2021 Positional Power Rankings: Right Field

Yesterday, Kevin Goldstein and Brendan Gawlowski reviewed the state of things in left and center field across the majors. Today, Jay Jaffe turns his attention to right fielders.

It’s not the happiest inevitability to contemplate, but there will come a day in the future when Mike Trout will no longer be the best player in baseball. When that day comes — and we’re not saying it’s tomorrow, or even in 2021 — there’s a very good chance that one of the game’s top three right fielders will be the player who claims the crown.

Mookie Betts already outdid Trout for the 2018 AL MVP award with a single-season WAR (10.4) slightly higher than anything our Halo’d hero has mustered (a max of 10.2 in 2013), and he’s only heading into his age-28 season, having already done the Trout-like thing of surpassing the average Hall of Famer’s seven-year peak in WAR at his position. What’s more, Betts has now played a central role in two championships, having helped the Dodgers get over the hump in 2020’s pandemic-shortened season thanks in large part to his October heroics at the plate, on the basepaths, and in the field.

If it’s not Betts who dethrones Trout, it may very well be 22-year-old Juan Soto, a new convert to the position whose production to date and projection going forward both place him in the midst of inner-circle Hall of Famers. And if not Soto, then perhaps 23-year-old Ronald Acuña Jr., whose speed makes him a threat to become just the fifth member of the 40-homer, 40-steal club. A year ago, Dan Szymborski projected Acuña as the most likely heir to Trout’s title, though today Soto might be the one, with Fernando Tatis Jr. perhaps elbowing his way into the picture as well.

As a group, right fielders outproduced all other positions in wRC+ for the first time in the history of our splits (which go back to 2002) in 2019, with a 108 wRC+. In the pandemic-shortened season, with Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich having switched positions, the group “slipped” to 106, five points below that of first basemen, but even so, good players having big years such as Michael Conforto and Bryce Harper, late bloomers like Mike Yastrzemski and Teoscar Hernández, and on-the-rebound players such as Wil Myers and Jason Heyward helped to uphold the position’s high standard for offense. Moves by Soto and Kyle Tucker, the maturation of Dylan Carlson and the return of Mitch Haniger should help keep that going, even if not all of the pandemic’s top producers can replicate last year’s punch.

2021 Positional Power Rankings – RF
1. Dodgers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Mookie Betts 679 .282 .373 .523 .372 30.5 4.0 14.7 6.2
Cody Bellinger 14 .277 .373 .555 .379 0.7 0.0 0.0 0.1
Zach McKinstry 7 .234 .296 .373 .287 -0.2 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .281 .372 .522 .372 31.0 4.0 14.8 6.3

By his own account, Betts believes that his 2020 performance was “serviceable… it got the job done,” and when measured against his MVP-winning campaign, he has a point, but you won’t hear any Dodgers fans complaining. From an individual standpoint, all he did do in his first season after being traded — imagine trading Mookie Betts! — was rank second in the NL in WAR (3.0) and tie for third in homers (16), fourth in steals (10), and 13th in both wRC+ (149) and SLG (.562). What he did not do relative to 2018 (or ’19 for that matter) was show as much plate discipline or hit the ball quite as hard. His 22.1% O-Swing rate was six points higher than that year, while his 9.8% walk rate was 3.4 points lower, and meanwhile, his 7.7% barrel rate and 43.4% hard-hit rate were both well below his 2018 numbers (13.1% and 50.2%, respectively). His defense was still the best in the league, elite by the numbers (6.0 UZR, 11 DRS) and, as the postseason amply illustrated, as entertaining as anyone in the sport. At 28 years old, he’s got a lot of great baseball left in him.

With Joc Pederson and Enrique Hernández gone, the job of filling in when Betts takes the occasional breather may fall to Bellinger, who played just one inning in right after totaling 911 in 2019, with off-the-charts defensive numbers at the spot (9.5 UZR, 18 DRS). McKinstry, the Dodgers’ next super-utilityman, could see time there as well.

2. Nationals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Juan Soto 637 .303 .424 .595 .415 46.9 0.3 -2.4 5.7
Yadiel Hernandez 35 .249 .317 .418 .310 -0.6 -0.0 -0.2 -0.0
Gerardo Parra 21 .237 .298 .365 .283 -0.8 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Andrew Stevenson 7 .256 .316 .385 .301 -0.2 0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .298 .414 .575 .404 45.3 0.2 -2.6 5.6

During the wee season, Soto became not just the NL’s youngest batting champion at age 21 but also the youngest slash-stat triple crown winner, hitting an ungodly .351/.490/.695 for a 201 wRC+. Sure, those numbers were put up over a small sample of playing time, but Soto’s 152 wRC+ through his age-21 season puts him in the company of inner-circle Hall of Famers as does his long-term ZiPS projection. The maturity of his approach at the plate, high contact rate (he cut his strikeout rate to 14.4%), and ability to hit to all fields serve to remind that he’s not a one-dimensional slugger, but his defense does rate as a concern given his unflattering metrics in left (-7.0 UZR, -10 DRS, -3 OAA in about two seasons worth of playing time).

Hernandez, a 33-year-old Cuban defector, got a brief taste of the majors last year after hitting 33 homers and slugging .604 at Triple-A Fresno, but he won’t get many opportunities behind Soto. As for Parra, a reserve during the Nationals’ 2019 championship run — who can forget his use of “Baby Shark” as walkup music? — he spent last season in Japan, hitting .267/.305/.384 with the Pacific League’s Yomiuri Giants. His work in Washington (88 wRC+, 0.2 WAR) represented his first above-replacement contributions since 2017, but maybe keeping his finger on the pulse of popular culture is the key.

