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Outfield tiers for Draft Day 2013

Senior Fantasy Writer
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And here's where the tiers approach goes out the window.

Well ... if you let it.

The Tiers Approach to Draft Day
Tiering is a method of doctoring positional rankings so that players of similar value are bundled into groups. A new group begins whenever the next player down in the rankings has a vastly different projected outcome from the player preceding him. Reducing a position to five or six tiers instead of 30 or more individuals gives you a blueprint to follow as your league's draft unfolds. Naturally, the position to target is the one whose active tier is closest to completion. -- Scott White

Tiers: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP

At every other offensive position, your goal is to wait for that one perfect moment when selecting that one perfect player maximizes the value of your pick. But you don't draft just one outfielder. You draft three or five, depending on your format, so waiting until only one or two remain at a particular tier isn't necessarily the best way to go.

Granted, if only one or two do remain, you should still probably select from that tier. No sense settling for a drop-off in talent when you don't have to. But you can't rely on the tiers as your sole impetus for making a pick. You have to finesse it a bit. You have to rely on intuition and whatever you've gleaned from the CBSSports.com draft averages.

Or you could treat the outfield as sort of the yin to every other position's yang. Actually, starting pitcher works kind of the same way. When first base, second base, third base, shortstop and catcher leave you without a no-brainer pick, then the next outfielder is himself the no-brainer pick.

The Unmatched: Ryan Braun, Mike Trout

The Elite: Matt Kemp, Andrew McCutchen, Jose Bautista, Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Hamilton, Carlos Gonzalez, Justin Upton, Matt Holliday

The Near Elite: Adam Jones, Jason Heyward, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ben Zobrist, Curtis Granderson, Allen Craig, Jay Bruce, Bryce Harper, Yoenis Cespedes, Shin-Soo Choo, Alex Gordon

The Next Best Things: B.J. Upton, Alex Rios, Michael Bourn, Desmond Jennings, Martin Prado, Austin Jackson, Melky Cabrera, Shane Victorino

The Fallback Options: Hunter Pence, Carlos Beltran, Josh Willingham, Nick Markakis, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Michael Morse, Angel Pagan, Nelson Cruz, Mark Trumbo, Nick Swisher, Carlos Gomez, Corey Hart, Dexter Fowler, Jayson Werth, Norichika Aoki, Ben Revere, Wil Myers

The Last Resorts: Josh Reddick, Ichiro Suzuki, Adam Eaton, Alejandro De Aza, Ryan Ludwick, Ryan Doumit, Alfonso Soriano, Chris Davis, Jason Kubel, Brett Gardner, Coco Crisp, Michael Cuddyer, Brandon Moss, Carlos Quentin

The Leftovers: Torii Hunter, Denard Span, David Murphy, Jon Jay, Justin Ruggiano, Emilio Bonifacio, Lorenzo Cain, Matt Joyce, Cody Ross, Colby Rasmus, Starling Marte, Darin Mastroianni, Lucas Duda, Aaron Hicks, Drew Stubbs, Chris Young, Michael Saunders, Andy Dirks, Dayan Viciedo, Nate McLouth, Garrett Jones, Juan Pierre, Leonys Martin, Michael Brantley, Logan Morrison, Matt Carpenter, Rajai Davis, Jonny Gomes, Oscar Taveras, Tyler Colvin

Right off the bat, you'll notice I added a tier, The Unmatched, at the position. Outfield being as diverse as it is, an additional tier is usually necessary to demonstrate the full distribution of talent. This year, adding it to the top made the most sense since Braun and Trout are in a different stratosphere from everyone else. It doesn't necessarily mean they're a tier above The Elite at every other position, though if not for Miguel Cabrera at third base, they would be.

Plus, calling Kemp and McCutchen anything less than elite seems disingenuous. They're first-rounders in their own right. They're just not Braun or Trout, and the distinction is worth noting. Under no circumstances would you draft Kemp or McCutchen with Braun and Trout still on the board.

