Mike Trout

Last time, I previewed shortstops. Now, let’s head to the outfield to round out our hitter previews.

Which outfielder should go off the board first?

Mike Trout (LAA) – There is no question that Trout is the number one outfielder in fantasy baseball. Trout is in a tier of his own, as he batted .323 with 27 home runs, 97 runs batted in and 33 stolen bases last year. The 22-year-old is going to do it big again this year, and you should have no fear in going all in on Trout.

Who is making a comeback from a disappointing 2013 season?

Josh Hamilton (LAA) – Texas Rangers fans rejoiced last season, as Angels fans and fantasy owners of Hamilton were frustrated by his production. The former American League MVP had 21 home runs, just 79 runs batted in and hit a career-low .250 after getting a fat contract from the Angels. I expect Hamilton to come back strong this season and prove the naysayers wrong.

Don’t sleep on this guy

Curtis Granderson (NYM) – Granderson only played in 61 games last year for the New York Yankees and was rather disappointing. However, he is getting a fresh start with the New York Mets. He is being ranked in the late 30’s and early 40’s, which I believe is way too low for Granderson. The guy hit 43 home runs in 2012 and 41 home runs in 2011. With exceptional power and potential to steal some bases while knocking in a lot of runs, I think he’ll have a good year. He isn’t hitting in the greatest lineup or the friendliest ballpark, but he is healthy and excited to be a member of the Mets.

Bound to bust

Ryan Braun (MIL) – After a stint on the disabled list and a season-endingsuspension for violating baseball’s drug policy and lying to the public, Braun is being ranked as high as 4 or 5 on most 2014 pre-draft outfielder rankings. It is tough togauge how Braun will perform this season, knowing that he was using performanceenhancing drugs en route to his past success. Now that he is clean, or at least claims to be, I’ll side with Braun being a bust.

My Pre-Season Rankings: Outfielders

  1. Mike Trout (LAA)
  2. Andrew McCutchen (PIT)
  3. Carlos Gonzalez (COL)
  4. Bryce Harper (WAS)
  5. Adam Jones (BAL)
  6. Jacoby Ellsbury (NYY)
  7. Yasiel Puig (LAD)
  8. Carlos Gomez (MIL)
  9. Justin Upton (ATL)
  10. Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)
  11. Jose Bautista (TOR)
  12. Shin-Soo Choo (TEX)
  13. Josh Hamilton (LAA)
  14. Ryan Braun (MIL)
  15. Yoenis Cespedes (OAK)
  16. Curtis Granderson (NYM)
  17. Jay Bruce (CIN)
  18. Alex Rios (TEX)
  19. Matt Kemp (LAD)
  20. Starling Marte (PIT)
  21. Matt Holliday (STL)
  22. Allen Craig (STL)
  23. Wil Myers (TB)
  24. Hunter Pence (SF)
  25. Mark Trumbo (ARI)

I’ll leave you with this...

As always, the outfield is strong. The top ten outfielders will probably be taken within the first three rounds of all fantasy drafts, and outfielders tend to go quickly since you need three of them in most standard leagues. It also doesn’t hurt to have extra on the bench and for your utility spot. Considering the position is so deep, you are kind of on your own as to how you want to approach it.

Each week, Adam will give his two cents about the players at each position, naming a clear-cut number one, a comeback player, a sleeper/breakout, a bust, his full rankings and a little advice as to what to do in your draft and throughout the season.

Ryan Braun, Mike Trout rank amongst top fantasy out fielders in 2013

With Opening Day coming up on Sunday there are sure to be a great deal of fantasy drafts going on between now and then. For anyone that has a draft in the next few days it would be a wise decision to draft an outfielder with one of your first picks. ESPN fantasy experts project that in most drafts five of the top 10 players picked will be outfielders. With that being said, here are my top five fantasy outfielders:

1. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers

Braun is a fairly easy pick at No. 1, and if you have the first pick in your draft he would be an excellent choice. Last season he recorded 41 home runs, 112 RBIs and a .319 batting average. Those stats speak for themselves but the stat that puts him at No. 1 for me was the 30 stolen bases that he recorded last season. In addition, Braun has proven to be very durable. Since the 2008 season he has played in at least 150 games each year.

2. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

Trout is similar to Braun in many ways, he is a player that can hit for power and average and steal bases as well. In his historic rookie season last year he hit 30 home runs, had 83 RBIs, a batting average of .326 and stole 49 bases to top it all off. Trout is the real deal and I see no sign of him slowing down this season.

3. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers

I am not going to bore you with another paragraph full of stats and numbers, when it comes to Kemp there is not a lot of explaining that needs to be done. Despite being bothered by an injury last season he was still one of the most productive players in baseball. If he stays healthy this season look for him to put up monster numbers and be right up there with guys like Braun and Trout. Kemp will be right in the middle of a stacked Dodger lineup so he will definitely have plenty of opportunities to produce.

4. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburg Pirates

Last season McCutchen quickly became one of the best players in baseball. On a mediocre Pirates squad he still managed to record 31 home runs and 96 RBIs. He is also a threat on the base path as well; in his first four seasons in the MLB he has stolen at least 20 bases each year. I would have put McCutchen over Kemp, but because he is on the Pirates he will not get as many opportunities as Kemp will to drive in runs.

5. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies

There is no doubt that Gonzalez is extremely talented but he does have some injury concerns. He has not spent a significant amount of time on the DL, but he missed 27 games last season and 35 games in 2011. Despite missing those games last season he was still able to hit 22 home runs and 85 RBIs. There is no telling what kind of numbers Gonzalez would be able to put up if he could stay healthy for an entire season.

The decision to call up Trout may have saved Las Angelas' season. He has been playing at an MVP level while guiding the Anels back into playoff contention after a poor start.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

The date was Apr. 27, a day that could very possibly go down in baseball infamy. The Angels had just been walked off by the Cleveland Indians, bringing their record to a blasphemous 6-14, dropping them nine games back of the Texas Rangers. Then general manager Jerry Dipoto made a move that the rest of the baseball world had been clamoring for in weeks prior as the Angels dug themselves a deeper and deeper hole in the division race only three weeks into the season. He called up the dynamic Mike Trout. It remains to be seen if the Angels can slide their way into the last wild card spot before the postseason begins, but if they don’t, Trout will carry none of the blame.

While Trout is out on the West Coast bringing back old memories of Mickey Mantle, Miguel Cabrera is possibly in the midst of the quietest Triple Crown hunt since Carl Yastrzemski did it back in 1967. He leads the American League in RBIs with 133 and boasts the league’s best average at .329. He has 42 home runs, trailing the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton by only one. One would have to assume that even in the midst of Trout’s transcendent rookie campaign, if Miguel Cabrera ends up pulling off the Triple Crown, the award is all but his.

And while sabermetricians and baseball purists rage war over who should win between Cabrera and Trout, there are three other names in the American League, among others, that should at least be given consideration. If Cabrera and Trout weren’t in the midst of historical seasons, these three would be given much more notice than what they’ve received.

Adrian Beltre: While Beltre isn’t having nearly the year the other two front-runners are having, his season is nothing to sneeze at, not by a long shot. He’s eighth in the league in RBIs with 98, sixth in the league with 35 homers and fifth in average, sporting .315. While none of the numbers are earth-shattering, he is arguably the most valuable player on the best team in the American League. He’s been on a torrid pace since August, hitting .323 and belting 11 home runs and has by far been the most clutch contributor in the lineup. He is the best defensive third basemen in the game, consistently taking base hits away from the opposition, and defense is often an underrated aspect of the voting.

Josh Hamilton: Continuing with the Rangers theme, Hamilton has turned in quite the season himself. First in the league with 43 home runs, second in RBIs with 124, but the case gets a bit fuzzier when you analyze the average. While his .285 average isn’t bad by any stretch, he falls short compared to the elite he’s being compared with in 2012. He hit an eye-popping .359 in his 2010 MVP campaign, so he will fall well below what everyone knows he is capable of. Through the first quarter of the season, it looked like Hamilton was well on his way to his second MVP, belting 21 home runs by the end of May and hitting .368. Then the bottom fell out for about a six-week stretch, and Hamilton has yet to make up the ground that Cabrera and Trout did since then.

Adam Jones: With the “Angels in the Outfield”-type story going on up in Baltimore, you have to include one on the list. Step on up, Adam Jones. Leading the charge for the magical Orioles, Jones has career highs in home runs with 32, a batting average of .292 and will likely break his career record for RBIs. He has 81 thus far and only needs two more over the last eight days of the season to surpass his high water mark. Jones has been the heart and soul for a team looking to make the playoffs since 1997. He has an offensive Wins Above Replacement (WAR) of 5.5, second to only Cabrera and Trout. While the pitching has held among other factors, Jones’ stellar season has largely contributed to the Orioles rise from the dead.

While there are other candidates that deserve to get some notice for the campaigns they have put up, such as Derek Jeter’s amazing comeback from a subpar 2011, Joe Mauer’s consistently great numbers up in the lowly Twin Cities or Edwin Encarnacion’s power surge in Toronto, there are really only two horses in this race. If Cabrera wins the Triple Crown, you can probably raise the white flag on the whole contest. If Hamilton can fend him off and if Trout leads the Angels to the postseason after their embarrassing start, things will get awfully hairy for the voters. It’s been a wild ride thus far, and the final week of the season might upstage the whole thing.