NL Outfield Tiered Rankings: August

Edit (12:59 pm EDT): Left out a bunch of dudes (Cespedes, Pederson, Moss) and wrongly included a bunch of dudes (Gomez, Revere). I basically I forgot all about the trade deadline, so if notice another name omitted, leave it in the comments. Thanks (and sorry)!

NL OF Tiers: July
NL OF Tiers: June
NL OF Tiers: May
NL OF Tiers: Preseason

Prior to writing for FanGraphs, I never took time to systematically reevaluate players. That’s not to say I never evaluate players after draft day — of course I do. But I typically only concern myself with the players I own and compare them to those on waivers. Occasionally, if my team is wildly imbalanced, I’ll evaluate other owners’ players for potential trades.

Because it’s tedious to thoroughly re-rank all the players at one position, let alone in all of Major League Baseball. I can’t complain, though, becauseI’ve learned something new with every re-rank, the most prominent lesson being baseball players exist to humiliate you. I’m being hyperbolic, and perhaps Carlos Gonzalez is, too, but his recent results speak volumes: CarGo more than doubled his home run total between my July re-rank of National League outfielders and now.

I also learned I need to learn to stand my ground. After mindlessly over-ranking Carlos Gomez in June, I slotted him at the top of the fourth tier (roughly 20th overall) in July. I got slammed for it and I backpedaled on my stance a bit when responding to comments, but, like clockwork, Gomez has continued to underwhelm, hitting .230/.373/.410 with two home runs and nary a stolen base. Sure, the 17.3-percent walk rate (BB%) the last 30 days is nice, and it brings him back up to normal Carlos Gomez levels, but his batted ball profile continues to resemble the generally uninteresting pre-breakout Carlos Gomez.

Anyway, iers will conform to my ranking of feature-length films directed by Hayao Miyazaki, with emphases on directed and feature-length. To not see a Miyazaki (or Studio Ghibli) film is to ignore a cherished corner of cinematic history. Like my hotly contested Coen Brothers tiers, these will be very difficult for me to rank.

Spirited Away
Bryce Harper

Spirited Away seems too easy, too obvious, to be a No. 1 pick. The fact of the matter is it’s masterfully written and animated, and I never grow tired of watching (or listening to) it. Kind of like Harper, who, given the season he’s having, is practically an animated character himself.

Princess Mononoke
Ryan Braun
Justin Upton
Charlie Blackmon
A.J. Pollock
Starling Marte
Billy Hamilton

The second tier remains constant. I only drop Upton and Blackmon into a lower tier because I’ve rolled with six tiers all along, and they are more similar to the names currently surrounding them than Harper. Braun gets a slight bump — he’s not hotly-contested-MVP-caliber Braun, but he has certainly rebounded from last year. Oh, and I still don’t know how to rank Hamilton.

Kiki’s Delivery Service
Yoenis Cespedes … is now on the Mets
Joc Pederson
Curtis Granderson
Jay Bruce
Jason Heyward
Andrew McCutchen
Carlos Gonzalez
Matt Kemp
Cameron Maybin
Dexter Fowler

Again, not much has changed. Gonzalez punished baseballs in July but may have over-regressed. It doesn’t take a genius to know he can’t sustain his recent pace, but his batted ball profile suggests he can’t sustain his season pace, either. I think he may flirt with 30 home runs — if he stays healthy (FOR ONCE!). Kemp’s power output finally corresponds with a batted ball profile that was pretty strong all season, and he’s suddenly putting together a decent season. Relative to draft day expectations, however, he has generally disappointed. Granderson and Bruce get a bump — they hit balls hard, and the occasional stolen base is always welcome.

Howl’s Moving Castle
Carlos Gomez … is now on the Astros
Hunter Pence
Jayson Werth
Yasiel Puig
Gregory Polanco
Randal Grichuk
Marlon Byrd
Brandon Moss … is now on the Cardinals
Ben Revere … is now on the Blue Jays
David Peralta
Chris Coghlan
Gerardo Parra … is now on the Orioles
Michael Taylor
Khris Davis
Denard Span (DL: early August)

Just as I struggled to choose Kiki’s Delivery Service over Howl’s Moving Castle, I struggled to divide into two tiers a large group of hitters with similar offensive outputs (in terms of total value). Pence, Werth, Puig, Polanco, Grichuk, Byrd, Davis and Revere will all contribute to either home runs or stolen bases but not really the other. Despite his struggles, Polanco continues to hold his own, and 30 stolen bases with a .240 batting average is nohing to sneeze at.

Grichuk has quickly established himself as an offensive force, but the .382 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) makes me nervous. Still, he could reach 20 home runs by season’s end, so I may have underrated him. He looks like a Joc Pederson who doesn’t walk. I’m bullish on Davis due to his newfound playing time and power potential, but I’d rather own Michael Taylor, who is toolsy as hell but also a batting average liability if there ever was one.

I will gladly eat my words when Gomez feeds them to me, but until then…

The Wind Rises
Giancarlo Stanton (DL: late August?)
Nori Aoki
Ender Inciarte
Yasmany Tomas
Christian Yelich
Will Venable
Nick Markakis
Jorge Soler
Andre Ethier
Odubel Herrera
Kelly Johnson
Juan Lagares
Gregor Blanco
Jeff Francoeur

Once more, not a lot of change. Stanton’s recovery progresses more slowly than expected, so I have a poor gauge on his rest-of-season contributions. Yelich has flashed more power recently but his ground ball tendencies make me reluctant to trust him for any more. Markakis provides the most robust production for the emptiest stat line. Francoeur (whose name I tried spelling about eight different ways while writing this) is hitting balls 1) hard and 2) in the air, validating his modest power display. He’s somewhat of a walking punchline, but hey, maybe he’s helpful in a one o’ them deep leagues.

My Neighbor Totoro
Wil Myers (DL: late August?)
Angel Pagan
Justin Maxwell
Ichiro Suzuki
Scott Van Slyke
Alex Guerrero
Marcell Ozuna (AAA)
Peter Bourjos
Michael Morse
Carl Crawford
Cody Asche
Drew Stubbs
Domonic Brown
Corey Dickerson (DL: unknown)
Matt Holliday (DL: unknown)
Michael Cuddyer (DL: unknown)

Injured hitters and part-timers galore. I typically make clear that most tiers are fluid — that is, hitters can be moved up or down a couple of spots — but Ozuna is a very deliberate placement. I think I would rather stash him than own any of the players listed below him. Van Slyke and Guerrero and technically stashes, too, except in the deepest leagues. Dickerson, Holliday and Cuddyer have no concrete timetables for return.

Notes:

  • Someone suggested Ben Paulsen deserves to be ranked. I concur, but not as an outfielder — he primarily plays first base, and FanGraphs ranks him as such.
  • I’ve never seen Castle in the Sky, and I’m liable to re-watch Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Porco Rosso.
  • Let’s civilly discuss, or uninhibitedly argue, with one another in the comments!

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Currently investigating the relationship between pitcher effectiveness and beard density. Biased toward a nicely rolled baseball pant. Reigning FSWA Baseball Writer of the Year and 5-time award finalist. Featured in Lindy's Sports' Fantasy Baseball magazine (2018, 2019). Now a Tout Wars competitor.

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Hate to be That Guy, but Gomez is in the AL now…