The thing about outfield in Fantasy is, there's no one right way to approach it. If I tried to tell you what my approach to the position is, I would have to update it after every draft. Sometimes, I've filled out all three outfield spots in a H2H league in the first four rounds; sometimes, I get to Round 10 and I've got one outfielder in a Rotisserie league. I typically don't go into drafts with any specific position strategy, but that is especially true at outfield.
That's just the nature of the position. It's got star power at the top, with Mike Trout, Christian Yelich, Ronald Acuna, Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts, all of whom are five-category studs who could reasonable finish as the No. 1 player in the game.
However, if you want to fill in your infield and rotation first, there are plenty of great players with huge potential after pick 100. Ramon Laureano, Andrew Benintendi, Danny Santana, Tommy Edman, and Kyle Tucker can all give you five-category contributions; Michael Conforto, Max Kepler, Franmil Reyes, Kyle Schwarber, Hunter Dozier, and Justin Upton can give you 35-plus homer power; Oscar Mercado, Mallex Smith, Byron Buxton, and Garrett Hampson can all give you tons of steals; and then you have the likes of Michael Brantley, Bryan Reynolds, Alex Verdugo and Luis Arraez who can give you a big boost in average. Each of those players are available after pick 100, and they can all be incredibly helpful for your Fantasy team.
Which is why you don't really have to have a single strategy. If the elite outfielders are there when you're picking early, take them; if the best options aren't from the outfield early, snag your favorite values in the mid-to-late rounds. There's no wrong approach.
Ronald Acuna CF
ATL Atlanta • #13 • Age: 22
You're going to see Acuña go first overall in many leagues, and it's hard to make a case against it. He led the NL in steals and probably would have been the first player since 2006 with 40 steals and 40 homers if he had hit leadoff from Opening Day — he had just two steals on May 9 when he moved back to the top of the order. And he's only 22, so he could conceivably get better.
Mike Trout CF
LAA L.A. Angels • #27 • Age: 28
Trout doesn't actual finish as the No. 1 player in Fantasy all that often, but it's more rare that any other player finishes ahead of him multiple years in a row. If you want to poke a hole in his profile, the 11 steals last season were his lowest since 2015. Of course, he followed that up with 30 steals the following season. Bet against Trout at your own peril.
MIL Milwaukee • #22 • Age: 28
Of course, we have here a player who actually has finished ahead of Trout in consecutive seasons, if just barely. If Yelich wasn't coming off a season-ending knee injury, he'd be a fine choice for the No. 1 overall pick — he led the NL in average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and was just three homers and four steals from the league lead in both.
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #35 • Age: 24
If Bellinger can sustain the contact gains he made last season, he's a legitimate five-category stud and a contender for the No. 1 pick for the next half-decade, at least. It was such an incredible improvement that a bit of skepticism is warranted, but don't let his second-half letdown scare you off because he still kept most of the gains.
Mookie Betts CF
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #50 • Age: 27
On the one hand, a down season for Mookie Betts looks something like his 2019, which is pretty great. On the other hand, that's the second time in three seasons he been a significant disappointment. That says how high expectations have grown for Betts, as well as how high the floor is.
Juan Soto LF
WAS Washington • #22 • Age: 21
How young is Soto? He couldn't drink champagne until the Nationals' World Series win last season — he was still 20 when they won the NLCS. He elevated the ball more in his second season while maintaining his preternatural strike-zone control, and there's every reason to think he has a .300, 40-homer season coming soon.
BOS Boston • #28 • Age: 32
Like his former teammate Betts, the term "down season" is a relative one with regards to Martinez. He still hit .300 for the fourth season in a row and was a strong four-category contributor. Martinez also hit for more power in the second half, so concerns about his decline may be unfounded.
COL Colorado • #19 • Age: 34
Too often when older players have a down year, the tendency is to write them off, but Blackmon showed why that isn't a great idea in 2019. The decline to just two stolen bases is a sign that part of his game might be gone for good as he gets closes to his mid-30s, but as long as he played half his games in Coors Field, Blackmon remains an elite hitter.
ARI Arizona • #2 • Age: 31
At 31, Marte is probably a bit older than you think. Still, there aren't many 20-20 guys out there, and he's one of them — the move to a better park and lineup in Arizona should help him stave off the effects of aging.
Bryce Harper RF
PHI Philadelphia • #33 • Age: 27
We've seen how high the ceiling is in both in 2015 and 2017 for Harper, which makes the struggles all the more frustrating. However, Harper had 19 homers and 10 steals in just 67 games after the All-Star break last season, so he's closer to getting back to that level than you might think.
Ketel Marte CF
ARI Arizona • #4 • Age: 26
It took a year for Marte's swing change to stick, but he had actually flashed plus power before, so his 2019 wasn't as out of nowhere as it might seem on the surface. He combines plus contact ability with a consistent swing that maximizes the power he does generate, and he'll steal a few bases, to boot.
HOU Houston • #4 • Age: 30
2019 was about as close as Springer has ever come to living up to the enormous expectations he carried with him as a prospect, so of course an injury limited him to just 122 games. The Astros should once again have one of the best lineups in baseball, so expect him to dominate counting stats, even if he can't sustain the near-50 homer pace he had in 2019.
