Outfield ranks: Is Trout, Betts or J.D. No. 1?

Yelich, Harper, Judge, Acuna also among top fantasy outfielders

March 6th, 2019

The outfield is the life force for many fantasy teams, and the position boasts many of the game's biggest stars.

Outfielders won the MVP Award in both leagues last season and take up three of the top five spots in MLB.com's Top 800 fantasy rankings this year. That said, you don't need to spend a first-round pick on an outfielder to construct a strong group.

• Fantasy rankings: Overall | C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | SP | RP

Trout needs no introduction. He's the consensus best player in baseball and was arguably better than ever in 2018, posting a career-high 191 wRC+. Betts, though, edged Trout for American League MVP honors this past season and is building a brilliant career in his own right. The 26-year-old has hit .308/.379/.538 over the past three seasons while averaging 29 homers, 98 RBIs, 117 runs and 27 steals per year in that span. This season, Trout and Betts are more 1A and 1B than No. 1 and No. 2.

Martinez, meanwhile, lags slightly behind the other two because he doesn't run much, but few can rival his hitting prowess. He's an excellent building block for any fantasy lineup and a fine top-five pick.

While a case can be made that Yelich belongs in Tier 1 after his spectacular National League MVP Award-winning campaign, it's questionable whether he can duplicate last year's power output. With an MLB-leading 35 percent HR/FB rate, Yelich was able to hit 36 home runs despite recording the highest ground-ball rate (51.8 percent) of anyone who had at least 30 roundtrippers last season. Even with some decline, however, the 27-year-old should be considered a bona fide OF1 option who could potentially return first-round value. The same goes for Harper, Judge, Stanton and Blackmon, as well as young phenoms Acuna and Soto, who are both primed for big sophomore seasons.

Marte is known more for his speed, but he hit a career-best 20 homers last season while significantly boosting his exit velocity on fly balls, which makes him a borderline top 10 fantasy outfielder heading into 2019.

Benintendi has proven to be an across-the-board contributor in his first two full seasons, and owners can expect additional growth in the home run department this year. With better health, Springer could cross the 30-homer threshold, as he did in 2017. The slugger battled a variety of injures last season and recorded a .683 OPS over his final 75 games, but he nonetheless topped 20 homers and 100 runs for the third straight season. Hoskins, meanwhile, could be one of the NL's top sluggers this season in a much-improved Phillies lineup, and Davis has a fourth straight 40-homer effort in his sights.

Even with a nagging right shoulder injury that required surgery in October, Ozuna still tied for 25th (min. 150 batted-ball events) in average exit velocity (91.5 mph) and ranked 46th in barrels/PA rate (7.3 percent). Look for better seasons from Ozuna and his former Cardinals teammate, Pham, who slashed .343/.448/.622 with seven homers and five steals after joining the Rays in a July trade.

Back-to-back 40-homer seasons make Gallo a starting-caliber option in all leagues despite his lifetime .203 average, and owners know what to expect from Cain, Upton and McCutchen by now. Rosario, Haniger and Castellanos, meanwhile, are firmly established as top-30 outfielders. And then there's Puig, who has proven to be a bit of an enigma during his career but is coming off two straight 20-homer, 15-steal showings.

Brantley, Pollock and Myers would rank higher if not for injury concerns, and Jimenez, Dahl and Robles could jump by next year. Dahl and Robles are expected to hold starting jobs for the first time at the MLB level, and Jimenez -- MLB Pipeline's No. 3 overall prospect -- could debut early in the season. Smith doesn't provide much outside the stolen-base category, but he could carry teams in that department without being a drain in the batting-average arena. Conforto, meanwhile, is a breakout candidate, and Peralta and Hicks both represent solid starting options after each had his best season in 2018.