Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Outfield tiers for 2023 drafts

The Shuffle Up series rolls along, outfielders moving through the car wash today. What follows are my suggested salaries if you play in a Fantasy Salary Cap Draft format.

[Tiered Rankings: C | Middle Infield | Corner Infield | OF | Starters | Relievers]

The big tickets

$45 Aaron Judge

$44 Ronald Acuna Jr.

$43 Julio Rodriguez

$41 Juan Soto

$41 Mookie Betts

$40 Kyle Tucker

$38 Mike Trout

$37 Yordan Alvarez

No one expects Judge to match his 2022 pinball stats, but if he regresses to 2017 or 2021 levels no one should complain. I like that he didn’t change teams, and he retains the buoyancy of the New York lineup and park . . . Acuna was never really healthy last year, and despite missing about a third of the season, he still led the NL in being caught stealing. How much longer is it worth it for Acuna to expose his body to base-stealing? I suspect he wants one 40-40 season on the books before he turns the page . . . The Mariners also played it safe with Rodriguez on the bases in the second half, shutting down his running game (just four bags) as he dealt with back and wrist injuries. The home park wasn’t an issue, as Rodriguez’s OPS took a 72-point jump at home. His batting stats were better in the second half; the rookie adjusted to pitchers better than the other way around. I won’t argue with anyone who wants to select Rodriguez first overall . . . Alvarez would be $4-6 higher if not for the hand issue.

Aaron Judge will have a difficult time repeating his 2022 stats, but still has plenty of fantasy juice. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Aaron Judge will have a difficult time repeating his 2022 stats, but still has plenty of fantasy juice. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Legitimate building blocks

$31 Michael Harris II

$30 Randy Arozarena

$29 Luis Robert

$29 Cedric Mullins II

$28 George Springer

$27 Kyle Schwarber

$26 Adolis Garcia

$26 Teoscar Hernandez

$22 Eloy Jimenez

$22 Bryan Reynolds

$21 Starling Marte

$21 Corbin Carroll

$20 Byron Buxton

Harris is a tricky call entering Year 2, as he outkicked expectations as a rookie and also beat his batted-ball expected stats. According to Baseball Savant, Harris gained 29 batting-average points and 54 slugging points that weren’t earned by his hard-hit profile. Harris also needs to solve left-handers, who held him to a .238/.284/.365 slash . . . No one can guarantee you this is the year Robert stays healthy, but we have to note that he’s played essentially a full season (166 games) over the last two seasons, and this is the return: .307/.344/.486, 25 homers, 17 steals, 96 runs, 99 RBIs. Throw in an age-25 season and he offers plenty of room for growth and profit . . . Garcia is a polarizing fantasy pick because he bloomed late and he swings at anything; his career slash is .243/.290/.449, and he whiffed 377 times the last two years. That said, the Rangers are going to play him, and the category juice sings — 58 homers, 41 steals the last two years. I’ll look the other way on the approach if the ADP stays in the reasonable pocket . . . Buxton has made it to 100 games just once in his career, and he’s become hesitant to run much (only six bags last year. He also batted a puny .224. I’ve stopped dreaming of that MVP-contention season. Like the great Tad Allagash, Buxton always seems like he’s on his way, but he seldom arrives.

Talk them up, talk them down

$18 Tyler O'Neill

$17 Nick Castellanos

$17 Anthony Santander

$16 Christian Yelich

$16 Steven Kwan

$16 Giancarlo Stanton

$16 Taylor Ward

$15 Jake McCarthy

$15 Amed Rosario

$14 Kris Bryant

$14 Seiya Suzuki

$14 Andrew Vaughn

$13 Ian Happ

$12 Brandon Nimmo

$12 Hunter Renfroe

$12 Mitch Haniger

$11 Jeff McNeil

$11 Alex Verdugo

$11 Lars Nootbaar

$11 Whit Merrifield

$11 Thairo Estrada

$10 Oscar Gonzalez

Baseball-reference historical comps aren’t everything, but Bryant’s similarity players will scare you, a reminder of so many players who lost it around age 30: Richard Hidalgo, Hank Black, Yoenis Cespedes, Bob Horner. I’m not sure even Colorado can save Bryant; the downside pushes me away . . . You’ll have to make up for Kwan’s mediocre power, but his contact skills are repeatable and the Guardians will probably give him a good lineup spot . . . Nimmo is a fast player who is hesitant to run; perhaps the new rules will give him more incentive to swipe, but given his injury history, I’m more likely to bet he’ll maintain his established level on the bases. He’s a useful player, but I’ve stopped pricing in a fun ceiling . . . McCarthy is underrated because Arizona is a pedestrian team and he was never decorated as a prospect. But he’ll likely slot third and has a chance at a 15-homer, 30-steal season . . . Suzuki would have been a tier higher if not for the spring oblique injury. He was comically shafted by the umpiring last year, constantly getting rung up on third strikes that missed the zone. I still hope I get some shares, even though he’s unlikely to be ready by Opening Day

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Some plausible upside

$9 Riley Greene

$9 *Bryce Harper

$9 Joc Pederson

$8 Harrison Bader

$8 Joey Meneses

$8 Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

$8 Austin Hays

$8 Masataka Yoshida

$8 Jesse Winker

$7 Andrew Benintendi

$7 Cody Bellinger

$7 Ramon Laureano

$7 Seth Brown

$7 Josh Naylor

$6 Michael Conforto

$6 Charlie Blackmon

$6 Wil Myers

$5 Randal Grichuk

$5 Jarred Kelenic

$5 Jon Berti

$5 Kike Hernandez

Generally I don’t draft proactively into players already injured — injuries will find you anyway — so I’ll likely let someone play the wait-for-it game with Harper . . . Winker is presumably healthy, and he gets a park upgrade at the right time. He has a shot to bat .275 with 30 homers . . . Myers is young enough to maintain fantasy relevance, and Cincinnati is the most affordable destination offense in the National league . . . Benintendi has taken over the Alex Gordon career, exciting as a prospect and boringly efficient as a 30-something. You don’t get a thing for his plus defense, and he’s unlikely to offer much category juice . . . Yoshida is worth more if he lands in Boston’s leadoff spot, though for now he’s oddly projected in the middle of the order.

Bargain bin

$4 Bryan De La Cruz

$4 Trey Mancini

$4 Lane Thomas

$4 Alex Kirilloff

$4 Brandon Marsh

$3 Austin Meadows

$3 Jorge Soler

$3 Jake Fraley

$3 Manuel Margot

$3 Chris Taylor

$3 Trent Grisham

$3 Adam Duvall

$2 Christopher Morel

$2 Dylan Carlson

$2 Jose Siri

$2 Oswaldo Cabrera

$2 Mark Canha

$2 Mike Yastrzemski

$2 Marcell Ozuna

$2 Michael Brantley

$2 Esteury Ruiz

$2 Nick Gordon

$2 Brendan Donovan

$2 Tommy Pham

$2 Andrew McCutchen

$2 Max Kepler

$1 Avisail Garcia

$1 Leody Taveras

$1 Patrick Wisdom

$1 Jurickson Profar

$1 AJ Pollock

$1 Joey Gallo