There is never any shortage of outfield talent around Major League Baseball.
What makes the outfield such a fun position to take a deep dive into is there are many different ways that guys have found success. Some can do everything. Others use contact and speed to get on base and cause disruptions. Then there are the guys who prefer to hit the ball into the seats as often as they can to give their team a boost.
So which was is the best way? There's not an easy answer to that question. It all really just depends on the team that you have assembled around your outfielders and what you need them to do to be successful. Myself, Matt Hanson, and Tyler Austin did our best to put together our outfield rankings, so when your turn comes up in your fantasy baseball draft, you'll have a plan on who to draft if you are targeting an outfielder.
The Top 5 Outfielders in Baseball
It's either all or nothing with the 2018 NL Rookie of the Year. In 313 games, Acuna has 81 home runs and 194 RBIs, but he also has struck out 371 times. Last year's shortened season was a strange year to try and evaluate Acuna, as even though he hit just .250, he won his second straight Silver Slugger award.
What's crazy is that Acuna isn't even 24 years old yet. Expectations were so high after the 2019 season, that it was going to be impossible to live up to those expectations last year, especially considering MLB played a 60-game season in front of no crowds. Acuna is one of those players who feeds off the fans in the stands. As patrons return to baseball stadiums, expect Acuna's numbers to tick back up to what we saw from him in 2019. This year the Braves outfielder leaves no doubt that he is the best outfielder in baseball.
How much do the Boston Red Sox have to be kicking themselves for not getting more for Betts when they traded the outfielder to the Los Angeles Dodgers? The centerfielder felt like the piece that Los Angeles needed to finally win the World Series after losing the Fall Classic in 2017 and 2018.
Last year Betts finished second in the NL MVP voting, hitting 16 homers in 55 regular season games. An area where Betts can make some noise where he didn't last season is in the stolen base department. Last year Betts only swiped 10 bags. The regular season could have been an anomaly though, as Betts stole four bases in the World Series. If Betts can regain some of his baserunning prowess, he could be an even bigger monster for the defending World Series champions this year.
Mike Trout being third in the ranking of best outfielders in baseball should tell you just how loaded the position is. Even though it doesn't factor into fantasy baseball rankings, you have to wonder if Trout might be a little lower than he probably deserves because he has never been on a team that has won a playoff game. While Trout puts up huge numbers and stat guys always tout his WAR, he won't get quite as much respect until he makes some noise in the postseason.
It's scary to think that Trout could be in store for one of his best seasons. This will be the first year that Trout will have Anthony Rendon and Shohei Ohtani together with him in the lineup for a full season. Opponents will not have a very tough decision to make when it comes to what to do with Trout. As long as Trout stays healthy, he should have no problems smashing 30 homers for the sixth time in his career.
Washington Nationals outfielder Juan SotoJohn McDonnell - Getty Images
Much like Acuna, Juan Soto is one of the young faces of baseball. Soto isn't even 23 yet, but he already has had an amazing start to a career that could eventually see him in the Hall of Fame. Soto was a driving force for a Nationals team that won the World Series in 2019, and now will look to cement himself as one of baseball's cornerstones for at least the next decade.
So far in three seasons (313 games), Soto finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2018, crushed 34 home runs in 2019, and led baseball with a .351 average last year. The sky is the limit for Soto, who is only going to improve as he sees more time on the field. If you are in a keeper league, Soto is one of the first players you should be looking at taking if he is available.
It's hard to believe that we are entering Harper's 10 year in the majors. Sometimes we take how good Harper is for granted since he often makes hitting look effortless. While Philadelphia hasn't made the playoffs in Harper's first two seasons with the team, it isn't because of a lack of effort from Harper, who hit 48 home runs and drove in 147 runs in his 215 games with the Phillies.
You can count on Harper to hit at least 30 homers and drive in at least 90 runs for Philadelphia. Even though Harper has been in the league for a decade, he is still in the prime of his career. Even though there is plenty of tape out on Harper, he continues to evolve and improve his game to stay in the conversation as one of the best players in baseball.
The Rest of the Top 25
Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian YelichGene J. Puskar - Associated Press
After two straight seasons of hitting over .300, Yelich really struggled to find his swing last year, hitting just .205 and driving in 22 runs. Expect a bounce-back season from Yelich this year. He might not win a Silver Slugger award, but he at least puts himself back in the conversation after earning the honor three times in four years prior to last season.
