49. Eric Young (Mets): For a little over 4 years E.Y. tried to find a place for himself in Colorado. He played second and bounced around the outfield but he couldn’t find a place to stick or put up a season that would make The Rockies stand up and take notice. He was finally shipped to The Mets who had many jobs up for grabs and he took one and ran with it…literally. In a little over half a season Young swiped 38 bags for the Mets and should be leading off for them come 2014. He’s been a .250 hitter for most of his major league career (sans 2012) but he was a .300 hitter in the minors. A full year of at bats should help improve his average as opposed to bouncing between the Majors and the PCL. Worst case scenario is he hits .250 with around 70 runs scored and 50+ stolen bases, but if he can bring the average up that run total could be close to 90. There is definitive speed here, the rest will depend on how well he hits.
50. Will Venable (Padres): Up until this year Venable was a platoon player who would usually sit against lefties. Either he finally figured things out at the age of 30 or he had a lucky year, but there were no platoon splits this year. Venable hit .276 against lefties and by doing so put up career high numbers and joined the exclusive 20/20 club. He showed this type of power in the minors but it’s been so long that many had given up on it. What’s more impressive is that 15 of his home runs came at Petco. Was this a career year for home runs or is he a late bloomer? Did he really figure out lefties or did he just get lucky? Your guess is as good as mine. Regardless of the answers to these questions, Venable is good for about 60 runs, 50 or so RBIs, 20+ stolen bases and an average in the .260 range. If the power sticks he could be a useful fourth outfielder to grab in the later rounds.
51. Jason Kubel (Twins): He spent almost half the year on the disabled list and the time Kubal was healthy he wasn’t worth owning. He was not a high draft pick for most despite his 30 home run campaign in 2012. Kubal has power and hit 20 or more home runs in four of the five seasons prior to this year along with averaging 90 RBIs. His batting average can be anywhere between .250 and .270. Those numbers should get him ranked a little higher, and if it weren’t for him taking a seat on occasion against lefties he might. He’s not a bad player to own if you can afford to play the matchup game and keep him in there just against right-handed pitchers. He will probably be overlooked come draft day. Expect his customary 20 or so home runs, 80 RBIs and a batting average closer to .270 as that usually rebounds after a bad year.
52. Coco Crisp (A’s): Just like Venable, Coco set career highs in runs scored, walks, home runs and received his gold jacket when he joined the 20/20 club for the first time. He’s had 20 or more stolen bases in 8 of the 11 years he has played so we all knew he could run, but the power? He did hit 16 home runs once but that was back in 2005, and he didn’t reach double digits again until last year when he hit 11. This isn’t the Coco you’re going to get next year so ignore the power surge. The real Coco will give you a mediocre batting average, score close to 70 runs, knock in about 50 and steal between 20 and 30 bases.
53. Angel Pagan (Giants): Like several of the players listed directly above, Pagan does a little of everything. On average he’ll steal about 30 bases, score between 60 and 80 runs and drive in 55. Pair that with a .280 batting average and you’ve got an uninspiring but productive player. Had Pagan not been injured for half the year he probably would have reached those numbers this year and short of another injury there is no reason to think he won’t reach them next year.
54. Khris Davis (Brewers): This one is a shot in the dark, but his potential numbers outweigh the option of picking on of the players below. He hit for a decent average in the minors with a good BB/K%. He has power enough to hit 20 home runs and reach double digits in stolen bases. Due to a rash of injuries Davis received an audition in August and put on a pretty good show. It was good enough that there is talk of asking Ryan Braun to move to right field to accommodate Davis, but this would also involve trading Norichika Aoki. Lots of players come up and put on a hitting display over the final few months, but only a few actually have a repeat performance the following year. If he gets a starting job he could be an interesting late round pick for your bench.
Edit: 12/06 – With the Aoki trade and a full time job waiting, move Davis up your draft boards a few.
55. George Springer (Astros): He’s got power, speed, and hits for a good average, draws and decent amount of walks and had a very successful college career. He made it to AAA this year and came within 3 home runs of putting up a 40/40 season. He’s got everything a fantasy owner could want, except a job. On any other team he would have received a September call up, but he plays for an Astros team that is in a major rebuilding mode and are sticking to their schedule. Until that changes he’s nothing more than a late round pick to stash on your bench. If spring training comes and he hits the cover off the ball and looks to have a shot at the opening day roster, he moves up to number 30 right behind Billy Hamilton. Normally I would worry about a player’s high strikeout rate, but that’s not the case here. He’s a future five category contributor.
