The Determinator: Outfielders #25-21
The Determinator continues with the 6-day collection of outfielders in the MLB. A position where players move so frequently, we changed the formula to account for time spent across the outfield.
Today I will reveal the #25-#21 Outfielders in the MLB and Monday, I will announce the #20-16 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 25: Alex Verdugo, Boston Red Sox
Top-25: SLG, wRC+, WAR, Fld, UZR
Top-50: SLG, wRC, BsR, Innings
Total Score: 38Embed from Getty Images
The 3rd best #99 in the AL East (behind Judge and Ryu), Alex Verdugo apparently took on the number to be original and to backwards honor Manny Ramirez after the former 12-time All-Star took the number when traded from Boston to Los Angeles. That being said (and as much fun as it is to poke fun at Red Sox players), Verdugo has had two successful back-to-back seasons in 2019 and 2020. A positive player across the board (Off of +15.6, BsR of +1.7, DRS of +21), Verdugo has been one of the better outfielders at hitting for average (0.300) recently. We can point to a .371 BABIP (career .322) as helping him in reaching his 126 wRC+ in 2020, but he also bumped his K-rate to 20.4% (career 15.8%) which means even if both regress to the mean he should still be producing well near the 4+ fWAR he was on pace for.
Number 24: Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
Top-10: SLG, Fld, DRS, UZR
Top-25: BsR, WAR
Top-50: HR, wRC+, Off
Total Score: 39Embed from Getty Images
There may be no more frustrating player to follow currently in the MLB than Byron Buxton. He’s an absolute monster on the base-paths, he can make amazing catches in the outfield, and he has the ability to have a well-above average bat. But, he’s always, always hurt. As much as we lauded Castellanos and Pillar yesterday for their staying on the field, Buxton has played in just 53.85% of his teams games since 2017 (which includes 140 games of his 294 coming in 2017 alone). If he ever manages to stay healthy, it’s evident from his tools that he’ll be a great player, but it’s so hard to quantify how good. Hopefully for one season we get to truly see what Buxton can do, but it’s hard to even hope on it.
Number 22 (Tied): Mike Yastrzemski, San Francisco Giants
Top-15: wRC+, Off
Top-25: AVG, OBP, WAR, DRS
Top-35: HR, wRC, BsR, Fld, UZR
Total Score: 40Embed from Getty Images
After getting traded for essentially nothing by the Baltimore Orioles, the young Yaz has taken advantage of being the MLB with a great rookie season and an MVP-type sophomore year. After putting up +2.2 fWAR in 107 games in his rookie season, Yastrzemski followed it up with a +2.6 fWAR season in just 54 games last year (on pace for 7.0 fWAR), which was 7th highest among hitters in the MLB. However, with back-to-back seasons of a .325 and a .370 BABIP, this does look to be unsustainable given his low prospect pedigree. What would be much more expected would be if the young Yaz can find his way to stay an above-average hitter (~115 wRC+) with good defense (it was +1.2 last year and -3.2 in 2019). If so, he is going to find himself an MLB regular for many years to come.
Number 22 (Tied): Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers
Top-10: Fld, UZR
Top-25: OBP, SLG, wRC+, BsR, Off, WAR
Total Score: 40Embed from Getty Images
Joey Gallo is a very interesting player to look at in a vacuum. He has great power (career .290 ISO), has recently been a good-to-great defender (+3.7 in 2019, +3.5 in 2020), and he knows how to walk (career 14.0% BB-rate). However, he also knows how to strikeout (career 37.6% K-rate), has only one season above a .250 BA (.253 in 2019). He is likely held up on offense by a great, although injured, 2019 (+3.3 fWAR in 70 games), and held up on defense by a great 2020 (he did win an AL OF Gold Glove). On the cusp of reaching his “peak years”, Gallo is going to be a very interesting player to watch age as we look to see if he can maintain his power (and thus value) over the next few seasons. If he can stay valuable on defense, though, he may surprise some with longevity.
Number 21: Victor Robles, Washington Nationals
Top-10: Games, SB, DRS
Top-35: Fld, UZR
Total Score: 41Embed from Getty Images
The #5 Center Fielder by The Determinator last year, Robles took an incredible step backwards with the bat as he hit to a 65 wRC+, .095 ISO, and an Off of -7.0. However, what gives Robles the ability to make this list again is his being on the field and good defensive numbers from 2019. We can also pretty well expect a season like he had in 2020 is near impossibly bad to replicate and that the soon-to-be 24-year-old is going to get back to near-average with his bat. As a center fielder, if he can keep his defensive value high, his bat average, and maintain a solid presence on the base-paths he could consistently be considered for a Top-10 center field spot. However, after last season with -0.5 fWAR, there are doubts about what his true talent can yield.
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.