February 24, 2011
Right Fielder Rankings
Like last year, the fantasy rankings are broken into tiers. Generally speaking, five-star players should be worthwhile in five categories and have an auction dollar value of $30 or more in your standard, mixed leagues. Four-star players should be worth at least $20 and useful in four categories, three-stars $10 and up, two-stars are more of your single-digit buys that you hope fill a hole or return some bargain value, and one-star players are, most likely, roster filler in the deepest leagues that you hope can be worth the buck you throw down on them.
This year we are listing stats like we have in the past (plate appearances, average, R, RBI, SB and HR projections from PECOTA) but are also including dollar value estimates produced by the Player Forecast Manager. In order to make these columns fit into the tables, I had to shorten them: "2L-$" is for mixed leagues, and "1L-$" is for AL- or NL-only leagues, depending on the player. The dollar values may not match up perfectly with the tiers, but those are just cases of PECOTA and I disagreeing on a player.
For reference, the dollar values were created with the PFM using standard 5x5 roto scoring, 23-player rosters—broken down as C (2) 1B (1) 2B (1) 3B (1) SS (1) CI (1) MI (1) OF (5) Util (1) P (9)—and $180 of the $260 budget allocated for hitters and $1 minimum salaries. A minimum of 20 games needed to be played at a position in the previous season to qualify (though I snuck a few brand-new players likely to qualify in). If your league uses different settings, be sure to plug them into the PFM to see what kind of differences in dollar value we are talking about—I set these to be as close to standard roster construction as possible.
You may have noticed over the past few days that Carlos Gonzalez is my favorite outfielder for 2011. The problem, of course, is that you will have to pay top dollar for his production, and probably won't see much of a surplus return on your investment.
Jay Bruce is a different story, though—PECOTA sees him bumping up his fantasy value considerably, and I'm willing to move it up a step further and put him above the other four-star right fielders. The idea is that his second half in 2010 was a breakout, and you'll want to get him this year before everyone realizes what he is capable of. His average draft position, according to Mock Draft Central, is 81, with a high of 98 and a low of 52. He should be better than that.
Jose Bautista is well liked by PECOTA and I, though you won't see me predicting another 50-plus homer campaign for him. Shin-Soo Choo's numbers seem low here across the board—chances are good that when the percentiles are released, PECOTA and I can agree on his 70th percentile projection. Justin Upton has the most upside of anyone here, but after he took some steps back in 2010 and with plenty of other right fielders to choose from, you won't catch me in the same kinds of Upton bidding wars I put myself into in the past.
Nelson Cruz is pretty good at the baseball, but he needs to stick in the lineup for a full season to move further up in these rankings. Jayson Werth loses some points by leaving Philly's cozy Citizens Bank Park, but he should continue to provide power and some speed, and will likely contribute better R and RBI totals in the middle of the Nats' lineup. Hunter Pence is like a lesser version of Shin-Soo Choo, which is still good enough to make the four-star tier. He's one of the lone bright points in the Astros' lineup—scratch that, he is the bright point. If Stanton gets the playing time above, he'll surely steal more bases than what PECOTA has said here. He's another player I'm curious about the upper-level projections for.
Hart put up a low four-star campaign in 2010 after some down years. I think he's still capable of four-star production—especially if he starts to steal more bases now that Ken Macha is gone—but that's more along the lines of his upside, rather than what we should expect. The same could be said of Rajai Davis—I'm not so confident in him that I would hand him four stars to begin with, but he has the potential to sneak into that tier.
Markakis can't seem to both hit for power and have patience at the plate at the same time. PECOTA does think he's going to have a pretty good 2011, though. Ryan Raburn should be playing every day in Detroit now—playing time was the only concern with him in the past, so now that he'll have it, scoop him up before anyone notices how good a hitter he is. Nick Swisher + Yankee lineup = three stars. That's science. Ichiro Suzuki would be a four-star player if it weren't required that he steal three bases after every single in order to score a run. Andre Ethier is in the middle of a poor offense, so I'm thinking his upside here is something like $17-18.
A healthy Ben Zobrist should be able to match the PECOTA line above, but as he has shown in the past, he is capable of much more. I've discussed Angel Pagan, Torii Hunter, and Andres Torres before—all three seem a tad underrated by PECOTA's weighted-means, but I may just be optimistic. I'm interested in seeing their 70th percentiles as well, as I figure that's the same ballpark as my image of their production. Jason Heyward is a tremendous talent, but he hasn't achieved the greatness he is capable of just yet—don't get caught paying future prices for a player that is still blooming and not quite bloomed.
Huff's patient approach served him well in 2010, and I think he can do something similar again. Bobby Abreu can still hit double-digits in the home run and steal categories, but the lineup around him may keep him from putting up stellar R or RBI totals. He may still have a three-star year left in him, though. If Carlos Quentin could just stay on the field—he's averaged 120 games a year in his three seasons with Chicago—he would be worth much more. As it is, I don't feel confident drafting Quentin unless I'm also drafting an insurance outfielder I won't mind being stuck using.
Magglio Ordonez's defense doesn’t count against you in standard leagues, but, like Quentin, if he can't stay on the field it won't matter much—he's also averaged 120 games the last three years. Cuddyer can be useful given his multiple-position eligibility, but unless he has one of his random big years at the plate, he's not worth more than a few bucks. Brad Hawpe dealt with multiple injuries in 2010 that helped keep his production down, and while Petco Park won't give the lefty a break, better health should improve his numbers. Domonic Brown would rank higher than this if he were guaranteed a starting job, but I can't even pretend to understand what is going on with Philadelphia's outfield right now. If healthy, Ludwick can be basically what you're used to seeing. Petco isn't hitter-friendly, but for right-handers, it's no worse than Ludwick's previous home of Busch in St. Louis.
Drew has more value in an OBP league, but if he sees fewer plate appearances with Mike Cameron as the fourth outfielder, it's going to be tough to accumulate the counting stats that would make him useful in standard leagues. David DeJesus is better than his projection in a vacuum, but he's not playing in one of those. The Coliseum dislikes runs, and will prevent DeJesus from creating a lot of them with his bat.
Projecting 600 plate appearances for Jeff Francoeur isn't funny because it's off base, it's funny because it could happen. Ben Francisco might be more useful early in the year, before Domonic Brown wrests away the majority of his playing time. Xavier Nady is a little less useful after Russ Branyan was signed in Arizona, but in NL-only leagues he has some value for his versatility. Matt Joyce is going to be a better real-life player than a fantasy one, given Tampa Bay's platoon obsession that will cut into his time on the diamond.
Desmond Jennings was more likely to have some impact before Johnny Damon was signed to handle left field. He may appear later in the year, as the projection above indicates, but he's someone you should spend FAAB money on or scoop up on midseason waivers. Andruw Jones will enjoy hitting in Yankee Stadium, but he won't get to do so often enough to make a difference anywhere but AL-only leagues.
The rest of this list is full of part-timers who need injuries or a great start to the year to secure a job. In the deepest of leagues you may want to draft them, but it's more likely you'll pick these guys up midseason to replace some of your own injured draftees.