2023 Fantasy Baseball Outfield Preview

by Mike Schneider
2023 Fantasy Baseball Outfield Preview

Welcome to the 2023 Fantasy Baseball Outfield Preview!

If you haven't checked out the rest of our coverage yet, be sure to catch up on our catcher preview, first base preview and second base preview.

When the writers at Fantasy Six Pack conducted a mock draft back in November, nearly everyone commented that they were surprised at how quickly it appeared that all the decent outfielders were taken and that they were left with poor options to fill out the outfield toward the end of the draft.

2023 Fantasy Baseball Outfield Preview

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Outfield Scarcity

The strategy for drafting outfielders can vary greatly based on the league specifics. In a shallow league with just three starting outfielders, waiting to draft outfielders is a viable strategy. However, in a deep five outfielder league, if you wait too long on outfielders, there is the potential to be stuck starting outfielders who are not playing every day or who are just not productive.

In a fifteen-team league with five starting outfielders, that means that there are 75 starting outfielders and that is not counting there are going to be injuries.

In a draft-and-hold league such as the NFBC Draft Champions, it is ideal to have eight players on a team with outfield eligibility that are anticipated to get at least 400 plate appearances. In this type of league, losing plate appearances because you are forced to start players who are not playing regularly is a big issue.

Below is the 61 to 100 ranked outfielder based on average draft position so far this year. There are a lot of players on this list that I do not want to be counting on to have regular roles in my lineup.

RankPlayerTeamPosition(s)ADPMin PickMax Pick
61Myers, WilCIN1B, OF258.86179330
62Hays, AustinBALOF271.47202337
63Meadows, AustinDETOF274.02218323
64Mancini, TreyCHC1B, OF274.95178340
65Winker, JesseMLWOF276.09222324
66Gordon, NickMIN2B, OF281.28219338
67Thomas, LaneWASOF285.67215343
68Blackmon, CharlieCOLOF291.4223333
69Marsh, BrandonPHIOF291.6244357
70Soler, JorgeMIAOF295.98233381
71Yepez, JuanSTLOF301.05225369
72Mitchell, GarrettMLWOF302.56246370
73Kelenic, JarredSEAOF311.09229385
74Fraley, JakeCINOF312.58249418
75Ozuna, MarcellATLOF328.07230382
76Grisham, TrentSDOF328.47262380
77Donovan, BrendanSTL2B, 3B, OF329197345
78Margot, ManuelTBOF329.23239396
79Siri, JoseTBOF331.79258417
80Carlson, DylanSTLOF333.23245386
81Taylor, ChrisLAD2B, OF340.12226356
82Cabrera, OswaldoNYYOF351.91239384
83Garcia, AvisailMIAOF360.02280418
84Canha, MarkNYMOF360.95203384
85Colas, OscarCWSOF373.56261446
86Yastrzemski, MikeSFOF400.67294427
87Kirilloff, AlexMINOF401.14283416
88Kepler, MaxMINOF405.16279428
89Brantley, MichaelHOUOF412.14291433
90Ramirez, HaroldTB1B, OF414.74247427
91Thompson, BubbaTEXOF420.47236516
92Hernandez, EnriqueBOSOF425.67302478
93Gallo, JoeyMINOF426.21264471
94McCutchen, AndrewPITOF444.77295494
95Olivares, EdwardKCOF447.4314409
96Profar, JuricksonSDOF448.33298481
97Taveras, LeodyTEXOF457.16315447
98Pham, TommyNYMOF464.86286483
99Diaz, AledmysOAK2B, OF468.7335470
100Thompson, TrayceLADOF471.3235502

A strategy that I like this year is to draft Fernando Tatis Jr.(Padres ADP 20) or Jazz Chisholm (Marlin ADP 48). Tatis has outfield eligibility and should be healthy when he is eligible to return in late April. Chisholm will play in the outfield regularly for the Marlins so he should be eligible in the outfield by the end of April in all leagues.

In a Draft Champions League (15-team 50-round draft and hold) a build that I like this year is to draft Tatis and then take another shortstop with a top 100 pick such as Wander Franco or Xander Bogaerts.  I will then look to add a shortstop like JP Crawford (ADP 547) late. Crawford is nothing special but at his value, getting someone who has a safe regular role is nice. During the season this will allow me the flexibility to play Tatis in the outfield or middle infield based on need.

In addition, Harold Ramírez, (Rays ADP 502), Chris Taylor (Dodgers ADP 365) and Aledmys Díaz (Athletics 560) are three late-round options with both infield and outfield eligibility who I have been drafting this year to help with outfield depth.

Would You Rather Draft Mike Trout At 22 Or Giancarlo Stanton At 146?

At this point in their careers, both Trout and Stanton provide a ton of power and both have major injury concerns.

After being limited to 36 games in 2021, Trout played in 119 games in 2022 in which he hit 39 homers. He has stolen a total of four bases in the last three years. Trout remains a terrific four-category player when he is on the field but he has a chronic back condition and it is difficult to count on Trout for more than 120 games a year.

There are a couple of items that stand out about Stanton’s 2022 season. One was that his BABIP of .237 was significantly lower than his career BABIP of .318. Despite the low BABAP, Stanton had 24 homers and 61 RBIs in 76 games thru July 16th. Stanton missed much of the second half of the season with an Achilles injury and really struggled when he did play. Stanton’s batting average should improve in 2023 and he still has elite power when healthy.

While I prefer Trout to Stanton, I think at their current ADP, Stanton offers much more value.

Are People Sleeping On The Return Of Michael Conforto & Austin Meadows?

Between 2017 and 2020, Michael Conforto played in 467 games (essentially three full seasons) and hit 97 homers with a 133 wRC+ and a .265/.369/.495 line. He was an unsexy but very consistent and solid outfielder in fantasy baseball. Conforto’s ADP was around 75 in 2021.

Conforto had a disappointing 2021 season where he missed some time early in the year with a hamstring injury and had an awful first half with just six homers and a .198 batting average in 69 games through July.  He was much better the remainder of the season with a 128 wRC+ and a strikeout rate under 20%.

After the 2021 season, Conforto was a free agent but hurt his shoulder working out in January, eventually having surgery and missed the entire 2022 season in which he remained unsigned. The Giants signed Conforto to a one-year, 18 million dollar contract in late December, Even with Conforto finally having a contract, his ADP since January 1st is just 232.43 as the 55h outfielder off the board.

Conforto turns 30 before the start of the season so he should still be in his prime.   San Francisco is not the greatest hitting environment but neither was Citi Field with the Mets.  Coming off the last two years and with just a one-year contract, Conforto will be plenty motivated to rebound.

I think Conforto is a great value and prefer Conforto to any outfielder going after pick 150.

After a strong season in 2019 in which he hit .291 with 33 homers and 12 stolen bases at age 24, Austin Meadows was a consensus top 50 draft pick in 2020.

The 2020 season was essentially a lost season for Meadows as he had COVID which limited him to 36 games in the shortened season and clearly impacted his performance when he did play (32.9% strikeout rate).

Meadow rebounded some in 2021 with 27 homers and 106 RBIs but his OPS declined from .922 in 2019 to .772 in 2021 and he only stole four bases.

After being traded to the Tigers, Meadow had another lost year in 2022. Meadow had a number of issues that limited him to just 36 games. He did hit any homers or stole any bases in 2022.

Heading into 2023 Meadows had an ADP of 273. For where he is going Meadows be a nice value if he is able to duplicate his 2021 season and a steal if somehow gets back to his 2019 level. While it is not a bad gamble at that price, I think there are considerably more questions about Meadows than there are about Conforto.

When To Draft Bryce Harper?

Technically Bryce Harper is not even outfield eligible after being limited to just eight games in the outfield in 2022 due to elbow and thumb injuries. However, since he has been an outfielder throughout his career and is expected to return to the outfield in the future, it is appropriate to discuss him here.

Harper had offseason Tommy John surgery on his elbow and will miss a chunk of the season. If Harper was fully healthy and outfield eligible he would likely have an ADP of around ten, Since signing with the Phillies before the 2020 season, Harper has been a model of consistency and can even be counted on to be in double figures in steals. The questions with Harper for 2023 are when he will be able to play and if the injury will impact on his production.

The 2022 regular season ended on October 5th. Of course, the Phillies went on a surprising playoff run before losing in the World Series. The last game of the World Series was November 5th. Harper underwent Tommy John surgery on November 23rd. Shohei Ohtani had Tommy John surgery on October 1, 2018 and returned as a DH on May 7th 2019.  Since Harper had his surgery about two months later in the calendar year, July 1st is like a best-case scenario for Harper.

Since December 15th, Harper’s ADP is 159. While Harper is a great player, there are too many questions regarding when he is going to play and if the surgery will impact his performance in 2023 to draft Harper at his ADP.  Harper is going at the same spot as solid fantasy players who are heading into the season fully healthy.

The other wrinkle with Harper is whether he will play the outfield in 2023.  At utility only, when Harper does play it limits flexibility.  A team cannot draft both Harper and Ohtani.

Which Power Speed Combo Should Be Drafted Highest?

Randy Arozarena (20 homers, 32 SBs), Cedric Mullins (16 homers, 34 SBs), Luis Robert (12 homers, 11 SBs) and Adolis García (27 homers, 25 SBs) are similar players whose average draft position is between 11th and 16th among outfielders.

Arozarena had the best year in 2022 and has the highest ADP at 40. It was only the second time in Arozarena’s professional career that he exceeded 20 stolen bases.   Arozarena played in a career-high 153 games in 2022 with 645 plate appearances. Yandy Diaz (558) was the only other Ray that exceed 500 plate appearances. While Arozarena got regular playing times, in 2022, I still have a concern that if his performance dips a bit, he could lose some playing time given the way the Rays operate. When drafting a player this high, you do not want to have any playing time concerns.

After Mullins spectacular 2021 breakout, he followed it up with a solid but not as great year in 2022. The lefthanded Mullins gave up switch-hitting prior to 2021. In 2021 Mullins had a 113 wRC+ against lefthanded pitching but in 2022 his wRC+ against lefthanders was just 66. There is some danger that Mullins loses some playing time in 2023 against some lefthanders if he does not improve. The 16 homers appear likely to be a more realistic target than the 30 he hit in 2021.

Luis Robert had much more prospect pedigree than the other.  He signed with the White Sox out of Cuba for $26 million dollars. After a spectacular 2019 minor league season at three levels, Robert was a top-ten prospect.  The big question with Luis Robert is his health.

After striking out 32.2% of the time in his rookie year in 2020, Robert has cut his strikeout rate to 20.8% over the last two years. In 166 games between 2021 and 2022, he has hit .307/.344/.485 with 25 homers and 17 stolen bases. Robert was limited to 18 games in the second half of 2022 and when he did play was bothered by a wrist injuty.

After striking out at a 31.2% clip in 2021 with 31 homers and 16 stolen bases, Adolis García was considered a likely bust candidate in 2022.  García’s 2022 ADP was after 150 due to questions regarding whether he would keep his everyday role.  However, in 2002 Garcia had 27 homers and 25 stolen bases while reducing his strikeout percentage to 27.9%.  Clearly, with an ADP about 100 picks earlier this year, than last year,  García has made a believer out of a lot of people.

In my opinion, Robert should be a significantly higher value than the other power, speed combos that are being drafted near him. In a 15-team league, Robert is a nice third-round pick.  People drafting Arozarena, Mullins or García are paying a significant price for their stolen bases.  As high as they are going, there are other players that can be picked that are safer and will be significantly more productive in the other four categories.

Players On The Rise

After eight years up and down with the Padres, Wil Myers (Reds ADP 443) signed a one-year contract with the Reds in December. He could not have ended in a better landing spot. Great American Ballpark is the second-best offensive park in baseball. As long as he stays healthy, Myers should be playing every day in the middle of the Reds lineup.

Don't expect that you will be able to get Myers anywhere near his ADP. As a result of signing with the Reds, Myers value has gone way up.  In January, Myer's ADP is 251.

In 2016 Myers had 28 homers and 28 stolen bases. He had an outstanding year in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season with 15 homers in just 55 games. Myers played every day and had a decent year (110 wRC+) in 2021 but missed about half the year in 2022 with a knee injury.

Brandon Drury was a minor league free agent in 2022, who made the Reds out of spring training and out of nowhere hit 20 homers in 92 games before being traded at the deadline.

I expect that Myers power will return and he might get to double figures in stolen bases. Even at his January ADP he is a nice value.

Joey Gallo (Twins ADP 479) is going to strikeout a ton and his batting average is going to be an issue but I think he is going way too low.  I expect Gallo to rebound back to the player he was with the Rangers. Sometimes players just cannot handle playing in New York.

In 2021, Gallo was hitting .223 with 25 homers and a 32.2 strikeout rate in 95 games before the Rangers traded him to the Yankees at the trade deadline. Gallo was with the Yankees from the 2021 trade deadline to the 2022 deadline. During the period with the Yankees, he had just a .159 batting average with a 38.7% strikeout rate.

The Twins are paying Gallo ten million dollars and he will begin the year as a regular. Even if he hit .200, he will provide some value with his power.

Players On The Decline

These are a couple of players that have mostly been disappointing the last three years but are still being drafted fairly high.

Christian Yelich (Brewers ADP 126) has been in the majors since he was 21 years old in 2013. 1n 2018 and 2019 he had a couple of monster years where he was as good as any offensive player in baseball.  Outside of those two years, his career high in homers and stolen bases is 21.

Yelich managed to stay healthy in 2022 and played in 154 games and was much better than he was in 2020 and 2021.  Yelich hit .254 with 14 homers and 19 stolen bases. With his history of back issues, Yelich is not a good bet to stay fully healthy again and after three years it is clear that he is not the same player he was during his first two years with the Brewers.

Ramón Laureano (Oakland ADP 218 )has never played more than 123 games in a year and served an 80 games suspension for a PED violation in 2021 and 2022. Over the three years, Laureano has played in 236 games and has a .225/.310/.400 slash line with 33 homers and 25 stolen bases. He is in a bad-hitting ballpark on a team that will struggle to score runs. There are other outfielders in the same tier or below that appear to be best options in 2023 such as Lourdes Gurriel Jr.,  Andrew Benintendi and Michael Conforto due to being in better situations and being safer.

Players On The Horizon

Riley Greene (Tigers ADP 197) was my top prospect in baseball heading into 2022. Greene missed more than the first two months of the season in 2022 with a broken foot.  The Tigers called Greene up to the majors after just 15 games at AAA in 2022 which was essentially a rehab assignment.

Greene did not stand out in 2022. In 93 games, Greene hit only five homers with one stolen base.  He had just a .109 ISO and was caught stealing four times. When a player comes back from an injury, it can take some time to get going especially when he is in the majors for the first time.

Green is not likely to be a fantasy superstar but I think he is a much better player than he showed in 2022.  I think Greene will eventually settle in as a .280 plus hitter with 20 homers and double-figure steals.

With a quiet, healthy offseason, I believe that Green should be a nice value in 2022.

I see similarities between Akil Baddoo (Tigers ADP 579) and Andrés Giménez. After some surprising success in 2020, Giménez was a buzzy pick in 2021. He was a disappointment and quickly was sent down to minors. Giménez improved in the minors and rebounded with a very good year in 2022 with a .297 batting average, 17 homers and 20 steals.

Baddoo perhaps played over his head in 2021 as a Rule Five pick for the Tigers who had not previously played above High A. On the basis of his 112 OPS+ in 2021, Baddoo was a trendy 2022 pick. He is basically only relevant in deep draft and hold leagues for 2023 but is a nice gamble at his price

Baddoo struggled in 2022 with injuries and getting regular playing time. He did play very well at AAA with a 142 wRC+ in 30 games. The Tigers have openings in their outfield. Baddoo has a nice combination of patience, speed with a bit of power.

Like Giménez in 2021, Baddoo was still developing in 2022 and the hype may be a year too early.

Players To Avoid

I like both Michael Harris (Braves ADP 28) and Corbin Carroll ( Diamondbacks ADP 73) but not at their current ADP which does not allow for any growing pains.

Michael Harris won a lot of fantasy leagues for people in 2022. He went from having a 114 wRC+ in 2021 at High A in 101 games to 136 wRC+ in the major leagues a year later in 114 games.

Looking at Harris' Statcast page a couple of items stand out. He is an elite defensive centerfielder which makes his even more valuable in real life but does not really help his fantasy value.  The success that Harris had in 2022  was despite having below-average command of the strike zone and contact issues.

Harris is a very good player who has a chance to be a superstar in the future if he continues to get better. However, for 2023 I think some regression is likely and his ADP does not reflect that.

Coming into 2022, Corbin Carroll had played just 49 professional games of which only seven were in full-season ball. After the 2020 minor league was canceled due to the pandemic, Carroll injured his shoulder early in 2021 and only played seven games.

In 2022 Caroll dominated AA Amarillo and AAA Reno before debuting with the Diamondbacks in September. It was an extremely impressive season but it is important to keep in mind that Amarillo and Reno are extremely friendly hitting environments.

I believe that Carroll may be a year away from being a huge fantasy asset.

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