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The Shuffle Up: Fantasy baseball outfielder draft rankings tiers

February 23rd, 2024

Prepare to pay up for Ronald Acuña Jr. in fantasy drafts. (Photo by Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/Getty Images)

The outfield is a fun place to be. You can find all kinds of stats here, including a few five-category stars. You’ll probably want at least one signature outfielder on your roster.

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That said, I will take a gradual approach to building the totality of my outfield. You can probably find reasonable middle-tier options at this spot, and there will always be a few cheaper alternatives available later. Of course, you need to accept more risk and more profile flaws from the later spots, but that’s true at all positions.

The Big Tickets

There are a few players who could plausibly outperform Acuña in a battle of healthy seasons, but after Acuña posted one of the most enormous fantasy hauls of all time, he has to go first in most drafts. And the Atlanta lineup remains the deepest in the majors.

Betts gets a small bump for his three positions of eligibility, and there’s also a lovely floor here. When have you ever rostered Betts and regretted it? The Dodgers’ lineup is deep enough that Betts can still be an RBI force at the leadoff spot, and his leadoff position ensures a lovely chunk of volume.

Is this the year the Astros stop wasting Tucker in the No. 6 slot? He has a path to an MVP season if he gets a better place in the order. The early plan is for the equally ridiculous Álvarez to slot third, with Tucker fifth. OK, it’s a step in the right direction.

Legitimate Building Blocks

Quiet consistency is the name of Arozarena’s game, as he’s posted a 129, 123 and 120 OPS+ in the last three seasons. Even if this is as good as it gets (Arozarena enters his age-29 season), it’s a safe neighborhood to park in.

Pretend the Yelich power seasons never happened. They’re unlikely to come back. But focus on what he can do — he’ll be a plus contributor in batting average, runs scored and stolen bases, and his other two columns won’t be complete washouts. He’s downshifted from superstar to very good major leaguer, and that’s conspired to make him a little undervalued in early drafts.

Carter doesn’t turn 22 until the end of August, but there’s probably signature significance to his small but explosive sample last year (40 games, including the playoffs). Carter batted third for most of the World Series, a clear sign of how much the Rangers believe in him. Write the check.

Scott Pianowski’s tiered rankings: Catchers | Outfielders | Middle Infielders | Corner Infielders | Starting Pitchers | Relief Pitchers

Suzuki was finally healthy in the second half of the year, and a .313/.372/.566 line followed, with 13 homers in 66 starts. I’ll draft him proactively anywhere I can. We haven’t seen his best season yet.

Trout, sadly, belongs on the fade list. He’s missed a significant chunk of time in six of the past seven seasons, and the Angels haven’t built much of a lineup around him. Trout and Bryce Harper have been compared their entire careers, and Trout certainly dominated the rivalry through their 20s. But Harper’s game is going to age much better. Don’t get sentimental here.

Talk Them Up, Talk Them Down

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tigers made a run at a weak AL Central this year, with Greene and Carpenter two of the positive reasons why. Greene’s always had a star pedigree, he just needs a season of full health. Carpenter’s power spike last year is trickier to reconcile, but he likely will open the year in the middle of a lineup on the upswing.

Soler finally signed on the bottom line, landing a three-year, $42 million package from the Giants. But the San Francisco park isn’t fun for right-handed power, and Soler always brings batting-average risk to the equation. He’s also nothing on the bases. I view him as a reactive pick, not a proactive one.

[2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP]

A washout September ruined the end of Duran’s breakout year, but he’s still slated to bat leadoff in one of the best offensive environments around. The Red Sox don’t have a deep lineup 1-through-9, but the top half of the order should be productive. There’s almost zero foul territory in Fenway; any plus hitter is likely to thrive here. I won’t be surprised if Duran scores 100 runs.

McCormick was in a job battle this time last year, but he secured center field in Houston and bumped up his efficiency across the board. Assuming the willingness to run carries over, we’re probably looking at a three or four-category contributor, even if the batting average is likely to drop from last year’s .273. He also offered plus defense last year, which marks his territory in the lineup.

Some Plausible Upside

It’s sad to say out loud but I’ve given up on the idea of Jiménez playing a full season. His body keeps breaking down, and last year’s 104 OPS+ was an eyelash over the league average. He’s not a runner at all, either — zero steals for his career. The White Sox looked like a team on the rise a few years back, but so many of their young stars haven’t hit the high end of their ranges.

Sometimes it feels like Bryant is 32-going-on-40, dealing with regular injuries and declining bat speed. Not even the thin air of Colorado could save him last year; that .233/.313/.367 slash will hurt your eyes. He’s basically on my do-not-draft list.

I’ll consider Lux as a possible late-round pick, a nod to latent upside and the depth of the Los Angeles lineup. He’ll be given every chance to win the shortstop job.

Bargain Bin

This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
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