56. Colby Rasmus (Blue Jays): This is one of the harder picks to gauge. Rasmus has been wearing that “Potential” tag on his shoulder for five years now. If you look at his bottom line this year you may think he’s improving, but I’m not buying it. His batting average for this year was .276 which is what it was in 2010. His BABIP those two years were an unsustainable .354 and .356, and his strikeout percentage was 27.7% and 29.5%. His line drive, ground ball and fly ball percentages haven’t really changed and are similar to his numbers from 2012 when he batted .223. Was there really improvement here, was there some luck involved, and was Tony LaRusa right? At age 27 he’s reached a crossroads. Rasmus has the power to hit 20+ home runs, but can he improve the rest of his game to make it matter? He’s a late round bench guy you can cross your fingers with.
57. Carlos Quentin (Padres): While he’ll never be anything more than a .260 hitter Quentin is fully capable of hitting 30 homers and driving home close to 100 runs. Now if we can only figure out how to get him to stay on the field for a full year. Injuries are the only reason he’s ranked down here as he’s missed anywhere from one to three months in every season. I can’t blame owners for not wanting him on their roster, but I’m not going to be the one to say don’t draft him. What I will say is that if you Do draft him, make sure you’ve got a backup outfielder on your bench.
58. Norichika Aoki (Brewers): Over the past 2 years he’s averaged 80 runs, 9 home runs, 25 stolen bases and a .287 batting average. Not bad for a guy who was virtually unknown in 2012. What you see here is what you get as those are basically the same numbers he was putting up in Japan before signing with the Brewers. Other than the low RBI totals and limited power, it’s hard to find something bad to say about Aoki. He’s a solid bench player or injury fill in 12 team leagues and a good fourth outfielder in 14 team leagues. Now we just have to wait and see what Milwaukee does. If they are intent to get Khris Davis playing time Aoki could be playing someplace else in 2014. Where he plays though shouldn’t matter, he will give you the same line almost anywhere.
59. Nick Markakis (Orioles): The power has slowly gone down each year along with his RBI and walk totals. He was once a threat to hit 20 home runs with 90 to 100 RBIs, but today you’ll be lucky to see 15 home runs and 55 RBIs. He was usually a lock to hit in one of the top 3 spots in the lineup, but this year he also saw time batting fifth through seventh. If the team is moving him down in the lineup, then what should the rest of us take from that? He can still take a good number of walks and hit for a decent average, but the days of him being a useful third outfielder are coming to a close. Markakis may still have a few good years in him, but a 30-year-old showing signs of regression are never a good thing. He still has some use, but he will not live up to the higher draft spot others will probably grab him at. If you ignore the name and just look at the numbers, Markakis isn’t as good as you might have thought.
60. Josh Reddick (A’s): After struggling for years in the minors and failing to catch on with the Red Sox, Reddick was traded to Oakland and given another chance. He thanked his new team by hitting 32 home runs along with 85 runs and RBIs. Those who bought into the new-found power were in for a rude awakening this year as Reddick came down to earth. The .226 batting average was not what owners signed up for, nor were the 12 home runs he hit. While in the minors he batted .343 in A+, .257 in AA and .242 in AAA. See a pattern here? He has enough power to hit 20 home runs, but he’s not that good of a hitter and the higher Josh progresses, the worse he gets. The numbers he put up last year were those of the last catcher taken off the board. He’ll get drafted in some leagues but odds are, you’ll be able to find him on waivers by the end of May.
61. Oscar Taveras (Cardinals): Oscar is one of the top rated rookies in the minor leagues; unfortunately he’ll more than likely start the year out in the minors. Matt Adams got the early call and got an extended look when Allen Craig went down with an injury. As of now it looks like the Cardinals will move Craig to the outfield to replace Beltran and give Adams the job at first base. Since Oscar doesn’t play center field and Matt Holliday is firmly entrenched at the other corner outfield spot, there is no room for Taveras. Granted a scorching hot spring by Oscar and a major slump by Adams could change things, but for now look for Oscar to start the year in AAA. If you’re in a 12 team league or deeper or play with four or more outfielders he should be stashed on your bench in case of an injury to Allen Craig or Matt Holliday. He has more upside then almost everyone ranked below 30.
