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Here’s a look at the 2014 Lester’s Legends’ Closer Rankings for NL-only fantasy baseball leagues.
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1. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
Craig Kimbrel had 50 saves last year while posting a 1.21 ERA, a 0.88 WHIP and 98 strikeouts in 67 innings. He has a 1.48 ERA, a 0.57 WHIP, 138 saves and 341 strikeouts in 206.2 innings over the past three seasons. He’s as dominant as they come.
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2. Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds
Aroldis Chapman can throw heat like nobody else. He had 38 saves, a 2.54 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and 112 strikeouts in 63.2 innings lasts year.
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3. Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers
Kenley Jansen had 28 saves, a 1.88 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP and 111 strikeouts in 76.2 innings. He throws gas and has a great rotation to give him leads to protect.
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4. Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals
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Trevor Rosenthal had a 2.63 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP, 108 strikeouts and three saves in 75.1 innings. He did not allow a run in 11.2 innings during the playoffs while racking up 18 strikeouts and four saves.
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5. Sergio Romo, San Francisco Giants
Sergio Romo had 38 saves, a 2.54 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP and 58 strikeouts. He also has a quality rotation in front of him.
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6. Jason Grilli, Pittsburgh Pirates
Jason Grilli saved 33 games with a 2.70 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP and 74 strikeouts in 50 innings. He has 164 Ks in 108.2 innings over the past two seasons.
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7. Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies
Jonathan Papelbon collected 29 saves with a 2.92 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP and 57 strikeouts. He has averaged 35.8 saves over the past eight seasons.
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8. Rafael Soriano, Washington Nationals
Rafael Soriano saved 43 games last year with a 3.11 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. Soriano has 85 saves over the past two seasons.
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9. Addison Reed, Arizona Diamondbacks
Addison Reed saved 40 games last year with a 3.79 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. He has 69 saves over the past two seasons. He should do well in his first season in the National League.
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10. Huston Street, San Diego Padres
Huston Street saved 33 games last year while posting a 2.70 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP. He has 234 career saves, a 2.98 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. Street is an injury risk, but he’s rock solid when healthy.
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MLB: Chicago White Sox at Boston Red Sox
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Here’s a look at the 2014 Lester’s Legends’ Closer Rankings for AL-only fantasy baseball leagues.
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1. Koji Uehara, Boston Red Sox
Koji Uehara was nearly flawless during the Red Sox’s World Series run. He racked up 21 saves, a 1.09 ERA, a 0.57 WHIP and 101 strikeouts in 74.1 innings.
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2. Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals
Greg Holland had 47 saves, a 1.21 ERA, a 0.87 WHIP and 103 strikeouts in 67 innings. He had a ridiculous 0.56 ERA after the All-Star break.
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3. Joe Nathan, Detroit Tigers
Joe Nathan had 43 saves, a 1.39 ERA, a 0.90 WHIP and 73 strikeouts in 64.2 innings. He has 341 saves and a 2.76 ERA throughout his career.
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4. Glen Perkins, Minnesota Twins
Glen Perkins had 36 saves, a 2.30 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP and 77 strikeouts in 62.2 innings. An improved rotation should work in his favor.
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5. David Robertson, New York Yankees
David Robertson has huge shoes to fill, but he’s got the goods. Robertson had a 2.04 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and 77 strikeouts in 66.1 innings last year.
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6. Jim Johnson, Oakland A’s
Jim Johnson combined for 101 saves over the past two seasons with a 2.72 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP while pitching his home games in Camden Yards. Moving to Oakland should be a positive.
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7. Ernesto Frieri, Los Angeles Angels
Ernesto Frieri collected 37 saves last year while posting a 3.80 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP and 98 strikeouts in 68.2 innings. He should provide a solid saves total and a tremendous K/9 ratio.
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8. Casey Janssen, Toronto Blue Jays
Casey Janssen saved 34 games last year while posting a 2.56 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP and 50 strikeouts in 52.2 innings. In 2012 he saved 22 with a 2.54 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP and 67 strikeouts in 63.2 innings.