TB Tampa Bay • #17 • Age: 25
Meadows has long been one of those guys the scouts liked more than the numbers, so chalk one up for the eye test. There's 20-steal upside here, too.
Aaron Judge RF
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #99 • Age: 28
Judge hasn't been able to stay healthy since his incredible rookie season, but has still hit .276 with 41 homers, 93 RBI, 116 runs and seven stolen bases per-162 games over the past two years. If he just plays a full season, you're going to get a great return on investment here — though the lingering rib injury that still hasn't fully healed by the beginning of June remains a serious concern.
WAS Washington • #16 • Age: 23
You might scoff at Robles being ranked this high, but that's how valuable speed is in Fantasy in 2020. He'll need to take a step forward as a hitter to be much of a value at his going rate, but, as with Meadows, this could be a spot where buying the pedigree and scouting reports pays off in a big way.
KC Kansas City • #15 • Age: 31
If Merrifield doesn't start running more, he's still a valuable Fantasy option with one of the highest batting average floors in the game. But the stolen bases will be what make him a value or not on Draft Day.
Sure to be a controversial player, the metrics mostly back up Soler's breakout. Health has been a significant issue for Soler in his past, and might be just as big a question mark as his ability to make consistent contact.
Kris Bryant 3B
CHC Chi. Cubs • #17 • Age: 28
If Bryant feels a bit underwhelming at this point in his career, it speaks to how high expectations have been set for him. A Springer-esque mid-career breakout isn't out of the question, but if 2019 is all he is, that's still a super valuable player.
Tommy Pham LF
SD San Diego • #28 • Age: 32
Because he didn't really get a chance until he was 29, Pham is older than you might think. However, he's an on-base whiz and one of the few players you can project for 20-20, health willing.
Eloy Jimenez LF
CHW Chi. White Sox • #74 • Age: 23
Jimenez didn't quite live up to expectations until a big finishing kick to the season, and the hope here is he can build off that. It's worth noting, there is a bigger gap between where Scott White ranks Jimenez (28th) vs. where Frank Stampfl (14th) does than any other player in the top-24.
Jeff McNeil 3B
NYM N.Y. Mets • #6 • Age: 28
A throwback player, McNeil's all-contact approach has generated more pop than expected thanks to the juiced ball. The contact skills will always play, giving him a high floor and triple eligibility at third, second and the outfield.
Joey Gallo CF
TEX Texas • #13 • Age: 26
If you buy Gallo's increase in batting average, he's a bargain at his 2020 price. An increase in line-drive rate should help him sustain a higher BABIP, but the margin for error is razor slim with a 38.4% strikeout rate.
MIN Minnesota • #20 • Age: 28
Rosario isn't going to be someone you reach for to fill an outfield spot, but he'll be a solid option for high-20s to low-30s homers and plenty of runs and RBI in arguably the deepest lineup in baseball.
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #27 • Age: 30
You want upside? Stanton's your guy. His 2019 was an absolutely lost season due to injury, but he missed just seven games in the previous two seasons, clubbing 97 homers between them. A calf injury in the spring looked like another harbinger of bad things to come, but he reportedly would have been ready for Opening Day, so hopefully it was just a minor speed bump on his way back to the top of the outfield ranks.
Don't forget about ...
BOS Boston • #16 • Age: 26
This time a year ago, Benintendi was being drafted as a top-12 outfielder, but now he's barely in the top 24. I love buying low on players in situations like that, and I'd bet on the batting average bouncing back, even if I don't see the superstar potential in Benintendi many have in the past.
ATL Atlanta • #20 • Age: 29
Ozuna has underperformed his expected wOBA per Statcast tracking data, so it's probably not just bad luck. Still, if all he does is repeats 2019, that's a bargain at his current price outside of the top 100 in ADP. The floor is pretty high, and if he has another season like 2017, there's top-12 upside.
CIN Cincinnati • #2 • Age: 28
Another guy who consistently underperformed his underlying batted ball metrics for years, Castellanos got out of Comerica Park and turned into an absolute stud, hitting .321/.356/.646 in 51 games with the Cubs. The bat has to play up for Castellanos to be a high-level Fantasy option because he doesn't run, but if what we saw post-trade was real, it won't matter.
Mallex Smith CF
SEA Seattle • Age: 27
Smith managed to lead the majors in stolen bases despite hitting just .227 and earning a trip back to Triple-A. The strikeout rate spiked, so it wasn't just bad luck, but if he does something closer to his career .259 average, there's value there.
Byron Buxton CF
MIN Minnesota • #25 • Age: 26
Buxton is, somehow, still just 26 years old, less than a year older than NL Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso. Injuries remain a real issue, and they limited him to just 87 games in 2019, but he finally started to look more like the guy we've been hoping for, putting together something close to a 20-homer, 30-steal pace.