62. Andre Ethier (Dodgers): Did you know he has a tattoo on his forearm that says “Can’t hit lefties”? True story. Ethier holds a 309 batting average against right-handed pitchers but against lefties it’s a dismal .236. He’s a good player to own if you play in daily leagues and can play the matchups, but not somebody you want in there on a daily basis. His numbers have fluctuated for the past 4 years between being a 20 home run hitter with above average RBI numbers to someone lucky enough to crack double digits with 60 RBIs. If we knew which Ethier was going to show up it would make it easier to gauge where he ranked. Further complicating the matter is the fact that the Dodgers have Kemp, Puig and Crawford for their outfield as well. There is talk about trading Ethier this winter and if that happens he keeps this ranking, but if he’s not traded by spring he gets dropped from the rankings as he’s no good to anyone as a backup outfielder. We’re in a holding pattern for now.
63. Daniel Nava (Red Sox): It took him a while to get his shot, but Nava is here to stay. He had to job for the independent league after college, and when he finally got his shot at A ball he was 25 which is when most rookies are getting called up. He had two mediocre showings in the majors but the third time was a charm. He batted .303 with 12 home runs which is right in line with his minor league numbers. He had 66 RBIs and scored 77 runs in 458 at bats so an increase should be in order if he receives over 500 at bats in 2014. Nava also has a little speed and could reach double digits if given the chance. Just like Aoki he’s a bench player or fourth outfielder in deeper leagues.
64. Oswaldo Arcia (Twins): It’s a mixed review for Oswaldo’s debut with the Twins. He quickly displayed the 20+ home run power that he had shown in the minors. His .251 batting average was far off the .300 he averaged in the minors, but it wasn’t bad for a 22-year-old and he should improve. His biggest issue was strikeouts as he had 117 of them in 351 at bats. His strikeout rate was a little high in the minors, but nothing like this. Baring a complete meltdown this spring, Oswaldo should be the starting right fielder next season and he should be able to hit 20 home runs during his first full year. The batting average will come down to lowering his strikeout rate, so expect it to be anywhere between .250 and .285. He’s not going to be a star, but he could eventually be a solid top choice for your third outfield spot.
65. Kole Calhoun (Angels): Like Oscar Taveras, there’s no room for Calhoun in the outfield. It’s a shame really as he is a talented five tool player. In college and in the minors he displayed a patient approach at the plate, had a decent walk rate, high batting average and acceptable strikeout rate. He has enough power to hit 20 home runs to start and could eventually hit 30. Calhoun also has some speed and could steal 15 bases a year on average. The only thing holding him back is the Angels infatuation with Peter Bourjos. If they finally sour on him and move Trout to center on a permanent basis he could have a shot, but until then all we can do is sit and wait. A full-time job would get him a ranking in the thirties so he’s someone to stash if you have an extra bench spot.
Edit: 11/22 With Bourjos now in St.Louis, Calhoun has a real shot at a full time job. There could be big time sleeper value here so move him up your draft boards.
66. Dayan Viciedo (White Sox): He pushed his way into the majors with three very good years in the minors. He probably could have used one more year in the minors, but on the job training works just as well sometimes. The power he displayed in 2012 was a sign of things to come, but the rest of his numbers haven’t caught up with him yet. His home runs were down this year but his batting average did jump up 10 points from the previous year. Viciedo only projects to be a .280 hitter so he’s not far off and could reach that in 2014. He has had his struggles but has shown some growth as well so expect steady increases across the board along with 20 home runs.
67. Denard Span (Nationals): This one is pretty easy to summarize. Span has an average bat, can steal 20 bases a year and score about 75 runs. That’s about it. He doesn’t have any power and you’ll be lucky to see the home run totals reach 5 with no more than 50 RBIs. He can plug a gap in the event of an injury.
68. Rajai Davis (Tigers): He batting average is pedestrian, he has limited power and on a good year he might score 60 runs. So why is this guy here, he’s here for his speed. Davis can steal at least 40 bases a season and could probably average 60 if it wasn’t for one small problem, he can’t hit right-handed pitchers. In a game dominated by righties it’s tough being a left hand specialist but that’s what Davis is. He is a career .294 hitter vs. lefties and at age 33, that’s not going to change any time soon. He’s the perfect outfield partner for someone like Brandon Moss that you can rotate in and out based upon the matchup. If you are lacking speed from your other players, he’s a cheap source and is usually available on the waiver wire.
