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March 3, 2010

Fantasy Focus

Right Fielder Rankings

by Marc Normandin

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Right field isn't as deep as its corner counterpart, but it's still one of the more balanced positions out there, with lots of homers, steals and the like to go around. It is lacking in elite options-the one five-star player ranked does not have a long history of that level of success, but his ceiling is too high to ignore following last year's performance-but there is still plenty to choose from in the four- and three-star tiers.

Just a note, before anyone brings it up in the comments: you will be receiving a unified list of outfielder rankings once I have completed this set of three splitting them up by position. I am not ignoring your needs, it's just easier to build it this way than in the other direction, and then everyone gets what they want. As for the previous rankings in the series, check out first basemen, second basemen, third basemen, shortstops, catchers, and left fielders. Now, here are the changes to this year's ranking system:

  • Players are no longer ranked by number (the 1-20 system). Instead, I am implementing a tiered system using stars (five stars is the best, one is the lesser of your options). These stars are equal across positions to make comparisons between them easier-for example, there are three five-star first basemen, but there may be more or fewer than that at other positions-if it comes to it, the first player at a position may be a four-star option. You can derive positional scarcity from the number of four- and five-star players available and make decisions from there. Players are loosely ordered within tiers, with my first preference to my last.
  • I am no longer just covering 20 players per position-each list may be a bit different in length, but this list of right fielders is 60 players long. This should let players in AL- or NL-only league be as prepared as those in mixed leagues. There are two things I did to make this happen. First, I used the depth charts as my guide (this is also where the projections listed come from) and picked the starting player for every team at the position, giving me a minimum of 30 guaranteed choices. Second, for players with multiple position eligibility, I included them in the list for each position. It is possible they will have different star ratings at different positions, though, so make sure you reference the correct set of rankings. Victor Martinez is a three-star first baseman-it's a very crowded position, and his numbers are very average for it-but at catcher, where the talent pool is shallower, Martinez is worth more. This allows me to show you at which position a player is most valuable. If there is anyone I missed that you want to know about, please ask me about them via e-mail or in the comments, and I'll get back to you with my thoughts.
Five Stars
Player            PA  AVG/ OBP/ SLG   R HR RBI SB
Justin Upton     684 .287/.372/.518  94 27  89 15

Upton's weighted mean is tasty enough on its own, but his 70th and 90th percentiles should make owners salivate: .298/.385/.546 with 16 steals and 27 homers and .307/.394/.569 with 30 homers and 20 thefts (note: the line may be more important than the HR/SB totals there, as he's projected for fewer plate appearances) in his 70th and 90th forecasts than he is on the depth chart-the depth chart is his weighted mean but with expected PA). He still has room to grow as a player given his skills and young age, so it would not be surprising to see him reach or exceed those upper-level forecasts. Even if he does not, though, it's hard to argue with his weighted mean.

Four Stars
Player             PA    AVG/ OBP/ SLG   R HR RBI SB
Nick Markakis	  684	.305/.378/.492  92 23  92  9
Hunter Pence	  633	.301/.362/.513  78 25  83 12
Nelson Cruz  	  548	.272/.356/.525  72 29  81 14
Jay Bruce	  598   .276/.347/.520  81 29  82  7
Ben Zobrist  	  578	.269/.380/.484  78 23  67 14
Shin-Soo Choo     646   .279/.388/.452  83 16  78 14
Andre Ethier	  646	.283/.366/.487  77 24  85  4
Denard Span	  678	.295/.378/.421  92  9  64 24
Bobby Abreu       623   .279/.377/.446  82 17  76 16
Jayson Werth	  614	.269/.377/.487  84 28  84 15
Ichiro Suzuki	  662	.319/.364/.415  78  8  48 21
Adam Dunn         630	.246/.384/.487  75 31  90  2
Josh Hamilton	  408	.294/.366/.532  77 27  91  7
Carlos Quentin    570	.273/.378/.519  84 30  90  4

The four-star tier opens with three excellent options: Markakis is a four-category player who can also give you a hand with steals, and Pence is the same way, though with a little bit more power. Cruz has more power than the two of them and also adds steals, but may not be as much help from a R or batting average perspective. You can't go wrong with any of these three, though, so don't fret if you miss one of them. Bruce's forecast is far from any performance he has put up thus far, but remember that last year he had to deal with a combination of inexperience and injury-with good health and some more major-league at-bats under his belt, it wouldn't come as a surprise to see him match that optimistic forecast.

