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Article:2008 AL Team of the Future: Outfield

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RULES - I will assemble a team of players to build the best team for the next five years.

- Salaries are not a factor.

- Whether or not the player will play for a major league team all five years or start for them is not a factor; therefore, i can select minor leaguers who may not be in the majors for two more years if I feel they are the best player to have. They will be starters on my team.

- The players do not have to be a certain age. Although, selecting Jim Thome may be a bad move because he would more than likely retire or fade very quickly.

Left Field: Carl Crawford

Not only is this the weakest player on the team, but there was not even anyone close to him as a runner-up. Left field is completely depleted in the American League. Crawford provides a lot of stolen bases, average defense, and a high batting average, which makes his lack of walks bearable. At 26, Crawford's best days should be ahead of him, as he has shown some improvement every year since entering the league. However, his year-to-year improvement has begun to diminish in recent years. He's either coming to a halt, or he is on the brink of stepping his game up to the next level. My money is on him sustaining his current level of production throughout his prime years.

Center Field: Grady Sizemore

Sizemore is the clear pick here in terms of upside and stability, but he does have some younger competitors in Adam Jones and B.J. Upton. Sizemore's defense is nothing to write home about, but he has worked his way to becoming an on-base machine (.390 OBP in 2007) and could potentially turn his 20-20 skills into 30-30 any year now. Like Crawford, it may be hard for Sizemore to improve much more, but at 25-years-old, the best may yet be to come.

Right Field: Delmon Young

This one is a two-man race between Young and Nick Markakis. Young is 2 years younger and has the better upside. Last season was Young's first full year in the bigs, and he had his share of struggles. His OBP may never put him in the elite, but he does have some serious speed/power potential that should make him a 20/20 man. Markakis is much more valuable defensively than Young, but he lacks the offensive upside of Young.

Designated Hitter: Billy Butler

Butler has 10 years advantage on David Ortiz and 9 on Travis Hafner, not to mention Ortiz had his HRs turn into doubles last season and Hafner just flat out lost all his power. With the two DH studs sparking serious concern after last year's performance, it is time for a new guy to take over. Butler may not have great HR power until he gets closer to his prime, but he has already shown he can get on base at a rapid rate. (.412 and .388 the last two seasons in AAA and AA, respectively).

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