Since we’re fantasy baseball nerds, we’ll be running down as much of a commentary as we can prior to your March fantasy drafts. If you’re having a draft before then, you’re violating a major man-law. Don’t do it. You’ll inevitably draft some guy who breaks his nads installing a hardwood floor or something. Here are our top-20 Outfielders for fantasy baseball 2014. We’re running this down similar to the guys at Razzball, though we could never pretend to be of the legendary status they’ve achieved.
1. Mike Trout: Until the younger bull knocks the old bull off the hill (Trout is the old bull in his age 22 season, didn’t you know?) you have to keep putting this guy here and leaving him alone. We just hope you were one of the lucky bastards who snagged him late and were able to keep him after that lackluster cup of coffee in 2011. That was so, so long ago. We figure Trout finally wins that MVP award, hits 30 homers, drives in around his career-high 97 and steals close to 40 while hitting around .320 again. No regression in sight.
2. Andrew McCutchen: There’s just no reason to move an MVP much when he’s entering that magical age-27 season. He wasn’t as Heavenly as his 2012 last season, but he was still remarkable and helped owners win a lot of leagues. What is there to say that hasn’t been said (that’s what we hate about these rankings at the top, everyone has these guys up here). McCutchen is a Ferrari, get him in your garage if you can.
3. Carlos Gomez: This is the guy we’re pretty proud of. He was our major sleeper heading into 2013, and he finally put it all together. What we love about Gomez is he’s a guy who seems to want those stats for you. He steals bases when his team is up big, he challenges for the extra base, he isn’t happy settling with that three-hit night. He plays the game hard and we think the power could enjoy another slight up-tick in 2014. The only thing about Gomez that sucks is when he takes away home runs from your other fantasy players playing center field. He owes Jay Bruce several.
4. Giancarlo Stanton: Big Mike struggled last season hitting .249, but he’ll enter 2014 with major motivation: play so well he can escape Miami for greener pastures and a mega-deal soon following. This will be the year that he eclipses 40 home runs if anyone does in the National league. This will be a .900 OPS season. This will be the year he finally plays like a first rounder. As they say on eBay, bid with confidence.
5. Carlos Gonzalez: 2010 seems so long ago when he finished third in MVP voting. Since then he’s missed time each season but was still spectacular when he was on the field. The only question with Gonzalez is health, if you believe he can stay healthy he will be stellar and steady. He’s not going to go out there and hit .260 at Coors Field. It’s just not going to happen. A solid first-round guy if he can play in 140-150 games.
6. Adam Jones: He’s in a great lineup, he’s in a nice hitter’s park, he’ll be just 28, and he’s baseball’s closest present-day version to Eric Davis. What we like most about Jones is his games played the past three years: 151, 162, 160.
7. Bryce Harper: Someday soon the nagging injuries that drive fantasy owners like us nuts will end, and Bryce Harper will have the biggest numbers of his young career. It’s not too much to ask for a player like Harper to post an average in the .280-.290 range with upwards of 35+ home runs and over 100 RBI and runs scored. We don’t look for him to steal many more than 10 – he’s bulked up – but that power is coming in a big way. He hit .344 and 9 HR in April last season. If he can put that together over a full year like he’s going to try to do……
8. Jacoby Ellsbury: We don’t like that he’s turning 30. We don’t like that he misses monstrous amounts of time about every other season. We do like that he is in that hitter’s park in the Bronx and think he offers 20-50 potential. Solid bet to be very good in the near-term. I want no part of him in a year or two though.
9. Jay Bruce: The Reds are going to have an average year. Jay Bruce is going to have a career year. He’s entering his age-27 season. He’ll get as close to 40 home runs as he has yet and he’ll hit around .275, and with Bruce what you’re buying is the consistency. A lock for 30+ home runs and 150 games played. His slumps will make you want to drown kittens. His hot streaks are other-worldly.
