We've come to the granddaddy of all the positions. This is your one-stop shopping for whatever you need. You need home runs-- there are plenty here. You need stolen bases-- aisle five. You need someone who can do a lot of both-- over in the back corner, but I'm going to warn you, it's going to cost you and don't fall in love with all the models we have available.
Everyone on draft day will be stampeding over the rights to draft Mike Trout. You would think it was Black Friday back in the 1980's and Mike Trout was a Cabbage Patch Doll or maybe a Tickle Me Elmo from the late 1990's. Hehehe.
I'd definitely recommend drafting a stud outfielder in the first three rounds. Don't waste your time on anyone who doesn't have 20-20 potential. As much as I'd love to have Giancarlo Stanton and his 50-plus home run potential on my team, I would pass on him. I'd rather have a Matt Kemp, Andrew McCutchen, or Carlos Gonzalez who I know won't hit nearly as many homers as Stanton, but who can steal 20-plus bases and hit around .300.
You will have to resist the urge, though, to load up on too many outfielders too early in the draft. I know it's easy to fall in love with three or four of the top ones. Target one, fill in some of your other positions, then revisit the outfield in the middle rounds. By that time, you should know how your team is shaping up and which categories you need to focus on.
Here are my rankings and my projections for 2013:
1. Ryan Braun (36 HR, 112 RBI, .320 avg., 26 SB)
2. Mike Trout (25 HR, 79 RBI, .289 avg., 53 SB)
3. Matt Kemp (29 HR, 95 RBI, .306 avg., 22 SB)
4. Carlos Gonzalez (24 HR, 88 RBI, .301 avg., 23 SB)
5. Andrew McCutchen (26 HR, 97 RBI, .306 avg., 21 SB)
Quite the impressive group. All have 30-30 potential if their managers allowed them to run more. Trout has 30-50 potential... or even higher. Would it be reasonable to expect a little bit of a sophomore slump from him, though? He did hit "only" .284 in August and .257 in September when the Angels needed him. The Angels failed to make the playoffs. The good thing is speed never slumps. He has reportedly put on anywhere between 10-40 pounds, depending on who you want to believe, over the winter. It'll be interesting to see how that affects him on the basepaths.
Braun always has the cloud of PEDs floating over his head. You always have to worry about a suspension at any point. But if he is clean, there is no better hitter in baseball. Kemp is coming off off-season shoulder surgery and may struggle early. Gonzalez needs Tulowitzki healthy and in the lineup to thrive. The sky is the limit for McCutchen.
6. Giancarlo Stanton (42 HR, 99 RBI, .277 avg., 5 SB)
7. Jose Bautista (41 HR, 106 RBI, .260 avg., 6 SB)
8. Josh Hamilton (36 HR, 115 RBI, .290 avg., 11 SB)
This tier is your big boppers. Each could hit fifty home runs, but won't steal you bases. Bautista and Hamilton are injury risks. It'll be interesting to see if Bautista has any lingering effects from a wrist injury which he wasn't able to rebound from last season. Hamilton slumped badly in June and July (.202) and then again in September (.259). He'll have Trout and Pujols hitting in front of him so the opportunities for A LOT of RBIs will be there.
9. Bryce Harper (27 HR, 88 RBI, .276 avg., 24 SB)
10. Matt Holliday (26 HR, 97 RBI, .305 avg., 5 SB)
11. Justin Upton (25 HR, 93 RBI, .288 avg., 22 SB)
12. Yoenis Cespedes (26 HR, 94 RBI, .282 avg., 17 SB)
13. Adam Jones (26 HR, 84 RBI, .280 avg., 15 SB)
14. Jason Heyward (29 HR, 88 RBI, .270 avg., 22 SB)
15. Jay Bruce (36 HR, 104 RBI, .248 avg., 7 SB)
16. Jacoby Ellsbury (14 HR, 63 RBI, .290 avg., 43 SB)
17. Adrian Gonzalez (26 HR, 105 RBI, .304 avg., 0 SB)
This could be referred to as the "Remember me?" tier. With all the Trout hype, people may forget who the number one overall draft pick in 2010 was. Harper just turned 20 in October and already has 22 major league home runs under his belt. He gets criticized for being a jerk, but I love his intensity and his aggressiveness, especially on the base paths.
Heyward, Jones, and Bruce all came to the majors with even more hype than Trout. They may have not met the lofty expectations set for them, but they are still pretty darn good players. Ellsbury was an MVP candidate just a couple of years ago. Don't forget that Adrian Gonzalez qualifies at OF. The only thing holding Cespedes back is his home park... and his hamstrings. He hit .311 with 14 home runs after the All-Star break last year.
