Here we go! It is time for the first installment of America’s favorite game: AL Outfielder Tiers! This is my first attempt at doing this, so while I don’t expect any sympathy, please don’t crush my hopes and spirit if I forget a name. Remember, ranks and tiers tend to be subjective and we are in this together for the next six to seven months.
This past Monday, I celebrated my seventh wedding anniversary. In honor of this joyous occasion I have named the tiers by the traditional anniversary gift for that particular year of marriage. Enjoy!
Tier 1: Paper
No one is safer while offering the upside of Mr. Trout. Whether you are taking him in the top three of a mixed or as the most expensive player in your AL only league, he offers five category production that dwarfs the rest of this list.
Tier 2: Cotton
This tier includes a mix of high upside guys that could find themselves returning first round value in a mixed league. I am all aboard the Springer hype train once again. Health and the batting average are of course the main concerns, but he has the upside of Trout if he can figure it all out.
I am the lowest on Mookie Betts in the consensus ranks (10th), but that doesn’t mean I am that down on him. I look at last year as a pretty good indication of what we can expect from him this season.
Bautista and Cain offer high upside with their usual injury risk. I think we could definitely see more power from Lorenzo.
Tier 3: Leather
Leather is kind of apropos for this group. Steady vets that seem to be a tad underrated. All three guys offer nice production with a pretty safe floor. I haven’t ended up with any of these guys in drafts or auctions yet, but I like them all, especially Upton who should thrive in Detroit.
I have been on the Nelson Cruz hate bandwagon the last few years, so fittingly he should probably crash and burn now that I have tempered my hate for him.
Tier 4: Silk
This tier is filled with a bunch of guys that all have some sort of wart(s). I am a big believer in Dickerson as you can read in my first article for Rotographs.
I am starting to believe that the hate on Ellsbury and Gardner is going a little too far. Both are going outside the top 100 in NFBC drafts and offer high risk/high reward profiles. I am a little more likely to gamble with Ellsbury as he appears healthier coming into the season.
I love Choo, Hanley, and Davis. All seem underrated to me for different reasons.
Even though I moved Brantley up quite a bit, I don’t see myself owning him this season. The piling up of injuries over the last few years makes me question how long he can hold up.
I honestly don’t know why I am not a bigger fan of Calhoun. Maybe it is because he came out of nowhere with a lack of pedigree or he seems like the kind of guy who would challenge you to a tequila shot contest because he didn’t like the shirt you were wearing at dollar beer night. I don’t know, I just never end up with him and I am ok with that.
Tier 5: Wood
If feel like all of these guys are underrated this season. All have injury risk concerns, but they all offer some decent upside.
Melky didn’t even get drafted in the 12-team BARF industry league draft. Have we forgotten how great he was in 2014? I am willing to bet on a comeback.
Trumbo couldn’t have gotten a better landing spot than Baltimore. Add first base eligibility and he is in for a powerful season. My only fear is with Baltimore’s addition of Pedro Alvarez he could be forced to actually play the outfield way too often, possibly leading to injury and at least losing at bats here and there because of being replaced defensively late in games.
Gattis and Rasmus both hit at least 25 bombs last year and are playing in one of the best lineups in the American League. Sure you have to take a hit in the average department, but cheap sources of power don’t come around as easily as they used too.
Tier 6: Iron
In this group, you could see Buxton and Souza jump two or three tiers. Buxton will steal enough to make whatever his redraft cost worth it. Have we forgotten that Souza was everyone’s favorite “sleeper” last season? What has really changed? If he can cut down the strikeout rate down to what we saw in the high minors, then we will see what everyone was hoping for last year at a reduced rate.
DeShields seems like a place holder to me for Lewis Brinson. It is only a matter of time before he loses the job in centerfield. I am less worried about the injury right now, but it remains to be seen if he can build on the gains from last season.
Tier 7: Wool
The seven-year itch! Maybe I should be, but I am not ready to give up on Rusney and Avisail. Garcia is still only 24-years-old. Both need to strike out less and do a better job of controlling the strike zone.
Martin, Dyson, Kim, and Colabello only offer upside where they are going. They are worth the gamble for $4-6 in your AL auction or at the end of the draft in your mixed league.
Naquin is a former first round pick that is inheriting the centerfield job with Abraham Almonte being suspended for PEDs. He doesn’t have massive upside, but could offer double digits speed, a decent average and the ability to accumulate some counting numbers. For a buck or two at the end of your auction, he is worth the gamble.
Tier 8: Bronze
I still believe in Hicks, Pompey and Arcia.
Hicks will get enough at bats with the ability for more in New York’s aging outfield.
Pompey was one of the hottest “sleeper” candidates coming into last season and it is too early to give up on the kid. He could still emerge as a short-side platoon player with Michael Saunders or even his replacement given Saunders health woes.
Arcia needs a change of scenery. I don’t get why the Twins hate this guy so much. Hope for a trade!
The rest of this tier is filled with guys that have warts. Whether it is Jennings injury issues or the role Gose, Jackson and Maybin, I would rather not bet on any of them to hold down a spot in my AL only outfields.
Tier 9: Pottery
Who doesn’t like the prospects? I am a big fan of Kepler, Mazara, Brinson and Zimmer. It is just a matter of time before all are contributing this season in a big way.
Ok, what did I mess up?
Justin is the co-host on The Sleeper and The Bust Podcast and writes for Rotographs covering the Roto Riteup as well as random topics that float into his juvenile brain. In addition to his work at Rotographs, Justin is the lead fantasy writer/analyst and co-owner for FriendswithFantasyBenefits.com, owner of The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational, and a fantasy football and baseball writer for Fantasy Alarm. He is also a certified addiction treatment counselor. Follow Justin on Twitter @JustinMasonFWFB.