Free Agent Outfielders — What Do The Moves Mean For Fantasy Baseball?

Here’s a look at the top MLB free agent outfielders this season:

Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; 5 years, $125 million
Hamilton has a career .965 OPS at Rangers Ballpark. In 150 at bats at Angel Stadium, Hamilton’s OPS is  exactly 200 points lower at .765. He has played more than 135 games just twice in his six seasons. In 2012, Hamilton struck out 162 times and hit .259 in the second half. But leaving Texas probably should not drop Hamilton past the third round. He hit .308 with 27 homers and 75 RBI in the first half, which is a good season for many players.  And now he gets to be in a lineup with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.

B.J. Upton, Atlanta Braves; 5 years, $75 million
Upton hit 28 homers and stole 31 bases in 2012. The only other two players to reach 25 homers and 30 steals were Trout and Ryan Braun. But Upton also hit .246 and has a career batting average of .255. Still, five straight seasons of over 30 steals and an average of 23 homers per season the last three years make Upton one of the better power-speed combinations around, and he doesn’t turn 29 until August.

Nick Swisher, Cleveland Indians; 4 years, $56 million
Swisher has hit at least 20 homers eight straight years.  In the four years he played home games at the new Yankee Stadium, Swisher hit more homers on the road (59) than at home (46). Swisher also had at least 80 RBI and 75 runs scored in each of his four Yankee seasons, but he will have a bigger challenge matching those numbers in Cleveland’s lineup.

Shane Victorino, Boston Red Sox; 3 years, $39 million
Though he turned 32 in November, Victorino’s 39 steals in 2012 were a career best and his fourth season with at least 34 steals in the last six.  But Victorino hit just .255 and has hit under .260 in two of the last three seasons.  Victorino was subpar in Philadelphia last year, but his numbers sank further after being traded to the Dodgers, where he had just two homers in 52 games compared to nine homers in 101 games with the Phillies. So his overall numbers could get a boost in Fenway Park.

Torii Hunter, Detroit Tigers; 2 years, $26 million
Hunter hit a career-high .313 in 2012, but his BABIP was .389. Hunter’s 16 homers marked the first time he failed to reach 20 homers since 2005. He has not hit double digits in steals since 2009. Hunter turns 38 in July.

Melky Cabrera, Toronto Blue Jays; 2 years, $16 million
Cabrera hit .255 in 2010, .305 in 2011 and .346 in 2012 before being suspended for PEDs. But even if Cabrera’s batting average takes a tumble in 2013, he could still be good for low double-digits in steals and be productive in Toronto’s strong lineup.

Since these players are on new teams, there should be big fantasy baseball impllications.

Ben Hargrove writes on fantasy sports topics for sites like DraftStreet.

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