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9. Grant Balfour, Tampa Bay Rays
Grant Balfour has averaged 31 saves and 72 strikeouts the past two years while posting a 2.56 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP. He should do well in his return to Tampa.
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10. Fernando Rodney, Seattle Mariners
Fernando Rodney has averaged 42.5 saves and 79 strikeouts the past two years while posting a 1.91 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. His move to Seattle should be favorable.
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Tony Cingrani
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When the big name closers come off the board there are still relievers that can be useful for fantasy teams. Maybe they have an outside shot of taking over the closer position. Maybe they are a starter with relief pitcher eligibility. Maybe they can bolster your strikeout count. Either way you should try to nab them in your fantasy draft to round out your fantasy pitching staff.
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Tony Cingrani, Cincinnati Reds
Tony Cingrani is in the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation, but he has relief pitcher eligibility. Last year Cingrani went 7-4 with a 2.92 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP and 120 strikeouts in 104.2 innings. If you decided to punt the saves category you can load up on starting pitchers that have RP eligibility, particularly if you don’t have an innings cap.
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Neftali Feliz, Texas Rangers
Both Neftali Feliz and Joakim Soria have had past success and injuries to overcome. Feliz has a career ERA of 2.61 and a WHIP of 1.01. He had 72 saves in 2010 and 2011 combined. If he wins the closer gig or not, he’s worth owning.
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Joakim Soria, Texas Rangers
Joakim Soria has a 2.51 career ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. From 2007-2011 he had 160 saves. Like Feliz, he should be owned regardless of whether he wins the closer job or not.
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Joaquin Benoit, San Diego Padres
Joaquin Benoit is a nice option to target. He has been a dominant middle reliever for years before holding down the closer gig for a time last year, racking up 24 saves, a 2.01 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP. Over the past seven seasons he has 510 strikeouts in 466 innings. PETCO Park should help his numbers, plus he has a injury-prone closer (Huston Street) in front of him.
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Jason Motte, St. Louis Cardinals
Jason Motte lost his closer job to Trevor Rosenthal following Tommy John surgery. When we last saw Motte in 2012 he had 42 saves. In 260 career innings Motte has 273 strikeouts, a 2.87 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. He can provide solid strikeouts and peripherals. If he reclaims the closer gig, he’s more than capable of succeeding.
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Al Alburquerque, Detroit Tigers
Al Alburquerque struck out 70 batters in 49 innings last year. That’s a staggering 12.9 K/9 ratio. He has warts in the form of a 4.59 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP, but he can certainly bolster your strikeout total.
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Danny Farquhar, Seattle Mariners
Danny Farquhar collected 16 saves last year while striking out 79 batters in 55.2 innings. He posted a 4.20 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. If Fernando Rodney stumbles, Farquhar would get another crack at closer.
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Shawn Kelley, New York Yankees
David Robertson is the new Yankees’ closer, but that is an infinitely tougher gig than Mariano Rivera made it out to be. If Robertson struggles replacing a legend, Shawn Kelley could get a crack. He struck out 71 batters in 53.1 innings.
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Drew Smyly, Detroit Tigers
Drew Smyly returns to the starting rotation, which will help fantasy owners looking for large win and strikeout totals from the RP slot. In two seasons, including 18 starts, Smyly is 10-3 with a 3.29 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and 175 strikeouts in 175.1 innings.
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Tyler Clippard, Washington Nationals
Tyler Clippard struck out 73 in 71 innings while posting a 2.41 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP. Over the past five seasons he has 440 strikeouts in 383.1 innings while posting a 2.72 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP.
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Clayton Kershaw pitching
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Here’s a look at the 2014 Lester’s Legends’ Starting Pitcher Rankings for NL-only fantasy baseball leagues.
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1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Clayton Kershaw is 51-23 over the past three years with a 2.21 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. He has averaged 236.3 strikeouts per season over that stretch. He’s the best pitcher in the game. Period.
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2. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
Adam Wainwright went 19-9 with a 2.94 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP and 219 strikeouts. Yep, he’s all the way back after his Tommy John surgery.
