Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 11/16/14
Drafting an outfield is intimidating. I consider myself a very good fantasy manager, but putting together even an average fantasy outfield has been my Achilles’ heel. Last year I finally stumbled into something resembling an elite outfield — I traded for Andrew McCutchen in the pre-season, grabbed up my man Ben Zobrist, took a chance on Alex Rios, and rotated hot bats in and out of my fourth spot (thank you, Nate McClouth) — but I have no faith in being able to repeat my success next year. The difficulty with drafting outfielders, in my opinion at least, is that they come in all shapes and sizes. There’s too many of them to keep track of, and depending on how you draft bats in your infield you can either look for power in the outfield or rely on speed instead. To help you plan your draft strategy for 2013, here are the three-year trends we’ve seen in the outfield. Each chart breaks down how outfielders have done in each of the 5×5 fantasy categories. Sections highlighted in green show where the position is trending up, and sections highlighted in pinkish-red (hey, it’s easier on the eyes!) show where the position is trending down. Runs The number of outfielders scoring 80+, 90+, and 100+ R has pretty much flat-lined over the last three years, but they get the green “trending up” distinction in the 100+ category because the rest of the league has been on the decline. Last year there were 148 players that recorded at least 500 PA, and 60 of them were classified as outfielders according to Fangraphs.com. That’s 40.5%, so it’s actually pretty impressive that outfielders consistently account for 50% or more of the league’s run totals above. Home Runs That’s a whole lotta green. The league as a whole has seen the number of players hitting 30+ and 35+ HR increase over the last three years, but the number of outfielders hitting those thresholds is increasing at a much faster rate. In just two years, the number of outfielders hitting 30+ HR has tripled. Last year over 50% of the players who hit at least 35 HR qualified as outfielders. Power at this position is really on the rise. RBI   And as homers go, so do RBI. While there hasn’t been much change in the number of elite RBI producers compared to the league average, last year saw a nice jump in the number of outfielders who drove in 80+ and 90+ RBI. Stolen Bases   That’s a whole lotta red (or pinkish-red). Stolen base output among outfielders has been on the decline, and while elite SB options are still primarily outfielders (8-of-11 players with 35+ SB qualified at outfield), the mid-tier options have become more scarce compared to the league average. It’s unusual to see both HR and SB be on the rise at a position, and because we know HR power has been more prevalent among outfielders, this trend for SB is not surprising. Remember, though, 40.5% of all players with 500 AB were outfielders and all of these percentages are well above that mark. SB are still widely found in the outfield even if they are trending down slightly. Batting Average   Among the five fantasy categories, we’ve seen the green highlighted section appear among the elite numbers (100+ R, 35+ HR, 100+ RBI, 35+ SB, .300+ BA) a total of three times, and the only red/declining trend was with SB. Outfield on the Rise This tells me we’re seeing breakout of multi-talented offensive threats among outfielders, and the days of drafting SB-heavy outfield options may be a thing of the past. Several of the game’s top outfielders — Mike Trout, Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, Carlos Gonzalez, Jason Heyward, McCutchen, and Justin Upton just to name seven — are also the game’s top fantasy options. Period. ESPN’s top 250 rankings rank four outfielders in their top five overall, so don’t pass on an outfielder in the first round just because there are a lot of other above average outfield options later on. Yes, these players are elite outfielders, but they’re also elite players overall. Pass on them at your own peril.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Philly store offering Eagles 'jersey insurance'

Chris Paul listed as questionable for Game 1 vs. Rockets

Pacquiao had injured shoulder, considered postponing fight

Mayweather beats Pacquiao by unanimous decision

Did Evan Mathis respond to Chip Kelly's slight with barb?

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

WATCH: American Pharoah wins Kentucky Derby

Report: Rams trade RB Zac Stacy to Jets

Falcons draft pick's house burned down during draft

Packers trade up to draft Brett Hundley

Greg Hardy apologizes for joke about 9/11

Mayweather bans Rachel Nichols, Michelle Beadle from covering fight

Lindsey Vonn and Tiger Woods have broken up

WATCH: Two games end with baserunners hit by batted balls

WATCH: Damian Lilliard delivers great graduation speech

Jets do not envision Bryce Petty starting in 2015

Clippers beat Spurs on Chris Paul shot in Game 7

Jimmy Kimmel's Manny Pacquiao T-shirt goes viral

Big fight packs airport, leaves no room for planes

Pete Carroll discusses Russell Wilson's contract status

Jim Harbaugh not happy Lou Holtz is out at ESPN

Cubs fans want Harry Caray video for seventh inning stretch

Winners and losers from the NFL draft

Brooklyn Decker expecting first child with Andy Roddick

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Lindsey Vonn, Tiger Woods break up

Pacquiao fought with injured shoulder?

Winners and losers from the NFL draft

Report: Zac Stacy traded to Jets

Hardy apologizes for joke about 9/11

Jerry Jones sends letter to Pacquiao

Mayweather bans Beadle, Nichols

WATCH: A-Rod fights back tears

A-Rod hits 660th home run, ties Willie Mays

Mayweather vs. Pacquiao: Celebrities make their picks

Ryan Succop offers to arm-wrestle Marcus Mariota for No. 8

Laila Ali rips Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.