3. Braves
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Ronald Acuña Jr. 637 .282 .385 .559 .391 34.3 3.1 3.7 5.3
Ender Inciarte 28 .251 .317 .362 .294 -0.9 0.0 0.1 -0.0
Drew Waters 14 .245 .294 .394 .291 -0.5 -0.0 0.1 -0.0
Marcell Ozuna 14 .282 .357 .520 .364 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.1
Guillermo Heredia 7 .239 .312 .367 .295 -0.2 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .279 .379 .545 .384 33.2 3.1 4.0 5.4

With 21-year-olds Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr. and teammates Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna commanding so much attention, Acuña almost slipped through the cracks last year, particularly given that he missed time due to inflammation of his left wrist, possibly the result of an awkward dive into a base. His batting average was an atypically low .250, but he cut his swing rate, and so his walk rate spiked to 18.8% (third in the NL), while his .401 OBP ranked seventh and his .582 SLG eighth. He hit the ball harder than ever; his 16% barrel rate placed in the 95th percentile, while his 57% hard-hit rate placed in the 98th percentile. Meanwhile, he played above-average defense in both center and right. He’s 23 and projects as a 6-to-7 WAR player for the remainder of his 20s. Do not sleep on him.

Inciarte hasn’t played right field since 2015, but with Nick Markakis and Adam Duvall gone, it’s probably him or Ozuna, who’s played just 18.1 innings in right over the past four years, filling in when Acuña needs a day off or has an owie. Inciarte has a strong reputation with the glove, but his UZR and DRS have both been in the neighborhood of average the past two seasons, and last year, his bat fell off the table after a five-year run of near-average offense. If Acuña is ever really injured, then Waters — a 22-year-old switch-hitting speedster who placed 47th on our Top 100 Prospects list — could get a look.

4. Yankees
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Aaron Judge 532 .252 .369 .521 .371 22.2 -0.3 7.6 4.1
Clint Frazier 77 .244 .325 .456 .329 0.4 -0.1 -0.5 0.2
Mike Tauchman 49 .249 .332 .402 .312 -0.4 0.1 0.4 0.1
Jay Bruce 28 .231 .294 .468 .315 -0.2 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Brett Gardner 14 .239 .330 .419 .321 -0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .250 .358 .501 .359 22.1 -0.3 7.5 4.5

For the third straight season, Judge missed a major chunk of playing time. This go round, it was a recurrent right calf strain that limited him to one game in a five-week period, that after he’d homered nine times in the Yankees’ first 17 games; he didn’t hit another in the 11 regular season games he played thereafter, though he did go yard three times during an otherwise dismal postseason showing. His 145 wRC+ over the past three seasons ranks ninth in the majors, and his 95.0 mph average exit velocity over that span is tops, but he’s missed 37% of the Yankees’ games. For as incredibly talented as he is — talented enough to produce 6.5 WAR per 650 PA in that three-year stretch — it’s just maddening that he can’t stay healthy.

After three years of literal and figurative ups and downs, Frazier finally broke through and is now the Yankees’ regular left fielder, but he’s played 64 games in right field over the past two seasons, and improved markedly enough as a fielder to be a Gold Glove finalist, putting his Sunday Night Baseball nadir further into the rearview mirror. The Yankees seem to have fallen in love with the 33-year-old Bruce simply because he bats left-handed, his three-year run with a 93 wRC+ over a 797 PA span notwithstanding. The infatuation is such that it may cost them Tauchman, a lefty who seemed absolutely lost last year after a strong 2019 — slipping from .277/.361/.504 to .242/.342/.305 — though the team says he was playing through a lingering right shoulder injury. Tauchman is out of options, and reportedly generating trade interest.

5. Phillies
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Bryce Harper 651 .256 .390 .521 .376 27.6 -0.6 -1.9 3.8
Adam Haseley 21 .253 .316 .385 .300 -0.5 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Matt Joyce 14 .233 .336 .388 .315 -0.1 -0.0 -0.1 0.0
Mickey Moniak 14 .231 .284 .371 .278 -0.6 0.0 -0.1 -0.0
Total 700 .255 .384 .510 .370 26.4 -0.6 -2.1 3.8

Lost amid the pandemic-shortened schedule and the Phillies’ latest disappointment was Harper’s strong season. Playing nearly every game for the third straight year — he toughed through lower back pain, and a slump that took some of the shine off his stats — he barreled the ball at a career-best 17.3% clip (good for the 97th percentile), struck out a career-low 17.6% of the time (8.5 percentage points below 2019), ranked second in the NL in walk rate (20.2%), fourth in OBP (.420), 11th in wRC+ (151, his highest mark since 2017) and 14th in SLG (.542). His defense was a tick below average after being 10 or 11 runs above via UZR and DRS in 2019, but that may have owed to his injury, which he believes stems from still throwing like a catcher; he has worked to adjust.

With his propensity for groundballs and inability to hit left-handed pitching, Haseley, the eighth pick of the 2017 draft, looks like fourth outfielder material at best rather than a true center fielder, and the return of Odúbel Herrera from a domestic violence suspension may squeeze him off the roster. Moniak, the top pick of the 2016 draft (and still two years younger than Haseley), might be headed that direction unless his swing can produce some power. Joyce, a veteran lefty who’s well acquainted with bench roles but did not provide his usual pop last season (.252/.351/.331), may start the year as the backup.

