I’m guessing your trade deadline has already passed, so I’ll just drop the pretense, and call this what it really is—a rest of the season ranking for the outfield position. If you’re unfamiliar with what we’ve been doing here, you can check out the other positional ranks by clicking on the following linky things:
If you’re already familiar or just don’t really care, well then, here we go:
1. Mike Trout
The single most impressive thing about Mike Trout, other than the prodigious power, thunderous foot speed, freakish athleticism, outlandish slash line, and aw-shucks demeanor, is that in a culture that’s become infinitely more demanding and backlashy, where we love nothing more than to publicly tear down our heroes for even the slightest deficiency, Mike Trout is maybe the only young mega-superstar that has not only lived up to every bit of the hype, but has managed even to surpass it.
It took LeBron James years to grow into the undisputed King of the Basketball World, and Peyton Manning would have to win six more Super Bowls to ever get credit for living up to the lofty expectations set for him. Numerous other highly-touted youngsters in a multitude of other sports haven’t even come close. Really, the only corollary I can think of is Tiger Woods, who was all that and a bag of Ruffles for 12 years, until he wrecked his knee and got caught banging all those Denny’s waitresses.
It goes without saying that Trout still has a long way to go to become this generation’s Mickey Mantle, that he still has a million pitfalls to avoid, but so far, so goddamn awesome.
Authorial Knocking on Wood: Here’s hoping he’s not balling half the married housewives in Orange County by 2016, or distractedly steps on a sprinkler head during spring training next year and shreds his Achilles or something else horrible and career-derailing. I would hate to see Subway have to dump him for Johnny Manziel or some other poser wannabe, some never-will-be.
2. Carlos Gomez
While it hasn’t exactly been “a young girl’s strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk” the trip we’ve taken with Carlos Gomez over the past eight seasons has been filled with plenty of intrigue and shock. From the Mets to the Twins to the Brewers, Gomez always titillated with his power/speed potential, but until 2012, never came remotely close to putting things together. And now look at him—a legitimate .280 hitter on the brink of having a repeat 24 HR/40 SB season.
Assuming there’s not a Costanzian home-plate collision that injures Gomez and forces his understudy, Gerardo Parra, to take over centerfield duties, I could totally see Gomez as the number one outfielder when the dust finally settles on 2014.
3. Giancarlo Stanton
I’ve taken to referring to Giancarlo Stanton as the Evil Bartender, because he serves up so many shots that sometimes I black-out and don’t wake up until next Tuesday. Already in August he’s forced owners to slam back seven shots in 15 games, including a double-shot earlier in the week. Good luck navigating your Uber app after that. If you set his Rest of Season over/under at 11 homers, I’d probably barf, then angrily slur at you to gimme the f***** over, ya basterd.
4. Jose Bautista
There’re two things you’re looking for at this time in the season: 1) dependability and b) upside. If you have a player with both of those traits, it’s like finding a stripper who really is going to school to be a paralegal, and seriously does want to go to White Castle with you after her shift. That’s Jose Bautista. Not only does he offer massive power upside, he also sports the second highest OBP in the league, has more walks than strikeouts, and is hitting just under .300—all shining examples of production dependability. Like that chick who married Jay-Z is always singing about, better put a ring on it…
5. Matt Kemp
Even through all the bitchings and benchings, Matt Kemp has been cracking-out line drives since June, and owns a .298 AVG/.369 OBP/.496 SLG slash line in his past 67 games. Since the All Star break, he’s been even better, cranking-out seven homers and driving home 20 men in 27 games. On the year, his Average Batted Ball Distance (AVBD) is one of the 25 farthest in the league, and he has the third highest Line Drive Percentage (LD%) among qualified hitters, behind only Freddie Freeman and Daniel Murphy.
Now that he’s fully healthy for the first time in years, Kemp, it seems to me anyway, is pissed-off and out to prove everyone wrong who called him and his contract “onerous” a month-and-a-half ago (and there were a lot of us out there who did—“onerous” being July’s Trendy Twitter Word of the Month and all).
