The outfield position comes with a wide range of skill sets, making it difficult to determine what stat is more important to each team build in the fantasy market. To help understand my process when evaluating skill sets, I developed SIscore ratings.
The highlighted yellow line shows the average stats (.293 with 95 runs, 31 home runs, 89 RBI, and 13 steals over 533 at-bats) for the top 12 outfielders in 2021 ranked by SIscore.
Stolen bases can lead to a massive edge in one category in fantasy baseball, but they come with a price for a player with minimal value in power. At the same time, there becomes a negative return if a fantasy team gets out of balance with too much speed.
Here’s a look at the top 12 outfielders by 2022 NFBC ADPs over the first half of March:
Juan Soto fell short of expectation last year while continuing to have an elite approach at the plate. His value in steals remains a wild card in his stat line while also needing more loft in his swing to push higher in home runs. Soto is an excellent foundation piece to any fantasy team, and his career should produce many electric seasons.
Ronald Acuna has been working hard to be ready for the start of the season. The last report has him returning a week into the season while spending much of the first month in a DH role. His combination of speed and power remains high, but Acuna should have limited stolen base attempts out of the gate. I have him projected to play 135 games, allowing wiggle room for my evaluations. I have him hitting .287 with 121 runs, 36 home runs, 83 RBI, and 25 stolen bases.
The Phillies did an excellent job upgrading their starting lineup over the winter, creating more run and RBI chances for Bryce Harper. His bat has a difference-maker upside in power, but he tends to have a wide range in his batting average so far in his career. Harper’s next step is becoming a top-shelf run producer, which held him back at times in his career.
Kyle Tucker and Luis Robert look to be on the verge of greatness. However, Tucker needs to run more, something he did in his minor league career. I see a lower ceiling in batting average despite offering a winning approach. Robert feels like a player who could outperform Acuna by his extra playing time in 2022. His bat moved to an elite class last year, pointing to a 30/30 type season with an edge in batting average. Robert’s next step is to push up the White Sox lineup.
Mookie Betts brings plenty of intrigue in 2022, but some fantasy drafters prefer to see better stats next to his name before pushing the select button. He has always been an edge in runs, and the top of the Dodgers’ starting lineup should be even better this year. I trust a rebound in speed with supporting power. Betts must regain his edge in batting average to deliver first-round value.
Mike Trout will be a value on draft day for the first time since his rookie season. His ceiling in power is immense, but he needs to play an entire season of games to reach his potential. Trout is no longer an edge in speed, but he could chip in this area. He will be a tough player to pass on in the second round for any team structure.
Starling Marte stands out as the top base stealer. He slides into a better offense, helping his value in runs. However, I don’t see him repeating in stolen bases, and Marte does hit a high number of ground balls. In March, he’s battling a slight oblique issue.
The next-best foundation batting average bat appears to be Yordan Alvarez. Last season, he shook the injury-prone tag, leading to an edge in home runs (33) and RBI (104). However, Alvarez fell short of expectations in batting average (.277) due to a regression in his approach. With more experience, his walk rate should rise while lowering the damage in strikeouts.
As great as Cedric Mullins was in 2021, his minor league resume doesn’t support his success in power. When adding that the Orioles moved their fences back, I put him in my fade column. Mullins should run again so his skill set can still work for some team structures.
For comparison, here are the second-highest-ranking 12 outfielders from 2021 listed by SIscore:
This tier hit .264 with 81 runs, 26 home runs, 79 RBI, and 11 stolen bases over 499 at-bats.
Tyler O’Neill falls into the neutral category for me in 2022. He looks the part in power while adding speed to his equation, but his high whiff rate and lack of depth in at-bats in his career (never had over 500 at-bats in any season in the pros) puts him more in the risk/reward column.
Over seven seasons with the Twins, Byron Buxton has underachieved his projected success every year while averaging only 70 games. His stats over 61 games in 2021 project to an elite area. Minnesota thought enough of Buxton to sign him a $100 million contract over the winter for seven seasons. He is a go-big-or-go-home pick in formats with overall prizes.
George Springer and Nick Castellanos hit excellent offense lineups while offering a high floor in runs, home runs, and RBI. Since signing with the Phillies, Castellanos has started to move up in drafts.
In this second-tier grouping, Randy Arozarena and Christian Yelich are the two remaining outfielders with help in steals. Yelich has a much higher top if he regains his earlier success with the Brewers. However, he still hits too many ground balls despite owning strength in his HR/FB rate when the ball is in the air.
Eloy Jimenez has upside in power, and he may very well develop into a .300 hitter. The White Sox starting lineup has plenty of talent, pointing to success in runs and RBI. However, Jimenez now needs to stay healthy for 150 games.
The move to Seattle and some time at DH may lead to Jesse Winker finally posting 550 at-bats. His upside is a .300/30/100 player if he can stay on the field for 150 games.
Since last season, the Dodgers' starting lineup changes suggest that Cody Bellinger will hit much lower in the batting order. His swing has been a mess over the past two years, creating many questions about his rebound to be an elite player. I see more in him while other drafters have him on the avoid list.
For comparison, here are the third-highest-ranking 12 outfielders from 2021 listed by SIscore:
This tier hit .256 with 74 runs, 21 home runs, 72 RBI, and eight stolen bases over 477 at-bats.
Myles Straw will be their target for someone looking for one-stop shopping in steals. His only other help comes in batting average and runs, but any advantage in home runs and RBI will be given away by adding him to your roster.
Jarred Kelenic may have lost some draft momentum after the Mariners added Winker and Eugenio Suarez in the trade market. His slight dip in value is based on touts projecting him to hit lower in the batting order. Instead, I see a top-of-the-other breakout star with a balanced skill set. Trust me, Adam Frazier isn't good enough to beat Kelenic out for top-tier at-bats over the long haul of the season.
Austin Meadows has a strange mystique about him this draft season. His stats show an edge in home runs (27) and RBI (106), while a blinking .234 batting average has a flashing detour sign for many fantasy managers. Looking at the OF3 average stats, it is easy to see where he had an edge in three categories. When adding his approach, Meadows should have a rebound in batting average.
In his third season with the Cardinals, Dylan Carlson looks poised to push his name higher in the outfield rankings. His batting average may only have neutral upside while needing to find his minor league speed (38 over 1,478 at-bats) to help a fantasy team in more areas.
Eddie Rosario, Jorge Soler, and Michael Conforto have discounted ADPs in drafts due to signing late. Rosario landed in an upside offense while Soler may offer the highest ceiling in power. Conforto looks like a complete player, but his new home will influence his fantasy value over the next two and a half weeks.
Last year I was on the Andrew Benintendi train in this area of the draft due to his potential in steals. He played better in Kansas City, but some missed playing time, which led to lower production home runs (17) and stolen bases (8) than I had hoped.
Seiya Suzuki played well over his last seven seasons in Japan, giving fantasy drafters hope that he’ll hit the ground running in his rookie season. However, I trust his power more than his speed. Suzuki brings a promising approach that should set a positive floor in his batting average.
AJ Pollock played like a stud in 2021 when on the field. His stats projected over 550 at-bats (30 home runs, 99 RBI, and 13 steals) suggest he is worth his price tag.
More fantasy baseball coverage: