AL Tiered OF Rankings Update

Today brings you the August American League outfield rankings. With only about eight weeks left in the season, these rankings reflect what I see each player being worth over the course of said eight weeks.

Tier One:
Mike Trout
Jose Bautista
Curtis Granderson

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise to see the first three names listed here. Trout has surpassed everyone’s wildest dreams so far. Bautista continues to hit have questions surrounding his wrist, but even with a second MRI on the way, I am caustiously (perhaps naively) optimistic. Granderson is tied for second in the AL in home runs and hits in a very friendly park for him. Granderson should continue to prove to be an incredibly valuable player despite his relatively low batting average.

Tier Two:
Adrian Gonzalez
Adam Dunn
Josh Hamilton
Mark Trumbo

This isn’t a sensationalist move by me at all; I truly think that Gonzalez and Dunn will be more valuable down the stretch than Hamilton. I’ve harped on Hamilton quite a bit in the past and although I’m still worried, his power and hit tools are just too strong to grant him a place any lower than the second tier. Trumbo’s average has waned in recent weeks, but his power hasn’t changed at bit.

Tier Three:
Austin Jackson
Josh Reddick
Jacoby Ellsbury
Yoenis Cespedes
Josh Willingham
Adam Jones

I only wish that Jackson were stealing more. After back-to-back seasons of 20+ stolen bases, he only has 10 bags this year and has been caught five times already. At that rate, I can’t blame Leyland for not giving him the green light all the time. He is still one of the best lead off men in baseball and figures to score a ton of runs. Ellsbury is the big surprise here. I’m taking a bit of a leap here (and in a league where I traded for him) by saying and acting on my feelings that Ellsbury still has a lot to offer a fantasy team. His contact rate is still high and his O-swing% is still low. He is walking more and striking out less than his career average and those indicate a solid approach at the plate. His ISO is still down, but power takes a very long time to stabilize. I think we will have something that represents what Ellsbury did in 2011 for the rest of this season.

Tier Four:
Alex Gordon
Alex Rios
Nelson Cruz
Shin-Soo Choo

Gordon is the biggest climber here. I’ve already admitted that I was too harsh on him in my previous rankings, and to be honest, he is capable of playing at an even higher level than this. I just most easily imagine him sitting in this tier. Alex Rios has simply hit and hit and hit all year long. Choo has a double digit walk rate, a dozen steals and has an outside shot at 20 homers this year. Overall, he is a steady bat to have. He won’t be a cornerstone, but as a complimentary role, there are few better in the American League.

Tier Five:
Ben Zobrist
Alejandro De Aza
Desmond Jennings
B.J. Upton
Nick Swisher
Nick Markakis

I love Zobrist as much as anyone, but his numbers and value is tied to a lot of things that don’t show up in the fantasy world. He isn’t a huge homer or stolen base guy. His RBI’s and runs haven’t ever been over 100 in a season. If you play in an OBP league, he gets a huge boost, probably to the top half of tier four, but many of us still play in the standard 5×5 style. Upton and Jennings continue to frustrate me and other owners everywhere.

Tier Six:
Howie Kendrick
Michael Brantley
Kendrys Morales
David Murphy
Coco Crisp
Carl Crawford
Matt Joyce
Trevor Plouffe
Denard Span
Quintin Berry

There is the start of the line in the sand here at this point. Some of these guys will have playing time issues based on health, performance, platooning and even roster construction. All of these guys are capable of catching fire or running rampant for a two month burst, but here the risk is creeping up on the reward. Kendrick has quietly cratered after his breakout year last season. I expected a bit of a tail off, but not a wOBA drop of almost 50 points. He is still hitting .280, but with only 23 extra-base hits all season, it is an empty average. Brantley has proved me wrong all year. I was skeptical of his early season success, but he has maintained it for the entire duration of the season. I’m impressed with the strides that he has made. As much hope as I hold out for Ellsbury, I can’t muster the same amount of faith in Crawford. Crawford has the potential to still be great, but I’m getting more and more skeptical.

