2014 Fantasy Baseball: Total Run Index Sneak Peeks, Left Fielders
Outfield is a unique problem for fantasy players. If you play in more than one fantasy league, chances are that one of them will consider outfielders generically and the other will have specific positions. We will consider the positions specifically for the time being, but TRI lends itself to overall rankings anyway, so you can easily swing back and forth.
Like the middle infield positions, speed and hitting are both weapons for many fantasy outfielders. While we do not look at stolen bases specifically, they figure prominently in the base running component, so you can see which outfielders will help in those speed categories. That being said, I’m not a big believer in playing for one category, so that is why I like an overall metric like TRI.
1. Matt Holliday— St. Louis Cardinals
This doesn’t mean that Holliday should be the first left fielder off the board in 2014. It simply means he ended up on top this past year. A lot of that has more to do with other players at the position than him. Holliday is likely on the way down, but he has been very steady over the past five seasons, so he isn’t likely to dip far. He shouldn’t be taken in the first or second round, but if he falls into round three or four you might think long and hard about taking him.
2. Carlos Gonzalez— Colorado Rockies
Ironically, these two were traded for each other back in the day. I’ve always been cold on CarGo because he just never seems to put up the dominant numbers that people expect. That being said, he is usually good for twenty home runs and twenty stolen bases. I wouldn’t get that in the first few rounds, but he is a nice player to have a little later in the draft.
3. Justin Upton— Atlanta Braves
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Here is another guy on my overrated list. He got off to a great start in 2013, but finished around career norms. Add in a healthy (and non-suspended) Ryan Braun and perhaps even Josh Willingham and you have a top five left fielder, but not someone that should be one of your top five selections. Heck, I’d even pick Bryce Harper before this guy.
4. Bryce Harper— Washington Nationals
Speaking of the devil, Harper has the talent to be the number one guy on this board, but he plays the game like a crash test dummy. If he can find a way to keep the intensity without killing his body, he can definitely vault the top three names on the list. As it stands, he might be better than Upton because the numbers indicate he is a more valuable hitter than Upton. Upton is slightly better on the base paths, but the stolen base numbers don’t necessarily indicate that. So, if healthy it’s an easy choice.
5. Daniel Nava— Boston Red Sox
Every team that wins a pennant has players like Nava on them. He came into the season as a relative unknown, but produced good numbers as a part-time player. Whether he continues to produce is the question. Given Jacoby Ellsbury’s impending free agency, he will probably have more opportunities to play this go around. I wouldn’t bet on him being top ten worthy again.
6. Domonic Brown— Philadelphia Phillies
Brown went undrafted in most leagues and deservedly so. There was nothing in his big league track record to indicate what was to come. One thing is for sure: there is no way he is going undrafted this year. Of course, no one can say whether he takes a step forward or backward is anyone’s best guess. I tend to guess backwards, but if you want to roll the dice on a 40 home run season be my guest.
7. Starling Marte— Pittsburgh Pirates
It was Marte’s first full season in the big leagues and he may have been one of the main reasons why the Pirates went from pretender to playoff team. The future is bright for the Pirates and it should remain bright for Marte. Sometimes, players take a step sideways or backwards before they continue forward, but the long range prognosis for Marte is good. He will probably end up being a 25 run a year player.
8. Carlos Quentin— Chicago White Sox
Quentin fell this far because he began the season on the disabled list. On the other hand, his TRI numbers are a bit inflated given his home ballpark. The end result is a player that usually gets picked lower than this and for good reason. He usually doesn’t even get to 30 home runs and 100 RBIs, so it is hard to justify taking him among the top six or seven left fielders even though he would likely end up there in a healthy season.
9. Raul Ibanez— Seattle Mariners
Fans from the 1990s will remember Harold Baines. Baines is one of the best examples I can think of for the unintended benefits of the DH for aging players. Baines never hit 30 home runs, but ended up being amongst the career leaders in RBIs because he played forever. Enter Raul Ibanez. Ibanez has been a solid run producer for years, but never an elite one. That being said, he hit nearly 30 home runs last season in a part time role. He should be in a part-time role for fantasy players no matter where he ends up.
10. Ryan Braun— Milwaukee Brewers
Okay, let’s get this out of the way. He’s a scumbag. It wasn’t the fact that he took PEDs that makes him a scumbag. It is the fact that he stood in front of the world and threw a courier under the bus knowing full well he was a lying scumbag. That being said, you shouldn’t ignore him on your next draft. He may lose enough to become a Matt Holliday clone, but that is still a very darn good player. So, if he is there in round four or five, hold your nose, and add him to your team.