2015 Positional Power Rankings: Right Field

What do we have here? For an explanation of this series, please read this introductory post. As noted in that introduction, the data below is a hybrid projection of the ZIPS and Steamer systems, with playing time determined through depth charts created by our team of authors. The rankings are based on aggregate projected WAR for each team at a given position.

Yes, we know WAR is imperfect and there is more to player value than is wrapped up in that single projection, but for the purposes of talking about a team’s strengths and weaknesses, it is a useful tool. Also, the author writing this post did not move your team down ten spots in order to make you angry. We don’t hate your team. I promise.

As usual, we’ll kick this off with a graph of each team’s projected right fielders by WAR, while also acknowledging that 0.4 wins here or 0.3 wins there isn’t really a tangible difference.

2015-right-field-positional-war

What you’re looking at is four distinct groups and then whatever the Phillies are. The Marlins, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Nationals, and Dodgers clearly define the upper echelon of right field for 2015, with the A’s, Angels, and Astros within striking distance. The next 16 teams, ranging from the Giants to the Pirates, are separated by just 0.9 WAR. We can hint at some differences, but realistically most of the league’s right fielders are about the same. After that, the Reds, Diamondbacks, Twins, Braves, and White Sox sit near the bottom, taking solace in the fact that the Phillies won’t be joining us for Final Jeopardy!

#1 Marlins


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Giancarlo Stanton 630 .276 .376 .559 .399 39.7 -0.5 3.2 6.0
Ichiro Suzuki 70 .272 .307 .345 .289 -1.5 0.2 0.1 0.0
Total 700 .276 .369 .536 .388 38.2 -0.3 3.3 6.0

Ninety percent of what is great about baseball is encapsulated by the Marlins two right field options for 2015. You can’t always trust these things, but Giancarlo Stanton is listed at 6’6” and 240 pounds and Ichiro Suzuki is listed at 5’11” and 170 pounds. What is so wonderful about this massive physical difference is that if FanGraphs had existed in the early 2000s, Ichiro would have regularly topped this very list. Stanton and Ichiro are about as physically different as ballplayers come, yet both have excelled at the exact same job. This kind of thing might be common if you work at a desk, but it’s always pretty cool when it happens in sports.

In 2015, Stanton and Ichiro will play the same position for the same team. If the Fish are lucky, the playing time will overwhelming go to Stanton, who might be one of the five best players in the sport and still approaching his prime. A big season from Stanton might propel them into the Wild Card race, but an injury would remove the floor. If you look across the league, no team has a larger offensive gap between their starting right fielder and his immediate backup. The 110 point gulf isn’t quite like replacing a league average hitter with an average pitcher, but it is a little like replacing a league average hitter with a pretty good hitting pitcher and that’s probably not something the Marlins want to do after spending more than $300 million to make sure they have one of the game’s best right fielders.

#2 Blue Jays


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jose Bautista 630 .266 .380 .513 .388 34.0 -0.3 0.8 5.3
Kevin Pillar 70 .265 .297 .397 .305 -0.7 0.1 -0.1 0.1
Total 700 .266 .372 .500 .380 33.3 -0.2 0.6 5.4

The Blue Jays outfield depth is a little lacking, with Kevin Pillar slated to play the role of backup right fielder despite the fact that his most recognizable feature is that his name sounds like an alias that Kevin Millar would give when making dinner reservations.

Fortunately for the Blue Jays, the bulk of the opportunities will belong to Jose Bautista and his beautiful late career peak. After losing time to injures in 2012 and 2013, Bautista was healthy from wire to wire in 2014 and turned in an offensive line 59% better than league average, which looked a lot more like those magical 2010 and 2011 seasons. Even five years removed from his renaissance, he’s still the poster child for why you shouldn’t completely discount offseason stories about hitters working on new swings.

As a baseball player, there are few who rival Bautista. His blend of power and on-base ability make him an invaluable piece of any lineup and off the field he seems to be the only athlete who takes “follow back” requests to heart.

#3 Cardinals


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jason Heyward 595 .269 .350 .432 .346 14.9 1.8 16.0 4.8
Randal Grichuk 70 .241 .279 .415 .304 -0.5 -0.1 0.2 0.1
Peter Bourjos 35 .244 .303 .378 .303 -0.3 0.1 0.5 0.1
Total 700 .265 .341 .427 .340 14.1 1.8 16.7 5.0

Defensive projections are notoriously conservative. Even very good defenders have muted projections due to the nature of the beast, but those rules to do not apply to the Cardinals new right fielder, Jason Heyward. If you scroll up and down this entire page, the second best defensive projection in an absolute sense is Josh Reddick at about eight runs above average. Heyward projects for 16.

In roughly five seasons of work, Heyward’s 162 game average DRS is 25.5 and his UZR/150 is 17.6. There isn’t an everyday right fielder alive who can deliver the kind of impact that Heyward does on a daily basis. But, as they say during infomercials, that’s not all. Heyward is an above average hitter who won’t turn 26 until August. Through age 24, Heyward has the same wRC+ that Justin Upton had at that age and only Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, and Mike Trout had more WAR through 24 among active players. Heyward isn’t just a defensive wiz.

Just a defensive wiz might be what Peter Bourjos has to settle for, but as he wheels around the Cardinals outfield looking for at bats he might simply be a late inning substitute for Matt Holliday and Jon Jay. Perhaps he won’t hit but he’s also about a second away from making any batter wish they were never born. Randal Grichuk had a couple of big home runs last October and would probably be starting for a good portion of major league teams, although his name is sneakily difficult to spell and a manager might not want to have to write it down on the lineup card that often.