Unfortunately we compiled these rankings before Jimenez was injured. The young Chicago outfielder will miss at least four months after suffering a pectoral injury. Even though you'll want to avoid him in single-season leagues, Jimenez still has plenty of value in keeper leagues.
New York Yankees outfielder Aaron JudgeKathy Willens - Associated Press
When he is healthy, Aaron Judge is one of the most dangerous hitters in the game. The staying healthy part is easier said than done for Judge, who has missed significant portions of the last three seasons after winning the AL Rookie of the Year award in 2017. If Judge is able to play at least 140 games, he'll likely be approaching 40 home runs and 100 RBIs.
Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Randy ArozarenaTony Gutierrez - Associated Press
Arozarena is one of the trickiest players in fantasy baseball to assess. While it may seem like a no-brainer to target Arozarena, we have only seen a small sample size of the outfielder in the majors. Even though Arozarena lit up any pitcher he faced in last year's playoffs, pitchers should be able to adjust as they see more tape on him. Plus, you never know what Kevin Cash is going to do with his lineup, which always makes Tampa players tough to gauge.
Castellanos made quite an impression last year in his first year in Cincinnati, helping the Reds make the playoffs. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of change in Cincinnati during the offseason, which will likely make it tough for the Reds to be playing in October this year. With Joey Votto getting older, Castellanos is looking like the best hitter in the Reds lineup this year.
A fantasy baseball "sleeper" this year could very well be Teoscar Hernandez. While Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, and Bo Bichette get the headlines in Toronto, an argument could be made that Hernandez was the Blue Jays' best hitter last year. After hitting 16 homers and driving in 34 runs in 50 games last year, it'll be interesting to see what Hernandez can do in a full season.
There hasn't been a lot to get excited about in Seattle in quite some time. Kyle Lewis is changing that. Last year's AL Rookie of the Year burst onto the scene and gave Mariners fans some hope. Now Lewis will have to build off the hype that he generated last year. A fair projection for Lewis in his sophomore year would be around 25 homers, 80 RBIs, and a .270 average.
Boston Red Sox outfielder Alex VerdugoMichael Dwyer - Associated Press
Verdugo's stats might not bowl anyone over yet, but we have to remember that the Red Sox outfielder is just 24. Verdugo was the best player Boston got from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts trade, and Verdugo showed glimpses of what he can do, hitting .308 in his first season with the Red Sox. Now that he'll be able to see regular playing time, this could be a breakout season for Verdugo.
Joey Gallo is like one of those cartoonish sluggers from Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball. It's either all or nothing from Gallo, who has 120 home runs in 473 career games. If Gallo was able to make regular contact he'd be higher on this list, but the Texas slugger has hit over .210 in just one of his six seasons in the majors. Gallo is a great add if you are looking for homers, he just isn't going to get you much else.
Michael Brantley is one of the most professional hitters in baseball. In his 12 seasons in the majors, Brantley has hit below .280 in just three seasons, and has posted a .300 average in six seasons. Houston lost George Springer in free agency over the winter, so even more pressure will be on Brantley to produce this year.
Even though the Orioles are a dreadful team, there are a few bright spots in the lineup. Anthony Santander has put together a couple solid seasons for Baltimore, hitting 20 homers in 2019 in 93 games, and following that up with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs last year. Santander isn't a top-tier outfielder, but he could be a solid addition that could pay dividends if he continues to grow as a hitter.
Keep an eye on FindBet.com for the complete top-50 outfielder rankings
The Phoenix Suns are just a win away from sending LeBron James home in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in the King's illustrious career.
After stating that "These shoulders were built for a reason," James referring to facing the challenge of taking on added responsibilities after Anthony Davis was ruled out for Game 5, the Lakers and LeBron disappointed in a big way Tuesday night. L.A. started off hot jumping out to a 10-5 lead behind a couple shots from James and a three from Davis' replacement Markieff Morris. But it didn't take long for the wheels to completely fall off for the defending champion Lakers as they spent most of the first half trying to remember how basketball works.
LeBron looking on during Game 5Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Two numbers stick out in the Game 5 loss for the Lakers and those are 34.5 and 12. Los Angeles shot 34.5% from the field on Tuesday night and were minus 12 in turnover ratio. No matter who's on your team, if you can't shoot and you can't protect the ball, the outcome is already determined.
The Suns weren't simply beneficiaries of a poor performance however as the Suns put it on the Lakers early and often and they never let their foot off the pedal for 48 minutes. Phoenix ended with 15 more assists, had seven more combined steals and blocks, and outscored L.A. in the paint by 12 points. Devin Booker and Cameron Payne were spectacular and they seemed to hit big shots every time the Lakers appeared to threaten a comeback. Mikal Bridges was effective on both sides of the ball adding three steals and two blocks to help electrify his team with the defensive effort.
🗣 DEVIN BOOKER— Phoenix Suns (@Phoenix Suns)1622601795.0
The idea of effort is something that was lacking on the purple and gold side last night though. It didn't take long after Booker started hitting everything that the Lakers team started playing sloppy and launching up bad threes in a failed attempt to not let the game get out of hand. Well it did.
The two teams were among the best defensive teams in league this season, the Suns finished seventh in overall team defensive rating and the Lakers first. The Lakers typically like to use their defensive prowess to control pace and work in the half court with their combination of speed on the wings and their combination of big men down low that includes Andre Drummond, Marc Gasol, Anthony Davis (when healthy), and former Sixth-Man of the Year winner Montrezl Harrell. Incase you forgot Harrell does in fact still play for the Lakers, but before last night if you blinked for too long you would've missed him on the court.
WHY ISN’T MONTREZL HARRELL GETTING PLAYING TIME?????@MONSTATREZZ #FreeMontrezl https://t.co/j55u9zg9kN— NBALakersReport (@NBALakersReport)1622603465.0
For some unknown reason Trez has been an afterthought in Frank Vogel's rotations, not only in this series, but throughout parts of the regular season. With AD being ruled out for Game 5, it would've been logical to think that we'd see an uptick in minutes for the high energy reserve, and we did. But not until the game was far out of hand in the second half. While the Suns were building a 30 point lead we saw Phoenix's guards cooking the slower big men of the Lakers off pick and rolls.
30 points is the largest lead at half in Suns playoff history. 🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/UoozhMf6Io— Phoenix Suns (@Phoenix Suns)1622604230.0
It's understandable to want some size to limit Deandre Ayton, but when it's Booker, Payne, and Bridges hurting you offensively why not see how a quicker and more agile defender like Harrell might fare slowing down the pick and rolls? We saw Jae Crowder having success doing that on the other side for the Suns all night!
It's not fair to just talk about how bad the Lakers were, in fairness it looked like they were getting open looks and were just collectively having an unlucky shooting night. Maybe they all got it out of their system now? But the Suns would have beat anyone on that home court last night. Let's give all credit to them by playing one of the best games ever seen against a LeBron James-led playoff team. Devin Booker is an absolute star and this team plays with a very focused chip on their shoulder which has been manicured by Chris Paul. His leadership has made ALL the difference for this Phoenix team and it can be seen most on the defensive side of the ball. The Suns players have adopted Paul's attitude and intensity on that end and it all paid off last night.
We've seen LeBron actively frustrated during playoff games on the court, and last night is one of the most cringe-worthy to have seen. James spent way too much time talking to officials about calls, and not just between whistles. It would be interesting to know how many possessions the Lakers played four on five because James never made it back on defense before the Suns put more points on them. LeBron was seen leaving the court with about five minutes left in the fourth quarter, and sure it could be to start receiving treatment on the injured ankle. But we know the real reason he left. We can only hope he didn't punch anything on the way to the locker room.
While the teams will travel back to L.A. for Game 6, the Lakers know they are in a must-win situation. We saw the rest of the team around LeBron scrambling because they felt the pressure. James was the only Laker in the second half that kept the team functioning. When we've seen a visibly dejected James like we did last night, it's been because he knew his team didn't have it. I don't think that's the case with this Lakers team.
There's plenty of talent on the roster even without Anthony Davis. Maybe Game 6 is when we get to see Harrell getting some meaningful minutes. Maybe Vogel can devise a way to get Andre Drummond more involved offensively. Maybe AD plays and isn't slowed by the groin injury. Or maybe you should've listened to us back in January when we told you the Suns were a pretty good basketball team.
The NFL's all-time leader in receiving yardage per game is looking for a new home.
