Trout is fantasy standard bearer among outfielders

Orioles' Jones, Brewers' Gomez headline a strong second-tier group

Trout is fantasy standard bearer among outfielders

Tier One -- Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, Andrew McCutchen

Trout is the gold standard of fantasy assets this season, and he could retain that lofty perch for the better part of the next decade. The 23-year-old has averaged 31 homers, 33 steals, 97 RBIs, 118 runs and a .311 batting average across the past three seasons, and he could become even more dominant as he enters his prime.

Neither Stanton nor McCutchen can rival Trout's combination of established excellence and upside, but both are fine options out of the two-hole in 2015 drafts. Stanton may be baseball's best candidate to belt 40 round-trippers this season, and McCutchen is arguably the game's most stable commodity due to his consistent five-category contributions.

Gonzalez on Trout's '15 goals

Tier Two -- Carlos Gomez, Adam Jones, Jose Bautista, Jacoby Ellsbury, Yasiel Puig, Michael Brantley, Ryan Braun

Those who are not fortunate enough to land an early first-round pick would be wise to draft one of the tier-two outfielders as an offensive building block.

Gomez is one of the premier power-speed producers in baseball, and he could be a top-five fantasy hitter if his teammates can aid him in boosting his total number of RBIs and runs this season.

Outlook: Jones, OF, BAL

Jones is particularly enticing as a starting point for a 2015 squad, as he is among the most consistent stars in the game. Because the 29-year-old has demonstrated the ability to hit .280 and rack up roughly 30 homers, 90 runs and 90 RBIs year after year, he is not likely to cause much distress if selected in the first round.

The rest of tier two is tightly bunched, and owners will need to decide which skills they want to lock up in round two. Bautista offers prodigious power, while Ellsbury can contribute elite speed. Those who are in search of a more balanced portfolio can start with Brantley or Puig, as both emerging studs are five-category assets. Braun is the most volatile member of this tier, but offseason thumb surgery could aid his quest to reclaim his former greatness.

Tier Three -- Justin Upton, Starling Marte, Corey Dickerson, Bryce Harper, Yoenis Cespedes, Billy Hamilton, Carlos Gonzalez, Hunter Pence

Upton has nearly every trait to please the astute fantasy owner. The outfielder was a multi-faceted contributor during the past two seasons, collecting 56 homers with 172 RBIs and 16 steals in that span, and he is still just 27 years old.

Outlook: Upton, LF, SD

Though their skill sets are dissimilar, Marte, Dickerson and Hamilton all possess immense upside. Marte has the potential to be a poor man's Carlos Gomez, as he could hit for average, swipe 35-plus bases and exceed 15 homers. Dickerson offered an outstanding rate of production in 2014, and he could be the next player to utilize Colorado's hitter-friendly park factors as a basis for fantasy greatness. Hamilton may be more dominant in a single category than any other hitter due to his electric speed. The 2015 Player Preview projects Hamilton for 62 steals, which is more than 20 ahead of every player not named Dee Gordon.

Harper and Gonzalez are arguably the two biggest names among players in tier three. Two straight injury-affected seasons have lowered expectations for Harper, but he still possesses a bevy of elite tools and could easily author a breakout campaign in 2015. In fact, this may be the latest the 22-year-old will be picked in fantasy drafts for the next decade. Gonzalez, who is the opposite of Harper in that he has already been a peak fantasy performer, succumbed to years of nagging injuries last season. If the 29-year-old can play in 140 games this season, he could be back in the early rounds by 2016.

Tier Four -- Christian Yelich, George Springer, Kole Calhoun, Jason Heyward, Matt Kemp, J.D. Martinez, Matt Holliday, Alex Gordon, Charlie Blackmon

The players in the fourth tier will likely occupy the second outfield spot on most 2015 rosters, and smart owners will choose a player who has the skill set to complement their early-round hitters.

Outlook: Springer, RF, HOU

Springer is arguably the most intriguing talent in this group. The youngster hit 20 homers in 78 games as a rookie in 2014, and he could be set to add speed to his game this year after contributing in considerable fashion on the bases in the Minors. Granted, the 25-year-old's ascent could be beset by a proclivity to whiff. But if he subdues that trait to a degree in '15, his stock could skyrocket.

Owners who would like to target a player on the rise could take a long look at Yelich, Calhoun, Martinez and Blackmon. Yelich is the youngest player on the list at 23 years old, so he may have the best chance for continued growth.

Although searching for upside is always exciting, sticking with stable assets is often wise. Those who want to lock in reliable numbers can add Holliday or Gordon.

Tier Five -- Melky Cabrera, Ryan Zimmerman, Gregory Polanco, Brett Gardner, Shin-Soo Choo, Steven Souza Jr., Alex Rios, Leonys Martin, Jayson Werth, A.J. Pollock, Mookie Betts, Marcell Ozuna, Ben Revere, Jorge Soler, Denard Span, Yasmany Tomas

Outlook: Cabrera, LF, CWS

When it comes to piling up counting stats in the middle rounds of a mixed league draft, the outfield position may be the best place to look. Owners who need to find moderately-priced power can add youngsters such as Ozuna or Soler, or a veteran such as Werth or Zimmerman. Those who concentrated on heavy hitters in the early rounds can add a speedster such as Polanco, Martin, Betts, Span or Revere.

Tier Six -- Carl Crawford, Brandon Moss, Khris Davis, Wil Myers, Michael Saunders, Marlon Byrd, Adam Eaton, Curtis Granderson, Desmond Jennings, Austin Jackson, Avisail Garcia, Danny Santana, Joc Pederson, Torii Hunter, Juan Lagares

Owners who wait until the final rounds of mixed league drafts to grab their last outfielders should still be able to find some impressive talents. The late rounds of a mixed league draft are a great time to make risky selections, as busts from the final rounds can be easily replaced with waiver-wire options. Players such as Saunders, Eaton, Garcia and Lagares are fine sixth-tier candidates to take their games to another level in 2015, and Pederson will look to have a stellar rookie year.

Fred Zinkie is a fantasy baseball writer for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.