#4 Dodgers


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Yasiel Puig 595 .292 .370 .493 .377 30.4 -0.6 2.6 4.8
Andre Ethier 84 .260 .334 .394 .321 0.7 -0.1 -0.3 0.2
Chris Heisey 21 .236 .279 .379 .291 -0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .286 .363 .477 .368 30.8 -0.6 2.4 5.0

You might wish to nominate other contenders, but there’s probably no bigger personality in the game than Dodgers’ right fielder Yasiel Puig. He was a four-win player in just over 100 games in 2013 and followed that up with a five-win season in 2014 despite an ice cold month of August. As with many young players, there are mistakes, but his ability to obliterate base runners and launch dingers makes him Hollywood’s biggest draw for his exploits on the diamond.

If you give Andre Ethier a break for 2014, he’s been one of the most consistent players in baseball for nearly a decade. At 32, you’re inclined to think 2014 wasn’t a fluke and you have to shake yourself awake when you realize he’s under contract for three more seasons, but on a lot of other teams, Ethier looks like a perfectly useful player.

While Chris Heisey isn’t a good player per se, he’s actually a fairly good representation of why the Dodgers are such a strong team. Heisey’s the kind of player who should be behind some glass in the dugout with a little hammer and a sign that says “In case of emergency, put him in the game.” He’s not a big league regular, but he’s decidedly above replacement level. Lots of money buys you Kershaws and Puigs, but it also buys you a wall of depth that can keep the team from bottoming out.

#5 Nationals


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Bryce Harper 595 .279 .363 .491 .372 25.6 0.5 3.6 4.5
Michael Taylor 35 .226 .286 .362 .289 -0.7 0.0 0.3 0.0
Nate McLouth   35 .236 .311 .353 .298 -0.5 0.1 0.0 0.0
Kevin Frandsen 35 .266 .305 .344 .290 -0.7 -0.1 -0.2 0.0
Total 700 .274 .354 .469 .360 23.6 0.5 3.7 4.5

If the Nationals’ starting right fielder gets hurt, they have plenty of similar choices to replace him. Michael Taylor, Nate McLouth, and Kevin Frandsen all figure to be below average hitters with a range of defensive prowess running from “not great” to “pretty decent.” The noteworthy thing is that the Nationals have a lot of backup options, even if none of them are particularly exciting.

Fortunately, Bryce Harper handles all of the excitement for the Nationals right field group. His breakneck style of play might have some wondering about his durability, but he runs the bases, dives for balls, and swings like he’s being chased by a bear. A lot of people have been underwhelmed by Harper’s early work given the massive prospect hype, but through his age 21 season he’s averaged 22 HR and 4 WAR per 600 PA. He has a 125 career wRC+ at an age when most good prospects are heading to Triple-A. Mike Trout has truly spoiled us.

#6 Athletics


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Josh Reddick   525 .245 .310 .429 .324 5.7 1.1 8.3 2.9
Craig Gentry 105 .254 .320 .325 .291 -1.5 0.8 1.8 0.4
Sam Fuld 35 .232 .306 .328 .286 -0.6 0.1 0.0 0.0
Ben Zobrist 35 .264 .350 .408 .336 0.7 0.0 0.2 0.2
Total 700 .247 .313 .407 .318 4.3 1.9 10.3 3.5

Josh Reddick is a really good all-around player. He’s an above average hitter who plays really nice defense in a corner and he even helps out on the bases in a much greater way than his natural speed suggests. Reddick’s fatal flaw, if you could call it that, is that he’s rarely found a way to stay healthy for an entire season. His 32 home run season in 2012 probably isn’t a going to repeat, but when he’s on the field, the A’s have quite the player.

Behind Reddick, the A’s have Craig Gentry who isn’t a great hitter. Fortunately for Gentry, he might be one of the best three or four base runners in the game, to say nothing of his elite defensive ability in center field. If he finds a way to hit like he did in 2012 and 2013, the A’s have a borderline star, and if he doesn’t, they have a tremendous backup option if they need to call their center field platoon into full time duty.

The other half of that platoon, Sam Fuld, doesn’t have Gentry’s offensive potential, but he’s a slightly less impressive facsimile when it comes to his ability to contribute on the bases and in the field. If Reddick has to miss significant time, the A’s have some better options than most.

“Better options than most” is Ben Zobrist’s meal ticket. He probably won’t get a lot of time in right field this year, but he’s always lurking as an above average version of everything.

#7 Angels


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Kole Calhoun 574 .264 .321 .437 .334 12.4 0.1 1.8 2.9
Collin Cowgill 56 .233 .294 .340 .286 -0.9 0.1 0.4 0.1
Josh Hamilton   35 .250 .311 .421 .319 0.3 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Matt Joyce   35 .242 .330 .400 .324 0.5 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 700 .260 .319 .427 .329 12.3 0.2 2.0 3.2

How the Angels handle left field is going to be much more interesting than any plans they have for center or right, but those left field options show up in the bottom three rows of this depth chart so they’re worth exploring. Matt Joyce is a steady, quality big leaguer with Collin Cowgill offering a little more glove, a lot less bat, and a much cooler name. Josh Hamilton has all the ability in the world, but a declining ability to access it and serious off the field health concerns to think about.

The Angels have some options in right field in case their starter goes down, but they’re pretty well set if he doesn’t. Kole Calhoun, who somehow wasn’t on anyone’s prospect radar, followed up his 60 game tryout in 2013 with a nearly four-win season in 2014. There are other options, but Calhoun is making his case to be the modern good-at-everything-great-at-nothing player who puts up quietly great seasons year after year.

#8 Astros


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
George Springer 560 .237 .329 .459 .346 14.2 1.3 -1.0 2.9
Jake Marisnick 35 .237 .281 .361 .284 -0.8 0.1 0.3 0.0
Robbie Grossman   35 .235 .324 .345 .303 -0.3 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Alex Presley 35 .255 .304 .384 .305 -0.2 0.0 -0.2 0.0
Domingo Santana 35 .221 .292 .380 .300 -0.4 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .237 .323 .440 .336 12.6 1.3 -0.9 3.1

In 2014, 263 players came to plate 300 or more times. Eight of them finished with a higher ISO than batting average and three of them played for the Astros. George Springer was one of those Astros, to the surprise of no one. In a world of immense prospect hype, it’s nice to see Springer wind up having the exact rookie season everyone expected. He hit for loads of power (.237 ISO and 20 HR in 345 PA) and he struck out a whole bunch (33%), proving that you can sometimes predict baseball.