Tier Seven:
Torii Hunter
Ichiro Suzuki
Colby Rasmus
Rajai Davis
Cody Ross
Ben Revere
Chris Davis
Ryan Doumit
Mitch Moreland
Peter Bourjos

A lot of these players are two category contributors. Either power and RBI’s, runs and SB or a shallow mix of all five standard categories. It’s hard to find premium quality players when you’re reaching this far down. Relatively speaking, I do like Hunter quite a bit and he is having a solid rebound season so far, but I don’t know if he can sustain a 120 wRC+ going forward. Davis will steal bags and I know he is still the official left fielder, I do wonder about playing time with him.

Tier Eight:
Anthony Gose
Seth Smith
Brennan Boesch
Luke Scott
Jeff Francoeur
Dayan Viciedo
Lorenzo Cain
Delmon Young
Eric Thames

Yikes. If you’re rostering these guys (and it isn’t a keeper league for someone like Gose) then you could probably use an upgrade. These guys are barely on my fantasy radar. I have a coulple on my watch list just in case they get hot, but other than that, I’d look to make a trade. Boesch has the most upside for the next two months, but Smith and Gose seem like safer picks to contribute to your fantasy team.




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70 Responses to “AL Tiered OF Rankings Update”

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  1. john says:

    I’m confused by tiers three and four. What are you looking at to distinguish one from the other? For the most part it seems like these guys all belong in the same group.

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    • David Wiers says:

      As with any ranking system, an awful lot of is up for interpretation. The way that I see things panning out just happened to separate the tiers in the form presented above. The criteria was based on stantard 5×5 roto leagues. When I consider a player to be more valuable in an OBP or Ottoneu sense, I try to mention that too.

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  2. GilaMonster says:

    I don’t understanding Willingham. He is certainly better than Reddick, and Cepedes and Jackson. He has a ton of HR, RBIs and a decent amount of runs. His average isn’t bad and he is top few in wOBA

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    • David Wiers says:

      As was discussed in thecomment section of the July edition of the AL Rankings, a lot of Willingham’s wOBA value is based on his excellent BB%. That doesn’t help in standard leagues, unless Willingham steals (not likely) or gets driven in by another player (somewhat likely).

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      • GilaMonster says:

        I do agree with that.
        But wouldn’t Dunn or Trumbo be better comparisons? I mean the power has been comparable this season has has counting stats. While Dunn probably has more raw power, his average is also .209. I mean the numbers are incredibly similar other than that.

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      • David Wiers says:

        In a 5×5 non keeper league, you would trade away Reddick or Cespedes for Willingham? I just can’t envision doing that, thus I ranked them higher than the Pork.

        As for the Dunn and Willingham comparison, yes, both accrue a ton of value from their walks, but I prefer the home ballpark of Dunn infinitely more and Dunn has a much longer track record of health and production.

        It is a valid comparison though.

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  3. Curmudgeon says:

    Bautista continues to hit? Bautista has barely played since the last rankings.

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  4. db says:

    rios should be higher.

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    • David Wiers says:

      I thought about putting him higher, but this is a list of what I think he’ll do going forward, If we based it on what he’s already done this season, then I 100% agree,

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  5. bada bing says:

    Andy Dirks?

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  6. Vinny says:

    LMAO how is Lorenzo Cain barely on your fantasy radard?

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    • David Wiers says:

      Well, his fantasy numbers to date aren’t very good, nor is his projection.

      Where do you think he would rate?

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      • Vinny says:

        bottom of tier 5. The reason his #s arent very good is hes been hurt all year. And you also said this list is a projection going forward.

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      • Luis says:

        Cain provides a mix of pop and speed and could produce a nice return in avg, runs if slotted near the top of the KC batting order (when are we gonna see Myers is the real question). Certainly he is worth more to fantasy owners than Michael Brantley going forward, the only knock is his health, if it hold he could be a solid OF4 for 12 teams mixed, or AL only

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      • David Wiers says:

        His MiLB pedigree isn’t something that astounds me and like I said, his RoS projection doesn’t change that opinion.

        Agree to disagree on this one Vinny.

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    • Jeff Zimmerman says:

      One issue with Cain is playing time. He could be sitting every 3rd or 4th game as he shares time with Frenchy-Gordon-Dyson. That doesn’t even count a Wil Myers call up.

