Outfield is an important position to fill depending on how many active OF slots your league uses. Unlike other positions where you only use one (not counting 2 catcher leagues and those that use CI & MI players), with outfielders you are playing a minimum of 3. Most leagues have upgraded to using 4 while some use 5 or possibly six active outfielders. For those that use only 3, you don’t have to venture much past the top 40 players and odds are you can find a number of tasty nuggets on waivers once the season starts. Those that use 4 outfielder should find that these rankings should suffice nicely. There should be enough players to get you through your draft, and this is just the top 60 (plus a few extra) so there are still a number of players not even listed that could turn out to be fantasy relevant.
Those unranked players are the fun ones, the guys everybody overlooks that come out of nowhere and become a fantasy star. Steve Pearce was the poster child for this last year, as were Josh Harrison and J.D. Martinez. None of these guys were on anybody’s radar going into the 2014 season (ok, there is that one guy who ranked them, good for you buddy). The point is, while there is plenty of talent available, don’t make it a necessity to fill in your outfield early.
Unless, that is, you are in one of these leagues that use 5 or more outfielders. If that is the case, you better know the names of the ML ready guys in the minors who have the potential to make an impact this season. Unlike leagues that only use 4 outfielders, there is little chance of grabbing one of these guys off waivers; if they are on waivers, odds are they won’t be for long. And those players like Harrison and Pearce, yea, you better know those too. Before we get to the rankings, some introductions are in order (for those of you who have not been following along).
Joining me as always for these early rankings (along with where you can find them) are:
Seth Klein (@SethDaSportsMan) from Fantasy Pros and contributor at RazzBall
Doug Anderson (@rotodaddy) from Fantasy Sports Network
Timothy King (@TKing978) from The Sports Script and host of Fantasy Forecaster on Blog Talk Radio.
Chris Meyers (@FantsyChillpony) from David Gonos and contributor for Fake Teams.
Each week we will be bringing you our top (and bottom) players at each position for those baseball junkies who crave fantasy baseball all year round. Before we get to the rankings, lets take a look at this year’s free agent class. Nori Aoki, Melky Cabrera, Endy Chavez , Tyler Colvin, Nelson Cruz, Michael Cuddyer, Chris Denorfia, Jonny Gomes, Tony Gwynn Jr., Scott Hairston, Torii Hunter, Reed Johnson, Jason Kubel, Ryan Ludwick, Nick Markakis, Nyjer Morgan. Mike Morse, Colby Rasmus, Alex Rios, Nate Schierholtz, Ichiro Suzuki, Yasmani Tomas, Josh Willingham, Chris B. Young and Delmon Young.
There are a few big names in there like Cruz, Rios, Melky, Cuddyer and potential Cuban import Yasmani Tomas. Then there are the steady old reliable names such as Hunter, Ludwick, Kubel, Markakis, Morse, Aoki, Hunter, and Rasmus. Beyond that, the names don’t really matter in fantasy in standard leagues. Deeper leagues may value the Tyler Colvins of the world, but not the rest of us. While this free agent class is not overly impressive compared to past years, there are some steady bats available. While you may not want most of them on your fantasy team, where they land could still affect you. Nori Aoki may not be the best outfield option, but if he lands on a team with a promising rookie in the minors, that player may get Joc Pedersoned out of a job and you will have to wait until 2016 for your prospect. Keep an eye on where all these players go regardless of your feelings towards them, they could change the value of a prospect between now and March.
The rankings below represent the top 75 Outfielders for the 2015 season. We used a 20 game minimum for games played to qualify so several players who may be eligible in your league might not have made the cut. If you see someone missing or feel someone has been overlooked, feel free to inquire in the comment section below. On with the rankings.
These players represent the top 12. There is not much disagreement on the top 6 other than the order you would place them in. Players 6-12 could be moved around as well with the last few players possibly falling into the next tier depending on how you view them. Overall this is the cream of the crop and where you should be looking first.
This is where the dissension starts. While the consolidated rankings place each of these players where they are, some of us don’t exactly agree with A) where they should be ranked and B) that they even belong in the top 24. Most of the players are young and full of upside and potential, but it is that inexperience that makes them a risk. The veterans of this group each have a respectable resume that suggest they should put up solid numbers, but each comes with his own box of skeletons which could sway things the other direction. The one thing they all have in common is, each one has the potential to be a top 12 player or finish just outside that group.
We tend to agree more on this tier than we did the last. By this I mean that most of the players here (short of a few rogue rankings) we ranked in the third tier. Unlike the group above, this one is more veteran based with a sprinkling of youth. Most of the veterans have age or injury related concerns, but that does not mean you should ignore them. The younger guys don’t have much of a ML resume, but they each have the upside to finish right along side their veteran counterparts. Taken in the right round, any one of these players could provide value to your team.
Now the fun starts as we start to see players that were not ranked in the top 60. There is little to no guarantee with any of these players. Over half of them have little to no track record and are ranked based upon the hopes that they can take that next step in the right direction. The stand out name here is Alex Rios. He was a staple in the second and sometimes third tier, but for 2015 his value is up in the air. If he falls this low (or even lower), he makes a very good risk/reward player and could easily outperform his ADP.
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