2012 NL Outfield Tiers

We’ve got your consensus outfielder ranks, but it helps to put guys in tiers, especially for your NL-only players out there. So, just to make sure we have you covered, here are your National League Outfielder tiers.

Tier 1
Matt Kemp
Carlos Gonzalez
Ryan Braun
Justin Upton

All is well here. Shortstops get one guy in the top tier and outfielders in the National League alone get four. How do you like your 30/30 outfielder served?

Tier 2
Mike Stanton
Andrew McCutchen
Matt Holliday
Hunter Pence
Michael Bourn
Jay Bruce

Love Stanton all you want, but he has a flaw when compared to the first tier. There’s almost a five-dollar drop between the top four guys and Stanton, and it’s all in the batting average — and lack of steals. And if you didn’t believe that Stanton and Bruce were as close together as I did, consider that they do occupy the same tier. And it’s usually better to get the last guy in a tier than the first, since it meant that you paid a lot less for your asset. There are hints of issues in this tier, but each player usually has a strength that overrides the problems.

Tier 3
Corey Hart
Shane Victorino
Michael Morse
Lance Berkman
Michael Cuddyer
Jason Heyward
Logan Morrison
Andre Ethier
Melky Cabrera
Lucas Duda
Cameron Maybin
Carlos Beltran

Start with .280, 20 home runs, five stolen bases, and decent runs and RBI totals. That’s your baseline for this tier. Then, all you have to do is add a little here, take a little away there, trim, fluff, primp, and you have your basic $5 hairdo. Or $10 outfielder, as the case may be. Now the question marks — like Hart and Beltran’s health, the advancing age of half the tier, Heyward’s ability to bounce back, Duda and Maybin’s ability to consolidate gains — are getting louder. And the upside a little less exciting. Pay double digits for these guys, pick them in the middle rounds, but don’t invest like any of them is a real star.

Tier 4
Martin Prado
Emilio Bonifacio
Jayson Werth
Drew Stubbs
Chris Young
Angel Pagan
Carlos Lee
Jose Tabata
Dexter Fowler
J.D. Martinez
Juan Pierre
Jason Kubel
Nyjer Morgan
Marlon Byrd
Carlos Quentin
Alex Presley
Jon Jay
Jason Bay
Alfonso Soriano
Allen Craig
Brandon Belt
Yonder Alonso

These guys are stuck in between. The exciting ones lack the upside to join the stars, and the veterans lack the stability to really count on them for anything. But they don’t quite belong with the problem children below. Call it the “Meh” tier, or use one of these many other words for it. .280, 20 and 5 might be an accomplishment for these guys, in other words.

Tier 5
Will Venable
Roger Bernadina
Garrett Jones
Nate Schierholtz
David DeJesus
Tony Campana
Chris Heisey
John Mayberry
Andres Torres
Ryan Ludwick
Jerry Sands
Bryce Harper
Jordan Schafer
Domonic Brown
Gerardo Parra
Fernando Martinez
Norichika Aoki
Laynce Nix
Kyle Blanks

Pick ‘em! I like Venable’s athleticism, but that park is a terrible fit, and it doesn’t seem like the team likes him that much as a center fielder. That leaves him a man without a position, much like the better guys in this tier. The worse guys are just fourth outfielders by trade, or defense-first center fielders, or maybe even in the Minor Leagues as we speak. One of these guys will rise above — but what if it’s not a toolsy prospect, and is instead one of the lower-ceiling veterans at the top of the tier?




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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.

32 Responses to “2012 NL Outfield Tiers”

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  1. Ray says:

    Hamilton needs to be deleted.

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    • bs says:

      So does choo

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      Midnight shenanigans fixed.

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      • Big Jgke says:

        That was weak Eno. Weak as heck.

        It probably wouldn’t have happened if you guys weren’t committed to this irrational division of OF and SP into AL and NL lists. Seriously, there is nobody that still plays AL or NL only. If the lists are too long, divide them by mixed tiers, not league.

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      • Ransom says:

        I play in a NL-only auction league. This list will be helpful. Thanks.

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      • Big Jgke says:

        Leave it to the one guy on earth that fails my massive overgeneraliztion to come on here and reply to me.

        I stand by my post! Single league leagues are a relic!

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      • henry says:

        it’s not that no one plays nl only leagues anymore. It’s the simple fact that people can divide out NL from AL if you made a list that incorporated both. But separating them makes it very hard for people to compare AL to NL. Anyone who plays NL only leagues would have a very easy time looking through the full list and picking out nl players, we who play mixed leagues don’t have it so easy, because we can’t tell who the experts like better, for instance, there is no way to tell whether the experts like j upton or bautista better..

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      • Eno Sarris says:

        1) We’ve heard this before. That’s why we did the consensus ranks that are not broken up by tiers. So you can use that.
        2) Plenty of people play in AL- and NL-only leagues. I’m in 14 leagues and three of them are single league format.
        3) We cater to all kinds here. We have ottoneu coverage, OBP leagues, scoresheet. All kinds.
        4) It’s not only about lists. We have positional correspondents here. By splitting the outfield — which has three starters by team — across two guys, you get better coverage. It’s true. We’ll write about players that no other site will write about. We go deep.

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      • Eno Sarris says:

        @henry — you can see really clearly who we like better. If you go to the outfielder consensus ranks which are linked in the first sentence.

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      • Baldacci says:

        talk about a relic, let’s talk about all of your Roto leagues. please. How is comparing 5 categories, even interesting categories, a good way to enjoy baseball? Its very narrow and I can’t believe its still so darn popular.

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  2. JBentley says:

    Choo too.

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  3. dockmarm says:

    And Jason Bourgeois.

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  4. Casey says:

    You forgot Desmond Jennings, he should be on this somewhere for sure.

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    • Casey says:

      Says the guy who cant read that this list was NL… (It was me, I couldn’t read that this list was NL only)

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      • geo says:

        Don’t feel bad, confusion due to the presence of AL outfielders and merely skimming over the headline got me too.

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  5. harpago17 says:

    NL-Only leagues are much easier when you are allowed to include Texas and Cleveland players. Unfortunately, most of us don’t play in leagues that allow that.

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  6. mcbrown says:

    I don’t really care about FG’s ranks and tiers, but I have to ask… why separate players into AL/NL-only ranks? Most people play primarily in mixed leagues, and anyone who wants to create an AL/NL-only list can do so trivially by deleting the players they don’t care about (if you want to make it super easy on them you can even include an AL/NL column).

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    • Nick V. says:

      I sort of agree, but I think generally you can combine the lists without much of a problem. OF can have much larger tiers since you usually need 3-5 of them as opposed to 1-2 of other positions…

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      The basic answer is that we’d rather give you deeper coverage of separate leagues than shallower coverage of one position. You’ll get more knowledge if two people are covering outfield. You can always use our consensus ranks if you want one OF rank.

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  7. jon says:

    Something seems off about Victorino in tier 3 to me. You said basically 280-20-5 is a baseline but everyone has big question marks in that tier. Victorino’s baseline is definitely higher than that (275-15-25 ?) and there are basically no question marks about him.

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  8. Tom says:

    Any chance we’ll get a look at the consensus top 25-50 players overall? I find the rankings by position very valuable, but I’d be interested to see how players stack up overall. Thanks.

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  9. Telo2 says:

    Do you think Matt Holliday will bounce back? This guy has been dropping the ball since Colorado. Hes good but is he worth a second tier 30 dollar player

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      I don’t think he’ll steal five bases again, so if you value him as a .290/25/90 kind of guy, then he’s still second tier, but dropping. I probably wouldn’t spend $30 on him. I have him around $22.

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  10. Obiwan says:

    Drew Stubbs 4th tier? Who are you kidding? 92 R, 15 HR, 40 SB not good enough for 3rd tier?

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  11. kid says:

    I have an unhealthy affinity for big-bodied outfielders – Morrison, Duda et al.

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  12. Tools says:

    I play in a very competetive 12 Team NL Only (with two decades of history) and enjoy these kinds of articles. Won my league last year. Thank you Fangraphs.

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  13. nl only says:

    this guy Big Jgke is a nard. He doesn’t play in single leagues so no one else does? What a dolt. Keep it up fan graphs–thanks for breaking posts into two leagues!

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