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2012 Position Rankings: Outfield

Update: The rankings have been changed to reflect Ryan Braun's successful appeal of his 50-game suspension.

It's time to move out of the infield and into the outfield, where we'll find fantasy's most diverse group of players. As always, these rankings are based on 12-team mixed leagues with traditional 5x5 scoring.

  1. Matt Kemp, LAD - While I doubt Kemp will be able to make good on his promise of going 50-50 this year, the new $160MM man is the best all-around player in fantasy baseball. He might not hit .324 again, but 30-30 with 100+ RBI and 100+ runs scored feels like the floor here. He missed 40-40 by one homer in 2011, don't be surprised if he gets it in 2012.
  2. Ryan Braun, MIL - Now that we know Braun will be in play for the first 50 games of the season, he steps in as the clear number two behind Kemp. Expect MVP caliber numbers again. (Formerly #11)
  3. Justin Upton, ARI - Still six months shy of his 25th birthday, Upton is just scratching the surface of his potential. He cut down on his strikeouts drastically last year, and has a chance to turn that 30-20 effort into 35-25 this summer.
  4. Jose Bautista, TOR - It's tough to expect anyone to hit 40 HR these days, but if I was going to put money on someone, it would be Bautista. He does everything but steal bases.
  5. Carlos Gonzalez, COL - CarGo missed more than three weeks with a wrist problem last season, but he was on a 30 HR, 25 SB pace and nearly drove in 100 runs anyway. Now he's healthy.
  6. Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS - We're going to have to see if that 30+ HR power he showed last year is here to stay, but Ellsbury is still tremendously valuable if he only goes deep 20 times because of his stolen base ability.
  7. Curtis Granderson, NYY - He might not hit 40+ HR again, but Granderson's power isn't just a product of cozy Yankee Stadium: he hit 21 HR at home and 20 on the road last year.
  8. Andrew McCutchen, PIT - McCutchen hit more fly balls than ever before last season, which is why his average (and BABIP) dropped 30 points. You'll get 20-20 production and hopefully a rebound in batting average.
  9. Mike Stanton, FLA - If HR distance was a category, he'd be the first overall pick. Stanton has massive power and run production potential, but he won't hit for average or steal many bases.
  10. Josh Hamilton, TEX - The production is elite ... when he's actually on the field. Hamilton has played in 135 games just once in his five years, and that came back in 2008.
  11. Hunter Pence, HOU - Hopefully Pence gets back to stealing 15+ bases again, but otherwise he's a better than average contributor in the other four categories.
  12. Alex Gordon, KC - Last year's breakout was long-awaited, and Gordon has the potential to do even more next season (think .300/20/100/100/20).
  13. Matt Holliday, STL - Holliday will be asked to do more following the departure of Albert Pujols, and some good health will get him back into .300/25/100/100 territory.
  14. Jay Bruce, CIN - Bruce might not hit for much average or steal many bases, but he's about to become a perennial 30/100/100 fantasy player.
  15. Ben Zobrist, TB - Zobrist doesn't hit for much average but he helps everywhere else. His production is more useful at second base, however.
  16. Shin-Soo Choo, CLE - One of fantasy' biggest disappointments last year, an obligue strain kept Choo from his usual .300 average and 20-20 production. I expect a big rebound.
  17. Michael Bourn, ATL - It's all about stolen bases (think 50+), batting average (.280+), and runs (90+) here, not power (maybe five if you're lucky) or RBI (maybe 50).
  18. Lance Berkman, STL - We got to see vintage Puma one last time last year, and I wouldn't expect another .300/30/100/100 season. That said, he'll still be really productive at an easier position.
  19. Mike Morse, WAS - There will continue to be doubters, but Morse is going on nearly 900 plate appearances of elite production and is right in his prime. He'll do just about everything but steal bases.
