2014 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Breakout Players — Left Fielders

brantley land
Source: Ed Zurga/Getty Images North America

When we get to the outfield, we get to the meat of most people’s fantasy teams. As I’ve said before, 100 runs created has been the standard for excellence in the past, and that is certainly true with the development of better pitching over the past few years. Still, there have been some incredibly good left fielders in the game this season. Some of them have almost seemingly come out of nowhere.

The funny thing is that their traditional numbers are not as stellar as we have seen from the positional leaders of the past. Perhaps, this is a down time for corner outfielders. It could also be a changing of the guard and that is when breakout players shine. Again, we are not looking for the best left fielder in the game. We are looking for the player that was unheralded on draft day, but has moved forward to become one of the best six outfielders.

In addition to runs created, we will look at the traditional fantasy categories and a sixth category called runs produced. Runs produced is calculated by adding runs and RBI and subtracting home runs. Typically, 150 runs produced is a pretty good number for someone that plays everyday.

PRE

AVG

HR

Runs

RBI

RP

wRC

SB

Michael Brantley

179

.311

18

81

84

147

90

17

Justin Upton

36

.288

26

70

91

135

89

7

Melky Cabrera

293

.305

15

79

71

135

86

6

Nelson Cruz

139

.254

34

73

88

127

80

4

Matt Holliday

54

.263

15

70

74

129

78

3

Alex Gordon

80

.277

17

72

61

116

76

8

Remember, we are looking for the players that were unheralded on draft day. The fact that Justin Upton is second among left fielders is not necessarily that impressive in this discussion. He should be a highly rated left fielder. As you can see from the pre-draft rankings, some of these players were either late picks or went undrafted.

Breakout Player of the Year: Michael Brantley– Cleveland Indians

The Indians are on the edge of the wild card hunt, and Michael Brantley is the main reason why. It is funny to see people fawn over Alex Gordon as a stealth MVP candidate. Yeah, that’s real stealthy when he ranks fourth among American League left fielders in runs created. Brantley rates first and is producing enough in the counting numbers to garner serious consideration.

Based on the pre-draft rankings, Brantley was likely taken somewhere between the 15th and 16th round. Depending on the number of starting outfielders your league had, he might not have even opened the season in the starting lineup. Granted, he might not be the number one outfielder on some fantasy teams, but he certainly is among the top two.

Runner Up: Melky Cabrera– Toronto Blue Jays

We have seen a general theme in the last couple of articles about PEDs and their affect on a player’s perceived value. Cabrera was one of those guys. He seems to vacillate between a dynamic offensive player and an also ran. It happens to be a contract year, so he could end up being back on the juice. Who knows these days. The problem with Cabrera is that the margin for error is getting lower and lower. He isn’t a stolen base threat anymore and he isn’t an elite power hitter either. He has to get by on high batting averages and the hopes that his teammates will provide enough run producing opportunities for him.

Honorable Mention: Nelson Cruz– Baltimore Orioles

Speaking of PEDs, we have another success story for a player once stained by suspension. Everyone in the game and out of the game assumed he would turn into a pumpkin after being caught. Instead, he has come back with a vengeance and just might lead the entire American League in home runs when the season is over. Meanwhile, his Orioles might be returning to the playoffs for the second time in three years. They took a chance on him on a one year contract and enough fantasy players took a chance for him to be taken in the first 12 rounds.

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1 Comment

  1. Ed
    September 8, 2014 at 10:09 am — Reply

    thoughts on corey dickerson in either the cf or lf spot? come on, now

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