Position Rankings


RotoAuthority Unscripted: Your Aberrant Experts (Hitter Rankings)

All right, so we at RotoAuthority might not be the most aberrant of experts. I suppose that's a good thing, as a statistical rule: as exciting as it is to strike our own paths through the world of fantasy baseball, it's probably for the best if we aren't too different from the community of fantasy experts.

But sometimes we are. Today, we'll examine some of the boldest calls throughout our RotoAuthority Hitter Rankings, as compared to ADP and the Expert Consensus, both via FantasyPros.com.

For players near the top of the rankings, I'll mention smaller differences of as few as two slots--because such things can mean multiple rounds in a draft, especially if they cross tiers. The farther down the rankings, the bigger a difference has to be to matter, since several rounds cover similarly valuable players anyway.

You can check out the full RotoAuthority 2014 Rankings here:

OutfieldCatcherFirst BaseThird BaseSecond BaseShortstopCloserMiddle and Corner Infield, and Starters

Catchers 

Brian McCann

RA Ranking: 3 ADP Rank: 7 Expert Consensus: 6

For us, McCann belongs in the tier below Buster Posey, as roughly the equal of Joe Mauer and Carlos Santana. ADP and the Experts tend to swap him with Yadier Molina, but I'm inclined to think that the move to Yankee Stadium will push McCann's power into the elite level. Verdict: Trust RA.

Yan Gomes

RA Ranking: 10 ADP Rank: 13 Expert Consensus: 13

Gomes trades places with Evan Gattis for us when compared to ADP and the Experts. I think Gattis is less likely to live up to his apparent potential, but it's not a big deal this late. Verdict: Who cares?

Dioner Navarro

RA Ranking: 14 ADP: 25 Expert Consensus: 19

Look, Navarro had a great half-season, giving him more upside than most...but that big of a difference gives me a little pause. In a one-catcher league, I'd go with someone more proven, like Miguel Montero or A.J. Pierzynski. In a two-catcher, though, I'd roll the dice, but know that I can wait until late. Verdict: Depends on format.

First Base

Prince Fielder

RA Ranking: 5 ADP Rank: 3 Expert Consensus: 3

I'm not sure why anyone rates Fielder over Edwin Encarnacion and Joey Votto. Fielder is not trending in a good direction, and the move to Texas looks pretty overrated when it comes to homer power. If you've got a compelling argument for Prince, I'd be interested to read it. Verdict: Trust RA.

Mark Trumbo

RA Ranking: 7 ADP Rank: 10 Expert Consensus: 12

Trumbo's not so good in real baseball...but his power should play in the move to Arizona. Why do I like that park change and not Fielder's? Fielder is making a small upgrade, from good to great. Trumbo is going from awful to great. The batting average may boost too, but this ranking was a bit indicative of a possible RA bias in favor of high-HR, low-BA players. But maybe that bias is a good thing, as homers are very scarce in today's scoring environment. Verdict: Depends on how you value homers.

Jose Abreu

RA Ranking: 11 ADP Rank: 18 Expert Consensus: 16

Different player, similar story. Abreu is unproven and therefore risky. But his upside is in the form of very rare homers. Like Trumbo, how much risk you take on will depend on how you value homers. This is the same reason we're higher on Mike Napoli and Chris Carter. Verdict: See Above.

Brandon Belt

RA Ranking: 13 ADP Rank: 25 Expert Consensus: 20

Because of how our rankings are formatted, the difference between our opinion and others' may be a little overstated once you get deep into first base, but we still like Belt more than most. His breakout looks real, and to me, he's as good a bet as Anthony Rizzo, a better one than Matt Adams (because it happened in more playing time), and doesn't carry the BA downside of other players in their draft range. Verdict: Trust RA.

Second Base

Aaron Hill

RA Ranking: 4 ADP Rank: 10 Expert Consensus: 9

Hill can hit. He has missed time recently, but not for the same things or in a consistent pattern. He's probably not much more of an injury risk than most players...but that's already built in to a ranking this low. Seriously, over a full season, he produces more with the bat than any second-sacker besides Robinson Cano. Not so much with the steals, but still. Verdict: Trust RA.

