The Determinator: Outfielders #10-6 + Honorable Mentions (Part 2)
The Determinator continues with the 6-day collection of outfielders in the MLB and announce some honorable mentions coming from the ranked #31 to #63 outfielders.
Today I will reveal the #10-#6 Outfielders in the MLB and tomorrow I will announce the #5-1 outfielders in the MLB. For a background about The Determinator, see my article about my methodology, changes for 2021, and schedule, here.
The Determinator: Outfield-Specific Information
To easily work through and cut-down the list of 396 different players who played any amount of time in the outfield (316 in Left, 198 in Center, and 278 in Right) during the past two seasons, I set-up two boundaries to keep it as close to having only starters:
They must’ve had at least 350 PA’s over the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
They must’ve had at least 750 innings combined in the outfield over the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
This limited the number of outfielders down to 96.
However, without further ado, let’s get to the first of six days on the outfield:
If an outfielder led a statistic, it will be bolded.
Number 10: Michael Conforto, New York Mets
Top-10: OBP, wRC, wRC+, Off, WAR
Top-25: AVG, SLG, HR
Top-50: SB, BsR
Total Score: 61Embed from Getty Images
After seeing Jeff McNeil’s name yesterday, it is annoying to have to continuously credit the New York Mets on their outfielders, but it must be done. It does amaze me that he’s been in the league for parts of 6 seasons now, and he has been a very consistent above-average all-star level player since 2017. It seems clear that his 2020 season was his best so far (2.0 fWAR [on pace for 5.4], Off of +16.7, 157 wRC+), but his .412 BABIP does indicate there was some luck in getting there. Regardless, combined with his 2019 season (3.7 fWAR, Off of +23.3, 126 wRC+), this more-or-less averages out his performance. Conforto only has one true flaw in his game these past two seasons with defense (Def of -8.3), as he has average baserunning numbers (BsR +1.2). He’ll likely regress back from 2020 but still easily hold as a 3.0+ fWAR player in 2021, which is great benchmark for the 27-year-old to improve from.
(Side-Note: In running through my analysis from pre-2020, I am unable to find Michael Conforto’s name listed anywhere. He would’ve qualified as a right fielder and likely would’ve placed well, darn.)
Number 9: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
Top-5: Fld, DRS, UZR
Top-10: SLG, wRC+
Top-15: OBP, Off, WAR
Top-50: wRC, BsR
Total Score: 66Embed from Getty Images
Last years #5 right fielder, it is interesting to see that Judge is a more highly ranked as defender than an offensive player given the stage he set for himself with his dominant rookie year. Unfortunately, that year (174 wRC+) seems to be something hard-pressed to think he’ll reach again. Combined with that, there is one main concern about Aaron Judge which is highlighted greatly by his lack of being a Top-50 outfielder in either Games Played or Innings: he finds himself often injured and missing time. However, this isn’t to discredit Judge at all, as even with playing in about 2/3rds of games the past 3 years, he has still provided +10.6 fWAR in value, which is a great rate.
Number 8: Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies
Top-10: OBP, HR, wRC, Off, WAR, Innings
Top-15: SB, wRC+
Top-25: SLG, Fld, DRS, UZR
Total Score: 75Embed from Getty Images
In a missed opportunity that will always annoy me in how the Yankees didn’t get around to signing Bryce Harper, yet again we see that he is one of the best outfielders in baseball. Ranked #3 across right fielders last year, in his two years in Philadelphia he has continued to show himself as a top player. While 2020 did show some great improvements (a 20.1% BB-rate [career 15.0%], 17.6% K-rate [career 21.6%]), it is hard to say if these should be expected to continue. As we know, Harper has shown years of absolute league-wide dominance and others of more all-star level success. Even this past year we can point to his .279 BABIP as below low as a factor that we’d think should go up, but our other metrics say it’s more likely he regresses. Until we have a true few years of consistency from Harper it is hard to project just how good he’ll be.
Number 7: George Springer, Toronto Blue Jays
Top-5: SLG, HR, wRC+, WAR
Top-10: OBP, wRC, Off
Top-15: AVG, DRS
Top-25: Fld, UZR
Top-35: BsR, Innings
Total Score: 82Embed from Getty Images
The premier outfield free agent this offseason, Springer was seemingly caught between going to the AL or NL East with the Toronto Blue Jays or New York Mets before ultimately settling with the former option on a 6-year/$150 Million deal. Our #3 Center Fielder last year, Springer did see a drop from a surprisingly great defensive year in 2019 (Def of +6.4) to getting back to his career norm with a -2.2 Def in 2020 and a minor dip with the bat (157 wRC+ to 146 wRC+) but that is likely do a drop in BABIP to .259 (career .306). Moving into the AL East will also likely boost his overall rate numbers in some more hitter-friendly ballparks than the AL West. Overall, he still looks to be a consistent 4-ish fWAR player for the next few years through his early 30’s and will likely be a good investment all things considered for the Blue Jays.
Number 6: Juan Soto, Washington Nationals
Top-5: AVG, OBP, SLG, wRC, wRC+, Off
Top-10: HR, WAR, Innings
Top-25: Games, SB
Total Score: 87Embed from Getty Images
Juan Soto may be one of my favorite non-Yankees to watch. A lefty hitter who knows how to hit for a high average along with some good power, he was also our #1 left fielder last year. This year, he has fallen as a factor of continued poor defense (Def of -9.3, -7.5, and -4.9 in his 3 seasons) even though his bat has continued to improve (Off of +29.5, +36.2, and +24.8). I don’t want to make career-based judgements on Soto yet because he’s played less than 350 games in the MLB and his game should continue to evolve as he is just 22-years old (I’m 14 days older than Soto, which means we should be best friends if we ever meet). Regardless, he led all of MLB (while in just 47 games) in OBP (.490), SLG (.695), OPS (1.185), and wRC+ (201) last year around 2.4 fWAR which was tied for 13th best in the MLB. Soto is an absolute stud, the best left fielder, and will be incredible fun to watch for years and years to come. (When can we start wishing for him to come to the Yanks during his free agency in 2025 at 26-years-old?)
Honorable Mentions (From Ranks #31-63):
Below is a selection of outfielders from ranks 31 to 63 who led statistics but did not place in the Top-10 rankings, are notable veterans of the game, are a former Yankees player, and the Yankees player/s who qualified for the position if they failed to rank in the Top-10:
Kyle Schwarber – Ranked #33 with 30 points
Jarrod Dyson – OF Leader in BsR (+10.6), Ranked #34 with 29 points (3-Way Tie)
Jason Heyward & Eloy Jimenez – Ranked #34 with 29 points (3-Way Tie)
Jackie Bradley Jr. – Ranked #37 with 28 points
Mike Tauchman – Ranked #44 with 24 points
Lorenzo Cain – Ranked #46 with 22 points (3-Way Tie)
Mallex Smith – OF Leader in SB (48), Ranked #49 with 21 points (2-Way Tie)
Alex Gordon & Randal Grichuk – Ranked #51 with 20 points (3-Way Tie)
Brandon Nimmo – Ranked #56 with 18 points (2-Way Tie)
Ryan Braun – Ranked #58 with 16 points (4-Way Tie)
Cameron Maybin – Ranked #63 with 15 points (2-Way Tie)
The Determinator is a way I used to determine the best players at each position. Like any metric or formula, I am sure it has flaws. No statistical compilation is perfect. That being said, The Determinator, seems pretty effective at assigning player values. I’m pleased with what I have found using this method and hope this is a conversation starter for many.