Today, I'll wrap up my preliminary fantasy baseball preview with a look at the best outfielders to select during your draft.
Most leagues don't separate the three outfield positions, so I'm going to rank the top 50 overall outfielders. If your league distinguishes between the three positions, then you'll need to determine where a particular player is eligible.
When selecting outfielders, the key is finding the proper balance of speed and power that will put your fantasy team in the best position to win. If you have three power hitters, then you'll likely struggle in stolen bases. Conversely, if you have an absence of power among your outfielders, then you won't be very successful in home runs and RBIs.
In my opinion, it's good to have two power hitters and a speed threat among your three outfielders. The power categories (home runs and RBIs) account for more fantasy points than the speed categories (stolen bases), so it's important to focus more on power.
However, if you have enough power at the other positions on the field, then it might be a good idea to focus on speed in your outfield.
Ultimately, you should make sure that your entire team has the proper balance of speed and power. Too much of one thing will set you up for failure in the long run.
I hope you've enjoyed reading the different breakdowns over the past week. Don't forget to check back toward the end of spring training when I update the positional rankings in time for the start of the regular season.
1. Matt Holliday, Colorado Rockies, LF – In four professional seasons, Holliday has 103 home runs and 395 RBIs. He's guaranteed to hit at least 25 home runs and 100 RBIs. Last year, he had a .340 batting average with 36 home runs and 137 RBIs. You can count on similar numbers again this season.
2. Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs, LF – Outfielders that have both power and speed are my favorite type. His RBIs and stolen bases both dropped last season, but I think it was just a bad season. He still hit 33 home runs and had a .299 batting average. I'd expect him to hit 30-35 home runs this year and steal 25-30 bases.
3. Carlos Beltran, New York Mets, CF – Beltran is another player who brings both power and speed to the table. He doesn't have the highest batting average, but he'll have between 30-35 home runs and 100-110 RBIs. Beltran isn't as fast as he used to be, but I think he'll have between 20-25 stolen bases.
4. Vladimir Guerrero, Los Angeles Angels, RF – In 11 full seasons, Guerrero has a .325 career batting average. He needs 35 home runs to get to 400 for his career. It will be a stretch, but he could do it this season. Whether he hits 35 home runs or not, Guerrero will still pick up between 115-125 RBIs.
5. Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians, CF – In my opinion, Sizemore is one of the most electrifying players in the major leagues. If fantastic defensive plays counted in fantasy baseball, then I'd make him my top pick. Fortunately, he's also a pretty good hitter. Because Sizemore bats leadoff, he won't rank among the leaders, but he'll still get between 75-85 RBIs. Expect him to hit between 20-25 home runs and steal between 25-30 bases this season.
6. Magglio Ordonez, Detroit Tigers, RF – Ordonez led the American League in batting average last year with a .363 average. He also had 54 doubles, 28 home runs and 139 RBIs. This year, I'd expect Ordonez to hit around .320 with 25-30 home runs and 125-135 RBIs. After finishing as the runner-up to Alex Rodriguez in the MVP voting last year, he could challenge for the award this season.
7. Manny Ramirez, Boston Red Sox, LF – Personally, I think that Ramirez is one of the most exciting players to watch in the majors. It always seems like he is having fun when he's out there on the field. Throw in the fact that he consistently puts up great numbers and I'd love to switch places with the guy. He's getting older, but I still think Ramirez will hit at least .300 with 25-30 home runs and 100-110 RBIs.
8. Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay Rays, LF – Crawford's biggest asset is his speed. He'll hit between 10-15 home runs, but the 50-60 stolen bases is what makes him valuable. Crawford will also have at least a .310 batting average. The Rays will be an improved team this season and it'll be interesting to see how Crawford plays.
9. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers, LF – After an impressive rookie debut as a third baseman, it will be exciting to see how Braun adapts to left field. Last season, he hit .324 with 34 home runs and 97 RBIs. It's hard to tell if he'll be able to duplicate those numbers, but if he is able to hit .300 with 25-30 home runs and 90-100 RBIs, then he'll be worth the pick.