Chase Utley

RA Ranking: 9 ADP Rank: 14 Expert Consensus: 11

All right...Utley is always injured. In retrospect, I'd probably want to take Utley for my MI slot, after I've got someone healthier for second. His production is still good, but you have to count on him to be out awhile. Verdict: Down a couple slots on further reflection. But not that much.

Third Base

Chris Johnson

RA Ranking: 14 ADP Rank: 24 Expert Consensus: 23

This one is a big difference. I imagine that most people are discounting Johnson for his sky-high BABIP. And that's fair. But he seems to always put up an abnormal BABIP, and betting that he has a skill in that department makes as much sense as drafting anyone else in his tier. Looking at the other available players, it's not like you've got that much to lose anyway. Verdict: Trust RA.

Matt Dominguez

RA Ranking: 20 ADP Rank: 26 Expert Consensus: 27

Dominguez is a pretty classic case of "at least he has some upside." He's got homer power and the upside is that he might get lucky and not kill your average. But that sounds better than what you'll get from the seven guys between his RA ranking and his Expert Consensus. Verdict: Trust RA.

Shortstop

Brad Miller

RA Ranking: 10 ADP Rank: 20 Expert Consensus: 19

For us, Miller is near the head of a huge tier from 9th-18th, so some variance isn't shocking. Still, Miller deserves his slot, by showing nice pop in a little under half a season and carrying the upside of a developing player. It doesn't hurt that his team is willing to shunt Nick Franklin aside out of trust for Miller. I'll understand if you prefer J.J. Hardy or Jurickson Profar--there are a lot of guys with upside in this range. But Miller's emphatically one of them. Verdict: Trust RA...and your gut...and your category needs.

Jonathan Villar

RA Ranking: 12 ADP Rank: 18 Expert Consensus: 20

Villar is a very interesting potential source of steals. If you don't fully trust Alexei Ramirez's conversion to base stealing, and you missed out on Everth Cabrera and Elvis Andrus, Villar might be right for you. He could steal upwards of 30 bases; with no one else to play, Houston will be patient if the young player struggles. Verdict: Go for it, if you need steals.

Asdrubal Cabrera

RA Ranking: 19 ADP Rank: 12 Expert Consensus: 12

I guess I'm impugning my expert colleagues when I say that ranking Cabrera 12th seems lazy. Sorry. It does. He's pretty consistent: about 15 homers and a bad batting average to go with mediocre counting stats and no speed is what you get from Cabrera. With Hardy, I can get that, plus 5-10 more homers. I can get that with Starlin Castro...and the chance of a huge bounceback. I can get that with Jed Lowrie, but without the bad average. And so on. There are lots of good mid-level shortstops, and lots of upside plays. But Cabrera isn't one of them. Verdict: Trust RA.

Outfield

Carlos Beltran

RA Ranking: 17 ADP Rank: 30 Expert Consensus: 25

I guess Beltran's old, but he hasn't really been injury prone in awhile. He doesn't seem like a greater risk to hit a sudden decline than the next player I'll mention is to hit a sophomore slump. He's going to a very hitter-friendly ballpark. Why not take Beltran early? Verdict: Trust RA.

Yasiel Puig

RA Ranking: 18 ADP Rank: 9 Expert Consensus: 10

People see Puig and they see the young player that took the league by storm. They don't always see the guy who could have a serious strikeout problem as the league gets used to him, or the guy who may need to make adjustments as he regresses with a larger sample of at bats. It's not that I think Puig will be bad next year...just that he could be, or at least he might not grow straight up. I'd like a safer player with my first outfielder. But, yeah...that upside. Verdict: Exercise caution, and if the rest of your league does too, pounce on Puig.

Austin Jackson

RA Ranking: 30 ADP Rank: 42 Expert Consensus: 36

Jackson seems to be always over- or underrated. This year, he's under. As a high-BABIP skill guy, expect him to be useful in average more often than not. As the table-setter for a great lineup, expect him to score a million runs. Like always. He's sneaky useful. Teammate Torii Hunter has a similar story, but to a lesser extent. And an older one. Verdict: Trust RA.

