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2014 Fantasy Baseball Position Battles -- Crowded Outfields

A look at all the position battles fantasy baseball owners will see during 2014 spring training

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As we’ve seen through some of these position battle pieces, sometimes the situation isn’t so cut and dry. It’s not just two guys battling for playing time at a particular position where one wins and the other heads to the bench or lands back in Triple-A. Sometimes the team has multiple guys who are all fully capable of handling the workload of a full season and the team has to find some sort of rotation that not only maximizes both offensively and defensively, but that it also keeps the players happy enough to avoid any malcontents in the clubhouse. But unless the team opts to trade one or two of its players, the manager is forced to juggle players around and you, as a fantasy owner, have to find the right players to use to maximize production for your team. A daunting task indeed, but certainly not impossible.

Here are a couple of situations to monitor as we gear up for some spring games:

New York Yankees Outfield

With a cannonball-like leap into the free agent pool this winter, the Yankees came away with Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, adding them to an outfield crew that already had Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki and Alfonso Soriano. Fortunately, this is the American League and the DH spot is in play here, but that’s still five players for four spots. Someone is going to be relegated to bench duty though as the Yankees were unsuccessful at trading Ichiro over the winter and they refused to let go of Gardner.

So let’s just start with the fact that both Beltran and Ellsbury have outfield spots locked up already. They didn’t give Ellsbury a seven-year deal for $153M to rotate him around. So long as he is healthy, he’ll be patrolling center field and batting leadoff. Beltran has right field all to himself, however, given his age (37-years old), there is a good chance that he may have to get a little time off from the outfield every now and again. He didn’t really need it so much while he was with the Cardinals, but with a DH spot, they can still keep his bat in the lineup and rest his weary legs at the same time.

Gardner has also apparently been promised that he will remain in the outfield. Smart move considering his range and defensive prowess over that of nearly all the other candidates. He’ll patrol left field this season, but unfortunately, will be relegated to the bottom of the lineup. He should still be able to nab his 30-odd stolen bases, but the opportunities might not be as golden as they would have been had he remained in the leadoff spot.

So that leaves Soriano and Ichiro…sort of.

Soriano, given the power potential, figures to spend the majority of his time as the team’s primary DH, while Ichiro seems destined for the role of fourth outfielder. Again, that’s not to say that they won’t get their time in the outfield, but their primary job seems pretty well-defined here. Will Soriano play left if/when Gardner needs a breather? Sure. Will Ichiro end up in right field when Beltran needs his rest? Of course. But for the sake of you figuring out who is the best and worst choice for fantasy, it would appear that a declining, 40-year old Ichiro is getting the short-end of the stick.

Manager Joe Girardi will likely try to employ some sort of rotation early on based on lefty-righty match-ups, but in the end, he has to go with his most productive lineup and that, unfortunately does not include Ichiro whose numbers have been in a steady free-fall over the last three seasons. Still, the team is going to have to do something to ensure his happiness. After all, with Masahiro Tanaka joining the team this year, there needs to be a smooth and welcoming transition for him and Ichiro should prove to be a very big part of that.


Searching for answer for the 2014 fantasy baseball season? Turn to a trusted source to enlighten you – Fantasy Alarm – and pick up your very own copy of the 2014 Fantasy Alarm Baseball Draft Guide. After reading the 200 pages of information you will be ready to dominate the competition in the coming season on your way to a fantasy baseball championship.

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Los Angeles Dodgers Outfield

The 2013 breakout of Yasiel Puig combined with the decline of those usually occupying the Dodgers’ outfield has created a bit of a logjam to open the 2014 season. Current injuries aside, we are looking at Matt Kemp in center, Puig in right and Carl Crawford in left. That leaves Andre Ethier on the outside looking in. However, just because that’s the blueprint, doesn’t mean that it will unfold that way all season. They’d like it to, but there are a few hitches in the stride already.

Let’s start with Kemp whose recent recovery from ankle surgery has him likely to miss the March 22nd and 23rd games in Australia and quite possible, the real Opening Day as well. Obviously, if he is healthy, the Dodgers want him out there every day. The center field job is his and the only thing keeping him from it is if/when the injury bug takes a huge bite out of his ass. While he is in recovery now, and should he get hurt again in the future, Ethier will take over in center.

In right, Ethier’s old spot, we now have Puig. Now I know that everybody and their grandmother is all-in on Puig this year, but I’m just not buying it. If you’ve caught one of his more recent player notes here on the site, then you’ll see that I’m not that big on him for a multitude of reasons. Number one is his attitude. I know there’s no fantasy category for that, but if you remember last year, Don Mattingly had no trouble putting Puig on the bench and then calling him into the office for a talk. That can only go on for so long before Mattingly has to fully flex his muscles and send Puig down. Then there’s the potential pitfalls in his numbers such as the near-impossible to sustain .383 BABIP coupled with a 22.5-percent strikeout rate. I can understand tolerating his behavior if he’s hitting, but if he isn’t, then Mattingly should have even less of a problem. And of course, there’s the off-field stuff. Sure, we’re just talking speeding right now, but that’s got gateway offense written all over it. Think about it – he hits a game-winning home run, goes out afterwards and throws down a few mojitos and when the night is over, well, he’s Yasiel F***in’ Puig, right? He can drive just fine. Doh!

But wait. It doesn’t end there. How about him showing up to camp 26 pounds heavier than he was last year? Mattingly has already said that he’s going to be monitoring Puig’s conditioning, so that, right off the bat, tells you he doesn’t trust him and that his weight-gain was not expected by the club. We’re not exactly sure how long the leash will be this year, but you can already tell that management’s patience is already wearing thin. And if Puig doesn’t out-and-out rake this spring, I could very easily see Mattingly setting the tone and having him start in Triple-A. Is this what you want out of your second-round fantasy pick? I certainly don’t. Should this happen, then we’ll see a lot more of the streaky Ethier, and if you couple that with a Kemp injury, then say hello to Scott Van Slyke as well.

And finally, there’s Crawford over in left. He’s nowhere near the elite stud he once was, but with a healthy season, he’s certainly capable of contributing across the board. Best case scenario, health and playing time-wise, we’re looking at 10 home runs and 15 steals with a .275-ish average. Not terrible, but certainly the lower end of the fantasy outfielder spectrum. The job will be his to lose, but, just like Kemp, with the injury bug buzzing around, Ethier might be called upon a little more than expected.

So to sum it up, the Dodgers outfield should be Crawford-Kemp-Puig. That’s what they’re hoping for. But for right now, Opening Day seems to be Crawford-Ethier-Puig. Again though, that’s today. We’ll just have to see what Puig’s deal is because we could also be looking at Crawford-Ethier-Van Slyke. That’s probably worst case scenario though, but still….do you really want to invest heavily as a fantasy owner? Be careful how you draft, because this outfield seems far from set to me.

Join me for our next episode of Crowded Outfields when we discuss the White Sox and the Mets.


Searching for answer for the 2014 fantasy baseball season? Turn to a trusted source to enlighten you – Fantasy Alarm – and pick up your very own copy of the 2014 Fantasy Alarm Baseball Draft Guide. After reading the 200 pages of information you will be ready to dominate the competition in the coming season on your way to a fantasy baseball championship.


  • 64x64 23 Feb 22:49 / Reply

    He was not outstanding, but must say I like what you said. Thank you

  • 64x64

    costarican chata 22 Feb 02:19 / Reply

    appreciate your perspective on the puig situation . he's got some dues to pay , before i invest a 2nd round draft pick .

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