While strategy might dictate when you draft an OF, some of these guys break the mold/strategy. I tend to wait, but if you have to opportunity to land a guy who can legitimately contribute in five categories, go for it.
10. Carlos Gonzalez, COL
Cargo was a popular top-20 player a few years ago, and although he isn’t top-10 worthy, he is still a five-category stud. Oh yeah, and he plays half of his games at Coors Field. He probably won’t blast 40 homers ever, but he’s got 30-30 potential and the ability to knock in over 100 runs.
9. Jay Bruce, CIN
Bruce is your typical power-hitting OF, capable of 40 HR any season. The only trade-off is the likelihood of a low average. He hit 34 dingers this year and drove in 99 runs. With another full season with Joey Votto’s protection in the lineup, Bruce should creep towards 40 HR.
8. Jose Bautista, TOR
When healthy, Bautista has proven to be a legitimate power hitter. He missed a good part of last season, but with the addition of Melky Cabrera and Jose Reyes to a lineup that already has Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie should provide a lot of protection for Bautista. He might slip a little in the rankings due to the injury this past season, but don’t let him slip too far.
7. Matt Kemp, LAD
Kemp, like Bautista, missed a great deal of the 2012 season due to injury. Before he got hurt, however, he was the early favorite for NL MVP. He topped many preseason lists as the top-ranked player, and heading into next year he’ll have some company. He’s still a beast capable of five-category production so, like Joey Bats, don’t let Kemp slide to far.
6. Adam Jones, BAL
Jones proved that he is one of the best players in the league with another solid season. What’s more impressive is that he did it while leading Baltimore to the playoffs. He’s one of six outfielders who scored over 100 runs while also hitting more than 30 HR. He also chipped in 16 steals and a .287 BA. That’s a special player in my book.
5. Matt Holliday, STL
I’m usually one to stay away from Holliday, but his 2012 was good enough to keep him in the MVP conversation. While he is still injury-prone and a year older, he still is uber-productive when healthy. The Cardinals will still be good even without Albert Pujols, and Holliday is a big reason why.
4. Josh Hamilton, FA
Regardless of where Hamilton lands, he will be one of the top guys drafted regardless of position. He still will miss a few games here and there as he has not proven to be the most durable. He almost won another AL MVP, but injuries derailed that hope. Another year older and wiser, he will still have to battle to be the top dog at OF.
3. Mike Trout, LAA
Most people will probably have Trout ranked No. 1, but personally, I like to go with guys who have more of a proven track record. Trout will be in the top 5 at the position again next year, but a lot of players can come out like gangbusters as rookies before fading out or having a sophomore slump. That being said, Trout’s 2012 season was one of the most remarkable fantasy seasons in recent memory.
2. Andrew McCutchen, PIT
Finally, McCutchen got some national spotlight when the Pirates were in the thick of the NL race until falling off. He is someone I would personally trust more than Trout, but hey, I probably would have said the same thing about McCutchen when he was a rookie. Trout has the advantage of a better lineup, but I respect the guy who does more with less, McCutchen.
1. Ryan Braun, MIL
Steroid accusations aside, Braun had another MVP-worthy season (.319 BA, 108 R, 41 HR, 112 RBI, 30 SB). He did this without the protection of Prince Fielder and again in a pennant race. He’ll battle Trout for top-pick status, but he has more power and a proven track record of success.