2020 Positional Power Rankings: Left Field

After analyzing the infield positions, our attention shifts to the outfield. First up? Left field.

Ah, left field, the last refuge of scoundrels. Last year, we wondered if teams’ evolving understanding of defensive metrics was changing the kinds of players they stashed in left field. This year, despite Christian Yelich moving over from right, the answer is a resounding “nah.”

That’s not to say there are no Alex Gordon types, plus defenders without the necessary arm to handle right. Even with a universal DH, however, left field is the domain of the Willie Calhouns, Jesse Winkers, and Eloy Jiménezes of the world. Perhaps not coincidentally, it’s the shallowest position in the league; we project only four teams to accrue 1 or more WAR out of left this year, by far the least across all positions.

Is this a fluke of generations and circumstances? Will left field look different when Dylan Carlson establishes himself, or when a future outfield acquisition in Atlanta forces Ronald Acuña Jr. back to left? What if Giancarlo Stanton plays more left and less DH? There are certainly ways for left field to climb the rankings hierarchy. For now, however, it’s a big pile of middlingly athletic misfits who don’t have another clear spot on the diamond. Oh, and then Yelich and Juan Soto, both of whom are playing a completely different game than the rest of the field here.

Ben is a writer at FanGraphs. He can be found on Twitter @_Ben_Clemens.

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3 years ago

It’s surprising to me how low the offensive projections are for JD Davis and Dom Smith- but I know it’s all math and nothing personal. However, if Cespedes can DH, it’s easy to imagine at least one of Davis or Smith outperforming these meager expectations in LF. I’m choosing to see these projections as a floor, with a ceiling that is exponentially higher. Years as a Mets fan have taught me that there’s always room for optimism.

3 years ago

Especially since they can platoon a bit with Davis a RH and Smith a LH which the projections cannot account for. But they really are both terrible out in LF. This team should hit/score runs but who knows.

David Klein
3 years ago
Reply to  mookie28

No reason to platoon Davis his statcast numbers are far superior to Smith’s