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The other day we went over the top 20 third basemen for 2009 fantasy baseball, finishing up the infield for our 2009 fantasy baseball rankings.  Today, we turn our attention to the top 20 outfielders.  As mentioned the other day, the top twenty outfielders will need to go to top 40 because there’s so many of them.  If you want, check out our 2009 Fantasy Baseball Player Rater.  Or a list of all the players with multiple position eligibility.  This top 20 for 2009 list will be broken up into tiers, as the other top twenty lists have been.  Anyway, here’s the top 20 outfielders for 2009 fantasy baseball:

1.  Grady Sizemore – See the top 10 for 2009 fantasy baseball post for Grady Sizemore’s 2009 projections.

2.  Ryan Braun – See the top 10 for 2009 fantasy baseball post for Ryan Braun’s 2009 projections.

3.  Carlos Beltran – See the top 20 for 2009 fantasy baseball post for Carlos Beltran’s 2009 projections.

4.  Carlos Lee – See the top 20 for 2009 fantasy baseball post for Carlos Lee’s 2009 projections.

5.  Matt Holliday – See the top 20 for 2009 fantasy baseball post for Matt Holliday’s 2009 projections.

6.  Josh Hamilton – See the top 20 for 2009 fantasy baseball post for Josh Hamilton’s 2009 projections.

7.  Alfonso Soriano – I came thisclose to putting Soriano in the top twenty overall.  I notice there’s a lot of, “What have you done for me lately?” with fantasy baseball rankings.  Hamilton’s a top ten player now, Manny’s a top twenty player now, Jessica Shaw says Carlos Lee is so five minutes ago, etc.  My general feelings on this, “What have you done for me lately?” mentality will have to wait for another post, but let me say this, Soriano just missed going 30/20 in 2008.  That’s a solid year, in what was an off year.  Soriano seems to be getting a bit more injury prone with age and he may be a Latin 32, so that kept him out of the top 20, but he didn’t miss by much.  2009 Projections:  110/32/85/.275/15

8.  Carlos Quentin – This is the 3rd tier of outfielders.  This tier goes from Quentin to Ichiro.  I call this tier, “The last guys I’d want to be calling my first outfielder.”  In 2010, you’ll be looking at rankings and Carlos Quentin will be higher than he is now, because CQ is a riser.  (CQ is also a God-awful Coppola-offspring movie.  Could someone give me a running tally of how many dreadful movies Coppola’s nepotism has made us sit through?  I loved Rushmore, but Jason Schwartzman sucks donkey balls.)   2009 Projections:  105/35/110/.275/7

9.  B.J. Upton – I’m not over ranking Upton just because I watched him hit some home runs in the playoffs.  Let’s be real, I’m looking at people who can actually outproduce where they’re being drafted and Upton is one that can shoot to the 1st round in 2010.  That’s right; I’m not, um, down on B.J.  2009 Projections:  95/20/80/.280/35

10. Carl Crawford – Even though it feels like Crawford has been around forever, he’s only going to be 27 for the better part of 2009 (turning 28 in August.  Oh, that reminds me, Outliers, the new Malcolm Gladwell book is solid.  I’m reminded because in Outliers Gladwell talks about how a majority of Major League Baseball players are born from August to October because of the cutoff date for Little League baseball.  I usually don’t recommend books because, frankly, you people probably don’t give a flying eff in the ear what books I’m reading.).  Crawford’s legs are still capable of 50 steals.  His power may never go to the next level, but 15 home runs is doable.  So put 2008 out of your mind, you’re not getting it back or that twelve dollars you spent on your “super” haircut.  2009 Projections:  85/15/80/.300/45

11. Matt Kemp – I not only bought into the Matt Kemp hype, I rolled it up in decorative sugar and began to sell it at a local bake sale.  You want someone in the fourth round in 2009 that could be a first or second rounder in 2010?  Matt Kemp’s your man, man.  He’s the future, kids.  (Speaking of future, I accidentally wrote 2099 the other day instead of 2009 and I started thinking how someone should cover Prince’s 1999 song in 2099.  I think it would do well with Generation X2.   Also, I Googled to see if anyone had come up with this idea yet and no one had.  So, future boy that’s reading this in 2099 and who decided they were going to cover 1999, this is my idea and I want you to make note of it in your 2099 liner notes.  Or I will haunt you.)  2009 Projections:   95/24/80/.295/30