Zobrist is a second baseman who hits like an outfielder-think Choo, the guy directly next to him, as a good point of comparison. Ethier is very well-rounded, but lacks the speed or power to move out of the four-star tier and into elite status. Still, if you end up with Ethier as your right fielder, you won't be disappointed. Span is here, just like in left, as somewhat of a ceiling ranking-he has some wiggle room for growth in both power and steals, and is already plenty valuable without additions to either. Abreu may not have the home run power he used to, but there's a lot to be said for a guy who is on base all the time and can still swipe a bag or 16. Werth is one of the more balanced hitters available, though he doesn't excel in any one category, leaving him as "just" a four-star guy.

PECOTA has a tough time with Ichiro normally, but I like this forecast, which is probably a first. He'll have more runs for sure, but we've been over how under-forecasted the R and RBI are many times in the past. Taking a cue from some feedback on left fielders, Dunn is a four-star right fielder. His projected homer total is probably a little too low, so giving him extra credit for that bumps him here. I also put Hamilton and Quentin here with the caveat that they are worthy if they are healthy and able to stay in the lineup.

Three Stars
Player             PA    AVG/ OBP/ SLG   R HR RBI SB
F.Gutierrez       582	.276/.338/.457  82 21  70 14
Corey Hart   	  563	.274/.339/.476  68 20  71 16
Alex Rios   	  650	.275/.333/.456  80 20  69 18
Brad Hawpe   	  614	.274/.378/.491  77 24  87  1
J.D. Drew         457	.258/.380/.451  65 15  52  2
Jason Kubel  	  603	.282/.357/.488  72 23  88  2
Nick Swisher 	  571	.252/.381/.462  76 23  70  2
Michael Cuddyer	  565	.274/.349/.467  74 20  71  5
Jack Cust   	  556	.238/.379/.469  70 27  71  2
David DeJesus	  662	.282/.356/.423  82 12  68  7
Ryan Ludwick	  578	.270/.346/.479  72 24  92  3
Cody Ross         573	.277/.344/.502  68 25  82  5
Josh Willingham   542	.256/.369/.460  65 20  68  4
Kyle Blanks  	  542   .258/.346/.443  69 21  79  2
Seth Smith        438	.278/.370/.469  55 13  56  6
Milton Bradley	  438   .275/.395/.454  56 15  52  3

Gutierrez came out of nowhere last year to start hitting, despite moving to a park that favors pitchers. He's capable of moving into the lower part of the four-star category, but this forecast seems more likely. The same goes for Hart as his projection seems like a trap being for me to proclaim him near-elite, but I won't take the bait this time. You stay in the third tier Mr. Hart, and you like it. I'm a little pessimistic regarding Rios' homer total, but the rest seems fine. Maybe a few more steals but fewer homers, which would still put him around the same value. Hawpe is probably a better option in roto than head-to-head, though he hits much better than most Rockies on the road-I'm more worried about him against left-handers than playing away from Coors Field. I don't like this forecast one bit for Drew-missing some time during the year and his lack of RBI (which has more to do with his skill set than a lack of talent or value, Boston media) keeps him from four-star status, despite his real-world utility. Kubel, Swisher, and Cuddyer have a few things in common-namely, all are pretty good in a few categories, but dominate zero. Kubel is available in both left and right, while Cuddyer and Swisher are 1B/RF. Cuddyer is also the subject of a fantasy baseball team name my friend wants to use, "A Streetcar Named Cuddyer."

Cust's value is the same as always-homers! DeJesus doesn't excel anywhere, but he won't hurt you, and should play every day. Ludwick and Ross are a toss-up-both play in parks that favor pitchers, both are capable of surprising with a high-powered offensive year, and both have a lot of their value tied up in R and RBI. Willingham is along the same lines, though I would be surprised by a big power outburst. Blanks is basically a walking power outburst, but I have to see him play some more in the majors before I move him up any higher. Bradley is more valuable if he plays all of the time, though with Seattle's mish-mash of a cast, that may be a problem. Smith would benefit from additional playing time as well, but he has value despite the lack of a full season's worth of plate appearances.

