Fantasy: Top 100 Outfielders for 2006 (Part 2)

You can check out the first 50 outfielders here. On to the next 50!

51. Jay Gibbons: Gibby received a questionable four-year contract this winter. He’s no safe bet for 500 at-bats or a league-average on-base percentage, but he did slug .516 last year. I can see him hitting .280 and knocking 30 home runs in the best case scenario, though 100 RBIs would be a stretch. A typical late-game pick in mixed leagues.

52. Luis Gonzalez: Gonzo once hit 57 home runs in a season. Remember those days? His age-39 season should bring something like .270-25-90. Despite his age, Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA system pegs his collapse rate at a surprisingly low 30%. In other words, there’s little chance the bottom drops out and he pulls a Steve Finley. Should be worth around $9-10 in your standard 5×5 mixed keeper league.

53. Jeff Francoeur: The siren song of youth may compel fantasy players to choose Francoeur before outfielders like Jermaine Dye, Jonny Gomes and Shawn Green. If you’re in a keeper league and he represents your last OF, such a selection could be justified; he might be the next Juan Gonzalez. Otherwise, you’re putting too much stock in a young player who’s just not a good bet to hit above .265 in his first full season. I still see him racking up 23 HRs and 12 steals, which has plenty of value. Just don’t get drunk on potential.

54. Mark Kotsay: Oakland has a glut of outfielders, but Kotsay is most definitely the starting center fielder. He battled back spasms throughout 2005 en route to a .746 OPS season in 582 ABs. I have him at .290-17-75 with 80 runs and a handful of steals for 2006. Kotsay is an acceptable selection and is unlikely to hurt your team. Outside of 2005, Kotsay has had some fairly rough Aprils, so hang with him for at least a couple of months.

55. Geoff Jenkins: The Brewers right fielder should see his batting average decline from 2005’s .292 mark. You’ll notice he had the fifth-highest BABIP in the game last year, so look for something closer to .275 this time around. He’ll supply 23+ HRs and around 80 RBIs, and he could be on the trading block if the Brewers somehow re-sign Carlos Lee. I still value him around $8, but I don’t expect him to provide a bargain in most leagues.

56. Mike Cameron: It’s unknown whether Cameron will return to form after recovering from a violent summer collision with Carlos Beltran. As the Padres’ regular center fielder, a 20/20 season could be in the cards. However, a .250 batting average is likely to be attached. Still, a healthy Cameron can be worth a good $8 because of his steals.

57. Moises Alou: Despite his age, Alou could easily surprise and get 550 ABs. No doubt it’s unlikey; I expect 450. But he had 600 for the ’04 Cubs, so you never know. This is just the type of player on which you should gamble, because it’s a win-win proposition for you. In the best-case scenario, Alou hits behind Bonds and racks up a .300-25-100 season. In the worst case, he does the same but adjusted for less playing time. You’d still probably pick up a solid outfielder while he’s on the DL, and the combined stats could be a lot better than say, Luis Gonzalez.

58. Cliff Floyd: Like Alou, Floyd is only ranked this low because of his inclination towards injury. He’s a lot more likely to get my projected 437 ABs than he is to get 550 again, but it shouldn’t cost you much to find out for sure. Floyd complements his power with some stolen bases.

59. Rocco Baldelli: Baldelli is definite sleeper material, though I’m just a bit concerned that he won’t steal bases. If he’s running full speed and starts swiping bags, you should rank him at the edge of the top 50. Otherwise, he looks like a run-of-the-mill $5-7 outfielder.

60. Ryan Freel: Freel ranks as a top-15 second baseman, so that should be your preference. But if you’re looking for cheap 40-50 steal potential and not much else, Freel is your man.

61. Casey Blake: Blake is an uninspiring choice with limited upside. The Indians would love to make him their fourth outfielder if the right deal comes along. He might be good for a .260 average and 25 dingers, but who isn’t?

62. Joey Gathright: I’ve got Gathright hitting .294 with 48 steals in 450 ABs, and he still ranks this low. He’s yet to show that he can maintain his minor league batting average in the Show, but he will get on base and steal a lot. Gathright could be traded and still disappoint if he hits .280 with 40 steals and little else. Gathright has a good chance of becoming Scott Podsednik, but I don’t see it in 2006.

