Posted: Wed February 20, 2013 1:20PM; Updated: Fri March 15, 2013 9:04PM
Eric Mack

Fantasy baseball 2013 draft preview: Outfield primer

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Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout
Mike Trout should follow his Rookie of the Year season by posting MVP-caliber numbers for the Angels.
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Fantasy baseball 2013 draft prep central: Rankings, position primers and much more

Outfield is an incredibly deep position in fantasy baseball, which means an abundance of late-round gems. But don't get cocky and miss out on the top-tier guys. Owners can find the thump at first and the speed at short, but the best five-category fantasy stars play outfield, making it a crucial position for which to strategize.

There's a lot of ground to cover in the outfield (pun completely and wonderfully intended), so let's get right (and left, and center) to it.

POSITION PRIMERS: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | DH | SP | RP

Is there a debate at No. 1?

Unfathomably, people seem to think so. Many of the folks who so vociferously argued that Mike Trout should be named AL MVP because of his other-worldly WAR are ranking Ryan Braun as the No. 1 overall fantasy player. I believe Trout should be the top choice in all formats, even if he slides a little from his legendary rookie stats. Trout, a stud in all five categories, is a rotisserie player's dream. If the Angels can find a new leadoff man, sliding down in the batting order should do wonders for Trout's RBI total. With the likes of Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Mark Trumbo hitting behind him, Trout could deliver one of the best fantasy seasons ever (at least in the non-steroid category).

Comeback player: Matt Kemp, Dodgers

Kemp is coming off an injury-plagued, age-27 season that's keeping him from being the No. 1 overall pick in fantasy this year. He went from around .325/40/125/115/40 to being worthless in the second half, which is fantasy crunch time. That's enough to embitter many fantasy owners, so if Kemp slips into the middle of Round 1, consider him a steal. Regardless of the hamstring woes that slowed him in midseason or the shoulder procedure he is recovering from now, Kemp will be ready for spring training and will hit in the heart of a potent lineup. He'll be a fantasy star again.

Breakout: Bryce Harper, Nationals

There are plenty of candidates for this category, but Harper is the biggest name among them. The 20-year-old star was solid as a rookie (.270/22/59/98/18/.340/.477), but one of the most ballyhooed prospects of the fantasy era can still become Trout-good. A .289/26/95/100/20/.365/.525 line is a safe bet for this season, but one of these years Harper is going to wow with a .340/35/120/120/30 campaign. He's moving down from the leadoff spot to third in the order, which should make him more productive in the RBI category while keeping his runs-scored rate among the league leaders. The categories keeping Harper from being drafted as a Tier 1 outfielder, average and stolen bases, will be interesting to track in Year 2. He is a special talent who can set his sights on just about anything he wants to accomplish in this game.

Bust: Josh Hamilton, Angels

It's possible to love Hamilton and hate him at the same time. No hitter in baseball can get hotter, but his 2012 was a tale of streaks. He was a monster in April (.395/9/25/20) and May (.344/12/32/19), but a dog in June (.222/4/16/12) and July (.177/4/11/10). It's not the streakiness that makes him a bust candidate, though; it's the injuries and free-agent hype. Hamilton has been plagued by so many injuries, his medical charts look like a kindergartener scribbled all over them. His ceiling remains high, but it's hard to blame the fantasy owners who don't want to risk the gamble. Plus, free agents rarely match their freight in Year 1 -- just ask Angels fans and Albert Pujols owners. Hamilton is making a similar transition, and usually it takes a year for a player to be truly comfortable in his new surroundings and play up to expectations. There are myriad reasons to avoid Hamilton in Round 1, making him a quintessential bust candidate.

Sleeper: Carl Crawford, Dodgers

Outfield sleepers could be an entire offseason preview series, but for the purposes of this file let's focus on Crawford. Now a Dodger, Crawford, 31, is coming off two down years. He lost last season to hamstring and elbow woes, but time should have healed the tissue and surgery should have fixed the ulnar-collateral ligament. He is expected to be ready for the season, but the injury risk remains and all those fantasy owners burned by this former early pick will surely be bitter. When he falls into the middle rounds, Crawford will become a nice injury-risk sleeper, especially in rotisserie formats.