12.  Ichiro Suzuki – I’m not drafting Ichiro because he’s always overrated and I don’t believe in drafting outfielders this early who won’t get to double digits in home runs.  See Victorino for a lower budget Suzuki.  2009 Projections:  110/7/50/.315/35

13. Alex Rios – This is a new tier.  This tier goes from Rios to the end of the list and picks up again on the top 40 outfielders list.  I call this tier, “I want these guys on my team, but they’re not a 1st outfielder.”  Alexis Rios, potential 30/30 hitter, disappointed me so badly in 2008 that he had to transform into Alex Rios, “Just Take 20/20 And Be Happy” hitter.  I’m fine with 20/20.  I really am.  Don’t I seem fine?  Okay, moving on.  2009 Projections:  85/25/90/.295/20

14.   Nick Markakis – I have love for Markakis.  Remember I was the one who coined the phrase, “I am Sparkakis,” which is sweeping a 7 person section of the eastern tip of Calvert County, Maryland.  His walks went up in 2008, which a solid sign that he’s becoming a better hitter and the Orioles are a terrible lineup that rewards people for not pitching to Markakis.  His RBIs should bounce back a bit in 2009, but his power doesn’t seem like it’s going in the right direction, which is to say up.  At least not as high as I want it.  2009 Projections:  95/25/100/.310/10

15. Shane Victorino – Hello, and a big hearfelt welcome to those of you who just came from reading Ichiro’s 2009 Projections.  Now, try and see the difference in Victorino and Ichiro. Go ahead, I’ll wait.  Some average in Ichiro’s favor and some power in Victorino’s favor.  Maybe I’ve gone completely cracked for Victorino, but if you can get Rollins-type numbers in the outfielder it’s worth something to ya, isn’t it?  Okay, maybe I just heart Victorino.  2009 Projections:  100/15/60/.285/35

16. Jacoby Ellsbury –  I feel like Jacoby Ellsbury might be a healthier, but riskier Victorino.  re: your thoughts — Yes, it is all about Victorino.   2009 Projections:  110/10/60/.285/40

17. Jason Bay –  This guy killed me in 2007.  Then he ended up returning to past glory in 2008 and making me look bad again because I said he couldn’t do it.  At this point, I’m going to assume whatever I say about Bay will come true in its exact inverse.  So Bay’s going 10/30 and will bat .082.  2009 Projections:  100/32/110/.280/10

18. Nate McLouth –  McLouth’s minor league numbers look like McCrap, but he’s found some power in the majors and it doesn’t seem like it’s going away.  He’s also not going to turn into a 40/40 hitter.  If you heard an “ouch” last year, that was McLouth bumping his head on his ceiling.  2009 Projections:  95/22/90/.270/22

19. Curtis Granderson – Here’s a guy I didn’t like at all going into 2008 and ended up proving me right.  I think he returns more value in 2009, which means he’ll be a worthwhile 2nd outfielder, then he’ll be overrated going into 2010.  Do you see a pattern?  2009 Projections:  115/22/75/.275/17

20. Manny Ramirez – Overpaid free agents for $100 (million), Alex.  The answer is, “To make a point.”   “What is the reason Manny was placed 20th?”  Manny went from an average draft pick of 42nd overall in 2008 to 20th overall in 2009.  Not to get all Spanish on you, but, “¿Porque?  ¿Manny juega en el fountain del chicos o Manny juega por dinero?  ¡Que rhetorico!”  2009 Projections:  85/30/90/.300

From Around The Web

  1. Steve says:
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    I care about what you’re reading, Grey. You haven’t put me wrong so far.

  2. Same here Grey (aka Jason, changing my comment handle to match my forum handle). I also like the tiers as I use them to sort guys out come draft day also.

  3. 101 M.P.H. says:
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    In the early part of 2008, Victorino was occasionally benched by the Phils to get Jason Werth into the line-up. If his April had been anything less than abysmal, a 40+ SB season would have been easily attainable.