63. Nick Swisher: Swisher was pretty decent in his first full season, though he didn’t draw walks like some thought he would. In fantasy terms, he sort of looks like an Adam Dunn lite: batting average around .250, strikeout or walk approach, good power. He’ll never challenge 50 HRs, but could hit more than 30 eventually. For 2006, look for a bump in batting average to the .250 range plus 25 HRs. He’s a fringe player in mixed leagues and around the top 30 in AL-only.

64. Wily Mo Pena: Assuming he’s healthy, Pena will get his first chance to amass 500 ABs without competition in the Reds’ outfield. His power potential comes highly touted, and he boasts Jesse Barfield and Willie Stargell on his top comparables list (according to Baseball Prospectus). Everyone keeps pegging him as a breakout candidate, but BP is the only one that thinks his batting average can jump from .250 to .280 as Barfield’s did at a similar age. Personally, I expect a .253 average with 31 HRs and a kind of weak runs scored total. The hype may outstrip his probable $5 value in some mixed leagues.

65. Craig Wilson: It’s hard to imagine the Pirates paying Wilson $3.5 mil to sit on the bench, especially when he may be their best hitter behind Jason Bay. On the other hand, there are no openings at the corners or first base with Burnitz and Casey now in tow. The smart money is on a trade, though Wilson has little fantasy value if he stays a Pirate. Given a trade and 500 ABs, Wilson can hit .260 with 25 HRs and earn $5 for you.

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

66. Matt Murton: Though he slugged .521 in limited time in his Cubs debut, Murton probably doesn’t yet have average power for a left fielder. I see him hitting .290 with maybe 15 HRs and 70 RBIs in the best case in 2006. That’s in 440 ABs; maybe Dusty could surprise us and get him 100 more than that. Murton might be able to add 10 steals once he settles in, so he’s worth a few dollar fliers late in the game.

67. Ryan Church: Church appears to be the frontrunner to play center field for the Nationals, and maybe he can establish a foothold on the position. He’ll have it to himself for at least a month as Marlon Byrd and Brandon Watson might have to cover the corners. Talk about a weak-hitting outfield. Anyway, given 475 ABs Church can probably manage .270-17-75. This doesn’t really cut the mustard in mixed leagues but is helpful in NL-only.

68. Jeromy Burnitz: You should be able to get the standard .250-20-85 year out of Burnitz, who did a great job…uh, staying healthy last year. Certainly an uninspiring choice but worth consideration in a deep league.

69. Austin Kearns: Like Wily Mo, Kearns is finally being given a legit crack at 500 ABs. I don’t think he’ll quite get there, and I see a .257-22-83 season for him in ’06. You never know, maybe he has a Pat Burrell season given the chance. I’m taking the safe bet, not expecting a breakout.

70. Jason Michaels: The Indians traded for Michaels to be their starting left fielder. If Dubois and Gutierrez push Blake out of right field somehow, Blake could affect J-Mike’s playing time. But if Michaels can snag 550+ ABs batting second for the Tribe, I can see him hitting .290 with 10 HRs and 90 runs scored. So that’s something you can plug into an AL-only outfield.

71. Garret Anderson: A consistent player for many years, Anderson seems to be entering his decline phase. He’s hacking more than ever, and he might come down to .275-18-86 this year even with 550 ABs. He’s an OK choice for a buck but the Angels should start phasing in Juan Rivera where possible.

72. Curtis Granderson: A balanced player who has Bobby Abreu lurking in his comparables list. He’s polished and primed to take over CF for the Tigers in ’06. He should provide something similar to .275-16-60 with 15 steals if he gets 500 ABs. Nook Logan could interfere and steal some playing time, though. Granderson is a great long-term buy with potential for 25-home run/30-steal seasons.

73. Juan Encarnacion: Encarnacion makes for a less-than-exciting pick, but he should hit .270-17-75 or so for the Cardinals. He’s by no means a .287 hitter, but makes a low-risk choice in NL-only leagues.

74. Juan Rivera: Rivera should manage 400+ ABs for the first time as Garret Anderson slips further into decline. A .280-17-75 type season from him in limited duty would probably be worth $10 in an AL-only league. He’s still on the right side of 30 and could be a full-timer by 2007.

75. Brian Anderson: The defending World Champions plan to give one of their CF prospects a full-time shot in 2006. Anderson looks like a player who won’t impress in any one category but will be solid overall. Over 494 ABs, I have him at .273-19-64 with 72 runs scored. He’s barely worth a look in mixed leagues but has to be drafted in any AL-only. Unlike former White Sox prospect Chris Young, Anderson’s upside seems fairly limited.