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Of course, under no circumstances would you draft Justin Upton or Holliday with Kemp or McCutchen on the board either, but I had to draw the line somewhere. With all the mock drafts available on CBSSports.com, you should have a pretty good idea how much sooner Kemp and McCutchen deserve to go off the board than the best of that next bunch, be it Bautista, Stanton or Hamilton. Six or seven picks sounds about right.

And again, drafting Kemp or McCutchen doesn't preclude you from drafting another of The Elite. True, using two of your first three picks on outfielders generally isn't the wisest play, but that's just the way it goes sometimes. Let's say you're up for your third pick after taking McCutchen and Clayton Kershaw with your first two. All the first-tier first basemen are gone. All the second-tier second basemen and shortstops are gone. You know you can get a Ryan Zimmerman or Chase Headley type with your fourth-round pick, and you don't want to take another pitcher here. Well then, you might just have to bite the bullet and take Holliday.

Otherwise, you're settling. Wouldn't you rather be ahead of the game at one position than behind it at two?

The Near Elite and The Next Best Things are probably the tidiest of the outfield tiers. In our most recent Head-to-Head mock draft, Jones and Heyward were actually the last of The Near Elite to go off the board (both to me, strangely enough) even though I consider them the best the tier has to offer, so I'm confident those 11 players are more or less interchangeable. And though some of The Fallback Options -- specifically, the first nine -- could put up numbers on par with The Next Best Things, they all have enough health or consistency issues to drop them a tier, placing them alongside the Fowlers and Aokis of the world.

As with first base, outfield is deep enough that some of The Last Resorts and The Leftovers deserve more recognition than those designations allow them. Eaton's combination of patience, speed and extra-base power makes him one of my favorite sleepers this year, and whichever of Mastroianni and Hicks wins the starting center field job in Minnesota will matter in more leagues than not. And of course, you could slot players like Hunter, Span, Murphy, Jay and maybe even Dirks a tier higher in Head-to-Head points leagues.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Rangers plan to stretch out Ross Detwiler's starts in spring training
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(7:40 pm ET) Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday the team plans to stretch out pitcher Ross Detwiler's starts to open spring training, reports foxsportssouthwest.com

Detwiler did not start a game in 2014, making 47 relief appearances with a 4.00 ERA. In 2013, he started 13 games for the Nationals and went 2-7 with a 4.04 ERA.


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(6:40 pm ET) The Red Sox and Rangers announced a two player trade Tuesday where Boston sent Anthony Ranaudo to Texas and the Rangers sent Robbie Ross to the Red Sox, both teams announced.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday Ranaudo is in play to become the No. 5 starter in the rotation, but if he doesn't win the job, he will likely start in the minors.

Ranaudo posted a 4-3 record with a 4.81 ERA in 2014 for Boston in 39 1/3 innings pitched. Ross went 3-6 with a 6.20 ERA in 78 1/3 innings for the Rangers.


Report: Blue Jays also interested in Jonathan Papelbon trade
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(6:20 pm ET) Along with the Brewers, the Phillies have also discussed trading closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Blue Jays, soruces told MLB.com.

Papelbon is due $13 million next season, which is believed to be one of the sticking points in negotiations. In 2014, Papelbon had 39 saves with a 2.04 ERA.


Report: Orioles, Pirates rekindle Travis Snider trade talks
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:50 pm ET) The Orioles and Pirates have revived trade talks regarding Pittsburgh outfielder Travis Snider, a source told The Baltimore Sun. The Orioles are closing in on a framework for a deal for Snider and are encouraged a trade will happen in exchange for one or two minor-league players.

The 26-year-old Snider is in his second year of arbitration and will be a free agent after the 2016 season. He will make $2.1 million in 2015.


Report: Angels, Garrett Richards set arbitration date
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(5:50 pm ET) The Angels and pitcher Garrett Richards have reportedly set an arbitration date for Feb. 11, according to the L.A. Times.

Talks for the new contract have been moving slowly with no discussion of a multi-year deal coming, according to the report. Richards asked for $3.8 million, but the team only offered $2.4 million.

Richards went 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA in 2014, amassing 164 strikeouts in 168 2/3 innings.


