With so many outfielders to evaluate, there are a few that may slip through the cracks in your fantasy draft. The three I have chosen here are big components of their teams for 2014. In fact, each will probably even be given time to settle into their new role on the club. If you are looking for a low-risk bargain, these three guys will fit the bill neatly.
Hart would invariably be higher in terms of fantasy outfielders, if not for all the knee injuries. Players with chronic leg issues are difficult to bank on when it comes to consistent season-long production. However, I had a chance to watch Hart in the spring three times already, and my observations are positive. Early on, he has been getting a lot of action and at bats. It appears that he is going to slide into an outfield slot for the M’s. More importantly, Seattle desperately needs him to be in there as much as possible. As Robinson Cano pointed out, the Mariners are left-handed heavy and Hart represents their best right-handed option. Even more enticing for fantasy owners is the potential of Seattle’s lineup ahead of Hart-- assuming he hits clean up, which is very possible. A top of the lineup featuring Dustin Ackley (looking much improved), Kyle Seager and Cano will give Hart many chances to drive in runs. If he's close to his old form, you can expect over 500 at bats with around 25/80/.280. There is a possibility that Hart could end up being designated a first baseman in place of Justin Smoak, but Smoak switch hits and they need his right-handed pop, too, so expect Hart to get most of his plate appearances as an outfielder.
The D-backs were high on Eaton last offseason. In fact, he was gearing up for a major role on their 2013 squad, but injury derailed what could have been a breakout year for the speedy outfielder. He will now get ample opportunity with the White Sox as a high-level table setter. The hope for fantasy owners is that he has the capability to fill out a box score with hits, runs and stolen bases. Eaton could emerge as a hitting machine-- twice in his minor league career he posted a .381 average, and he has proven himself at every level. Although he has struggled a bit in the bigs, it is still a pretty small sample size. In 2012, he scored a stunning 119 runs in 119 games and stole 40 bases between AAA and the D-backs. The White Sox are potentially looking at a sub-.500 season and they are poised to allow youngsters like Eaton a long look.
The Angles offense is playing the role of a sleeping giant. If all of the pieces start clicking and health is on their side, the Angles could roll at an unprecedented level. Fortune may shine on Calhoun, who might be the least known of their starters, but he may get the keys to this scary lineup. Calhoun flashed enough skills in his short stint at the big-league level to earn a starting spot, and if things break right, he'll earn at bats at the top of the order. I am sure that Mike Scioscia would like to see a few more stolen bases along with some discipline at the plate to bump the 9.7% walk rate a little closer to his minor league numbers. On the plus side, though, Kole has some pop in his bat (8 HR/195 AB) and on-base percentage of .350. Watch closely for Calhoun’s place in the order during the remainder of the spring, because he will score a lot of runs if he is hitting ahead of Trout, Pujols and Hamilton. At this point, it is probably a two-horse race between Calhoun and Erick Aybar for the top spot.