2020 Fantasy Baseball Ranking Tiers: Outfield
Earlier this week, we looked at the different tiers of shortstops, and we discussed why it’s important to draft using tiers.
Today, we’re going to dig a little deeper and look at the top-100 outfielders for fantasy managers this year. Let’s get to work.
Tier 1: The elite, the the elite
The cream of the crop. If you have a top-four pick, you’re taking these guys in any order that you prefer. If you’re in a points league, there’s an argument for your favorite pitcher ahead of these guys. For Bellinger, though, you’re likely playing him at first base.
Tier 2: The elite, just a little less elite
Betts doesn’t lose much value moving from Boston to Los Angeles, and you can make an argument that he should be in the top tier of outfielders. There’s still room for growth for Soto, and that will come in the form of additional power. His plate discipline gives him a great floor to go with his insane ceiling. Speed keeps him from the top tier.
Tier 3: Heavy hitters
Even in an off-year in 2019, Martinez was still pretty damn good. Expect 2-3 more seasons of elite production before the decline hits. Harper is going to have a monster year. It makes sense having him in this tier, but it should surprise no one if he ends up in the top tier by season’s end.
Tier 4: OF2s in disguise as OF1s
- Starling Marte (ARI)
- Charlie Blackmon (COL)
- Austin Meadows (TB)
- George Springer (HOU)
- Ketel Marte (ARI)
Starling Marte’s ADP has been climbing in the past few weeks. He’s eclipsed 600 plate appearances twice in his career. The steals aren’t there anymore, but Blackmon is a steal at his current ADP. This feels high for Meadows, no? The breakout was nice last year, but he should be a tier lower.
Trash cans aside, there was going to be regression hitting Springer this year. Solid OF2, but shouldn’t be your OF1. Ketel Marte should be used at second base. Peripherals back up his 2019 numbers.
Tier 5: Hurt locker
- Kris Bryant (LAD)
- Aaron Judge (NYY)
- Eloy Jimenez (CWS)
- Whit Merrifield (KC)
- Tommy Pham (SD)
- Eddie Rosario (MIN)
- Yordan Alvarez (HOU)
- Giancarlo Stanton (NYY)
- Marcell Ozuna (ATL)
Byrant has only had 100 RBIs once in his career. Judge would be up in Tier 2 if he was healthy. Jimenez finished the season strong, and he is a prime candidate to breakout this season into a higher tier.
The hope with taking Merrifield this high is that he regains his steals total from 2018, but don’t bank on it. It’s high to be taking a 15-homer, 20-steal guy. Pham’s older than you may think, and he had the fourth-highest GB rate in baseball last year. Could his skills start to decline this year?
It was another quiet, productive year for Rosario in 2019. His walk rate is still a concern, but the makes it work. Alvarez is likely only a DH this season, and he’s dealing with a knee injury already. Fade him at his current price.
Like Judge, if Stanton were healthy, he’d be going higher. At this point with him, you need him to fall to around pick 100 to justify the selection. Ozuna was the victim of some bad luck last year. He’s betting on himself in Atlanta, and you should, too.
Tier 6: Speed, power, and unappreciation
- Victor Robles (WSH)
- Jorge Soler (KC)
- Ramon Laureano (OAK)
- Joey Gallo (TEX)
- Nick Castellanos (CIN)
- Michael Brantley (HOU)
There’s been a lot made of Robles’ exit velocity in his rookie year, but if he can go 17/28 in a “bad” year, there’s a lot to like with him. There’s not showing that Soler shouldn’t replicate his 2019 success, but unfortunately, his main skill is one that’s easy to find throughout the draft.
Laureano should be on more breakout lists, as 25/25 is his floor. Is Gallo just the expensive version of Miguel Sano? He gets a big boost in OBP formats.
We get excited about Castellanos every offseason. In Great American Ballpark, it’s justified. Brantley has proved he can stay healthy and puts together good season after good season. Maybe next year he’ll be drafted inside the top 100, but probably not.
Tier 7: Is there more than meets the eye?
- Luis Robert (CWS)
- Jeff McNeil (NYM)
- Michael Conforto (NYM)
- Andrew Benintendi (BOS)
- Oscar Mercado (CLE)
- Max Kepler (MIN)
- Franmil Reyes (CLE)
The range of outcomes for Robert is wide, but there’s no denying his superstar potential. An outcome like Robles’ 2019 season is likely for him. McNeil is a great safe option in the draft who goes overlooked. You should be playing him at second base.
