2012 Outfield Values

The outfield position appears relatively shallow this year compared to previous seasons, and the lack of top-end-talent means people begin to reach for a player they hope will blossom into elite status.

Here are two players who are remarkably similar, yet their average draft position at MDP varies from pick #40 to #84:

Player A

Player B

2010

.283/.340/.535

.281/.353/.493

2011

.285/.356/.510

.256/.341/.474

Looking at the numbers most would assume that Player A is being drafted at the 40th pick while player B is going with the 84th, though that is not the case. Player A is Corey Hart and player B is Jay Bruce. The main difference between the two is age, as Hart will be 30-years-old and Bruce 25 during the 2012 season. Both players will steal 7-10 bases and hit around 30 HR. Most would say that Bruce has more power than Hart, however, Hart has the edge in slugging and more importantly in ISO each of the past two years at .226 to .217 last season and .242 to .212 in 2010. Tack on the higher batting average for Hart and it seems that the draft is severely overvaluing Jay Bruce. The argument is that Bruce is still developing and can become a top tier player, but is that enough to justify being taken four rounds earlier?

To add two more players to the mix, here is another comparison for the past two years. One player is being taken at pick #38 while the other is being taken on average at pick #86.

Player A

Player B

2010

.284/.325/.442

.282/.325/.461

2011

.280/.319/.466

.314/.370/.502

In this case, it makes sense that Player B is being picked ahead of Player A, though the only real difference for this seems to be based in Player B’s superior batting average. Player B is Hunter Pence, while Player A is Adam Jones. Both players will steal close to 10 bags, though Jones has potential for more and Pence had his running game shut down upon arriving in Philadelphia. As for power, Pence had 22 HR last season after three straight 25 HR seasons, compared to Jones who had a career high of 25 in 2011. They also put up nearly identical ISO rates with a .185 mark for Jones compared to .187 for Pence.

So essentially, teams are willing to take Hunter Pence nearly 50 picks before Adam Jones based on a .314 batting average last year that was entirely fueled by a .361 BABIP. This simply does not make sense. Jones will be 27 this season and is entering his prime. Pence is also still young at 29-years-old in 2012, however, the upside advantage here clearly belongs to Adam Jones.

For various reasons drafters have decided to place a premium on Hunter Pence and Jay Bruce, while the truth of the matter is that very similar and sometimes better outfielders are available much later. There are just way more questions marks than certainties when it comes to the outfield in 2012, even the elite players such as Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz could go down with an injury at any moment. If you don’t end up with a top 10 outfielder, don’t reach for Hunter Pence and Jay Bruce, instead wait on similar players such as Hart and Jones. Others include; Alex Gordon (ADP 69), Shin-Soo Choo (70), BJ Upton (75), Jayson Werth (100), Jason Heyward, (101) and Chris Young (109). After the top 100 picks the outfield pickings are slim, however, Cameron Maybin looks like an absolute steal at pick #132.

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