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Fantasy Baseball Position Primer: Outfield

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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.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball: Sign up and join a league today!]

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.

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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.

[Want to join a league and live draft right now? Go to the Yahoo Draft Lobby]

OUTFIELD TIERS
TIER ONE

Mike Trout
Andrew McCutchen
Giancarlo Stanton
Carlos Gomez

TIER TWO

Jose Bautista
Adam Jones
Yasiel Puig
Michael Brantley
Jacoby Ellsbury
Ryan Braun
Bryce Harper
Justin Upton

TIER THREE

Corey Dickerson
Carlos Gonzalez
George Springer
Starling Marte
Billy Hamilton
Matt Kemp
Yoenis Cespedes
Matt Holliday
Nelson Cruz
Charlie Blackmon
Jason Heyward
Alex Gordon
Christian Yelich

Bryce Harper, still only 22. We'll get a full season from him one of these years, right? (Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports)
Bryce Harper, still only 22. We'll get a full season from him one of these years, right? (Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports)

TIER FOUR

Jorge Soler
Jay Bruce
Kole Calhoun
Mookie Betts
Marcell Ozuna
Chris Carter
Brett Gardner
J.D. Martinez
Shin-Soo Choo
Jayson Werth
Ryan Zimmerman
Mark Trumbo
Hunter Pence
Ben Revere
Leonys Martin
Ben Zobrist
Alex Rios
Josh Harrison
Brandon Moss

TIER FIVE

Torii Hunter
Melky Cabrera
Rusney Castillo
Gregory Polanco
A.J. Pollock
Coco Crisp
Wil Myers
Adam Eaton
Marlon Byrd
Avisail Garcia
Austin Jackson
Lorenzo Cain
Rajai Davis
Oswaldo Arcia
Khris Davis
Denard Span
Michael Cuddyer
Steven Souza
Carlos Beltran
Dexter Fowler
Steve Pearce
Danny Santana
Martin Prado
Carl Crawford
Yasmany Tomas
Joc Pederson
Desmond Jennings
Curtis Granderson
Nick Markakis
Dalton Pompey
Michael Morse
Arismendy Alcantara
Angel Pagan
Norichika Aoki
Michael Saunders

TIER SIX

Eric Young
Drew Stubbs
Michael Bourn
Josh Reddick
Domonic Brown
Shane Victorino
Allen Craig
Colby Rasmus
Alejandro De Aza
Stephen Vogt
David Peralta
Jon Jay
Logan Morrison
Jarrod Dyson
Emilio Bonifacio
Darin Ruf
Michael Taylor
Juan Lagares
Dustin Ackley
Melvin Upton Jr.
Anthony Gose
Seth Smith
Garrett Jones
Matt Joyce
Josh Hamilton
Aaron Hicks
Jake Marisnick
Will Venable
Ender Inciarte
Andre Ethier
Gerardo Parra
Chris Coghlan
Brock Holt
Cameron Maybin
Jake Smolinski
Alexander Guerrero
Scott Van Slyke
Byron Buxton