The Determinator: Outfielders #20-16
The Determinator continues with the 6-day collection of outfielders in the MLB. After today we have announced the first half.
Today I will reveal the #20-#16 Outfielders in the MLB and tomorrow I will announce the #15-11 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 20: Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals
Top-5: Games, AVG
Top-35: OBP, Off
Top-50: SLG, HR, wRC+, BsR
Total Score: 43Embed from Getty Images
Also our #7 second baseman going into the 2021 season, Merrifield’s offensive abilities stretch to fit him well across the diamond. To read more on him, check out this report on the #10-6 second baseman going into 2021.
Number 18 (Tied): Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays
Top-5: Fld, DRS, UZR
Top-15: SB, BsR
Top-50: Games, WAR
Total Score: 44Embed from Getty Images
The #13 center fielder going into 2020, Kevin Kiermaier is one of and has been one of the best defensive outfielders in the MLB for a long time. He has never had negative defensive value and he can put up some very good fWAR’s when his bat nears league average. However, it is telling that he didn’t place Top-50 in any offensive metric as to where that bat currently plays from a poor 2019 (-10.0 Off) and a slightly-above average 2020 (+0.9 Off). Regardless, being a Top-5 outfielder in Fld (+14.7), DRS (+23), and UZR (+14.7) wouldn’t have gotten him here alone, to which his good baserunning these past two seasons (+5.8) can be looked towards for helping him break into the Top-20.
Number 18 (Tied): Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies
Top-10: SLG, wRC
Top-25: Games, OBP, HR, wRC+
Total Score: 44Embed from Getty Images
The #8 right fielder last year, I did expect Blackmon to start becoming a liability and while his AVG may look good (.311), the rest of his offensive game (+16) does leave more to be desired. A large part of this does come from his playing in Coor’s Field, both in terms of helping his rate numbers (SLG, wRC) and taking away from his advanced metrics (Off, WAR, wRC+), but his overall game is still impressive at 34 years old. However, as a usual defensive liability and a player who is slowly down with the bat, Blackmon’s ability to stay near the top of the outfield is definitely held together by a good 2019 offensive season (+17.1 Off, 126 wRC+) in these rankings this year. Personally, I’d be shocked to see him this high again.
Number 17: Mark Canha, Oakland Athletics
Top-10: wRC+, Off, WAR
Top-35: Games, SLG, HR
Top-50: AVG, BsR, Fld, DRS, UZR
Total Score: 45Embed from Getty Images
These past few years, Mark Canha has turned himself from a middling outfielder with some promise into a legitimate all-star after putting up a +4.1 fWAR in 2019 and a +1.8 fWAR (+4.8 pace) in 2020. This has largely been to an improvement at the plate with his discipline as his BB-rate has been at 13.5% and 15.2% these past two years, which is much higher than his career average (9.5%). Ranking across some offensive and some defensive metrics also does indicate that Canha have something close to an all-around game in that 2nd tier as most of the top ranks are shared amongst a select few outfielders currently. He’s a secretly good player that I was surprised to see so high, but one who is definitely deserving.
Number 16: Marcell Ozuna, Atlanta Braves
Top-15: SLG, wRC, wRC+, Off
Top-25: OBP, WAR
Top-35: Games, AVG, SB, Fld, UZR
Top-50: BsR, Innings, DRS
Total Score: 46Embed from Getty Images
Last years #6 left fielder, Ozuna just recently came to a deal with the Atlanta Braves to stay in the NL for a number of more years after leading the league in Home Runs (18) in 2020. With a lot of his value held up in offense- and a lot of that from an amazing 2020 (Off of +26.7, wRC+ of 179), there should be some concerns from the Braves they just spent large on a soon-to-be average hitter again. I’m a fan of Ozuna, but it’s hard to ignore the .391 BABIP (career .319) and 14.2% BB-rate (career 8.0%) while not expecting those to fall dramatically over a full season. Ozuna is still a reliable +2.5 fWAR player who has shown small flashes of top-outfielder talent (in 2017 and 2020), so this isn’t to say he’s “bad”, but he may be overhyped going into 2021.
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.