I was looking at Yahoo's preseason top rankings recently and I took a look at the top 10 Outfielders compared to the top 5 infielders from each of the four positions.
Outfielders: Grady Sizemore Ryan Braun Josh Hamilton Carlos Beltran BJ Upton Alfonso Soriano Carlos Lee Manny Ramirez Carlos Quentin Carl Crawford
Of those 10 Outfielders, Sizemore, Hamilton, Beltran, and Quentin spent time on the DL, Soriano and Upton are having below average years, and Carlos Lee is ranked only 86. Granted, Braun and Crawford are ranked 6 and 4 respectively. Frankly, there's really no difference between drafting Carlos Lee and the next top ranked outfielders (Markakis, Suzuki, Bay, Kemp, Granderson, Holliday) and you have a 20% chance of drafting a true number one or number two pick
Now the top 5 1B, 2B, 3B, and SS:
1B: Albert Pujols Miguel Cabrera Ryan Howard Mark Teixeira Lance Berkman
Of these, Pujols is in a league of their own, but Cabrera, Howard and Teixeira are giving you what you expect from a first or second rounder. Berkman just landed on the DL, but even still you're getting Corner Infielder production. Following these five you have Prince Fielder, Justin Morneau, and Adrian Gonzalez. Ortiz is then listed as 1B but preseason he was only UTIL, and after him comes Youkilis and Victor Martinez. Not bad for a top 10
2B: Chase Utley Ian Kinsler Dustin Pedroia Brandon Phillips Brian Roberts
Kinsler just landed on the DL but he's been having a great year anyway. Then the other four are all speed threats capable of hitting in RBI's and scoring runs. Following them you have Alexei Ramirez and Dan Uggla, mediocre years at best, followed by Chone FIggins, Howie Kendrick, and Robinson Canoe. So of the top 10 first basemen, you really have one truly miserable year in Kendrick with a smaller injury risk
3B: David Wright Miguel Cabrera Evan Longoria Alex Rodriguez Aramis Ramirez
Third Base is the worst of the infield in terms of preseason rankings. However, other than the early injury to ARod from the offesason, you will still see them on the field consistently. Following them comes Russel Martin, Kevin Youkilis, and Garrett Atkins. Not a good sample. All in all 3B is the worst of the infield positions
SS: Hanley Ramirez Jose Reyes Jimmy Rollins Alexei Ramirez Rafael Furcal
The shallowest of the positions for good hitting power, only Jose Reyes really has a bad year. JImmy Rollins is beginning to heat up at a good time for fantasy baseball managers, and Ramirez and Furcal aren't even top 3 round picks anyway so it isn't really reaching for them.
The point of what I have thus far, which is only through a thought that went through my mind, ist hat drafting OF comes with a higher risk than with IF. The first round of my 14-team mixed H2H league went as such:
David Wright Hanley Ramirez Albert Pujols Jose Reyes Grady Sizemore Ryan Braun Miguel Cabrera Johan Santana Ryan Howard Josh Hamilton Ian Kinsler Jimmy Rollins Chad Billingsly Mark Teixeira
Only one of the teams who did not draft an IF is in line for a playoff spot but he is holding on for dear life. So in summary, My future draft strategies, and this is where I am looking for input, will be to fill my IF first before moving on to the deeper and riskier OF. In fact, I claimed Adam Lind off waivers this year, and my earliest OF draft was Adam Dunn in round 7, and I'm in 4th place and only moving up. The first place team took IF with the first three rounds as well.
While I don't know that I'd necessarily say OF are more risky, I think I'm less likely to drop an early round draft pick on one, simply because there are so many of them out there. With positions like 2B, 3B and SS, I think there are fewer impact players. Every year, it certainly seems as if my starting OF at the end of the season is made up mostly of guys I snagged off the FA list - for instance, right now I've got Michael Bourn and Andrew McCutchen in my OF, while my IF is full of high draft picks: Ryan Howard, Ian Kinsler, Jimmy Rollins, Evan Longoria.
I guess I feel the same way about OF as I do about SP - there are so many out there, and so many breakthroughs in any given year, that it makes more sense to wait on them, draft some solid/consistent performers in the later rounds, and keep your eye on the free agent list to see who is going to have that "leap" year.
It of course could be coincidence this year. And to be honest this year was my first venture into fantasy baseball but looking back its something I've noticed.
However, it is something I am going to keep in mind next year.
Another question to people that play baseball is whether or not playing in the outfield is more dangerous than playing in the infield. Is running into the wall going to hurt you more than lunging for a ball?
First off, I'd say it's been a very pedestrian year for outfielders when a number of those outfielders drafted/bought for a premium were/are out of action for an extensive time. Perhaps the risk lies in the perception that OF is deep (and it surely is) and that you can get a suitable replacement level OF later in the draft, especially when it comes to #2-3 outfielders. If anything, the seasons that the likes of Damon, Lind, Cruz, and Ibanez have had - combined with the underwhelming performance of the first 2-3 outfield tiers - just underlines the replacement level factor with a deep pool of outfielders to choose from.
Likewise, I can also argue it's been a dire year in quality at SS and 3B.