Fantasy Baseball 2012 Strategy and Advice: Breaking Down in Tiers – Outfield

Other positions already covered in the series: C | 1B | 2B | SS3B

When organizing each position into tiers, it enables owners to see which players should produce relatively the same statistics, and easily spot under/overvalued players in each tier.

To refresh, let’s define the tiers that we will classify each position by:

  • Elite: These players can be the foundation for your fantasy team and are the best players at their positions.
  • Valuable: Cannot go wrong with this group. These solid players, who will produce for your team, are dependable and can help win a fantasy title for you.
  • Solid: These players will put up numbers and can even lead in certain categories. However, inconsistency and poor performance in other categories will hurt your fantasy team at times.
  • At Your Own Risk: Limited production at this level, this group either struggles to get at bats on a regular basis or are the least producing players at their position. Proceed with caution and do your research. This group also includes younger players with potential.

Here is a breakdown of the OF position for both AL and NL Leagues.

Elite Outfielders

  • matt kemp fantasy baseball 2012 strategy and advice

    Matt Kemp is one of the elite outfielders. (Photo by SD Dirk via Wikimedia Commons)

    Ryan Braun

  • Matt Kemp
  • Jose Bautista
  • Carlos Gonzalez
  • Justin Upton
  • Jacoby Ellsbury
  • Curtis Granderson

These elite outfielders can be the cornerstones of your team with combinations of power and speed. Kemp (34 HR, 112 RBI, 40 SB, .291 Avg.) has been a No. 1 overall pick in many drafts.

Braun (31 HR, 121 RBI, 33 SB, .324 Avg.) can also be a No. 1 overall pick but dealing with off-field issues and a failed drug test controversy may play a factor in his 2012 performance.

Bautista offers more power with 40+ HR potential but less steals, while Gonzalez, Upton, Ellsbury, and Granderson all offer 25-30 HR, 90-100 RBI, and 20+ SB potential. Gonzalez had a couple multi-week absences late in 2011 season due to wrist issues but at age 26, he has plenty of potential too.

Best Bet: Kemp

Valuable Outfielders

  • Andrew McCutchen
  • Michael Bourn
  • Hunter Pence
  • B.J. Upton
  • Giancarlo Stanton
  • Nelson Cruz
  • Josh Hamilton
  • Matt Holliday
  • Shane Victorino
  • Adam Jones
  • Jay Bruce
  • Desmond Jennings
  • Ben Zobrist
  • Alex Gordon
  • Shin-Soo Choo
  • Brett Gardner
  • Jayson Werth
  • Carl Crawford
  • Alex Rios
  • Michael Cuddyer
  • Chris Young
  • Drew Stubbs
  • Ichiro Suzuki
  • Andre Ethier
  • Carlos Beltran
  • Jason Heyward
  • CocoCrisp
  • Nick Swisher

This group, while not quite in the elite bracket, has potential stars among it and offers your fantasy team options for either additional HR-RBI production or a combination of speed and power. McCutchen (23 HR, 89 RBI, 23 SB, and .259 Avg.) is only 25 and possibly entering his prime for power numbers. Bourn (61 SB) can single handedly lead your team to the top of your league’s SB category.

If healthy, Upton (23 HR, 81 RBI, 36 SB but .243 Avg. in 2011) may prove to be a shrewd pick for your team. Stanton is a pure power hitter who may approach 40 HR this season. Cruz and Hamilton are injury concerns but with the lineup the Rangers possess, both can reach 30+ HR and 90-100 RBI.

albert pujols fantasy baseball 2012 strategy and advice

Can Holliday take over for the departed Pujols (above)? (Photo by Dave Herholz via Wikimedia Commons)

Can Holliday take over for the departed Pujols and be the man for the Cardinals lineup? A resurgence would mean 28-30 HR, 100 RBI, and a .300 Avg. Adam Jones, at age 26, may continue to improve on his 2011 performance of 25 HR, 83 RBI, 12 SB, and a .280 Avg.

Another player to watch is Desmond Jennings, a superstar in the making but beware his high K rate. Look for 15-20 HR, 60-70 RBI, and a SB target of 40-45. Crawford’s wrist issues continue to plague him, and he won’t start the 2012 season with the Red Sox. But he could be a bargain pick in later rounds with 30+ SB, 15 HR, and 60 RBI potential.

Gordon is a rising star for the Royals, and Choo is a bounce-back candidate for the Tribe. Ichiro has fallen after a disappointing 2011 season but will still provide SB and average for your team .Gardner and Crisp have 50 SB potential. Swisher and Cuddyer, now in Coors Field, should produce solid power numbers.

Best Bet: McCutchen

Solid Outfielders

  • Nick Markakis
  • Corey Hart
  • Cameron Maybin
  • Torii Hunter
  • Jeff Francoeur
  • Delmon Young
  • Vernon Wells
  • Colby Rasmus
  • Josh Willingham
  • Melky Cabrera
  • Logan Morrison
  • Matt Joyce
  • Yoenis Cespedes
  • Austin Jackson
  • Peter Bourjos
  • Brennan Boesch
  • Alfonso Soriano
  • Dexter Fowler
  • Angel Pagan
  • Ben Revere
  • Denard Span
  • Alejandro De Aza
  • Lorenzo Cain
  • Jose Tabata
  • Eric Thames
  • Rajai Davis
  • John Jay
  • Nolan Reimold
  • Cody Ross
  • David DeJesus
  • Josh Reddick
  • Carlos Quentin
  • Ryan Ludwick
  • Dayan Viciedo
  • Michael Brantley
  • JasonBay
  • Jason Kubel

Potentials and veterans combine to make this group that should be viewed as your Nos. 3, 4, and 5 outfielders. Markakis is still capable of 15-20 HR, 80-90 RBI, 10 SB, and .300 Avg. Hart and his 25-30 HR and .280 average may be undervalued in most drafts.