Giants SS Brandon Crawford agrees to $3.175M salary for 2015
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(4:34 pm ET) The Giants and shortstop Brandon Crawford avoided arbitration Tuesday, agreeing to a $3.175 million salary for 2015, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. Crawford, who is in his first year of arbitration, made $560,000 in 2014.

Crawford just finished his fourth season in the majors and third full season in 2014. He had career highs in triples (10), home runs (10), runs (54), RBI (69), walks (59) and games played (153).


Mariners' McClendon toying with idea of using Wilhelmsen as starter
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(4:28 pm ET) The acquisition of J.A. Happ means Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon doesn't have to head into spring training with long reliever Tom Wilhelmsen competing for a spot in the rotation.

However, McClendon hasn't totally given up on the idea of Wilhelmsen potentially transitioning to a starting role down the road, per MLB.com.

"I don't think it's totally dead," McClendon said. "I would say it's probably a long shot. My plan, as we speak right now, is to maybe stretch him out in spring and just play with it a little bit and see what happens, but I think it's a long shot. He was just so good in the role he was in, it'd be hard to take him out of that role."

Wilhelmsen pitched multiple innings in 24 of his 57 appearances last year. The former closer went 3-2 with a 2.27 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 79 1/3 innings.

"I really tried not to change anything at all, [other than] try to simplify a little bit," Wilhelmsen said. "If I was going in in the fourth inning, I knew I'd have to throw two or three innings and I just really attacked the zone. But it's not like you don't attack the zone any other time. It's the same thing. You have to get outs."


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(4:17 pm ET) Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos struggled in his first full year playing third base at the major-league level in 2014, so he is hard at work this offseason improving his defense

"Last year was [about] the actual ground-ball catching," Castellanos said, per MLB.com. "This year is a lot more [about] quickness, working on my range, lateral movement."

On top of committing 15 errors, Castellanos' Ultimate Zone Rating of negative-18.4 was nearly twice as bad as the next-lowest rating among third-base regulars. He also had a Defensive Runs Saved of minus-30 and a plus/minus rating of minus-39, which was lowest in the majors last year.

"I'm going to be more comfortable this year," Castellanos said. "Last year, I knew nobody [in terms of hitting tendencies]. Also I was getting used to the tempo of the game. It wasn't like I was in the big leagues for a while at another position and then had to go to third base. It was pretty much me making my first year in the big leagues at pretty much a new position, or trying to relearn an old position."


Santana, Escobar to compete to be Twins' starting shortstop
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:56 pm ET) While Danny Santana is considered the front-runner to be the Twins' starting shortstop, first-year manager Paul Molitor said nothing has been decided yet. Santana will compete with Eduardo Escobar for the starting job this spring.

"It's probably been one of the more awkward things for me this winter in dealing with that situation," Molitor said, per MLB.com. "Obviously, I have to go in there open-minded about how it will play out. I can't say Santana will be the shortstop because things can change. Escobar deserves an opportunity to play and whether it's spotting around the organization or he has to go back to shortstop, I can't tell you it all will work out."

Escobar started a team-high 86 games at shortstop in 2014 for Minnesota. He made it clear he wants to play every day, but is willing to play where Molitor needs him.

"This season is important for me," Escobar said. "I'm coming in ready to play. I don't know if I'm going to be the starting shortstop or not, but I've been working hard to be ready for spring training. If Molitor wants me to play shortstop, or wherever, I'm ready for it."

Santana said he is excited he is moving back to shortstop after making a team-high 62 starts in center field last year. He's been fielding 200 grounders per day in the Dominican Republic to get ready for the season.

"I'm very happy about playing shortstop. I was waiting for that moment," Santana said. "Shortstop is my natural position. I just need to keep working and I can do the same thing as last year."


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(3:17 pm ET) Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich told FOX Sports on Tuesday that it is "highly, highly unlikely" shortstop Troy Tulowitzki or outfielder Carlos Gonzalez will be traded before opening day.

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Gonzalez is under contract through the 2017 season on a seven-year, $80 million contract. He is also recovering from surgery in August to repair the patellar tendon in his left knee.


 
 
 
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