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To read the previous editions in this series, follow the links below:

Our tiered rankings series continues with a look at the first half of the outfielders.

Players at each position are divided into five tiers, represented by a numerical star rating. Five-star players are the studs at their respective position. In general, they are the players who 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 early-round selections, and they are 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. The positional tiers aren't simply a regurgitation of last year’s values but rather try to offer some insights into what we expect will happen in 2014.

We retained last year's roster requirements for the positional tier series. Dollar values come from last year’s PFM using a 12-team, standard 5×5 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 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.

Players with multi-position eligibility are listed at the position where it is most likely they would start in a standard fantasy league, which means some of the players for whom you’re looking are located in a different tiered rankings list.

Five Stars

Player

Team

Mixed $

AL/NL $

PA

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

Mike Trout

LAA

$42.23

$42.84

705

115

36

111

16

.287

Andrew McCutchen

PIT

$29.77

$32.61

648

89

25

83

18

.314

Giancarlo Stanton

MIA

$33.36

$35.01

638

89

37

105

13

.288

Carlos Gomez

MIL

$35.00

$38.44

644

95

23

73

34

.284

Too much fuss has been made over the increased strikeout rate for Trout. His 7.4 percent swinging-strike rate is still far below the league-average number of 9.4 percent. He also launched 36 bombs with 16 stolen bases. He’s a true five-category producer, while being borderline elite in all categories. If Trout doesn’t go first overall in your league this year, just do everyone a favor and disband it because it’s a joke.

Since the beginning of 2011, McCutchen ranks top-25 cumulatively in each of the five standard roto categories. That’s elite, and the Pirates batting order will arguably be even better in 2015, which could increase the run/RBI totals. Stanton, on the other hand, surprised everyone with 13 stolen bases last year. If he continues to run, he’s a fantasy superstar. At the very least, he has 40-homer potential with great run/RBI numbers. The batting average took a nice jump a year ago, too.

Gomez is a power/speed superstar, and now that his overall skill set at the plate has improved over the past couple of years, the batting average is no longer an anchor weighing him down. His RBI totals could take a hit in 2015, though, if the Brewers bat him leadoff.

Five-Star Value Pick: Mike Trout
If you’re going to pony up and pay for elite talent, don’t mess around. Grab the Omega Man and enjoy the dividends later. It’s not like you’re going to go wrong with anyone in the five-star tier, though. Stud-tastic.

Four Stars

Player

Team

Mixed $

AL/NL $

PA

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

Adam Jones

BAL

$25.95

$30.09

682

88

29

96

7

.281

Jacoby Ellsbury

NYY

$28.09

$37.72

635

71

16

70

39

.271

Ryan Braun

MIL

$14.98

$22.44

580

68

19

81

11

.266

Jose Bautista

TOR

$30.99

$33.12

673

101

35

103

6

.286

Yasiel Puig

LAD

$19.40

$24.15

640

92

16

69

11

.296

Carlos Gonzalez

COL

$-5.77

$6.69

281

35

11

38

3

.239

Michael Brantley

CLE

$36.41

$39.94

676

94

20

97

23

.327

Bryce Harper

WAS

$-3.35

$8.31

395

41

13

32

2

.273

George Springer

HOU

$0.71

$10.47

345

45

20

51

5

.231

Billy Hamilton

CIN

$27.68

$37.19

611

72

6

48

56

.250

Starling Marte

PIT

$20.78

$28.60

545

73

13

56

30

.291

Justin Upton

SD

$23.27

$27.72

641

77

29

102

8

.270

Hunter Pence

SF

$25.25

$28.25

708

106

20

74

13

.277

Matt Kemp

SD

$20.59

$25.65

599

77

25

89

8

.287

Jason Heyward

STL

$14.80

$23.12

649

74

11

58

20

.271

Christian Yelich

MIA

$19.09

$25.10

660

94

9

54

21

.284

Atop this tier, the first two players are essentially a toss up. Jones offers a bit more power, while Ellsbury swipes more bases, but the batting average should be similar between the two. For me, it becomes about nothing more than preference at that point.

Ranking Braun here may raise a few eyebrows because the 31-year-old hit .226/.295/.374 in the second half. Some want to make the discussion about performance-enhancing drugs, or a lack thereof, but the real story lies in the fact that Braun couldn’t hang onto the bat as the season progressed. The nerve issue in his thumb spread into his hand, and he reportedly had trouble even shaking hands without pain. The former MVP underwent experimental surgery in the offseason, which has him and the team extremely optimistic that the issue is behind him. He hit .298/.348/.515 in the first half, before the pain became almost unplayable, which seems to suggest if he’s anything close to 100 percent, he’ll be a fantasy stud once again.