Matt Kemp

RA Ranking: 31 ADP Rank: 17 Expert Consensus: 21

Kemp has done little to show that he's healthy enough to be 75% of what he once was...and yet that's where he's getting drafted. If anything, 31st might be too high. Verdict: Trust RA.

Colby Rasmus

RA Ranking: 36 ADP Rank: 66 Expert Consensus: 63

I guess everybody else took Tony LaRussa's side.... Really, though, Rasmus's career stats suggest that his surprise surge last year wasn't truly out of line with what he's proved capable of--if anything his injury-shortened ineffective years were the outliers. He's a high-variance player, but one capable of making an impact. That said, the difference here is so big that it's worth respecting. Verdict: Temper expectations a little, but still take the risk.

George Springer

RA Ranking: 44 ADP Rank: 57 Expert Consensus: 66

I guess experts aren't buying the rookie hype. Whether you want Springer depends on how deep your league is: can you afford to stash a high-impact rookie that may spend a couple months in the minors. If you can, stick with our ranking. If you're in a shallow league, or just a small-bench league, I'll understand if you only draft players you can actually use. Verdict: Depends on format.

Carlos Quentin

RA Ranking: 60 ADP Rank: 97 Expert Consensus: 81

Quentin is the last ranked guy on our list, but I like him. Sure, he's hugely injury prone, but we're talking your 5th OF here. Mr. Replaceable. Importantly, he's not injured right now, which means now is the best time to enjoy his excellent hitting. When (not if) he hits the DL, cut him loose and be glad you bagged the production while you could. There's really not much downside here. Verdict: What have you got to lose?



RotoAuthority Rankings 2014: Starting Pitchers

We've saved the best and--by far--the longest for last, so brace yourself and get ready to enjoy. As always, these rankings come as a product of the whole RotoAuthority team. In case you missed out on our previous rankings, there's still plenty of time to catch up:

OutfieldCatcherFirst BaseThird BaseSecond BaseShortstopCloserMiddle and Corner Infield

That last link will also link you to the spreadsheet version of our rankings for quick reference. And if you arent' feeling patient, here is  Download RA Starter Rankings. Or you can just scroll up and download it when you finish reading. Anyway, enough delay. On to the tiers.

Tier 1: Clayton Kershaw

1. Clayton Kershaw

Yeah, we named the whole tier after him. He does it all, and he's done it consistently, and he is the only pitcher you should consider with your first round pick.

 Tier 2: Yu Know Who (2nd-4th Rounds)

2. Yu Darvish

3. Adam Wainwright

4. Stephen Strasburg

5. Felix Hernandez

6. Cliff Lee

7. Max Scherzer

8. Justin Verlander

9. Chris Sale

10. Madison Bumgarner

11. Jose Fernandez

I can't honestly include anyone else in consideration for Darvish's spot behind Kershaw--the strikeouts are just too good, as is his offense. Wainwright is probably the better pitcher, and playing for the Cardinals makes him an easy second choice. Don't let either pitcher escape the second round.

Strasburg, Scherzer, Verlander, and Bumgarner all have an advantage over the rest of this tier by playing for good or decent offensive teams. (Don't believe me on the Giants? Check it out.) If you weight wins a little more, they'll all be on top. Verlander's track record makes him too good to pass up, despite last year's "struggles." Hernandez and Lee provide excellence you can depend on, while Sale and Fernandez may have the highest upside--but the most injury risk and the worst supporting cast.

Depending on how fast your league is to grab starters, these guys might all be gone by the second, or they might last till the fourth. After that, they become excellent value in nearly every format.

Tier 3: Almost Aces

12. David Price

13. Anibal Sanchez

14. Matt Cain

15. Zack Greinke

16. James Shields

17. Gio Gonzalez

Price and Greinke miss the top tier thanks to falling strikeout rates--which raise red flags for other performance falls. Sanchez was so dominant last year (and supported by peripherals), but he'll have to do it again to move up a tier. With his years of excellence, Cain deserves a mulligan for April 2013. Give him that, regress his HR/FB luck, and he's the same old awesome for a low price. You better bet he'll be on a lot of my teams this year. Shields is consistently very good, with a lower ceiling than other elite pitchers, but a higher floor. A great choice to pair with a riskier ace like Fernandez or Verlander. Gonzalez has a big strikeout advantage...but probably won't help you in WHIP. He's a great choice for anyone emphasizing the counting categories as strategy.