69. Drew Stubbs (Rockies): After five years of play Drew still hasn’t figured out how to hit right handed pitchers. This season he batted .216 verses righties and holds a career .226 batting average against them. His power continues to sink and now his speed has started to drop as well. Stubbs was someone we thought would steal 40 bases annually but last year he only swiped 17 bags. With the batting average split getting wider I don’t see much chance for him to improve. His average verse lefties is a little better at .274 but considering a majority of his steals were against righties, there isn’t much value here. At age 29 there is still a chance for a career year but as far as learning something new or changing his ways, there is little chance. You could get lucky but I’d rather take my chance someplace else.
12/18: Until Stubbs proves he can hit for average, his value remains low even with the move to Colorado.
70. Justin Ruggiano (Marlins): It appears Ruggiano’s batting average isn’t as good as the one we saw in 2012. There is a reason he hadn’t caught on in the majors until then. He put up good batting average in the minors, but that is the danger you encounter when looking at players in the PCL. He still possesses a good combination of power and speed, but if you can’t bat any higher than Drew Stubbs it doesn’t really mean much. The Marlins are in the middle of a youth movement and there’s a good chance that come April Ruggiano could be no more than a backup outfielder or possibly wearing a different uniform. There is a chance the average could come up and that Justin could be a useful player, but not many 32 year olds rebound; especially career minor leaguers.
71. Chris Young (Mets): He may be 2 years younger than Justin Ruggiano, but his numbers the past two years mirror what Ruggiano put up this year. Somewhere along the line Young forgot how to hit. Ok he was never a great guy for batting average, but you could expect a little better than what he’s done lately and you always had the home run and stolen base totals to fall back on. He batted .193 against right handed pitchers this year, .210 in 2012 and .222 in 2011, so he’s developed a serious adversity to righties and it’s getting worse. Somehow I don’t see Oakland paying him 11 million dollars next year so Young will get paid 1.5 million just to go away. He’ll probably land a job someplace, but hopefully not on your fake team.
72. Michael Saunders (Mariners): He is a younger version of Justin Ruggiano. He teases us each year with his power/speed combination but the batting average never cracks the .250 barrier. He hits equally bad against lefty and righty pitchers so you don’t even have a platoon player to use here. Saunders turns 27 next year and while this is usually the time to grab a player like this for their impending breakout, that’s not the case here. He has double digit power and speed, but those numbers aren’t worth the Adam Dunn like batting average.
73. Dustin Ackley (Mariners): His numbers in the minor suggest he could be a 15/15 player with a good batting average. We saw a glimpse of the power and speed in 2012 but the average was way below par. This year he picked up the batting average but the power and speed were absent. Seattle still has hopes for Ackley but with Nick Franklin tearing up the minors they had to do something so Ackley was moved to the outfield. Until he shows he can put it all together at the major league level he’s not worth having on your roster, at least not as an outfielder. He played enough games at second last year to qualify so if he does show signs of life this spring, he could make a sneaky play up the middle.
74. Delmon Young (Free Agent): Considering the number of years he’s been stinking up fantasy teams, it’s hard to believe that Delmon is only 28 years old. His batting average has settled into the .265 range over the past 3 season and he still has some power in his bat. He had 18 home runs and 74 RBIs with Detroit in 2012 and had 21 home runs and 112 RBIs in 2010 with Minnesota so we know he can still produce. The problem is he has been so inconsistent throughout his career you just don’t know when that big year is going to happen. Things got so bad for him this year he was release by Tampa Bay and then picked up by the Phillies so while he’s capable of a big year, he’s also capable of a big bad year as well. He’s a better risk than the guys ranked 66 to 73, but they all have jobs and were never outright released. Is this going to be a Delmon Young year? It might be worth your final draft pick just to find out.
There are at least another 30 or so players that could be listed here from rookies who likely don’t have a shot at making the opening day roster, retreads that litter the bottom of the rankings and waiver wires ever year, aging players on the decline, one hit wonders, etc. Marlon Byrd had a great season this year but given his age and history, he shouldn’t be on your list. Nate McLouth had a hot start but slowly faded and doesn’t have a strong track record. Ichiro Suzuki might have made the list if he wasn’t 40 and slowing down. Raul Ibanez should have made the list, but how many players can you name that can hit that many homers at age 42? I could go on but I think you get the point.
Unless you are in a 14 team league that plays 5 outfielders or a 16 team league then this list should be enough for you (and if you play in one of these super deep leagues I apologize for not having more players for you). There are probably some rookies missing that I overlooked but don’t fret, I’m sure we’ll get around to covering them sometime before spring training. Feel free to inquire about anyone I may have missed in the comment section below or hit me up on twitter @TheJimFinch.
Be sure to check out the entire Top 24 for 2014 Series.