If you made me pick a word off the top of my head to describe the final six weeks Matt Kemp is about to have, I would choose … MONSTROUS.
6. Michael Brantley
Unless you’ve been riding the bandwagon from Day One, you may not be aware of just how fun Michael Brantley’s been this year. Well, imagine going to a clothing-optional cocaine party at the Playboy mansion in 1976, only times 100, and that’s pretty much what the Brantley Experience has been like for his owners in 2014.
Sheer numbers-wise, he’s third in runs scored and fourth in RBIs among outfielders, has chipped in 18 homers and 14 steals, and leads all outfielders with a .322 batting average. The fact that he has a .512 slugging percentage, the same as Jose Bautista’s, is really beyond comprehension. Nobody saw this coming, and anyone who says they did is a liar, and you should never trust them with money or secrets or drugs.
7. Andrew McCutchen
Ranking the unknown is pretty impossible, but here I am, attempting to do it.
All that we really know for sure is that Andrew McCutchen suffered an avulsion fracture involving the costochondral cartilage of the 11 rib on his left side, and that he won’t be able to suck his own dick play in a game until sometime later this week.
What we don’t know is how the injury will affect his offensive prowess going forward. It’s a question nobody has the answer to, apparently—injury expert Stephania Bell conducted an informal poll among doctors and trainers who’ve treated professionals baseball players, and found that not a single one of them had ever seen an avulsion fracture like the kind McCutchen has.
Considering all that, I should be cautious here, but since it’s McCutchen, a guy who’s never given us any reason to doubt him, I’m just going to jump off the ledge and pray I don’t fracture a rib upon landing.
8. Hunter Pence
There will come a day, probably the day following his first major injury, when we sit around and discuss what a consistently good and dependable Fantasy option Hunter Pence was. This season has been no different. Once again, he’s on-pace for 20-plus line-drive homers, double-digit steals accompanied by a cloud of dirt and flying elbows, and the most unorthodox .285 average you’ve ever seen. He’s also set to top 100 runs for the first time in his career, and currently leads the league in the category.
Authorial Digression: If you had to pick an actor to play Hunter Pence in the movie of his life, wouldn’t it have to be Ben Foster? I mean, who else could emulate the intense spasmodic fury and violence that Pence plays the game with than the guy who played this role? Nobody, that’s who.
9. Adam Jones
No matter how he streakily he goes about doing it, it all comes out clean in the wash with Adam Jones. 25-30 homers, double-digit steals, almost no walks, a batting average in the .280’s and middle-of-the-order run production.
Soooo … eight homers, a few steals, and above-average run and RBI totals from here on out?
Yes, that’s exactly what to expect.
10. Nelson Cruz
Nelson Cruz is like a 32-year old man who was caught using Cialis by his wife (with us playing the role of the wife)—even though she was receiving immense pleasure from her enhanced husband, every subsequent erection is now as viewed as suspicious, validation that she’s no longer attractive, which in turn will lead her to start working out, dressing more provocatively, and sleeping with the 23-year-old pool boy (as played by Yasiel Puig) .
Personally, I’m done caring about where they come from. Organic or chemically enhanced, the fact is that Cruz is tied with Jose Abreu for the second most boners in the league, behind only Stanton, and is second among outfielders in RBIs. Besides, surely a guy can’t be punished for appearing on the Biogenesis list a second time…
11. Justin Upton
If we take a step back and view Justin Upton’s career on a continuum, there’s really nothing to complain about. I mean, the guy is three years younger than Matt Kemp, two years younger than Carlos Gomez … the same age as Domonic Brown for the sake of Pete! Let’s stop judging him based on what he could be when he finally hits his prime, and instead focus on what he is: an outfielder on-pace for something resembling a 28 HR/10 SB/80 R/95 RBI/.275 season; a stud, in other words—just not someone ready to star in the midnight show of Thunder from Down Under quite yet.
12. Melky Cabrera
Maybe we should have put more stock into that whole back tumor thing affecting Melky Cabrera‘s performance last season. Maybe we should have noticed the lineup he’d be hitting atop, and the ballpark he’d be playing half his games in. Maybe we shouldn’t have been so confident in selecting Will Venable in the second-to-last round over Melky. Maybe we all need a lesson in forgiving and forgetting. Maybe I just farted.
Yes, I definitely just farted.
13) Jacoby Ellsbury
Lots of people projected the 32-homer power Jacoby Ellsbury flashed in 2011 to re-appear at the sight of the short right field porch in Yankees Stadium, and depending on how you look at it, I guess it kind of has—his 10 home runs are the second most of his career, as is his .129 Isolated Power. But it’s not like he’s been Brett Gardner or anything. Still, a 15 HR/ 40 SB season is immensely valuable in this silly little game we play.
14. Brett Gardner
It’s taken 10 years, since his junior year at the College of Charleston, but Brett Gardner has finally accumulated the 10,000 hours of push-ups required for him to be able to just barely muscle balls over major league fences on a consistent basis. Amazingly, the power surge hasn’t been entirely ballpark aided either—Gardner, a lefty, actually has more home runs on the road (8) than he does at home (7). Needing just five homers and two steals over the next six weeks to become a 20 HR/20 SB guy, Gardner has an excellent shot of joining Car-Go and Cutch as one of only three outfielders to hit those markers in 2014.
I still can’t decide if we should have seen this coming.
15. Ryan Braun
Ryan Braun is having a perfectly fine, acceptable season, putting up the type of numbers we might have predicted for a Michael Brantley breakout back in March. Or, put another way, he’s kind of been a bust. He’s still hitting the ball far, his 298-feet AVBD is the 20th farthest mark in the league, and he’s still hitting them hard—his 22.5-percent LD rate is the best of his career—so it’s entirely possible he heats up during what promises to be crazy NL Central playoff race.
But I don’t know, for whatever reason, I just don’t trust the guy. Can’t shake the feeling that somehow he’ll end up disappointing us…
16. Corey Dickerson
Once Fantasy owners stopped confusing him with Chris Dickerson, the blah fourth outfielder for the Indians, they jumped on-board the Corey Dickerson bandwagon with both feet, none more enthusiastically than me—whereas once I stayed away, viewing him as purely a lefty/righty split guy, now I’m hanging around outside his condo, scaling balconies to secretly watch him watching True Blood, and occasionally breaking in through the back patio and sleeping in his bed when the team is out of town.
I’m a Dickerson stalker, no way around it. And why shouldn’t I be? The guy’s hit at every level, plays in the best hitter’s park in the league, bats in the middle of the lineup, and has accumulated 22 homers, 10 stolen bases and a .300 average in 549 MLB plate appearances. Forget Tulo and Car-Go, Co-Dick is the current Sherriff of higher Denver (gonna have to work on that nickname though).
17. Yoenis Cespedes
I have weird dreams sometimes. Like, last week, I had a dream that I was watching Yoenis Cespedes take batting practice from a giant, upright Labrador at Fenway Park in nothing but a rubber Richard Nixon mask and jean shorts. He was banging ball after ball over the wall, all the while taunting the anthropomorphic dog, in a distinct British accent, to “throw the bloody ball you buggered mutt!”
The next day, I swear to God, Cespedes went deep in Anaheim, his first since the trade. The next, it happened again, this time in Cincinnati. Three days later he burst his home cherry with a two-run blast against the Astros.
Clearly, NyQuil makes me prescient.
18. Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper really struggled for about a month after returning from a ligament tear in his thumb, prompting reporters—operating under the new reportorial ethos of, “where there’s dry brush and leaves, start a massive forest fire”—to repeatedly ask manager Matt Williams during a press conference if Harper should be sent to the minors. Williams, a man who quite clearly understands the concept of patience, appropriately freaked out, disregarded the questions as ludicrous, and cut the presser short. That, of course, offended the haughty, holier-than-thou media, resulting in Williams having to come back the next day, hat in hand, to issue an apology for responding appropriately to the reactionary, asinine line of questioning.
Well, who’s sorry now?
In the 10 days since Williams’ “unfair” treatment of the press’ “legitimate” questions, Harper’s hitting .292 with three homers—one an extra-innings game-winner—and nine RBIs. The Nationals have won seven of those nine games.
Authorial Resignation: The day a reporter apologizes for asking an off-base, incendiary, let’s-create-a-story-where-none-exists type of question, is the day Christiana Ricci finally accepts my long-standing invitation to let me comb her hair with my grandmother’s antique hairbrush. Never.
19. Yasiel Puig
I enjoy Yasiel Puig and what he’s brought to the game, really, I do. But I’m a numbers guy, focused on the present. And guess how many homers Puig’s hit since the start of June? Two. That’s two homers in two-and-a-half months, which just happens to be the same amount of bases he’s successfully stolen over that same span. And it’s not like he’s propped-up those miniscule numbers with a superlative batting average—he’s hitting .282 over his last 60-plus games. If you’re searching for 2014 outfield comps, Puig has basically been Nick Markakis.
20. Marlon Byrd
Hey, you think I want to put Marlon Byrd in the Top 20? Hell no. But what else am I supposed to do? The guy’s the 17th ranked outfielder on the season, was the 19th ranked guy last year, and over the past 30 days, he’s been the 22nd most valuable. I guess it’s true what they say—senior citizens, although slow and dangerous behind the wheel, can still serve a purpose in Fantasy Baseball. Don’t you go dying on me Marlon Byrd!
Best of the Rest
21. Josh Harrison
I’m basically standing by the diving board, pissing in Josh Harrison’s pool by ranking him this low, but I can’t help but hold his lack of a track record against him. I should probably send along a nice bottle of cab and a hand-written apology card after he’s had a chance to cool off.
22. Billy Hamilton
First, off, Hamilton leads the position in steals by 12, which is awesome. Less awesome is that his stolen-base attempts are going down faster than menopausal groupies at a Paul Simon concert—he was 14-of-20 in steals attempts during June, 8-of-12 in July, and is currently 2-of-4 in August. Like straight men wearing capri pants, this is a trend that I do not like, not at all.
23. Mark Trumbo
Listen, there’s a definite chance 2014 is a completely lost year for The Trumbinator—he’s now hitting cleanup for a team with Ender Inciarte at leadoff and David Peralta in the three-hole, and has just one HR in 27 games since returning from a two-month layoff. Of course, there’s also an excellent chance he has a massive freak out down the stretch and hits something like two homers a week from now until the end of September. I’m leaning towards the latter.
24. Brandon Moss
What is it with me and Brandon Moss? I don’t like the guy, I guess. I mean, I thought we were cool, but then I started ranking players and attaching feelings to them, and I discovered I was all like, Ewww, Moss. Gross. This is most definitely a deep-seated personal issue I need to explore with my therapist.
25. Lucas Duda
Conversation overheard at 2am two Saturday’s ago while watching MLB Network’s Quick Pitch on a stranger’s couch:
Stoned Guy: Dude. Duuuuuude. We should start calling Lucas Duda The Pizzaman, cuz he like … always delivers homers and sh**.
Drunk Friend: Ah, definitely man … oh! and you know what? You know how there’s that pizza place in the mall food court, wassit called, Lucas Pizza or sumthin’? How perfect is that?!?. We gotta trademark that sh**!
Stoned Guy: Ohhhh, yeaaahh, I forgot about that place … (extended pause, ripping bowl) … maaan, we should order some pizzzzzzaaa…
Drunk Friend: Duda, we already did!
26. J.D. Martinez
Has the glass slipper turned back into a frayed moccasin? Has Martinez’s carriage morphed into a lopsided pumpkin and overturned, squashing all the little mice-turned-horses with an emphatic splatter? No, I don’t think so—Marty’s starting to crank out multi-hit games again, and has two homers and three steals in August. He may not end up a princess, but he’s no slave maid either.
27. Gregory Polanco
Like a suburban white kid dropped-off at an inner-city basketball court by his well-meaning but sorta irresponsible father, Gregory Polanco is quickly learning how to adapt his game against older, stronger, meaner competition. He’s still a bit erratic, but it’s obvious Polanco will be holding his own soon enough, maybe even before Dad remembers to come to pick him up in like three weeks.
28. Jay Bruce
What you want me to say? He’s been a real kick in the spleen this year, no doubt. The career-high 11 steals have been appreciated and all … but 12 home runs? What a bastard.
Now, is it possible that Bruce hits 12 additional home runs in September alone? Yes. Is it also possible that he hits one the rest of the season? Yes. Is it possible that Christina Ricci actually does accept my open-ended invite? Seriously, I’m asking.
29. Christian Yelich
In 163 MLB games, at the age of 21 and 22, Yelich has posted a .280 average with 13 homers and 24 steals. Impressive. Young players with this kind of talent are always capable of tantalizing with brief flashes of future brilliance.
30. Alex Gordon
Gordon is pretty much Christian Yelich, only 30, and without the possibility of brief flashes of future brilliance.
31. Jason Heyward
The once endearing boy wonder has basically failed to improve or challenge himself since splashing onto the scene back in 2010, keeping the critics at bay with name-recognition and just barely acceptable production. Basically, he’s the Adam Sandler of Fantasy Baseball.
32. Matt Holliday
Here’s a shot of Statistics Whiskey to make you think more positively of Matt Holliday’s prospects for 2014: in 93 pre-All Star break games, Holliday hit a lowly six homers. In 25 games post-break, he’s hit a mighty six home runs. The end is not here, not yet.
33. Nori Aoki
Looking for the hottest player on the hottest team? Well here he is. Aoki, who’s got 17 runs, 16 RBIs, eight steals and a .308 average over the past month, is owned in something like 45-percent of leagues despite being a Top 15 Fantasy option during that span. You should do your part and help to change that.
34. Chris Carter
It’s been the old, clichéd, Tale of Two Seasons for Chris Carter. Over the first three months, he hit 13 homers and handed you a .184 batting average. When you dropped him at the end of June, the guy who picked him up has received 16 homers in 37 games to along with .322 average. Annoying.
35. Josh Reddick
C’mon, Josh Reddick, really? Yeah dude, Josh Reddick. Since the All Star break he’s hitting .303 with a .551 SLG, which equates to four homers, eight doubles, and a triple in 24 games. Sure, he’s been a major disappointment since the 32 homer season of 2012, but we also can’t forget the 32 homer season of 2012.
36. Carlos Beltran
I know he’s been much, much better than this ranking indicates, but his age and the unsettled nature of his elbow injury scares me off, especially considering he’s nearing a return to right field, where, presumably, he could easily aggravate it. Time, I’m starting to realize, is like your friend’s wife who won’t let him drink more than one glass of Chardonnay and regulates his masturbation schedule—a real bitch.
37. Kole Calhoun
Calhoun is hitting lead-off for the team with the second-most runs scored in the league—directly ahead of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Josh Hamilton. For my money, that’s the best batting order position in all of Fantasy baseball, the sexual-position equivalent of reverse cowgirl. Kid’s not too bad, either—in 610 career PAs, Calhoun owns 21 HRs, 91 Runs, and a .285 average. He’s like Corey Dickerson without Coors.
38. Oscar Taveras
Love the potential, like the underlying profile, understand the current situation, and still think that with daily experience Taveras could be the catalyst that propels you into the championship game against that a-hole Todd, who acts like he’s some sort of Fantasy Baseball expert even though he hasn’t won since 2008, and once said that Hee-Seop Choi would be better than Adrian Gonzalez.
39. Denard Span
If you like steals and a hollow batting average let me introduce you to Denard Span.
40. Ben Revere
If you like steals and a hollow batting average let me introduce you to Denard Span’s older step-brother, Ben Revere.