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March 20, 2012

Resident Fantasy Genius

Fantasy Tier Rankings: NL Outfielders

by Derek Carty

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These are the National League outfielder rankings for 2012. Check out our previous closer, AL starting pitchers, NL starting pitchers, catcher, first base, second base, third base, and shortstop installments.

As a reminder, five-star players are generally going to be your star-level producers that will be selected within the first couple of rounds, usually worth upward of $30. Four-star players are the next step down, worth more than $20. Three stars are worth more than $10, two stars will be in the single digits, and one star will be roster-filler and late-round fliers. Of course, this is just a general guideline. While the rankings will generally follow PECOTA, I will deviate when I feel strongly that a player will over or underperform his PECOTA projection.

I’ve also decided to give my choice for a value pick in each tier—a guy who I think will be worth more than your leaguemates do, or a guy who I believe stands a good chance of beating his PECOTA projection.

For reference, the dollar values were created by our PFM using a league format of 12 teams, 5x5 scoring, and 23-player rosters—broken down as C (2) 1B (1) 2B (1) 3B (1) SS (1) CI (1) MI (1) OF (5) UT (1) P (9)—and $180 of the $260 budget allocated for hitters and $1 minimum salaries. A minimum of 20 games needed to be played at a position in the previous season to qualify. We’ll be providing values for both mixed leagues and AL-only/NL-only leagues. While this is the industry standard format, your own league structure may differ, in which case you can customize the PFM to your own needs.

Also, please note that for players who are eligible at multiple positions, the dollar values listed are representative of their most valuable position. So for a guy like Emilio Bonifacio who qualifies at shortstop, his dollar values aren’t directly comparable to Carlos Beltran if you’re drafting him as an outfielder. His ranking, however, is indicative of where he would fall as an outfielder.

Five Stars

Player

POS

Team

Mixed $

AL/NL $

PA

AVG

HR

SB

RBI

R

Ryan Braun

LF

MIL

$43.22

$39.84

669

0.306

33

21

110

98

Matt Kemp

CF

LAN

$34.92

$36.48

672

0.288

26

31

93

89

Justin Upton

RF

ARI

$27.40

$29.16

678

0.274

26

19

93

90

This is an easy first tier, perhaps with the surprise that Upton makes the cut. I’m significantly more bullish on Upton’s power than PECOTA. I’d easily take the over on that projection and even on 30 home runs. His raw power is immense. He opened 2011 with some concerned about the shoulder injury that ended his 2010 season early and for which he spent the offseason rehabbing (it’s possible this even hindered him a bit in the early going), so a 40-homer campaign would not surprise me one bit. He was my top target to anchor my NL-only team, but his high price (equal to Braun) forced me out of the bidding.

Five-Star Value Pick: Upton.

Four Stars

Player

POS

Team

Mixed $

AL/NL $

PA

AVG

HR

SB

RBI

R

Carlos Gonzalez

LF,CF,RF

COL

$29.55

$31.92

622

0.295

26

20

95

85

Matt Holliday

LF

SLN

$26.49

$28.94

655

0.299

25

11

92

92

Michael Bourn

CF

ATL

$24.19

$34.47

720

0.268

3

60

61

78

Andrew McCutchen

CF

PIT

$21.41

$27.47

640

0.277

18

26

79

83

Giancarlo Stanton

RF

FLO

$20.96

$22.22

636

0.253

35

4

97

85

This is a boring group, but in a good way. These guys are all excellent, stable producers, so you shouldn’t have much hesitation drafting any of them. CarGo, McCutchen, and Stanton all have upside left, although I’m wary about Stanton. Between his spring wrist and knee injuries and the new ballpark in Miami boasting deeper fences than the team’s old home, Stanton is a guy I’ll likely be passing up in all of my leagues this year.

Four-Star Value Pick: Michael Bourn might be the biggest surprise of this group, perhaps accentuated by the fact that he ranks highest of the group in terms of PECOTA NL-only value. While I feel he might wind up closer to 60 steals than the 50 PECOTA has him down for, that’s still leaps and bounds ahead of number two on the list: Jose Reyes’ 41 projected steals.

