Padres Dodgers Baseball
San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. throws out Los Angeles Dodgers Corey Seager during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Los Angeles, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)


Mike Shara

Of the three outfield spots, this is by far the thinnest. Even on an MLB roster, very few guys are good enough athletes to play center field and it’s the only outfield position where a team might be willing to accept a reduced offensive profile from a player with elite defensive skills. As a result, there are a few guys who might play center field every day for their team in 2022 that you do not want to own in fantasy because they don’t do enough offensively in any category. (Michael Taylor, Victor Robles). There are also CF’s who might steal a high number of bases if they play every day, but will leave you high and dry in power/BA categories (Miles Straw, present-day Lorenzo Cain). If your league requires you to have at least one player at all three outfield positions, then I suggest you don’t wait around too long to fill your hole up the middle.

1.  FERNANDO TATIS JR. | San Diego | other positions: RF, SS
– he’d probably already have an MVP award if not for injuries. Elite speed/power combo.

2.   MIKE TROUT | LA Angels
– yes, he missed most of 2021 but he’s still only 30 and now he has something to prove.

3.  MOOKIE BETTS | LA Dodgers | other positions: RF, 2B
– nagging injuries kept his counting stats down but his underlying stats remained top tier.

4.  LUIS ROBERT | Chicago (AL)
– genuine steals threat again in ‘22 after hip flexor strain in ‘21. Don’t overpay again though.

5.  AARON JUDGE | NY Yankees | other positions: RF 
– an absolute gift that he qualifies at CF in his free agent walk year. Health = 40 HR minimum.

– career-best SB and BA at age 32 – are you willing to bank on those both repeating this year?

– 30/30 season depended a lot on volume, but he’s just 27 and his skills are legitimate. 

BYRON BUXTON | Minnesota
– one of these years he’s going to be a Top 5 overall fantasy pick. His ratios are astonishing.

– another guy who is a game-changer when he plays. Healthy second half stats were strong.

10 BRYAN REYNOLDS | Pittsburgh | other positions: LF
– playing for the Pirates has kept him a bit of a secret. This year might end all that.

11 KETEL MARTE  |  Arizona | other positions: 2B
– BA is steadily great, power and speed have fluctuated with his health. Still just 28.

– only qualifies at CF after injury-plagued 2021. Strong showing in the playoffs offers hope.

13  KRIS BRYANT | ??? | other positions: RF, LF, 1B, 3B
– his new team likely won’t play him at CF, but it might be the spot where he’s most valuable.

14  TRENT GRISHAM | San Diego
– there’s power and speed there, but injuries and a bad second half swoon leave me hesitant.

15 CHRIS TAYLOR | LA Dodgers | other positions: 2B, SS, RF, LF
– had his best season since 2017, his counting stats are high enough to be your everyday CF.

16 HUNTER RENFROE |  Milwaukee | other positions: RF
– got career highs in BA, R & RBI in ‘21 by making a bit more contact. Funny how that works.

17 ALEX VERDUGO | Boston | other positions: RF, LF
– none of his stats blow you away but he plays a lot, is still young and available at three spots.

18 IAN HAPP | Chicago (NL) | other positions: RF, LF
– ruinous first half buried him, but I’d be willing to roster him and bet his second half was real.

19 AKIL BADDOO | Detroit | other positions: LF
– don’t sleep on his skill set – Detroit’s lineup will be better this year and he should be, too.

20 ADAM DUVALL | Atlanta | other positions: RF, LF
– 38 HR and 113 RBI always helps you. His BA/OBP & SB won’t help you – draft accordingly. 

Candidly, there aren’t many. The bottom six of the top twenty are kind of all multi-position, bench-type players in an ideal world. I wouldn’t want to wander much further afield of that list in standard leagues. If for some reason, you still need someone to cover you at CF in the late rounds and none of the above 20 are still there, you could hold your nose and hope for the best here. Among these misfit toys, I like Rosario’s relative youth, speed/power combo and unique roster flexibility best of them all.

Adolis Garcia, TEX (LF, RF) Ramon Laureano, OAK (RF)
Tommy Pham, ??? (LF) Mark Canha, NYM (RF, LF)
AJ Pollock, LAD (LF) Amed Rosario, CLE (SS)
Randal Grichuk, TOR (RF) Max Kepler, MIN (RF)

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