American League Outfield Tiered Rankings Update

With a lot shifting in the American League outfield, let’s get down to business. But this time it isn’t to defeat the Huns.

Tier One
Mike Trout
Chris Davis

For all the struggles that the Los Angeles Angels have been experiencing, it is hard to find any fault with Mike Trout. He already has double digit steals and home runs as well as a 149 wRC+. The surprise here is Chris Davis, of course. with 20(!) home runs already and a reduced strikeout, plus an increased walk rate, it is hard to find any real faults in his approach or his numbers. Davis’ year to date is certainly impressive, however he can’t keep up this pace forever, right? We’ll see, but given what he has done — and more importantly what he projects to end the season with — has earned him a spot in the top tier.

Tier Two
Adam Jones
Jose Bautista
Jacoby Ellsbury
Yoenis Cespedes
Alex Gordon
Michael Bourn

Adam Jones is on pace to reach the 30 home run mark for the second straight season and is stealing more bases — not to mention he is yet to be caught — than he has in the past as well. Apparently Baltimore Orioles enjoy running, as they currently lead the AL in steals and are tied with the Colorado Rockies for the MLB lead. If the O’s continue running at even half of their current pace, their players will all receive a nice boost in fantasy value.

Tier Three
Desmond Jennings
Josh Hamilton
Alex Rios
Nelson Cruz
Ben Zobrist
Austin Jackson

Not much separates Jennings from Bourn. The cutoff and rankings difference is based on their respective steals and caught stealing, and the fact that Bourn has more steals despite having 80 fewer plate appearances than Jennings. The final season totals will probably be 40 steals for Bourn and 30 for Jennings. Factor in Bourn hitting leadoff and Jennings being shuffled around a bit lately, as well as the 20 points difference in batting average and he nudges Jennings from the third tier.

Tier Four
Nick Swisher
Shane Victorino
Mark Trumbo
Torii Hunter
Coco Crisp
Brett Gardner

Although Swisher has been underwhelming thus far, there is reason to hope. He has hit either three or cleanup all year and figures to continue to do so. A bump in to his astonishingly low RBI count of 20 should be counted on. Crisp gets a boost for continuing to run at a very efficient pace as well as increasing his walk rate and contact rate. As a result, his strikeouts are down and he is hitting almost .300 despite no change in his BABIP.

Tier Five
Nate McLouth
Josh Willingham
Matt Joyce
Nick Markakis
Melky Cabrera
Josh Reddick
Chris Young

A big April (.346/.452/.513, .373 BABIP) from McLouth turned into a rather disappointing May (.258/.308/.381, .284 BABIP), however McLouth still has 21 steals and has been caught just once. Though his May numbers are much closer to his career .251/.337/.422, .281 BABIP numbers, we have never seen McLouth run like this before. Even if he settles into a .260 average, he is on pace to (though probably won’t) clear 60 steals. Add in him hitting leadoff and you have a chance to reach 100 runs this season. Melky has had a hot month of May, though his seasonal ISO is still below his career average. He hasn’t run as much as hoped, though he does project for around 10 steals the rest of the way. Here’s to hoping both McLouth and Melky return/continue swinging the good wood. Make sure the context is appropriate before saying “swinging the good wood”  in public. Reddick is currently posting the best O-Swing%, Swing%, and BB% of his career and his BABIP is in the tank. I’d expect a nice rebound for him. He has six hits in five games since returning from the disabled list so look to buy low on him now.

Tier Six
Alejandro De Aza
Michael Morse
Michael Brantley
Curtis Granderson
Brandon Moss
David Murphy
Michael Saunders
Chris Carter
Daniel Nava

A lot of Michaels, including a few good options. Brantley is essentially a poor man’s Melky Cabrera, and that isn’t an insult.  Not all is lost for fellow Granderson owners, but with him still at least three weeks away, things are getting have been quite frustrating. The punch bowl is still mostly full for anyone looking to drink the Chris Carter kool-aid. After a 14-game homerless streak — during which he had all of three RBIs — Carter has popped three home runs in his last six games. His strikeout rate and contact rate is poor (read: horrifying), though if you can stomach his average, he should post another 15-20 dingers the rest of the way. For a bargain bin type player, it is hard to complain about 20 home run upside. Nava is a good player who becomes a real steal in on-base percentage leagues. Even in standard leagues, he is worth looking at as he has hit at the top of the lineup with Ellsbury nursing a groin injury. If Ellsbury hits the DL, expect Nava to hang on to his roster spot even with the activation of Victorino in most likely a few days.