    If Victorino can sustain or improve upon 2008, I could compare him very favorably to Johnny Damon in his prime. For 2009, I find myself favoring him over Ichiro, Ellsbury -and- (call me crazy) Crawford.

  4. sean says:
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    I’ll admit it: I drafted Crawford in the second round last year. I had a glimmer in my eye thinking about the 115/25/85/50/.300 season that could be. You all know how that worked out, someone is going to tell me how he’s going 25/50 this year and nab him in the 2nd/3rd round on draft day this year.

    Maybe I’m still bitter, but overpaying on upside for a guy who more or less came out last year and said that the turf at the Trop is killing him softly doesn’t seem wise to me…
    http://www.tampabay.com/sports/baseball/rays/article605764.ece

  5. sickmangarner says:
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    Just a note about books and Malcolm Gladwell–another non-baseball book that has helped me with fantasy is “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely. Esp. the sections about the diminishing utility of holding on to options for too long (until they’re all worthless) as opposed to being decisive (but possibly not making the very best choice but still making out better than if you’d waited too long). Also the observation that we tend to overvalue something if it’s in our possession has helped me avoid some irrational behaviors.

  6. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Steve: Have you read Blink or The Tipping Point? Also by Gladwell, also great.

    @Fman99: Cool, glad it works for you.

    @101 M.P.H.: Victorino is capable of 15/40, close to that of Crawford. If you’re crazy, I don’t wanna be sane.

    @sean: Yeah, that’s a concern with Crawford. Hopefully he’s young enough and the offseason’s done him enough good.

    @sickmangarner: You hit on something that Rudy and I talk about. When is it worthwhile to cut someone you drafted. Obviously every player’s different and available options matter too, but there’s got to be a level where it’s okay to drop them after a week or two.

    That sounds like an interesting read, I’m gonna have to check it out. Thanks!

  7. Shogun says:
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    I like that you ranked BJ Upton high (Never underestimate the power of a BJ).

  8. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Shogun: I’m sure there’s people out there that feel the exact opposite way, thinking Upton’s didn’t hit home runs during the season and that he’s flaky and only plays when he wants.

  9. Tony says:
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    My one dude took Carl last year and I ragged on him all draft long (after i grabbed VICTORINO) that I had CARL CRAWFORD LITE. Look at the stats, pretty much the same guy, 5-6 rounds later… Who knows if Carl plays a full season how it will pan out this year, but I am a big fan of the Flyin’ hawiian.

    Maybe a post on “why take this guy when you can take this guy blah blah blah 14 rounds later” would be good? Just an idea. Last year I went into my draft knowing I wanted CC LITE and it was money.

  10. Shogun says:
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    @Grey: You’re right that there must be some people who don’t value a BJ. I had him on some teams last year, and even when he wasn’t hitting for power, his unexpected surge in steals helped keep me competitive. I tend to draft for other categories before steals (SAGNOF), which means that having a guy give me steals unexpectedly is a big benefit for my team to balance it out. I think BJ will keep running this year and hit for more power than he did last year. If he does, your ranking will be spot-on.

    I’ve been lurking but not commenting. Thanks for the awesome off-season stuff–I’ve been cutting and pasting selected passages into a master “draft strategy” document for use this spring.

  11. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Shogun: Cool, and it’s good to have you commenting again.

  12. Frank Rizzo says:
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    I see value in Quentin and Granderson here. Quentin could end up the #1 OF overall in 2009 and let’s not forget that Granderson didn’t “get right” until late June because of his finger. Look at his stats in August and September…..I’d probably put him in the top 12 on this list.

  13. Tony says:
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    @Grey:

    YES. Just started reading a month or so ago.

  14. IowaCubs

    IowaCubs says:
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    Dunn or Hart coulda prolly made this list over Granderson. Granderson needs to steal more bases for him to have value, and I don’t trust his BA or HR.

    Don’t forget that Soriano played in 109 games last year. Give me 25 more games and he’s basically Beltran.