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3. Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals
Stephen Strasburg went 8-9 with a 3.00 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP and 191 strikeouts in 183 innings. He’s still a bit of an injury risk, but he certainly has the goods if he can stay healthy.
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4. Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants
Madison Bumgarner has gone 42-33 over the past three years with a 3.12 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP and 193.7 strikeouts per season. I expect him to take the next step this year in the elite class.
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5. Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies
Cliff Lee is just 37-25 over the past three years with Philadelphia, but he has a 2.80 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP and 222.3 strikeouts per year.
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6. Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins
Jose Fernandez went 12-6 as a rookie with a 2.19 ERA, a 0.98 WHIP and 187 strikeouts in 172.2 innings. He has worked hard on conditioning to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump.
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7. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies
Cole Hamels had a rough season going 8-14 but still managed to post a 3.60 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 202 strikeouts. Over the past four seasons, he’s 51-40 with a 3.13 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP and 205.8 strikeouts per season.
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8. Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers
Zack Greinke went 15-4 with a 2.63 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP and 148 strikeouts in 177.2 innings. Over the past three years, he’s 46-15 with a 3.32 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and 183 strikeouts per season.
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9. Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals
Gio Gonzalez shook off the Biogenesis allegation, avoided suspension and posted a 11-8 record with a 3.36 ERA, a 1.25 WHIP and 192 strikeouts in 195.2 innings. Over the past three years he’s 48-28 with a 3.12 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP and 198.7 strikeouts per season.
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10. Jordan Zimmermann, Washington Nationals
Jordan Zimmermann has averaged just 146 strikeouts over the past three seasons, but he’s 39-28 with a 3.12 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP.
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11. Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants
A down year (8-10, 4.00 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 158 strikeouts) for Cain is still a solid season, aside from the win total. Cain has a lifetime ERA of 3.35 and WHIP of 1.17. He should rebound.
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12. Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds
Homer Bailey went 11-12 with a 3.49 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP and 199 strikeouts. He went 6-4 in his final 13 starts with a 3.02 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP and 78 strikeouts in 86.1 innings.
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13. Mat Latos, Cincinnati Reds
Mat Latos went 14-7 with a 3.16 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP and 187 strikeouts. Over the past four seasons he’s 51-35 with a3.27 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP.
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14. Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates
Gerrit Cole went 10-7 with a 3.22 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and 100 strikeouts in 117.1 innings. Impressive numbers for a rookie.
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15. Mike Minor, Atlanta Braves
Mike Minor went 13-9 with a 3.21 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP and 181 strikeouts. At just 26 he should continue to improve.
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Yu Darvish
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Here’s a look at the 2014 Lester’s Legends’ Starting Pitcher Rankings for AL-only fantasy baseball leagues.
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1. Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
Yu Darvish went 13-9 with a 2.83 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP and a league-leading 277 strikeouts. He’s the real deal.
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2. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
King Felix went 12-10 with a 3.04 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP and 216 strikeouts. Over the past five seasons, he’s 71-50 with a 2.85 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP while averaging 222 strikeouts. The Mariners’ offense should be more potent with Robinson Cano, which could lead to a few more victories for Hernandez.
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3. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
After going 13-12 with a 3.46 ERA, a 1.31 WHIP and 217 strikeouts, which was easily his worst performance since 2008, Justin Verlander could actually come at a discount this year. Look for Detroit’s true ace to reclaim his title.
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4. Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers
Max Scherzer went 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA, a 0.97 WHIP and 240 strikeouts. Look for a regression because he set the bar so high, but he should still be one of the game’s top pitchers.
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5. Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
Chris Sale is 28-22 over the past two seasons with a 3.06 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP and 418 strikeouts in 406.1 innings.
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6. David Price, Tampa Bay Rays
David Price went 10-8 with a 3.33 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP and 151 strikeouts in 186.2 innings. Over the past four years, he’s 61-32 with a 3.02 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP and 190.5 strikeouts per season.
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7. Anibal Sanchez, Detroit Tigers
Anibal Sanchez went 14-8 with a 2.57 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and 202 strikeouts in 182 innings. He has also had the stuff, but this is the first time he put it all together. He’s a bit of a regression risk based on how much better he did than his career averages (3.55 ERA, 1.31 WHIP).
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8. James Shields, Kansas City Royals
James Shields went 13-9 with a 3.15 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP and 196 strikeouts. Over the past three years he’s 44-31 with a 3.15 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and 214.7 strikeouts per season.
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9. Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners
Hisashi Iwakuma went 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP and 185 strikeouts. In 345 career innings he’s 23-11 with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP.
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10. Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels
Jered Weaver went 11-8 with a 3.27 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP and 117 strikeouts. For his career he has .653 winning percentage, a 3.24 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP.
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11. Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
Masahiro Tanaka is a wildcard as we can’t predict how he will perform in the big leagues. He went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.
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12. Alex Cobb, Tampa Bay Rays
Alex Cobb went 11-3 with a 2.76 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and 134 strikeouts in 143.1 innings. He was 6-0 combined against the Baltimore Orioles, the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays with a 1.26 ERA.
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13. Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays
Matt Moore backed up the hype with a 17-4 season. He posted a 3.29 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 150.1 innings. His WHIP (1.30 last year, 1.32 career) keeps him from being elite.
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14. Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox
Jon Lester rebounded to go 15-8 with a 3.75 ERA, a 1.29 WHIP and 177 strikeouts. He won’t wow you in any categories, but he’ll provide solid numbers across the board.
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15. C.C. Sabathia, New York Yankees
C.C. Sabathia had a down year going 14-13 with a 4.78 ERA, a 1.37 WHIP and 177 strikeouts. Given his track record, a rebound is in order.
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Andrew McCutchen swing
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Here’s a look at the 2014 Lester’s Legends’ Outfielder Rankings for NL-only fantasy baseball leagues.
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1. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
Andrew McCutchen has been a fantasy force for five seasons, but he has really stepped in up in the past two years, averaging .322 with 102 runs, 26 home runs, 90 RBI and 23.5 stolen bases.
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2. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies
CarGo has averaged just 129.5 games over the past four seasons, but when he’s playing, he’s highly effective. Over that span, he has hit .311 while averaging 91 runs, 27 home runs, 91 RBI and 21.3 stolen bases.
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3. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
Ryan Braun has put up monster numbers throughout his career, but how much of that can be tied to his use of performance-enhancing drugs? He is certainly a risk, but he is capable of delivering big numbers if he proves he’s for real.
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4. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
Bryce Harper has played just 128 games per season in his two years in the bigs. He’s averaging .272, 84.5 runs, 21 home runs, 58.5 RBI and 14.5 runs. He’s still just 21. I expect him to make a leap this year.
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5. Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers
Carlos Gomez has hit .273 over the past two years while averaging 76 runs, 21.5 home runs, 62 RBI and 38.5 stolen bases.
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6. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
Giancarlo Stanton is a pure power hitter. In four seasons, he has averaged 29.3 home runs while playing just 122 games per season. Imagine if he stays healthy.
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7. Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers
Yasiel Puig burst on the season, putting up a .319-66-19-42-11 in 104 games (382 at-bats). He could be even better in his second season.
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8. Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds
Jay Bruce has hit at least 30 home runs in each of the past three seasons while averaging 87.3 runs, 101.7 RBI and eight stolen bases. His only downfall is his .257 lifetime average.
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9. Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals
Matt Holliday doesn’t excel at any category, but his .300-103-22-94-6 line is evidence that he contributes across the board.
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10. Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves
Justin Upton got off to an amazing start by slugging 12 home runs in April. He finished with a .263-94-27-70-8 line. He’s just 26 and is capable of doing more.
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11. Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves
Jason Heyward was limited to 104 games and a .254-67-14-38-2 line. In 2012, he produced a .269-93-27-82-21 line. He’s only 24 and should have no problem bouncing back.
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12. Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants
Hunter Pence has been a consistent force throughout his career, hitting .285 with averages of 80.9 runs, 23.6 home runs, 87.9 RBI and 12.7 stolen bases.
