The state of the outfield is strong, my friends. As Mike Gianella pointed out in his look at the State of the Position on Monday, outfield accounted for nearly half of all hitting value in 2014, and the position features a strong batch of up-and-coming talent to reinforce its elite top shelf. The opportunity to run up a significant OBP cushion is of particular note in this positional grouping, as the position’s collective .321 OBP last season trailed only first basemen, and there are a lot more outfielders than there are first basemen. In an attempt to accommodate the depth of the position I’ve added a “runners up” list at the bottom of each section with some other notable names to keep in mind on top of the profiled hitters, and I’m happy to expand on any of them in the comments below.

In case you missed it, here are our tiered rankings for outfielders in standard leagues: Part I (The Top 30) and Part II (The Top 60).

Previous articles in this series: Catcher, First Base, Second Base, Third Base, and Shortstop.

OBP Leagues

Securing yourself at least a couple of OBP studs in the outfield is of paramount importance, as the depth of the position and opportunity to generate relative value is second to none among the positional groupings. Last season 29 outfielders produced 80 or more points of OBP-AVG separation (minimum 200 plate appearances), compared to five shortstops and three second basemen. This is the position that makes you your money, which makes understanding the contours for proper non-standard valuation all the more critical. Targeting the “up” guys is important, but properly downgrading the “down” guys on your draft board is really where it’s at in OBP formats.

Arrows Up

Giancarlo Stanton, MIA
Stanton’s already going second overall in drafts, and it’s not likely he’s going to suddenly pass Trout. So the arrow can’t really go “up” anywhere. But he deserves a quick note at the top here because he led all NL hitters in gaining over six bucks of additional value in OBP leagues last year, thanks to his second consecutive season posting a 14.7% walk rate. So just know that he’s worth that much more in OBP leagues. Standard: Five Stars, OBP: Five Stars

Jose Bautista, TOR
Similar to the man above, Bautista also doesn’t have a ton of real estate above him in these rankings. But he was one of only three outfielders along with the aforementioned misters Trout and Stanton to earn $40 in OBP –only leagues last year, and his $8 of additional value was tops for the position by a wide margin. He should be an easy top-three option and a top-five overall target in OBP leagues. Standard: High-Four Stars, OBP: Five Stars

George Springer, HOU
Springer goes from an AVG liability to a guy perfectly capable of producing an average or better OBP. To wit, he posted the 123rd-best (worst?) AVG among all outfielders with at least 200 plate appearances last year, while his OBP checked in 52nd. Given the power/speed combo it’s enough to push him aggressively towards the top of the second tier for target as a legitimate OF1 option for gamblin’ types in even the shallowest of leagues. Standard: Four Stars, OBP: High-Four Stars

Jayson Werth, WAS
Werth will turn 36 this May, and as age has whittled away his once-potent power and speed numbers he’s gone tumbling down draft boards near and far. He’s currently going off the board as the 38th outfielder in NFBC drafts and toiling away in the middle of our second tier. But as an OBP league option his 12.5% career walk rate still plays up considerably, and the ol’ timer represents some of the sneakiest potential draft day value out there. He returned $5.37 of additional value in OBP formats last year, good for the third-highest jump among all NL bats. Don’t sleep on him as an OF3 option on the cheap in 12-team leagues. Standard: Two Stars, OBP: Three Stars

Dexter Fowler, CHC
While Fowler hasn’t quite taken that step forward to become the power/speed monster his early career hinted at, it’s safe to say at this point in his career that his on-base skills are downright elite. His career 12.5 percent walk rate has bumped up that much more into the 13-plus range over the past two seasons, and his .378 OBP over the past three seasons is seventh-best among outfielders, just ahead of two guys named Jose Bautista and Giancarlo Stanton. Add in the modest power and speed potential and his likely place at the top of a much-improved Cubs lineup, and you’re cooking with gas if you snag Fowler as an OF4 in your 12-team OBP league. Standard: High-One Star, OBP: High-Two Stars

Others: Alex Gordon, KCR (Standard: Three Stars, OBP: High-Three Stars), Shin-Soo Choo, TEX (Standard: Low-Three Stars, OBP: High-Three Stars), Matt Holliday, STL (Standard: Low-Three Stars, OBP: Low-Four Stars), Curtis Granderson, NYM (Standard: Low-Two Stars, OBP: High-Two Stars, Michael Saunders, SEA (Standard: High-One Stars, OBP: Two Stars)

Arrows Down

Adam Jones, BAL
Jones is the archetype of the ever-elusive successful major-league hitter who absolutely refuses to take a walk. His 2.8 percent walk rate was the second-worst among all qualified outfielders last season, and while his .281 AVG tied for 39th at the position his .311 OBP was tied for 93rd. That translated to $5.37 in lost OBP league earnings, which paced all junior circuit outfielders. He’s still a strong option to be sure, but the overall value takes a decent hit in OBP formats. Standard: High-Four Stars, OBP: Four Stars

Charlie Blackmon, COL
As if managers didn’t have enough to worry about with Blackmon’s second half tailspin last season, his value in OBP leagues will catch a breeze like Forrest Gump’s feather and drift even higher up in the air. Blackmon’s four percent Major League walk rate belies a mark that had crept north of 11 over his final couple seasons in the high minors, as none of that patience has really shown any signs of translating. He saw the fourth-largest value decline among NL outfielders last season, and while the power/speed/Coors trifecta offers strong appeal regardless of format he still makes for an uncomfortable investment in OBP leagues at his current mid-OF2 price in standard formats. Standard: High-Three Stars, OBP: Low-Three Stars

Ben Revere, PHI
His 2.1 percent walk rate last year was the worst in baseball, as was his 19-point OBP-AVG differential. His .306 AVG was the eighth-best among all outfielders last year, while his .325 OBP was just 70th. That’s obviously a significant difference, and it was one that cost managers an appropriately ominous $6.66 of value relative to standard league players – far and away the largest collapse among all outfielders. He’s shown enough batted ball consistency at this point to where managers shouldn’t overreact too much given the speed profile, but there’s significantly more built-in risk drafting Revere in OBP formats. Standard: High-Three Stars, OBP: Low-Three Stars

Yoenis Cespedes, DET
The power is obviously legit, but so is the aggressiveness that has torpedoed Cespedes’ walk rate in each of the past two seasons. His nigh-on-39-percent chase rate last season was one of the worst at the position, and it’s gotten progressively poorer despite a relatively consistent attack from Major League pitchers. He’s also hitting an increasing number of pop-ups and fly balls as he goes, making him a candidate for BABIP regression to boot. Invest for the power, but not at standard format prices. Standard: Three Stars, OBP: High-Two Stars

Lorenzo Cain, KCR
Cain finally enjoyed the kind of healthy breakout season speculators had long suspected he was capable of producing. Unfortunately his $25 of AL-only value was built on the back of a .380 BABIP and sub-five percent walk rate, and that’s not a combination that lends itself to sustained OBP league success. Cain’s an above-average BABIP kind of guy, but managers will be forced to pay for the assumption in OBP formats. And given that his best-case 13th-ranked AVG gave way to a much more pedestrian 46th-rated OBP last season and cost OBP leaguers about $3.30 in the process it’s just not an attractive assumption. Standard: Two Stars, OBP: Low-Two Stars

Others: Billy Hamilton, CIN (Standard: Four Stars, OBP: Low-Four Stars), J.D. Martinez, DET (Standard: High-Two Stars, OBP: Two Stars), Alex Rios, TEX (Standard: High-Two Stars, OBP: Low-Two Stars), Carl Crawford, LAD (Standard: Low-Two Stars, OBP: High-One Star), Torii Hunter, MIN (Standard: Low-Two Stars, OBP: High-One Star)

Points Leagues

As with the OBP section above there really isn’t any secret here. Outfielders were second only to first basemen in both ISO and slugging last season, while as an aggregate they posted a relatively reasonable whiff rate. The breadth of skillset available within the outfield ranks offers an excellent opportunity to mix and match for balanced production (to this end, see Jeff Quinton’s excellent piece from Monday on how to weigh risk in this process). Striking the right balance is magnified all the more in points leagues, where the pool of scoring categories is often deeper and more specialized.

Arrows Up

Jose Bautista, TOR
Similar to his situation in OBP formats, Bautista doesn’t really have a ton of room to grow. But he paces the risers nonetheless based on a strong profile of a top-10 total-base rate paired with a top-20 whiff rate. Only one other outfielder offers a better split with that much power production, and he’s next on this list. Standard: High-Four Stars, Points: Five Stars

Michael Brantley, CLE
Brantley’s monster 2014 was even more valuable to his managers in points formats, where his 45 doubles led the position and his 8.3 percent whiff rate trailed only Ben Revere. His HR/FB spike last season may give standard leaguers the briefest of pauses, but in points formats the doubles power should be enough of a safety net earn him consideration as a top-five pick at the position. Standard: Four Stars, Points: High-Four Stars

Ben Revere, PHI
As noted, Revere’s 7.8 percent whiff rate was tops by a major-league outfielder last season and top-three in all of baseball. He gets dented even more by his utter lack of power in points formats, but given that the other 14 outfielders who swiped at least 25 bases last year compiled a cumulative 18.1 percent strikeout rate it’s a more than fair trade-off. Revere’s elite strikeout-steal profile gets a significant boost in any format with a penalty for whiffs. Standard: High-Three Stars, Points: Four Stars

Denard Span, WAS
Span was quietly excellent last season, returning $26 of mixed-league value and cracking the top 12 among outfielders. In points leagues that production was even more valuable. He was one of just four outfielders to post a single digit strikeout rate, and for good measure he paired that rate with the position’s second-most doubles. Standard: Low-Three Stars, Points: High-Three Stars

Melky Cabrera, CHW
Right behind Span in the outfield strikeout rate rankings was Cabrera, whose 10.8 percent mark was good for fifth. It’s certainly worth noting that last season was just the second in his career in which he eclipsed 30 doubles, and U.S. Cellular doesn’t play as nearly the doubles paradise that Rogers Centre does. Still, the perpetually low whiff rate gives him a nice floor as a low-end OF2 or strong OF3 in 12-team leagues. Standard: Three Stars, Points: High-Three Stars

Others: Matt Holliday, STL (Standard: Low-Three Stars, Points: Three Stars), Michael Cuddyer, NYM (Standard: One Star, Points: Low-Two Stars), Angel Pagan, SFG (Standard: High-One Stars, Points: Low-Two Stars), Nick Markakis, ATL (Standard: Zero Stars, Points: One Star), Norichika Aoki, SFG (Standard: Zero Stars, Points: Low-One Star)

Arrows Down

George Springer, HOU
Springer may be the shiny new toy that’s the object of everyone’s desire in OBP and standard formats, but in points leagues there’s this thing where he strikes out a ridiculous number of times and it hurts his value. His 26 percent career minor league whiff rate translated in his rookie campaign to a 33 percent mark that was higher than any other outfield-eligible hitter not named Junior Lake. It was creeping north of 35% by June, too, so it certainly wasn’t the case that Springer had started to show signs of adjustment as he settled in against big league pitching. In re-draft points formats Springer’s uncertainty and high-K ways are enough of a deterrent to err on the side of cautious avoidance despite the monster power and speed upside. Standard: Four Stars, Points: High-Three Stars

Jay Bruce, CIN
Bruce certainly had himself a 2014 to forget, though he’ll be best served remembering how pitchers worked him even more frequently down and away last season as he tries to find ways to rebound. He’s gotten progressively worse at discerning the outer half strike zone, and right-handers have been pounding him out there repeatedly over the last couple seasons. His corresponding contact rates leave little reason to believe a significant improvement is due on last season’s career-worst 27 percent strikeout rate. The demonstrated track record of power production may be enough to offset the risk in standard formats, but points leagues with strikeout penalties represent a much tougher league context in which to recommend investing OF2 money. Standard: High-Three Stars, Points: Low-Three Stars

Marcell Ozuna, MIA
Ozuna quietly produced a stellar Age 23 campaign last year, bringing a solid dose of in-game power and counting stat production to the table. He returned $19 of mixed league value and finished 33rd among outfielders, and given the age and profile, there’s every reason to believe he can build on last year as a very strong OF3 target in 12-team standard leagues. The proposition of assuming that growth gets a little dicier in points leagues, however, where his aggressive approach and high strikeout totals take a bite out of his potential value. His total base production relative to his whiffs last year was middle-of-the-road for the position, and even a decent step forward probably sees him barely crack the top 75. He remains a solid OF4 play in 12-teamers for the power potential, but will need to be paired appropriately with some lower-whiff types to maximize his value. Standard: Low-Three Stars, Points: Two Stars

Oswaldo Arcia, MIN
You can copy a lot of what I just wrote about Ozuna and paste it here, then add a couple adverbs to emphasize degree and call it a day. Arcia’s 31 percent whiff rate was the second-worst among outfielders with 400 plate appearances last year, though it’s worth mentioning that his minor league rates did not hint at this degree of struggle making contact against big league stuff. His in-zone contact was a mess last season, particularly against fastballs, so he’s got a lot of work to do in order to gain points league legitimacy. The ingredients are there, but it’s probably still be a year or two early to invest with confidence. Standard: Two Stars, Points: High-One Star

Marlon Byrd, CIN
Good for Marlon Byrd, what with his late-career resurgence and sneaky mixed league value generation. His power has driven two straight top-40 seasons among the outfield ranks, making him mixed league viable in formats far and wide. Where he’s not quite such an interesting late-game play is in points leagues, however. The added power has come at a dramatic cost to his whiff rate, which stood at 17 percent for his career before spiking to 25 percent in 2013 and all the way to 29 percent last season. His total base rate was an unglamorous 40th, he’s another year older, and he’ll head to a slightly tougher doubles park. It’s not a recipe worth investing much if anything on draft day outside of deep points leagues. Standard: Two Stars, High-One Star

Others: Bryce Harper, WAS (Standard: Four Stars, Points: Low-Four Stars), J.D. Martinez, DET (Standard: High-Two Stars, Points: Two Stars), Joc Pederson, LAD (Standard: Low-Two Stars, Points: High-One Star), Anthony Gose, DET (Standard: One Star, Points: Zero Stars)

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If you are in an OBP league, Yasiel Puig is a great buy. His AVG to OBP increase was 81 as a ROOKIE and he figured out how to deal w/ the low and away sliders last year to the point where his AVG to OBP increase was 86 points. This from a player who hits close to .300.

This is a young player who is making adjustments. He hasn't figured out his power potential yet (if he does he will be walked even more often) and is hitting in front of Agon. I think a season of .400+ OBP is in store for Puig... soon.
I can't believe Yelich isn't on here.
The author did say there were 29 outfielders who posted an 80+ gain in AVG to OBP. I don't think he wanted to list all 29. Looking at Christian Yelich track history in MiLB he seems to be right around an 80 gainer.

I wrote about Puig because I think he can crack the 100 gain barrier. It's quite a change in value when you have someone like Joey Votto in an .OBP league who outperforms his AVG by 130-150+

I wonder who else has the potential to be Vottoesque, I have my eye on a couple of players, but in case my league-mates are reading this site, I'm going to sit on them until after the draft.
Yeah, Yelich's OBP-AVG didn't crack the top 20 of qualified OFers last year, though it was close. The nigh-on 11% walk rate he's posted thus far in his young career is awesome and extremely promising moving forward, but we've already got him ranked 21st overall as a standard league outfielder and there isn't quite enough there to warrant boosting him up into the mid-four star tier in OBP leagues just yet. I agree he's a strong play in OBP formats, but the valuation difference is +/- a couple spots at best between formats.
I simply think if the FB% ticks upxa bit, Yelich the the fantasy heir to Shin Soo Choo for .400+ OBP with 20/20 potential.

He is no Votto. I'm bothed by the lack of Matt Carpenter as well.
(Matt Carpenter plays third base)

All the Matt Carpenter love you can handle is conveniently located in the 3B article in this series here: