Get hyped for another round of AL OF rankings! As usual, these reflect what I believe the hitters will accomplish the rest of the season, not necessarily what they have done thus far. For funsies I’ll be separating the tiers by my favorite films of 2014. Our own Brett Talley thought last year was weak in films, and I strongly disagree.
I really liked a lot of what I saw, but of course I didn’t see everything and some genres aren’t for me. With apologies to The Hobbit and The Hunger Games for me failing to see them, lets dive right in. (Note: I really liked all of the films listed here.)
I really don’t mean to be boring here. I just loved Whiplash and Trout continues and should continue to do Trout things. Bautista jumps up a level because his surrounding cast is incredibly strong. His counting stats could look bonkers at the end of the season, though I am keeping an eye on the uptick in his K%.
Jones jumps up a few spots because I’ve been pleasantly surprised he is taking a few more walks these days. While his 6.3% walk rate is by no means impressive, it is almost more than double his 2013-14 average. A current 9.4% swinging strike rate from Jones is 4% below his career average and if he continues to be more selective at the plate, he could stay near the top of tier two. Cruz also jumps a tier as his power hasn’t waned at all despite the tougher home park.
Between Michael Brantley last year and J.D. Martinez this, I don’t know which player has made me look sillier. Martinez’s game isn’t perfect, I’m looking at you, career 0.26 B:KK ratio, however he does enough things well to warrant a rise in rankings. As always, Dan Farnsworth has been proven to be pretty darn smart.
I’ve been concerned about Gardner’s declining stolen base totals, but with six steals in the first month of the season, it looks like he may be running more often this season. In the previous AL OF tiered rankings, commenter Luke correctly pointed out solid counting stats — other than home runs — for Gardner and I’m buying his renewed running game (Note: I read every comment, even if I don’t respond on time/at all). Gattis drops a tier despite hitting the ball awfully hard. I’m not worried about his .209 BABIP, but a sharp uptick in his strikeout rate in the early going, up to 32.4%, is on my mind. Despite Moss’ brutal hitting to day, he’s hit the ball hard more frequently than Gattis. I still like Moss to post a big season in Cleveland.
With news of Zobrist requiring knee surgery and thus missing four-to-six weeks, his value going forward takes a hit. Similarly Rios is set to be on the disabled list for some time as he recovers from a broken hand. Cain climbs a level because I like what I’m seeing from his early plate discipline numbers. His SwStr% is down as is his K% and if his 8.2% walk rate holds, it would represent a career best.
Marisnick makes a mini-leap as again I like the early season K% and BB% he’s posting. His .425 BABIP won’t stick, however he may post double digit home runs, nab 20+ bags and post a rest-of-season .260 AVG if his strikeouts stay down. Saunders joins him in climbing a tier due to his potential counting stats. He’s only started four games thus far, but he’s hit either seventh or sixth. If Saunders can nail down the sixth spot, the high OBP guys in front of him could lead to a higher-than-expected RBI count.
I still don’t know where to stick Castillo. He’s on the minor league DL right now and will probably require some game time in Triple-A before the Red Sox consider bringing him up again. At the top of the tier we see some platoon type players and Vogt, though he should probably be used at catcher in your leagues rather than OF.
The Raid 2
I’m just about folding on Choo. I touched on him in this year’s The Hardball Times Annual, and mentioned there how he’s lost his pull power since 2013. Jones is able to be plugged in the outfield in my home Yahoo! league, so he sneaks on the list here.
Playing time concerns fill the last tier, and these guys are probably best left to the waiver-wire in most formats. Per usual, I’ll be checking in on the comments here, just make sure to give Talley some beef if you agree 2014 was a pretty strong year for films! Other movies that barely missed my cut were, in no particular order: The Imitation Game, John Wick, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Birdman, Selma, Edge of Tomorrow and Still Alice.
You can catch David spouting off about baseball, soccer, esports and other things by following him on twitter, @davidwiers.