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      • Baldacci says:

        you guys aren’t paying attention to the Royals, obviously. He bats 3rd in the lineup except for one day off per week as the manager said he wanted to rest Cain more coming off his injury but couldn’t sit him with how he’s swinging the bat. He’ll sit against the random right hander. Anyone batting 3rd in a lineup should more than just be on your fantasy radar. His numbers are solid and not inflated by BABIP or anything.

        He’s the 35th best OF in my mixed league since his return. That’s a 3rd OF in any 12 team AL/NL league. Its just silly to have Frenchy, Gose, Boesch, Thames, etc in the same tier as Cain. Those guys have no business on a mixed league team.

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  7. batpig says:

    I understand that it’s difficult to research every player properly, but at the very least you should be aware that one of your TIER ONE guys is on the DL and has no timetable for a return due to lingering wrist problems!

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  8. Peter says:

    So I know it’s silly to nitpick these rankings and I normally don’t care if it’s just some minor quibble. But I really don’t understand how you lump Lorenzo Cain in with the rest of that bottom tier after how he’s performed since coming off the DL. Am I missing something? Could you explain why you put him on the same level as Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch?

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    • David Wiers says:

      Not worries, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      I see Cain as a bit of a hacker who is having some lovely random variation in the BABIP department. His plate discpline when broken down by BB%, K% and the peripheral O-swing%, contact% and SwStr% all rate as below average.

      Ride him while he’s hot, I wouldn’t bank on this type of hitting for the next two months. Unless the last name “Cain” carries some mystic BABIP qualities (I’m looking at you, Matt) then I still feel comfortable with my rankings.

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      • Peter says:

        No debate here on the bit-of-a-hacker characterization. But he at least is very likely going to have a full time job for the last two months of the season, which cannot be said for most of tier 8 and much of tier 7. And even as his discipline isn’t great, it’s not completely terrible either. He’s not going to hit .325 but he’s not going to kill you in avg when his babip normalizes. And he has decent pop and speed. His overall babip sits at .325 right now (factoring in before the DL stint) which seems about right, and looking at his overall stat line while his avg/obp might be a little high that doesn’t seem terribly off from what one might reasonably expect of him the rest of the way given some power development (evidenced by his AAA and spring training performances of recent times).

        You’re right he probably won’t keep up the pace he’s been on since returning, but I just don’t get how someone like Bourjos could be more valuable than that even factoring in regression. He’s not even stealing bases or playing or really contributing in any category. It just seems odd.

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      • David Wiers says:

        Valid point. I’ll concede that they’re probably of similar value, which is to say, not a ton.

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  9. Brett says:

    Where is Andy Dirks? He is hitting .345 on the year and has gone 6 for 11 with 4 RBI and 3 runs scored since coming of the DL. He will see the majority of the starts in LF for Detroit and will hit in the 2 spot against righties, giving him some great opportunities to score runs in front of Cabrera and Fielder, and will most likely bat 6th against lefties, providing good RBI chances in that potent line up. I think he should at least be in tier 6 with Quentin Berry, considering Berry is now the 4th OF for the Tigers.

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    • David Wiers says:

      See my comment to Bada Bing above:

      I was going off of the MLB depth chart. Their recent game logs are close (although Berry did start the previous 5 games and Dirks just 4 out of 5).

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  10. Josh Willingham says:

    I’m freakin’ awesome. Congrats on drafting me, everyone.

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  11. cs3 says:

    Crawford in Tier 6???
    how do you explain that one?
    You realize hes batting second for the Red Sox every night, right?

    Nearly as inexplicable as Dunn at #5 overall

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    • batpig says:

      agreed, it seems odd to be so bullish on Ells but bearish on Crawford. DW, why are you “getting more and more skeptical”? He’s been playing very well since coming off the DL, hitting around .290 with 3 HR and 3 SB and plenty of R/RBI so far. He seems to be at minimum a De Aza / Jennings type of value going forward.

      I also agree that Dunn is too high, I think DW is not giving enough (negative) credit to the enormous impact of that horrible AVG. Dunn doesn’t steal any basis so he is really awesome in one category (HR), very good in two (R/RBI), and as-bad-as-you-could-possibly-be in the other 2. That’s more like a Tier 3 guy.

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    • David Wiers says:

      Re: Crawford vs Ellsbury

      Both are coming off of signifcant, albeit different injuries. Ellsbury is still 28 and Crawford just turned 31. Being on the wrong side of 30 and coming off of an injury is quite different.