Five time all-pro, Julio Jones, stated on FS1's Undisputed earlier this week that he was "out" of Atlanta and that his only focus on where he wants to play next year includes winning. This corroborates with reports back in April as Ian Rapoport indicated the Falcons were receiving calls for their star receiver prior to the NFL Draft.
It's no surprise that Jones wants out considering the Falcons have only made the playoffs once since their Super Bowl appearance in 2016. Jones is 32 now and coming off a season where nagging injuries kept him off the field for all but nine games in 2020. In those games Jones caught 51 balls for 771 yards while adding three touchdowns. Having only reached double-digit touchdowns once in his career in 2012, the volume and yardage have always been Julio's strengths. A lack of availability would certainly hurt his chances to be a major contributor for any title-contender.
According to SportsLine, the teams with the best odds to land Jones are as follows as of May 28, 2021.
- Patriots +200
- 49ers +300
- Titans +400
- Raiders +600
- Ravens +700
- Chargers +900
- Colts +1000
- Packers +1200
- Dolphins +1400
- Jaguars +1500
- Cowboys +2000
The theoretical talk about where Julio will go has been fun. But as we approach June 1 the situation is going to get real, and most experts believe we'll see a trade sooner than later. If it weren't for the fact that Atlanta is in such a bad salary cap situation, the organization and GM Terry Fontenot, may have tried to salvage the relationship as we're seeing the Packers attempting to do with Aaron Rodgers. But as it stands Atlanta isn't going to be able to sign their own draft class to contracts as they only have around $340K in available cap.
The Atlanta Falcons have discussed several trade offers for Julio Jones, including an offer for a future first roun… https://t.co/wkaP9RPs2O— Dianna Russini (@Dianna Russini)1622122213.0
By trading Jones after June 1 the Falcons will only take on a dead cap hit of $7.75 million, saving them $15.3 million if dealt before that date. The Patriots (+200) have jumped up the oddsmaker's list and are now sitting as the favorites to land Julio. The check all the boxes you would want checked if you're the Falcons front office.
They have a first round pick they can send, which is something the Falcons have made clear is an important piece. They are coming off a season where it doesn't appear giving them Jones in a trade would be enough to push them to winning the Super Bowl. Finally they're in the AFC, and teams rarely like to trade stars within their own conference.
When Atlanta says no to Julio Jones for N’Keal Harry and two 6th round picks https://t.co/EAN8caa731— Boston Diehards (@Boston Diehards)1621973206.0
The Patriots are in pseudo-rebuild mode. They're doing a lot of things to set a new foundation for the future (Mac Jones) but have aggressively spent money in free agency this offseason and bringing back Cam Newton means that Bill Belichick saw enough that he liked to run it back. Bringing in Julio to line up outside with Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry in double tight end sets allows the Pats to continue to let Cam take off on designed run calls. Now that I'm thinking this out, maybe trading Julio to the Patriots does make them a Super Bowl contender.
Another great landing spot for Jones would be in San Fran and they have the second best odds (+300) to do so. The selection of Trey Lance indicates the team is ready to move on from Jimmy Garoppolo and they can save $25 million by simply cutting him after June 1. That would mean it would be very easy for them to take on Jones' salary, but the question is whether the Falcons would want to send their disgruntled star to an NFC power house.
Give Julio Jones back to Kyle Shanahan https://t.co/6DWAchs1SZ— PFF (@PFF)1621954860.0
Although the Ravens (+700) aren't one of the favorites to trade for Julio, they should be making calls to Atlanta. Baltimore drafted Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace in the draft to help bolster the group and Sammy Watkins signed with the team in the offseason. Hollywood Brown is an okay B-level Tyreek Hill.
But the team is going to have to pay Lamar Jackson and their championship window on his rookie deal runs out after this season. The fifth year option has already been exercised and while that means that Lamar will still be a Raven in 2022, the $1.8 million cap hit in 2021 jumps to just over $23 million next year. That makes the Ravens cap situation for bringing in Jones murky taking into consideration Lamar's contract increase.
The last team that is just fun to consider before that June date is if the Packers front office actually did something good, and figured out a way to get Julio Jones to Green Bay (+1,200). Now this situation is not only highly unlikely, it's virtually impossible. GM Brian Gutekunst has put the team in a very unfavorable cap situation for next season, and they only boast around $5 million in available cap now while still needing to sign draft picks.
