Waiting Game: Comparing Outfield Tiers


This series goes position by position, comparing the average production you get out of the top 5 ranked (or top 10 for OF and SP), the next group of players, and so on. We’re looking for where the value of players starts to drop, so that you can see how long you can wait on a position and what kind of hit in production you’ll take if you do. One thing to note is that I’m not restricting players to only one position for the stat information. If a guy qualifies at 2B, SS, and OF, his numbers are going to appear in all three sets.

There’s a lot of discussion about tiers in ranking players. Some fantasy managers live by it, because they like to make cut-off points where they feel the talent is noticeably different between one group of players and the next group. Other managers don’t like it and prefer a simple straight ranking. I’ve always enjoyed tiers, and depending on the format of your league, there really can be obvious gaps in talent level at a certain number of players. 

I’ve done two things here. First I use CBS’s ranking info for 5×5 roto leagues, and I show the average numbers for the top 10 players at outfield compared to groups of 10 after that. Next I’ll take data from a private CBS points league and show the averages for the same breakdowns. Although it’s a custom scoring league, there aren’t major differences from CBS’s public points system, and anyway, a lot of times the points rankings are very close to the 5×5. The nice thing is that it boils down production to a common denominator (points) regardless of whether a player was more speed or power.

The 5×5 Roto Comparisons

Here are your 5×5 averages of the top 10 outfielders, followed by 11-20, 21-30, 31-40, and 41-50. I’ve rounded to whole numbers.

  • #1-10: 91 R, 28 HR, 92 RBI, 19 SB, .290 BA in 585 AB
  • #11-20: 82 R, 17 HR, 72 RBI, 20 SB, .283 BA in 554 AB
  • #21-30: 80 R, 19 HR, 69 RBI, 13 SB, .279 BA in 543 AB
  • #31-40: 70 R, 15 HR, 64 RBI, 15 SB, .280 BA in 503 AB
  • #41-50: 70R, 15 HR, 55 RBI, 11 SB, .262 BA in 497 AB

Larger groups of players mean a bit more parity regarding SB and even HR. Tier two has a low HR partly because two big speedsters (Hamilton and Revere) really dragged down the average; excluding them, the average of the others was 21 HR. The lower three tiers each had three hitters with under 10 HR. The top-tier really stands out in every non-SB category. However, I was surprised to see tiers two and three so close in every category, and tier four is really only lacking R and a few HR, which could be partly explained by the noticeable AB drop. When you get outside the top-40, the RBI and BA fall farther. Still, those three middle tiers emphasize the depth at outfield, at least for 12-team leagues.

The Points Comparison

Here’s the breakdown. I didn’t compare tiers that were more than two apart. It’s obvious that there will be a very large gap from 1-10 to 41-50. Instead, I looked at the differences between closer tiers.

  • Range, 1-10: 584.5 – 755.5, avg. 644.7 points
  • Range, 11-20: 531.5 – 583, avg. 560.1 points
  • Range, 21-30: 501– 513, avg. 506.2 points
  • Range, 31-40: 436.5 – 488, avg. 453.8 points
  • Range, 41-50: 401 – 435.5, avg. 419 points
  • Difference between avg. of 1-10 and 11-20 = 84.6 points = 18.4% more
  • Difference between avg. of 1-10 and 21-30 = 138.5 points = 27.4% more
  • Difference between avg. of 11-20 and 21-30 = 53.9 points = 10.6% more
  • Difference between avg. of 11-20 and 31-40 = 106.3 points = 23.4% more
  • Difference between avg. of 21-30 and 31-40 = 52.4 points = 11.5% more
  • Difference between avg. of 21-30 and 41-50 = 87.2 points = 20.8% more
  • Difference between avg. of 31-40 and 41-50 = 34.8 points = 8.3% more


There’s still value in having a top-10 OF, even if there’s depth at the position. The gap between the top tier and the second tier is much larger than any other two consecutive tiers. Another interesting takeaway is the ridiculously small range of points in tier three. There are a lot of players who can put up similar results in points leagues, regardless of speed (Duda’s 30 HR) or power (Revere’s 49 SB).

The Bottom Line: In roto leagues, don’t trick yourself into thinking that the position is so deep, you don’t need a top OF. There’s a clear divide between a top name like McCutchen and a just solid guy like Cespedes. Get your cornerstone OF, and then you can likely afford to wait a bit, because the 11-40 range contains far less separation. In points leagues, power still rules the day, with only one player in the top 20 having fewer than 10 HR (Span). Those big names who hit in the middle of the lineup are worth pursuing early, because the extra R and RBI turn into extra points. After that, be sure to grab at least one guy in the 11-30 range, and then shallow leagues should try to fill in the rest of your OF before you get out of the top-40.

Compare tiers for the rest of the positions

CatcherFirst BaseSecond BaseThird Base ShortstopOutfieldStarting PitcherRelievers

Kevin Jebens

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Fantasy baseball player since 2000; winning leagues ranging from 12-team H2H to 18-team experts 5x5. Has written for various baseball blogs, including the 2013 Bleed Cubbie Blue Annual.

3 thoughts on “Waiting Game: Comparing Outfield Tiers”

  1. So…I lost Taveras as a keeper for 2015. Now I need a backup.

    Would you keep Betances in hopes he becomes the next closer?
    Would you keep Harrison and all his versatility?

    I will already be keeping Kimbrel and Chapman if that helps. We are adding holds that will be worth .5 pts so even if he doesn’t close he could be valuable.
    Any thoughts would help. Thanks.

    1. Jay, keeping Betances partly depends on the format of your league. How many teams? That affects how many closers per team there are. That being said, I think the Yanks will re-sign Robertson, but it’s too early to know with any certainty. If you have two top closers already, you should probably release Betances, unless Robertson signs somewhere else before your keeper deadline.

      Josh Harrison certainly has versatility, but I personally don’t like him to do much more than he did this year. In fact, he may regress a little bit. Does your league require MI/CI? If so, he’s a particularly good fit because he gives you a lot of flexibility. I’d keep him over an elite setup guy.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Thanks for the input. It’s a 12 team league so typically it’s a dog fight for closers because we have large rosters. I would love Harrison to repeat. I’ll even take a .280 average for regression. He’s like a better Prado from a few years back. We do not have a mi/ci position but we do have 3 utility slots. I’m not in a big hurt for a 2b or 3b as I have altuve, arenado and soon kris bryant. I however do not have a ss and I could plug him in there.

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