18. Allen Craig (23 HR, 90 RBI, .311 avg., 2 SB)
19. B.J. Upton (27 HR, 79 RBI, .244 avg., 34 SB)
20. Shin-Soo Choo (16 HR, 65 RBI, .303 avg., 22 SB)
21. Austin Jackson (17 HR, 70 RBI, .296 avg., 18 SB)
I admit-- I have a man crush on Choo and, especially, Craig. I, probably, have them rated higher than other "experts." Choo has never played in a lineup as potent as Cincy's. Look for him to score a lot of runs. Jackson may be ready for a break-out season. Are you?
22. Ben Zobrist (18 HR, 77 RBI, .264 avg., 16 SB)
23. Desmond Jennings (14 HR, 50 RBI, .260 avg., 34 SB)
24. Alex Gordon (16 HR, 81 RBI, .290 avg., 14 SB)
25. Alex Rios (24 HR, 86 RBI, .277 avg., 17 SB)
26. Carl Crawford (380 AB, 7 HR, 42 RBI, .289 avg., 28 SB)
27. Carlos Gomez (17 HR, 56 RBI, .248 avg., 32 SB)
28. Nelson Cruz (23 HR, 86 RBI, 260 avg., 8 SB)
29. Michael Cuddyer (23 HR, 79 RBI, .288 avg., 0 SB)
30. Josh Willingham (26 HR, 89 RBI, .260 avg., 3 SB)
31. Norichika Aoki (13 HR, 56 RBI, .294 avg., 27 SB)
32. Mark Trumbo (30 HR, 87 RBI, .250 avg., 6 SB)
33. Carlos Beltran (23 HR, 78 RBI, .267 avg., 9 SB)
34. Michael Bourn (4 HR, 45 RBI, .266 avg., 44 SB)
35. Melky Cabrera (11 HR, 68 RBI, .288 avg., 14 SB)
36. Andre Ethier (18 HR, 70 RBI, .290 avg., 1 SB)
This an uninspiring bunch. All have their question marks. I'm not as high on Bourn as others. You can have Brett Gardner ten rounds later and get pretty much the same numbers. Sorry, but 22 career home runs in over 3000 at-bats doesn't do it for me. Bourn better steal 80 bases and score 125 runs to compensate. He won't. Jennings, Gordon, Gomez, and, yes, Crawford (although I just read he suffered a setback with his surgically repaired elbow) have the biggest upside. Ethier is usually a top ten OF for the first two months, then drops off precipitously. Draft him, then trade him in mid-June.
THINNING OUT THE REST
37. Alejandro De Aza (8 HR, 49 RBI, .286 avg., 29 SB)
38. Angel Pagan (8 HR, 54 RBI, .275 avg., 31 SB)
39. Martin Prado (11 HR, 66 RBI, .297 avg., 9 SB)
40. Hunter Pence (20 HR, 76 RBI, .270 avg., 5 SB)
41. Nick Swisher (26 HR, 76 RBI, .251 avg., 2 SB)
42. Chris Davis (27 HR, 81 RBI, .255 avg., 2 SB)
43. Michael Morse (22 HR, 74 RBI, .291 avg., 0 SB)
44. Shane Victorino (14 HR, 70 RBI, .268 avg., 36 SB)
45. Adam Dunn (33 HR, 76 RBI, .204 avg., 1 SB)
46. Brett Gardner (4 HR, 39 RBI, .270 avg., 41 SB)
47. Alfonso Soriano (24 HR, 70 RBI, .252 avg., 4 SB)
48. Lorenzo Cain (15 HR, 68 RBI, .277 avg., 26 SB)
49. Jayson Werth (17 HR, 65 RBI, .274 avg., 15 SB)
50. Dexter Fowler (11 HR, 56 RBI, .278 avg., 14 SB)
This tier is where you can fill out your roster with whatever you need. By this time in the draft, you should have a good idea what your offensive needs are. If you need raw power, you have Swisher, Davis, Dunn, Soriano, Jason Kubel (one tier below), and, possibly, Morse as options. If you need stolen bases and runs, you have De Aza, Pagan, Victorino, Gardner, and Fowler.
BEST OF THE REST
Jason Kubel, Adam Eaton, Todd Frazier, Corey Hart, Torii Hunter, Josh Reddick, Garrett Jones, Justin Ruggiano, Drew Stubbs, Starling Marte, Chris Young