The cool thing about this year’s Astros is that Jake Marisnick, Robbie Grossman, Alex Presely, and Domingo Santana aren’t there only four outfielders. Let’s face, that sounds a lot like an Astros outfield of the early 2010s. None of them project for much offense, but former Lansing Lugnuts standout, Marisnick, should wind up getting the most total playing time.

#9 Giants


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Hunter Pence   504 .267 .324 .428 .330 9.2 0.9 -0.5 2.1
Nori Aoki 161 .276 .341 .360 .316 1.1 -0.2 0.3 0.5
Juan Perez 35 .232 .270 .339 .271 -1.0 0.0 0.1 0.0
Total 700 .267 .325 .408 .324 9.4 0.6 -0.1 2.6

This spring, we learned that Hunter Pence’s bones are human enough to be fractured, leaving room for a little more Nori Aoki in right field early in the season. The Giants are simply hoping Aoki’s hilarious routes that wind up working will be enough to keep the fans from missing Pence’s zany antics.

There are plenty of interesting things to say about Hunter Pence, but somehow I’m most struck by his base running numbers over the course of his career. Here they are in runs above average (BsR):

  • 0.4
  • 0.1
  • -6.6
  • 3.2
  • 0.7
  • 1.6
  • 5.6
  • 6.2

Speed is supposed to peak early, but to be fair, I think the people who build aging curves haven’t really studied Pence’s species. Also, Juan Perez is on the team.

#10 Brewers


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Ryan Braun 490 .282 .347 .488 .362 15.9 0.1 -2.3 2.5
Logan Schafer 126 .230 .292 .342 .282 -3.6 0.1 0.0 -0.1
Gerardo Parra 42 .264 .320 .390 .313 -0.2 0.0 0.7 0.1
Shane Peterson 42 .244 .316 .377 .309 -0.4 0.0 -0.3 0.0
Total 700 .269 .334 .449 .342 11.7 0.1 -1.9 2.5

It’s hard to say what’s more shocking, the fact that Braun was worth less than 1 WAR in 580 PA last season or that the Brewers were right in the playoff hunt for most of the summer while Braun had such a rough year. Most people would take a 117 wRC+ and .187 ISO, but Braun had five .230+ ISO seasons under his belt entering last year and while the drop in production might be attributable to injury, missing the end of 2013 due to a PED suspension didn’t earn him a ton of empathy.

Gerardo Parra will spend most of his time in left field, but his great glove work can spell Braun from time to time and keep Jordan Schafer from accumulating too many replacement level plate appearances. Lastly, there’s Shane Peterson who was previous in the A’s and Cardinals’ system. He’s 27 and has two major league games to his name, but he was on-base an annoying amount in the minors, so he should be a viable option if the Brewers have to reach that far.

#11 Red Sox


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Shane Victorino 371 .263 .319 .398 .318 -0.1 1.6 4.7 1.6
Allen Craig 175 .267 .324 .418 .328 1.2 -0.7 -0.6 0.4
Mookie Betts 84 .276 .343 .418 .338 1.3 0.3 -0.1 0.4
Daniel Nava 56 .261 .341 .377 .322 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.2
Brock Holt 14 .268 .319 .358 .302 -0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .265 .325 .403 .323 2.3 1.3 4.1 2.5

The Red Sox went into the offseason with an overcrowded outfield and came out the other end with an overcrowded outfield. Somehow, that qualified as a productive winter. They traded Yoenis Cespedes, but signed Hanley Ramirez to man left field, leaving something like 17 possible options for the other corner and no obvious way to sort things out.

For now, it looks like Shane Victorino will get the plurality of the reps, but if Rusney Castillo emerges in center, Mookie Betts is the likely man in right. Allen Craig isn’t terribly versatile in the field, but with Mike Napoli at first and David Ortiz at DH, he has to find time somewhere and isn’t the easiest player to trade after his 2014 campaign. And there’s still Daniel Nava an Brock Holt!

Only Holt looks to be a substantially below average hitter but the Sox are probably a team who would be best served by an entire outfield projection rather than one by position. Any breakout, injury, or collapse in one corner of the roster could totally shake up who plays where, and even who plays in what city.

#12 Orioles


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Steve Pearce 245 .266 .346 .471 .358 7.9 0.0 1.0 1.5
Travis Snider 210 .251 .320 .428 .329 2.1 -0.1 -0.9 0.6
David Lough   140 .252 .293 .372 .294 -2.4 0.2 1.4 0.2
Jimmy Paredes 70 .240 .271 .361 .278 -2.0 0.1 -0.3 -0.1
Delmon Young 35 .261 .299 .403 .310 -0.2 -0.1 -0.2 0.0
Total 700 .256 .318 .423 .326 5.3 0.1 1.0 2.4

The Orioles are also going to move pieces around in the corners, but Steve Pearce will lead the way in right field. It’s typically not a good thing to start your career with seven seasons of fewer than 70 games played because that either means you can’t stay healthy or you aren’t very good. Pearce finally got a chance to break 100 games in 2014 and join J.D. Martinez in the annual “is he the next Jose Bautista” discussions. (Hint: Probably not!)

Travis Snider is one of those players who is only 27 but has been around forever, and not exactly in a good way. Despite being labeled as a can’t miss hitting prospect, his career best 121 wRC+ in 359 PA last year only pushed his career wRC+ to 95. You don’t want to be too aggressive in calling for continued success for a player such as Snider, but he did slice about 8% off his strikeout rate last year, so if he can keep that up, the O’s might have something.

