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The outfield is where you'll find ... well, everything.
Whatever you need, it's available in the outfield. All hitting stats, all player traits. This roster spot is where the four and five-category fantasy commodities tend to reside. The top-two overall picks in an average Yahoo draft are a pair of outfielders — Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen — and four additional OF-eligible players are typically selected among the overall top-ten.
Simply put, fantasy is a numbers game, and the outfield is rich with numbers. If you adhere too strictly to position-scarcity draft principles in the opening rounds, you'll whiff on several of the game's most productive, bankable, multi-category assets.
Eighteen major league hitters posted at least 80 runs, 80 RBIs and 20 HRs last year, and nine were outfielders. (None were shortstops, none were catchers.) Thirteen players at this position delivered a combined homers-plus-steals total of 40 or more. Only five big leaguers topped 35 home runs, and four carry outfield eligibility, including MLB leader Nelson Cruz. Fifteen players stole 30-plus bags in 2014, and 11 were outfielders.
It's certainly true that breakout fantasy monsters emerge in the outfield each season from the mid and late rounds (or the free agent pool), as with Michael Brantley and Corey Dickerson in 2014. But it's also unquestionably true that the elite fantasy outfielders rank among the most predictable assets in our game — most of this year's upper-tier OFs were last year's upper-tier OFs.
Bottom line: If you deliberately avoid this position at the top of your draft, you're choosing to pass on fantasy's most useful and reliable stars. Does that sound like a winning approach?
If it does, um ... then I'd like to invite you to join a few highly incentivized leagues. Prepayment required, no exceptions. We can draft around your schedule, whenever it's convenient.
Position averages for the top-60 outfielders, last three years
2014, OF1 — 88.5 R, 23.7 HR, 85.5 RBIs, 14.7 SB, .287 AVG
2014, OF2 — 72.4 R, 14.0 HR, 59.7 RBIs, 19.4 SB, .277 AVG
2014, OF3 — 60.1 R, 10.0 HR, 46.8 RBIs, 10.8 SB, .262 AVG
2013, OF1 — 89.1 R, 24.3 HR, 84.1 RBIs, 18.2 SB, .287 AVG
2013, OF2 — 76.2 R, 17.0 HR, 65.4 RBIs, 14.2 SB, .275 AVG
2013, OF3 — 67.3 R, 14.8 HR, 55.2 RBIs, 13.0 SB, .262 AVG
2012, OF1 — 95.5 R, 28.8 HR, 90.0 RBIs, 17.4 SB, .284 AVG
2012, OF2 — 81.1 R, 22.4 HR, 80.9 RBIs, 11.4 SB, .276 AVG
2012, OF3 — 71.0 R, 15.7 HR, 61.1 RBIs, 18.0 SB, .273 AVG
Note: We’re treating the outfield as three positions, with “OF1” representing the 20 highest-ranked players. The outfielders ranked 21-40 are OF2s, and 41-60 are OF3s.
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Alejandro De Aza
Melvin Upton Jr.
Scott Van Slyke