Fantasy Baseball 2023 Outfielder Preview: Top-12 rankings, sleepers and draft strategy
The 2023 collection of fantasy outfielders is not as deep as other groups that we have seen in recent years. But the value of this position continues to lie in its diversity. Whether managers need to fill out their roster with more power, speed or batting average, there is likely an outfielder at all points in the draft who fits the bill.
The outfield pool will also be impacted by the MLB rule changes as much as any offensive position. There are speedsters among this group who could run wild due to the increase in base size and restrictions on pickoff moves. And some sluggers could see their batting average rise thanks to the limitations on defensive shifts. Managers can expect this diverse group to be a tantalizing and constantly evolving position throughout the season.
As mentioned earlier, this year’s pool of outfielders is not as deep as groups that we have enjoyed in some previous years. The scarcity is especially relevant to those in roto leagues, as the need to start 3-5 outfielders depending on league settings means that managers must attack the position in regular intervals throughout their draft. Gone are the days when drafters could load up on a variety of outfield skill sets with their late-round picks. Managers in points leagues will have more freedom to wait on outfielders, as they are required to start just three of them, but they may still want to drive their offense by picking up some of the high-end talent at this position.
[Batter up: Join or create a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball league for free today]
The sheer number of outfielders makes dividing the position into tiers nearly impossible. Six players at this position (Ronald Acuña Jr., Aaron Judge, Julio Rodriguez, Kyle Tucker, Mookie Betts, Juan Soto) carry first-round ADPs, while Yordan Alvarez and Mike Trout come off the board in Round 2. Managers can’t go wrong by starting their draft with one of these surefire stars.
Among this group, Judge (Current ADP: 3.4), Soto (Current ADP: 10.4), Alvarez (Current ADP: 12.5) and Trout (Current ADP: 17.4) carry increased value in points leagues, as their high walk rates outweigh low steals totals in those formats. Meanwhile, Acuña (Current ADP 2.0), Rodriguez (Current ADP 5.1) and Tucker (Current ADP 8.0) have the diverse skill sets that roto managers covet.
Managers tend to veer away from the outfield pool in Rounds 3 and 4 before steadily attacking the position in the subsequent rounds. Roto managers who seek speedsters who are more than one-category assets should target the likes of Randy Arozarena (Current ADP: 44.8), Cedric Mullins (Current ADP: 52.8), Starling Marte (Current ADP: 60.9) and Adolis Garcia (Current ADP 70.6) during Rounds 5 and 6, while those who want power in any fantasy format should consider Kyle Schwarber (Current ADP: 46.7), Luis Robert (Current ADP: 47.5) and Teoscar Hernandez (Current ADP: 63.4). In this writer’s opinion, Schwarber, Robert and Mullins are the top options in this tier.
The third tier takes us into the middle rounds of fantasy drafts and is full of high-variance options. Players such as Eloy Jimenez (Current ADP: 82.1), Byron Buxton (Current ADP: 91.9), Bryce Harper (Current ADP: 106.5) and Giancarlo Stanton (Current ADP: 113.0) are either currently injured (Harper) have or a lengthy history of ailments. This tier also includes players with tantalizing potential but limited resumes, such as Corbin Carroll (Current ADP: 86.9), Jake McCarthy (Current ADP: 113.0), MJ Melendez (Current ADP: 119.8), Seiya Suzuki (Current ADP: 119.7) and Steven Kwan (Current ADP: 122.3).
[2023 Fantasy Positional Previews: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP]
Finally, there are a handful of options who dominated in previous years before failing to meet expectations last season, including Bryan Reynolds (Current ADP: 91.9), Tyler O’Neill (Current ADP: 106.4), Nick Castellanos (Current ADP: 113.4) and Kris Bryant (Current ADP: 130.5).
Although this position isn’t flush with sleepers, there are a few players on the board around pick 150 or later who merit attention. Taylor Ward (Current ADP: 148.0) sandwiched a strong start and hot finish around some disappointing summer months that were likely impacted by lingering injuries. With improved health, he could take his game to another level. And although he doesn’t perfectly fit the description of a sleeper, Jeff McNeil (Current ADP: 172.0) is a terrific roto-league value pick who led the Majors in batting average a year ago.
[2023 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP]
As we dig deeper into the pool, Thairo Estrada (Current ADP: 200.2) is intriguing as a late-round option. The triple-position asset (2B/SS/OF) should provide one of the Majors' better steals totals and serviceable numbers in the other four standard categories. Lars Nootbaar (Current ADP: 206.6) is another late-round player to consider, as some of this industry’s best analysts have staked their reputation on the notion that he could enjoy a massive breakout in his age-25 season.
Finally, managers who are looking for an endgame sleeper should become familiar with Masataka Yoshida (Current ADP: 216.5), who joins the Red Sox after a successful career in Japan. The 29-year-old logged a lifetime .419 OBP overseas and is currently receiving strong consideration to hit out of the leadoff spot.
Top-12 Outfielders (as of Feb. 23)
1. Ronald Acuña Jr.
2. Aaron Judge
3. Julio Rodriguez
4. Kyle Tucker
5. Yordan Alvarez
6. Juan Soto
7. Mookie Betts
8. Mike Trout
9. Michael Harris II
10. Cedric Mullins
11. Luis Robert
12. Kyle Schwarber