David Lough’s offense doesn’t grab your attention on its own, but if you stack it next to his terrific base running and superlative defense, do you know what you find? A 4.6 WAR player in 597 career PA. Sure, a nice portion of that is 1,300 innings of defensive metrics, but he passes the eye test with flying colors. At 29, he’s not a building block, but he just might be another one of those secret Oriole depth wizards.

Jimmy Paredes was a guy the Astros didn’t want when they were bad, and while picking him up was a fine little gamble, Dan Duquette can’t be that surprised to learn that not every Astros cast off turns into J.D. Martinez.

Delmon Young is basically the friend you have who tells one really hilarious joke at the perfect moment and rides that high for the next six years. Delmon Young isn’t good, but he’s been good enough and timed his good moments well enough to earn him an endless parade of chances. The O’s got one of those good spurts from Young in 2014 and have decided to push their luck.

#13 Rays


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Steven Souza   420 .237 .308 .408 .316 3.3 0.1 0.8 1.5
John Jaso 105 .249 .338 .387 .325 1.5 -0.1 -0.7 0.3
Brandon Guyer   70 .253 .313 .372 .306 0.0 0.2 0.1 0.2
David DeJesus 70 .236 .318 .362 .306 0.0 -0.2 0.1 0.2
Kevin Kiermaier 35 .251 .303 .385 .304 -0.1 0.0 0.3 0.1
Total 700 .241 .314 .396 .315 4.8 0.0 0.5 2.2

Steven Souza’s projections don’t look like the projections for someone who was the centerpiece of the Wil Myers trade, but that’s likely because he’s always been a little old for his level. Souza has mashed at every stop, even if he’s a tad behind schedule, and the Rays were thrilled to pick him up in the big offseason shuffle. Our Fan projections share that optimism, pegging him two wins above his depth chart value.

John Jaso was never known for great defense behind the plate and the Rays are content to allow him to get out from under the gun after serious concussion issues last season. He’ll get time in the outfield corners and serve as righty masher behind Souza.

You might see a touch of Kevin Kiermaier, but after his preposterously excellent 2014 he’s sliding over to center field. David DeJesus remains a useful role player at 35 and Brandon Guyer showed the ability to contribute in half a season of work in 2014 at age 28. The club is going to count on Souza rising to the expectations they have for him, but if he needs a crutch or two, the Rays have options.

#14 Cubs


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jorge Soler 560 .257 .314 .465 .339 8.8 0.2 -0.9 2.1
Chris Denorfia 70 .261 .317 .376 .308 -0.6 0.0 0.4 0.1
Ryan Sweeney 35 .258 .313 .380 .307 -0.3 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Junior Lake 35 .240 .281 .376 .291 -0.7 0.0 0.1 0.0
Total 700 .257 .313 .447 .332 7.2 0.1 -0.5 2.2

Jorge Soler only had 97 chances to come to the plate in 2014, but he seemed to do damage nearly every time, to the tune of a 146 wRC+. He had a below average walk rate and above average strikeout rate, but neither strayed so far from the mean that you think the newly 23 year old slugger couldn’t continue to provide plenty of offense for the very interesting Cubs.

Steamer and ZiPS are expecting quite a bit of regression for Soler heading into 2015, which is probably fair, but the Cubs won’t mind given the lack of breakout potential among their remaining right field options. Chris Denorfia probably didn’t get quite enough credit for his contributions in San Diego and Ryan Sweeney is absolutely someone who should be lobbying to make throwing left-handed against the rules. Junior Lake’s 2013 BABIP crashed to Earth last year, clearing up any questions people had about his future, but I do think we’ve failed to properly appreciate his very excellent name.

#15 Rockies


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Carlos Gonzalez 420 .281 .346 .509 .370 9.6 1.1 -1.2 1.9
Charlie Blackmon 175 .276 .323 .423 .328 -1.6 0.4 -1.1 0.1
Brandon Barnes 70 .255 .299 .399 .308 -1.7 -0.1 0.6 0.0
Drew Stubbs 35 .262 .323 .415 .326 -0.4 0.2 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .276 .334 .471 .351 6.0 1.6 -1.8 2.1

The Rockies have been looking for a cornerstone right field since losing Larry Walker, and instead of doing the necessary legwork to acquire one, they’re doing the very clever thing of just taking their best outfielder, Carlos Gonzalez, and putting him in right field. Obviously, this is to the detriment of the other outfield positions, but it gives them a chance to have a superstar at the position for the first time in a while.

There are durability questions with Gonzalez, which is why we have Charlie Blackmon slated to slide over to right field on a semi-regular basis. His amazing start to the 2014 campaign earned him another shot, even if he did finish the season with a perfectly average 100 wRC+.

The Rockies will also deploy the services of Brandon Barnes, who doesn’t appear to have a whole lot to contribute, and Drew Stubbs who is very fast and enjoyed moving from a tiny park in Ohio to a larger one that amid much thinner air. Stubbs probably didn’t actually become a better hitter when he moved west, but he found a way to blend his skills into the environment last year.

#16 Rangers


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Shin-Soo Choo   560 .262 .370 .409 .349 12.0 -0.2 -5.3 2.0
Ryan Rua 49 .240 .292 .378 .298 -0.9 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Michael Choice 49 .240 .309 .383 .308 -0.5 -0.1 -0.4 0.0
Jake Smolinski 21 .237 .306 .364 .300 -0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Nate Schierholtz 21 .234 .282 .394 .296 -0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .257 .356 .403 .340 9.8 -0.3 -5.7 2.1

There were a lot of people who thought the Rangers overpaid to acquire Shin-Soo Choo last winter, although don’t let them take too much credit because they were talking about the deal being a bad long term investment. It’s not like they were predicting a complete cratering off his offensive output in 2014. Choo dealt with an injury that clearly limited his ability to use his legs, so his 100 wRC+ isn’t an accurate harbinger of things to come, but it does remind you that bad defensive corner outfielders sure need to be able to hit.

This is probably a lesson Michael Choice doesn’t need to be reminded of, after having one of the worst seasons in baseball last year by WAR in just 280 PA. When he hit, he delivered some power, but the hits were so few and far between that it almost didn’t matter.

Ryan Rua and Nate Schierholtz will get some time in right field as they cycle around the outfield, but neither player projects well enough to seriously replace Choo, even in his diminished form. Jake Smolinski may wind up nabbing a few plate appearances of little importance, but he seems like a very real contender to win the American League “name sounds like a hockey player” award.

#17 Tigers


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
J.D. Martinez 455 .278 .325 .473 .348 11.0 -0.9 -2.9 1.9
Tyler Collins 112 .238 .291 .384 .299 -1.5 0.0 -0.3 0.1
Rajai Davis 98 .266 .310 .376 .304 -0.9 0.7 -1.0 0.1
Steven Moya 28 .233 .261 .415 .294 -0.5 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Wynton Bernard 7 .249 .296 .348 .287 -0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .268 .315 .442 .331 8.0 -0.1 -4.2 2.1

We’re already three or four references to J.D. Martinez deep and we’re just now getting to his section of the list. Martinez played mostly left field last year for the Tigers, but no one really cared what he did on that side of the ball. The part that mattered to people was his Miguel Cabrera impression at the plate. Martinez was bad before he got to Detroit and a swing remodel shifted him from someone the Astros didn’t want to carry into one of the ten most productive bats in the game.

People will probably focus on his .348 wOBA projection and think the systems are too low on a guy who posted a .391 wOBA after redoing his swing, but the other way to think about it is that going into 2014, Martinez was projected to post a .300-.310 wOBA. In just one year’s time, very conservative systems have decided he’s improved by about two wins per full season. That’s a huge leap forward, even if it looks like a leap back.

Depth isn’t one of the Tigers’ strengths, though, as they’re going to count on Tyler Collins to spell Martinez more often than not. Collins is a well-rounded player, but he hasn’t posted impressive offensive numbers since his days in High A back in 2012. Rajai Davis can hit lefties, but he’s going to be asked to share time with Anthony Gose in center, leaving his opportunities to contribute elsewhere pretty limited. Steven Moya’s stature and raw power make him the kind of player who makes scouts drool, but despite his excellent season a year ago, he’s clearly not ready to face major league pitching.

Wynton Bernard is on the depth chart, mostly I think, as a friendly jab by FanGraphs writer August Fagerstrom at the present author. Bernard, while not terrible, was put on the 40-man roster for some reason this winter at the expense of Andy Dirks, whom the author thinks would have been a great bit of depth for the 2015 season.

#18 Indians


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Brandon Moss 266 .242 .325 .479 .351 8.4 0.0 -1.1 1.4
David Murphy 238 .257 .318 .390 .313 0.6 -0.6 -1.0 0.5
Ryan Raburn 154 .223 .280 .372 .289 -2.4 -0.1 -0.8 0.0
Nick Swisher   28 .231 .317 .384 .313 0.1 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Carlos Moncrief 14 .219 .270 .354 .275 -0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .242 .312 .418 .321 6.3 -0.7 -2.9 2.0

Brandon Moss has recently completed the neat trick of hitting for less power without becoming less valuable. This is due in part to increased durability and better work against lefties, but he’s also simply become a less aggressive swinger who makes more contact. He’s not going to turn into Ichiro anytime soon, but he’s again on a team that values power and on-base ability, so those changes will likely be supported.

David Murphy’s offense has always been a little up and down, which is to be expected when a player with a big platoon split sees a varying number of same-side pitchers from year to year. He isn’t terribly expensive, so the Indians probably aren’t expecting him to match his 2012 offensive output, but they’re probably upset that he caught the terrible defense virus that seemed to affect a lot of teams near the Great Lakes last year.

Nick Swisher and Carlos Moncrief likely won’t factor into the right field picture very much in 2015, but the other player on this list could be a bellwether for the team.

Ryan Raburn is baseball’s most dynamic player. You’re immediately disagreeing, only because you’re not using dynamic in the right way. He’s not the best player, but he has to be the player with the widest possible range of outcomes imaginable. Raburn is simultaneously capable of a 25 for 50 stretch in which he hits 10 home runs and an 0 for 70 stretch with 48 strikeouts. Mix that in with a very strong arm that sometimes spikes the ball into the ground, and the ability to make diving plays while also knocking routine fly balls over the fence for home runs. If Raburn was a scientist, he’d likely invent a wonderful technology that eventually kills us all.

#19 Padres


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Matt Kemp 525 .269 .335 .444 .340 12.6 -0.2 -7.7 1.6
Will Venable 126 .243 .299 .387 .303 -0.5 0.4 -0.8 0.1
Wil Myers 49 .257 .327 .422 .329 0.8 0.0 -0.9 0.1
Total 700 .263 .328 .432 .332 12.8 0.2 -9.4 1.9

Matt Kemp is a right-handed hitter who is capable of hitting for power. For this reason, Matt Kemp is desirable in today’s game due to the perceived lack of those two intersecting qualities. The Padres paid a high price to acquire him and lots of people have raved about the acquisition because he’s a big name with a history of great performances. Yet the projections think he’s somewhere between lousy and meh. He’s an above average hitter, but he’s not a significantly above average hitter in the sense that his bat makes up for his below average defense.

Wil Venable looked all set to launch into semi-stardom after a power happy 2013 and somehow he wound up hitting his way out of the Padres’ starting lineup. There was good power and not too much BABIP and then it was just gone, leaving an untenable situation for Venable.

We also might see center fielder Wil Myers spend a little time in right this year, which is a sentence which seems like a typo but isn’t.

#20 Mets


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Curtis Granderson 525 .227 .316 .410 .323 5.5 1.4 -1.6 1.7
John Mayberry 70 .226 .292 .377 .297 -0.6 0.0 -0.2 0.1
Kirk Nieuwenhuis 56 .221 .290 .382 .297 -0.5 0.0 0.3 0.1
Matt den Dekker 49 .237 .295 .364 .293 -0.6 0.1 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .227 .310 .401 .316 3.8 1.5 -1.7 1.9

Curtis Granderson has accomplished plenty in a career that includes more than 35 WAR, plenty of highlight reel catches, and two 40 homer seasons. He also has charisma and class coming of his ears, so it’s pretty easy to root for him to do well. That made 2014 a little difficult given that he was a below average player. Perhaps more interestingly, Granderson’s arm stopped functioning.

While DRS and UZR have different opinions of Granderson’s range in right field, they both think his arm is completely for decoration. DRS says he cost the team eight runs with his arm and UZR calls it 7.4 runs, the worst among right fielders with at least 700 innings last year by a comfortable margin. Even when Granderson was a great defender, he didn’t do much of the work with his arm, but I suspect now that he doesn’t have the range he used to, there’s less room to hide.

Fortunately for John Mayberry, he doesn’t have to hide from his manager when right handed starters  are on the mound now that he’s backing up the left handed Granderson. Mayberry’s been 30% better than league average at the plate against southpaws in his career, but righties have eaten him alive to the tune of an 81 wRC+.

Matt den Dekker will probably end up floating between Triple A and the majors to spell the aging corner outfielders, but the other 27 year old on this list, Kirk Nieuwenhuis is the one to watch. His 130 PA in 2014 were BABIP fueled and likely unsustainable, but he walked a ton and hit for power in addition to his high strikeout numbers. Even if he’s half as good as he was in his stint last year, he should be a nice option off the bench.

#21 Yankees


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Chris Young 315 .226 .304 .402 .312 -1.1 0.6 3.5 1.1
Carlos Beltran 280 .256 .316 .434 .329 2.5 -0.8 -2.6 0.6
Garrett Jones 70 .245 .304 .447 .328 0.6 -0.2 -0.4 0.2
Ramon Flores 35 .238 .301 .380 .303 -0.4 0.0 -0.2 0.0
Total 700 .241 .309 .419 .320 1.6 -0.4 0.3 1.8

It’s been a few years since Chris Young was a serious major league contributor, but his blend of power and speed always gave you hope about his ability to break out in any given season. The Yankees took that chance down the stretch in 2014 and Young mashed over the course of 79 glorious PA. It’s not the kind of thing they’ll count on for this year, but $2.5 million for a 31 year old with his raw talent and you’re willing to take the good with the bad.

We’ve all come to terms with Carlos Beltran losing his ability to play defense. He was awesome for a decade and we watched him get old and slow down right before our eyes. It was the natural order of things, and that athletic deterioration caught up with his base running as well last year. For the first time, he cost his team a significant number of runs on the bases, something that would have seemed impossible in the mid-2000s when he was the best base runner in the game. But you expect that to happen as players get older, but for a while it looked like Beltran’s bat would never age. And then it did and he had a .301 OBP and .402 SLG in Yankee Stadium to remind us that Father Time waits for no one.

We haven’t seen any of Ramon Flores in the majors, so it’s hard to say how he’ll adjust if he’s called up but the projections make him look entirely forgettable. The Yankees also have Garrett Jones, who fits in because he’s handsome and can hit righties, but doesn’t fit in because the Yankees already have more than enough players who are past their prime and play in the corners.

#22 Royals


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Alex Rios 350 .273 .308 .407 .313 -0.5 0.4 -0.3 0.8
Lorenzo Cain 245 .272 .316 .382 .309 -1.1 0.8 4.2 1.0
Reymond Fuentes 70 .243 .304 .340 .289 -1.4 0.2 0.2 0.1
Paulo Orlando 28 .246 .284 .333 .275 -0.9 0.0 0.1 0.0
Jorge Bonifacio 7 .226 .276 .318 .266 -0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .268 .309 .388 .307 -4.1 1.4 4.1 1.8

Alex Rios is going to split time between DH and right field in 2015, sharing a job with Kendrys Morales on one end and Lorenzo Cain on the other. This has to be one of the most interesting things happening in baseball this season. It might not sound that compelling on it’s face, but the Royals have one of baseball’s most graceful players (Cain) and one of the lumbering-est guys (Morales). To further this wonderful dichotomy, the Royals are subsequently going to ask a third player to split his time with both Cain and Morales.

There’s a player whose job it is to play Lorenzo Cain’s position one day and Kendrys Morales’ the next. That’s someone’s job!

And while I’m paid to write about baseball and cover another AL Central team extensively, I’m quite sure that Reymond Fuentes, Paulo Orlando, and Jorge Bonifacio are just fake names we stole from the deep minors of a baseball video game.

#23 Mariners


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Seth Smith 420 .247 .330 .400 .323 4.5 -0.2 -2.0 1.2
Justin Ruggiano 175 .237 .300 .386 .306 -0.5 -0.4 -0.3 0.3
Brad Miller 35 .249 .308 .387 .308 0.0 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Nelson Cruz 35 .250 .309 .457 .334 0.7 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Willie Bloomquist 35 .268 .302 .341 .285 -0.7 -0.1 -0.4 0.0
Total 700 .246 .319 .396 .316 4.0 -0.8 -2.7 1.7

Making fun of the Mariners and their unhealthy desire to construct a beer league softball team is one of the truest pleasures in life, but it’s actually pretty hard to find fault with the right field plans for the upcoming year. Seth Smith hits righties and Justin Ruggiano hits lefties, both to the tune of 120-130 wRC+. If you agree that they aren’t horrible defenders, the Mariners basically built an average-ish right fielder for a lot less than something like that usually costs.

Brad Miller’s mostly going to spend time at shortstop and Nelson Cruz will mostly DH, so their inclusion here is somewhat superfluous, but Willie Bloomquist is working hard to get enough looks at every spot on the diamond to be eligible for every position in your fantasy league next year. That still probably won’t make you want to draft him, but it’s a nice bit of trivia.

#24 Pirates


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Gregory Polanco 525 .255 .310 .392 .310 -0.5 1.4 2.0 1.4
Andrew Lambo 105 .245 .298 .423 .315 0.3 -0.1 -0.3 0.2
Jose Tabata 42 .269 .325 .367 .310 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1 0.1
Willy Garcia 28 .217 .248 .365 .269 -0.9 0.0 0.2 0.0
Total 700 .252 .306 .394 .309 -1.2 1.2 1.8 1.7

This is the ranking that definitely gives you pause. Just a year ago, we were having debates about the moral ambiguity of the Pirates keeping Gregory Polanco in the minors. This year, he’s projected to get most of the right field playing time and the Pirates are sitting in the bottom of third.

When Polanco came up last June, he excelled immediately, but after the All-Star break he was an easy out that left many wondering if the hype was overblown. The player himself blames fatigue, which is an entirely understandable explanation. He’s going to have to make sure he’s well conditioned this time around, however, because the Pirates can’t afford to let too many plate appearances shift to Andrew Lambo, Jose Tabata, or Willy Garcia. Collectively that bunch might not embarrass themselves, but the upside in right for the Pirates is exclusively Polanco’s.

#25 Reds


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jay Bruce 490 .247 .318 .452 .334 5.9 0.6 0.3 1.8
Brennan Boesch 70 .244 .290 .426 .313 -0.3 0.0 -1.4 0.0
Skip Schumaker 70 .242 .301 .317 .279 -2.1 -0.1 -1.0 -0.2
Donald Lutz 35 .220 .268 .371 .281 -1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Jason Bourgeois   35 .247 .285 .320 .270 -1.3 0.0 -0.2 -0.1
Total 700 .245 .309 .425 .320 1.2 0.5 -2.2 1.4

The Reds are definitely in limbo right now, stuck between trying to contend and totally rebuilding. Contention might not be that far out of reach if guys like Jay Bruce are able to get back to being their old selves. Bruce was a very good player just two years ago when he hit 30 home runs and ran up 4.2 WAR. We can probably attribute his power loss to a nagging injury and he’s amazingly just 27, so it’s not a big stretch to buy into a Bruce bounce back.

Brennan Boesch is a pretty safe bet to sprinkle in some incredible five or six game stretches, but that comes at the price of having to watch him swing and miss at every slider ever. But Boesch’s boom and bust lifestyle is nothing compared to the fact that a team seems to be keeping Skip Schumaker on the team entirely on purpose. He’s coming off back to back negative WAR seasons and it’s been six years since he resembled a major league regular. It’s hard to know what to make of Donald Lutz given his limited exposure, but being behind Skip Schumaker on the depth chart can’t really be an endorsement.

Jason Bourgeois can’t hit at all, but you have to like the idea of putting him in right field next to Billy Hamilton. He isn’t known for being an awesome defender but they’re both really fast and that seems like it would make good TV.

#26 Diamondbacks


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Mark Trumbo 525 .253 .307 .475 .339 7.0 -1.1 -6.4 1.0
Cody Ross 105 .253 .312 .391 .312 -0.8 -0.1 -0.3 0.1
David Peralta 70 .277 .312 .433 .326 0.2 0.0 -0.3 0.1
Total 700 .255 .308 .458 .334 6.4 -1.2 -7.0 1.3

Sometimes, I get the urge to defender Mark Trumbo. Sure, he strikes out a lot and doesn’t have a high OBP, but he offers a lot of power and that can really help a team if used properly. Unfortunately for Trumbo, the Angels and Diamondbacks have somehow seen fit to use him in the outfield for more than 1,300 innings and he just doesn’t have a place out there. He’s a DH/1B type player being asked to perform outside of his abilities. So commend him for the power, and hope that he finds his way to the AL.

And he probably should, given that Cody Ross and David Peralta are behind him on the depth chart and could probably approximate his overall value together. Trumbo can deliver some thunder but the defense costs him. But please remember that’s not really his fault.

#27 Twins


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Torii Hunter 595 .282 .318 .428 .327 6.1 -1.7 -6.3 1.2
Aaron Hicks 63 .224 .308 .342 .293 -1.0 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Max Kepler 42 .227 .275 .344 .276 -1.2 0.0 -0.1 -0.1
Total 700 .274 .314 .416 .321 3.8 -1.6 -6.6 1.2

In one sense, bringing Torii Hunter home for a curtain call in Minnesota is probably good for business. The fans will enjoy it and Hunter and Twins seem to get along pretty well. But in another sense, it will make for some very annoyed pitchers. Hunter has some life left in his bat, but Jason Heyward could probably out-defend Hunter if he had to use his cap instead of a glove.

And this isn’t just the metrics talking (-28 DRS, -22 UZR since 2013), I watched nearly every inning he played while in Detroit and I was constantly explaining to my newly adopted dog that most teams have right fielders that can get to routine fly balls.

If you read the scouting reports on Max Kepler, it sounds like he might be a viable outfield contributor down the line for the Twins, but that probably isn’t happening in 2015. Aaron Hicks is going to get most of his playing time in center, but it’s worth mentioning that even though he’s 25 and has two rough seasons under his belt, failing for 500 big league plate appearances is not a death sentence.