Tier 4: The Safety Net and an Injury Interlude

18. Homer Bailey

19. Doug Fister

20. Jordan Zimmermann

21. Jered Weaver

22. Mike Minor

23. Hisashi Iwakuma

24. Cole Hamels

25. Hyun-jin Ryu

26. Mat Latos

Bailey really broke out and I toyed with putting him a tier above, but I'd want more consistent health before I took him over anyone above. I expect Fister to surpass Zimmermann in strikeout rate and, therefore, fantasy value this year--but they should end up pretty similar. Weaver is a consistent overperformer of FIP, and a great source of WHIP. Good to pair with Gonzalez. Ryu already seems like a "consistently very good but never great" type...but he's only been in the MLB for a year and is younger than I am. (Which isn't saying as much as it used to....) With the exception of one really bad HR/FB rate, Latos has delivered four strong seasons in a row.

Minor and Iwakuma would be Tier 3 pitchers if not for their injuries. The lowered ranking is less about missing a couple April starts, and more about the possibility that two weeks turns to a month, to two months, to out for the season...yes, I get paranoid about players who are already injured. Speaking of which, Hamels would be a Tier 2 guy, easily, but his injury looks likely to keep him out at a month or so, with the dreaded "no timetable" phrase floating around. Ugh.

Tier 4 pitchers might last from the 4th through 7th rounds--when you should draft starters is very dependent on the market that develops in individual leagues on draft day.

Tier 5: Take a Risk

27. Gerrit Cole

28. A.J. Burnett

29. Shelby Miller

30. Masahiro Tanaka

31. Alex Cobb

32. Julio Teheran

33. Michael Wacha

34. Francisco Liriano

35. Danny Salazar

36. Jon Lester

37. Hiroki Kuroda

Most staffs should be drafting their third starter in this tier, and there are plenty of enticing options. Young guns like Cole, Miller, Wacha, Cobb, and Teheran offer tons of upside--as well as question marks. Will Cole bump his strikeouts as a sophomore? Why were the Cards so down on Miller late last year? And such.

How excited should you be about Tanaka? Well, his ceiling is probably as a Tier 2 or 3 pitcher and his floor...is still better than Kei Igawa. The only reason I'm not drafting him is that hype has super-inflated his price (check out the difference between his Yahoo! dollar value and average cost to see what I mean). Stay away in public leagues, but reaction to his hype could actually make him a value play for very competitive leagues.

Burnett is so old that...that he posted a 9.85 K/9 last year. I'll buy. Liriano is the most inconsistent player ever. True story. I'll roll the dice for the strikeouts, though. Salazar owes the Cleveland Propaganda Machine a big thank-you...wait, Cleveland doesn't have a propaganda machine? Then why is he not a sleeper? It's not fair, but you'll have to pay full price to get the phenom and his potential.

Lester and Kuroda are available for the risk-averse. Or better yet, pair them with any pitcher from this tier.

Tier 6: Now It's Real

38. Jeff Samardzija

39. Andrew Cashner

40. Tony Cingrani

41. Sonny Gray

42. Johnny Cueto

43. R.A. Dickey

44. CC Sabathia

45. Ervin Santana

46. Matt Garza

47. Patrick Corbin

48. Justin Masterson

49. Matt Moore

50. Dan Haren

51. Marco Estrada

52. C.J. Wilson

53. Lance Lynn

54. Tim Lincecum

Picking starters just stopped being easy. The difference between each slot on the rankings are small, and the margins of error in predictions are large. There are still intriguing options, but all come with downsides.