Is there a next level for Conforto against lefties? How long will his injury keep him out for? For the third straight year, Benintendi is going too high. There’s nothing, besides pedigree, that says he should rebound to be a third-round pick again. It’s pretty high to take Nick Markakis.
Mercado’s injury is a bummer. Nice blend of speed and power.
Kepler showed all of the underlying breakout signs in 2018, and they came to fruition in 2019. He’s going too low.
Reyes might lead the league in home runs. Buy all of the shares.
Tier 8: 🤷♂️
There are questions with every single player in this group.
Will this be the season Dahl stays healthy? How much time will Mancini miss? Will Schwarber reach 600 plate appearances again? Is there anything left in Cain’s tank? Where and when the hell will Puig sign?
Tier 9: The drop off
- Danny Santana (TEX)
- Lourdes Gurriel (TOR)
- Kyle Tucker (HOU)
- Byron Buxton (MIN)
- Mallex Smith (SEA)
- Bryan Reynolds (PIT)
- Willie Calhoun (TEX)
- Adam Eaton (WSH)
- Justin Upton (LAA)
- Andrew McCutchen (PHI)
- Rhys Hoskins (PHI)
By the tier name, you can probably assume what this tier is. It’s the point where you realize the talent is really dropping off from the previous ones.
Santana has a ton of bust potential and regression hitting him this year. Gurriel, although streaky, should be an everyday option for fantasy managers this year. He really improved after his 2019 demotion.
If Tucker had the everyday job, he’d be many tiers higher, but he’ll be battling Josh Reddick for playing time again. Buxton might actually be underrated for once. You’ll take a speed/power combo at this point in the draft.
Smith and Reynolds would make a nice pairing as your OF3 and OF4, or even your OF4 and OF5. Reynold’s average will help with Smith’s lack of skills outside of his speed.
It’s a shame Calhoun broke his jaw. He looked poised for a big breakout. Eaton probably doesn’t get enough love after his performance last season, but he’s just hard to trust with the health.
Could this be Upton’s last stand? He can give fantasy owners some power late if he can stay on the field. McCutchen won’t be on the field right away, but he could come at a nice discount in drafts. Better days are ahead for Hoskins, who didn’t have the third-season leap that many were hoping for. He’s better utilized as a first baseman.
Tier 10: Forgotten starters
- J.D. Davis (NYM)
- Shin-Soo Choo (TEX)
- Alex Verdugo (BOS)
- Hunter Dozier (KC)
- Avisail Garcia (MIL)
- Scott Kingery (PHI)
- David Peralta (ARI)
If you’re searching for your OF4, feel free to skip most of the tier above for the players in this tier.
There’s not serious damage to Davis’ shoulder, so the only hurdle in his way of a huge breakout season is guaranteed playing time. Choo is better in points leagues than roto, but he’s giving you solid across-the-board production year in and year out.
Verdugo has yet to swing a bat, so expect a delay to his season. The long-term outlook is promising as a blend of Benintendi/Markakis/Yelich. Dozier has multi-position eligibility and has been a popular target in the middle rounds of drafts. Don’t allow Kansas City to scare you off.
With Ryan Braun suffering from rotator cuff soreness, Garcia should play every day early in the season. He’s been sneaky good for the past few seasons. We covered Kingery in the shortstop tiers.
Peralta overperformed in 2018, which caused his 2019 draft price to spike. He came back to earth in 2019, causing his draft price to tank. The pendulum may have swung too far, though, as he’s a draft-day bargain in 2020.
Tier 11: Multi-positional starters
- Ryan Braun (MIL)
- Tommy Edman (STL)
- Cavan Biggio (TOR)
- Brian Anderson (MIA)
- Mark Canha (OAK)
- Joc Pederson (LAD)
- Nick Senzel (CIN)
- Aristides Aquino (CIN)
- Nomar Mazara (CWS)
- A.J. Pollock (LAD)
- Hunter Renfroe (TB)
- Randal Grichuk (TOR)
As referenced above, Braun is dealing with rotator cuff soreness. The production, albeit in a part-time role, has still been there the past couple of seasons. We covered Edman in the shortstop tiers piece.
Biggio is going lower than anticipated according to the ADP. He gets a boost in OBP leagues and should be used as a second baseman. Anderson won’t win you a league, but he’s a boring, safe option if you take a riskier outfielder earlier in your draft.