#28 Braves


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Nick Markakis   595 .271 .335 .382 .319 1.8 -1.0 -1.7 1.1
Zoilo Almonte 63 .237 .280 .383 .293 -1.1 0.0 -0.2 0.0
Eury Perez 42 .261 .294 .340 .283 -1.0 0.1 0.4 0.0
Total 700 .267 .328 .380 .314 -0.3 -0.9 -1.6 1.2

Nick Markakis isn’t a bad player and personally I wouldn’t be surprised if he beat this projection by a half a win or more. He’s no longer going to anchor a team like he did in the late 2000s, but he’s been a 1-2 win player pretty consistently even in the face of poor defensive numbers.

The problem here isn’t that Markakis is just an okay player, it’s that a Braves team which is clearly rebuilding signed a veteran like Markakis for veteran money rather than just letting the position wither. And it’s not like this was a one year commitment to fill out a roster, they’re paying for four years of Markakis even though the only good year or two he’ll offer will come when the rest of the roster is a mess.

Zoilo Almonte and Eury Perez sitting in slots two and three probably pushed the Braves to add Markakis, especially because Almonte is actually supposed to get a decent amount of playing time in left field. It’s easy to question the Markakis deal, but just imagine the outfield if they needed to find another 500+ PA.

#29 White Sox


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Avisail Garcia 525 .267 .308 .419 .320 0.7 -0.5 -3.9 0.8
J.B. Shuck 140 .253 .306 .333 .286 -3.4 -0.1 0.0 -0.1
Emilio Bonifacio 35 .248 .303 .329 .284 -0.9 0.2 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .263 .308 .397 .311 -3.7 -0.3 -4.0 0.8

It’s always nice to have written extensively about a player earlier in the offseason because it means you can recycle tried and true material. The thing about Avi Garcia is that he’s a physically impressive human being who can crush baseballs, run pretty well, and throw like he belongs in right field. You say those words and you imagine a player who might be a star.

Garcia is young enough to make it happen, but if you look at players with his overall production profile, they generally don’t turn into stars. His approach isn’t good enough to let the power play and he looks more like Dayan Viciedo than an above average player. The fan projections are bullish and Steamer and ZiPS are not. If you’re looking for a projection to follow, I’d recommend this one to see how that disagreement gets settled.

Bonifacio isn’t worth thinking about much here because his value comes in serving as a backup everywhere. If he’s sitting in one place too long it will probably expose his limitations. J.B. Shuck just exposed one of my limitations in that I completely missed his 2014 terribleness. I was all set to write this comment about his below average but sort of useful nature only to discover his .165 wOBA from 2014.

So then I thought, well maybe he became a pitcher because that’s a pitcher’s wOBA. Alas, he hasn’t pitched since college. Maybe he should try.

#30 Phillies


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Grady Sizemore 280 .237 .298 .376 .300 -3.4 -0.2 -0.6 0.1
Odubel Herrera 280 .257 .299 .327 .280 -7.7 -0.2 0.7 -0.2
Jeff Francoeur 70 .233 .272 .368 .280 -1.9 -0.1 -0.7 -0.2
Jordan Danks 70 .231 .303 .361 .296 -1.1 0.0 0.4 0.1
Total 700 .244 .296 .354 .290 -14.1 -0.4 -0.2 -0.2

Remember, about seven seconds ago, when you were reading about how bad the White Sox right fielders are going to be? And remember how the White Sox are slated to have the 29th worst right fielders? Good. So in a ranking of 30 teams, someone has to be last, and in a ranking of teams using WAR, the individual ranking numbers usually don’t mean that much because WAR isn’t precise to the decimal place.

Well, this ranking means something. The Phillies are a full win worse than the next worst team. They’re trailing the “Free Agents” in our full depth chart and it’s March 26. I know there’s a feeling that we pile on the Phillies at FanGraphs and there may be a kernel of truth to that, but I implore you to look at the players who are supposed to play right field.

There’s Grad Sizemore, who was amazing in his day, but that day has long since come and gone. There’s Jeff Francoeur, who was the butt of “he’s not good anymore jokes” two years ago and the jokes were getting old even then.

There’s Jordan Danks, who wasn’t good enough to keep his place in the White Sox outfield even though his brother is on the team. And finally, there’s Odubel Herrera whose had some minor league success and is actually popular with ZiPS. He’s 23 years old and is clearly the only shot at upside for the Phils, but even Kiley McDaniel and his insanely long prospect lists had to squeeze him into the final paragraph.





Neil Weinberg is the Site Educator at FanGraphs and can be found writing enthusiastically about the Detroit Tigers at New English D. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @NeilWeinberg44.

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Mr.Grey
Guest
Mr.Grey

See, kids, this is why FanGraphs is an absolute joke.

Jay Bruce at 25th. What a disgrace.

someone
Member
someone

To be fair, Cincinnati’s ranking is pulled down due to Bruce’s horrible backups. If they were projecting Bruce to have more PA, this ranking could easily be 10 spots higher.

Circle Breaker
Guest
Circle Breaker

Well if your looking at individual WAR he’s actually 14th.

IMW
Guest
IMW

Learn to read.

Two-Seam-Hakeem
Member
Two-Seam-Hakeem

Fangraphs seems like a joke to you because you can’t read it. This isn’t a list of the game’s best right fielders.

TKDC
Member
Member
TKDC

Can we please start just downvoting these nonsense posts and moving on?

IMW
Guest
IMW

You have been downvoted.

PPP
Guest
PPP

Posting that comment on Fangraphs really makes me think you have a predilection for punishment.

Iron
Guest

While you comment is stupid, I will say Jay Bruce represents one of my concerns with UZR. While not really changing as a defensive player he went from 3rd highest UZR of any position player in 2010 to terrible in 2011. Then worse. Then really good. Then bad again. Then… I mean you’d think injury could explain it, but it doesn’t line up at all. I’m not saying UZR is wrong or there’s no explanation, just that it’s a little bizarre.