Today brings the new monthly tiers and subsequent rankings of the American League outfield. As always, I’m basing this off of Yahoo! standard format eligibility. This list is how I value each player going forward, with consideration to what they’ve done so far.
Trout finally made the jump to the top tier. The only thing that keeps him from surpassing Granderson is that I weigh Granderson’s power and RBI opportunities going forward more heavily than Trout’s average and stolen bases. If you swap them, I wouldn’t sue. Bautista, .239 AVG and all, is still the top dog.
Again, not too much to really take note of at this point. Willingham takes a small step forward because he still hasn’t cooled off. Over the past month, he has hit .339 and drove in 20, tying him for fifth in RBI’s in the AL OF over for June. Eventually, all this (increasingly seemingly blind) faith in A-Gon will pay off.
Dunn makes his debut in the AL OF rankings. Much ink has been used on Dunn’s excellent bounce-back season, so I’ll try not to wax poetic on him too long. I will just note that for those of you starting Dunn in daily formats, I’d sit him against just about any left-handed pitcher worth his salt. This year Dunn is hitting .165/.294/.418 against fellow lefties. Fortunately he has logged more than twice as many PA’s against righties, but in any close late-game scenario, expect Dunn to be sat down rather quietly by a fellow left-hander. De Aza is another guy who got off to a great start and hasn’t looked back. Over his past seven days, he’s hitting .303 and a single homer. His seasonal average is down to .294, but his walk rate is still above average. The only glaring issue is that his SB/CS ratio is ugly. He has 14 bags to his name, but he’s been caught stealing seven times already. It shouldn’t surprise you that over the past 30 days, De Aza has all of two stolen bases. I don’t think he’ll get the green light very often anymore, so hopefully he’ll keep hitting.
Here is where the plot really thickens. I’m still not especially fond of Nelson Cruz, but as far as fantasy value goes, he scores big in the right categories. He still doesn’t have much AVG to offer, but his home runs, RBI’s and runs are more than enough to keep him in the front of fantasy GM’s minds. ZiPS likes Swisher’s RoS wOBA to be a very solid .354, and while a lot of that value is tied to his predicted 12.5% walk rate, his power is still legitimate and he could finish the season with 25 HR and 100 RBI’s. Choo has smacked a trio of homers in the past week and has gotten his average up to .287 on the year. He still has an outside shot of a 20-20 season with a .280 AVG. Not too bad for a fourth tier outfielder. Ellsbury is clearly the biggest jump of the group here. Going from tier seven in June to tier four in July? What a crazy jump! Well, yes and no. I was very skeptical of Ellsbury’s ability to hit for power, as shoulder injuries scare me when it comes to hitters (and gives me nightmares when it comes to pitchers). So far it seems as though he has picked up right where he finished last year. Ellsbury sent a long ball screaming over the wall in Gulf Coast action yesterday afternoon. It is assumed that Double-A Portland is next for him. If all goes well, he should be back very shortly after the All-Star Break.
Gordon’s bounce back June was pretty heavily fueled by his .393 BABIP for the month. I think he’ll settle in somewhere slightly above his ZiPS .273/.341/.416 RoS line. He probably won’t ever have a year like last year, but he still a very fine player. A lot of people will see Gordon’s WAR and ask why he isn’t higher, and it is because of his excellent defense. Unless you play in a crazy defense-counts league, his 1.3 WAR in the field doesn’t help you at all. Matt Joyce should be back in action in less than a week, and the Rays offense could use him. I touched on Murphy in a Roto Riteup not even a week ago, and my opinion on him hasn’t changed yet. Trevor Plouffe is this years “what in the what?” guy. His power has trended upwards for the past several seasons, even if it was in the minors. Since 2009, his ISO has been .147 in Double-A, .187 in Triple-A in 2010 and then last year he set his highwater mark of .323 ISO in Triple-A again. So far in the majors his ISO is .320, so it isn’t a total out-of-nowhere type. It was just the out-of-somewhere-that-no-one-thought-would-happen. His BABIP is low, but when 18 of 50 hits clear the fence, it’s going to be low. I’d anticipate Plouffe coming back down to Earth in the home run department, but I figure his AVG will rise to the mid .260′s. Plouffe is basically everything eligible, so I’d plug him in at SS or MI to get the full extent of his value. Crawford sneaks in here as well, mostly because he is already in Double-A on rehab. If he can reach his rate stats of his ZiPS, then maybe me holding on to him for so long won’t feel so bad. (It will still feel bad, but maybe not as bad? Right? Right? Nevermind. Pour me another.)
Gardner’s return has been delayed twice already, but now it is hoped that he will return in mid or at worst late July. We’ll see. Rasmus could hit .290 the rest of the way with 18 home runs or he could crater and end up getting sent down. I really have no idea at this point. I so badly want to believe that he’ll keep hitting, but I just don’t know. I’m making this Rasmus ranking my official “This will look silly, one way or another” pick of the month. Cespedes is having really noticeable contact issues at the plate. And in the field. Really, everywhere. But when he isn’t butchering plays in the outfield grass, he is swinging and missing at pitches. His strikeout rate is above 22% and it won’t come down until he stops waving at so many pitches. His SwStr% would be third worst in baseball if he had enough PA’s to qualify. His contact rate would be fourth worst. If you’re in a re-draft league, I’d throw him out as trade bait and see what (if any) offers you may receive. Moreland would have rated higher, if not for the significant injury to his left hamstring. I couldn’t find any updates on him, but initial reports had him at missing at least four weeks. Those reports are over two weeks old, but I still figure he’ll be out another month.
Yep, we’ve almost finished our descent into the deepest of the deep leagues at this point. Kalish is mildy inspiring in keeper leagues, but his production (in a ridiculously small sample size) to date has been less than midly pathetic. Ibanez was struck in the face by a foul-tip while in the dugout, and had to be taken away to have tooth chips removed and stitches placed in his mouth. He isn’t expected to miss much time, but given that he is sitting against lefties and his age, it isn’t hard to envision Ibanez’s playing time receiving a big cut in the near future.
Dirks is only so low because of the mystery surrounding his injury. We know that he is a walking boot, but with no timetable on a rehab assignment, it is just impossible to even guess. He has already missed a month of action with this Achilles injury, and many owners are simply tired of waiting. The rest of this tier is either a reserve, or someone who should probably be a reserve.
And yes, I am devastated that Xavier Avery is already back down in Triple-A. #FreeXavierAvery