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


Mike Trout


Andrew McCutchen


Carlos Gonzalez


Adam Jones


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


Jacoby Ellsbury


Bryce Harper


Giancarlo Stanton


Jay Bruce


Mark Trumbo


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


Shin-Soo Choo


Alex Rios


Justin Upton


Jose Bautista


Matt Holliday


Carlos Beltran


Yasiel Puig


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


Wil Myers


Jason Heyward


Alex Gordon


Starling Marte


Yoenis Cespedes


Jayson Werth


Coco Crisp


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


Curtis Granderson


Michael Cuddyer


Austin Jackson


Matt Kemp


Shane Victorino


Nelson Cruz


Desmond Jennings


Leonys Martin


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


Alfonso Soriano


Torii Hunter


Domonic Brown


Norichika Aoki


Alejandro DeAza


Christian Yelich


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


George Springer


B.J. Upton


Billy Hamilton


Josh Reddick


Ryan Ludwick


Michael Bourn


Martin Prado


Brett Gardner


Khris Davis


Carl Crawford


Nick Markakis


Kole Calhoun


Rajai Davis


Will Venable


Angel Pagan


Dexter Fowler


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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