      Crawford just hasn’t shown me anything to convince me that he’s “back” yet. If and when that happens, the rankings and updates will reflect that.

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  12. Cory says:

    Berry is NOT above Dirks, Berry is the 4th OF now with Dirks playing everyday against righties and about 50/50 vs lefties. Also, Austin Jackson being in tier 3 is just downright crazy. What the hell has Granderson done to deserve being in tier 1? His OPS is about to drop below .800.

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  13. batpig says:

    David – can you please explain how Adam Jones has gone from top-of-tier-2 all the way down to the bottom of tier 3? If you recall we had a big discussion last time on Hamilton vs. Jones, and you expressed more confidence in Jones going forward. He had a pretty nice July (5 HR, 18 R, 16 RBI) and now he plunges to the bottom of the next tier? Seems a bit quixotic to me…

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    • batpig says:

      and I meant to add… Josh Hamilton on the contrary had a pretty horrible July, confirming your concerns, yet he remains static while Jones pummets?

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    • David Wiers says:

      I’d be happy to!

      It all comes down to RoS projections (and to what degree I agree with each projection) + what (little) I’ve seen and know + surrounding lineup.

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  14. Daniel says:

    why is craig gentry never on these lists?

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    • David Wiers says:

      After a great start, Gentry hasn’t been very good.

      Since his 6 game, 11 hit spree back in mid-July, Gentry has 2 hits in 19 PA’s. In his last 7 appearances, he has all of 4 PA’s. Not a ton of playing time, and isn’t hitting when he does play.

      It’s hard to get into a hitting groove when you don’t get PA’s, but I can’ tell Washington to play Gentry more. Well, I guess I could, but he wouldn’t listen.

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      • daniel says:

        he still has a .400 OBP and a 4.1 ZiPS ROS WAR. he hasn’t slowed down. He has been the one Ranger who has been consistent all year.

        That said, I can understand him being as Washington has decided that Murphy will now be a full-time player and Gentry a full-time PR/Defensive sub. Still, I’m pretty sure Gentry wasn’t ever on this list, which is absurd as he has accumulated almost as much WAR in half the plate appearances of Josh hamilton. he carried the team to a respectable amount of wins in a horrible July for the rest of the team. It’s hard not to go on a 2-18 streak when you play every other day, half the day.

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      • David Wiers says:

        He has a 0.7 RoS WAR, did you mean he could end with 4.1?

        I understand the argument for him, but not based on WAR. His WAR is inflated by a +12.7 UZR. Take away that 1ish WAR and he still looks fine, but still not in a fantasy context. His counting stats of R, HR, RBI and SB all are mediocre at best, and that’s just his SB.

        He’s a “better in real life than fantasy” player.

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  15. Jason says:

    Trout finally at the tippy-top? If he starts sucking now, I’m going to hold you personally responsible.

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  16. David Wiers says:

    Hey guys: don’t think that I’m ignoring your comments here (you should all know better than that by now). I answered as many as I could on my lunch break.

    I’ll be back to address/answer more around 8pm EST. In the meantime, my phone is BLOWING UP right now with comments and that is awesome, so keep em coming.

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  17. wily mo says:

    um so you “wonder about playing time” with davis (which by the way i assume you mean rajai, there’s two davises in the tier) but peter bourjos is also in tier seven even though he has literally been a bench player for a good three months now and there is no indication that this is likely to change any time soon. this does not make sense. dudes in tier eight mostly aren’t very good but at least they have jobs

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    • David Wiers says:

      Bourjos has appeared in more games as of late, mostly has a PR/defensive sub, but he does have two starts in the past week.

      He hasn’t really had a shot to run at all this year, and his disappointing 2 stolen bases on the season prove that. I expect as the games get “more important” he will have a bigger and bigger role.

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      • wily mo says:

        ok, but a bigger and bigger role at the expense of who? trout? obviously not. hunter? trumbo? kendrys? pujols? even with abreu gone and vernon wells out of the picture (and will he stay out?) the angels’ OF/1B/DH situation seems to be a permanent logjam.

        don’t get me wrong, i love bourjos. if he gets to play. and i don’t generally run around nitpicking ranking articles on a “what are you DOING dude X totally OWNS dude Y” kind of basis. but bourjos really is a fourth outfielder right now, so it seems actively weird to me that he’s on here without any mention even being made of that.