10. Ryan Braun: He’s really not going to miss a beat when he returns from his little hiatus in 2013. He’ll be the same old Braun, which is video-game numbers. It won’t be his career year, but short of that you’re getting one of the top sluggers in baseball with some steals, albeit a few less steals and probably a few less homers. All things considered, a guy we would love to have; even with the cheating!
11. Justin Upton: So now the world knows that he’s not the second coming of Ken Griffey Jr., and that’s okay! What Upton is, is just a pretty good player. And he’s going to be more comfortable in his second season in Atlanta. Something about Upton worries us a little bit; but when we think about it it’s just the poor taste he left in our mouth in 2012. Even then, he was pretty solid. He’s deserving of this high ranking.
12. Shin-soo Choo: He’s going to score a lot of runs out in that Texas heat and don’t be surprised if his numbers improve across the board in a lineup full of threatening hitters.
13. Yasiel Puig: There will be no in between for Puig in 2014. He does not simply maintain; he either becomes full-fledged fantasy superstar or completely collapses in his sophomore campaign. We’re talking .240 or .315ish with power and steals again. Either way, it’s going to be VERY entertaining. Biggest risk factor of anyone in these rankings.
14. Jose Bautista: He may be quickly approaching his decline. He is at an age where it is reasonable for a lot of players to lose bat speed and miss time to injuries. But we believe enough in Joey Bats’ skills to say he will provide one more glorious summer in the sun for fantasy owners. A return to the 30’s in HR, 100 RBI, and an OPS in the .900s for those that believe.
15. Jason Heyward: We don’t really plan to target him – which is why he’ll inevitably break out. If that’s not a good enough reason, keep in mind he’s playing for a monster contract. If you believe what the scouts originally said about Heyward back entering 2010, that huge year is coming this year or next.
16. Allen Craig: The guy with two first names always wrecks shit when he’s in the lineup. He’s a .300 hitting machine in a baseball town where everything seems to line up nicely for that organization. He’ll probably have a DL stint included, but if you can weather that storm you’ll get a .300 average, 20+ homers, near 100 RBI, and peace of mind rotating him between OF and 1B.
17. Matt Kemp: Another guy we don’t want to own, in part because his risk is not worth the overpay it will take to land him on draft day. If for some reason the bargain exists in the middle rounds – take a flier on the guy. The decline might only be a season or two away, but for now Kemp has something to prove and will be taking the field for a team with World Series expectations. It should be a nice year for the back of his baseball card.
18. Starling Marte: A lot of people out there will shy away from putting Marte in their top-20 because it’s too out on a limb. His power numbers should improve and he’ll be a realistic possibility for a 20-40 season. His average should not dip much further than .280 because speed like his doesn’t slump. An .800 OPS player who will be 25. The soon to be Pirates outfield of Marte, McCutchen, and Polanco could be a lot of fun.
19. Yoenis Cespedes: Why do I feel like the guy is probably older than his listed age of 28? He’s probably like 34, but these damn Cubans are ageless wonders with their chicken blood voodoo cocktails. If you want a projection on him an average of his first two seasons is fair to expect: 25ish HR, .265-.270, 81 RBI, 12 steals, 70 runs.
20. Domonic Brown: The bottom line is power comes at a premium these days in baseball. Gone are the days where any number of middle infielders slug 27 home runs for you and drive in 80-plus. For that, you’ll need to pick up a guy like Brown who should continue to hit home runs in bunches. If it wasn’t for an injury he would have easily entered the 30-homer club. He’ll be inducted in 2014.
I don’t really have to explain how it’s stupid to have an exhibition game between the two leagues determine for one team who gets home field advantage in the World Series, particularly given the way the rosters are put together….however.
For now I’ll enjoy the pitching show the AL put on tonight. They only gave up three hits to an all-star NL lineup. Here is the pitching numbers from the night.
For the offensive side, Jose Bautista ended up with the game winning hit – a sacrifice fly in the 4th inning. JJ Hardy and Jason Kipnis added the 2nd and 3rd RBIs. The best offensive play on the night was clearly Prince Fielder legging out a triple.