But it's about the only way I see Aaron Rodgers willingly playing football for the Packers next season. It would be pretty tough to walk away from a duo of Davante Adams and Julio Jones, even though it may mean they would be losing an important defensive piece or Aaron Jones in an attempt to match up contracts in a potential deal with Atlanta.
The image of Julio donning the Falcons helmet with the jet black visor will always be the way I'll remember him, but it's apparent that it won't be how we'll see him ending his career. We should have a better idea of who the serious bidders are for the receiver's services by mid next week.
The play-ins have been a short, but wild rollercoaster and the playoffs are getting ready to set off.
The seeds are finally set, and the first-round matchups are 76ers(1) vs Wizards(8), Nets(2) vs Celtics(7), Bucks(3) vs Heat(6), and Knicks(4) vs Hawks(5).
Today’s #NBAPlayoffs schedule 📺 ▪️ MIA/MIL: 2020 Eastern Conference Semifinals rematch ▪️ DAL/LAC: 2nd consecutiv… https://t.co/VBl9jKJOJF— NBA (@NBA)1621693800.0
76ers vs Wizards:
The Russell Westbrook-Joel Embiid rivalry will continue during this year's playoffs and fans cannot wait. The Wizards finished the season with a 16-6 record, and after a lackluster start this season, they have made themselves a dangerous 8th seed. While the 76ers didn't finish the season hot, I'm sure with a team-full of veterans, rest was more of a priority. The 76ers beat the Wizards three times during the season, but two of those games were very close and came early in the season.
The Wizards can definitely make this series a challenging one for the 76ers. The Wizards have shooters all around with Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans. But the 76ers have a much deeper team with guys like Danny Green, Seth Curry, and Dwight Howard providing good veteran leadership. The Wizards are riding on the health of Bradley Beal, who has dealt with hamstring tightness in the past two weeks.
Nets vs Celtics:
The Nets finally seem to be healthy just in time for the playoffs, which is dangerous for Boston. Although the Nets big three only played eight games together, the Nets still finished with a 48-24. The Nets also have a great mix of reliable veterans like Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Jeff Green, and Joe Harris. These two teams meet three times during the regular season with Brooklyn taking all three games.
The Celtics have not lived up to expectations this year. After making a conference finals last year, it was expected to carry through the regular season, but they never found their stride. Jaylen Brown will continue to be sidelined with a broken wrist, so most of the load will be carried by Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker. I see this series being an easy one for the Nets.
Jaw-dropping handles, unlimited scoring ability and incredible playmaking… Kyrie Irving. #ThatsGame Kyrie and th… https://t.co/Oxb2hKv6OL— NBA (@NBA)1621697400.0
Bucks vs Heat:
A rematch of the heated second-round matchup last year, where the Heat upset Milwaukee, who had Giannis dealing with injuries. Interestingly enough, both of these come to the playoffs on the right side with an 8-2 record in their last 10 regular-season games. Giannis is back with more weapons on his sides like Jrue Holiday, PJ Tucker, and Jeff Teague, while also keeping their core from last year. Giannis had had another MVP-type season averaging 28 points and 11 rebounds.
The Miami Heat started the season off slow, probably because of the NBA finals hangover, but got hot after the all-star break. Miami also acquired many new weapons like Trevor Ariza and Dewayne Dedmon. The Jimmy Butler-Giannis Antetokounmpo matchup will be the most important aspect of this series.
Knicks vs Hawks
After what seems like a lifetime drought, the Knicks are finally back in the playoffs! We can all agree that when the Knicks are good, the league is in better spirits. Tom Thibodeau has turned this team around, and you can't forget about how Julius Randle has been playing this season. Possibly the most improved player, Julius Randle has proved all his doubters wrong and has taken the keys to this Knicks franchise. The Knicks have great veteran leadership with guys like Derrick Rose, and Taj Gibson who are familiar with Thibodeau. They also have great young talent with guys like RJ Barret, and Obi Toppin.
The Hawks on the other hand have turned it around since firing Lloyd Pierce and having Nate McMillan made this team do a complete 180. Trae Young and John Collins are one of the best duos in the league. With guys like Lou Williams, Danilo Gallinari, and Bogdan Bogdanovic who can get hot at any point of the game. This series can definitely go to 7 games, with last-second shots determining the outcome.