American League Tiered Outfield Rankings — June 2014 by David Wiers June 4, 2014 Rather than get dragged into a pizza-themed battle again, this month’s tiered rankings will be named after my favorite “Futurama” background characters. In order to qualify as a background character, they must appear in at least three episodes and cannot be a main character like Fry, Leela, etc. Zapp Brannigan Mike Trout Still in a tier by himself — despite the recent back pain — even if he does end up on the disabled list. Rather than being his usual incredible self, this year Trout has merely been really, really good. Hopefully his back issues can be resolved without a trip to the DL. Lrrr Shin-Soo Choo Jacoby Ellsbury Jose Bautista Nelson Cruz Adam Jones Choo continues to climb the ranks despite his lack of steals this year (just three SB and 3 CS) because of his leadoff spot for a team that plays half of its games in one of the most hitter friendly parks in baseball. I can’t argue Cruz’s performance to date and on top of leading the league in home runs, he’s shown an increased walk rate while cutting down a bit on the strikeouts. Cruz’s SwStr% and other swing rates are in line with his career norms so I’m not sure how long the walk rate will remain in the double digits. Still, I was admittedly skeptical of how much he had left in the tank and it appears the answer is plenty. Jones gets lowered to the bottom of tier two based on his three-year drop in walk rate and is now down to 2% on the year. Robot Devil Josh Hamilton Yoenis Cespedes Alex Rios Brandon Moss Alex Gordon Moss climbs in the rankings as I’m beginning to buy into his reduced strikeout rate. His 73.8% Contact% is his highest mark since 2010 and his 12.7% Swstr% (while still high) is also his best rate since 2010. Moss has a very good chance at 30 home runs for the second year in a row and while he has platoon issues, he crushes right-handed pitchers enough to be valuable in any format. Hedonism Bot Melky Cabrera George Springer Leonys Martin Coco Crisp Austin Jackson Torii Hunter Adam Eaton Michael Bourn The Melkman gets the top nod in tier four here as his average is up as is his ISO. He already has eight dingers this year and it is possible he could reach 20 for the first time in a single season if a few doubles catch the right gust of wind. My boy Springer climbs the rankings as well given his power potential. His massive 30% strikeout rate will keep him out of the very top tiers this year but his double digit walk rate does help offset the whiffs. I’d really like to see him run a bit more as he has just one steal against two CS. He has a chance at 30 home runs this year and if his power continues to shine, he may get moved into a more lucrative RBI lineup slot rather than continue hitting second. Morbo Michael Brantley Brett Gardner Kole Calhoun Rajai Davis Carlos Beltran Shane Victorino Desmond Jennings Wil Myers Alfonso Soriano Matt Joyce Some drops and some risers here. I gave Brantley a boost after re-evaluating him. I’m skeptical of his 16.7% HR/FB% against his career 6.2% rate, but I like seeing his 8:0 SB/CS rate. Myers drops to the fifth tier due to his injury and recovery timetable. Beltran is now in the midst of his minor league rehab and should be back in a week. He can climb the rankings once again if he can prove to be healthy. Fellow Yankees outfielder Soriano has looked lost at the plate at times this year. Currently hitting .226/253/.392, Soriano is also posting the highest strikeout rate of his career alongside the lowest walk rate. Not exactly a recipe for success there. He should still clear the 20 home run mark but we’ll see if his ratios are too poor to roster that middle-of-the-road power. Hypnotoad Josh Willingham Colby Rasmus Dayan Viciedo Jarrod Dyson Nick Markakis Nick Swisher Norichika Aoki Alejandro De Aza Lorenzo Cain Aaron Hicks Michael Saunders A lot of AL Central outfielders here. Readers should now by know I am quite fond of Willinham’s power and on-base prowess. I still like Dyson’s speed but the Kansas City outfield is awfully crowded. Swisher has had a disastrous start to the season and now he’s on the DL. Kif Kroker David Murphy David DeJesus Kelly Johnson Oswaldo Arcia Nick Castellanos Josh Reddick Anthony Gose Dexter Fowler Reddick is on the shelf nursing an injury. Gose has speed to burn but I worry about his contact rates being able to keep up with big league pitching. Scruffy Craig Gentry Michael Choice Ichiro Suzuki Grady Sizemore Dustin Ackley Chris Carter James Jones Jackie Bradley Jr. The A’s use all sorts of platoons and lineup shuffles so Gentry could get some decent playing time, especially with Reddick on the DL and Crisp and Cespedes never too far way from a few days of rest. If nothing else he is a good pinch runner and could nab 20+ steals. Choice has a chance to move up if he can carve out some playing time. I like his power potential as well as his walk rate. Carter may be on his last legs with the addition of Jonathan Singleton to the roster. Malfunctioning Eddie Don Kelly Mike Carp Daniel Nava Jonny Gomes L.J. Hoes Ryan Raburn Robbie Grossman Jason Kubel I’ve held out hopes of Kubel’s power making a comeback but I really don’t know how much longer the Twins can send him out. Since the start of last season Kubel has been worth -2.6 WAR.