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AL Outfield Tiered Rankings Update

It may be a day late, but I assure it isn’t a dollar short. Today marks the updated tiers for American League outfield eligible players.

Tier One:
Josh Hamilton
Curtis Granderson
Jose Bautista
Adrian Gonzalez

Joey Bats was able to re-enter the upper echelon. Over the past 30 days he’s hit .348 with nine home runs and 23 RBI’s. Combine this past month with what he should project to do the rest of the season and you have yourself a top shelf player. Hamilton and Granderson continue to mash about as well as anyone could expect, so they’ve managed to hang onto the top spots as of right now. Now OF eligible in Yahoo! formats, A-Gon has seen himself debut in the tiered rankings where I think he will be come the end of the season. I think we would all be shocked if he didn’t end up as a top tier player.

Tier Two:
Adam Jones
Mike Trout
Austin Jackson

The biggest jump here is Trout becoming more or less an instant super star level player. This type of offensive production from someone so young truly ranks among the best names in the history of the game. Trout has so far been a solid source for average, OBP, power, steals and he has even chipped in 20 RBI’s already. I assumed he would be a very good player later down the road. I didn’t expect him to be great from the word go. Even while being on the 15-day disabled list, I am optimistic about Jackson for the rest of the season. This may change as soon next week, as he is going take live batting practice for the first time today and be evaluated afterwards.

Tier Three:
Josh Willingham
Matt Joyce
Mark Trumbo
Brett Gardner
Josh Reddick
Alejandro De Aza
Ben Zobrist
Desmond Jennings

This tier is beginning to represent the biggest surprise group around. I don’t know if anyone suspected Reddick or De Aza to hit and run at this level. Their respective counting stats for home runs and steals are very impressive. Joyce is crushing right-handed pitchers per usual, but this year his triple slash against lefties is an astonishing .265/.368/.408, good for a 124 wRC+. Of course we’re still well within the small sample size territory here, but having looked absolutely hopeless against left-handed pitchers in previous years, this is hopefully a sign of adjustment and comfort for Joyce. In his past 20 games, Joyce has only hit below the 5-hole twice: both times in a pinch hitter role. He’s hit third 16 times in those same 20 games. Joyce is producing at a fantastic level for now. Let’s hope he keeps it up. Gardner just played five innings in extended spring training. He appears on track to begin his minor league rehabbing momentarily. It remains to be seen exactly when he will return to the majors, but it could be as early as this weekend.

Tier Four:
B.J. Upton
Nelson Cruz
Nick Swisher
Shin-Soo Choo
Denard Span
David Murphy
Dayan Viciedo

Here we have a collection of players who’s values have fluctuated wildly for me this season. I had all but given up on Cruz before and been sky high on Swisher. Hopefully sticking them here doesn’t make it seem like I intentionally temporized on where to put them. Choo still isn’t hitting for very much power but his OBP skills make him a valuable commodity yet. Choo is running like himself of yesteryear as well. Last year he had 12 stolen bases all year; he is at eight bags already this year. If he can once again top the 20 SB mark then his fantasy value gets a significant boost.

Tier Five:
Ichiro Suzuki
Kendrys Morales
Howie Kendrick
Alex Gordon
Daniel Nava
Alex Rios
Yoenis Cespedes
Nick Markakis

This is the point where we start to see the edge of the state of diminishing returns. Every player from here on out has fairly serious question marks about sustainability or injury concern. Morales has the best chance to hit his way up to a higher ranking and Rios has shown to be the type of guy to fall off the map. Nava has exploded on to the radar of fantasy players everywhere, coming up from the minors to post a .303/.444/.513 line for the Red Sox in not quite 100 plate appearances. Given Boston’s outfield situation (currently 3 on the DL), Nava has time to play himself in or out of a starting role with the club. The downside here is that Nava is already 29. Age aside, he is walking more than he is striking out and is showing great numbers across the board; he even has two steals. Even with Markakis due to miss around four weeks with his broken wrist, he simply hits at too high of a level to leave off of the rankings.

Tier Six:
Ben Revere
Rajai Davis
Raul Ibanez
Torii Hunter
Andy Dirks
Cody Ross
Ryan Sweeney

Here we begin the descent about whether or not to pick up or drop players. You see a collection of injuries at the bottom, with two all speed no power guys at the top. Ibanez is placed here because I don’t know where to stick a DH vs right-handed pitching who’s OBP is .300 but who’s slugging is over .500. Dirks was well on his way to a much higher ranking until a bout with Achilles tendinitis looks like it will derail his season for some time. Sweeney is back and healthy, but his upside is handicapped by his poor power.

Tier Seven:
Coco Crisp
Michael Saunders
Jacoby Ellsbury
Michael Brantley
Nolan Reimold
Seth Smith
Jarrod Dyson
Jeff Francoeur
Carl Crawford

Getting close to the bottom of the barrel here. Reimold looks like he could be back some time in the near future, as he is apparently pain free now. With the return of Cespedes and Crisp, Smith finds himself without a full time job now. That being said, Smith has enough ability against right handers that he should be starting several times a week. I’d take a part time Smith over a full time Francouer. Dyson is basically a less proven version of Crisp. There isn’t a whole lot to prove when talking about matching Crisp’s offensive capabilities at this point, so Dyson could move up the rankings with a few good weeks.

Tier Eight:
Colby Rasmus
Delmon Young
Marlon Byrd
Vernon Wells
Brennan Boesch
Johnny Damon
Mike Carp
Ryan Raburn

These guys are all droppable in all but the deepest of leagues. The best quality one can say about guys in the bottom tier here is that they get playing time sometimes they hit. If your league title hinges on these players, that door to the championship is going to get slammed in your face.