76. Jose Cruz Jr.: Cruz enters the season as the Dodgers’ starting left fielder. He probably won’t top 500 ABs, but is capable of hitting about 23 HRs anyway. The catch is that his batting average will be in the .250s and that he’d be the relegated to the bench quickly if L.A. trades for an outfielder.

77. Jacque Jones: The Cubs gave Jones a three-year deal, as crazy as that sounds. Unless he’s platooned, there’s little reason to expect an improvement on his recent .250ish batting averages. Twenty-five home runs, 75 RBIs, and 13 steals are certainly within reach, and maybe some lucky hits will drop in to propel him to .270. He could end up earning $13-15 in NL-only leagues.

78. Trot Nixon: It’s been a while since Trot got 500 ABs in the bigs. Even if he is completely healthy, he should probably sit against lefties. In 400+ at-bats, he could match the production of the three players listed ahead of him. He’s probably worth a $10 bid in AL-only.

79. Craig Monroe: Monroe sits atop the Tigers’ LF depth chart, though Dmitri Young should see some time out there if Carlos Pena DHs and Shelton plays first. I’m expecting about 475 ABs with a solid .270 average and 20 HRs. He’s a valuable mixed league outfielder and doesn’t carry a lot of risk or upside. BP likens him to Marty Cordova, though Monroe’s never going to knock in 111 runs.

80. Rondell White: As the new Twins DH, White should provide a helpful 400 ABs. If you bank on him hitting the DL and factor in a halfway decent replacement, the composite could make for a good bargain. On his own, White should come close to .290 with 16 HRs.

81. Jeremy Reed: Reed garnered accolades mainly for his defense in his rookie season, as he wasn’t the .300 hitter many forecasts called for. He’ll improve across the board in ’06, and could become David DeJesus with more SBs eventually. For now I predict .270-10-55 with 78 runs and 17 steals. He’s certainly capable of beating my runs and batting average projections and vaulting up this list in ’06.

82. Shannon Stewart: Stewart’s numbers certainly don’t justify a starting left field spot for any major league club, and he has a chronic shoulder problem that will only accelerate his decline. He might be able to bounce back to .290 with 12 HRs and is a necessary evil in AL-only leagues.

83. Pedro Feliz: Feliz’s 1B and 3B eligibility is helpful, but not nearly as much as the 2B and SS roles he formerly claimed. He’ll play third base, but you can use him in your outfield if you feel so inclined. He has a job all to himself this year, and .260-20-80 seems to be his ceiling. Such a performance may still be worthy of a double-digit bid in NL-only, though his average could end up south of .250.

84. Cory Sullivan: Sullivan is the leading center field candidate for the Rockies, unless Choo Freeman and Jeff Salazar have something to say about it. He could hit near .290, score 85 runs, and steal 15 bags as the Rockies’ leadoff hitter. That’s somewhat helpful, though anything beyond that is highly unlikely.

85. Kelly Johnson: Johnson didn’t blow anyone away in his Braves debut. But the outfielder is still fairly young and has decent pop. I can see something like .265-15-65 if he gets 500 ABs. However, that’ll only happen if he beats out Ryan Langerhans for the left field job, which is no sure thing. It could really go either way, and if they split the duty it would lessen the fantasy value of both.

86. Jose Guillen: Recovery from a partially torn labrum will cause Guillen to miss the first month of the season. It obviously compromises his value, and this info may not be well known in certain leagues. Guillen probably won’t crack 500 ABs, but may still hit .275 with 20 HRs. He’s a decent pickup in May if one of your OFs gets hurt; otherwise, pass on him this year.

87. Delmon Young: Young is probably the best prospect in baseball and is on the fast track to stardom. However, he won’t have a spot with the big club until they trade Aubrey Huff. What’s more, his .285/.303/.447 showing at Triple-A last year indicates that he needs some more time. I think Young gets the call relatively early in the season and manages 400+ ABs. If so, look for an average in the .260s plus double-digit home runs and steals. Young is clearly a phenomenal keeper pick and should have some massive fantasy seasons in the next couple of years.