10. Carlos Lee, Houston Astros, LF – I'll admit it. I didn't think Lee was going to be worth the contract that he signed with the Astros prior to last season. He hit .303 with 32 home runs and 119 RBIs last year, so I think he proved me wrong. I might have him a little underrated at this spot because he's going to hit over .300 with 30-35 home runs and 110-120 RBIs. As a bonus, Lee will have between 10-15 stolen bases.
11. Adam Dunn, Cincinnati Reds, LF – It's a good thing that most fantasy leagues don't count strikeouts against you or Dunn would lose a lot of points. He strikes out between 160-190 times per year, but he still manages to hit at least 40 home runs each season. Dunn will likely get between 100-110 RBIs, but his career batting average is pretty low because of the strikeouts. I think he'll hit around .265 this season.
12. Nick Markakis, Orioles, RF – In his third season, Markakis is primed to become a superstar. Last year, he hit .300 with 23 home runs and 112 RBIs. He won't have Miguel Tejada hitting behind him this year, but I still think his numbers will be impressive. Markakis will have around a .295 batting average with 20-25 home runs and 110-120 RBIs this season. Also, he could have between 15-20 stolen bases.
13. Alex Rios, Toronto Blue Jays, RF – Rios has a .288 career batting average in four seasons in the major leagues. He only hit one home run in 111 games as a rookie, but his power has developed over the past three years. Last season, Rios hit 24 home runs in 161 games. He'll hit between 20-25 home runs this year and he could surpass 100 RBIs for the first time in his career.
14. B.J. Upton, Rays, CF – The second overall pick in the 2002 MLB amateur draft was struggling to fit in with Tampa Bay before they switched him to center field last season. He finished the season with a .300 batting average, 24 home runs and 82 RBIs. Keep in mind that he's only 22. It's only going to go up from here.
15. Torii Hunter, Angels, CF – Hunter hit .271 with 192 home runs and 711 RBIs as a member of the Minnesota Twins. Now, he'll see what he can do in Los Angeles. The seven-time Gold Glove winner will likely have between 25-30 home runs and 100-110 RBIs. He'll also score around 100 runs and steal between 15-20 bases.
And the best of the rest…
16. Curtis Granderson, Tigers, CF
17. Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners, CF
18. Eric Byrnes, Arizona Diamondbacks, LF
19. Bobby Abreu, New York Yankees, RF
20. Hunter Pence, Astros, LF
21. Hideki Matsui, Yankees, LF
22. Jeff Francoeur, Atlanta Braves, RF
23. Nick Swisher, Chicago White Sox, CF
24. Corey Hart, Brewers, RF
25. Vernon Wells, Blue Jays, CF
26. Delmon Young, Minnesota Twins, LF
27. Brad Hawpe, Rockies, RF
28. Aaron Rowand, San Francisco Giants, CF
29. Raul Ibanez, Mariners, LF
30. Ken Griffey Jr., Reds, RF
31. Chris Young, Diamondbacks, CF
32. Juan Pierre, Los Angeles Dodgers, LF
33. Andruw Jones, Dodgers, CF
34. Jason Bay, Pittsburgh Pirates, LF
35. Shane Victorino, Philadelphia Phillies, CF
36. Jeremy Hermida, Florida Marlins, RF
37. Pat Burrell, Phillies, LF
38. Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers, CF
39. Matt Kemp, Dodgers, RF
40. Jermaine Dye, White Sox, RF
41. Kosuke Fukodome, Cubs, RF
42. Michael Cuddyer, Twins, RF
43.Jose Guillen, Kansas City Royals, LF
44. J.D. Drew, Red Sox, RF
45. Garret Anderson, Angels, LF
46. Rocco Baldelli, Rays, RF
47. Melky Cabrera, Yankees, CF
48. Willy Taveras, Rockies, CF
49. Chris Duncan, St. Louis Cardinals, LF
50. Luke Scott, Orioles, LF
Player to watch: Barry Bonds – Despite the pending legal action against him, Bonds still claims that he is willing to play this season. If he is able to hook on with a team -- and that's a big if -- then he's probably got another 20 home runs in him. Is there a team out there that is desperate enough to sign him?