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      • David Wiers says:

        Bourjos, like Gentry, is a good outfielder but is hard to own in a fantasy league. I happen to like Bourjos better because he at least has the upside to steal more, at least based on their respective minor league careers.

        Do I love Bourjos? No. Do I currently own him? No. But I can see the reason for owning him, and thus I ranked him according to how i see it.

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  18. Billy Bob Thorton says:

    Why so low on Rasmus? avg is low but hes been getting unlucky he has 20 HR and can steal an odd bag?

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    • David Wiers says:

      Other than being a baseball player, Colby Rasmus’ primary occupation is breaking my heart.

      I suppose the bottom of Tier 6 could be more appropriate for him, but I honestly have no idea where to put him. Between his ups and downs and swing adjustments and changes, I can’t gauge what he’ll be going forward.

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  19. Jay29 says:

    Rasmus should at least be in Tier 4.

    Regarding Ellsbury: You say “I think we will have something that represents what Ellsbury did in 2011 for the rest of this season.” But 2011 Ellsbury is better than almost everybody above him. He basically did last year what Trout is doing this year.

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    • David Wiers says:

      Rasmus in Tier 4? Well, okay. Uhh, why?

      Trout is out pacing Ellsbury’s 2011 by 40 points of wOBA. Trout currently sports a 185 wRC+ and 2011 Ellsbury was 150. That 35 point differnce is the the difference betwene 2011 Ellsbury and 2011 Edwin Encarnacion.

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  20. everdiso says:

    Jennings is finally dropping, but IMO still not nearly far enough. He’s still being ranked alongside consistently very good OFers like Swisher and Markakis, and I just can’t figure how he can be in that class.

    Jennings:

    AAA (22-25): 1004pa, .282/.372/.428/.800, .375woba, 125wRC+
    MLB (23-25): 669pa, .244/.325/.401/.726, .329woba, 110wRC+

    You can only be “frustrated” with him if you keep on believing he is better than what his numbers over the last 4yrs say he is.

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    • David Wiers says:

      I still think he’s a potential breakout guy. He’s hitting IFFB% at a preposterously high rate and assuming his coaching staff can fine tune him, I’m not too terrible worried about him for the rest of this year and for his career.

      I’m not as high on him as I once was (as you noted, he keeps dropping), but I still am a believer.

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  21. Bill says:

    Why so low on Rasmus? He could finish with 30 jacks, not a common feat these days, regardless of the low BA.

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    • David Wiers says:

      This is a rest-of-season ranking.

      He could absolutely hit 10 more dingers. His ZiPS predicts 8 more. He could also crater again, like we’ve seen so many times before.

      Too much risk involved. If he doesn’t hit for power, he contributes nothing.

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  22. everdiso says:

    2012

    D.Jennings (25): 362pa, 8hr, 31rbi, 48r, 19sb, 7.5bb%, 19.9k%, .280babip, .237/.303/.369/.672, .307woba, 95wRC+
    C.Rasmus (25): 450pa, 20hr, 66rbi, 56r, 4sb, 7.6bb%, 20.7k%, .276babip, .251/.314/.567/.781, .331woba, 107wRC+

    Last 3yrs

    D.Jennings (25): 673pa, 18hr, 58rbi, 97r, 41sb, 8.9bb%, 20.1k%, .288babip, .245/.325/.401/.726, .329woba, 110wRC+
    C.Rasmus (25): 1510pa, 57hr, 185rbi, 216r, 21sb, 9.7bb%, 23.6k%, .297babip, .250/.325/.451/.776, .333woba, 109wRC+

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    • David Wiers says:

      Does the “last 3 years” kind of go against you? In over twice as many PA’s Rasmus has basically disappointed. Jennings 673 PA’s is just one healthy season of data for a top of the order hitter.

      They are similar though, I’ll give you that. Maybe this deserves further delving into.

