Check the Position: Left Field

Over the offseason we’ll take a look at each position on the diamond and see how the past season affected the positional rankings and where there might be some potential bounceback value picks going into next year’s drafts. (See shortstops, catchers, second basemen, first basemen, and third basemen.)

These rankings are for 5×5 rotisserie fantasy baseball. Eligibility was determined by where the player had the most at-bats last year.

Left Fielders

Ryan Braun is in a league of his own. With his massive power, speed and plus batting averages, he’s the young Alex Rodriguez of the outfield.

That said, the second tier offers some nice talent and I’m sure some will feel that the first tier could be expanded. Carl Crawford matched his best two seasons with another .300/15/60 effort, and at 28 there’s no real reason to predict a downfall next year. If you’d like your speedster to come with a few home runs, he’s one of probably two players in the league capable of putting up 15 home runs alongside 55+ stolen bases. Matt Holliday is sort of a Braun-lite, but if the stars aligned, his power could surge and make them practically indistinguishable for fantasy purposes.

That’s where the arguments should end. Jason Bay is on the way down along with his batting average, and even with his nice power and a sprinkling of stolen bases, he’s no first-tier player. Manny Ramirez just won’t play enough games next year, shold be on the way down just because of his age (37), and now has the PED question mark. Adam Lind may someday be in the conversation for the first tier, but the power currently has too many question marks (+.100 ISO from 2008-2009).

The third tier is the value tier. The best tiers are the ones where up-and-coming youngsters share space with declining veterans because one or the other is sure to be over- or under-valued in a given league. Does your tier value veterans too highly? Let them have Carlos Lee and his waning power and speed. Someone sure that Alfonso Soriano will rediscover his mojo? Pick the surging Nolan Reimold for his power and enjoy his surprising speed many rounds later. Even Johnny Damon’s metronome-like 20/20-ish production deserves a look here. Given all of these options, it does look like Raul Ibanez won’t be on many of my teams next year. Not when I can possibly get more power from Carlos Quentin later on.

The last tier reminds us why we don’t pick outfielders too early. The final grouping boasts a player that could steal 40+ bases with a starting job in Julio Borbon, and a trio of sluggers that are likely to hit between 25-30 home runs in Matt LaPorta, Juan Rivera and Josh Willingham. Even the just-off candidates are interesting. If Seth Smith gets a starting job, he rockets up the list with .300/25/10 potential. Travis Snider is battling some strikeout issues at the major league level and doesn’t have a guaranteed job coming out of spring training, but deserves a mention because of his minor league numbers (1.094 OPS in AAA last year) and age (21).

One thing is clear when looking at the left fielders in 2010: Unless you’re getting Braun (or maybe Crawford), it’s wise to wait.

We hoped you liked reading Check the Position: Left Field by Eno Sarris!

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With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.

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Big Oil
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Big Oil

Chickity-check yourself before your wriggty-wreck yourself Sarris:

Seth Smith has .300/25/100 I’m guessing is what you meant, unless you’re substituting sb’s.