You can get anything you want in this tier. Strikeout pitchers with too many walks? Samardzija, Wilson, Masterson, and Lynn. Or Moore and Lincecum as the extreme examples. Cueto is hoping to make a full-season return from injury. One-time aces Sabathia and Haren have value to rebuild for contending squads. What will Dickey's knuckler do this year? Corbin already did his regression in last year's second half--and he was still good. Garza's health keeps him underrated, even when on the field. If Estrada's HR/FB rate normalizes, he could be very, very good...but he's never done that over a full season. Cingrani and Gray put up eye-popping numbers in limited time--how much can they sustain for the season? If Cashner adds strikeouts, he could rocket up the rankings by the end of the year. If not, he'll still be a dependably good sort of guy.

Tier 7: The Last Shallow Leaguers

55. Rick Porcello

56. Scott Kazmir

57. Corey Kluber

59. Ian Kennedy

59. Tim Hudson

60. Clay Buchholz

61. John Lackey

62. Bartolo Colon

63. Chris Archer

64. Ubaldo Jimenez

65. Jake Peavy

66. A.J. Griffin

67. Dan Straily

68. Kyle Lohse

69. Yovani Gallardo

70. Chris Tillman

71. Jonathon Niese

These pitchers are probably the last ones you'll need in very shallow leagues, though some will want to reach for one or two more, I suppose.

Porcello's strikeout rate made a big jump; if he can sustain it, he'll be a great value. It's worth remembering that he's still kind of young. Is Kazmir's return from the dead real? His peripherals say so, and his ERA ought to improve in Oakland. Kluber looked very interesting in limited time last year, with a nifty K/BB ratio. Kennedy is a great bounce-back candidate with San Diego. Hudson, Colon, and Lohse are good WHIP helpers. If Buchholz and Lackey can prove that last year's return to greatness was real, the Red Sox and fantasy owners will be very, very happy. Archer walks too many people, but has talent. So did Gallardo once, but who knows what's happening to his career after last year's debacle. Peavy is already injured...as usual. Griffin, Straily, and Tillman all benefited from a bit of apparent luck in the ERA-FIP department and may need luck again to be particularly relevant. Niese appeared to overcome injury at the end of the year and could be great value as a forgotten man.

Tier 8: All About Upside

72. Josh Johnson

73. Alex Wood

74. Tyson Ross

75. Ivan Nova

76. Taijuan Walker

77. Jose Quintana

78. Wade Miley

79. Drew Smyly

80. Zack Wheeler

Johnson was basically baseball's worst pitcher last year...but San Diego and talent are a great combination to resurrect a career. Wood was very good in his brief stint as a starter last year; the Braves will be counting on him. Ross was very impressive in a mixed role last year. Nova didn't manage a full season, but did pitch well for the Yanks. Walker would be higher, but he's facing an injury. Keep an eye on the prospect. Quintana was quietly very solid, but has a low ceiling. Miley lost a lot of control in his sophomore season; he'll be value if he gets it back. Smyly is an interesting converted reliever. Wheeler didn't impress as a rookie, but has the talent to improve.

Dry Your Tiers: Deep League Flyers

At some point, tiers and rankings cease to be useful. You're either looking for help in particular categories, or following particular strategies based on your risk/reward needs. So here are some different categories of potentially useful pitchers for deep leagues.

Prospects: Yordano Ventura, Kevin Gausman, Brett Oberholtzer, Tyler Skaggs, James Paxton, Archie Bradley, Jameson Taillon, Noah Syndergaard

Low-Upside Reliables: Trevor Cahill, Wei-Yin Chen, Bruce Chen, Jason Vargas, Mark Buehrle, Henderson Alvarez, Miguel Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson, Ricky Nolasco, Jhoulys Chacin, Charlie Morton, Roberto Hernandez, Scott Feldman, Brandon McCarthy, John Danks, Ross Detwiler, Freddy Garcia

Back From Injury: Scott Baker, Michael Pineda, Alexi Ogando, Wandy Rodriguez, Brandon Morrow, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis, Jaime Garcia, Brandon Beachy, Jenrry Mejia, Johan Santana, Shaun Marcum

Lucky Last Year: Mike Leake, Bronson Arroyo, Travis Wood

Rebound Candidates: Phil Hughes, Josh Beckett, Ryan Vogelsong

Strikeout Sources: Hector Santiago, Felix Doubront, Bud Norris, Brad Peacock, Felipe Paulino, Edinson Volquez

