The first two months of the 2013 fantasy baseball season are 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 positional rankings over the past few days, and today we’re revisiting the outfield rankings we initially published in April and updated in May. All the ranks below are compared to the FantasyPros ECR (Expert Consensus Rank), which will show you where RotoBaller differs from 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: There are a few players who are far and away more superior offensively at their position that anyone else. In Tier 1, we have Troy Tulowitzki who is, by a far distance, the best shortstop. Tulo leads all shortstops in four of the five standard categories: R, RBI and HR while sporting a .351 batting average. He has 51 RBI-- no other shortstop even has 40. He is sixth in all of baseball with 16 HR.
Tier 2: In tier 2 we have the overachieving waiver-wire pickups of the first half. Jean Segura has a combined 28 HR and SB (9 HR/17 SB), which is exactly what you want from your starting guy. No other shortstop provides that perfect combination. While our final tier 2 player might not offer that nasty power/speed combo, he has lit up the basepaths, racking up a MLB-leading 29 stolen bases: Everth Cabrera has surprisingly even racked up a whopping 16 RBI in May. If he can keep this surge going on the basepaths, he will allow you to put your focus on power elsewhere.
Tier 3: Jhonny Peralta and JJ Hardy are surprise entrants into a rich tier but their performance has earned them this status. Hardy has provided his owners with 13 HR and 39 RBI. Unlike some underachieving shortstops also in this tier - Elvis Andrus and Starlin Castro - Peralta and Hardy were either late-round picks or waiver-wire snags, and they are providing you with comfort each and every productive night. Tier 3 also includes some players that haven’t been awful, but haven’t lived up to their draft positions-- this includes some solid “Buy Low” candidates. Ben Zobrist was batting third in the lineup, which had me believing he would provide his owners with some added power, but that never materialized. He is hitting the ball to his career averages, but watch out because he will heat up soon. Elvis Andrus, while he does have 16 SB, currently sports a .253 batting average, and entering his fifth season in the majors, we expected more production. He is a sleeper here, though, and he's on pace for a career-high stolen bases. Ian Desmond is another “Buy Low” because he is able to turn it on at any moment, and has high upside. We also have some big time underperformers with big time upside. Starlin Castro, a combined 6 HR and SB (3 HR/3 SB). Mike Aviles, Daniel Descalso and Marwin Gonzalez have more with over 100 fewer at bats. Castro has the talent but he needs to put it together consistently. Jimmy Rollins is coming off a 23 HR/ 30 SB season and currently sits at 4 and 6 respectively; it’s simply not enough, especially with only 24 runs scored. We expect more out of both these players come the second half to follow up on disappointing starts to 2013.
Tier 4: The injured. In tier 4, we find of an underperforming and now injured Asdrubal Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez who sits at 20 at bats on the season, and “El Capitan” Derek Jeter who is recovering from offseason ankle surgery. Jeter is set to return in a month and should have immediate fantasy impact at a position which has been extremely volatile. Hanley is almost back for the Dodgers, but owners could find lingering effects of his injury all season long. Asdrubal Cabrera strained his leg a couple of weeks ago and should return soon, however that might not translate into increased production, as for the third season in a row, Cabrera has declined offensively.
Tier 5: Danny Espinosa is sitting on the DL with banged-up wrist and a .158 batting average. Espinosa will need to be monitored closely for two reasons: (1) how well Anthony Rendon performs, and (2) how well the Nationals perform. Espinosa is a career .230 hitter and hi 20+ HR days might be behind him. Martin Prado is batting just .248 on the season but should figure Arizona out in due time. Alexei Ramirez has done most of his damage recently including 9 of his 13 steals in the last 30 days. Jed Lowrie is good for some RBI and runs, but lacks power and speed-- he won’t hurt you, but he won't contribute across the board, either. Didi Gregorious is similar to Lowrie with some speed potential. Brandon Crawford has put together a nice first half with a career-high five home runs! Josh Rutledge could get the call again soon, and if so, he could have some fantasy potential... but that's a big “if.”