Tier Seven
Emilio Bonifacio
Adam Dunn
Colby Rasmus
Jason Bay
Jonny Gomes
Aaron Hicks
Rajai Davis
Kelly Johnson
Drew Stubbs
Lorenzo Cain
Seth Smith
Jarrod Dyson
Ryan Doumit
Trevor Plouffe
Ichiro Suzuki
Vernon Wells

Here is a lot of steals in Stubbs and Davis. Hicks still has upside and Gomes and Bay have a little bit of power for you. Doumit is a decent option, but if you happen to be rostering him, he really belongs in the catcher slot. To use Doumit on an outfield slot isn’t a total waste, but it isn’t the best use of him.

Tier Eight
Leonys Martin
Chris Parmelee
Peter Bourjos
Dayan Viciedo
Jeff Francoeur
Raul Ibanez
J.B. Shuck
Justin Maxwell
J.D. Martinez
Andy Dirks

Part time players, injured players, bad players, and Houston Astros. Fingers crossed that Bourjos comes back in a week or so and builds on the foundation of his first 96 PA’s this season. He is on the minor league rehab path and should be back on June 10. If you have room, stash Bourjos on your bench and wait for his return.

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50 Responses to “American League Outfield Tiered Rankings Update”

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  1. wily mo says:

    the nate mclouth people’s army is 35% mollified

    do you mean nava is likely to hang onto his lineup slot, i.e. leadoff, if ellsbury goes on the DL? b/c i don’t think there’s much danger of him losing his roster spot, or even his starting job, at this point

    also how do we feel about this whole biogenesis sitiation vis-a-vis guys like nelson cruz, melky, &c. account for it a little, account for it a lot, ignore it & assume appeals will push suspensions to next year… i have no clue myself

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    • David Wiers says:

      Haha! I was hoping you’d see this/comment. You’re a good kid/dude/female. I have no idea if I’m older than you, but since this is internet, I just assume everyone is a 17-year-old kid.

      Yeah, I’d be surprised if they put Victorino at leadoff. He generally has hit 2-hole for them thus far, but lineup changes can be overstated. Given the way that Nava has hit, he should be secure. Dude is on fire, but, you never know.

      Ugh, this Biogenesis thing is such an ugly mess. I’m with you, I really have no idea. I don’t *think* the MLB can suspend players over it, but I’m not an expert or a lawyer. Just a kid with a computer!

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  2. Trevor says:

    Michael Morse has the 16th ranked OPS among qualified AL outfielders, coming one spot below Yoenis Cespedes.

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    • David Wiers says:

      He’s also on the wrong side of 30, 31 actually, and plays in one of the worst parks for a right-handed power hitter.

      He’s a useful player, but isn’t great. I think top of the six tier is pretty fair.

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      • Dag Gummit says:

        re: Park effect.

        I think it’s quite overstated how Safeco can/ will hurt Morse. The park kills LF-CF power, for sure. However, Morse power side has always been to RF-RCF. RHB who mash the other way in Safeco have been successful (until they get old, at least). See Martinez, Edgar; Boone, Bret; and Sexson, Richie.

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  3. Nathan says:

    Where is Dexter Fowler on this list? He’s one of only four outfielders who currently have double digits in both steals and homers, he hits for 286 average, he hits leadoff and he plays in Colorado. Why isn’t he on this list?

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  4. Nick says:

    Nitpicking but Brandon Moss should be on this list (probably somewhere in low 6/high 7). I know he’s had a rough May and he’s been benched against lefties recently but dude is on pace to hit 25-30 homers. Thats gotta be worth something.

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  5. supgreg says:

    Curious why Jennings is so high? What do you see that has him ranked so high?

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    • supgreg says:

      Francouer should be ranked in tier by himself ….tier 2,687,443

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    • David Wiers says:

      He’ll score 100 runs as long as he stays healthy, he’s good for at least 30 steals total, probably 25+ RoS, and he has 14 doubles already. He had 19 doubles all of last season for comparison. I think he’ll get a nice boost in his SLG and ISO as well. No one is drafting Jennings for his RBI opportunities of course, but if he keeps hitting sixth behind Zobrist (.353 career OBP) and Longoria (.360 career OBP) then he’ll drive runs in with those doubles.