6. Mets
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Michael Conforto 651 .260 .366 .478 .356 20.8 -0.1 0.0 3.4
Kevin Pillar 14 .248 .288 .405 .291 -0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Jeff McNeil 14 .293 .359 .460 .346 0.3 -0.0 -0.1 0.1
Brandon Nimmo 7 .243 .375 .427 .348 0.2 -0.0 -0.1 0.0
Albert Almora Jr. 7 .241 .289 .373 .281 -0.2 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Khalil Lee 7 .211 .296 .337 .278 -0.3 0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .259 .362 .473 .353 20.5 -0.1 -0.1 3.4

Conforto rode a .412 BABIP to a sizzling .322/.412/.515 line, setting career highs in AVG, OBP, and wRC+ (157) along the way. If you’re hoping for a repeat, don’t hold your breath; that .412 BABIP didn’t just lead the league in 2020, it was the highest by a qualifier since 1924 (Rogers Hornsby‘s .422, from the year he hit .424). Conforto pulled that off without hitting the ball appreciably harder than before. Both his 11% barrel rate and 36.6% hard-hit rate were down from 2019, and below career highs; he enjoyed a 36-point year-to-year swing in his xwOBA relative to his wOBA. His projection, which looks a lot like his 2019 line (good for a 126 wRC+), is a more reasonable expectation.

Pillar’s defense in center field has faded significantly according to the metrics. Last year, he fared better in right while hitting for a career-best 106 wRC+, about 20 points ahead of his previous career mark. The Mets might be better off banking on a repeat of Conforto’s .412 BABIP. Barring injuries, it seems likely that Robinson Canó’s suspension will keep McNeil on the dirt instead of in the outfield except for in emergency situations.

7. Astros
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Kyle Tucker 609 .268 .333 .495 .344 14.4 1.7 2.6 3.3
Chas McCormick 42 .241 .315 .360 .293 -0.9 0.0 0.0 0.0
Ronnie Dawson 28 .201 .272 .342 .265 -1.2 -0.1 -0.2 -0.1
Jose Siri 21 .203 .256 .334 .253 -1.2 0.0 0.0 -0.1
Total 700 .262 .327 .476 .335 11.1 1.6 2.5 3.2

After two years of ups and downs between Triple-A and the majors, Tucker finally broke through, taking over the Astros’s starting left field job and hitting like the top-10 prospect he had become (.268/.325/.512, 126 wRC+). His 50.6% pull rate was a few points above what he’d shown in Triple-A and the majors in 2018-19, but he beat the shift well enough, posting a 104 wRC+ in such situations, placing him in the 78th percentile among lefties. He struggled against southpaws (.217/.260/.435, 88 wRC+), which bears watching, but he played the field well enough, and throws well enough, that the move from left field to right — vacated by the departures of Josh Reddick and George Springer — shouldn’t pose a problem.

McCormick, a righty-swinging prospect who turns 26 on April 19, split 2019 between Double- and Triple-A, and has good on-base skills, average power, and above-average defensive tools. He’s probably a fourth outfielder in the making, and his ability to cover center field already helped him beat out Steven Souza Jr., who was released earlier this week. Dawson did not put up good numbers in a 2019 season split between Double- and Triple-A, but he’s got above-average raw power, plate discipline and athleticism; right field might be a stretch given his 40-grade arm.

8. Twins
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Max Kepler 609 .248 .337 .475 .342 9.6 -0.0 5.3 2.9
Kyle Garlick 42 .218 .272 .399 .282 -1.5 -0.0 -0.1 -0.1
Jake Cave 28 .248 .309 .426 .311 -0.3 -0.0 -0.1 0.0
Trevor Larnach 21 .253 .314 .403 .305 -0.3 -0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .246 .332 .466 .336 7.5 -0.1 5.0 2.9

Just as Tucker was very good at beating the shift in 2020, Kepler was very bad, managing just a 42 wRC+ (.238 AVG) under such conditions, placing him in the 22nd percentile. That wasn’t the only reason he didn’t match his 2019 breakout; he didn’t hit the ball as hard, barreling just 5.1% of his batted balls, down from 8.9% in 2019 (a drop from the 60th percentile to the 28th). His average fly ball distance dropped from 319 feet to 302, and he ranked eighth in the majors in infield fly ball rate (16.1%). He was also merely average defensively, dropping 12 runs of UZR relative to 2019. Even so, Kepler’s power, patience, and defensive ability give him a solid floor for value (last year’s 1.0 WAR prorates to 2.7) and his age (28) gives him a good shot at rebounding.

Garlick, a 29-year-old righty out of the Dodgers’ system, has gotten tastes of major-league playing time over the past two seasons but after bopping three homers in 53 PA for the Dodgers in 2019 — with a 17.5% barrel rate that opened the eyes of anyone scouring the waiver wire — he went a homerless 2-for-23 with the Phillies last year. He may form the short half of a left field platoon with the lefty-swinging Cave, who’s hit for a 78 wRC+ against lefties over his three-year career, compared to 115 against righties.

