The first month of the 2013 fantasy baseball season is in the books, and we've gotten a good look at which players are off to hot starts and which guys are struggling in the early going. RotoBaller has been updating our original preseason rankings, and today we're revisiting the outfield rankings we initially published in February. All the ranks below are compared to the FantasyPros ECR (Expert Consensus Rank), which will show you where RotoBaller differs with the expert community and by how much. Check out our tier-by-tier analysis below the rankings, and let us know where you agree or disagree with us!
Tier 1: No real change atop the outfield rankings except the promotions of Justin Upton and Bryce Harper to the first tier. J-Up had the best month of his 7-year MLB career in April and Harper is absolutely crushing the ball for the Nationals. If Matt Kemp’s and Andrew McCutchen’s struggles continue, both Upton and Harper could leapfrog them at the next rankings update.
Tier 2: Josh Hamilton looks lost at the plate right now. Giancarlo Stanton was starting to crush mammoth home runs before landing on the DL with a strained right hamstring. Jacoby Ellsbury has returned to form, it appears, and has jumped up a tier as a result.
Tier 3: I debated back and forth as to whether or not I should include Adam Jones in Tier 2, but I just don't see him in the same class as Bautista, Carlos Gonzales, etc. That said, Jones is off to an incredible start this season. Jason Heyward drops a few spots in the rankings due to a dreadful start and DL stint (appendectomy) that will sideline him until late-May. Matt Holliday drops a tier as well. He hasn’t been bad, but he hasn’t been great either. On the other hand, Alex Gordon and Ben Zobrist have been impressive for the Royals and Rays respectively. Both are ranked several spots higher than they were previously.
Tier 4: Shin-Soo Choo is leading MLB in OBP. He’s going to score a ton of runs with Votto, Phillips, Frazier and Bruce hitting behind him. Not to mention, he’ll contribute in the other categories too (maybe not so much RBIs, but a fair number of HRs and SBs). Likewise for Austin Jackson and Desmond Jennings. BJ Upton falls a few spots due to a poor April. I still expect a 20-30 season out of him. Carl Crawford is performing like the Crawford of old. Here’s hoping he stays healthy. He, along with Martin Prado and Chris Davis, are ranked significantly higher than they were previously.
Tier 5: Carlos Gomez very quietly finished the 2012 season as a top-25 outfielder despite playing only 137 games. He’s off to a fantastic start in 2013 and has climbed the rankings accordingly. I thought Hunter Pence was ranked too high in RotoBaller’s original OF rankings and have dropped him to where I anticipate he will finish at season’s end. Hot starts from Dexter Fowler, Starling Marte and Matt Carpenter have improved their stock considerably. Angel Pagan's production warrants a bump as well.
Tier 6: I've always thought Andre Ethier was overrated. Crazy what Coco Crisp is doing early on in 2013, but always an injury risk. He’s a good sell-high candidate. Speaking of stolen base guys, where you at Brett Gardner? If you need some pop in your lineup, look no further than the recently activated Jason Kubel. Melky Cabrera plummets in the rankings, sans PEDs. If Corey Hart is available and you have room to stash him, think about grabbing him in the next week or two. He’s targeting a return on May 30th. I still have faith in you, Dominic Brown. Adam Eaton is slated to begin a rehab assignment in early May. He’s another player you should pick up soon if available on your waiver wire.
Tier 7: Nate McLouth is en fuego right now. Start him while he’s hot and/or sell him high while you still can. Rounding out this tier is a group of 20-HR hitters who can be solid UTIL options.
Tier 8: Don’t forget about these highly-touted outfield prospects who will make a fantasy impact at some point this season: Myers, Taveras and Hamilton much more so than Yelich or Puig.
Tier 9: Pick your poison based on team need(s). A few players of note: Chris Carter may strike out a ton but he’s the best cheap source of power out there. For stolen bases, Juan Pierre and Emilio Bonifacio are your men.