  20. Nelson Cruz, TEX - Cruz is a lesser version of Hamilton, meaning he produces when he's on the field, which isn't often enough (hasn't topped 130 games since 2008).
  21. Adam Jones, BAL - Jones is entering his prime years and could push 30 HR in the obscurity of Baltimore. There's plenty of breakout potential here.
  22. Shane Victorino, PHI - The Flyin' Hawaiian missed time with thumb and hamstring problems last year, but he should get back over 30 steals and push 20 dingers with good health.
  23. B.J. Upton, TB - You can pencil the elder Upton in for 30+ steals right now, and he should offer 20+ HR power to go along with a middling batting average and okay run production numbers.
  24. Corey Hart, MIL - An obligue strain prevented Hart from topping 30 HR for the second straight year, but he's a .280/30/100/100 candidate when right. That's seriously valuable.
  25. Desmond Jennings, TB - Be careful not to overrate him based on his hot start last year, but Jennings has legitimate 20-40 potential and should score a ton of runs atop Tampa's lineup.
  26. Carlos Beltran, STL - He's not going to steal 20+ bases again, but Beltran provides big value if he can stay on the field. He did play 140+ games for the first time in three years in 2012, but still managed one DL trip.
  27. Nick Swisher, NYY - Swisher is a consistent 20+ HR, 80+ RBI, 80+ runs guy that could do more in a stack lineup and friendly ballpark. Plus it's a contract year.
  28. Brett Gardner, NYY - It's a shame they don't count UZR in fantasy, though the 40+ steals and 90+ runs will have to suffice. Gardner could slap his way to .280+, but hasn't yet.
  29. Jayson Werth, WAS - Werth's disappointing first year in Washington was nearly his third 20-20 season in the last four years. His batted ball profile and BABIP doesn't jive, so expect something better than .232 in 2012.
  30. Drew Stubbs, CIN - Stubbs does everything but make consistent contact, so he'll never provide much average. Twenty homers and 30+ steals sure sounds good though.
  31. Chris Young, ARI - The 30-30 candidate barely cracked 20-20 last season, and his average dipped into the low-.200s to boot. I think a step forward is more likely than another step back for the 28-year-old.
  32. Cameron Maybin, SD - Petco Park won't help him any, but Maybin is a 40+ steal guy and can pop double-digit homers with a decent average going forward.
  33. Matt Joyce, RF - A hot start and a slow finished averaged out to a fine season, and Joyce could turn into a 20-15 player in 2012 as he takes another step forward.
  34. Carl Crawford, BOS - Crawford was so bad last year tha he can't help but be better in 2012, right? He's going to miss the first few weeks with a wrist problem, but I have to think the .300/15/40 guy is still in there.
  35. Logan Morrison, FLA - LoMo's undeserved demotion likely cost him a shot at 30 HR last season, but he'll get the chance to play all year under Ozzie Guillen and has serious breakout potential.
  36. Nick Markakis, BAL - Unlike his teammate Jones, Markakis has completely plateaued in recent years and now is a .280/15/70/70/10 type. Solid, but not what we expected a few years ago.
  37. Jason Heyward, ATL - A shoulder problem had Heyward all fouled up last year, though he's still an extreme ground ball hitter than needs to get the ball in the air if he wants to hit for more power.
  38. Josh Willingham, MIN -Moving to Target Field won't hurt Willingham's numbers much coming from Oakland, assuming he stays on the field. He could push 30 HR if he avoids the DL for the first time in three years.
  39. Howie Kendrick, LAA - Kendrick spent enough time in left last year to qualify as an outfielder, though his .280+ average and 15-15 production is more valuable at second base.
  40. Michael Cuddyer, COL - Moving from Target Field to Coors Field will help his numbers, but I wouldn't expect a return to the 30 HR level. Cuddyer's a solid producer, nothing more.
  41. Ichiro Suzuki, SEA - Ichiro is showing all the tell-tale signs of age-related decline, namely struggling to hit the ball in the air consistently. He'll still swipe a ton of bases, but don't count on those elite batting averages coming back.