Injury Stash: Derek Holland, Jarrod Parker, Jeremy Hellickson, Gavin Floyd

Got Some Upside: Jake Arrieta, Wily Peralta, Martin Perez, Dillon Gee, Eric Stults, Erasmo Ramirez, Zach McAllister, Tommy Milone, Nathan Eovaldi, Erik Johnson, Randall Delgado, Trevor Bauer

 Note: At publishing time, it appears that Brandon Beachy has a strong likelihood of needing Tommy John surgery. If that isn't necessary, keep tabs on his injury, but there isn't any way of knowing now when to draft him in that case.



RotoAuthority Rankings 2014: Outfield

Welcome to the first of RotoAuthority's position-by-position fantasy rankings. With input from Tim Dierkes and the whole team of RA experts, we'll rank and tier each position. Today, we kick it off with the Outfield. Why Outfield? Because why not? Because everyone starts with Catchers and that gets old. Because Outfield is a big position to digest and you might as well start early. Take your pick. Or better yet, check out the rankings and tell us in the comments where you agree, disagree, or were surprised.

Largely, each tier consists of guys you could make a case for drafting in any order or spending more or less the same dollar amount on. That's not to say that ranks within the tiers don't matter, just that the difference between Carlos Gomez (Tier 2, Rank 11) and Jacoby Ellsbury (Tier 2, Rank 6) is bigger than the difference between Gomez and Shin-Soo Choo (Tier 3, Rank 12). Order matters, but tier matters more.

Tier 1: First Rounders

1

Mike Trout

2

Andrew McCutchen

3

Carlos Gonzalez

4

Adam Jones

5

Ryan Braun

These guys make legit first round or very-early second round picks. One exception to the tier rule: don't take anyone else over Trout. Otherwise, the choice is yours.

Tier 2: Second-Third Rounds

6

Jacoby Ellsbury

7

Bryce Harper

8

Giancarlo Stanton

9

Jay Bruce

10

Mark Trumbo

11

Carlos Gomez

Strategy interrupts the purity of our endeavor: take Ellsbury for steals, Stanton, Bruce, or Trumbo for raw power, Harper or Gomez for that sweet power/speed combination. If you're very lucky, you can get one of these guys in the third.

 Tier 3: Third-Fourth Rounds

12

Shin-Soo Choo

13

Alex Rios

14

Justin Upton

15

Jose Bautista

16

Matt Holliday

17

Carlos Beltran

18

Yasiel Puig

19

Hunter Pence

Again with the strategy. Do you want steady players like Holliday and Rios or risks of age, injury, youth, and whatnot? Risky or not, this is the last tier from which you can get a true OF cornerstone--my personal recommendation is to make sure to get at least one of these top 19 players, especially in 5-OF leagues. Better yet, be one of the teams with two.

Tier 4: Not Quite Stars

20

Wil Myers

21

Jason Heyward

22

Alex Gordon

23

Starling Marte

24

Yoenis Cespedes

25

Jayson Werth

26

Coco Crisp

27

Josh Hamilton

Myers and Heyward might become stars. What will Coco do for his next magic trick after transforming from a 5/40 player to a 20/20 guy? The only "sure thing" in this section is Gordon, but risk and upside aren't bad from your (hopefully) number three OF.

Tier 5: Taking the Good with the Bad

28

Curtis Granderson

29

Michael Cuddyer

30

Austin Jackson

31

Matt Kemp

32

Shane Victorino

33

Nelson Cruz

34

Desmond Jennings

35

Leonys Martin

36

Colby Rasmus

Everyone left has some seriously good reasons not to draft them.  But you have to.

We're seeing a bit more category differentiation here: Jackson for Runs, Martin for Steals, Cruz for Homers...hope he doesn't really end up in Seattle. Victorino is a nice source of balance, and check out just how good Rasmus was until he got hurt. What to do with Kemp? This is a kind of wait and see placeholder, because his value is so dependent on his health status. What he does in the Spring could rocket him up the list...or plummet him down.