Top prospect/rookie: Wil Myers, Rays

This is no slight against record-setting Reds burner Billy Hamilton, who is moving from shortstop to center field this spring, or 20-year-old Cardinals farmhand Oscar Taveras. Those two will eventually be stars. But fantasy owners need outfielders who can produce now, and the newest face in Tampa will do just that as soon as he gets the opportunity. Myers, a converted catcher, hit a combined .314/37/109/98/6/.387/.600 in 522 at-bats at Double- and Triple-A; he's that good. The Rays have said they plan to start Myers at Triple-A, perhaps to slow his strikeout rate (140 whiffs last season), but they will need the offense sooner rather than later. Consider Myers the most intriguing prospect call-up after Opening Day. Based on what we've seen from similarly billed players in recent years (hello, Trout!), you're going to want to have this guy stashed.

Other potential eligibles

Our rankings only consider those who play outfield as their primary position or played at least 20 games there in their most recent major league season. Here are some other players who are eligible in leagues with different requirements:

• Fifteen games: Adrian Gonzalez, Trevor Plouffe, Chris Parmelee, Scott Moore and Jerry Hairston
• Ten games: Donovan Solano, Jayson Nix, Eric Hinske and Josh Harrison
• Five games: Todd Frazier, Adam Dunn, Wilson Betemit, Brett Pill, Alex Liddi, Ty Wigginton and Pedro Ciriaco
• Three games: Eric Hosmer, Brandon Belt, Mitch Moreland and Yan Gomes
• One game: Carlos Santana, Howard Kendrick, Mike Olt, Ryan Roberts, Willie Bloomquist and Ryan Theriot

Target averages

From the rough estimate projections below, the average outfielder in a 12-team league should produce around .270/20/78/83/16/.344/.464.

