This is my second ever installment of tiered rankings so, I admit, I’m still figuring out how to properly balance a hitter’s present and future values. It’s too easy to rank them by, say, their current ESPN Player Rater rankings, but it would be foolish to still rank them simply by expected end-of-season value, as I did in March.
I was, inevitably, lit up by commenters for a few of my rankings. Actually, it was primarily one. And it couldn’t be more humiliating. (You win, Wil Myers. You win.)
I’m approaching the NL outfield tiers different time around: I’ll provide a snippet, not to exceed 25 words, for each and every player within each and every tier. It’s like hyper-Twitter, which I hope does not translate to hyper-illiteracy. I’d be curious to know if I violate my 25-word limit at any point below. Feel free to let me know. (I’d be more curious to know who actually has time to count.)
Also, players are loosely ranked within tier. There’s rhyme and reason to it, but it’s not super strict. The tiers are most important.
I failed to creatively title my tiers the first time around, so I’ll do so now. I hope they are more contentious than the actual rankings.
Here are your NL outfield tiered rankings for May, in order of best Legend of Zelda games that I’ve played because I haven’t played them all yet wow I’m sorry OK?????? It’s one of my life goals. Anyway:
A LINK TO THE PAST
Andrew McCutchen: A .185 BABIP… woof. Percentage of pitches in the zone continues to decrease — not by a lot, but still, pitchers are challenging him.
Carlos Gomez: Too early to tell if anything’s awry. Will be back Saturday to start kicking some ass again.
Giancarlo Stanton: Strikeout and walk rates trending in wrong direction, but no shortage of counting stats plus career-best fly ball rate a boon for home run count.
OCARINA OF TIME
Corey Dickerson: Doing exactly what probably most expected of him. Legitimate 30-homer candidate. Stolen bases are gravy at this point, but would be nice.
Yasiel Puig: He plays hard, and he’ll get injured, but he continually improves his game. If someone is down on him, I’d buy.
Billy Hamilton: Seven steals in first four games, six in subsequent 14 games. Sporting a three percentage-point gain in BB% which, if sustained, could do wonders.
Padre #1, Justin Upton: Career-high fly ball rate, but inflated HR/FB and deflated walk rate spell bad things. Arguably a sell-high guy.
Padre #2, Matt Kemp: Always a high-BABIP guy, but .394 is too bullish. Career-low fly ball rate makes power prospects bleak, especially at Petco. Run game is encouraging, though.
Padre #3, Wil Myers: Career-high fly ball rate but also infield fly rate, plus microscopic 2.1 BB%. Wrist looks healthy, and he’s running, but OBP will suffer. (Bonus 20 words, because I can’t help myself: First and only two bunts of career came this year, both for hits. Should help his average a couple of ticks.)
Bryce Harper: Massive walk rate from spring carried over, but so did strikeout rate. Batted ball profile typical for Harper. HR/FB rate should slow a bit.
Carlos Gonzalez: Seems to be hitting with authority, but not elevating the ball. Chase rate a career low but seeing fewest pitches in the zone.
(Kris Bryant: Outfield-eligible in your league? Good for you, Glen Coco.)
Starling Marte: So, uh, six homers, eh? Swinging out of his shoes much? Because he has a 34.2-percent strikeout rate. Not running, either. Honestly, I’m nervous.
Gregory Polanco: Halfway to his 2014 SB total in one-fourth the ABs. Benefiting from big-time BABIP help. Plate discipline digressing, like Marte’s. One-trick pony?
Matt Holliday: Perhaps the biggest decline in fly balls I’ve ever seen. (P.S. I wrote this before I saw Christian Yelich’s profile.) Boosted OBP from uncharacteristically high walk rate should recover some lost value from power outage.
Joc Pederson: Sporting a Harperesque blend of walks and strikeouts. Waiting for his batting average to crumble with his BABIP. Where are the steals?
Jorge Soler: Tons of line drives. Tons. But also tons of strikeouts. Simply not making contact on pitches outside the zone.
A.J. Pollock: Simply not elevating the ball, and when he does, lots of infield pop-ups, explaining the low ISO. Meanwhile, stolen base pace identical to 2014.
Charlie Blackmon: Fairly in line with projections so far. BABIP is arguably exorbitant. Extra strikeouts will eat into his batting average.
Ryan Braun: Doubled his home run total last night, so I don’t know. I’m big on plate discipline (if you couldn’t tell), and his is… not good!
Jay Bruce: Good to see the fly ball rate bounce back to 2012 levels. If only the strikeout rate would, too. Buy low on the batting average.
Jayson Werth: Steamer projects him for 15 homers and five steals in consideration of Dl stint to begin year. Should be plenty valuable amid a potent lineup.
Hunter Pence: Jayson Werth 2.0, per Steamer. I’m not gonna make a for what it’s worth joke I’m not gonna make a for what it’s worth joke I’m
Ryan Zimmerman: Does he recover his power? Or is his shoulder too shredded?
Jason Heyward: Career-low walk rate and a 65(!!!!!!!!!) percent ground ball rate. Flat-out horrifying. Chasing more pitches than ever and swinging at fewer good pitches. What’s happening???
Curtis Granderson: Still walking more than he’s striking out, still hitting tons of line drives. Huge uptick in value in OBP leagues, although with notably less power.
Nori Aoki: Elevated walk rate which, if sustained, will offset batting average losses. The base-path improvements are welcome, especially for a 33-year-old.
Ender Inciarte: MLB-best strikeout rate (3.8%), and it’s not even close. Hitting tons of ground balls but could still flirt with .300. Hope he steals more.
TWILIGHT PRINCESS (I regret playing it on Wii instead of GameCube…)
Alex Guerrero: Was already taking advantage of playing time prior to Crawford’s injury. He’ll ultimately keep a starting role or have someone traded away to accommodate him.
Michael Cuddyer: He just does not look good at the plate. Lots of grounders, lots of strikeouts.
Denard Span: Somehow stealing more bases the older he gets. If he’s available, he’s worth an add, unless your outfield is stacked.
Josh Harrison: Plate discipline is remarkably bad and was caught in his only attempt stealing. Majority of his value in his legs.
Mark Trumbo: Walks. Who needs ’em? Shaved 7.5 percentage points off his strikeout rate. Can we expect 25 homers and a career-best batting average? Maybe!
Ben Revere: Just Ben Revere being typical Ben Revere. Real question is does he hit another home run?
Christian Yelich: Don’t know if I’ve seen this before: an 81.3-percent ground ball rate and 6.3-percent fly ball rate. Blame the bulging disk… for now.
ORACLE OF AGES/SEASONS
Nick Markakis: Could anyone be more average? The batting average isn’t real, but the on-base percentage, coupled with that walk rate, looks pretty sexy.
Scott Van Slyke: Best time to stream him now that Crawford/Puig are down. Small sample, but he’s walking more than he’s striking out, and there’s power lurking.
Michael Morse: Nothing awry here except for a ton of grounders. He’s a high-BABIP guy, but he won’t be if he continues to swing into the ground.
Odubel Herrera: Like Lagares, the BABIP is keeping him afloat, but he’s a legitimate threat for 30 steals. Maybe 30 RBI, too.
Angel Pagan: We’re three years removed peak Pagan relevance and there’s not much left to salvage. Countdown ’til the BABIP comes crashing down…
David Peralta: Simply not playing enough to be a consideration in shallow leagues. A name to remember in the event of a Diamondbacks injury.
Marcell Ozuna: Kind of a Chris Carter brand of power: the strikeouts will hurt until the home runs come. Feels like waiting for it to happen is an eternity.
Marlon Byrd: Has not walked once. Not a single time. All while striking out in 30 percent of PAs. How desperate for power are you, exactly?
Yasmany Tomas: Still my bust of the year.
Juan Lagares: That Mets’ win streak padded his counting stats nicely. Just his BABIP is keeping him afloat now.
Eric Young, Jr.: Playing a fair amount, but stealing half as often as what’s typical of him. A hail-mary stolen base play if you can afford the slot.
Ichiro Suzuki: Last year was the first time in his MLB career he stole fewer than 20 bases, and it was only because of playing time. Cheap steals.
Carl Crawford: Sounds like he’ll be out a while. Really doesn’t do much, especially in a part-time role.
Chris Coghlan: Off to a hot start, but no reason to think there’s something here based on six years of mediocrity previously.
Gregor Blanco: Sharing stopgap duties with Blanco. Not much to see here.
Jon Jay: About as underwhelming a starting center fielder as you can find, but he gets the playing time critical for deeper leagues.
Michael Taylor: A non-factor in redraft leagues (until Harper hurts himself) but an intriguing name in keepers and dynasties.
Randal Grichuk: Already crunched for playing time prior to DL stint.
Arismendy Alcantara: Optioned to Triple-A. These things happen. (Still a keeper and dynasty consideration.)
I absolutely regret doing that for every player, and I know I didn’t even cover all of them. And it’s going to stay that way, save egregious omissions.
Considerable apologies to Majora’s Mask and Wind Waker for neglecting you. One day, we will unite… one day.