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Pod’s Picks: Outfield

Outfield. The position with a ton of required starters that gives us much room for disagreement. In fact, I try my hardest to avoid drafting them early in a snake draft because I know there will be a whole bunch in the middle rounds I think are being drastically undervalued. If only I was in a fantasy league with 10 OF slots. One can only dream. In the outfield, I will only look at those I ranked in the top 64 as bullish picks, while the bearish group will include those in the consensus top 64.

Bullish

Justin Ruggiano

My Rank: 37 | Consensus: 57

Surprise, surprise. Nah, you’re really not surprised. I have participated in four drafts/auctions so far this year and I have him on all of my teams. You know why I like him this year. Yes, his BABIP will decline, but he exhibits the batted ball profile necessary to post an inflated mark and historically has done so in the minors. Power, speed, and a spot in the middle of a batting order (even if it’s one as poor as the Marlins) who is going 268th overall in NFBC leagues? Yes, please.

Carl Crawford

My Rank: 26 | Consensus: 44

Clearly a playing time thing. He now might be ready by opening day, which means even my 525 at-bat projection could be low. I don’t really have a clue how many stolen bases he’ll rack up this year, but at his draft cost, he seems like a fantastic pick.

Shane Victorino

My Rank: 19 | Consensus: 31

I am the outlier here for the veteran Victorino, as the other three rankers had him between 33 and 35. He will continue to provide a nice power/speed combination and his BABIP should rebound after he posted his second worst career mark.

Coco Crisp

My Rank: 35 | Consensus: 46

Mostly due to Zach Sanders’ ranking of 80 which really hurt the consensus here. The concern with Crisp is his health and the crowded Oakland outfield. But, he’s actually not much different than Victorino, and may even be labeled a poor man’s version.

Alex Rios

My Rank: 11 | Consensus: 21

Rios has been maddeningly inconsistent, which hurts his perceived value as fantasy owners simply aren’t confident in what kind of performance they will get. But even with an expected regression from last year, this is still a 20/20 skill set. Oh, and he is supposed to be hitting third this season, rather than fifth. If that lineup switch sticks, that would boost his chances of earning this rank even higher.

Bearish

Melky Cabrera

My Rank: 41 | Consensus: 28

Yes, he’s in an excellent lineup, in a great spot in that lineup, and moving to a strong hitter’s ballpark. But last year was mostly BABIP driven and one wonders how much longer this new sudden BABIP skill will continue. Before 2011, he was never above .309 and had posted sub-.300 marks in four of his five seasons. Will he continue to post double-digit steals hitting in front of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion? And how could we even be sure who the real Melky is after his PED suspension? Too many question marks to rank so highly.

Dexter Fowler

My Rank: 75 | Consensus: 62

He’s fast, but doesn’t steal bases and at this point, it would be silly to suddenly expect the speed to translate. He tripled his HR/FB rate, but his average home run plus fly ball distance actually declined. In fact, his distance was the lowest of his career. And, he’s obviously not repeating that .390 BABIP. So, a power and batting average decline, plus nothing more than low double-digit steals for someone whose career high at-bat total is just 481. No thanks.

Carlos Beltran

My Rank: 48 | Consensus: 36

Wow, where did that season come from? Simply based on age and history, you cannot possibly expect him to repeat that HR/FB rate. The steals too seem ripe for a disappearing act and betting on another near 550 at-bats would be foolish. My projections are close to what the Fans are projecting, and that’s just not the stat package of the 36th best outfielder.

Starling Marte

My Rank: 49 | Consensus: 38

This surprises me as in my drafts/auctions, he has been either fairly valued or undervalued. I thought I liked him as a nice power/speed combo, but seems like my fellow rankers like him even more than I do. In fact, I actually drafted him in LABR. His poor contact and walk rates in his cup of coffee last year are concerns, so he may not last in the leadoff slot, let alone remain in the Majors all season. But still, he’s a potential 15/30 guy who may very well be had late in drafts, so I would certainly not consider myself bearish.