Maybin, 25 years old, offers 40+ SB potential and 10 HR, 50 RBI despite playing in cavernous PetcoPark. Young may have more RBI opportunities with Fielder hitting ahead of him and may approach 20+ HR, 80-90 RBI. Francoeur’s 2011 season was perhaps a career year but he should not be overlooked for 2012.

Wells should improve from his disappointing 2011 season, especially his .218 average. Willingham moves from Oakland to Minnesota, and the park difference shouldn’t come in to play too much, with 25-30 HR and 80-90 RBI a reasonable expectation. Rasmus should get more at-bats in Toronto, and with his wrist 100%, expect more home runs (in the 20-25 range) and double digit steals are a possibility.

Melky Cabrera moves to a pitcher’s park in San Francisco and will probably not compile his 658 at bats from last season in Kansas City. Expect a drop-off, but there still is value here. The power hitting Cuban defector Cespedes is a wild card this season for fantasy owners. His numbers may be stunted with home games Oakland, but he has 20 HR and 75 RBI potential.

Pagan and his 2011 line of 32 SB, 7 HR and 56 RBI should provide excellent depth as a fourth or fifth outfielder. Speedsters Revere, De Aza and Cain will all lead off for their teams and provide your team with steals, as will Rajai Davis, but he’s coming off the bench as Toronto’s fourth outfielder.

Cody Ross finally moves to a hitter-friendly park in Fenway and could be a sleeper HR and RBI pick-up. Cuban Viciedo of the White Sox has had a poor spring training camp but should post strong numbers as a starter in his hitter-friendly home park. 25 HR and 75 RBI is a possibility. Quentin’s injury history and move to San Diego may reduce his power numbers.

Best Bet: Hart

At Your Own Risk Outfielders

  • Yonder Alonso
  • Chris Heisey
  • Travis Snider
  • Juan Pierre
  • Nyjer Morgan
  • Seth Smith
  • Jordan Schafer
  • Mike Trout
  • Franklin Gutierrez
  • Eric Young Jr.
  • Raul Ibanez
  • Nate Schierholtz
  • J.D. Martinez
  • Brent Lillibridge
  • Jason Bourgeois
  • David Murphy
  • Nate McLouth
  • Ryan Sweeney
  • Allen Craig
  • Luke Scott
  • Garret Jones 1b
  • Domonic Brown
  • Andres Torres
  • Alex Presley
  • Marlon Byrd
  • Gerardo Parra
  • Will Venable
  • Bryce Harper
  • Juan Rivera
  • Brett Jackson
  • Jerry Sands
  • Carlos Gomez
  • Tyler Colvin
  • Kosuke Fukudome
  • Michael Saunders
  • Ryan Kalish
  • Julio Borbon
  • Russ Canzler
  • Chris Coghlan
  • Grady Sizemore
  • Andruw Jones
  • Kyle Blanks
  • Collin Cowgill
  • Roger Bernadina
  • Ryan Spillborghs
  • Norichika Aoki
  • Michael Taylor
  • John Mayberry
  • Grant Green
  • Matt Diaz
  • Jose Constanza
  • CasperWells
  • Brandon Guyer
  • Jonny Gomes
  • Laynce Nix
  • Rick Ankiel
  • Reed Johnson
  • Tony Gwynn
  • Andy Dirks
  • Shelly Duncan
  • Leonys Martin
  • Mark Kotsay
  • Blake DeWitt
  • Chris Denorfia
  • Justin Ruggioano
  • Craig Gentry
  • Trayvon Robinson
  • Tony Campana
  • Aaron Rowand
  • Jarrod Dyson
  • Joe Benson
  • Sam Fuld
  • Charlie Blackmon
  • Don Kelly
  • Brian Bogusevic
  • Carlos Peguero
  • Endy Chavez
  • Bryan Peterson
  • Scott Cousins
  • Mitch Maier

Primary option with this group is for your fifth outfielder. Some have potential (Alonso, Heisey, Trout), while others will platoon and play only part-time (Jones, Ibanez, Lillibridge). Some opportunities exist here for steals, with Bourgeois, Morgan and Torres all 20+ candidates.

Scott, if healthy from off-season shoulder surgery, may be an excellent sleeper pick for HRs and has hit already hit two this spring camp as DH for Rays.

David Murphy is a good late value pick as a fourth outfielder with injury-prone Hamilton and Cruz in Texas, capable of 10 HR, 10 SB, and 50 RBI. Seth Smith will start for the A’s and is capable of 15 HR and 65-70 RBI.

Best Bet: Heisey



About Jim McGrew

A lifelong Chicago sports fan, Jim enjoys playing, writing about and watching sports. He can be reached at jpmsport@yahoo.com or on twitter at @MySports1.
Jim lives in the Chicago area and is married with 2 children.

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