Baseball Press presents a returning miniseries entitled "Three Up, Three Down". We'll review player performances from last season and whether or not we feel they are capable of either improving upon last season's performance, or if the player had a "lucky" season in 2012.
We've covered the entire infield and now shift our attention to the outfield. You can view the previous positions either by checking the links on the right or clicking here. The outfield is always deep with talent, and 2013 is no different. If you miss out on Mike Trout
or Ryan Braun, there are plenty of other options.
With Justin Upton
moving to the Atlanta Braves via trade during the off-season, 24-year-old outfielder Adam Eaton projects as an everyday player for the Diamondbacks for the 2013 season. During a brief 22 game call-up in 2012, Eaton hit .259/.382/.412 with two stolen bases. While his small sample size may look disappointing at first glance, Eaton's 2012 minor league numbers were much more impressive, as he stole 44 bases and posted a .456 on-base percentage across two levels. 22 big-league games is hardly a sample size, but Eaton has shown through his professional career that he can post a great on-base percentage and steal bases. He won't post productive power numbers, but will be very helpful to owners that play in OBP leagues.
The 2012 season was Desmond Jennings' first full big-league season after appearing in 80 total games prior to last season. Jennings was was limited in playing time last season due to an injury, but was still able to steal 31 bases while posting a .314 on-base percentage. Obviously owners want the on-base percentage to be higher, as this will not only lead to more stolen bases, but will also lead to a possibility to crack the 100 runs scored plateau in 2013. Much like Adam Eaton, Jennings won't hit for much power, but he's a good bet to crack the double digit mark. With Jennings, you're looking at a solid 35-40 steals with potential to score a bunch of runs for the Rays.
This may be the easy and trendy bounce-back pick for 2013, but expect big things from Upton this upcoming season. The trade to Atlanta will be a nice change of scenery for the 25-year-old outfielder, since his style of play and demeanor really did not fit the "gritty"
type of players that Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson
was looking for. Upton was pretty much the same hitter in 2012, when he put 17 balls over the fence, as he was in 2011 when he clubbed 31 home runs. The main difference was his fly ball percentage. In 2011 it reached a career high (full season) of 44.8-percent, a number that had steadily climbed to that point over the previous two seasons. In 2012, Upton's fly ball rate was a measly 35.6-percent. His HR/FB rate also dropped to 11-percent, a career low. Regression in these two categories alone could put Upton back in 30 home run territory real quick. More home runs and a better lineup will also lead to more RBI.
Josh Hamilton signed a mega deal with the Angels during the off-season and moves from the luxurious ballpark in Texas to a more difficult stadium for home runs in Anaheim. Although Hamilton is still an excellent option among outfielders for fantasy owners, his strikeouts and injury concerns are a huge risk for fantasy owners. Regarding his injury concerns, he's missed at least 20 games with various injuries during the 2009-2011 seasons, including a large chunk of games in 2009. In 2012, he missed approximately 10 games due to various injuries. His strikeouts have been on the rise since the 2010 season, striking out in 16.6% of all plate appearances in 2010, 17.3% in 2011, and 25.5% in 2012, respectively. While it's likely certain that his power will help him reach the 30 home run mark in 2013, the 31-year-old outfielder will have his struggles reaching the mark. He still has upside because of the home runs, but count on a disabled list stint in 2013.
- Chicago Cubs
Alfonso Soriano had a bounce-back year in a big way in 2012. With 32 home runs, it was the first time he had eclipsed the 30 home run mark since 2007. That kind of power production excuses a slightly low .262 batting average, which was still higher than his previous three-year average, and also allowed Cub fans to dismiss the 24.9-percent strikeout rate. Soriano was essentially the same hitter he was in previous years, with a slightly lower fly ball percentage that was compensated for by a slightly higher HR/FB rate. What made him so successful was the fact he made 615 plate appearances, a number he had not reached since the 2007 season. Just about all of Soriano's value is in his health, and considering his recent track record, there is a good chance he will not be as friendly to fantasy owners in 2012.Alex Rios
- Chicago White Sox
After a terrible 2011 season, most owners wrote Alex Rios off heading into the 2012 season. The owners that decided to take a flier on him were rewarded nicely with 25 home runs, 91 RBI, and a .304 batting average - all of which were career highs. Now heading into his age 31 season, Rios will have a lot more owners interested in him on draft day and is currently being taken as the 24th best outfielder at Mock Draft Central.
A few reasons to be cautious of a repeat in 2013 is his .323 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) - his highest since 2008 and about 20 points higher than his career average. Secondly, his walk rate sunk to a career low 4.1-percent last season. If that doesn't improve, and he isn't as lucky with his balls in play average, he will see fewer chances to swipe a base. Finally, he posted a career high 12.6-percent HR/FB mark in 2012. Playing at U.S. Cellular Field does help that rate, but it was three points higher than his three-year average at The Cell, as well as his career average.
Reggie Yinger and Nate Springfield contributed to this article.