You remember back to March when I gave away all my position player rankings for free, right? For those of you who want to revisit my greatest hits, here’s where you would go to get all my rankings for hitters – 2011: BBGuys Hitter Capsules.
I’ll review my top-10 predictions at each position as well as point out my biggest “hit” outside of the top-10 and my biggest “bust.”
2011 OUTFIELD Top-20
1 Ryan Braun
2 Carl Crawford
3 Matt Holliday
4 Carlos Gonzalez
5 Nelson Cruz
6 Josh Hamilton
7 Matt Kemp
8 Andrew McCutchen
9 Shin-Soo Choo
10 Jason Heyward
11 Alex Rios
12 Justin Upton
13 Andre Ethier
14 Hunter Pence
15 B.J. Upton
16 Ichiro Suzuki
17 Jayson Werth
18 Jay Bruce
19 Shane Victorino
20 Chris Young
Braun was amazing in 2011. You can read all about that in Braun: Best of the Bunch.
Crawford was a disaster in 2011. You can read all about that in Carl Crawford: Total Failure.
Holliday had all kinds of issue this year (appendicitis, a quad, a finger, a bug in his ear), and in the end it hindered his performance. Holliday still was productive hitting .296 with a .912 OPS, and his pace over 550 at-bats would have equated to 27 homers, 92 RBI and 102 runs scored. Too bad he appeared in just 124 games.
Gonzalez was injured multiple times, but don’t let that fool you, he still had a fine fantasy season (.295-26-92-92-20 in 481 ABs) even if it failed to live up to his unrepeatable 2010 effort (.336-34-117-11-26 in 587 ABs). There are few better five category options in the game.
Cruz has been killing it in the playoffs, a sure sign that if he could ever stay healthy he’d produce a truly special season. Cruz had 29 homers and 87 RBI during the year, but with 475 at-bats he failed yet again to stay healthy long enough to post his first 500 at-bat season.
Hamilton was injured, again (what a shock), as he appeared in just 121 games. However, whenever he was on the field he was darn productive as he hit .298 with 25 homers, 94 RBI, 80 runs scored and eight steals.
Kemp was the best player in fantasy baseball in 2011. Kemp finished one homer short of going 40/40 as he hit .324 with 126 RBI and 115 runs scored. Kemp led the NL in homers and RBI, and finished just .013 points behind Jose Reyes to fall just short of the Triple Crown.
McCutchen was everything that was advertised for the Pirates going 20/20 (23 homers, 23 steals), scoring 87 runs and knocking in a career best 89. His average dipped from the .280s to just .259, but that number figures to rise in 2012.
Choo was injured multiple times resulting in a season of just 85 games. After hitting .300 the last two years, his .259 average was a major disappointment, and his .344 OBP was a career worst as well. He’s still got the skills to be a top-20 outfielder, but he’ll need health to prove it.
Heyward fell so far this season (.227-14-42-50-9), that even people in keeper leagues are worried about his long term value. Immensely talented, no so quiet whispers pen him as “soft.” After an impressive rookie season and a second year flop, there may be no one in the game with more to prove.
Rios was an abject failure hitting .227 with 13 homers, 44 RBI, 64 runs scored and 11 steals. How bad were things? His .265 OBP was .010 points below his career batting average. Too talented to do this again, his BABIP (.237 versus a career .306 mark) should rebound next season, so don’t overlook him on draft day 2012.
Upton had another outstanding season for the D’backs. He posted his second 20/20 season with a career best 31 homers and 21 steals, and he also scored a career-high 105 runs. Throw in that .289 average and .898 OPS and we have an excellent all-around performer who just might be able to take his game up another notch.
Ethier hit .292 with a .368 OBP, right on his career averages (.291 and .364). Unfortunately, he hit a meager 11 homers, knocked in only 62 runs and scored just 67 times. There’s no way of sugarcoating what was a poor season made even worse by how well it started out (he hit .380 over his first 28 games).
Pence ended the year with the Phillies after getting out of the exile that was playing for the Astros. All told he had yet another, well, Pence like season resulting in 22 homers, 97 RBI, 84 runs, eight steals an a .314 average. The average an RBI marks were career bests for the ultra consistent performer.
Upton had another up and down effort for the Rays as he hit a mere .243 with a third straight season of 150+ Ks. However, he also was one homer and one RBI off his career bests (he hit 23 bombs with 81 RBIs), scored 82 runs and swiped 36 bases. He was one of the more productive outfielders in baseball if you could look past the batting average.
Suzuki finally lost it, and by “it” I don’t mean his virginity, I mean his streak of hitting .300 with 200 hits as he batted .272 with 184 hits to end his 10-year run. He still offered production with 80 runs and 40 steals, but given the cost it took to acquire him on draft day he was a substantial disappointment.
Werth was always going to lose some of his production moving from a great park with a great lineup in Philly, but he really stunk it up in certain respects in 2011. It’s fair to say he had some value, he was only one steal short of a 20/20 effort, but he hit .232, posted a 7-year low in OBP (.330) and only drove in 58 runs after averaging 92 the previous two seasons.
Bruce hit an impressive 32 homers, fell just three RBI short of his first 100 RBI campaign, and scored a career best 84 runs. Still, he was wildly inconsistent driving his owners mad (.342-12-33 in May, .241-11-40 over his last 69 games).
Victorino just goes out and gets it done year after year. He hit .279, spot on his career mark, and for the fourth straight year scored at least 84 runs (he had 95) while he hit 17 homers (one off his career best), and stole 19 bags (though that was a 5-year low).
Young hit an awful .236 including a stupefyingly low .193 in the second half, but the guy still did his best Mike Cameron impersonation with 20 homers, 71 RBI, 89 runs scored and 22 steals.
Busts: Carl Crawford #2, Shin-Soo Choo #9, Jason Heyward #10, Alex Rios #11, Andre Ethier #13, Ichiro Suzuki #16, Jayson Werth #17
There were so many busts in the outfield, I’m not even gonna list any “hits.”
By Ray Flowers