      A 30 steal, 30 double, 15 home run, with 100 runs — even with a .250 average — is mighty good in just about any format.

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  6. troy says:

    Ichiro is really not even in tear 8? He’s not that bad is he?

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  7. bdsparty32 says:

    Nick Markakis is severely underrated here in Tier 5. He should be in Tier 3 at the lowest and you could even make an argument to put him in Tier 2 instead of Bourn. He’s hitting .300 with more HRs and RBIs than Alex Gordon, and also plays in a much more hitter friendly park with better lineup protection.

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    • Cliff says:

      Right now he’s on pace to post the following line: .300, 95 runs, 20 HR, 92 RBI, and 0 SB…conversely, Adam Jones(Tier 2) is on pace for .306, 115 runs, 30 HR, 102 RBI, and 25 SB….Markakis is a really good baseball player, but he’s better in real life, and simply doesn’t belong in the same conversation as Jones, Joey B, Ells, Cespedes, etc…all of those guys are both power and speed options…Quite frankly, Markakis is neither at this point in his career…he will likely finish up around .290-.295, 85-90 runs, 14-16 HR, 75-80 RBI, and 2-3 SB. That’s simply not that valuable. I’d rather have guys like McClouth or Coco who at least give you elite numbers in runs and SB. Markakis gives you slightly above average numbers but isn’t elite in any. It’s very difficult to have significant value if that’s the case.

      Markakis is the AL-version of Jayson Werth.

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      • wily mo says:

        i agree with you, markakis is boring as heck and i don’t understand the psychology of people who get excited about him or draft him. he was looking completely awesome about five years ago and then it was like he had a foot amputated one offseason and still hasn’t told anyone. it’s baffling

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      • bdsparty32 says:

        what does Alex Gordon give you that Markakis doesn’t?

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  8. Fedee_ says:

    No steals so far this year though. I know he’s not a speedster by any stretch but that’s what keeps him from tier 2 or 3.

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  9. Connor says:

    Kelly Johnson in tier 7? He wouldn’t look out of place in 4 or 5

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  10. Mike says:

    Why Kelly Johnson so low? That is just disrespectful, he has a higher OBP than Adam Jones.

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  11. Justin says:

    Uh…so are we assuming Braun is suspended? Im confused

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  12. everdiso says:

    This year:

    Ellsbury (29): 255pa, 1hr, 20rbi, 30r, 21sb, .268/.337/.372/.709
    Jennings (26): 235pa, 5hr, 21rbi, 35r, 7sb, .252/.316/.419/.735

    last year:

    Ellsbury (28): 323pa, 4hr, 26rbi, 43r, 14sb, .271/.313/.370/.683
    Jennings (25): 563pa, 13hr, 47rbi, 85r, 31sb, .246/.314/.388/.702

    Are you really saying that these are 2 of the top 10 fantasy OF in the AL?

    I really don’t get it.

    there are guys in your 7th and 8th tiers who have produced better than that the past couple of years.

    i mean i don’t think i’d even pick these guys up off waivers in my fairly competitive 12 team league.

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    • everdiso says:

      I mean seriously, he’s been injured much of this year but even a guy like rajai davis has been similarly valuable as these guys the past couple of years.

      rajai davis:

      2013: 88pa, 1hr, 4rbi, 13r, 8sb, .280/.322/.390/.712
      2012: 487pa, 8hr, 43rbi, 64r, 46sb, .257/.309/.378/.686

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      • Floomp says:

        Ahh yes, that Rajai Davis who’s gonna get two or three starts a week, at least for the time being. Not trying too hard here to put words into David’s mouth here, but my guess is that he sees more upside in someone like Ellsbury and prefers to look at all the data available to him and not just 128 (admittedly poor) ML games’ worth of data from injury hit seasons when 635 are available. Yes, I wouldn’t that assume even a fully healthy Ellsbury gets close to his 2011 season but he’s probably a smidge more likely to do so than Rajai Davis.

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      • everdiso says:

        Not sure being a smidge better than davis, even a big smidge, is exactly a ringing endorsement for being a top-10 fantasy of in the league.

