The Determinator: Outfielders #15-11 + Honorable Mentions (Part 1)
The Determinator continues with the 6-day collection of outfielders in the MLB and announce some honorable mentions coming from the ranked #64 to #96 outfielders.
Today I will reveal the #15-#11 Outfielders in the MLB and tomorrow I will announce the #10-6 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 14 (Tied): Starling Marte, Miami Marlins
Top-15: BsR, Innings
Top-25: Games, wRC, Off, WAR
Top-35: OBP, SLG, HR, wRC+
Total Score: 47Embed from Getty Images
Last years #7 center fielder, Starling Marte found himself one of the biggest names traded just 5 days after that post from the Pittsburgh Pirates (where he called home since signing in 2007) to the Arizona Diamondbacks. He would spend just 33 games in the desert before being flipped to the Miami Marlins as one of the biggest names traded ahead of the deadline. He has long been a powerful bat (which may be due to his PED usage), but he did have his lowest wRC+ (109 in 2020) that he’s had in a “complete” season. He also boasts great baserunning abilities and speed which does help boost his offensive profile and also helps keep him from being a defensive liability, respectively. He’ll be going into his age-32 season and final year of his contract with likely hopes of one more deal, so it’ll be interesting to see how he plays knowing that a spot in 2022 is not guaranteed.
Number 14 (Tied): Kole Calhoun, Arizona Diamondbacks
Top-10: Games, HR, Fld, Innings, UZR
Top-25: wRC, WAR
Top-50: OBP, wRC+, Off, DRS
Total Score: 47Embed from Getty Images
Last years #10 right fielder, Calhoun did continue a late-career push to sustain his value on the field and finds himself in a similar situation to Marte as an old player with some good recent years, but a player likely playing for one final small contract after signing for 2/$16M with the Diamondbacks last year that includes a $2M, 2022 club option. Calhoun doesn’t have the same potential as Marte (he also doesn’t have the PED implication) and he also had a great 2020 with a 125 wRC+. However, while his bat has been playing better since his abysmal 2017 (77 wRC+), Calhoun’s defense and baserunning leave more to be desired, even if both positive in 2020 (Def of +2.6, BsR of +0.5). Entering his age-33 season, Calhoun is very likely to stay in the desert and could be a hot trading piece for this year and next if he can continue his recent performance.
Number 13: Max Kepler, Minnesota Twins
Top-5: Fld, UZR
Top-15: HR, WAR
Top-25: SLG, wRC, wRC+, Off, Innings, DRS
Top-50: Games, OBP
Total Score: 50Embed from Getty Images
Last years #7 right fielder, Max Kepler has found himself going through waves of being a good hitter, a good defender, both, or neither. He’s a very hard player to project because of this, but going into his age-28 season we’re hopeful that he will be able to put it all together like he did in 2019 (Off of +14.4, Def of +10.0). He should be entering into his formidable years and even in a down offensive (+3.9) and defense year (-2.6), he was still on pace for nearly 3.0 fWAR. One thing that could help Kepler would be to improve his approach at the plate, as he often hits into bad luck (BABIP’s of .244 and .236 in 2019 and 2020) which is indicated by a 50.8% Pull% in 2019 and 42.6% in 2020, which teams can easily playa shift around.
Number 12: Jeff McNeil, New York Mets
Top-10: OBP, wRC+, WAR
Top-15: wRC, Off
Top-35: Games, Fld, DRS
Top-50: HR, UZR
Total Score: 52Embed from Getty Images
After failing to accrue 500 innings at any one position last year, McNeil was a talent that The Determinator had no good way of measuring against his peers. Over the past two seasons, he has accumulated 916.0 innings in the OF (586.0 in Left and 330.0 in Right), 313.1 at second base, and 229.1 at third base. However, this year he was able to qualify as an outfielder and led all of them in AVG (.313) over the past two seasons. However, the Mets do have a hard decision to make with whether or not they want to keep him a super utility guy or for him to take over second base in 2021 after Robinson Cano lost the season due to a second PED offense. McNeil’s offensive profile does play better in the infield and he has shown some problems handling defense in the outfield, but regardless of where he plays (mainly) in 2021, he is likely to be a cornerstone player of the Mets for years to come.
Number 11: Michael Brantley, Houston Astros
Top-15: OBP, wRC, Off, WAR, DRS
Top-25: Games, Fld, UZR
Total Score: 54Embed from Getty Images
Last years #2 left fielder, Michael Brantley after most expected his career to be unfortunately cut short due to injury has been able to stay healthy, and with it find success that helped to earn him a 2/$32 Million contract to stay with the Houston Astros amidst a pandemic, many teams cutting back payroll, and as a player entering his age-34 season. However, the numbers clearly support the decision as he has met of passed a 125 wRC+ for each of the last 3 seasons (125, 134, 135) alongside putting up fWAR’s at or above 3.5 (3.6, 4.2, 1.3 [on pace for 3.5]). With health, there is no reason to doubt Brantley’s position as a top outfielder in the MLB, but there will be concerns surrounding him until he retires. Until then though, Brantley will continue to prove his legitimacy and upper-tier talents in the league.
Honorable Mentions (From Ranks #96-64):
Below is a selection of outfielders from ranks 64 to 96 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:
Josh Reddick, A.J. Pollock, & Andrew Benintendi – Ranked #68 with 10 Points (4-Way Tie)
Ben Gamel, Aaron Hicks, & Dexter Fowler – Ranked #75 with 7 points (4-Way Tie)
Nick Markakis & Yasiel Puig – Ranked #79 with 6 Points (3-Way Tie)
Andrew McCutchen – Ranked #82 with 5 points (2-Way Tie)
Ender Inciarte & Jake Cave – Ranked #84 with 4 points (3-Way Tie)
Adam Jones & Ian Desmond – Ranked #89 with 1 point (4-Way Tie)
Justin Upton – Ranked #93 with 0 points (4-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.