  15. Frank Rizzo says:
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    @IowaCubs: Wow. I completely disagree with you on Granderson. Guess we’ll have to wait and see. I’d say 120/30/85/.290/20. Maybe I’m higher on him than most but I really think he’s still getting better and he will be healthy from the start this year.

  16. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @IowaCubs: Dunn and Hart will be in the next set of OFs and I do like both.

  17. Petr says:
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    I own both Ichiro and Victorino as keepers. I know, nothing to brag about. But at least I know what I’m getting from each of them (I should be set in runs and stolen bases). If I can offset that with some power, I’m good.

    I share the observation that Victorino isn’t far from being Carl Crawford. Not sure if the skills are the same, but the numbers are similar.

  18. 101 M.P.H. says:
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    I’ll nominate Coco Crisp for 2009’s ‘Crawford Lite’. If all the stars are in alignment, you just might get 85% of Crawford’s production

    a) at $30 less than Crawford’s auction price; or

    b) 15 rounds later in a snake draft.

  19. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @101 M.P.H.: Crisp has never got above 30 steals in a season and hasn’t hit more than 10 home runs since 2005. He’s a 10/20 player on a poor team. He’s not really that close to Crawford.

  20. Renzo says:
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    So this is my first post…
    First off, great site you have going here. I found it this offseason and it’s been like crack for an addict since no other websites update thier information… The info you guys have here give great insight and always look forwayrd to it…

    Now to my point… I value Matt Holliday more than Beltran.
    Grey’s projections:
    Matt Holliday – 90/22/105/.310/12
    Beltran – 110/27/115/.275/22

    Extra considerations have to do with my league setup which has 2 extra categories for batting and this is a keeper league…
    Matt Holliday – .386OBP, .552SLG (lifetime)
    Beltran – .357OBP, .496SLG (lifetime)

    Holliday is 29 this season so he should still be in his prime power seasons. Beltran is 32 and could be toward the end of his peak years. We all know Holliday’s change in team hurts him badly, but I think Giambi could potentially give Holliday a lot of protection. Now before you laugh just look at Giamibi’s 32 HR last year… I feel he is a much more consistent and reliable hitter then Beltran.
    Plus I think we all know that Billy Beane will trade Holliday to a playoff bound team. This will be at the end of the fantasy season and could have a significant impact down the stretch.

    It’s obvious that you value Beltran more than Holliday but do you disagree that Holliday could have a better season then Beltran? He could also be a better keeper then Beltran.

    I look forward to more projections.

  21. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Renzo: These rankings are for the preseason and how I’d draft these guys now. In one year leagues, I wouldn’t draft them on the consideration that Holliday might be traded cause you just never know. Though these rankings can be used as a road map for keepers, these rankings also aren’t strictly for keeper consideration. I’d want Holliday above Beltran for keepers’ sake. If Beltran stays on the Mets all year (extremely likely) and Holliday gets traded to a contender and one that plays in more of a hitter’s friendly stadium (likely) then Holliday moves up the list a bit and falls into the same tier as Beltran and around the same value.

  22. @Renzo: On the ‘pro’ side of your argument, here’s an interesting article I read today that proposes that Rockie hitters’ road stats are deflated because they have trouble adjusting to the extra movement on pitches at sea level:

    http://www.baybridgebaseball.com/2009/01/great-matt-holliday-experiment.html

    On the ‘con’ side, I am a big believer that league changes – particularly NL to AL – are tough for hitters. Then again, Manny and Jason Bay weren’t hurt by this and Miggy Cabrera fared okay his first year.

    I’d go with Beltran for next year but Holliday is the better keeper candidate…

  23. martin says:
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    “If you heard an “ouch” last year, that was McLouth bumping his head on his ceiling.” LOL, nice.

    I’d move Soriano up to #3 and Granderson above McLouth, but other than that we’re on the same page. You going to be doing a top 40 closer to the season or are you keepin’ it at 20?

  24. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @martin: I’m going to do a top 20 closer list, then I’m going to list every single closer and every setup man in the monthly closer report that happens at the beginning of the month (though I skipped January b/c jobs were up in the air).

  25. BigFatHippo says:
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    @Grey: I think he means top 40 OF’er……….. closer to the season. Word!