Bautista and Gonzalez offer a couple second- or third-round gambles that could pay off handsomely. Their respective skill sets are well established. It becomes whether the age (Bautista) or injury (CarGo) concerns are large enough to scare you away on draft day. Puig, on the other hand, is an upside play with very little downside. If he can sustain the power he showed through the first four months of the season, he’ll be a borderline top-five fantasy outfielder.

Dr. Smooth was the best player the average fan didn’t know existed last year. He’s always controlled the strike zone and hit for average, the question surrounds the increased power production. Can Brantley hit 20-plus homers again? If not, he should still provide value in the other four categories, making the price worthwhile.

How much do you like paying for expected, rather than established production? The trio following Brantley intrigues fantasy owners by what they could be. Harper and Springer could be tremendous power/speed options, while Hamilton has the potential to lead the league in stolen bases by a comfortable margin with high run totals. None of these players are sure bets, though. Do you feel lucky?

Lots of talk has circulated this offseason that Marte is poised for regression due to his .373 BABIP. Well, he owns a career .363 BABIP in almost 1,300 big-league plate appearances and regularly eclipsed the .380 mark in the minors. Perhaps it’s time that we view this as a trend, rather than an anomaly that must change. As for Upton and Pence are concerned, they’re a pair of solid fantasy options in poor offensive ballparks. They have an established track record and owners should feel comfortable with their pre-draft expectations.

Will offseason moves benefit Matt Kemp and Jayson Heyward? Kemp finally returned to power in 2014, but fantasy owners are left wondering whether he’ll start running again in San Diego. He may be 30, but the power/speed combination of old could still be in there somewhere. Heyward has largely disappointed since his 27/21 season in 2012. He’s only 25 years old, though, and should benefit from the Cardinals’ Devil Magic that suddenly improves everyone who dons the uniform. Maybe it only seems that way.

Yelich is one of the game’s most exciting young hitters, but he’s been hidden in Miami, baseball’s forgotten kingdom. He’s expected to hit second or third this year, which should improve his RBI totals. The game is high-average and 20-plus stolen bases with moderate power. There’s upside here, too.

Four-Star Value Pick: Carlos Gonzalez
CarGo is currently being drafted 48th overall, according to NFBC. For a legitimate five-category producer who was considered a top-tier talent just a year ago, it makes complete sense to gamble on the bounce-back season. It’s not as if he’s a non-injury concern this year, but much like Johnny Cueto in 2014, take advantage of the fact that people have “forgotten” about Gonzalez and reap the top-five caliber performance if he can stay on the field. There’s too much surplus value here to ignore.

Three Stars

Player

Team

Mixed $

AL/NL $

PA

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

Charlie Blackmon

COL

$27.83

$33.10

648

82

19

72

28

.288

Nelson Cruz

SEA

$29.22

$32.47

678

87

40

108

4

.271

Jay Bruce

CIN

$9.58

$18.99

545

71

18

66

12

.217

Ben Revere

PHI

$24.22

$33.55

626

71

2

28

49

.306

Alex Gordon

KC

$18.51

$24.83

643

87

19

74

12

.266

Corey Dickerson

COL

$17.72

$23.61

478

74

24

76

8

.312

Kole Calhoun

LAA

$11.97

$18.40

537

90

17

58

5

.272

Yoenis Cespedes

DET

$21.58

$25.99

645

89

22

100

7

.260

Shin-Soo Choo

TEX

$-0.08

$8.96

529

58

13

40

3

.242

Melky Cabrera

CHW

$15.89

$21.88

621

81

16

73

6

.301

Blackmon is a bit of a worry, given his second-half decline, but he still benefits from the Coors Field Effect™ and should be a solid 15/15 guy. I have questions about his platoon issues and whether opposing pitchers figured him out after a torrid first half, but there’s still an attractive fantasy profile.

Cruz obliterated the league with 40 homers last year, but he moves to a brutal ballpark in Seattle. Fantasy owners have to take note. His power carries his overall profile. If that dips, he’s nothing more than mediocre… which is precisely what Jay Bruce was a year ago. He had hit 30-plus homers in three-consecutive seasons, but last year, the groundballs came and the power went away. The track record suggests he’ll bounce back, though. It’s dangerous to put too much stock in a single season’s worth of stats.

The whole world wept with joy when Revere connected with his first big-league homer in five seasons. It’s still nothing but stolen bases and batting average, but you can find power elsewhere. You can’t find 40-plus steals lying around in the later rounds. Alex Gordon is boring and average in fantasy. That’s fine. It’s just boring and I don’t really want to talk about him.

Dickerson and Calhoun are a pair of outfielders who displayed attractive skill sets for a portion of the season, but have yet to prove they can sustain top-20 production for 600 PA. Dickerson was a top-15 overall hitter in the second half, posting a .257 ISO and hitting over .300. Some platoon issues linger and one wonders how much the league will adjust the second go-round. Calhoun, on the other hand, annihilated the league in June and July. He even hit .346/.386/.568 in June with 10 extra-base hits. The 27-year-old has flashed 15/10 ability over the past two seasons. Does he put it together with an abundant run total in 2015?

Cespedes switches parks, and although fantasy owners would have enjoyed an entire year in Fenway, it doesn’t hurt his overall value to be in Detroit. Furthermore, Shin-Soo Choo has fallen because many fantasy owners apparently believe that he suddenly forgot how to play baseball in a year. Take advantage of the recency bias. Cabrera has hit .300-plus with double-digit homers in three of the past four seasons. Perhaps the collapse in 2013 was due to injury and not performance-enhancing drugs, eh?

Three-Star Value Pick: Melky Cabrera
As much as Choo makes sense for the value pick, Cabrera is currently being selected after Shoo in the average draft. He displayed the power and overall hitting ability that people thought he lost post-PED suspension. If the stolen base totals return to their 2011-2012 levels, he’s a wonderful fantasy option who will bat in the upper half of a suddenly loaded White Sox lineup.

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dandaman
2/10
JP- perhaps you could do some research on the "Cardinals Devil Magic". That would be an interesting article.
MUGATU
2/10
Speaking of... Matt Holliday is going to earn single digits this year? Interesting.
jimmyb1799
2/10
Keep in mind that the FPM utilized in this article illustrates value from 2014. It's not projecting 2015 value -- as that's the purpose of the tiered rankings.
MUGATU
2/11
Like the poster below, I had assumed that this was the end of the Three Star tier, which would have landed Holliday in the Two Star tier (defined above as "players are projected to earn single digits in dollar value in auctions"). Apologies for the misinterpretation, and keep up the good work boys!
msbirt
2/10
Preparing for my AL-only auction this year, I thought it felt a little thin in the outfield. But I figured it was just my imagination. Looking over these tiers, however, of the 20 players in the first two tiers, only six are in the AL. It's going to be a dogfight to get somebody who can contribute at the position.
dbiester
2/10
PFM seems to like Souza quite a bit. Any comment?
t0mmyo
2/10
I would also like a comment about Souza. PFM likes Souza "quite a bit" doesn't do it justice (.260 25HR and 25SB). I don't doubt the PFM, but damn those are some high projections for someone who has 23 major league ABs.
jimmyb1799
2/10
Absolutely. When Nick and I put these tiered rankings together, the PFM is just a single tool in the vast array of tools available to us. It's a great option for BP subscribers to use for draft strategy, but it should also be taken into consideration with scouting reports -- one should also expect Souza to need a bit of an adjustment period at the major-league level, as almost all young players do. I personally like Souza, just not as a top-30 outfielder on draft day.
coopr1248
2/10
Surprised Denard Span didn't make the Three Star tier considering he was the only player last year to have all three: over 30 SB, over 90 runs, over .300 avg.
danugglasforearm
2/10
I thought the same thing, especially after seeing Revere in the group.
bretsayre
2/10
Actually, the tier group doesn't end with Cabrera -- just the top 30. Not to spoil too much of what's to come tomorrow, but Span does clock in a three-star guy.
JoshC77
2/10
I was going to ask about Heyward here and your phrase of 'Cardinals Devil Magic' is precisely what I was thinking of. I have had him on my team for the last three seasons in a league that uses OPS in addition to BA; so his OBP doesn't completely go to waste. He obviously hasn't blossomed into the super-stud we all seem to have expected - but as a Cardinals Hater....I can just see them using their 'Devil Magic' to help him turn it around. I can basically keep either him or Iwakuma in my league for a ninth rounder (14 teams, 5 keepers each). Statistically, I'd go Iwakuma....but there is this little piece of me that wonders if I'd regret not keeping Heyward. Thoughts?
Nacho999
2/11
Brett Gardner gets no respect...
jemw06
3/13
Dickerson stuck with lesser talent in tier 3, several players he should go before in fantasy drafts in tier 2. The kid can hit for average and power, and he has shown that at every stop. Great get for any fantosquad this season.