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Ranking outfielders is not as much fun as it used to be.
It's a deep position for obvious reasons, and seemingly filled with multi-stat fantasy threats, but in recent years there have been too many guys who peaked early (see Grady Sizemore) too many guys who could never quite realize their potential (see B.J. Upton) and too many one-year wonders (see Matt Kemp, maybe).
That said, my top-ranked outfielder would also be my top-ranked player overall in most leagues.
After that, it gets pretty dicey, and I think you could make a good argument for shuffling my rankings in multiple ways. Ultimately, I like my outfielders to contribute stolen bases, and they need to hit well regardless of their power numbers.
Here's my top 20:
1. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado.
Optimum mix of power, speed, average; excels in all stat categories.
2. Carl Crawford, Boston.
Has never hit many HRs, but stolen bases, extra base hits, runs galore.
3. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee.
All stats fell slightly last year, but still a multi-stat dynamo.
4. Josh Hamilton, Texas.
Average leads the way, but 35 HRs, 110 RBIS, 15 SBs still possible.
5. Corey Hart, Milwaukee.
Broke through last year after many wrote him off; another nice power/speed package.
6. Alex Rios, White Sox.
Has to prove consistency, but 20+ HRS and 30+ SBs is an exclusive club.
7. Chris Young, Arizona.
Potential for a smaller club - 30 HRs, 30 SBs, but average still lags
8. Delmon Young, Minnesota.
An RBI/doubles machine with so-so power, speed is still improving.
9. Justin Upton, Arizona.
Supposedly can do it all, buts hasn't shown it yet. Breakthrough year?
10. Shin-Soo Choo, Cleveland.
A hidden gem who may yield 25 HRs, 25 SBs and 100 RBIs.
11. Jose Bautista, Toronto.
Primarily a 3B, but his power stats and OF flexibility make him an option.
12. Matt Holliday, St. Louis.
Second fiddle to Albert Pujols could easily be higher, but 9 SBs last year may be a career peak.
13. Matt Kemp, LA Dodgers.
Another great power and speed option, but his average dove to .249 last year.
14. Vernon Wells, LA Angels.
New scenery makes me think 2010 rebound could continue with another 30 HR year.
15. Jason Heyward, Atlanta.
Another youngin' who can do it all, but will he have a sophomore slump?
16. Mike Stanton, Florida.
If I'm in a risk-taking mood, I'd take him ahead of the previous six. HRs balance sub-par average.
17. Andrew McCutcheon, Pittsburgh.
Poised to have a .300/20 HR/40 SB season.
18. Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle.
Fade has started, but he'll get his 200 hits, 40 SBs again.
19. Jay Bruce, Cincinnati.
Slow build in recent years has him figured for 30 HRs, 90 RBIs in 2011.
20. Jayson Werth, Washington.
Most are expecting a fade, but he still brings a little bit of everything.
Sleeper: Dayan Viciedo from the Sox, who has been looking good this spring and could make a nice last-round fantasy pick.
Next week, we'll have our final fantasy baseball draft guide entry on relief pitchers and take a look at what the fantasy world experts are saying about the season ahead.
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