9. Rays
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Manuel Margot 294 .256 .316 .405 .307 -2.4 0.6 2.6 0.8
Austin Meadows 266 .252 .322 .461 .328 2.5 -0.2 0.2 0.9
Brandon Lowe 91 .245 .324 .466 .332 1.2 0.1 0.2 0.4
Brett Phillips 28 .190 .288 .350 .276 -1.0 0.1 0.3 0.0
Randy Arozarena 21 .261 .336 .464 .337 0.4 -0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 700 .250 .319 .434 .318 0.7 0.6 3.2 2.1

Neither half of this platoon hit well in 2020. The lefty-swinging Meadows, who enjoyed a breakout 2019 (33 homers, 143 wRC+, 4.1 WAR), didn’t debut until August 4 due to a COVID-19 diagnosis, and had his season cut short by an oblique strain, limiting him to just 36 games and a .205/.296/.371 (87 wRC+) line with a strikeout rate that spiked over 10 percentage points, to 32.9%. His average fly ball distance decreased by 31 feet to 301, and he struggled against lefties (.143/.220/.171, 13 wRC+ in 41 PA) after hitting for a 128 wRC+ in 248 PA against southpaws in his previous two seasons. Heading into his age-26 season, he’s young enough to write it all off, at least.

For the righty-swinging Margot, last year’s 93 wRC+ represented a career high even as he hit fewer fly balls and just one homer, down from 12 in 2019, though you wouldn’t know it after watching him go yard five times in 65 postseason PA. While he and Meadows aren’t likely to wind up in a strict platoon — Meadows will see additional time at DH — Margot has hit lefties for a 104 wRC+ during his career, compared to 77 against righties. If he can approach that former mark while providing his typical above-average speed and defense, that certainly would be handy. Lowe has played a total of 17 games in right over the past three seasons; the versatility could come in handy if and when the Rays want to squeeze top prospect Wander Franco into the lineup at second. On the subject of postseason power displays, Arozarena, who homered a record 10 times last October, is slated to be the Rays’ regular left fielder but has a sprinkling of right field experience in the minors and majors.

10. Giants
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Mike Yastrzemski 581 .254 .334 .453 .331 4.4 -0.5 2.1 1.8
Austin Slater 70 .254 .344 .407 .324 0.1 0.1 -0.0 0.2
LaMonte Wade Jr 21 .238 .333 .347 .299 -0.4 -0.0 -0.1 -0.0
Jaylin Davis 14 .233 .294 .396 .294 -0.3 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Steven Duggar 14 .232 .297 .352 .280 -0.5 -0.0 -0.1 -0.0
Total 700 .253 .333 .442 .327 3.2 -0.4 2.0 1.9

For as belated as his 2019 breakout at age 28 was, Yastrzemski showed that it was no fluke. He tightened up his approach at the plate, trimming his O-Swing rate from 29.2% to 23.4%, which helped spike his walk rate from 7.8% to 13.2% even as his strikeout rate fell. He didn’t hit the ball that much harder — his barrel and hard-hit rates were consistent with his 2019 ones — but he did get better placement. His xwOBA jumped from .341 (64th percentile) to .367 (82nd percentile), and he fared even better than that thanks to speed and a bit of luck, turning in a .407 wOBA and winding up in MVP conversations; his 159 wRC+ and 2.6 WAR both ranked fifth in the NL. He may not play to that level again, but he’s a keeper.

Slater was limited to 31 games — and just 12 in the field — by strains of his groin and right flexor. He hit a robust .282/.408/.506 in 104 PA when available; his 151 wRC+ was 60 points better than his previous career mark. His walk and barrel rates were both well beyond his previous body of work, and so he figures to find his way into the lineup at both outfield corners, especially against lefties.

11. Cubs
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jason Heyward 539 .253 .343 .409 .323 -1.3 0.5 5.0 1.5
Joc Pederson 98 .243 .333 .480 .340 1.2 -0.1 0.2 0.3
Cameron Maybin 42 .242 .321 .369 .300 -0.9 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Kris Bryant 14 .253 .353 .461 .345 0.2 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Rafael Ortega 7 .241 .310 .377 .295 -0.2 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .251 .340 .417 .324 -0.9 0.4 5.0 1.9

Heyward’s been a Cub for five seasons, and to his credit, his wRC+ has improved every year since that dreadful 72 mark in 2016; last year’s 131 was his highest mark since his rookie season, as were his .392 OBP and .456 SLG. The key, or at least one of them, was not swinging; his 21.7% O-Swing rate and 36.7% swing rate were both career lows, with the latter matching that of Mike Trout, who had the majors’ eighth-lowest rate (Heyward was six PA short of qualifying). Hence a career-best 16.6% walk rate and the occasional ball over the fence, though Heyward rarely actually barreled the ball (5.4%, 20th percentile). Nobody’s going to complain about his contract if he keeps hitting like that.

Pederson, whom the Dodgers tried to trade to the Angels in February, struggled through the 2020 regular season, batting just .190/.285/.397 before Joctober arrived. He walked a bit less and struck out a bit more than usual, but he hit the ball hard; his 92.9 mph average exit velocity placed in the 96th percentile, and his 10.2% barrel rate and 44.3% hard-hit rate were on par with 2019. The big difference was a groundball rate that shot from 41.8% to 48.2%, leading to some bad luck BABIP; his .146 batting average on grounders was 69 points below his previous career mark. Anyway, he’s likely to see more time in left field than right. As for Maybin, his 2019 Bronx magic wore off, as he was back to hitting the ball on the ground with regularity, which has generally limited his offensive impact.

12. Royals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Whit Merrifield 511 .281 .331 .428 .322 -1.7 1.4 1.5 1.3
Jorge Soler 112 .243 .339 .485 .346 2.0 -0.1 -0.1 0.4
Edward Olivares 49 .247 .292 .382 .287 -1.6 -0.1 -0.0 -0.1
Ryan McBroom 14 .241 .301 .406 .299 -0.3 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Hunter Dozier 14 .243 .323 .434 .321 -0.1 -0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .271 .329 .433 .322 -1.8 1.2 1.3 1.7

After spending an increasingly large share of his time in the outfield over the past three seasons, Merrifield is on tap to be the regular in right; he’s played 95 games there over the past two years, and the small-sample metrics suggest he’s acclimated to the position after struggling previously. Offensively, he’s basically the same as before, a high-contact hitter who rarely hits the ball hard but has speed and the ability to run into one occasionally; last year’s 5.1% barrel rate placed him in the 28th percentile, while his 27.3% hard-hit rate ranked in the seventh percentile; even so, he managed a .336 xwOBA, good for the 61st percentile.

Soler, who’s slated to be the Royals’ regular DH, went from a 48-homer, .569-SLG season to an eight-homer, .443-SLG season in abrupt fashion. While he hit the ball just as hard as the year before — indeed, his barrel rate increased 2.2 percentage points, to 18.5% — his strikeout rate spiked from 26.2% to 34.5%. His swinging strike rate was virtually unchanged, and he chased fewer pitches outside the zone than before, but his 12-point drop in zone swing rate (from 70.7% to 58.7%) was the largest year-to-year change in our data, which goes back to 2002. While it’s possible that the oblique strain that sidelined him for two weeks in September was a lingering issue that caused him to lay off more frequently, that’s more theory than established fact.

13. Orioles
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Anthony Santander 553 .264 .309 .482 .327 2.2 -1.2 1.5 1.6
Yusniel Diaz 84 .244 .317 .406 .309 -1.0 -0.3 -0.4 0.0
Austin Hays 35 .260 .303 .441 .312 -0.3 -0.1 0.2 0.1
Trey Mancini 14 .268 .331 .477 .338 0.2 0.0 -0.1 0.0
DJ Stewart 14 .232 .327 .427 .321 -0.0 -0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .261 .310 .470 .324 1.1 -1.6 1.1 1.7

Santander enjoyed a nice little breakout before an oblique strain ended his season on September 4. He barreled the ball more consistently (10.2%, up from 7.4% in 2019), cut his strikeout rate (from 21.2% to 15.2%), and hit .261/.315/.575 for a 132 wRC+, 32 points better than 2019. He’s still got room for improvement; he’s a free swinger who doesn’t hit the ball hard all that often (his 35.7% rate placed in the 32nd percentile), and he pops up with maddening frequency (19%, seventh among players with at least 150 PA). Good defense in right field (13 DRS over the past two seasons, though just 1.0 UZR) adds to his value, making him one of the Orioles’ best position players, which still isn’t saying much.

An oft-injured Cuban defector who’s now 24 years old, Diaz — who headlined the return from the Dodgers in the Manny Machado blockbuster — has 204 games of Double-A experience but none higher. He has a contact-based skill set, and there’s concern he doesn’t have enough power for a regular corner spot. Hays, who’s battling Cedric Mullins for time in center field, has similar concerns regarding his offensive profile. Mancini, who missed all of 2020 battling colon cancer, split his time in 2019 between right field and first base, but is anticipated to get most of his bats at designated hitter in his very welcome return.

14. Rangers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Joey Gallo 581 .209 .332 .486 .341 2.8 0.7 2.4 2.0
Adolis Garcia 42 .218 .261 .398 .276 -2.2 -0.1 0.0 -0.1
Eli White 35 .223 .289 .338 .272 -1.9 -0.0 -0.2 -0.1
David Dahl 28 .246 .301 .429 .306 -0.7 -0.0 -0.1 -0.0
Ronald Guzmán 7 .237 .312 .414 .309 -0.2 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Brock Holt 7 .243 .326 .345 .294 -0.3 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .212 .324 .468 .332 -2.4 0.6 2.2 1.7

Gallo had a shot at topping 50 homers in 2019 before an oblique strain and a broken hamate that required surgery derailed him, limiting him to 70 games, and last year simply didn’t go well. Though he still hit the ball hard relative to the rest of the league — his 14% barrel rate placed in the 90th percentile — he went from punishing fastballs to being punished by them; in 2019, he hit .295 and slugged .730 against heaters but in ’20 that sank to .157 and .422. His overall quality of contact suffered, as his average exit velocity dropped 3.6 mph to 91.2, his average fly ball distance shrank 26 feet to 334, and his xwOBA plunged 79 points to .313. By his own admission, he got into bad habits that he worked all winter to break, so let’s hope that he resumes his usual fireworks show. We all deserve it.

White’s a multiposition guy who played exclusively in the outfield during his brief trial last year; his 30-grade game power doesn’t quite mark him as the anti-Gallo but it’s close. Guzmán has failed to set the world on fire as a first baseman, and the arrival of Nate Lowe has him trying to add some positional flexibility. Dahl has some experience in right field, but less than left or center.