2013 fantasy baseball outfield rankings
Stat projections, tiers and auction values for the top 150 fantasy baseball outfielders
1Mike TroutLAAOF.3063210011550.379.5321$46
2Ryan BraunMILOF.3133511010527.375.5751$45
3Matt KempLADOF.2953310510520.375.5501$44
4Andrew McCutchenPITOF.2993010010525.375.5451$43
5Carlos GonzalezCOLOF.30025959525.365.5202$39
6Josh HamiltonLAAOF.29537118947.360.5502$38
7Giancarlo StantonMIAOF.28039100805.360.5952$35
8Jose BautistaTOROF.25333105885.362.5352$34
9Bryce HarperWASOF.289269510020.365.5252$34
10Jason HeywardATLOF.280309510525.355.5002$33
11Jacoby EllsburyBOSOF.295197011035.350.4503$26
12Justin UptonATLOF.285259410520.357.4753$26
13Matt HollidaySTLOF.30025100903.385.5153$24
14Adam JonesBALOF.28528859515.333.4903$23
15Jay BruceCINOF.25535100908.330.5003$22
16Michael BournCLEOF.2723519551.339.3653$21
17Yoenis CespedesOAKOF.29025957915.360.5003$21
18Mark TrumboLAAOF/1B.2603099695.320.4953$21
19B.J. UptonATLOF.25020858027.333.4253$20
20Alex RiosCHWOF.27823909020.324.4653$19
21Allen CraigSTL1B/OF.3002190753.348.5153$18
22Hunter PenceSFOF.2852399857.339.4603$17
23Curtis GrandersonNYYOF.2603190808.335.4993$16
24Ben ZobristTB2B/SS/OF.26520809012.354.4704$15
25Alex GordonKCOF.29520859512.348.4654$14
26Desmond JenningsTBOF.260176510035.327.4064$14
27Carlos BeltranSTLOF.28224878010.360.4964$13
28Shin-Soo ChooCINOF.28920759020.381.4654$13
29Shane VictorinoBOSOF.27515658530.340.4304$12
30Melky CabreraTOROF.28412739515.338.4304$12
31Austin JacksonDETOF.280156510017.350.4354$12
32Carl CrawfordLADOF.28112619126.332.4414$12
33Martin PradoARIOF/3B.29512708015.360.4404$10
34Josh WillinghamMINOF.26131100813.362.4834$9
35Nelson CruzTEXOF.2683095797.328.4944$9
36Andre EitherLADOF.2882185802.362.4704$9
37Nick MarkakisBALOF.2951577756.365.4554$9
38Norichika AokiMILOF.28410548830.350.4215$8
39Coco CrispOAKOF.27410456529.329.4075$7
40Angel PaganSFOF.28110559027.333.4245$7
41Brett GardnerNYYOF.2685509035.355.3705$7
42Chris DavisBAL1B/OF.2603090772.330.5005$7
43Nick SwisherCLEOF/1B.2652590802.361.4675$6
44Ben ReverePHIOF.2901428535.333.3505$5
45Michael MorseSEAOF.2902175671.340.4905$4
46Carlos GomezMILOF.25515597940.294.4005$3
47Ryan DoumitMINC/OF.2722077600.331.4715$3
48Josh ReddickOAKOF.24427827410.310.4605$3
49Dayan ViciedoCHWOF.2632790821.315.4555$3
50Jason KubelARIOF.2682585701.334.4675$3
51Torii HunterDETOF.2771580757.334.4555$3
52Michael CuddyerCOL1B/OF.2712074726.341.4545$3
53Denard SpanWASOF.28136010020.350.3895$3
54Lorenzo CainKCOF.28110457424.327.4125$3
55Ichiro SuzukiNYYOF.2807507525.310.3805$3
56Dexter FowlerCOLOF.27915558915.364.4655$3
57Alfonso SorianoCHCOF.2602585605.323.4845$2
58Carlos QuentinSDOF.2532580651.350.4925$2
59Adam EatonARIOF.2804408331.321.3995$2
60Chris YoungOAKOF.23920746420.318.4375$2
61Corey HartMIL1B/OF.2762470634.334.5006$1
62Logan MorrisonMIA1B/OF.2602084701.340.4506$1
63Ryan LudwickCINOF.2632482550.334.4666$1
64Justin RuggianoMIAOF.27715656015.330.4656$1
65David MurphyTEXOF.28517666010.348.4536$1
66Garrett JonesPIT1B/OF.2592379654.321.4666$1
67Tyler ColvinCOLOF/1B.2702176655.320.4896$1
68Colby RasmusTOROF.2452275609.313.4226$1
69Drew StubbsCLEOF.24115616032.312.3866$1
70Starling MartePITOF.25912557220.305.4106$1
71Wil MyersTBOF.2801759504.335.4606$0
72Andy DirksDETOF.2931458866.340.4546$0
73Juan PierreMIAOF.2751357525.345.3506$0
74Alejandro De AzaCHWOF.2806477624.344.4106$0
75Matt CarpenterSTL1B/3B/OF.283951501.359.4477$0
