton could easily be #1 going into 2014.
12. Bryce Harper - Harper has the name recognition, so he's already got haters and fans just based on that. However, look at his 2013 stats in not a full season...22 homers, 18 steals, 98 runs, .270 average at age 19! The sky is absolutely the limit.
13. Carlos Beltran - Beltran is on the downside of his career, but he finished 2012 with 32 homers, 13 steals, and 97 RBI at age 35. There will be a decline at some point, but it hasn't hit yet.
14. Yoenis Cespedes - A lot of people wondered about the money Oakland spent on Cespedes, but they were proven right in 2012 with 23 homers, 16 steals, and a .292 average his first year in the major leaguers. I believe he's only getting going. There's a 30/20 guy here when he really gets going.
15. Jay Bruce - Bruce isn't going to ever be a .330 hitter, but that's okay. He's a 35 homer guy who's just entering his prime. As long as you aren't expecting steals or high average, you will love Bruce.
16. Curtis Granderson - Granderson is a 40 home run guy with 100 runs/RBI. He's just not a high average guy. It's been since 2008 since he was better than .265. He's going to also get you double digit steals. As long as you keep good average guys to balance him out, he'll definitely help your team.
17. Jacoby Ellsbury - He is healthy, but if you're expecting that will be 2011 levels this year, you're going to be sadly disappointed. He's hit for better than a .415 slugging in significant plate appearances just once in his career, 2011. If you expect 5-10 homers, very good steals, and good runs/BA numbers, you'll enjoy much better.
18. BJ Upton - Upton strayed a bit from his solid power, great speed style to go after home runs in a contract year. He was also the lineup focus when Longoria was out. He will be just a piece of a very deep lineup in Atlanta this year, so that pressing won't be needed this year.
19. Adam Jones - Jones is coming off of a career season. That said, he's just entering his prime, and he could get better and better. I'll want another season like 2012 before I start putting him near the top 10, but if he gives you 30/15 again, he'll be there next year.
20. Nelson Cruz - His name is now linked to this Florida mess, he's on the wrong side of 30, and he played his first full season in 2012. He is now the focus of the middle of the lineup, so I could see him putting up 25+ homers, 10-15 steals, and solid average, but he's by far the most risky on this list.
Unlisted, underrated: Carl Crawford - For 8 seasons, Crawford averaged .299, 13 home runs, 50 steals, 93 runs, and 70 RBI. One bad season in Boston and one injured season, and people have written him off completely. I got Crawford in a mock auction this year for $4. This is a guy who could return 10 times that value. He's a great risk for where you have to draft/buy him.
Unlisted, overrated: Drew Stubbs - Stubbs is gathered with so many who get solid power and high steals, but his average is just not good. Not at all. Never in a full season has he hit over .255. He's averaged 17 homers and 33 steals, but 150 games a year averaging .238 will kill your fantasy team, so unless you can be sure you're getting 3-5 ..300+ guys, you're absolutely losing batting average.
Position strategy - The absolute elite are here, and there are a ton still available that aren't even listed. You want speed not listed? Try Michael Bourn, Coco Crisp, Austin Jackson, Angel Pagan, Crawford, Desmond Jennings, Brett Gardner. You want power not listed? Try Andre Ethier, Josh Willingham, Jason Kubel, Michael Morse, Michael Cuddyer, Cody Ross, Carlos Quentin. You want a combo? Try Shin-Soo Choo, Alex Gordon, Shane Victorino, Alejandro de Aza, Chris Young, Michael Saunders, Carlos Gomez. These are all guys who don't make the top 20. I tried multiple mock strategies in regard to outfield so far, and I've not been disappointed in my outfield yet.