Outfield Sleeper, Breakout & Bust
Wil Myers LF
SD San Diego • #4 • Age: 29
With no trade materializing and the Padres expected to have a DH spot to play with, Myers may be one of the biggest winners from the delayed season. At this point, Myers might be a Better In Fantasy Than Real Life All-Star — hence why the Padres tried to trade him — so the hope here is he can get everyday playing time in San Diego. There's still an intriguing skill set here, as he showed in 2019 by hitting 18 homers and stealing 16 bases in just 490 plate appearances. Pro-rate that to a full-time role, and it's not hard to see Myers getting back to that 30-homers, 20-steal pace he managed in 2016 and 2017. There aren't many 20-steal threats out there, let alone ones with 30-homer potential available in the late rounds. Bet on a bounce back, especially with the potential for the universal DH opening up a spot in the every day lineup.
CLE Cleveland • #32 • Age: 25
There aren't many players who hit the ball hard more consistently than Reyes; in fact, in 2019, only three players had a higher average exit velocity than Reyes, and only six had a higher hard-hit rate. Reyes could probably stand to raise his launch angle a few ticks to take better advantage of his raw power, however all signs indicate he is one of the premiere power hitters in the game. And as good as his 2019, I think even better things are coming in 2020. He'll have a consistent spot in a good lineup and park, and should have better luck on balls in play after running a .279 BABIP in 2019. Don't be surprised if Reyes hits .275 with 40 homers this year.
Sometimes, it just takes a while for everything to come together. Soler showed signs of improvement in 2018, when he cut his strikeout rate to 26.8%, but struggled to stay healthy enough for it to matter, ultimately playing just 61 games. However, he stayed healthy and sustained those contact gains in 2019 and more than doubled his career home run total as a result. He clubbed 48 homers, and there wasn't much fluke-ish about it; he ranked in the 95th percentile or better in barrel rate, average exit velocity, hard-hit rate, and expected wOBA, per BaseballSavant.com's Statcast data. The problem? You're paying close to full price for his 2019 breakout this season. Reyes profiles similarly at a significant discount, as does Khris Davis, whose 2018 wasn't much worse than Soler's 2019. Davis is coming off the board nearly 100 picks later, and if I'm looking to invest in an all-or-nothing power hitter, I'll go with the guy with the longer track record who comes much cheaper.
Outfield Top Prospects
1. Luis Robert, White Sox
Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2019: high Class A, Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .328 BA (503 AB), 32 HR, 36 SB, 1.001 OPS, 28 BB, 129 K
There was a temptation to write off Robert after he failed to hit even a single home run during an injury-plagued 2018, but the steadfast were rewarded with a breakout season in which he positioned himself as a Rotisserie darling -- one who surely would have gotten a late-season look for a more competitive team. He's not the perfect prospect, coming up short in the plate discipline department, but his tools are so loud that you can be sure he'll impact the game in some way.
Age (on opening day): 20
Where he played in 2019: high Class A, Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .289 BA (305 AB), 10 HR, 7 SB, .834 OPS, 30 BB, 94 K
The tools for Adell aren't so different from Robert, namely the top-of-the-line bat speed that translates to high exit velocity to all fields, but he has yet to actualize them in the same way. A 2020 impact is less than assured after his 2019 ended with him failing to homer across 121 at-bats in the outrageously hitter-friendly PCL, but when he does heat up at Triple-A, there won't be any holding him back.
3. Alex Kirilloff, Twins
Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2019: Double-A
Minor-league stats: .283 BA (375 AB), 9 HR, 18 2B, .756 OPS, 29 BB, 76 K
Fresh off a breakthrough 2018 that saw him hit .348 with 20 homers, 44 doubles and a .970 OPS across two levels, Kirilloff disappointed with his move up to Double-A. But considering he missed all of April with a wrist injury that also cost him time in June, it's fair to assume he wasn't playing at 100 percent. He recovered to hit five home runs in August and still possesses a kind of innate hitting ability that has invited comparisons to Christian Yelich.
Age (on opening day): 20
Where he played in 2019: low Class A, high Class A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: .291 BA (443 AB), 23 HR, 20 SB, .904 OPS, 50 BB, 111 K
Though he's only 20, Kelenic stands out most for his polish, demonstrating an ability to work the count, a willingness to go with the pitch and a comfort level against same-handed pitchers. It's why he was able to move up two levels, showing enough power at every stop to cement himself as one of the game's elite prospects and most certainly the biggest asset in the deal that brought Edwin Diaz to the Mets last offseason.
Age (on opening day): 21
Where he played in 2019: Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .292 BA (489 AB), 26 HR, 20 SB, .914 OPS, 58 BB, 116 K
Some aggressive assignments early in his professional career kept this switch-hitter's numbers down and prospect profile low, but improved production from the left side led to a massive breakthrough in 2019 -- one that got bigger and bigger as the season went on. Of particular note was the .306 batting average, 15 homers, nine steals and .989 OPS over Carlson's final 209 at-bats, and most of that came before he got a whiff of the juiced ball-infused PCL.
So which sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which undervalued first baseman can help you win a championship? Visit SportsLine now to get rankings for every single position, all from the model that called Kenta Maeda's huge breakout last season, and find out.