THE DYNASTY GURU’S 2023 TOP 125 DYNASTY LEAGUE OUTFIELDERS, #1-20
Outfield is the sexy position. Think of the all-time greats: Mays, Ruth, Aaron, Clemente, Griffey, Bonds, Trout…all of them play(ed) outfield. Right now, is there a group of players with as much potential to yield Hall-of-Famers as this current one? Most of the top are under 25, so it is hard to look 15 years in the future, but the upside potential is tremendous. The battle for #1 Dynasty OF was a fight for sure, but this guy earned it.
1. Juan Soto, San Diego Padres (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 1)
It shocked most of us when Soto was traded; now he seems headed for free agency and a possible $500 million contract, but none of that matters for fantasy, it’s just fun to think about. He takes walks better than anyone in the league, and that is why in OBP leagues he gets the big bounce; an OBP over .400 is his floor, even in a supposed “down” 2022. The Padres should get him to at least 180 Runs + RBI and with that 30 homers and 10 steals seem to be a solid floor for the next decade or so. Soto will play the entire 2023 season as a 24-year-old, so who knows how much more he could improve. The lack of steals are the only thing keeping him behind the others (in my personal rankings), but I couldn’t fault anyone for taking him #1 overall. (Phil Barrington)
2. Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta Braves (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 2)
Acuña started his career on fire, and has been a consensus top-5 Dynasty pick since 2019. After a 2022 season that saw him get 533 plate appearances, coming off the torn ACL injury he suffered not even a year earlier; he had a peak and valley type season. May and June were strong, July dipped, then a return to form in August, before sputtering the last month of the season. Still, 29 steals and 15 homers later, while slashing a respectable .266/.351/.413 is nothing to scoff at. Coming back from that type of injury, it is hard to complain about those numbers; nobody that drafted him last year should have expected anything more (that’s for the haters). His power was down last season, no doubt about it. Acuña’s ISO in 2020 was .302, followed by a .311 in 2021; his .148 mark last season was easily a career low. His statcast page is full of red and, fully healthy heading into 2023, Acuña is still a dynasty team cornerstone. (Phil Barrington)
3. Julio Rodríguez, Seattle Mariners (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 9)
We haven’t seen a rookie come out of the gate showing this much speed and power in the outfield since Acuna in 2018, and it is readily apparent how special Rodríguez is. Coming off a Rookie of the Year season, just missing 30/30 by one home run (29/33), he has Mariners fans excited, for good reason. Rodríguez only played 46 games above Single-A, and that was in 2021 at Double-A. He just posted a 146 wRC+ in his first season and can improve. A 26% K rate was way higher than any mark in the minors and his walk rate has some room to grow as well. If you are worried about Acuña’s injuries, or Soto’s lack of steals, making Julio the first OF off the board in a start-up Dynasty league wouldn’t bother me at all. The sky is truly the limit, and I hope we see both him and Acuña put up a 40/40 season someday. It just doesn’t sit right with me that it has been 17 years since Alfonso Soriano joined the four-player club, even though guys have come close. (Phil Barrington)
4. Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 8)
Alvarez dealt with inflammation and soreness in his right hand during 2022; first injuring it in June, going on the DL for it July 10th, returning and having an abysmal August. He ended September on a hot streak; then had a barely above-average playoff showing (103 wRC+). An offseason of rest should hopefully clear up any hand issues; it really is the knees that give us pause. Double knee surgery at age 23 is quite worrisome and kept him out a vast majority of the 2020 season.
Besides the above-mentioned hand injury, Alvarez played 144 games in 2021 and 135 last season. What he does in 135 games is what most guys don’t do in 155 games. He walks at an elite rate, strikes out less than 20% of the time, can hit 35+ home runs and slash 275/380/560 with ease. There are no steals for Yordan, so that puts him behind the other three…but as a pure hitter? He’s the top, with 100% percentile in six (6!?!) categories tracked on baseball savant; have you ever seen more 100 percentile marks on a guys’ page?
There’s no sell high with Alvarez, it’s keep and be very, very happy. (Phil Barrington)
5. Aaron Judge, New York Yankees (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 10)
Unless living under a rock, we all know Judge had a monster 2022 and just signed a huge free agent deal to remain on the Yankees. A guy who can hit 62 homers when power was supposedly suppressed (though we recently learned that MLB used three -count em, 3- different baseballs in 2022 and the Yankees may have benefited “most”) should be penciled in for 40 minimum for the next few seasons. Judge was the number one player on my personal rankings; because, regardless of what baseballs they use, he still has a high floor coupled with a very high ceiling (like his 2017 and 2022 seasons). I can understand the appeal of the younger guys on this list, but if you wind up with Judge as your #1 OF, don’t be too disappointed. (Phil Barrington)
6. Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 6)
If, in 2023, Julio Rodriguez goes 71/30/107/25 while slashing .257/.330/.478 will we be disappointed? We shouldn’t be (some might) but that was Tucker’s 2022 season line, good for 13th overall on the Razzball player rater. Tucker even was a bit unlucky with a BABIP of .261 that led to the lower slash line; if his prior season’s line of .304 can return, a better slash line and more counting stats should come with it. We are talking about a guy who has walked less than 16% of the time his first two full major league seasons, with two straight 30 home run seasons, and even increased his steals from 14 in 2021 to 25 in 2022. Take that every day of the week.
