March 25, 2013
Fantasy Tier Rankings
American League Outfielders
Today we continue our positional tier rankings. Last offseason, Derek Carty tackled the tiers by himself; this spring, we've decided to attack them as a team. Players at each position will be divided into five tiers, represented by the number of stars.
Five-star players are the studs at their respective position. In general, they are the players that will be nabbed in the first couple of rounds of the draft, and they'll fetch auction bids in excess of $30. Four-star players are a cut below the studs at the position. They will also be earl- round selections, and they're projected to be worth more than $20 in most cases. Three-star players are the last tier in which players are projected to provide double-digit dollar value in auctions, and two-star players are projected to earn single digits in dollar value in auctions. One-star players are late round sleepers and roster placeholders. As was the case with our positional rankings series, the positional tiers aren't simply a regurgitation of the projected PECOTA values.
We retained last year's roster requirements for the positional tier series. Dollar values come from our PFM using a 12-team, standard 5x5 scoring format, with 23-man rosters and the following positions: C (2) 1B (1) 2B (1) 3B (1) SS (1) CI (1) MI (1) OF (5) UT (1) P (9). The minimum bid for players is $1, and, as we did last year, we'll allocate $180 of a $260 budget to hitters. Players needed to play in 20 games at a position to qualify there. The PFM is customizable, so if your league uses a different format, you can adjust it to match your league settings and see how it impacts players’ dollar values.
You can find the previous Fantasy Tier Rankings posts here:
We have split the outfielders into two articles. The American League tiers are below; you can find the National League tiers here.
There are a couple of players in the four-star tier you could make an argument for here, but Trout is so far ahead of the rest of the pack that he deservedly stands alone. Even with the fair amount of regression that PECOTA builds into Trout’s projection, he still nearly holds $10 more of value over the next best outfielder in AL–only leagues and trails only Ryan Braun in mixed formats.
Just like in 2012, this is a rather deep group of outfielders. Depending on how long Granderson is out, he may or may not belong in this group; everyone else definitely belongs.
Bautista has the best chance of all the hitters here to move into the five-star category with Trout, but his batting average and lack of serious speed should keep him from doing so. He’s the American League version of Giancarlo Stanton: a strong power hitter whose deficiencies shouldn’t be forgotten so much that you push him into the top tier. Fortunately, there is enough power in the American League that it is very unlikely that you will do this.
PECOTA doesn’t like Hamilton very much for 2013, and I’m definitely in agreement. While Hamilton has always been a very good hitter, 2010 was his only epic season, and now he’s moving from a hitters’ haven to a pitchers’ paradise. Hamilton’s production is going to fall off considerably ibn his new venue, and while this isn’t enough to recommend staying away, caution is advised.
Four-Star Value Pick: Despite his excellent season in 2012, Rios still comes across like something of a forgotten man in shallower fantasy leagues. Nevertheless, Rios should be good for nearly a 20/20 season, and even if the batting average drops, he won’t lose a significant amount of value. While Jennings and Jones are going to be more desirable picks, Rios out-earned them last year and could easily do so again.
Josh Shepardson didn’t talk about him in his first-base tier article, so I’ll tackle my reservations about Trumbo here. While it’s generally a bad idea to cherry pick parts of a season to fit a thesis, Trumbo’s awful slump in the last two months of 2012 flashes all sorts of warning signs. Pitchers stopped throwing Trumbo strikes, and he started hacking at everything. The power might still be there, but a .230 batting average with diminished home-run totals wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
The perpetual injury bug keeps Crisp from moving up any higher, but every year he’s an extremely reliable source of speed and provides enough pop to make him more than just a cheap mixed-league option.
If Cain can stay on the field, this projection looks low. He flashed power in the minors in 2011 and maintained that power when he did play in 2012. He’s a cut above your typical mixed-league, borderline-speed play.
Three-Star Value Pick: Saunders isn’t even being drafted in some standard mixed leagues, which is ridiculous for a guy with 20/20 potential. The HR/FB rate speaks to some regression in the power department, but the BABIP and the drop in strikeout rate are legitimate, and Saunders should hold down a regular outfield gig in Seattle all year long.
Murphy has finally reached the point of his career where he can’t be considered underrated. He’s never going to go 20/20, but automatic double-digit homers and steals with a solid batting average is worthy of a double-digit AL-only bid.
If Bourn and Gardner are too rich for your blood, Bonifacio is probably the play. Maicer Izturis has a shot at the second base job, but on this Jays roster, he’s probably a better fit for a utility slot than Bonifacio is. In a full-time gig, Bonifacio could steal 40-50 bags.
There are a few players in this tier that have three-star upside, but more than a few have one-star crash-and-burn potential. Stubbs is only a couple of years removed from near top-tier status, but another season of terrible contact and he could disappear entirely. Rasmus has one great season under his belt and little else. Bourjos’s defense should keep him on the field and he has 40-steal potential if nothing else, but the hip injury that magically “went away” this winter should give his potential owners pause.
Two-Star Value Pick: Viciedo fits the “post-hype sleeper” profile well. He is never going to be a superstar, but has the potential to provide solid power at a price well below those of some of the bigger names who are ahead of him on draft lists.
Myers’s projection is obviously predicated on if/when the Rays call him up to the majors. An early call-up isn’t out of the question, but Rays watchers believe that June is more likely due to Myers’ defense being a less than finished product. Even with Myers’ power ceiling, a June call-up makes him a one-star player.
It looks very likely that Hicks is going to break camp with the Twins, but his low minor-league batting averages make me believe an adjustment period is coming. The steals should keep Hicks viable in deeper leagues, but his mixed-league credentials are questionable.
Davis looks like an AL-only guy, but every year, he exceeds his PECOTA projection and steals a bushel of bases. He does nothing else, but as long as his average doesn’t fall off a cliff, he’s going to be a bargain.
One-Star Value Pick: Nearly every one of the players here could fit the profile of a value pick, but each also has the potential to collapse. Dirks is the best candidate to maintain a regular job all season long and provide the value built into that PECOTA projection. Injuries limited his base-stealing ability in 2012, and while Jim Leyland isn’t going to give Dirks the green light, healthy wheels mean that Dirks could still be good for 10-15 steals.