76Jayson WerthWASOF.2701465658.365.4657$0
77Chris ParmeleeMIN1B (OF).2801765570.345.4497$0
78Cameron MaybinSDOF.2518437930.314.3747$0
79Cody RossARIOF.2621874673.324.4607$0
80Matt JoyceTBOF.2541865605.344.4657$0
81Michael SaundersSEAOF.24115557217.299.4207$0
82Justin MaxwellHOUOF.24720675410.310.4277$0
83Jonny GomesBOSOF.2452060603.333.4657$0
84Darin MastroianniMINOF.2584286931.330.3407$0
85Emilio BonifacioTOROF.2671256232.329.3437$0
86Peter BourjosLAAOF.2558477725.310.4007$0
87Jon JaySTLOF.2997467617.359.4147$0
88Will VenableSDOF.25311456525.324.4157$0
89Lucas DudaNYMOF.2551965551.340.4657$0
90Jeff FrancoeurKCOF.2661765607.310.4267$0
91Delmon YoungPHIOF.2701460500.300.4007$0
92J.D. MartinezHOUOF.2521577610.313.3917$0
93Leonys MartinTEXOF.2799548115.340.4207$0
94Aaron HicksMINOF.2759335525.365.4457$0
95Franklin GutierrezSEAOF.25613656012.308.3847$0
96Fernando MartinezHOUOF.2411959491.290.4357$0
97Oscar TaverasSTLOF.279941375.325.4197$0
98Billy HamiltonCINSS (OF).245093125.310.3537$0
99Rajai DavisTOROF.2703304930.317.3777$0
100Brandon MossOAKOF/1B.2701651451.339.4577$0
101Michael BrantleyCLEOF.2746657012.329.3957$0
102Jarrod DysonKCOF.2470124824.320.3237$0
103Jose TabataPITOF.2715366120.338.3727$0
104Gregor BlancoSFOF.2533374425.349.3317$0
105Domonic BrownPHIOF.27010596910.325.3957$0
106John MayberryPHIOF.2551565605.325.4007$0
107Travis SniderPITOF.2481660639.309.4157$0
108David DeJesusCHCOF.2811048726.355.4197$0
109Scott HairstonCHCOF.2471455506.302.4497$0
110Nolan ReimoldBALOF.2601552424.333.4557$0
111Seth SmithOAKOF.2671550505.345.4508$0
112Quintin BerryDETOF.2601304020.330.3558$0
113Nate SchierholtzCHCOF.2701050484.319.4098$0
114Kirk NieuwenhuisNYMOF.26010406510.320.3808$0
115Raul IbanezSEAOF.2351445351.295.4318$0
116Darin RufPHIOF.2621035301.315.4258$0
117Gerardo ParraARIOF.2805354513.332.4008$0
118Nate McLouthBALOF.2487304510.325.3758$0
119Avisail GarciaDETOF.2797284110.320.4158$0
120Chris CoghlanMIAOF.275859609.330.3808$0
121Ryan FlahertyBAL2B/OF.240729243.295.3808$0
122Skip SchumakerLAD2B/OF.279121401.335.3598$0
123Anthony GoseTOROF.2351254721.315.3258$0
124Jordany ValdespinNYMOF.25010403510.300.4258$0
125Brett JacksonCHCOF.25110323915.320.4428$0
126Christian YelichMIAOF.265727247.315.4258$0
127Jason BaySEAOF.230933328.310.3708$0
128Ezequiel CarreraCLEOF.2552244715.306.3478$0
129Jimmy ParedesHOUOF.2505274118.319.4108$0
130Jordan SchaferATLOF.2252254017.315.3158$0
131Eric Young Jr.COLOF.2661133518.339.3398$0
132Jesus GuzmanSDOF/1B.2761051357.339.4398$0
133Vernon WellsLAAOF.2401344403.285.4008$0
134Chris HeiseyCINOF.2591242446.315.4388$0
135Carlos PegueroSEAOF.2401344372.305.4248$0
136Roger BernadinaWASOF.2605253515.340.3758$0
137Tyler MooreWASOF.2601235305.325.4508$0
138Craig GentryTEXOF.2791242915.344.3558$0
139Tony CampanaARIOF.262062525.306.3008$0
140Mike CarpBOS1B/OF.255837220.327.4138$0
141Alex PresleyPITOF.260731428.305.4128$0
142Casper WellsSEAOF.2461035453.315.4358$0
143Andres TorresSFOF.2413294515.320.3698$0
144David LoughKCOF.2595313110.307.4108$0
145Mike BaxterNYMOF.260535407.350.4008$0
146Collin CowgillNYMOF.255427256.320.3658$0
147Brennan BoeschFAOF.2591035354.315.4148$0
148Marlon ByrdNYMOF.255430352.320.3808$0
149Trevor CroweHOUOF.2451243312.295.3298$0
150Sam FuldTBOF.2460203513.315.3408$0

Note: Parentheses indicate anticipated position eligibility

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