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Sleepers and Busts: The Outfielders

Brandon Funston
Roto Arcade

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There's no shortage of fantasy intrigue in the Chicago White Sox outfield (Getty)

For the past month, the Yahoo fantasy crew has offered up its player rankings for the upcoming 2014 fantasy baseball campaign. Now, with the season only a couple weeks away, we felt it was time to take a deeper dive into the rationale behind those rankings, specifically where each expert has most drastically veered from the group-think (Yahoo ADP) path. Below, each expert explains his dissenting opinion on a couple players he likes more than the Yahoo ADP and a couple players he likes less than the ADP. For this exercise, we'll call them our sleepers and busts at the outfield position. Next week, we'll discuss the infield outliers. Until then, let us know in the comments section which players have you furthest out on a limb.

THE SLEEPERS

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Adam Eaton, CHW - With his speed and ability to get on base (.450 career minor-league OBP), there weren't too many buzzier players heading into the '13 season than Eaton. But a sprained elbow in the spring rained on his parade. Now, relocated to Chicago's South Side, there's much less fanfare for Eaton heading into '14 - his Yahoo ADP is way down at No. 224 overall. But everything we liked about Eaton still remains. The expected leadoff hitter for the ChiSox is tearing up the Cactus League, and it's not far-fetched to think he can score 80-90 runs, hit 10 home runs, steal 20-30 bases, all with a batting average north of .280. If he comes close to those numbers, he'll be an absolute draft-day steal. (Brandon Funston)

Avisail Garcia, CHW - Here's a guy that is only being drafted in 15 percent of standard Yahoo leagues that could easily deliver a 15/15 type season with a solid batting average (he's hit .289 in 95 MLB games). And if he hits behind Eaton and in front of Cuban import Jose Abreu in the No. 2 hole, a rumored possibility, that'll add nice run production potential. (Funston)

Austin Jackson, Det - His stolen-base trend is heading in the wrong direction, but remember he had five bags last April before hamstring problems kicked in. Jackson's a lock for 90-plus runs every year, his lifetime average is .278, and he's a good bet for 10-15 homers. Now that red-light Jim Leyland is out of town (and an Age-27 season is on the way), I suspect Jackson is ready to give us his best showing yet. (Scott Pianowski)

Colby Rasmus, Tor - If Rasmus had stayed healthy for all of 2013, we'd be talking about a breakthrough year - note 22 homers in just 118 games and a .501 slugging percentage. He's good enough against lefties to stay in the lineup full-time, and he really mashed right-handers last year (.893 OPS). Life at Rogers Center also agrees with him - he clocked 14 homers in 61 home dates. Here's another Age-27 season I'd like to invest in. (Pianowski)

Angel Pagan, SF – He’s one season removed from being the No. 78 ranked player overall and was worth a top-10 round pick last year before going down with a hamstring injury that ruined the rest of his season. Pagan’s current ADP is 251.5 in Yahoo leagues, which looks like a bargain. (Dalton Del Don)

A.J. Pollock, Ari – He’s not going to be a star, but Pollock is a former first round pick in line for everyday at bats most likely atop the Diamondbacks’ lineup while playing in a home park that’s increased run scoring by 10 percent over the past three years, with only Coors Field and the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington being higher over that span. A 10-homer, 25-steal type campaign is very possible, and Pollock is dirt cheap at draft tables right now. (DDD)

Kole Calhoun, LAA - He'll bat in the leadoff spot for the Angels, just ahead of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. In 59 games at Triple-A last season, he hit .354/.431/.617. Interested? You probably should be. (Andy Behrens)

Khris Davis, Mil - Milwaukee dealt away Norichika Aoki during the offseason to clear a spot for Davis. Don't assume that last year's power was fluky. His career minor league slugging percentage is .506. (Behrens)

THE BUSTS

Domonic Brown, Phi - Brown's Yahoo ADP is pushing top 100 overall status (104.9). That's a hefty price tag for a post-hyper whose value is inflated by one incredible month in '13 (12 HR, .991 OPS in 28 May games). Let Trevor Plouffe's '12 season be the cautionary tale for why you don't chase a one-month hot streak when the player's batted ball profile doesn't really support it. (Funston)

Curtis Granderson, NYM - Name-brand appeal has kept Granderson in shouting distance (115.2 ADP) of the top 100 overall in fantasy drafts despite his busted '13 campaign. And moving to the NL side of New York won't help his rebound effort as Yankee Stadium has been much more generous to lefty power hitters than Citi Field. Even if he does rebound to a near-30 home run level, he's still likely to pair it with the usual .230-.240 batting average. And the Mets still look like one of the worst offenses in the league. If hollow power is what you are after, wait 100-plus picks and nab Houston's Chris Carter. (Funston)

Carlos Beltran, NYY - He turns 37 in April and he's no longer a factor on the bases; I guess I'm a little worried about being caught when the cliff comes into play. Beltran didn't look like a special player in the second half of 2013 (.277, 28 runs, five homers, zero steals). The circus leaves town for everyone eventually. (Pianowski)

Alejandro De Aza, CHW - Part-time play is a killer when it comes to mixed-league value, and De Aza isn't guaranteed a thing in a crowded Chicago lineup (some sources suggest he's the team's No. 4 outfielder right now, though nothing is official yet). Now that Adam Eaton is around to play center field, I suspect De Aza will be squeezed on the corners. De Aza comes off a .264/.323/.405 slash, which isn't marking any territory. The White Sox realize they need to do better. (Pianowski)

Norichika Aoki, KC – It’s not like I hate Aoki, but he recorded just a 62.5 SB success rate last year and is moving to the tougher league (I would point out he’s also now playing in a home park that crushes power from LHB, but it’s not like HRs are a big part of his game). Aoki is a fine player, but he’s currently being drafted just behind Carl Crawford and ahead of Michael Bourn and Ben Revere, which seems a bit high. (DDD)

Hunter Pence, SF – He was a top-10 fantasy player last year, but I just want to caution he was outside the top-80 the year prior, so don’t just blindly pay for last year’s stats. Of course, Pence has been highly ranked in seasons before that, but those were in hitter’s parks, and he now plays in AT&T, which has suppressed runs scored by 14 percent over the past three seasons, with only PETCO Park being more pitcher friendly over that span. That said, Pence’s ADP (61.9) admittedly reflects some expected regression. (DDD)

Dexter Fowler, Hou - He's a career .298/.395/.485 hitter at Coors, and .241/.333/.361 everywhere else. He's all yours. I won't fight you for him. (Behrens)

Shane Victorino, Bos - I don't actually feel like I dislike Victorino, but the ranks don't lie. I expect his batting average to slip toward his career norm (.277), and I'm not banking on a 30-steal season. (Behrens)

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