As I was reminded through e-mail, not everyone plays in a league where the outfield positions are split up. To fix that, I’ve decided I will post the top ten overall outfielders here for you, sans commentary. Before I get to that though, I wanted to clear up a few other questions from e-mails I received yesterday.
First, I made the mistake of forgetting Ryan Church was actually traded for Lastings Milledge, which makes platooning them in real life somewhat difficult. The PECOTA sheet I looked at still had Church’s forecast from Washington, and it slipped my mind. Regardless, if you’re in a league where you can change your roster daily, picking up the two of them might still be a pretty solid plan, as long as you pay attention to who is playing when. It still beats most of the outfielders I would have ranked between 11-20 at that position.
Second, Curtis Granderson. I didn’t overlook him yesterday in the centerfield rankings–he was actually the guy who I was considering putting at #10 instead of Ichiro. Ichiro’s problems I recounted in yesterday’s piece, but as for Granderson’s, let me pull from another recent piece on center field:
There are problems in Granderson’s future though, if you look at both his batted-ball data and his PECOTA projection. Granderson had a .391 BABIP and a 22.1 percent liner rate last season, two numbers that would be really hard to maintain. His batting average on line drives was .846, and he also managed to hit .277 on grounders and .306 on fly balls. Those numbers are all higher than what is normal, and all of them figure to come down a bit this season. Adjusting his season line for the expected BABIP puts him at .252/.311/.502, assuming all of the missing hits are singles.
This may seem extreme, but his most updated PECOTA for 2008 forecasts a .267/.339/.467 line, which is not too far off. His value depends on how high he can bring his batting average up, and if he can’t hit more than .250-.270, he’s not going to hold anywhere near as much value as he did last year. Remember this on draft day, and let someone else make the mistake of picking him up too early or for too much of their budget.
By both BABIP regression and PECOTA, Granderson is in for a hell of a fall production wise in 2008. Is this enough to push him out of the top 10 centerfielders? If you’re following PECOTA’s advice, then probably, though you could safely swap him out with Ichiro just the same. The problem is this: center field is stacked with talent, young and old. If Granderson were a corner outfielder, he probably would have made either list. As it is, think of the #10 spot in center field as a tie of sorts between Ichiro and Granderson, depending on what your own team needs more of. Remember that the real life Granderson is probably a better player than the fantasy Granderson as well.
If I were in a situation where it was Granderson or say, Justin Upton, available to me at this year’s draft, I would take Upton. The potential upside to Upton versus what you could get with Curtis Granderson or a known quantity like say, Torii Hunter, far outweighs the comfort you get from that safer pick. Taking risks in the middle and back end of the draft is part of the way you end up with a winning team; almost anyone can successfully build a foundation for a team in the first few rounds, but those middle rounds are where you can make your mark on the season.
Here’s what many of you were asking for though, a 1-10 ranking of outfielders in general. I’m having some formatting problems here, so this is going up without the accompanying statistics. Those can be found in yesterday’s piece though.
1. Grady Sizemore
2. Matt Holliday
3. Corey Hart
4. Carlos Beltran
5. Alfonso Soriano
6. Vladimir Guerrero
7. Chris B. Young
8. Carlos Lee
9. B.J. Upton
10. Adam Dunn
Just as with yesterday, if you could guarantee Matt Kemp and Lastings Milledge 600 plate appearances, both of them would appear on this list thanks to their combination of speed and power. Next week I’ll put together the infielders list, but I have a question for the pitchers. How deep would you like to see the lists for starters? Is there any way you want them broken down? Let me know with an e-mail and I’ll see what I can put together.