Two weeks into June, it’s about time to update our rankings for American League outfielders. Again. Also in this installment? An apology to Melky Cabrera.
Now, for the ones you really want.
Okay, Bautista hasn’t gotten off to the best of starts this month (.222 BA, .722 OPS), and he only recently broke what had been a 13-game homerless stretch — at one point, he was actually tied for the major-league home run lead! — but the guy is sporting a 12:6 BB:K ratio in June, and his next 5-homer week feels like it could come at any time.
Granderson jumps to the top of this tier on the strength of his 10-homer May and his newfound ability to batter left-handers — his OPS vs. southpaws (1.056) this season completes a stunning turnaround that began in 2010’s second half. … Combined with the 50-steal pace everyone expected, Ellsbury’s pop — his 21 doubles and 7 homers will easily best his career-highs in those categories (27 and 9, respectively) — has him looking like the AL’s best all-around outfielder. … Quentin jumps ahead of Hamilton, Crawford and Cruz because, unlike those three — none of whom I’m all that worried about, despite their first two months — he’s been healthy, has avoided prolonged slumps and has piled up 37 extra-base, tying him for first in baseball. I’m sold. … Welcome to the big-time Mr. Joyce. He’s jumped not one — but two! — tiers. There’s a part of me that thinks he’ll slide back down to Tier 3 as his .373 BABIP falls and his average drops closer to .300 (or under), but he’s earned the benefit of the doubt for now.
Choo falls a tier because his OPS continues to do the same, dropping from .725 in April to .681 in May to — ick — .453 in June. And he recently let on that his May arrest and DUI charge is affecting his play. This could just be one of those years, a la Paul Konerko in 2003 and Mike Lowell in 2005. … Jones and Gordon have sustained their strong starts, so they leapfrog a few others into the top end of this level. … Conversely, Swisher and Hunter have maintained their slow starts, but something tells me they’ll figure it out enough to post solid digits as OF4s in 10-team play or as OF3s in deeper leagues. … Willingham (10 HRs, 41 RBIs — both top 5s among AL OFs) and Cuddyer (1.086 June OPS and 2B eligibility) each get a tier bump for their specialty skills.
Ichiro is the biggest faller this time around, dropping from Tier 2 to Tier 4 in one fell swoop, thanks to a useless .262 average and .622 OPS. I’ve never been an Ichiro proponent — too much value tied up in just average and steals — and if he’s not hitting .330, he’s dead weight in your lineup. FYI: He’s hitting .212 since May 1. … Just when it looked like Boesch was about to start his 2010 tumble all over again (.186 BA, .551 OPS in May), he’s bounced back with an impressive June (.380, 1.136), including 4 homers, his highest tally for a month since last June’s 8. Also worth pointing out his odd splits: Boesch, a lefty, has a career .338 BA and .918 OPS for his career…against lefties. If he can ever figure out how to handle right-handers (.243, .707), there could be a sneaky breakout candidate here. … Francoeur and Melky move up a tier because, well, they deserve to, much as it pains me to admit it. With 9 HRs and 8 SBs, Cabrera is on pace to have a career year I certainly didn’t see coming. If you did, congrats. I feel like I owe him an apology. He just might not be the least valuable player in baseball after all.
Wells’ groin injury kept him out just under a month, so he gets knocked down a peg. But while I don’t expect the average to do owners much good, he could be a very cheap source of power, as his two-homer game on Monday showed. A good candidate to make it back up to Tier 4. … Another injury returnee, Young, doesn’t have much going for him despite his .333 June average. The 7:1 K:BB rate this month and 1 homer don’t bode well going forward, and 2010 is looking like an aberration. … After being mentioned in the Propsects tier last time around, Revere gets welcomed to the ranks. His batting average/steals combo should play for owners looking for 20 or so swipes going forward from their fifth outfielder. Just don’t expect any power. … Lillibridge has made himself into a useful reserve guy who can fill in at OF and 2B, while offering decent pop (7 HRs) and serviceable speed (6 SBs), it’s just that he’s limited in fantasy value by his real life backup role.
A forgivable offense, but perhaps we were all a little too hasty in proclaiming Mr. Fuld a legend. Since his .289, 10-steal April, he’s hit just .174 and has as many CSs (4) as SBs (4). To boot, he’s losing PT to rankings newcomer Ruggiano, and Desmond Jennings has to come up at some point. … Reimold and Peguero offer some power upside, if you’re desperate in deep leagues; while Dirks has been useable, too, but banking on regular playing time for any of these newcomers is foolish. … Chavez, meanwhile, has been good enough (.386 average and 3 steals) for the Rangers to send Borborn back to Triple-A. But this has small sample size written all over it, especially from a 33-year-old journeyman.
Lind’s return to health has been a boon to his owners. He’s cut his K rate considerably from last year’s horror show, but it’d be nice if we saw some more of his 2009 doubles total (46) rather than the, uh, 6 so far this year. … Kendrick got some action in left field while Vernon was out, and while he’s cooled considerably since his 6-homer April, the eligibility makes for a nice little bonus. … Cust wasn’t heinous in May (.822 OPS), but his power has been disturbingly absent all season (.322 slugging). If he loses time at DH to Mike Carp (who may also see run in left fiend and earn a rankings spot by July), then Cust will be useless even to owners in OBP leagues.
Jason Catania is an MLB Lead Writer for Bleacher Report who also contributes to ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Insider and MLB Rumor Central, focusing on baseball and fantasy content. When he was first introduced to fantasy baseball, Derek Jeter had 195 career hits, Jamie Moyer had 72 wins and Matt Stairs was on team No. 3. You can follow him on Twitter: @JayCat11