The NL didn’t fare well. Never getting more than a hit in any inning and only advancing a man to 3rd base once.
It’s fun to see all these guys get together and play a game and mostly have a lot of fun doing it. It was fun to see Mariano Rivera get the MVP in his last game (not sure why they didn’t use him for the save).
A few final thoughts:
Fantasy owners are pissed at Matt Harvey for knocking the knee of Robinson Cano.
Neil Diamond is old and its hard to get New York fans to sing a Boston song. I’ve never seen more disinterested New York fans as I did during the first verse of “Sweet Caroline”.
Has there been a better player than Carlos Beltran who has played for 5 different teams and seemingly been written off several times.
I have no idea how Joe Mauer didn’t throw out Andrew McCutchen. Perfect throw.
Manny Machado made another ridiculous play at 3rd. When is this guy moving to shortstop?
Try to enjoy tomorrow. It’s the only day in the year with out a game played by any major sport. Maybe read a book or do something productive with your life. You’ll only have one day to do it.
Check out the jerseys hanging up for the Toronto Marlins Blue Jays. Reyes, Johnson, Bonafacio, Buehrle. Just a part of the new players Toronto got to play north of the border this year. The Blue Jays have long seemed a team ready to take the next step, but they never have. They tried a few different methods. Former GM JP Ricciardi, tried to do it with big signings such as AJ Burnett and, ahem, BJ Ryan? New GM Alex Anthopoulos spent several years building the farm system starting with trading ace Roy Halladay. Well, after acquiring a nice core of young players including Brett Lawrie, and Brandon Morrow, Anthopoulos made some deals to swing for the fences this year. He picked a good year to do it too. The Red Sox are down for sure, the Yankees have serious injury concerns. Is this the year that Toronto gets back to the playoffs after a 20 year absence? If it is, it will be greatly dependent on how this next group of players perform this year and adapt to playing in the great white north.
Let’s see who they acquired to make that playoff (and maybe more) berth a reality. This could be long.
Major Off-Season Moves:
Acquired SS Jose Reyes
Acquired SP Josh Johnson
Acquired SP Mark Buehrle
Acquired OF/2B Emilio Bonafacio
Signed OF Melky Cabrera
Acquired SP RA Dickey
Toronto acquired 5 of the 6 players acquired in the off season are former or current All-Stars. This is a serious influx of talent for a team that already had a pretty good major league roster. Now they had to pretty much deplete their prospects still in the minor leagues, but sometimes that’s what you need to do. In a prefect world, a team can have a stocked minor league while still being a top major league team. I can guarantee that most fans would trade one World Series title if it means there will be a rebuilding phase a few years later. All these players are going to fill starting roles (Bonafacio being the shakiest) and will be significant upgrades over their predecessors.
The fountain spray for sunken pearls added a nice touch.
My wife turned on the Bachelorette for round two. I watched the final round of Joey Bats vs. Prince on my iPhone. Brutal, but it was even getting boring for me. The main course is this evening, I thought to myself.
And that’s it about the 2012 Home Run Derby. The next one will be my 30th. Gross.
Originally, my wife and I were going to attend Opening Night in Cincinnati. My uncle mentioned that we were invited the day before Easter to see the Tribe play the Blue Jays in Cleveland. I wanted to see Jose Bautista–after all I’ve never seen him play. I owed this to myself.
It was enjoyable, cool early April afternoon and I’m glad we went North rather than South on this first MLB Saturday of the season.
I won’t lie, it’s always going to be “The Jake” to me. Nevertheless, I’ve had a lot of good memories at this park. There’s something special about a weekend afternoon game in Cleveland. Maybe it was the Bertman’s.
I didn’t get to see Bautista hit a bomb or anything, he went 0 for 4 with a walk. He homered the night before and was probably all tuckered out from playing the longest extra inning game (16 innings) to open an MLB season in history the night before.
A view below of what used to be Pronkville. An area that used to be in some demand now has few inhabitants. Notice the Horseshoe Casino advertisement, due to open up in May. I hope it’s kinder to me than Las Vegas has been over the course of my young life.
Ubaldo Jimenez brought his ‘A’ stuff on this afternoon. This was the longest game that I’ve ever been at before in which a pitcher has carried a no-hitter. Jimenez took his 6 and 2/3 innings before allowing a single to Brett Lawrie that also let the shutout get away from him due to a walk and a wild pitch.
I came away impressed by Jimenez, he was mid 90’s on a cold afternoon and if he can get his control going better he’s going to have a nice season.
Cleveland cityscape. It’s a cool city I suppose, though I rank it behind Cincinnati and Indianapolis in a lot of categories.
Tell me that isn’t a weird line score. My uncle and I were discussing if there were to be a walk-off homer and no other base hits in the game and the game ended 2-1, has that ever happened before? Had to get the bizarro world linescore on the blog.
Hairy Buffaloes in Cleveland. My wife had to pee after we parked. As sorry as this Chief Wahoo looks, he would look sorrier before the afternoon ended.
What, we’re advertising on foul poles now? Cleveland has officially became a foul pole advertising franchise. You should be real proud of yourselves, Indians. I’m told by my friend who is a Tribe fan that these were like this last year, but I don’t buy it. I would have noticed.
Life imitates Hollywood. Shades of Major League when the Indians players show up to the park and there are ads absolutely everywhere.
We sat in the club, ate way too much food, and enjoyed a 12-inning Blue Jays victory. Sorry, Cleveland. It’s going to be another long summer for you. At least you have the warmth of the memories (speaking of, I met Carlos Baerga before the game) and the Browns to look forward to.
Scratch that. At least you had the 1995 and 1997 Indians, a lot more than any other fans can be promised to ever experience. Like Tom Petty says ‘the good old days might not return’ but at least there are good old days to look back on.
As part of our preview for the upcoming 2012 season, we’ll be doing a 10 Bold Predictions for 2012 series that will be featured between now and Opening Day. Our third prediction? Jose Bautista hits 50 long ones in 2012.
It’s been done 13 times since 2000, by ten different ballplayers. When I was a kid, it was as exclusive of a group as sports really offered. Then 1996 happened and suddenly it seemed everyone was part of it.
The good news it that the 50 home run club is a big deal again, and it’s not going to be something that happens ten times in a decade too many more times, I wouldn’t think.
When someone does it now, it’s going to be a really big deal again. And it’s going to be something that you engrave in your mental sports epitaph that resides up in your head–you know the things you remember that take place of things that aren’t as important like when your children were born or when you and your wife got married or the song you first danced together to. But damn it, we knew that Brady Anderson hit 50 home runs on the dot in 1996 and we remember Cecil’s 51 back in ’90 as we do his son’s 50 back in 2007.
We remember these things because they are a big deal. And it’s a milestone once again for the sexiest stat in sports.
Jose Bautista is quite the human anomaly, is he not? I have to admit, I thought his 54 home runs in 2010 were a tremendous fluke. I thought he’d hit about 19 last season. I mean he only had four home runs in April of 2010, making the whole feat even more unbelievable to begin with.
He came back last season, hit 43 more; and added in a .302 average and .447 OBP% to go with. He’s going to be 31 years old this season and I think a lot of people are expecting Joey Bats to come back to earth a little bit or at least start proving that he’s a normal player. But alas we remind you that Bautista is no normal player. And he’s got one more big time run left in him.
Although Eno Sarris at FanGraphs tells us that no player will hit 40 home runs this season, we scoff at him and let him know that Joey Bats will see him at that number by mid-August (Bautista hit #40 on August 23 and September 4th respectively the last two years–both off Yankee pitching).
We’ll say Bautista’s 50th blast comes sometime between September 27-30, ironically enough against those same Bronx Bombers at Rogers Centre. And we’ll even be nice enough to dig up this post.