88. Frank Catalanotto: Catalanotto won’t have a starting gig for the Blue Jays entering 2006, but injuries and poor play from Alex Rios and Reed Johnson should allow for at least 450 ABs. During that time he should be able to hit near .300 and knock double-digit home runs, for what it’s worth. A helpful reserve/AL-only pick.

89. Kenny Lofton: Lofton hit .335 in 2005, his best mark since his heyday in 1994. He’s currently the starting center fielder for the Dodgers, and he did get 500+ ABs as recently as 2003. Right now you should count on him for 400 ABs, a .280 average, and 20+ steals. Anything more would be a bonus.

90. Larry Bigbie: Bigbie should start ahead of So Taguchi in left field for the Cardinals, but expect more than .265-15-65. In an NL-only situation, Bigbie might serve as roster filler. Taguchi could find himself occupied backing up Jim Edmonds, but John Rodriguez will still be trailing Bigbie if he falters.

91. Victor Diaz: Diaz should get the lion’s share of ABs in right field for the Mets, especially if Xavier Nady is needed to back up Cliff Floyd and Carlos Delgado. I have him at .270-18-60 with 11 steals this year in 425 ABs. He projects as a .280-20 type hitter with a little bit of speed.

92. Chris Duffy: The Pirates say Duffy is fully recovered from an August torn hamstring, but the “still aching” hamstring can drain some speed and come back to haunt him (per Will Carroll). Before the injury he had major wheels, and Jim Tracy can’t say enough good things about him. In the best case, he retains the starting CF job for the Bucs and hits .290 with 25 steals. He could become Randy Winn in a few years, and he makes for a good gamble in NL-only.

93. Lew Ford: Ford could get some PT in right field if the Twins lose confidence in Tony Batista and move Michael Cuddyer back to third base. Ford’s 2004 was a fantasy surprise, as he hit .299 with 15 HRs and 20 steals. A repeat performance seems highly unlikely, though Ford might manage .275 with 10 HRs and 15 steals. Not the type of fantasy pick that gets your blood flowing, but some leagues are deep enough for Ford.

94. Nate McLouth: McLouth may be a better fantasy bet than Chris Duffy, though he’s lower on the CF depth chart at present. He hit .297 and stole 34 bases in 110 Triple-A games in 2005, so McLouth could certainly swipe 20 bags if he gets the chance. I’m not sure if he could hit .280 over a full season, but keep him on your radar for possible cheap steals. Duffy could easily lose his job if his injury lingers.

95. Jason Kubel: Before I knew that the Twins planned on starting Kubel in Triple-A, I had him ranked much higher than this. Even in 325 ABs for the big club, I think he’ll hit double digit HRs accompanied by a .300 average. He is supposedly fully recovered from his torn ACL, and Kubel hit .343/.398/.560 when he was last seen in Rochester in 2004. He added 16 steals that year, but it’s anybody’s guess whether he will ever steal bases again. Kubel is the classic high risk/high reward pick for 2006.

96. Carl Everett: In what most see as a senseless signing, the Mariners added Everett as their primary DH. Sure, he’ll hit .250-20-80 if you’re lucky. But he hit .228/.305/.386 after the All-Star break last year, so the potential for disaster is real.

97. Brad Hawpe: Hawpe seems to be the starting RF for the Rockies this year, but he’s got Ryan Shealy and Jorge Piedra pushing him for playing time. I can see him hitting .265-15-70 in 460 ABs this year, and you never know what Coors Field is capable of. Hawpe is a solid gamble if he’s playing every day.

98. Alexis Rios: Rios developed a little power last year, but so far he’s fallen far short of expectations. He’ll swipe 15 bases and has an outside chance at 15 HR as well. If the Blue Jays are contenders this year Rios will probably have a much shorter leash.

99. Ryan Klesko: Klesko traded some plate discipline for some extra HRs last year, and he’s a poor choice in most leagues at this point. He may bat second and score some extra runs for the Padres. Still, I expect 400 ABs of .260-15 from him with little chance for more.

100. Reed Johnson: Johnson and Rios really drained Toronto’s offense at the corners last year, and they won’t be quite as content to let it happen again. Frank Catalanotto and Eric Hinske will be in the left field picture if Johnson continues to hit .275 with 10 HRs.

Just missed: Corey Patterson, Dave Roberts, Nook Logan, Kevin Millar, Chris Burke, Jay Payton, Ryan Langerhans, So Taguchi, Luis Matos and Gary Matthews Jr.

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