  26. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @BigFatHippo: Oh. Hehe. I’m dumb.

    @martin: I misunderstood. The rest of the top 40 OFs is coming tomorrow.

  27. BigFatHippo says:
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    @Grey: Hope Chris Duncan’s not in it.

    And you’re not dumb, mentally challenged is the politically correct term.

  28. Jeff says:
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    Add one in Charles County, MD to the list of the seven in Calvert who are all over “I am Sparkakis”!!! I get wood every time he comes to bat on MASN.

  29. Brian says:
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    I think you may be underrating Jason Bay. Compare your projections for him to Carlos Lee and Carlos Quentin. He’s pretty much right there.

    I’m in a keeper league and trying to decide between Lee (around pick 52), Markakis (around pick 68) and Bay (around pick 63). I can only keep this player for one season though. Of the 3, I think I would rank Markakis last since I don’t see the power potential there. It’s a tough call though.

    If you’re thinking it’s absurd to have those keeper options, I agree. But I’m in a shallow league and played the wire well.

  30. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Brian: Lee has the most consistency, Markakis has the most potential and Bay has the best lineup around him. It is tough but I’d rank them exactly how you have — Lee, Markakis then Bay.

  31. TBone says:
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    Every ranking system I see, Rios and Sparkakis go back-to-back, hand-in-hand. Almost as if they were secret lovers. And in every ranking system, Rios is on top of Sparkakis (pun?) Isn’t there a valid argument to be made that Sparkakis actually has a higher ceiling than Rios?

    I know Rios has Wells for protection, but Sparkakis walks a shiznit (valuable OPS leagues or leagues that account for BBs) and although he has not stolen 20 bases, certainly he has the capability of stealing 15. Rios and Spark’s pop is essentially the same, and I fear the new manager in Toronto will not run Rios as much, hence the 20 sb projection you estimate (Rios stopped run in July, conveniently the same time new management took over). Is 10 additional steals worth more than .10 in AVG + 60 more walks + 10 to 15 more RBI?

    My guts says Sparks should be on top, men have feelings too!

  32. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @TBone: Most ranking systems are for 5 x 5 then if you count OBP, etc., you need to bump up or take down your own players’ rankings. As for Rios v. Markakis (which could actually make a good post), I think Rios is a slam dunk for more steals and Markakis and him are a push on power, so in 5 x 5 Rios always ends up the dominant male, until Markakis can show more than 30 HR power.

  33. gleeksquad says:
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    I’m with you on BJ and Kemp. Everyone points to Upton’s 08 but in 07 he went on a few dinger tears before hurting his shoulder. He showed again in the playoffs he is capable. 20 seems right with a +/- around 4ish.
    Is it me or is everyone talking about Kemp but the drafts i see he’s still hitting the 4th round. Is it because he’s not all over sportscenter? Lets travel back in time to 2007-2008 off season. Grady had just come off a .277 24/78/38 campaign and played 162 games with no time share whatsoever. Pretty much everyone had grady as a solid 2nd rounder and maybe gambling on 1st for the 30/30 potential right? So Kemp who basically does the same thing 2 years younger with less P/T is going 4th? Is this crazy just to me?

  34. mikey boy324 says:
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    grey what round would you draft upton in?

  35. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @gleeksquad: Agreed, I like Kemp a lot this year. Seems like great value for where he’s going.

    @mikey boy324: BJ’s a 3rd rounder.

  36. Dani says:
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    In Yahoo Markakis is 34, Holliday 35, and Kemp 36. If you had to pick one in a 5×5 who would you pick and why?

  37. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Dani: I’d choose them Holliday, Kemp then Markakis, in that order.

  38. Dani says:
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    Great thanks. One more Q for you, If I have lets say the 19th/20th picks and not gonna pick again until 40, should I grab Holliday at 35 with other guys like quentin, phillips, manny ranked ahead of him?

  39. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Dani: What do you mean? Should you grab Holliday at 20?

  40. Dani says:
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    Yes grab holiday with 20th pick even though hes ranked at 35.

  41. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Dani: I like Holliday better than those three guys, but he’s a bit of a reach at 20. He’s not awful though. I could see it.

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