We expect Bautista’s home run totals to start trailing off after this season, but he’s going to give us at least one more free admission to the bomb show in 2012. Fifty coming your way in 2012.
There is one thing that came clear to me during yesterday’s All-Star Game, of which I watched the entire thing.
First off, the game was boring. It didn’t do a lot to showcase the sport’s midsummer classic. But there’s a reason for that. I felt the same way about this year’s game as I did about last year’s game. Pitching and arms are nastier and deeper than they’ve ever been before and on a lot of nights that equates to some really bland baseball.
Gone are the days where you have a Danny Darwin type arm sneak into the game or a guy who throws nothing but 86 and gets by on guile. You’ll never see that again. Baseball has a plethora of flamethrowers to choose from who have succeeded enough with their dynamite stuff in the first half of the season that you’ll virtually never watch another inning of All Star Game baseball that doesn’t feature a guy on the mound absolutely pumping 97 to 100 MPH.
Power arm after power arm last night trotted out and did their thing–and if you want to say Cliff Lee wasn’t throwing that hard–go ahead and notice that he got a bomb hit off him to allow the AL’s only run.
Prince Fielder hit the big majestic 3-run blast that salted the game away. The memorable plays I remember in the field were Hunter Pence’s assist at home plate that seemed to swing the momentum, along with Jordan Walden’s barehand play and Jose Bautista’s sliding catch against the right field wall.
But for nine innings, the display for all to see was the incredible arm that this league features. And the All Star Game was really a 9 inning sample of what we have going on all around baseball. Pitching is dominating everywhere you look and offense is down to 1992 levels for the second season in a row.
It’s neither good, bad or indifferent. It’s just how the game is today.
Berman will throw in a few ill-fated puns only to interrupt himself with the ‘back-back-backing’ of a long home run by Jose Bautista. And we’ve got 2 to 1 odds that he uses the pun “Bautista bomb” as a very bad play on words from the former WWE superstar’s finisher.
The important things to remember while watching the derby go as follows:
1) Berman simply says things because they are fun for him to say them (i.e. when Matty Holliday goes deep Berman will declare it a “National Holliday”).
2) What you are watching no matter how fun it is; is just glorified batting practice.
Here are some other predictable verbal punches and kicks Berman might throw at you tonight:
“Oh my gosh folks! He’s gone deep again! He’s the Prince of the Desert!” (When Fielder hits a bomb)
“It’s back, back, back, back and David Orteases it off the wall, just missing his 7th home run”.
“And Robinson CAN!” (after Cano barely sneaks one into the crowd)
“And Ricky he might be little but do not call him Weeks has done it again”
As great as Berman probably thinks he is, and as great as ESPN thinks he is; he’s really just one big trip back to the European pool. You know what we mean by that concept; if you’ve seen one tit, you’ve seen them all. If you subject yourself to tonight and you listen to Berman the only way you have the choice, your home run derby experience will be forever changed. Every derby will then run together from here on out.
There will be brief periods tonight where Berman’s voice drones us into thinking that it’s 1996 again and things are happening back at Veterans stadium. The years go on and fly by but Berman remains the same.
In all seriousness, the derby is still awesome to us and the summer is now officially at it’s midpoint. We wish the contestants were a little different but if you are running a derby pool at your office don’t be a doofus. Put your money on Joey Bats and him actually destroying Josh Hamilton’s derby record. You don’t bet on a guy with that kind of facial hair ability, pulled shot power in a home run contest. He’s going to own tonight. And Berman will take whatever he leaves to chance.
What is Chris Carpenter’s value on the open market if the Cardinals fall out of the race?
Was the Jose Bautista’s contract a poor move for the Blue Jays?
Thoughts on Miguel Cabrera’s DUI
Can Bryce Harper play at the big league level for the Washington Nationals this season?
We didn’t have time to cover Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects or some other things we would have liked to have talk about. But as I and Mike talk about; business is about to pick up. Baseball lovers, we have just about made it.