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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.