It does feel a bit weird ranking him ahead of Betts, Trout, and Harper, but Tucker isn’t even into the typical prime years (27-30), so the needle is still pointing upward. Can he go 30/30 in 2023 with the new rules? I wouldn’t rule it out. Tucker is safe and steady, bringing five-category production in a great lineup and home park. He made the All-Star team for the first time in 2022, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him in the next one, or eight. (Phil Barrington)
7. Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 5)
Betts, along with the next two guys, are on the way to the Hall of Fame, but they are all young enough to be productive for at least 3-5 more seasons. While they are all being faded for being over age 30 (and with Trout and Harper moreso, injuries), they represent a great value to acquire (or draft below ADP) in Dynasty leagues (and start-ups).
Betts is coming off a 117/35/82/12 season, with a slash line of .269/.340/.533, good for 8th on the overall Razzball player rater for 2022. It is the fourth-best season (measured by offensive WAR) of Betts’ career. If we want to nitpick, he had the lowest OBP of his career, and with that only an 8.6% walk rate. Expect that to get back to the 12% range, and an improvement in OBP. Those 35 homers last season were a career-high, so maybe 25+ is a more reasonable expectation, while 180+ Runs + RBI and 10 steals slot very nicely as a #1 OF. (Phil Barrington)
8. Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 4)
I wrote about Harper a lot back in the Triple Play Phillies post, so if you have time, read that and come back; not to repeat too much, but I’m a big fan, especially in OBP leagues (which is the stat we are using for these rankings). Now he has Trea Turner hitting leadoff, sign me up. Thumb surgery last June from a hit by pitch in June made him miss two months, but he still returned and led the Phillies to a World Series appearance. Tommy John surgery in November will keep him out until the All-Star break, more or less. Before last season, he was healthy for years. I’m not worried. In a start up I caution patience, however, since you would not get full value for Harper until season two, and I always want to win right away in a startup, just in case it doesn’t last beyond a couple of years, which, while rare, does happen. (Phil Barrington)
9. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 3)
What can this guy do in 119 games is even more impressive than what Yordan did in 133. 40 homers and a slash of .283/.369/.630 showed off power we hadn’t seen in a few years from the Millville Meteor. Injuries are still way too prevalent for many of our tastes, but on a game-by-game basis, Trout still has no equal. Health and the lack of steals (only four the last three seasons combined) has dropped him in Dynasty league rankings. Ohtani makes DH at-bats hard to come by, so unfortunately Trout doesn’t have that outlet to avoid playing centerfield most days. I think the risk is worth the reward, but your risk tolerance may not be as high. (Phil Barrington)
10. Corbin Carroll, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 31)
For start-up Dynasty leagues, I want at least two of the above group. After that, it gets more speculative, and I would rather avoid the cost of the next group and dig for diamonds later. That isn’t a dig at Carroll or Randy or any of the others, I just would not go out of my way to draft them at present value in a startup one.
If you have Carroll already, it is doubtful you are trading him for anything less than one of the guys above him on this list. Carroll won USA TODAY Sports’ Minor League Player of the Year award in 2022, and sits atop many top prospect lists heading into the 2023 season. He even made his major league debut, appearing in 32 games and holding his own, with a .330 OBP, four homers, and a couple steals.
Carroll hasn’t even played a full season over his minor league career since being drafted 16th overall back in 2019; Covid canceled his 2020 and a shoulder surgery ended his 2021 prematurely after only seven games. It is well within the realm of possibilities that Carroll struggles, even early on, but I say stay the course. He has speed and power, good walk rates, strikes out a bit more than we would like, but that’s a bit nitpicky. The Diamondbacks should let him hit third, set it and forget it, for a decade. (Phil Barrington)
11. Randy Arozarena, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 20)
Randy Arozarena is becoming a staple for fantasy managers in their outfield. The past three years he has shown consistent production in power and speed. The past two he has been a 20-20 player in a good lineup. His statcast page has a lot of blue in it. His K rate and xBA appear problematic. But you can’t deny the results. Or the opportunity. In 2022 against right-handed pitching he was above league average hitting .249/.318/.416/.734. Against lefties however, he was a monster hitting .317/.364/.558/.922 That is why he will continue to get run with the Rays and not worry about a platoon. (Sam Wirsching)
12. Michael Harris II, Atlanta Braves (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 69)
Anyone that follows prospects has heard the buzz about Michael Harris II and his ability to hit the baseball hard. There was concern about his plate discipline and whether or not he would make enough contact to be a regular. Well, all he did in 2022 is announce his presence as an elite OF in real life and also in fantasy. He hit .297/.339/.514/.853 with 19 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 114 games, which is 2/3 of a full season. Had he played all year at that rate he had a shot of being a 30/30 player. At 21. If you have any opportunity to trade for him, do so. That window will close soon if it hasn’t already. (Sam Wirsching)
13. Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 7)
