The Dynasty Guru’s Top 125 Dynasty League Outfielders, Nos. 1-20

From the 21st of January to the 20th of February, the writers at TDG will be taking you through our rankings position-by-position. As I mentioned in the primer, this year we’re doing things a little differently. Instead of having my personal rankings up on this site, like last year, these rankings for 2014 are of the consensus variety and being brought to you by all of the TDG staff. Everyone put a lot of work into this project, so we hope you enjoy the end result. And if you are looking for my personal dynasty league rankings, you can find them this off-season at Baseball Prospectus.

So we hope you enjoy the rankings package that we’ve put together here. And if you do, I hope that you will make a donation to show appreciation for the content you’ve seen here at the Dynasty Guru. You can do that through this link, or by clicking the “Donate” button on the top-right corner of the homepage. All donations are truly appreciated.

Outfield is always a strange position to evaluate in a general context since it’s really so league-specific. Different leagues start different numbers and there’s such a huge difference from the 60th outfielder to the 90th. In shallower leagues, it remains a strong position that you can target when the wind moves you over the course of your drafts or rebuilding process. In deeper leagues, it has to be a more heightened focal point or else you’ll be the guy starting Raul Ibanez and Jon Jay, and hoping for the best. On a more uplifting note, the upper crust here is particularly delicious and it starts with the guy who may cement himself as one of the all-time greats before even hitting free agency (closely followed by a guy who could end up being just as good).

Now the 20 best outfielders in dynasty leagues, starting with one of the best hitters in the game today:

1) Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 1)
Already with a pair of 10 WAR seasons under his belt, Trout tops TDG’s outfield rankings for the second year in a row. He again finished second to Miguel Cabrera in AL MVP voting, hitting better than .320, scoring 100-plus runs and driving in 97 more while falling three home runs shy of back-to-back 30/30 seasons. There’s not a more complete player to start a dynasty league with.
2) Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 3)
Trout and Harper will undoubtedly be compared until the end of time, but the latter has some catching up to do. Harper missed 44 games and fell well short of expectations last season, hitting .274 with 20 home runs, 71 runs, 58 RBI and 11 steals. A player who goes all-out 100 percent of the time like Harper does could miss time here and there, but his combination of elite tools and age more than makes up for it. He doesn’t turn 22 until after the regular season, so there are plenty of good times ahead.
3) Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 6)
No one really expected McCutchen to match his 2012 numbers (which included 31 home runs), but the Pirates’ captain was still able to prove his worth despite a noticeable drop-off in power. What McCutchen did do was record his third-straight 20/20 campaign. That consistency and his relatively young age is what moved him up three spots in our ranks. While you shouldn’t expect 30 home runs, I believe he can challenge 25 once or twice more.
4) Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 4)
Stanton, who entered 2013 with 93 home runs before the age of 23, battled injuries en route to a disappointing 24-home run campaign. It broke consecutive seasons with 30 or more home runs, but I haven’t met anyone willing to bet the under on that number in 2014. Last year’s batting average dipped below .250, but he did show improvements in his strikeout and walk rates. The power must come back to pre-2013 levels to justify a top-five ranking, but he’s still very young and has the past numbers to support it. If he’s playing regularly, he’ll get to 30 with ease.
5) Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 9)
Gonzalez didn’t do anything to dispel concerns of missed time due to injury, playing in his fewest games (110) since 2009—his first year on the Rockies. The TDG staff is putting its faith in CarGo becoming a cleaner picture of health in 2014 and beyond, but it’s hard to ignore four straight seasons of 20/20 action. Despite missing 52 games, Gonzalez still managed to launch 26 home runs and steal 21 bags. Now just imagine what a full year of Gonzalez could look like (fingers crossed).
6) Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 2)
There’s a very good chance Braun was drafted before Trout in re-draft leagues last year. Following a mid-season PED scandal and subsequent “apology,” Braun’s previous two-year stretch of topping a .300 BA with 30 home runs, 30 steals, 100 runs and 100 RBI must now be met with skepticism. There’s no denying Braun’s elite level of play in years past, but there’s no guaranteeing it going forward. At the age of 30, I don’t ever see Braun reaching 30/30 again, but I wouldn’t just assume his power disappears either.
7) Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 10)
Thanks to the loud emergence of teammate Chris Davis, Jones has quietly put together two top-10 finishes in the outfield. After smacking 32 long balls in 2012, he did one better with 33 in 2013 and exceeded 100 runs and 100 RBI for the first time in the same season. As if that wasn’t enough, Jones tacked on 14 steals and maintained a .285 BA. Since when did .280-30-15 become boring?
8) Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 74)
Unlike Jones, there’s nothing quiet about Puig. The Cuban announced his arrival to major-league baseball in spectacular fashion, hitting .319 with 19 home runs and 11 steals in 104 contests to help lead the Dodgers to an NL West crown. Puig’s sophomore sequel is one of—if not the—most intriguing stories in baseball. I think he’s an annual 25-home run bat with 15-20 steals, but only time will tell.
9) Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 32)
 
Buxton is the consensus No. 1 prospect in baseball right now. While we understand the risks of ranking a 20-year-old with no experience above High-A inside of the top 10, we can’t pass on Buxton’s elite tools and five-category appeal, including his game-changing speed. His potential value rivals that of Trout, so, yeah, this guy is a potential fantasy monster.
 
10) Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 16)

Bruce smacked 30 home runs for the third straight season, joining Miguel Cabrera and Adrian Beltre as the only three players to accomplish the feat from 2011-2013. With a three-year average of 32 home runs, 87 runs and 101 RBI, Bruce is fast becoming a reliable home-run bat in a league with less and less power. He surpassed 100 RBI for the first time and should see a few more seasons like it going forward. The only downside is a career .257 BA, but he’ll give you a handful of steals too.

11) Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 27)

Myers nearly cracks the top ten after an impressive 2013 that netted him ROY honors sans batting gloves. In just 88 games he hit .293 with 13 home runs and 53 runs batted in. Combine that with his Triple-A numbers for a full season of plate appearances and he hit 27 homers and drove in more than 100. Addition skills. Hitting in the heart of the Tampa Bay lineup should provide the right fielder with plenty of opportunities to showcase his bat in the years ahead and he could develop even more power and patience as he enters his prime. Wil Myers will even chip in a few steals because Wil Myers is all about helping you win your league.

12) Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves  (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 7)

If we told you that a player was going to hit 20 home runs in two months of a season, and that 12 of them would already be notched by the end of April, you’d probably think that player was a shoe-in for a 30 homer campaign. Unfortunately, Upton’s poor May and June really sucked the life out of a fantastic start that had a lot of fantasy owners thinking the young outfielder was finding his 2011 self again. While the vision of the 30/20 season is a bit blurry, Upton’s 2013 did see him sport the highest LD% and second-highest HR/FB% of his young career. Emphasis on young. At just 26, Upton may still be entering his prime as he seems to age one year for every two of ours.

13) Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves  (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 8)

Heyward slips out of the top ten this year – but not by much. The majority of his problem in 2013 was staying on the field and doesn’t take away from his upside. Between an appendectomy, a hamstring issue, and a broken jaw he missed 58 games. He got off to a really slow start as well, but he did make some improvements in an otherwise lost year that are worth mentioning. He had some hot streaks like in July when he hit well over .300. He also decreased his strikeout rate by almost 7% from the year before. He could bat leadoff for the Braves in 2014, and he’s a good bet to bounce back in most categories, although steals are a bit of a wild card given he attempted only 6 last year and was caught 4 times. Still, at just 24 years old he can hopefully absorb 2013 as a bump in the road and get back to contributing solid offensive numbers.

14) Jacoby Ellsbury, New York Yankees  (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 25)

Ellsbury heads to New York where he’ll set the table for Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, and Brian McCann. Injuries are a part of Ellsbury’s story, but when he’s healthy he’s shown he can be one of the most productive fantasy outfielders in the game. His 52 steals led all of baseball in 2013 and his baserunning skills should allow him to continue to put up solid run totals with his new team. While another 30-30 season isn’t likely, he still has some miles left on his tires and could see double digit homers and 40+ steals with a full season of plate appearances.

15) Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers  (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 77)

Gomez surges into the top twenty after showing that his 2012 season wasn’t a fluke. He hit .284 with 24 home runs and 40 stolen bases last year, and only Mike Trout provided a better combination of power and speed. Gomez increased his line drive rate by almost 5% while his HR/FB% continued to rise steadily as it has over the last few seasons. While it’s understandable that many thought Gomez’s 2012 season was an outlier, it’s hard not to view him among the best fantasy outfielders right now when you look at how his offensive numbers stack up against his peers. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball.

16) Oscar Taveras, St. Louis Cardinals  (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 22)

An ankle injury limited Taveras to just 47 games in 2013, but that doesn’t change much in terms of his value. His bat has enormous potential and we should get our first look at Taveras in a Cardinals uniform at some point in 2014. A high point of his minor league career was in 2012 when he slashed .321/.380/.572 with 23 home runs to win the Texas League MVP award. Prior to his injury last year, he hit .317/.351/.480 in Triple-A. Originally signed out of the Dominican at 16, he could potentially blossom into a player that competes for batting titles while consistently hitting 25-30 homers.

17) Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers  (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 5)

There is some risk built in with this ranking which explains the drop of a dozen spots. Injuries cost Kemp time in each of the last two seasons and unfortunately they could linger into the beginning of the 2014 season as well. Still, Kemp is in the prime of his career and has the talent to put up 25 homer, 20 steal seasons when healthy. It seems like a long time ago that Kemp was knocking on the door of a 40/40 season, and yet that was only 2011. Some better luck in the health department and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him work his way back up these rankings.

18) Shin-Soo Choo, Texas Rangers  (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 20)

Like Ellsbury, Choo finds himself in new surroundings in 2014. Now in Texas, he should continue to provide his fantasy owners with solid offensive numbers as he’s coming off two straight years of 15+ home runs, 20+ steals, and a .280 batting average. At 31 years old we may have seen his best years already, but Choo provides a balance of power and speed that fantasy owners prize in an outfielder, even if he doesn’t dominate in any one category. Texas may be great home for Choo since it’s not only a great hitter’s park, but also an opportunity for him to continue to hit out of the leadoff spot and contribute in runs and steals.

19) Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals  (Age: 34, Previous Rank: 15)

Holliday is a great example of how a proven veteran with some consistency can be just as valuable to a dynasty squad as a flashy new youngster or promising prospect. While he may be the oldest of the top twenty outfielders, he also hasn’t hit below .290 since 2004. He has been remarkably durable as well with at least 600 plate appearances in seven of the last eight years. His prime seasons may be behind him, but there is still value in the 20-25 home runs and 90 runs batted in he will almost certainly provide with a full season of plate appearances in the heart of the Cardinals’ lineup.

20) Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays  (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 11)

Injuries cost Bautista playing time once again in 2013 and at 33 years old some injuries, even minor ones, can start to take their toll. Last year, it was a hip bruise that cost him the last six weeks of the season. In terms of last year’s numbers, Bautista’s HR/FB rate (17%) was the lowest it has been since 2009 prior to his big breakout, while he also put the most balls on the ground since 2009 (41%). And yet despite all this, he still managed 28 home runs! That’s what keeps him afloat in the top 20 amid the questions about age and decline. Even 130 games should get him over the 30 home run mark once again and that still holds a lot of value. Come for the power – stay because he just followed you on Twitter.

Commentary by Alex Kantecki, Mike Buttil and Bret Sayre.

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12 comments on “The Dynasty Guru’s Top 125 Dynasty League Outfielders, Nos. 1-20

  1. Jason Weiner says:

    See 16 17 18

    >

  2. CP says:

    Great stuff as always! What do you think of this trade in a 16-team dynasty (6×6): I give Greg Holland, Tyler Skaggs and Dustin Ackley and get Jason Heyward/pick 34 in our minors draft. I have 3 other closers, so not hurting for saves. Thanks!

  3. sweetandmauer says:

    As always, love the site guys… thanks for all of the help for those of us in keeper/dynasty leagues!

    Quick question for you, I play in a keeper league that allows 4 offensive keepers + 1 “late rounder keeper” from the players you drafted in the last few rounds of the previous year and kept on your team throughout the season.

    Currently keeping: Trout, CarGo, Longoria

    Have to decide on 4th keeper: Stanton, Puig, or Heyward
    And late rounder: Wil Myers or Starling Marte

    Assuming normal 6×6 roto with normal cats + BB for offense, would you keep Stanton and Myers? Thanks!

  4. maybesomedae says:

    trying to win in three years because I am entering an established league. (they are expanding so I have to take part of an expansion draft) Is there an age limit that I should stay under? any other tips?

    • Luke Chatelain says:

      I’d really just look for undervalued players of any age and focus on high upside guys who could net you a profit in 2015. Remember the team you draft today will not be the team you own in 3 years and quality players always have value in trades. I also wouldn’t focus on specific positions until you feel you are closer to contending always go for the highest value player you can find.

    • Mike Buttil says:

      Just like Luke said, it’s more an issue of value than age. Sometimes a veteran can be just as great a value as a youngster (sometimes even greater if everybody is drooling over prospects) I’d also throw in that I’d want to make myself really available on the trade market in a new league even if it means making a small deal or two. Making good trades is sometimes a quick way to climb the ladder, but you have to break the ice :)

  5. Tony says:

    14 team Dynasty league. I am currently rebuilding with Buxton, Cespedes, Springer in outfield and have Carlos Gomez as well. Would you trade Gomez and Ryu for Zimmer and Taveras? Thanks. Still two years away from contending based on depth of top 3 in our league.

  6. Erica Mosson says:

    I can keep 3. Trying to decide between Ellsbury, Stanton, Kipnis, and Encarnacion. Which 3 would you keep? Great site! Thanks.

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