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Tiered Outfield Rankings Analysis

Brian Creagh digs deeper into the projections to find the implied tiers in third base rankings.

MLB: Spring Training-Atlanta Braves at New York Yankees Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Outfield Week rolls on with my favorite article of the week—implied tiers analysis. If you missed this same article from Catcher Week, I would recommend giving the overview a quick read. The concept remains the same: using a relatively vanilla projection model (Steamer) we discern the implied tiers where production makes a big drop from one player to the next. Furthermore, looking at current ADP values (via FanGraphs) we discover where it may be advantageous to take an outfielder in drafts.

For each position, we will only rank as many players as are typically owned in your standard 5x5, 12-man league. For outfield this means approximately 80 players. So without further ado, here are the implied tiers for the outfield position:

Again, a few explanations - zSUM is the sum of all a player’s z-scores for each of the 5 categories. A zSUM of 1 means that the player is one standard deviation better than the average player at this position. It is not the be-all and end-all definition of a player’s value, because a player’s worth to a team is dependent to the construction of that specific team (i.e. Billy Hamilton doesn’t mean as much to a team that already has Dee Gordon). It is an excellent approximation of a player’s general value compared to the rest of the position and a helpful metric for organizing similar expected output.

Tiers are represented by the solid black line and were generated subjectively by looking at both zSUM and current ADP. The double black line beneath Brett Gardner represents the average production at the position—players above the line are “above-average” and players below the line are “below-average.” It is my goal to leave every draft with an above-average player at each position, so having this break-even point in mind is extremely helpful.

We’ll skip the matrix due to the amount of players in this population, but I will note a few players whose ADP stand out as good and bad value opportunities in the Observations section.


Observations

Giancarlo Stanton is one of the best values in the first round. He just put up an MVP season with numbers that look very sustainable, he improved the quality of lineup around him with the move to New York, and drastically improved his hitting environment with Yankee Stadium and the rest of the AL East. How he has fallen to the back end of the first round is confusing. I like him as the 3rd or 4th player off the board.

The position falls off a cliff after the first five. Once you get beyond Charlie Blackmon, the next best option, according to Steamer projections, is Christian Yelich who can be had four rounds later. There’s a lot of good value in the second tier, and I’ve found myself loading up on infielders and pitchers in the first four rounds before attacking outfield.

Yasiel Puig really stands out with his projections. 25 home runs, 10 stolen bases, and a .282 batting average in the 10th round. He’s been a volatile player but none of those numbers seem far out of reach for Puig—he’s a must target for me.

Nomar Mazara is another mid-round target that keeps popping up for me. This rankings system really highlights the players with good batting averages and Mazara fits the bill. It’s a stat that often goes overlooked in favor of home runs or steals, but using this analysis helps find players who won’t kill you in batting average.

Adam Duvall and Steven Souza do not grade out well here. Both are way down the rankings, beyond players who don’t even get drafted in standard formats. With power available up-and-down the position, thumpers like Duvall and Souza aren’t as unique and don’t offer enough in other categories to stand out.

Kevin Pillar is a sneaky late play. A 10-10 HR-SB threat with a .270 batting average is an awesome find late in drafts. He should hit at the top of the Blue Jay lineup and provide decent counting stats.

If you have any questions or comments or just want to chat further about your league, please don’t hesitate to reach out on Twitter @BrianCreagh or via email bcreagh119@gmail.com.