Entering into Luis Robert’s fourth season in the majors we are still dreaming on the elite power and speed he had displayed ever since he was a highly regarded prospect when he left Cuba. What we have gotten is glimpses of what he can do. When he is at his best he is an aggressive hitter, using his approach to punish pitches into oblivion, and stealing bases when needed. Luis does swing and miss a lot, but doesn’t seem to strike out much in spite of that. In fact, his biggest challenge seems to be staying healthy for a full season. If we get that, we could see a 25/20 player. At 25 we are all hoping we get to see that and more for years. (Sam Wirsching)
14. Eloy Jimenez, Chicago White Sox (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 11)
Another snake-bitten highly regarded White Sox outfield prospect, Eloy Jimenez has all the tools to be a monster at the plate. Just look at all the red from 2020 in his statcast page. He hits the ball hard and has the speed to take the extra base or steal it. But who forgot this? This is probably his last year being ranked as an OF as Pedro Grifol, the new White Sox manager, has already stated Eloy needs to keep his glove at home. He looks to be their full-time DH and rewatching his adventures in the outfield it seems appropriate. (Sam Wirsching)
15. Bryan Reynolds, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 16)
Is Bryan Reynolds going to remain a Pirate for opening day? That is one of the few questions remaining about him and his future. Entering his fifth season he has established himself as an everyday centerfielder with no signs of stopping. He crushes 4 seamers at an elite rate and really shows no trouble handling any pitch thrown at him. Bryan should be good for half dozen stolen bases, and really that is the only thing holding him back. If he ends up in a better lineup with more protection he could easily blow past current projections this season and move into the top ten overall next year as an elite 4 category contributor. Get him now! (I am talking to you Jerry Dipoto) (Sam Wirsching)
16. Cedric Mullins, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 17)
Before the 2021 season, Cedric Mullins gave up being a switch hitter and started hitting exclusively from the left side. Playing for a team that didn’t have many expectations for wins gave him a ton of run for consistent playing time and took full advantage. He was a 30/30 player and seemed to have the sky as his limit. 2022? Well, Mullins came back to earth with many of his ratios declining. His OPS went from .878 in 2021 to .721 in 2022. Cedric hit less often, for less power, as his home runs fell from 30 to 16. Not all is dark, however. Mullins has a great approach at the plate striking out less than 20% of the time. He is an established everyday outfielder with a green light to run playing on a team that is no longer lacking expectations. Projected to hit 20 home runs next year it is hard to pass on a perennial 20/30 player. (Sam Wirsching)
17. Kyle Schwarber, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 34)
What were the Cubs and Red Sox thinking by letting Kyle Schwarber leave to go to greener pastures? Since 2017 he has hit 30 or more home runs every year except 2108 (26). Without the benefit of 2019’s fun balls, he has hit 32 and 46 in the two full seasons since. All of this power comes at the expense of a high strikeout rate. In that same time frame, it has fluctuated between 25-31% season to season. For most that would be a huge concern, but he has always walked at an elite rate, with elite hard-hit rates. Signing a 4-year deal with the Phillies who are stacked will only serve to keep his counting statistics great. I am betting on seeing him play well through his current deal. In a power drought, he is a beautiful oasis. (Sam Wirsching)
18. Teoscar Hernandez, Seattle Mariners (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 14)
The last two years have been fun to watch Teoscar take a step forward and take advantage of his ability to crush baseballs. A prospect with Houston, Hernandez was traded to Toronto where he struggled for a couple of years to harness his approach and his power. Aggressive at the plate, Teoscar doesn’t walk often and strikes out a ton. But that aggression is key to his success as he still maintains great expected stats (xBA, xwOBA). Even with a handful of steals, he is a 4 category player. He will be a middle-of-the-lineup bat for the next 3-5 years and worth targeting this offseason.
19. Riley Greene, Detroit Tigers (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 13)
Riley Greene came up in June of 2022 and played in 93 games all in center field. It was a big season of expectation for a young and exciting Tigers team. But with their FA signings not performing, their young pitching struggling, and their prospects trying to find their way it was a miserable season for the team. Greene was no exception to this as he was barely league-average at the plate. He only had one steal. He struggled against right handed pitching. Not great. But looking at a couple of factors: his age (7 years under league average) and in spite of his home ballpark (Comerica) I think last season looks like a cup half full season. I am expecting him to look more like he was as a prospect hitting for average and power while stealing a few bases. But another season like 2022 will have him tumbling down my own personal rankings. (Sam Wirsching)
20. George Springer, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 24)
One of the most consistent outfielders in the last seven years has been George Springer. With the exception of 2020 and 2021, he has averaged 140 games since 2016. He averaged 30 home runs. His batting average fluxed between .261 and .292. His walk rates and strikeout rates are amazingly consistent. He seems to do equally well against right or left-handed pitching. The only big change I found is last season he stole 14 bases which were more than the previous three seasons combined. He is signed through 2026 and I expect more of the same from him production-wise in that great Toronto lineup the entire time. A number of people in dynasty might be sleeping on him given his age. Pounce this hot season if you can. (Sam Wirsching)