15. Padres
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Wil Myers 609 .243 .320 .461 .328 3.1 1.0 -1.6 1.5
Jurickson Profar 63 .251 .331 .420 .320 -0.1 0.1 -0.1 0.1
Brian O’Grady 21 .214 .290 .398 .291 -0.6 0.0 0.1 -0.0
Jorge Oña 7 .217 .286 .355 .276 -0.3 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .243 .320 .455 .326 2.2 1.1 -1.7 1.6

Myers backed his most underwhelming season to date as a Padre (96 wRC+, 0.5 WAR) with an absolute monster, hitting .288/.353/.606 while ranking fifth in the NL in slugging, ninth in homers (15) and wRC+ (154), and 14th in WAR (1.9). A more crouched stance and quieter pre-swing mechanics appear to have factored into the improvement, which pushed him up to the 93rd percentile in both barrel rate (14.8%) and xwOBA (.392). His defense, while a couple runs below average in both UZR and DRS, was still a marked improvement relative to his struggles in center field.

Profar parlayed his own solid rebound from a rough 2019 season into a three-year, $21 million deal. He’ll bid for time at both outfield corners, second base, and DH (when applicable), but he’ll have to hit, as the Padres have a multitude of alternatives. O’Grady, who’s seen a bit of playing time with the Reds and Rays, turns 29 on May 17, so “prospect” is a very loose term, but he’s a potential lefty bench piece with above-average raw power and speed.

16. Blue Jays
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Teoscar Hernández 329 .242 .309 .489 .331 2.7 0.0 -0.7 1.0
Randal Grichuk 322 .245 .296 .477 .320 -0.5 -0.1 -2.3 0.5
George Springer 21 .271 .357 .495 .358 0.7 -0.0 -0.1 0.1
Josh Palacios 14 .225 .294 .342 .276 -0.6 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Cavan Biggio 14 .232 .347 .410 .327 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .244 .305 .479 .326 2.3 -0.1 -3.1 1.6

By learning to lay off of breaking pitches down and away — he swung at just 16 all season, compared to 138 in 2018-19 — Hernández helped himself to an impressive breakout. Though an oblique strain cooled him off over the season’s final two weeks, he hit .289/.340/.579, cracking the AL’s top 10 in SLG, wRC+ (143), and homers (16, tied for fifth). He hit balls hard: via Statcast, his barrel rate, hard-hit rate, average exit velo and xwOBA all ranked in the 95th percentile or higher. On a team that does not lack for young talent, he’s a grizzled vet at 28 years old, but he’s also clearly a keeper.

Hernández’s defense isn’t much to write home about, however, and so he figures to DH a fair amount, leaving time for Grichuk to play right field, which he did for over 1,400 innings in 2018-19 but not at all last year. Offensively, there aren’t many surprises with the now-29-year-old who was chosen one pick before Mike Trout; he’s a low-OBP guy with some sock. His defense, once good enough to support regular play, has deteriorated, with -3.6 UZR and -12 DRS (but +5 OAA) across all outfield play in 2019-20. Springer, who as an Astro often moved to right field in-game to accommodate better center fielders, probably won’t have as much reason to do that as a Blue Jay.

17. Red Sox
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Hunter Renfroe 455 .232 .297 .476 .320 -3.2 -0.1 1.0 0.9
Alex Verdugo 140 .287 .348 .450 .338 1.1 0.1 0.4 0.5
Marwin Gonzalez 49 .258 .326 .422 .318 -0.5 -0.1 0.1 0.1
Jarren Duran 21 .266 .315 .378 .297 -0.6 0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Yairo Muñoz 21 .268 .311 .427 .310 -0.3 0.0 -0.1 0.0
J.D. Martinez 7 .271 .349 .506 .353 0.1 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
César Puello 7 .250 .334 .381 .310 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .247 .311 .462 .323 -3.5 0.0 1.4 1.5

Renfroe had a season not unlike his Rays teammate Mike Zunino, collecting eight homers, five doubles, and just six singles in 2020 en route to a .156/.252/393 line. In fact, his .141 BABIP — you read that right — was the majors’ lowest for any season with at least 100 PA since 2003. To be fair, his xBA was 35 points higher, but still, batted ball stats that lead to a .276 xwOBA won’t make anyone forget Mookie Betts. To be fair, Renfroe is a perfectly acceptable platoon player who has hit lefties for a 121 wRC+ over the past three years, compared to 93 against righties.

Verdugo or Duran both swing lefty, so either could cover the long half of a platoon with Renfroe with the other playing center field. The 24-year-old Duran’s defense in the middle pasture is suspect, however, and his bat’s no sure thing, either. Gonzalez saw a good chunk of time in right field with the Twins in Minnesota and is basically platoon-neutral as far as his switch-hitting goes, but he doesn’t produce enough offense for a corner spot. Martinez played 49 games in right field in 2019 while Betts played either center or DH, but his defensive metrics were brutal.

18. Mariners
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Mitch Haniger 329 .247 .333 .453 .332 4.3 -0.4 1.4 1.3
Jarred Kelenic 238 .239 .300 .431 .308 -1.9 -0.2 -1.5 0.2
Dylan Moore 77 .222 .302 .386 .295 -1.4 -0.1 -0.2 0.0
Braden Bishop 21 .218 .285 .324 .266 -0.9 -0.0 0.1 -0.0
Sam Haggerty 21 .214 .300 .323 .274 -0.8 0.1 -0.2 -0.0
Jake Fraley 14 .230 .288 .392 .288 -0.3 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .239 .315 .429 .315 -1.1 -0.6 -0.4 1.5

Forget the ranking, as there’s a lot to be excited about here. Haniger hasn’t played in a major league game since June 6, 2019 due to a ruptured testicle (groan), back trouble, a sports hernia, and a microdiscectomy. Whether he can shake off the rust and produce at the level of 2018-19 (.284/.361/.492, 134 wRC+) remains to be seen, but reports on the 30-year-old’s health and spring training performance are encouraging.

