When it comes to ranking fantasy outfielders, the biggest difficulty comes from the sheer volume of choices. There are simply too many to put into an order. Who is better, Mark Trumbo or Michael Bourn? That depends, do you need power or speed? Who is better, Matt Kemp or Carlos Gonzalez? That depends, who’s going to be healthy.
You get the idea.
So rather than to a straight ranking (like Mike Trout is the best, Ryan Braun is second, etc.) I’m going to break the outfielders down into categories and rank them among players who are most similar to them. That way you can find the best version of the type of player you need.
Here are 60 guys, which should be many more than you need to fill out your roster.
The All-Around Players
If you want an outfielder that’s going to help you in every category, then these are your guys. Others may have more power or more speed.
Mike Trout – He’s the best, and 2012 wasn’t a fluke. He may not be that good every year, but he’s going to be close to it.
Matt Kemp – If he’s healthy, he’s Trout with more power (from a fantasy standpoint, where defense doesn’t matter).
Ryan Braun – I just don’t know what to make of this whole steroid thing. That, and only that, drops him below Trout and Kemp.
Andrew McCutchen – Poor man’s Trout and Kemp, mainly because playing in PNC Park zaps his power.
Carlos Gonzalez – If healthy, that talent hitting in Colorado is almost untouchable.
Adam Jones – The power finally showed itself off last year and it should be here to stay. As long as you’re not in an OBP league, he helps you in every category.
Two Dimensional Studs
You may not get the all-around game of the other guys, but these players can carry a category or two.
Josh Hamilton – Hitting behind Trout and Pujols, no one should have more runs to drive in than Hamilton.
Jose Bautista – The power is legitimate. Is the low average a fluke, or was the high one?
Matt Holliday – Underrated because of his lack of flare. Fantasy baseball doesn’t care about flare.
Ready to Become Studs?
Justin Upton – He’s going to break out one of these seasons. If it doesn’t happen this year, it may never happen.
Jason Heyward – Did you realize he’s only 23? Right?
Alex Gordon – Even more valuable if you’re in an OBP or OPS league. Those doubles are going to turn into homers someday.
Jacoby Ellsbury – Man, he was an absolute stud for one year. Can he do it again?
Bryce Harper – He’s going to be the best fantasy player in the league one day. He’s not there yet, but he’s going to get closer every season.
Solid Number 2 Outfielders
This list is long and they all do different things. You’re in great shape with any of them, but they shouldn’t be your best outfielder.
Michael Bourn – No one will get you more steals.
Curtis Granderson – How much batting average will you give up for those home runs?
Yoenis Cespedes – Injury prone, but when he’s on the field, look out.
Jay Bruce – The power showed up in 2012. In that lineup and in that stadium, it’s probably not going anywhere.
Allen Craig – Underrated as a hitter. If he gets full-time at-bats, he’s as good as almost anybody. Probably plays more first base though.
B.J. Upton – If only defense counted. Still a good power/speed combo.
Austin Jackson – See Upton, B.J. but with less power.
One Big Question
Shane Victorino – Does he have enough left in the tank to avoid being a platoon? Perhaps hitting at Fenway is the cure for that.
Melky Cabrera – What role did PED’s play in his success?
Desmond Jennings – Is he going to put it all together?
Alex Rios – Will he ever put back-to-back good seasons together?
Shin-Soo Choo – Can he stay healthy and make the transition to the National League in a walk year?
Carlos Beltran – What’s left in the tank?
The Power Guys
You want home runs, you’ve got them. But they won’t give you much else.
Nelson Cruz – As long as he’s not suspended, he still hits for power and drives in runs.
Josh Willingham – Good power in a bad lineup, but how long will he be in Minnesota?
Chris Davis – If given full playing time, he’ll pop his homers. Just don’t expect much else.
The Speed Guys
These guys can just about carry your steals category, but you’re not going to get much else out of them.
Angel Pagan – The best hitter of the speed group.
Ben Revere – See where he hits in Philly. If it’s atop their lineup, he’s a lot more valuable than at the bottom.
Norichika Aoki – Plenty of steals and hits near the top of a good lineup.
Lorenzo Cain – Same as Aoki, but not in as good of a lineup.
Brett Gardner – Don’t forget how good he was when healthy. The Yankees need him this year.
Ichiro – With Ichiro and Gardner in the same lineup, there could be a little more small-ball than usual in the bronx.
Coco Crisp – Defense still doesn’t count, but he still steals a ton of bases.
Rajai Davis – The Blue Jays outfield is crowded this season, but if he gets his at-bats he’ll also steal his bases.
The Injury Group
Carl Crawford – Could be a stud, could be a dud. It’s your call.
Nick Markakis – He’s not the all-or-nothing risk of Crawford, but he’s been hoping to reach his potential for years, and his season-ending injury didn’t help.
Curtis Granderson – He’s turned himself into a premier power hitter, but it’s at the cost of his batting average.
Josh Reddick – That A’s outfield is crowded, but if he can prove he’s more than a platoon hitter, that power is real.
Torii Hunter – Aging, but has proven he’s still a productive major leaguer.
Nick Swisher – If you’re in an OBP league, he shoots way up the charts. Even without it, he’s a decent power hitter.
Carlos Gomez – It really depends on your league. If you’re in a batting average league, his ability as a hitter doesn’t kill you. If you’re in an OBP or OPS league, his HR/SB combo comes at a cost.
Hunter Pence – Last year was his worst as a pro. He should bounce back, but playing his home games in San Francisco won’t help.
Andre Either – Hitting in the Dodgers lineup will help, but he still can’t hit lefties.
Jayson Werth – Those five home runs last season were a fluke. He’s got more than that left in the tank and he’s in a good lineup.
Dexter Fowler – Still a good hitter hitting in Colorado.
Cameron Maybin – If the shorter fences in San Diego work, he could turn into a nice power/speed combo.
The Young Guys
Starling Marte – Could go 20/20 soon. Loses value in OBP leagues.
Wil Myers – His value completely depends on when he’s called up.
Adam Eaton – Going to be a stud for SB’s and runs scored, but won’t play every single day.
Leonys Martin – Watch closely in spring training. If he’s playing every day in the Rangers lineup, he has value.
Filling Out Your Roster
Michael Saunders – Decent power and speed, and the fences are coming in at Safeco.
Jason Kubel – Still has good pop and is in a good lineup.
Jon Jay – Doesn’t stand out in any category, but hits in front of some really good hitters.
Michael Cuddyer – Hits for power, even in Minnesota.
Colby Rasmus – One of these years, it’s going to be really good to have Colby on your team.