Went over the catchers, 1st basemen, 2nd basemen and shortstops and top 20 3rd basemen for 2011. Guess what’s next! No, not pitchers. Read the title, man. In 2010, there were only 5 outfielders that hit 30 homers, this year there were 9. It isn’t exactly like a bleached Sammy Sosa is sticking players with needles, but at least the rich got a little richer — yay, capitalism! Steals were still in abundance, and that doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere any time soon. There were 14 outfielders who stole 30 bases with Michael Bourn still eating the baby out of the king cake. Since outfield is a deep position, I’m going to turn this one to 40. Anyway, here’s the top 20 outfielders for 2011 fantasy baseball and how they compare to where I originally ranked them:
1. Matt Kemp – In the preseason, I ranked him 12th overall for all players. Find another ‘pert who ranked him that high last year. You’re wasting your time, you won’t find them. I ranked him as the 2nd outfielder overall. Just off Ryan Braun. He was drafted on average 26th overall and some ‘perts had him in the 40′s. He wasn’t an obvious pick. 2010 was not a good year, but he dropped his ball and anchor — or is it whips and chains? — and asked you to say his name. In the preseason, I said, “A total off year in 2010. That’s clear. He still hit 28 home runs and stole 19 bases. Sure, he hit .249, but he’s a career .285 hitter and his BABIP shows he was horribly unlucky last year. Yes, his Ks went up, but what happens when someone is unlucky? They press and start swinging at more pitches outside the strike zone. At 26 years old for the majority of 2011, now is not the time to give up on Kemp.” You can’t make that shizz up. Okay, you can, but it would be pretty easy to double-check it. Preseason Rank #2, 2011 Projections: 100/30/105/.285/22, Final Numbers: 115/39/126/.324/40
2. Jacoby Ellsbury – And as right as I was on Kemp, I didn’t see any of this Ellsbury season coming. About a month into the season I even compared Ellsbury to Gardner. While Gardner didn’t have a bad season, Ellsbury came out of nowhere with power that made him way more valuable. But the whole “came out of nowhere” thing makes me think we’re looking at a career year for Ellsbury. Preseason Rank #21, 2011 Projections: 90/7/70/.290/45, Final Numbers: 119/32/105/.321/39
3. Ryan Braun – In honor of The Hebrew Hammer, I wrote this about three weeks ago on Yom Kippur so I’ll make this fast. Zing! BTW, what’s the only thing you’re allowed to eat during Yom Kippur? Atone-mints. Zadow! The fact that Braun wasn’t the number one outfielder with the year he had is more an (old) testament to the guys above him. Preseason Rank #1, 2011 Projections: 105/32/120/.295/15, Final Numbers: 109/33/111/.332/33
4. Curtis Granderson – It sure was fun while it was going on, but now that Grandy’s 2011 is over it’s time to get real, I mean, was he for real? God, no. Will depend on where he gets drafted next year, but off the top of my head I’ll say he will be overrated next year. Preseason Rank #27, 2011 Projections: 70/25/80/.260/15, Final Numbers: 136/41/119/.262/25
5. Jose Bautista – Went over him in the top 20 3rd basemen post.
6. Justin Upton – There’s guys that will repeat 2011 for a few years if they can avoid injury like Braun and there’s guys like Grandy and Melky. Upton’s not a Melky or Grandy. He’s a Braun. Though Upton’s a lot more the Upton we saw this year than Braun was the Braun that we saw this year. And that sentence wasn’t half as confusing in my head. Preseason Rank #7, 2011 Projections: 85/26/95/.270/20, Final Numbers: 105/31/88/.289/21
7. Michael Bourn – There’s a few Razzball concepts that just work perfectly, if I can be so immodest. SAGNOF is one. It becomes apparent when you see ESPN rank someone like Bourn 7th overall. Imagine on April 15th you were to trade Bourn straight up for Justin Upton then grab someone off waivers like Coco Crisp. Your league would’ve had a conniption. People would’ve immediately started sending notarized letters to your commissioner, using synonyms for unfair that they found in the thesaurus. Preseason Rank #40 1/2, 2011 Projections: 80/3/40/.265/45, Final Numbers: 94/2/50/.294/61
8. Melky Cabrera – First player to come out of nowhere, but I don’t think he was the 8th ranked outfielder. (I know it seems like I recap the players according to the ESPN Player Rater then disagree with it every step of the way, but c’est la vie, as Francouer would say.) Melky’s stats made him a great third outfielder, solid across the board production. As for where this season from Melky came from, he’s being seriously aided by plate appearances. 706 PA’s last year for 18 homers and 20 steals? If his PA’s fall into the 550 range as they had most years prior to 2011, his stats are gonna look like Mike Aviles. Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers: 102/18/87/.305/20
9. Alex Gordon – I recapped Alex Gordon’s season already. I wrote that while stuffing a duck’s gullet for some foie gras. Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers: 101/23/87/.303/17
10. Carlos Gonzalez – I knew CarGo wasn’t repeating his 2010, gave you preseason projections that were almost perfect and told you he was overrated. Yet, I feel like he didn’t disappoint as much as he could have. How dare you overperform your underperformance! Preseason Rank #5, 2011 Projections: 90/24/95/.285/20, Final Numbers: 92/26/92/.295/20
11. Hunter Pence – Here’s a guy that is cast in the Braun/Upton mold. You can set your watch to a decent year from Pence. Give or take some power, some speed, some average… Well, his stats are always there…thereabouts. Preseason Rank #10, 2011 Projections: 90/25/90/.290/15, Final Numbers: 84/22/97/.314/8
12. Lance Berkman – Went over him in the top 20 1st basemen post.
13. Jeff Francoeur – Imagine if the peasant Royals would’ve actually had some pitching in 2011. They would’ve easily made the postseason only to be bounced by the Rangers. The Royals had more runs scored than the Phillies, Brewers and Rays. As for fantasy, guys that surprise by overproducing are terrific. But — and unless you’re an alien, there’s always a but — how many fantasy owners actually got these seasons in their entirety? In deep leagues? Sure. You draft a guy like Frenchy and pray, then thank your deity of choice when he pans out. But in shallow leagues, you look at a guy like Frenchy and maybe pick him up after he does some hitting, then maybe drop him when he stops for a few weeks then maybe you grab him again, but you don’t have these players for the whole season. Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers: 77/20/87/.285/22
14. Michael Morse – Went over him in the top 20 1st basemen post.
15. Josh Hamilton – Ellsbury threw me for a loop, Grandy exceeded my expectations by a shizzton and Melky did what no one thought he could with a bunch of plate appearances, but Hamilton once again did exactly what I thought he would. Good while healthy with “while healthy” having its own solar system. Preseason Rank #6, 2011 Projections: 85/27/100/.305/7, Final Numbers: 80/25/94/.298/8
16. B.J. Upton – People seem to hate B.J. I think it’s the low average bias that permeates fantasy. It’s odd that there’s such a bias when average is the hardest thing to predict. Hate on low power or low speed, but low average? It’s a horn bet. Preseason Rank #19, 2011 Projections: 95/17/75/.250/40, Final Numbers: 82/23/81/.243/36
17. Ben Zobrist – Went over him in the top 20 2nd basemen post.
18. Andrew McCutchen – Last year we found out that The Dread Pirate wasn’t quite ready to take the next step like I thought he would. He didn’t come up that short, but short enough as they say at dwarf bowling. I really try to focus on making these blurbs about what the players did last year rather than looking ahead, but that’s easier said than done. The Dread Pirate is gonna be my 2012 Matt Kemp. There’s no one more exciting to me for next year that had a slightly down year. Preseason Rank #2, 2011 Projections: 100/18/60/.290/38, Final Numbers: 87/23/89/.259/23
19. Coco Crisp – At 31 years old, he had his best season. Coco Crisp must’ve been eating his Lucky Charms. All of these steals came from a Billy Beane-GM’d team. I guess there’s market efficiencies with steals now. You’re probably not asking yourself what I thought of Moneyball, but I’ll tell you anyway. SPOILER ALERT (but the movie has been out for over a month, you really have that much to do?) I was kinda disappointed. To go all EW on you, I’d give it a B, but I was hoping for an A. Damn you, expectations. I know Michael Lewis glossed over the fact Zito, Mulder, Hudson and the steroid-fueled Chavez and Tejada were actually a big part of the A’s success so I figured the movie would do the same. It did. They want a fairy tale about how some unknowns carried the team to glory. Yay, Scott Hatteberg is undervalued and he uses a bat carved from a tree that lightning struck! Not really, but whatever. I was more disappointed because I was bored during stretches and I didn’t like Jonah Hill at all. Hey, let’s get the Jew to find value where others are missing it! Finally, I wanted some unintentional comedy with Royce Clayton playing Tejada. “Hey, Miggy, do you have diabetes?” Cut to: Tejada holding a syringe. Tejada, “Yes. Blood sugar low.” Though that song the daughter sings is hella (do the kids still say this?) catchy. Should’ve changed the lyrics though: I’m just a GM stuck in Oakland… I’m kind of sick of being so broke and having my team get to the playoffs only to choke. Slow it down, make it stop… Miguel Tejada’s arms look like their gonna pop… BTW, if you wanna read movie reviews, my friend has a movie review blog. Preseason Rank #62, 2011 Projections: 50/6/35/.260/22, Final Numbers: 69/8/54/.264/49
20. Emilio Bonifacio – Went over him in the top 20 3rd basemen post.