The other day we went over the top 20 third basemen for 2010 fantasy baseball, finishing up the infield for our 2010 fantasy baseball rankings. Today, we turn our bejeweled eyeglasses to the top 20 outfielders for 2010 fantasy baseball. The top twenty outfielders will need to go to a top 40 then a top 60 then a top 80. What I found overall from ranking the outfielders is that speed’s back like the go-go 80s when half the league was on coke. So I ranked power outfielders ahead of ones whose value came from speed. More on that in the post. As always, these top 20 outfielders are broken up into tiers with my projections. Anyway, here’s the top 20 outfielders for 2010 fantasy baseball:
3. Matt Holliday – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here to Ellsbury. I call this tier, “Still number one outfielders.” See the top 20 for 2010 fantasy baseball for Matt Holliday’s 2010 projections.
6. Jacoby Ellsbury – As mentioned before on this blog, speed guys are a lot like new cars. The minute you drive a speed guy off the lot, he loses a lot of value. Don’t believe me, try to trade Ellsbury for a guy of similar value. A guy who can easily go 10/60 needs to be in the top of the outfield rankings, but I tend to look for speed from SAGNOF middle infielders (Andrus, Everth Cabrera, etc) or later round SAGNOF outfielders (Pierre, Borbon, etc). Is it nice to have an Ellsbury-type and not have to worry about steals later? Sure, but if something happens to Ellsbury and your entire team is built to not worry about steals, you may have to worry. 2010 Projections: 105/10/65/.300/60
7. Justin Upton – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here to Bay. I call this tier, “Who said the outfield is deep?” Above, there’s four power threats and two speed threats, now a guy that went 26/20. Wow. Don’t get me wrong, I love Justin Upton, but this is the top of the outfield? Where did the Carlos Lees, Mannys, Sorianos and Berkmans go? As mentioned earlier in the preseason, you could’ve found 27 players who contributed 20 steals, but only eleven outfielders that had 30 homers. Obviously testing for steroids is working better than testing for Red Bull. re: Upton; His fly balls fell and his homers surged. Not a great recipe for success. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in a holding pattern in 2010 rather than a huge step forward. But his holding pattern is still better than most players’ peak and the high ranking is also for his tremendous upside. 2010 Projections: 80/27/95/.290/20
8. Curtis Granderson – Don’t blame me for this ranking; blame the outfield. Where else am I supposed to rank a guy who can steal 20 bags and hit 30 homers? I know his splits; I know the so-called psychological toll playing for the Yanks takes; I also know he can pull 30 homers over the short porch without much effort. As I said when Grandy was traded, the average last year should’ve been higher. He’s not going to win a batting title, but .275 is doable. 2010 Projections: 110/30/80/.270/20
9. Jayson Werth – It feels like people don’t trust Werth, but he’s been caught stealing 4 times in 44 attempts in the last two years and his power doesn’t look fluky. From May to September, he hit at least 6 homers every month so it’s not like his numbers were inflated with an insane month or two. 2010 Projections: 85/30/100/.270/18
10. B.J. Upton – He’s definitely shown he can’t be relied on for 20 homers, but you can count on him for 40 steals and 10 homers. The low average can only partially be written off as bad luck; he also swung at more balls outside the strike zone. I think they’re tied together. He was unlucky, started pressing and things got progressively worse. At least that’s my missing bang theory. 2010 Projections: 90/14/65/.275/40
11. Ichiro Suzuki – Here’s my thought on Ichiro. Yes, he hits .330+ consistently, but your fantasy baseball team only needs around .280 to be in contention. You should get .280 with a few .260 hitters, a few .280 hitters and a few .300 hitters. So Ichiro’s unnecessary average gorging. 2010 Projections: 100/10/55/.330/25
12. Jason Bay – He nearly ended up in the next tier. What held him out was his ability to steal. Just don’t trust him like I should considering his year in, year out numbers. I have this feeling that he will hit 25 homers and steal 5 bags with a .265 average. My fears are probably unrealistic. Like my fear of electric eels. (<–Yes, I’m on Twitter, but I don’t check it much, so, yeah, do what you do.) 2010 Projections: 85/28/105/.270/10
13. Adam Lind – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here to Markakis. I call this tier, “Power threats with weak speed.” There’s instances when I would skip this tier and jump to the next one. If I drafted Ryan Howard in the first round, I’d want someone from the tier, “Speed threats with weak power.” (That tier starts in the top 40 outfielders, which can be found in the 2010 fantasy baseball rankings once it’s posted.) The reason why the power threats with weak speed came first in the rankings is because power is a lot harder to come by than speed. I know, tell that to 1998 and it would laugh. Okay, now about Lind. It’s weird how I feel like sometimes a hitter breaks out and everyone scrambles for him, then other times a hitter breaks out and people are tepid about believing it. Lind broke out last year. There’s no reason to believe he’s going to lapse into bust territory this year. 2010 Projections: 85/35/110/.300/2
14. Josh Hamilton – Never to be one to resist a talented guy who just had a tough year, I couldn’t stop myself from putting Hamilton higher than most ‘perts. Is Hamilton still injury prone? Dur, of course. He’s still only 28 entering the 2010 season and he has big time talent. 2010 Projections: 85/28/100/.275/7
15. Andre Ethier – I still find it hard to believe Ethier’s power, so I can’t promise you I wouldn’t skip over Ethier in a draft if I felt a real power squeeze on my fantasy team. 2010 Projections: 80/24/95/.285/7
17. Nelson Cruz – I was tempted to put Cruz even higher, but then I realized Bill James’s projections of 36 homers and 21 steals with a .284 average shouldn’t be taken at face value. James sure has it bad for Rangers, huh? If Cruz were to reach those projections, that’s number one outfielder shizz. But we’ll try and be a bit more sober with him. 2010 Projections: 80/32/95/.275/15
18. Adam Dunn – Dunn’s projections can be found at the top 20 1st basemen for fantasy baseball post.
19. Adam Jones – A record breaking third Adam makes the top 20 outfielders. Four seems out of reach, unless when someone says Adam Lambert plays for the other team, they mean a baseball team. Jones got knocked out of almost all of September with a strained ankle, but he should be ready to go in time for spring training. At 24, he should be able to take the next step with his power and speed. I’m very excited about watching Pacman make it rain this year. 2010 Projections: 95/27/85/.280/15
20. Nick Markakis – After last season only true loyalists would stand up and shout, “I am Sparkakis!” He doesn’t have much more than 25 homer power or 10 steal speed. (He does have more speed, but I think the Orioles are slowing him for risk of injury.) But he won’t kill you on average, Runs or RBIs. Not as exciting as once perceived, but still solid. So maybe it’s “I am Sparkakis” with a period rather than an exclamation point. 2010 Projections: 100/24/100/.300/7