Buy Canha wherever you can. He was a late-career breakout, but so what? Everything about his profile backs up his 2019 production. A trade would have been nice for Pederson. As of now, he’s a righty-mashing daily-league option only.
We know Castellanos is playing every day in Cincinnati. Shogo Akiyama is going to play “a lot,” too. That leaves Senzel, Aquino, and Jesse Winker competing for plate appearances at one spot. Fade them all in 2020 until one emerges.
The only hope for a Mazara breakout at this point is his prospect pedigree. He can hit you homers, but everyone can do that in 2020.
Pollock is being underdrafted, but it’s fair to have a concern about his playing time. He’s an expensive platoon bat unless there’s a trade that happens.
Renfroe has the power to compete for a home run crown, but how often will he play in Tampa Bay? Grichuk is a fine fill-in outfielder, but you’re not drafting him.
Tier 12: 2017 meets 2020
- Gregory Polanco (MIN)
- Trent Grisham (SD)
- Garrett Hampson (COL)
- Corey Dickerson (MIA)
- Wil Myers (SD)
- Luis Arraez (MIN)
- Austin Hays (BAL)
- Kole Calhoun (ARI)
- Shogo Akiyama (CIN)
There was a time when Pirates fan said that they refused to move Polanco in a deal for Giancarlo Stanton. He’s worth a flier if he can stay healthy, but there’s not much to like.
Grisham is the type of player you should target as an OF5 or bench player. Playing time might be dicey, but the upside is enormous. He’s a popular breakout pick. We covered Hampson in the shortstop tiers.
Dickerson and Myers are both boring veterans who could be traded into a timeshare situation. Arraez is a great player to target if you punted batting average in the front half of your draft. He should be used as a second baseman, though.
Hays had helium coming into 2019, and he’s a great post-hype sleeper with his power in that ballpark.
Calhoun is boring and an injury replacement in most cases. Akiyama is going to play a lot, and when he does play, he’s going to lead off. There’s some Choo and Eaton in his game.
Tier 13: The rest
- Jo Adell (LAA)
- Domingo Santana (CLE)
- Ian Happ (CHC)
- Austin Riley (ATL)
- Brandon Nimmo (NYM)
- Jesse Winker (CIN)
- Anthony Santander (BAL)
- Niko Goodrum (DET)
- Mitch Haniger (SEA)
- Kevin Pillar (BOS)
- Jon Berti (MIA)
- Teoscar Hernandez (TOR)
- Sam Hilliard (COL)
- Stephen Piscotty (OAK)
- Tyler O’Neill (STL)
- Jose Martinez (TB)
- Jackie Bradley, Jr. (BOS)
- Kevin Kiermaier (TB)
- Jason Heyward (CHC)
Most of these players can be forgotten about for fantasy in 2020, but there’s some short- and long-term potential with others.
Adell is a stud prospect who should get the call around May for the Angels. Santana started red hot last year for the Mariners, and he will look to replicate that success in Cleveland this season. Happ and Riley are post-hype players in their own rights, but roles are the questions with them. Nimmo gets a boost in OBP leagues, but that’s about it.
We covered Winker above. Santander is a mono-league play, while Goodrum could be out of a job by the All-Star break.
Haniger, Pillar, Martinez, Bradley, Kiermaier, and Heyward should all go undrafted and sit on the waiver wire.
Berti can be rostered with his speed upside and multi-position eligibility, but he lacks a starting gig. Hernandez is a sneaky good power/speed upside play if you need a dart throw. O’Neill has insane power, but he can’t make contact to save his life.
Piscotty is boring, but could be useful if he rebounds. Hilliard is all playing time dependent.
- The position either has a surplus of options or it falls off very fast, depending on if you have three or five outfielders in your league. If you have three outfielders, don’t draft your second one too soon.
- If you’re going to take a player who has warts, such as Mallex Smith, make sure that you find a safe player to balance out his lack of contributions in the other categories. Players like Bryan Reynolds and Brian Anderson are nice safety picks.
- Tier 6 is probably my favorite tier to target. Grabbing two outfielders from there as your OF2 and OF3 in a five-outfielder league could give you a big offensive boost.
- Know your settings. It can make all the difference in the world if your league is OBP vs. average. A lot of the players on the list would either get a bump up in a tier or a bump down.
- There are attractive options outside of the top 100, too. A few of the guys you should target here are Mike Tauchman, Clint Frazier, Dylan Carlson, Yoshi Tsutsugo, and Josh Rojas.