Two Stars
Player               PA  AVG/ OBP/ SLG   R HR RBI SB
Rick Ankiel         519 .255/.314/.456  68 22  69  4
Jeff Francoeur      598	.280/.326/.435  68 15  78  4
Elijah Dukes        563	.249/.362/.435  63 17  67 12
Matt Joyce          366	.244/.331/.447  43 14  44  5
Magglio Ordonez     608	.303/.376/.476  70 19  84  2
Ryan Church         507	.271/.349/.414  55 12  61  5
Melky Cabrera       480 .273/.341/.404  50 10  53  9
Jason Heyward 	    366	.271/.345/.447  47 10  38  5
Garrett Jones	    564	.252/.320/.439  64 21  71  8
Ryan Sweeney        530	.286/.354/.424  63 11  55  7
Nate Schierholtz    411	.287/.330/.473  48 11  46  6
Will Venable        548	.243/.312/.385  54 13  54  6
Allen Craig         373	.264/.323/.440  44 13  44  1
Chris Dickerson	    433	.251/.355/.420  48 11  38 12
Matt Diaz           433	.288/.352/.424  43  9  47  8
Jeremy Hermida	    373	.271/.356/.456  46 13  41  4
David Murphy 	    394	.278/.353/.461  47 12  48  5
Xavier Nady         334	.285/.348/.480  39 13  43  1
Kosuke Fukudome	    539	.260/.383/.394  69  9  47  6
Ty Wigginton        354	.281/.338/.487  39 16  39  2

I still think Ankiel has a better season hiding in him than people think. This may be one of the few moves Dayton Moore has made that I actively like instead of make fun of every chance I get, even in non-Royals related writings. Francoeur brought his stock back up a little after being traded to the Mets last season, but I still have some issues with the performance, and I'm not convinced he's going to be much more than an annual tease. I have higher hopes for Dukes, but he's shown even less so far than Francoeur.

Joyce may not help you out with batting average, but he's the kind of guy I expect to improve as the year goes on. He might be a better 2011 pick than 2010. Ordonez's forecast is far too optimistic for my liking after his power outage last season. I'm not sure he'll hit those RBI or HR numbers, which will limit his value despite his batting average. Church may not be the source of offense we all hoped he would be, but he's not a bad option in deep leagues since the Pirates could let him play if Jeff Clement is a bust at first base and Jones is moved back to the infield. Cabrera doesn't appeal to me very much, just like in left field. Not a terrible option given he'll play, though. If Heyward was guaranteed playing time, he would be further up this list, but for now you'll have to do your best to snag this sleeper-one that's becoming less of a sleeper by the day. Jones is likely to be overrated by someone in your league, which is a shame, because he's a good late pick for the position.

Sweeney, like many A's, isn't that much fun offensively, but as a starter he deserves a look in deep leagues. Schierholtz isn't a great option, but he's better than most of the Giants, which is good for his HR and line, but bad for his R and RBI. Venable has a center fielder's bat and plays half of his games in Petco Park, though I like him more than this forecast. Craig didn't play in the majors last year, but did hit .322/.374/.547 with 26 homers at Triple-A as a 25-year-old, and we're projecting him for quite a few plate appearances.

The rest of this tier is full of guys who would benefit from additional playing time, but won't get it unless a starter goes down with injury. It's a shame too, because with the exception of Fukudome, you have some pretty solid bats to choose from here.

One Star
Player               PA  AVG/ OBP/ SLG   R HR RBI SB
Jose Bautista       598 .250/.352/.435  72 20  63  5
Felix Pie	    333	.270/.326/.445  46 10  42  5
Erik Hinske         464	.239/.344/.419  54 14  50  7
Mark Teahen   	    548	.266/.332/.408  62 12  49  6
Gerardo Parra	    338	.281/.337/.413  37  5  35  6
Ryan Spilborghs     292	.273/.359/.430  41  6  34  5
Wladimir Balentien  300 .256/.335/.467  35 13  38  3
Emilio Bonifacio    395 .262/.320/.345  48  2  25 14
Michah Hoffpauir    282	.272/.321/.452  32 10  42  2

It's only been a day since the left-field rankings, so I still don't like Bautista's forecast. Most of these players are part-timers who won't be able to help you much unless you're in a ridiculously deep league, but then you have Teahen, who probably shouldn't get as many plate appearances as he will. Bonifacio may be one of the more interesting names here solely because of his positional flexibility and penchant for stealing. He's not great by any means, but as a super-utility player in a deep league, you could do worse.

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Fantasy Article Team Health Reports: C... (03/03)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Focus: Left Fi... (03/02)
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Fantasy Article Fantasy Focus: Center ... (03/04)
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