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Draft Strategy: Mixed League - Outfield
| Wednesday March 3rd, 2010
Braun becoming an elite option (AP)
Braun becoming an elite option (AP)
Ryan Braun
Braun looks for another 30 HR / 100 RBI season (AP)

Outfield is not the glamour position in fantasy baseball it once was. Maybe it's the lack of steroids, maybe it's the recent trend favoring defense, or maybe it's just the normal swinging of the pendulum, but there has been a huge shift towards speed and away from power.

Speed is abundant in the outfield. Of the top 30 outfielders by ADP, only Jason Bay, Adam Lind, Manny Ramirez, Carlos Lee, and Adam Dunn are unlikely to steal at least 15 bases. Additionally, the top 30 includes guys like Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, B.J. Upton, and Michael Bourn, who are all likely to steal 40+. Only Ryan Braun, Adam Lind, and Adam Dunn feel like locks for 30+ homers.

So what does all of this mean? For 2010 drafts you have to get power early. If you take Carl Crawford and Jose Reyes with 2 of your top 3 picks, you are going to really struggle later in the draft to find enough homers to be competitive. You'll be looking at the Jack Custs and J.J. Hardys of the world. In the alternative, if you grab Ryan Braun and SS Troy Tulowitzki, you can nab Denard Span, Juan Pierre, and SS Erick Aybar much later and wind up with a stronger team overall.

A little too hot

As I mentioned earlier, I think speed is a commodity that can be found later in the draft. With that in mind: Don't draft Michael Bourn. You can get the same production from Nyjer Morgan, Rajai Davis, Juan Pierre, or Julio Borbon 50-100 picks later. Along these same lines, pass on Ichiro Suzuki. The lack of any power and hitting atop a mediocre Seattle lineup means few RBI.

In the same vein, I'm not a Shane Victorino guy. Why take him at 71 when you can get the same stats and more upside from Andrew McCutchen at 90? Same goes for Raul Ibanez. Pass on him at 98 and grab Brad Hawpe two rounds later.

Justin Upton is a phenomenal talent, and in a keeper league, he's a top 5 commodity. But he's not a 2nd round pick in re-draft formats this year - his average is going to be in the .280 range, and he seems to me to be a 25-15 (HR-SB) guy next year, not the 30-30 player people are hoping for. He is really, really good, so I won't really fault you if you grab him, but if you're choosing between him (ADP: 24) and Matt Holliday (ADP: 20), go for the known commodity and enjoy his .300 average, 25 homers, 15 steals, and 100 RBI.

A little too cold

If there are overdrafts, there also have to be sleepers. These guys are all going in the top 100, but are being under-drafted by a round or two: Hunter Pence, Andre Ethier, Adam Jones, Carlos Quentin, and Torii Hunter.

Downright freezing

These guys are going far too late, and you should target all of them: Magglio Ordonez, Franklin Gutierrez, Denard Span, and Jay Bruce.

A little math to start, APD in the parenthesis:
Franklin Gutierrez (243) = Alex Rios (109) = Torii Hunter (99) = Bobby Abreu (76) = Shin-Soo Choo (67). Seriously - look at their projected stats and tell me what the difference is.

Denard Span is the Asdrubal Cabrera of the outfield. People haven't caught on that a .300 batting average while hitting at the top of the order, with 10 homers and 15-25 steals is a great fantasy player. Pay $20 for him at your auction and enjoy his $30 season.

It was just 18 months ago that Jay Bruce was the #1 prospect in baseball and took the big leagues by storm in August of 2008. One poor season that was largely BABIP dependant and his ADP is over 100. He may not be more than a .270 hitter, but the power is for real.

Assuming Magglio plays every day (with the Johnny Damon signing the Tigers' outfield is crowded, and Maggs has an option that the Tigers are unlikely to allow trigger), he's a great value at 273. High average, solid runs and RBI, and enough pop - I like him for 15 homers this year - that he's still useful.

Just right

Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ryan Braun, Matt Holliday, and Matt Kemp are going to be worth every dime you pay for them. Will I be drafting Crawford or Ellsbury this year? No way, but if you want to lock up steals early and bank on 1B Carlos Pena, 3B Edwin Encarnacion, and C Ryan Doumit bailing you out on the power front later, go right ahead.

So who are you drafting/avoiding?