The outfield has become a mining ground for fantasy baseball owners looking for the best players for their rosters. In fact, according to last season’s ESPN player rater, 5 of the top ten fantasy players were outfielders. If you aren’t able to grab one of the top ten fantasy outfielders for 2012, you don’t need to worry. There are plenty of sleeper picks at the outfield position this season. These are some names to consider heading into your draft:
Dexter Fowler (COL) –
A poor start, partially due to an abdominal strain, saw Fowler sent down to the minor leagues in the middle of the 2011 season. His tendency to hit balls in the air should lead to an increase in home runs in his 4th big league season. He has been frustrating both fantasy owners and Rockies management with his lack of success in the stolen base department. However, he started hitting and running at a much improved clip in the second half and could break out big time atop the line up in Coors Field this year.
Logan Morrison (MIA) –
A mid-August minor league demotion was probably due as much to his personality as it was due to his performance (although a poor average after the All Star break surely didn’t help matters much). With a new park, new teammates and a new manager in the equally tweet-happy Ozzie Guillen, Morrison could be primed for a very big campaign in 2012.
Alex Rios (CWS) –
Sure, Rios was brutal last year, but he wasn’t the only member of the White Sox to have a subpar season (Adam Dunn and Gordon Beckham, please step forward). Rios battled a nagging toe injury for the majority of 2011 which may have accounted for his poor stolen base total. He also suffered a career worst .237 BABIP (a full 69 points below the previous season). Better health and better luck should translate into a bounce back 2012 campaign for this 5 category contributor.
Adam Jones (BAL) –
Fantasy owners love consistent players. However, when that consistency comes in the form of players who tend to fly under the radar, you have the makings of a sleeper. People in baseball have been waiting for Jones to put up elite numbers for several years now. Keep in mind that he is only 26 years old. With 4 big league seasons under his belt and squarely entering his prime, Jones is primed to break out as a major 5 category contributor as early as this season. Don’t be surprised if he ends up among the top 20 outfielders come season’s end.
Jason Heyward (ATL) –
After bursting out of the gate in April with 6 HR and 13 RBI, Heyward fell apart over the rest of the 2011 season. Chalk it up to a nagging shoulder injury and getting bounced around the line up. Heyward should settle into the 5th or 6th spot in the Braves batting order and show off the 5-tool player that he really is when healthy. 2012 could be a monster year for a player with perhaps the most raw talent in the game.
Outfield is a deep position. Career years in 2011 may see some players over-valued at the position. As a result, keep an eye out for fantasy sleepers in the outfield at your draft and you very well may just end up with an “outfield of dreams” on your 2012 fantasy roster.
* Dexter Fowler photo by dbking on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
* Alex Rios photo by keith011764 on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
* Jason Heyward photo by i created the image (i created this file) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons