Fantasy Baseball: Outfield Rankings – Roto

Bryce Harper

Due to sheer volume, outfield rankings are some of the most challenging to develop. I ranked 70 players here and yet I feel like there was another 10-15 that easily could’ve been included in the last group. My approach to creating tiers was also affected by having to deal with a position this large. In order to avoid having 10-12 separate levels I chose to cluster players in bigger groups, especially once I got outside the top 30.

However, while this strategy was primarily intended to help me present the information more effectively, it’s also a reflection of how many similar players there are at this position. For instance, I have Ben Zobrist ranked 11 spots ahead of Ender Inciarte yet I value both players almost equally. This is the case with several of the guys in the 45-60 range and honestly I see all of them as comparable enough that personal preference could very well be the deciding factor in who you draft.

Given these factors, its no surprise that outfield is routinely among the easiest position to fill both when drafting and during the season. As such, I always make it a point to reserve my last OF spot (or two depending on roster size) for late round gambles and waiver wire additions. Every year there will be quality players who emerge from the free agent pool and by way of simple mathematical probability, many of them will be outfield eligible. It’s important to keep this in mind as investing too much in the position early in drafts will reduce roster flexibility and damage overall team balance.

Now with all that out of the way, let’s get to the actual rankings. (Note: as always all rankings are based on Yahoo position eligibility and tiers indicate players with comparable values).

C    1B    2B    SS    3B    OF    SP    RP

Tier 1 (The Unmatched)

  1. Mike Trout (LAA)
  2. Bryce Harper (WAS)

This is the first time I’ve used a tier above “elite” so that should tell you how highly I view Trout and Harper. Each one has a credible argument for being the number one overall pick and personally I don’t have a strong preference either way. I ranked Trout higher because he has a longer track record of elite performance and contributes more evenly across the different categories. While he doesn’t run as much as he used too, he’s still far more likely than Harper to get 15 steals.

Tier 2 (The Elite)

  1. Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)
  2. Andrew McCutchen (PIT)
  3. A.J. Pollock (ARZ)
  4. Kris Bryant (CHC)
  5. Jose Bautista (TOR)

Stanton and McCutchen are both top 10 picks so that’s some context for this tier. Giancarlo is an injury risk, but the new dimensions at Marlins Park should give him an even greater advantage in terms of power. “Cutch” meanwhile is one of the most consistent players at the position, though his value will drop somewhat if he’s no longer going to be a 20-steal guy.

I’m sure there will be many who will be reluctant to take Pollock this high given that he’s only had one great season in his career, but I’m not one of them. The power/speed skills were always there albeit it in smaller samples and that gives me confidence that last year wasn’t an aberration. I have Bryant and Bautista ranked very closely overall, though the former will contribute more in average and steals. That said, Joey Bats is a guy I would target in the early to mid second round if my first pick was either Machado, Correa or Altuve.

Tier 3 (The Near Elite)

  1. Mookie Betts (BOS)
  2. Starling Marte (PIT)
  3. Charlie Blackmon (COL)
  4. George Springer (HOU)
  5. Chris Davis (BAL)
  6. D. Martinez (DET)
  7. Nelson Cruz (SEA)
  8. Yoenis Cespedes (NYM)

This is one of the most intriguing groups at any position as there is a clear divide in the middle of this tier in terms of player profiles. The first four options are young hitters with great power/speed balance who should all deliver 15-homer/30-steal seasons. The remaining players meanwhile are more traditional sluggers with 35-plus home run power and the ability to drive in 100 runs. Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve always preferred balanced production so that obviously impacted my rankings. As for individual players, Springer and Martinez are two of my favorites from this tier. Springer has more natural power than the three guys ranked above him while Martinez is younger and less home run dependant than Davis and Cruz.

Tier 4 (The Above Average)

  1. Ryan Bruan (MIL)
  2. Justin Upton (DET)
  3. Adam Jones (BAL)
  4. Carlos Gonzalez (COL)
  5. Carlos Gomez (HOU)
  6. Lorenzo Cain (KC)
  7. Jason Heyward (CHC)
  8. Michael Brantley (CLE)

There is plenty of quality talent still available in the above group, although at this point the risk factor is much higher. Specifically, Braun, Gonzalez, Gomez and Brantley all present potential health concerns. That said the balance throughout this tier is very appealing. The majority of these players should hit 20 home runs and with the exception of Gonzalez and Jones, also steal 15-plus bases.

Gomez and Brantley are two guys in particular that I will likely target as both have displayed top 10 upside in the past and should come at relative discounts. I also believe that there is a noticeable drop-off after this group, which makes me more inclined to invest in several of these players. Overall, I want to be certain that I draft at least one outfielder from my top 20 and preferably two from the top 23 if it’s a five-outfielder league.

Tier 5 (The Regulars)

  1. Yasiel Puig (LAD)
  2. Matt Kemp (SD)
  3. Jacoby Ellsbury (NYY)
  4. Hunter Pence (SF)
  5. Gregory Polanco (PIT)
  6. Adam Eaton (CWS)
  7. Corey Dickerson (TB)
  8. Hanley Ramirez (BOS)
  9. Ben Revere (WAS)
  10. Billy Hamilton (CIN)

As a whole this tier is not overly exciting, but it does include a very wide spectrum of players. Kemp and Ellsbury, for instance, are former MVP candidates while Revere and Hamilton are essentially one-category specialists. Still, everyone here projects as a starting option in most leagues.

Pence is a player I like a lot going into this season and if last year makes you think he’s an injury risk, keep in mind that he had played in 383 consecutive games prior to getting hurt in spring training. His combination of average, power and speed is hard to find, especially at this point of the draft. On the flip side, I’m not particularly high on Hamilton. I generally try to avoid drafting outfielders with virtually zero power unless it’s in the last few rounds and he might not even be an everyday player to begin with.

Tier 6 (The Unremarkable)

  1. Shin-soo Choo (TEX)
  2. Kole Calhoun (LAA)
  3. Brett Gardner (NYY)
  4. Christian Yelich (MIA)
  5. Curtis Granderson (NYM)
  6. Brandon Belt (SF)
  7. David Peralta (ARZ)
  8. Jorge Soler (CHC)
  9. Randal Grichuk (STL)
  10. Khris Davis (OAK)

While the term “unremarkable” tends to have a negative connotation, I’m actually fairly excited about a few of the players in this tier. If Yelich could somehow figure out how to hit the ball in the air and deliver a 15-homer season he would instantly become a top 30 option. Similarly, Peralta’s numbers from 2015 project very nicely over a full season of everyday at-bats. Assuming a standard five outfielder roto league, this would be the area where I would look to find my number three OF.

Tier 7 (The Last Resorts)

  1. Joc Pederson (LAD)
  2. Jay Bruce (CIN)
  3. Dexter Fowler (FA)
  4. Ben Zobrist (CHC)
  5. Gerardo Parra (COL)
  6. Billy Burns (OAK)
  7. Kevin Pillar (TOR)
  8. Josh Reddick (OAK)
  9. Mark Trumbo (BAL)
  10. Alex Gordon (KC)
  11. Stephen Piscotty (STL)
  12. Michael Conforto (NYM)
  13. Matt Holliday (STL)
  14. Ender Inciarte (ATL)
  15. Byron Buxton (MIN)
  16. Delino DeShields (TEX)
  17. Evan Gattis (HOU)

I mentioned the size and breakdown of this tier in the intro and it really is a group where you can justify going in a variety of different directions. If you need steals Burns is the obvious choice as he could easily swipe 40 bases and is a much better value than having to take Revere or Hamilton a few rounds earlier. Pederson, Bruce, Trumbo and Gattis are the primary power threats in this range, albeit all are extremely streaky hitters who can torpedo your average very quickly.

If you’re fortunate enough to be in a situation where you’re not forced to target one specific category, Piscotty and Conforto are two young hitters that I really like. Both should hit around .280 and have the ability to deliver 15-20 home runs. Similarly, Parra and Inciarte offer multi-category production at a discounted price. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the move to Coors and increased playing time made Parra a top 35 outfielder at season’s end.

Tier 8 (The Leftovers)

  1. Wil Myers (SD)
  2. Steven Souza (TB)
  3. Denard Span (SF)
  4. Marcell Ozuna (MIA)
  5. Melky Cabrera (CWS)
  6. Rusney Castillo (BOS)
  7. Yasmany Tomas (ARZ)
  8. Josh Harrison (PIT)
  9. Kevin Kiermaier (TB)
  10. Domingo Santana (MIL)

Like I said earlier, this last group could easily be expanded to include even more players. Since roto formats generally employ larger rosters, every starting outfielder in the majors will have some relevance to those playing in 14-team leagues or deeper. Out of these 10 however, I find Myers, Ozuna and Castillo to be the most intriguing. Each either struggled or was injured last season, but all are still relatively young and have plenty of talent. I’ll also note that Span is routinely overlooked, though his extra base hits and plate discipline certainly hold more value in points leagues.

And if you’re looking for points rankings, you can find those here

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