2013 MLB Fantasy Keeper Rankings: Outfield

Tuesday November 6th, 2012

Peter Stein:  Now that the 2012 season is over, it is time to start thinking about the 2013. For many owners, that includes deciding on keepers, although keeper systems vary from league to league. In some leagues, keepers can be held onto for an indefinite period of time, while others build upon the previous year’s draft value. Regardless of your league’s keeper setting, this piece identifies the top keeper player at each position. I chose a time period of five years; therefore, the player at each position should produce the most total fantasy value over the course of the next five years. That is, of course, assuming another Mike Trout doesn’t jump onto the scene.

Here is the outfield installment of the 2013 fantasy keeper focus:

CREAM OF THE CROP:

Mike Trout stole the spotlight in 2012. He is the complete package and a five category stud, as his rookie season looked like this: .326/30/83 and 49 steals and 129 runs. The 21-year-old can literally anchor your team in every offensive category. The most encouraging aspect to Trout’s season is that his first and second half production was very similar. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if Trout endures any type of sophomore slump. Clearly, he has the ability to make adjustments and even a slight downgrade in production from 2012 would have him at an elite level. Although I do expect a slight dip in production in 2013, Trout’s best years are still years away. Scary, right? Five years from now he will truly be in his prime and he is capable of putting together several MVP performances. If you are fortunate enough to own him in a keeper league, enjoy the ride!

Andrew McCutchen appeared to be on his way to an MVP season during the first half of 2012 (.362/18/60 and 14 steals). The second half of the season was rather pedestrian: .289/13/36 and 6 steals. Regardless, the combined numbers were elite and made him a rare five-category contributor. The good news for owners in keeper leagues is that he is just 26 years old. His best seasons are ahead of him, as he will be entering his prime next season. The power should continue to develop, although he might become a single digit producer in the stolen bases categories. He will clearly hit in the middle of the order and his 20/32-success rate indicates that he should just stay put when he reaches base. What was most encouraging about 2012 was his batting average of .327, compared to .259 in 2011. Expect McCutchen to hit right around .300 from here on out.

Ryan Braun was considered a risk going into 2012 with the speculation of performance enhancing drugs. He avoided suspension and assuaged any fears by putting forth his best season to date: .319/41/112 and 30 steals. Braun is the grandfather of this group, but at 28 years of age we can still expect elite production over the next five years. Unlike McCutchen, Braun is a very good base stealer (30/37 in 2012), but expect to see a dip in this category once he advances to the other side of the thirty year threshold. This is especially true because Braun is frequently banged up and had oblique and hamstring issues throughout the year. Anyway, Braun continues to get better and should continue to eclipse .300/30/100 and 20 steals in each of the next five seasons barring any injuries.

Adam Jones broke out in a big way in 2012 (.287/32/82 and 16 steals). However, his season wasn’t all that different from 2011. The Orioles, however, had a much better season and this helped legitimize Jones. People had always been quick to criticize Jones because after a breakout 2009 season he didn’t jump to a .300/30/100 type player. What makes Jones such an intriguing player moving forward is that he has simply made moderate improvement and adjustments from year to year. He has become more of a complete player, one that hits for average, great power, and contributes on the base paths. Expect Jones to continue making strides, and at 27 years of age, he is now just entering his prime. Over the next five years, expect an average stat line to look this: .290/32/95 and 15 steals. While there are some guys who might put up gaudier numbers, Jones is consistent and continues to improve.

Giancarlo Stanton is the elite source of power in fantasy baseball. He jacked 37 bombs in just 123 games. He also improved his batting average from .262 to .290. As long as he stays healthy, he should have no issues eclipsing 40 home runs annually for the next five years. The scary thing is, at 22 years of age, his power will is still developing. Expect some absurd home run totals and it’s hard to believe anyone else can challenge him. Furthermore, if 2012 was any indication, this could be the type of player to flirt with .300 while jacking 45+ bombs. Just have to hope his knees hold up!

PROVE ME WRONG

Carlos Gonzalez has the potential to put up the gaudiest numbers of the bunch, but he has regressed since his 2010 season. Part of the reason is his inability to stay healthy for a full season. Secondly, he is very, very bad on the road. Look at his 2012 splits:

Home: .368/13/58
Away: .234/9/27

This has been his story his entire career. Therefore, it is scary to think about how ordinary of a player he might be if he wasn’t a member of the Colorado Rockies. Who knows if he will be traded or sign to a different team in the next five years. Regardless, he is too much of an injury concern and inconsistent to be placed in The Cream of The Crop.

Yeonis Cespedes proved in his rookie season that he is a five-category stud: .292/23/82 and 16 steals. Great production in just 129 games. However, I want to see him repeat this performance in another full season. Pitchers will make adjustments, and it certainly does not work in his favor that he plays half of his games at the Oakland Coliseum. With all that said, you have to be feeling pretty good if you own Cespedes in a keeper league.

Bryce Harper was overshadowed by Mike Trout in 2012. His total numbers (.270/22/59 and 18 SB) placed him 29th in ESPN’s OF Fantasy Player Rater. Absurd production for a 20-year old. Given his age, I still see a few more years until Harper really breaks out and emerges as a top-5 player. With that said, at the end of this five-year window, is when Harper will be putting up MVP-like numbers. Again, I just think it will take him another few years to fully develop. Of course, when it’s all said and done, he will be one of the best to ever do it!

(*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com ***)

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Fantasy Baseball Analyst, Peter Stein. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Peter on Twitter (@peterWstein)***

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Posted on November 6, 2012, in Players: Fantasy Baseball Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. No Matt Kemp?

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