  42. Carlos Lee, HOU - Lee saw his batting average rebound last year, though his power has been in a steady decline and only figures to get worse. His teammates won't help him in the run production categories either.
  43. Peter Bourjos, LAA - Bourjos has shown surprising pop so far in the big leagues, and the speed is there for him to steal 30+ bases. There's some sneaky high upside here.
  44. Austin Jackson, DET - A big spike in fly balls resulted in a 56-point BABIP drop but also 2.5 times as many homers as he'd hit the year before. Jackson could steal 30 bases, but he strikes out too much to hit for average.
  45. Melky Cabrera, SF - The Melkman delivered the best season of his career in 2011, and was rewarded with a trade to one of the game's worst hitter's parks. Don't count on him repeating 2011, he won't in AT&T Park.
  46. Coco Crisp, OAK - Crisp's stolen base totals have increased with age, and he's still young enough (32) to have at least one more 40 steal season in those legs.
  47. Torii Hunter, LAA - Hunter's production is starting to wane with age, but having Pujols in the lineup should boost his run production numbers. Don't be surprised if he fails to crack 20 HR for the first time in seven years.
  48. Andre Ethier, LAD - Ethier's power disappeared last year, though his knee trouble is at least partially to blame. He could have a big contract year in him, but I'll settle for his old .290/20/90 production.
  49. Brennan Boesch, DET - One of my breakout picks, Boesch had a shot at 25 HR last year if thumb problem didn't end his season in late-August. Now he'll be batting in front of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.
  50. Angel Pagan, SF - I'd count on Pagan for nothing but steals, and he should give you 35+ if he stays healthy. His ballpark will limit his power production, and there's not enough of a BABIP correction coming to get excited.
  51. Martin Prado, ATL - Prado should see a BABIP rebound next year since his batted ball profile didn't change much from 2010-2011, but he's not going to hit for average or steal bases.
  52. Emilio Bonifacio, FLA - Appearing in our rankings at his third different position, Bonifacio's story hasn't changed: he'll steal a ton of bases but won't hit for any power, and there are reasons to expect his average to come back to Earth.
  53. Carlos Quentin, SD - Quentin has the kind of right-handed power needed to conquer Petco, but health remains the real issue. He always leaves you wanting more.
  54. Colby Rasmus, TOR - A wrist problem sabotaged his first half-season in Toronto, but Rasmus has 20-20 potential and could score a ton of runs if he bats ahead of Bautista in the lineup.
  55. Lucas Duda, NYM - One of fantasy's better sleeper candidates, Duda has serious left-handed pop and should push 20 HR and 80 RBI with regular playing time.
  56. Dexter Fowler, COL - After stealing 27 bases in 2009, Fowler has stolen just 25 bases since. He has to get back to being that guy, otherwise he offers very little beyond runs scored.
  57. Jeff Francoeur, KC - Frenchy was the game's most unheralded 20-20 player last year, but the track record of mediocrity is so long that I can't be anything but skeptical going forward.
  58. Delmon Young, MIN - Cut from the same cloth as Francoeur, Young was fantastic with the Tigers but won't be hitting in front of Cabrera now. Lineup protection is general overstated, but not in the case of elite hitters.
  59. Mike Trout, LAA - The talent is world class, but will the Angels find enough playing time for Trout this year? If so, he could swipe 30 bags and offer a whole lot more.
  60. Yoenis Cespedes, OAK - Your guess is as good as mine. Everything indicates 25+ HR potential, but it's been a long time since he's faced live pitching and he's never faced MLB caliber pitching before. Roster him at your own risk.

Honorable Mention: Ben Revere, MIN; Nyjer Morgan, MIL; Alfonso Soriano, CHC; Jose Tabata, PIT; Rajai Davis, TOR; Brandon Belt, SF; Seth Smith, OAK; Chris Heisey, CIN; John Mayberry Jr., PHI; Jason Bay, NYM

Other Positions: Catcher, First Base, Second Base, Shortstop, Third Base

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