        As for looking at more data, surely two seasons in a row of similar production would be a good enough reason not to think a guy is one of the elite fantasy OF out there.

        maybe it’s just me but i’m not basing any of my roster decisions on what a player did three seasons ago. heck, even what a player did last year starts fading pretty quickly as this season goes on. and sure, a career of consistency makes players more dependable but neither of these guys have a consistent track record of elite production anyways.

        either way, i really don’t get it…imo jennings and ellsbury are 1or 2 category players right now – SB and R – and i’m not sure they’re dependably even elite in those two categories.

        i just can’t figure how these two are top-10 AL OF fantasy options….or even really close, tbh.

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      • Floomp says:

        I do see where you’re coming from, but not everyone looks at it the same way you do. Most people would cut him a little bit of slack on the last two (small sample, 74 and 54 games) years and not write his upside off completely. They’d say that coming into the prime of his career with a good career record, and having had one season at .321/119R/105RBI/32HR/39SB is enough to temper the fact that season was two years ago and he has been injured in between. It does look like the power was something of an aberration, but he is clearly a talented player with large upside. You are clearly overdramatising in saying that in a 12 team mixed you’d leave him on the wire, which is laughable, but I get your point that it’s tough to put him quite so high. However, I see it as if healthy his baseline is 90R, 40 SB and a .275 average (the last 2 years normalised to 150 games is 85R and 41 SB, with a .270 clip), if you get lucky he could do .310/100/100/40, with a few dingers. The upside is top tier, the baseline is tier three, so split the difference.

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      • everdiso says:

        I really wasn’t overstating. I wouldn’t pick those two up off waivers.

        For me they’re just a couple amongst of a whole pile of names that I would consider trying to ride a hot hand for a while, maybe. My league’s a pretty competitive one, and my team is now just struggling up to middle of the pack now, and even then I’ve been able to pick up guys like Joyce, Domonic Brown, Lind, Gregorius, off of waivers right as they were getting hot. Jennings and Ellsbury would both be my worst players right now, I think, even including catchers and middle infielders….and what they’re doing so far this year is in line with their recent numbers, so I wouldn’t expect any great improvement.

        Looking at my league’s waiver wire right now, I could pick up any of K.Johnson, M.Ozuna, N.Schierholtz, P.Bourjos, C.Quentin, R.Ibanez, M.Byrd, K.Blanks, S.Smith, D.DeJesus, M.Morse, C.Rasmus….and feel that they’d do me as good or better in the majority of categories than Ellsbury and Jennings.

        wait a sec…is KJ injured? I probably should add him right now…

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  13. J.R. says:

    Throwing a mixed league question out there. I’ve been debating a studying for hours on end, although its been lazy studying as I sit on my recliner and watch T.V. But, how much would it take to land Trout? I was considering an offer of Stanton and Zobrist but I’m a bit unsure.

    My IF is in fine shape and I have Zobrist used as an outfielder, but I’m hesitant to give up Stanton now that I’ve waited over a month to get him back, and not sure if that’s a good enough offer anyways.

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    • David Wiers says:

      To trade for Trout in a mixed league re-draft would really hard. I wouldn’t sell Trout for Stanton 1:1 pre-draft, and especially not now with his injury.

      If you’re in a keeper league, I don’t know if that makes trading for Trout harder or easier. In a lot of leagues Trout went 1:1 or 1:2. To get that kind of value you’ll need to do a 2:1, unless you’re trading Miguel Cabrera for him.

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  14. Jeff says:

    Austin Jackson, where have you gone?

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  15. cplannan says:

    No Jarrod Dyson at all? I know he is on the DL, but he is a really solid SB guy, should score decent runs ROS, and the average doesn’t kill you.

    I hope he’s better than Andy Dirks, for all our sakes…

    Maybe you don’t rank injured guys. You probably don’t rank injured guys.

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    • David Wiers says:

      Bad omission on my part. His steals are useful and he’s basically Rajai Davis 2.0, but with more health questions. He’ll move into the bottom of tier 7.

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  16. Matt Bertelli says:

    Coco > Jennings

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  17. Mister says:

    Rankings vs. manager perceptions can be funny some time. Hamilton is near the top of tier 3, and Markakis is in the middle of tier 5. Yet last week there I was trying to dump Hamilton for Markakis, but Markakis’s owner wouldn’t budge!

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  18. ih says:

    overall, your tiers are pretty good so long as you knock each oakland a’s player down 1 tier. you should really put aside your biases for this. cespedes with trout last month was pathetic.

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