Three Stars

Player

POS

Team

Mixed $

AL/NL $

PA

AVG

HR

SB

RBI

R

Jay Bruce

RF

CIN

$18.79

$22.58

627

0.263

30

8

89

81

Jayson Werth

RF

WAS

$20.78

$25.13

667

0.261

26

18

82

86

Michael Morse

1B,LF

WAS

$16.46

$21.26

626

0.28

26

2

88

81

Hunter Pence

RF

PHI

$16.47

$23.03

624

0.282

20

12

82

78

Chris Young

CF

ARI

$14.25

$20.66

633

0.24

23

20

78

76

Jason Heyward

RF

ATL

$10.72

$18.73

617

0.266

20

10

72

79

Drew Stubbs

CF

CIN

$14.27

$24.28

602

0.25

17

35

65

69

Shane Victorino

CF

PHI

$11.95

$22.02

598

0.27

11

26

68

72

Michael Cuddyer

1B,RF

COL

$7.60

$17.20

553

0.278

18

7

71

71

Cameron Maybin

CF

SDN

$10.81

$20.07

660

0.25

13

25

68

74

Dexter Fowler

CF

COL

$12.16

$19.83

688

0.265

8

19

74

84

Angel Pagan

CF

SFN

$11.03

$21.96

618

0.266

8

30

65

70

Corey Hart

RF

MIL

$8.60

$18.15

519

0.275

20

10

73

67

Jason Heyward is the first guy on this list that is much out of line with what PECOTA predicts, and for those who saw my LABR NL team, they know I like Heyward. His performance was affected by injuries last year, and he’s just so talented. He has excellent bat speed, good power, and a great pedigree. It’s risky if you pay too much for him (I paid quite a bit in LABR), but he’s got Five-Star potential.

I love Michael Cuddyer in Colorado. I’m not the only one, as he’s become a very trendy pick in expert leagues. He went in the seventh round of the FSTA mixed league in January and for $27 in LABR NL, and I really like him to best his PECOTA. Going from the tougher league to the easier one and a pitcher’s park to an extreme hitter’s park, good things are in store for Cuddyer.

Three-Star Value Pick: Dexter Fowler is going in the 19th round of Mock Draft Central drafts, and that’s much too low. He hasn’t been able to make it through either of the past two seasons without being demoted, but he’s always been good upon return. The skills are there; he just needs to maintain consistency in displaying them. For the price he’ll cost, the upside is well worth it for a speedy leadoff man in a good lineup.

Two Stars

Player

POS

Team

Mixed $

AL/NL $

PA

AVG

HR

SB

RBI

R

Lance Berkman

1B,RF

SLN

$9.05

$17.32

575

0.268

22

6

71

78

Andre Ethier

RF

LAN

$8.75

$17.07

593

0.278

19

3

74

77

Carlos Lee

1B,LF

HOU

$8.49

$17.14

583

0.275

20

4

75

72

Carlos Beltran

RF

SLN

$12.55

$20.16

596

0.276

20

10

76

78

Emilio Bonifacio

3B,SS,LF

FLO

$7.78

$19.57

657

0.262

2

32

54

69

Lucas Duda

1B,RF

NYN

$5.75

$14.24

590

0.264

19

1

73

75

Jose Tabata

LF

PIT

$4.37

$18.27

551

0.282

6

23

54

64

Martin Prado

3B,LF

ATL

$5.71

$16.14

592

0.289

12

4

69

72

Jon Jay

CF,RF

SLN

$5.04

$16.59

600

0.276

10

13

63

69

Ryan Ludwick

LF

CIN

($4.12)

$8.87

407

0.262

17

2

55

51

John Mayberry

LF,CF

PHI

($0.13)

$12.18

468

0.25

18

10

59

55

The first half of this tier is comprised of aging and/or injury-prone players, half of which will have quality seasons; the other half will fall on their faces and/or fail to reach 300 plate appearances. Don’t ask me which will be which.

The bottom half of this tier, however, is full of lots of interesting guys, either undervalued or breakout candidates. I’d love to fill the majority of my outfield spots in an NL-only league from this tier.

Lucas Duda is a pet player of Rob McQuown, and it’s easy to see why. The guy has a lot of power, and the fence shift in Citi Field will only aid that. Despite his lumbering size, he also manages good strikeout rates, so he shouldn’t be a hindrance in anything but steals.

Emilio Bonifacio is projected for just 32 steals over a full season after stealing 40 last year, but the addition of Ozzie Guillen to the bench could conceivably shoot him up toward 50. Obviously counting on that is unwise, but that’s what the potential is here. Guillen loves speedy guys, and he loves to let them run.

I’ve discussed why I like Ryan Ludwick before, and I managed to snag him for $7 in LABR NL.

Two-Star Value Pick: I don’t understand why more fantasy players aren’t onto Jon Jay. While he’s not outstanding anywhere, he’ll contribute across the board and will have center field all to himself in St. Louis this year. Plus, when (yes, when) Rafael Furcal and Carlos Beltran get injured, he’ll likely find himself batting first or second in front of some very good players.

One Star

Player

POS

Team

Mixed $

AL/NL $

PA

AVG

HR

SB

RBI

R

Andres Torres

CF

NYN

$5.80

$16.93

568

0.247

12

23

64

65

Marlon Byrd

CF

CHN

$3.75

$14.91

573

0.28

12

6

65

69

Logan Morrison

LF

FLO

$2.19

$12.33

557

0.262

15

3

66

71

Nyjer Morgan

CF

MIL

$3.14

$18.50

516

0.278

4

30

49

58

Melky Cabrera

CF

SFN

$4.90

$15.53

652

0.263

9

13

65

72

Jason Bay

LF

NYN

$3.50

$14.32

543

0.254

18

10

63

67

Jason Kubel

RF,DH

ARI

($0.06)

$11.24

479

0.266

18

1

63

61

J.D. Martinez

LF

HOU

($0.24)

$11.19

523

0.271

14

1

63

62

Chris Heisey

LF

CIN

$3.33

$14.73

470

0.263

22

8

65

59

David DeJesus

RF

CHN

$2.77

$13.89

592

0.274

11

6

63

71

Will Venable

RF

SDN

$2.76

$14.91

531

0.241

15

20

59

60

Yonder Alonso

LF,OF

SDN

$1.00

$11.80

581

0.253

14

6

63

67

Brandon Belt

1B,LF

SFN

($0.31)

$11.78

489

0.255

15

9

57

61

Alex Presley

LF

PIT

($1.26)

$12.41

479

0.275

7

13

54

55

Garrett Jones

1B,RF

PIT

($0.44)

$11.70

469

0.255

17

8

59

56

Carlos Quentin

RF

SDN

($3.30)

$8.41

451

0.241

19

2

57

56

Nate Schierholtz

RF

SFN

($3.57)

$10.04

459

0.269

9

8

53

53

Gerardo Parra

LF

ARI

($5.00)

$9.76

441

0.28

7

8

48

52

Alfonso Soriano

LF

CHN

($8.61)

$6.97

342

0.254

15

5

47

41

Jordan Schafer

CF

HOU

($7.88)

$8.33

478

0.234

5

20

38

48

Bryan LaHair

RF,OF

CHN

($9.51)

$5.96

348

0.262

15

0

47

44

There’s a lot of mediocrity here and only a few guys who figure to be undervalued. If you’re in an NL-only league, you’ll want to avoid picking more than one or two outfielders from this tier.

Jason Bay is a tough guy to evaluate. He’s tempting when you consider that the Mets are moving the Citi Field fences in and that one study found he’d have doubled his home power production had those changes been in place from the site. On the other hand, he’s injury-prone, aging, and BP2012 notes that his bat speed is decreasing. I’ll take him for the right price.

I talked about why David DeJesus could be undervalued when he was traded to the Cubs over the winter, so I’ll direct you there.

One-Star Value Pick: Marlon Byrd. Fantasy owners will look at his injury-shortened 2011 and discount him, but his injury was a freak thing, and he should be okay this season. He’s one of those guys that (as you surely know by now) I love because while he doesn’t do anything exceptionally, he does lots of things well enough. Those little things add up.

***

With over 1,600 player comments in Baseball Prospectus 2012, you might find it difficult to read through them all before draft day arrives. To help you out, I’ll point you toward some of the most insightful comments for this position. These are the guys that I’d highly recommend flipping to in your copy of the book and reading before you sit down at the draft table.

Be sure to read the BP2012 comments for these NL outfielders: Jason Bay, Brandon Belt, David DeJesus, Lucas Duda, J.D. Martinez, John Mayberry, Logan Morrison, and Jayson Werth.

23 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

R.A.Wagman

How much, if at all, does your list change in leagues that look at CFs differently from corner-men? Thanks.

Mar 20, 2012 04:59 AM
rating: 1
 
mikebuetow

I appreciate these lists to no end. Regrettably, they are out considerably later than last year, and many drafts already have taken place. I would ask that going forward, BP tries to return to the schedule of previous years. (I realize the tier data are now included in the PFM, too, which is a great move.)

Mar 20, 2012 05:16 AM
rating: 4
 
DanDaMan

Have to agree with the comment above about the timeline. Still have 1 more draft to go though. Any chance you could put out a combined list of OF's (I imagine AL OF's are next). And maybe pitchers too? Much appreciated.

Mar 20, 2012 06:07 AM
rating: 2
 
ccweinmann

Agree. This is too late for all three of my drafts. I know it's a lot of work to do these, but it's wasted work if you wait this long.

Mar 20, 2012 08:04 AM
rating: 5
 
Tarakas

I agree. The lists came out to late this year. My draft has already happened.

Mar 20, 2012 09:33 AM
rating: 2
 
montanabowers

Pitchers are already out - check the "Fantasy" section. Knowing Derek's pattern, I'll bet the AL outfielders are out tomorrow. I have to disagree to some extent regarding this lists because the PFM already is working for us. Plus, if you take the tier ratings $$ suggestions, you can build your own tiers in no time flat.

Mar 20, 2012 06:27 AM
rating: 1
 
ccweinmann

It's true that PFM can get you much of the same information. But the point of these lists, I think, is to look through and beyond PFM to what is really going on. PECOTA and PFM are great tools, but for fantasy purposes, the most critical thing is to understand where they might be missing something.

Mar 20, 2012 08:09 AM
rating: 1
 
Kyle E.

Well said, I really like Carty's work in this series and really like the tier rankings showing up in the PFM CSV file. Wish the outfield rankings were apart of that prior to my draft this past Sunday.

Mar 20, 2012 11:42 AM
rating: 0
 
Menthol

Surprised how bearish you are on Melky.

Mar 20, 2012 07:08 AM
rating: 0
 
jasemilw4

Does Allen Craig miss this list because he's hurt, or because he's not really an OF?

Mar 20, 2012 07:33 AM
rating: 1
 
ccweinmann

After last year, you would really take Werth that high? Over Pence, for example? I wouldn't, and I haven't been seeing that happen in any of the drafts I've participated in. Do you really believe it?

Mar 20, 2012 08:11 AM
rating: 1
 
Patrick

I don't think I would take Werth over Pence, but I'd rather take Werth a round or two later and not be surprised if the former outperforms the latter.

Mar 21, 2012 06:40 AM
rating: 0
 
CalledStrike3

Werth is a 2 star in an OBP% league in my book ... I can draw a line through his last race.

As Derek pointed out in other writings, getting offense in the NL is paramount as solid pitching is in abundance.

Picking up a Ryan Ludwick, JD Martinez or a Brandon Belt for under $12 would certainly help. Don't forget El Caballo.

Finally - I am personally concerned that Ryan Braun's stats will suffer from "guilty swings" .... in Golf when someone cheats they often take a guilty swing shortly thereafter. Braun is already hiding from spring training media - wait until he hits a tough patch and the wolves come out ...its gonna be tough ... my point is the stats are sexy - but there is risk involved.

Mar 20, 2012 11:57 AM
rating: 0
 
CalledStrike3

Sorry Werth should be a 4 star in obp% leagues...is what I meant.

Mar 20, 2012 11:58 AM
rating: 0
 
doshspy

Agree, the articles are good but the timing is poor. This is the sort of error that costs paying customers.

Mar 20, 2012 14:31 PM
rating: 2
 
baconjeff

I'm sure you've watched Stanton play a bit. He doesn't tend to hit to many "wall-scraper" home runs, and there is no data yet on the Miami ballpark yet. Seems a bit risk aversive for a cat who has done what he has in the bigs in his early twenties.

Mar 20, 2012 16:46 PM
rating: 0
 
sherwoodallan

no josh willingham?

Mar 20, 2012 17:51 PM
rating: 0
 
mikebuetow

He plays for the Twins now.

Mar 21, 2012 04:49 AM
rating: 1
 
sherwoodallan

and how is michael bourn only projected for 78 runs?

Mar 20, 2012 17:53 PM
rating: -1
 
Nickus

I'm guessing because the rest of the lineup isn't all that great. According to the BP depth charts, Chipper, McCann, and Uggla are slated for the most time at the 3-4-5 slots, and stealing home is pretty hard to do, especially when PECOTA projects a .326 OPB.

Mar 20, 2012 20:39 PM
rating: 0
 
pobothecat

Love to have me some $2 Logan Morrison and 31 cent Brandon Belt.

Mar 21, 2012 11:28 AM
rating: 0
 
BarryR

I believe that's MINUS 31 cent Brandon Belt.

Mar 21, 2012 12:30 PM
rating: 0
 
swarmee

In a 12-team mixed league, it's understandable. Both have talent, but what are they going to do with it? Could be worth $10, could be sent back to the minors this season. Not as sexy as David DeJesus at this point, but not much difference in their projected performances.

Mar 21, 2012 13:36 PM
rating: 0
 
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