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      • everdiso says:

        just to pace out the counting stats to, say, 700pa, for interest’s sake:

        2012

        D.Jennings (25): 232tb, 16hr, 60rbi, 93r, 37sb
        C.Rasmus (25): 296tb, 31hr, 90rbi, 87r, 6sb

        Last 3yrs

        D.Jennings (25): 248tb, 19hr, 60rbi, 101r, 43sb
        C.Rasmus (25): 281tb, 26hr, 86rbi, 100r, 10sb

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  23. Stuck in a slump says:

    Frankly I don’t see enough of a difference between Choo and Jackson to have Jackson atop tier 3 while Choo sits at the bottom of tier 4. If you’re knocking guys like Zobrist (fairly, I might add) because things like OBP/OPS don’t show up in standard 5×5 matches, then the only difference between Choo and Jackson is .027 points of AVG (which I’d put money on Choo finishing closer to .300 than .290) 1 R, and 6 RBI in Jackson’s favor, while Choo has 2 HR and 2 SB in his favor, to me the HR and SB are harder stats to get than RBI and R, and lets not forget that Choo has been moved from leadoff to 3rd, so he should be driving in more RBI’s.

    In OBP leagues (and ones that use OPS), I can see enough to warrant a bit of separation here. You’re talking about .030 difference now, that’s enough to go from good to great, and in OPS leagues we’re talking about .056 points different. I’m not saying that I would take Choo over Jackson, but if anyone is going to see regression it’s going to be Jackson with his .404 BABIP. And yes, I realize he’s been able to put up similar numbers before, but anything over .400 is just silly video game numbers and I wouldn’t be surprised if it dropped a tick the rest of the way.

    So, if his BABIP drops about .007 points to .396, and Choo continues to hit 3rd in the Indians lineup, Jackson is going to see his AVG dip closer to Choo’s (and I really think Choo will finish with a .300 AVG), and Choo’s RBI output continues to increase, not to mention runs from the suddenly surging Santana, then they will end up at similar levels with Choo being a little less gaudy.

    Outside the AVG, I just don’t even see why Jackson is ranked that high in that tier. In fact, why is Gordon ranked at the top of tier 4 anyway? He’s done nothing this year which I would have to think would limit what one could expect out of him ROS.

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    • David Wiers says:

      I guess if Auston Jackson reverts back to his career BABIP of .377, that’d be a disaster. (Of course, there isn’t a ton of career data to go on here, but you see my point.)

      As for the difference between Jackson and Choo, you forgot to mention the 60 PA advantage that Choo has so far this season. That is why the counting numbers are so close. And since the counting numbers are very similar as you already pointed out for me, then that means Jackson has done it at a much better rate.

      I see what you’re saying there, but I don’t get the Alex Gordon hate.

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      • Stuck in a slump says:

        Don’t get me wrong, last year Gordon was a revelation. This year though, not so much. Other than AVG, R, and sometimes OBP/OPS he’s not terrible. But 6 HR? 7 SB? Last year I thought he had legitimately broken out and was going to have a 20-20 season. But this year in 500 PA’s he’s only helped out in one counting stat and one rate stat for standard and OBP leagues.

        In deep OPS leagues he’s been helpful there with nearly .800 OPS, but I expect more from a COF with only one position of eligibility, I don’t see the reason for the love. Zobrist has +6 HR, +5 SB, better OBP and OPS than Gordon in almost 50 fewer PA’s with 2B flexibility, the only thing that hurts Zobrist in this contest is .047 points of AVG and Zobrist has a history of consistent performance whereas Gordon does not.

        So I really disagree with the rankings within the tiers for Jackson, Gordon, Choo and Zobrist. I’d have Jackson at the bottom of T3, Choo at the top of T4, Zobrist bottom of T4 and Gordon at the top of T5.

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      • Stuck in a slump says:

        “Other than AVG, R, and sometimes OBP/OPS he’s not terrible.” Should read as he’s BEEN terrible.

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  24. Sean says:

    Curtis Grander’s son is?

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  25. Kevin says:

    Nice list, but a nitpick: two months in a row you list Reddick but don’t even talk about him in your blurb! I’d like to hear how legit people think he is, especially for keeper leagues.

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    • David Wiers says:

      Thanks!

      Reddick has gotten some love in the first half the year, but yeah, he hasn’t tailed off at all. Maybe I’ll touch on him next Monday.

      Full disclosure, I’m an A’s fan, so I may come off as less than objective. Aka I might gush and wax poetic. Perhaps in haiku form!

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