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13. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
Matt Kemp has averaged just 89.5 games over the past two seasons. He will likely miss at least the Dodgers’ opening series, but once he’s healthy, he should be one of the most versatile fantasy options.
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14. Mark Trumbo, Arizona Diamondbacks
Mark Trumbo will transition to the outfield for the D’backs. He has averaged 31.7 home runs and 94 RBI over the past three seasons. His eligibility at first base gives him added versatility.
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15. Allen Craig, St. Louis Cardinals
Allen Craig hit .315 with 71 runs, 13 home runs and 97 RBI. He doesn’t provide much power for the position, but he’s hit .311 with 94.5 RBI per season over the past two years. He also has first base eligibility, which adds to his value.
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Mike Trout
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Here’s a look at the 2014 Lester’s Legends’ Outfielder Rankings for AL-only fantasy baseball leagues.
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1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
Mike Trout regressed a little from his .326-129-30-83-49 line, but his .323-109-27-97-33 line still makes him likely to be the top outfielder taken off the boards in fantasy baseball drafts. He’s just 22 and excels in all aspects of the game.
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2. Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
Adam Jones has developed into a terrific all-around player. Over the past three years, he’s averaging a .284-90-30-91-14 line.
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3. Jacoby Ellsbury, New York Yankees
Jacoby Ellsbury didn’t endear himself to the Boston faithful when he jumped ship to the Yankees. If he can stay healthy, expect a high average, a lot of runs and one of the highest stolen base totals in the league.
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4. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
Despite averaging 105 games over the past two seasons, Jose Bautista has averaged 73 runs, 27.5 home runs, 69 RBI and six stolen bases. You’ll have to live with his .254 lifetime average, but he can provide the power you seek.
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5.Shin-Soo Choo, Texas Rangers
Shin-Soo Choo produced a solid .285-107-21-54-20 line. It was his third season with at least 20 home runs and stolen bases. The move to Texas should be favorable.
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6. Alex Rios, Texas Rangers
Alex Rios finished with a .278-83-18-81-42 line. He stole 16 bases in 47 games after coming over to the Rangers from the Chicago White Sox. His OPS also jumped 23 points.
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7. Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Rays
Wil Myers hit .293 with 50 runs, 13 home runs, 53 RBI and five stolen bases in 88 games en route to being named the 2013 American League Rookie of the Year.
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8. Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals
Alex Gordon hit .265 with 90 runs, 20 home runs, 81 RBI and 11 stolen bases. Over the past three years he has hit .287 with averages of 94.7 runs, 19 home runs, 80 RBI and 12.7 stolen bases.
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9. Carlos Beltran, New York Yankees
Carlos Beltran will turn 37 in April, but has averaged 81 runs, 28 home runs and 90.5 RBI over the past two years. He should put up solid numbers playing home games in Yankee Stadium.
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10. Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland A’s
Yoenis Cespedes saw his average plunge to .240, but he still managed to hit 26 home runs with 80 RBI. In two seasons he’s averaging 24.5 home runs, 81 RBI and 11.5 stolen bases.
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11. Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels
Josh Hamilton posted a .250-73-21-79-4 line in his first season with the Angels. In 2012 he sported a .285-103-43-128-7 line. If he can split the differences, which isn’t out of the question, Hamilton would provide big fantasy numbers at a discount.
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12. Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays
Ben Zobrist offers positional versatility, as he is also eligible at second base and shortstop. He posted a .275-77-12-71-11 line. Zobrist doesn’t excel in any one category, but he’s solid across the board.
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13. Shane Victorino, Boston Red Sox
Shane Victorino hit .294 with 82 runs, 15 home runs, 61 RBI and 21 stolen bases. He is capable of a 15 home run and 30 stolen base season.
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14. Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay Rays
Desmond Jennings hit .252 with 82 runs, 14 home runs, 54 RBI and 20 stolen bases. He has 37 home runs and 71 stolen bases over the past three years.
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15. Nelson Cruz, Baltimore Orioles
Nelson Cruz hit 27 home runs in 109 games before serving a steroid suspension. He has averaged 27 home runs over the past five years. He’s a bit of a risk because that power could have been inflated.
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