Tier 6: Better than They Look, at Least

37

Alfonso Soriano

38

Torii Hunter

39

Domonic Brown

40

Norichika Aoki

41

Alejandro DeAza

42

Christian Yelich

43

Nick Swisher

Any of these guys makes a pretty solid number-four OF. I'm not super-thrilled by any of them as my third guy, though. Brown has the most upside, but plenty or reason to tread carefully. Probably a couple of these guys will be nice values...and one or two big disappointments. If I could tell you which, I'd never lose in fantasy. Also, if your OF is done at this point, props to you. Hopefully your infield can handle it, though....

Tier 7: Well You Can't Just Leave the Slot Empty

44

George Springer

45

B.J. Upton

46

Billy Hamilton

47

Josh Reddick

48

Ryan Ludwick

49

Michael Bourn

50

Martin Prado

51

Brett Gardner

52

Khris Davis

53

Carl Crawford

54

Nick Markakis

55

Kole Calhoun

56

Rajai Davis

57

Will Venable

58

Angel Pagan

59

Dexter Fowler

60

Carlos Quentin

Our last tier is a big one--pretty much the whole complement of fifth OF's. The title is a bit unfair--there are potentially interesting pieces here, whether single-category stars, prospects, or high-risk guys.

Yes, Billy Hamilton is this low because who knows how well he'll hit or if he'll even start. Or stick in the Majors. Our Least Favorite Upton still deserves a flyer, as do AL West prospects Springer and Calhoun. Draft Springer even if he doesn't win the job outright with Houston--his "competition" won't keep him out of the Bigs for long.

If you want some steady, safe production here, think about Prado, Markakis, Venable, Pagan, or Fowler. (Though Prado will already be gone to someone's infield.)

If you want to take on a health risk, Quentin or Crawford could return a ton of value or spend the rest of their lives on and off the DL.

Maybe Bourn's power will come back (I'm not betting on it, but fifth OF isn't exactly high stakes). Gardner is more likely to steal (but with a lower overall ceiling), and Rajai Davis seems to get 40 steals a season with or without a starting job. That has value, especially if you take a decent platoon partner for him.

For power upside, Reddick, Ludwick, and Khris Davis are your guys. Khris was huge down the stretch, and Reddick and Ludwick were impact players just a year ago, so there could be something there. Or not. This is your fifth OF slot after all....

If I Only Had a Job: These guys would be on the official list if only they were projected to start at the beginning of the season. Watch them carefully in Spring Training, and watch their competition too. They stand a good chance of breaking into a starting role at some point in 2014, so consider using a draft and stash for one of these guys even if they don't take over a job before Opening Day

Oscar Taveras (upside, Tier 6), Emilio Bonifacio (speed, Tier 7), Nate McLouth (speed, Tier 7)

Bench Strategy

When considering your bench outfielders (who often end up playing DH/Util for you), consider guys who can help you in power or steals, young players (or old ones) that you can't count on but might just play like starters, real-life platoon players that you too can platoon, and those boring sorts of guys whose chief virtue is that they typically play better than average waiver bait.

Power: Josh Willingham, Nate Schierholtz, Michael Morse, Dayan Viciedo, Kyle Blanks, Justin Ruggiano

Speed: Adam Eaton, Ben Revere, Eric Young, Jr., Denard Span, Ichiro Suzuki, Aaron Hicks, Jarrod Dyson, Drew Stubbs, Juan Pierre

Upside: Marcell Ozuna, Marlon Byrd, Oswaldo Arcia, Nick Castellanos, Melky Cabrera, Chris Young, Robbie Grossman, Charlie Blackmon, Lorenzo Cain, Jackie Bradley, Avisail Garcia, Gregory Polanco, Jose Tabata, Junior Lake, Darin Ruf, Logan Morrison, Corey Hart, Michael Saunders

Platoon Usefulness: Daniel Nava, Raul Ibanez, Matt Joyce, Jonny Gomes, Chris Denorfia, Jeff Baker, David DeJesus, David Murphy

 Check us out again next week, as we continue our rankings by diving into the infield.

Reliably OK: Michael Brantley, Andre Ethier, Gerardo Parra, Peter Bourjos, Dustin Ackley, Cody Ross

 




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