Kevin Mather’s controversial comments notwithstanding, the 21-year-old Kelenic, who placed fifth on our Top 100 Prospects list, is almost certainly destined to start the year in the minors or at the alternate site. Not only has he played just 21 games above High-A, he missed two weeks this spring due to a Grade 2 adductor strain, though the reports since his return have been positive. He’ll be an impact player once he arrives, more likely in left field (where Taylor Trammell is unproven but making his own case to play right now) or right, which would push Haniger to DH duty. Moore saw time at every position except pitcher and catcher last year (he did take the mound for an inning in 2019) while hitting for a 138 wRC+ with eight homers in 159 PA, and Statcast numbers that support the damage he caused. He’ll probably see most of his time at second base.

19. White Sox
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Adam Eaton 504 .261 .342 .404 .321 0.5 0.7 0.4 1.4
Adam Engel 119 .229 .285 .370 .281 -4.1 0.1 0.7 -0.0
Leury García 63 .261 .298 .378 .289 -1.7 0.0 0.1 -0.0
Micker Adolfo 14 .200 .277 .346 .270 -0.6 -0.1 -0.1 -0.0
Total 700 .254 .327 .394 .310 -5.9 0.8 1.1 1.3

Eaton is back on the South Side after four years in Washington, trying to rebound from the worst season of his nine-year career. He played just 41 games — his third year out of four missing at least one-quarter of the schedule — while missing time due to minor knee and back troubles before suffering a season-ending fractured left index finger in mid-September. After hitting the ball in the air with some consistency in 2019, his one healthy season as a National, he was back to killing worms, and the result was a .226/.285/.384 line and a career-low 75 wRC+. His projection offers hope for a rebound at age 32, but avoiding injuries just may not be his bag.

Engel hit .295/.333/.477 in 93 PA last year, his first positive production in four big league seasons. He’s got some speed and a good glove but not much in the way of on-base skills or game power (though he has reached a maximum exit velo of 111 mph or greater in each of the past three seasons), and he’ll likely miss the start of the season due to a right hamstring strain. García, a light-hitting super-utilityman, broke a 100 wRC+ (108) for the first time in his eight-season career, albeit in just 63 PA before severing a ligament in his left thumb while, um, sliding headfirst into first base and then onto the operating table. Adolfo is a very big (6-foot-4, 240 pounds) righty with 70-grade raw power but also just 23 games above High-A.

20. Athletics
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Stephen Piscotty 539 .243 .310 .416 .309 -3.4 0.2 -0.2 1.0
Mark Canha 56 .241 .348 .442 .336 1.0 -0.0 -0.1 0.2
Ka’ai Tom 49 .226 .297 .381 .289 -1.1 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Buddy Reed 42 .197 .254 .320 .246 -2.5 -0.0 0.0 -0.1
Greg Deichmann 14 .202 .268 .347 .265 -0.6 0.0 0.1 -0.0
Total 700 .238 .308 .408 .305 -6.8 0.1 -0.2 1.0

Only good defense (3.8 UZR, 2 DRS) kept Piscotty’s value from crashing through the floor last year as he set across-the-board career worsts with a .226/.271/.358 line, 74 wRC+, 5.3% walk rate, and 31% strikeout rate. His plate discipline went out the window, as his O-Swing rate spiked by just under 10 points, to 45.3%, third-highest among players with at least 150 PA, and his swinging strike rate spiked from 13.9% to 18.4%; he particularly flailed against sliders (24%) and changeups (27%). He’s signed through next season, which buys him some time to turn things around, but the A’s may be forced to change plans if he can’t.

Reed, a 2016 second-round pick by the Padres, has 70 grades on his speed and fielding along with a 60 arm; he’s a light-hitting (but switch-hitting) center fielder in the Jake Marisnick mold, though he’s never played above Double-A. Tom is a 26-year-old Rule 5 pick from Cleveland who’s put up good minor league numbers (including .298/.370/.564, 132 wRC+ at Triple-A) but is often overlooked because he stands 5-foot-9 and doesn’t have big power. He swings left-handed, and hits line drives to ll fields. As Eric Longenhagen wrote, “his average exit velocities and hard hit rates were a hair above big league average, and his expected SLG% was in the .430 range.” On the Rule 5 subject, he can compare notes with Canha, who was poached from the Marlins in December 2014 and is now Oakland’s regular left fielder.

21. Diamondbacks
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Kole Calhoun 476 .233 .324 .438 .322 -2.9 -0.4 2.1 0.9
Pavin Smith 84 .262 .331 .413 .317 -0.8 -0.1 0.1 0.1
Tim Locastro 56 .256 .337 .389 .316 -0.6 0.3 -0.3 0.1
Daulton Varsho 35 .248 .317 .421 .314 -0.5 0.0 -0.0 0.0
David Peralta 28 .271 .329 .437 .324 -0.1 -0.0 0.1 0.1
Trayce Thompson 21 .185 .243 .343 .249 -1.4 -0.0 -0.2 -0.1
Total 700 .239 .323 .427 .318 -6.3 -0.2 1.8 1.0

Calhoun’s first year in Arizona was one of the best of his career. Reaping the full benefit of swing changes that began during his 2018 debacle, he hit more fly balls than grounders for just the second time and set Statcast-era highs in both average launch angle (17.1 degrees) and barrel rate (11.8%). Driven by his 16 homers (tied for third in the NL), the result was career bests in SLG (.526) and ISO (.300), which more than made up for a batting average 32 points short of his .256 xBA. What’s more, he swung at a career low 27.5% of pitches outside the zone, cut his strikeout rate and set a career high in walk rate (12.1%) en route to a 125 wRC+, his highest since his 58-game 2013 season. He also added another 5.3 runs via UZR, well above even his usual above-average work. Alas, he probably won’t see action until mid-April due to a March 3 surgery to repair a medial meniscus tear in his right knee.

As to who fills in, the speedy, righty-swinging Locastro is the team’s fourth outfielder and already figured to pick up some of the playing time, though it’s worth noting that he’s struggled against lefties thus far (89 wRC+ vs. 109 against righties), so a strict platoon pattern seems unlikely. Varsho, a 24-year-old lefty-swinging utilityman, did mash righties at a 116 wRC+ clip in 79 PA (and was -14 in 35 PA against lefties!); he was optioned earlier this week. The intriguing option is Smith, the seventh pick of the 2017 draft and now a 25-year-old lefty-swinging prospect who hit .270/.341/.405 in 44 major league PA after spending all of 2019 at Double-A. Concerns about power have dimmed his chances of full-time work at first base, but he’s become playable in the outfield corners and projects as a platoon option.

22. Cardinals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Dylan Carlson 420 .248 .318 .427 .315 -2.6 -0.4 2.7 0.9
Justin Williams 147 .244 .301 .393 .296 -3.3 -0.1 0.1 -0.0
Austin Dean 56 .262 .320 .436 .319 -0.1 -0.1 -0.4 0.1
Lane Thomas 49 .225 .293 .383 .289 -1.4 -0.1 0.1 -0.0
Tyler O’Neill 28 .230 .295 .439 .308 -0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .246 .312 .418 .309 -7.7 -0.7 2.6 0.9

Carlson, the number 16 prospect in our Top 100, played just 18 games at Triple-A in 2019 before getting his first taste of major league action last year, and he struggled, hitting just .200/.252/.364. That said, he did his best to dig his way out of an even deeper hole after an early-September demotion, collecting 10 of his 22 hits, and seven of his 10 extra-base hits, over his final 40 PA upon returning. The 22-year-old switch-hitter is a well-rounded player who has no dazzling tools but few weaknesses; he’s an all-fields hitter with a mature approach and enough power for a corner outfield job, with the speed and ability to play the occasional center field, which it appears as though he’ll do primarily while Harrison Bader is sidelined four to six weeks by a right flexor tendon strain. Bet that Carlson will rank higher here next year.

Williams, a 25-year-old lefty acquired from the Rays in the Tommy Pham deal, has 60-grade raw power but a downward bat path that prevents him from getting to it consistently. Thomas is a 25-year-old righty who can play center; he’s homered five times and slugged .473 in 84 major league plate appearances over the past two seasons. O’Neill is the regular left fielder whose time in right mostly dates to 2018, though some positional shuffling could get him back there if need be.

23. Cleveland
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Josh Naylor 217 .273 .338 .443 .330 0.7 -0.1 -0.9 0.5
Daniel Johnson 154 .241 .299 .400 .296 -4.1 -0.1 0.5 0.0
Jordan Luplow 147 .242 .332 .434 .326 -0.1 -0.2 1.3 0.5
Ben Gamel 84 .249 .327 .383 .306 -1.5 -0.1 -0.3 0.0
Harold Ramirez 70 .258 .303 .388 .294 -2.0 -0.0 -0.4 -0.1
Oscar Mercado 28 .244 .300 .376 .290 -0.9 0.0 0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .254 .322 .416 .314 -7.8 -0.5 0.3 0.9

Acquired from San Diego in the Mike Clevinger trade, Naylor became the latest Cleveland outfielder unable to resist the pull of replacement level. Through two seasons and 383 PA, he’s hit .249/.309/.383 with nine homers and an 84 wRC+; he’s rarely been able to convert his 70-grade raw power into game power due to a 53.1% groundball rate, and has barreled just 5.4% of his batted balls. He’s no threat to claw back much value on the defensive side, either, but heading into his age-24 season, he still has a chance to deliver upon some of his promise.

Johnson, who’s about two years older than Naylor, is toolsy — with an 80-grade arm, 70-grade speed, and above-average raw power — but he doesn’t get to his game power often enough to play a full-time corner; as a lefty, he’s competing for the same slice of the playing time pie as Naylor. Luplow, who hit just .192/.304/.359 last year, has at least demonstrated a consistent ability to mash lefties throughout his four-year career, doing so to the tune of a 154 wRC+ in 269 PA, though he’s hit for an unplayable 57 wRC+ against righties. Gamel, a lefty-swinger who turns 29 on May 17, showed promise with the Mariners in 2017-18 but diminishing returns with the Brewers thereafter, so he fits the pattern of Cleveland’s desperate attempts to build an outfield out of scraps.

24. Reds
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Nick Castellanos 630 .262 .323 .487 .337 3.4 -0.9 -8.3 0.8
Shogo Akiyama 42 .265 .340 .405 .320 -0.4 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Aristides Aquino 21 .228 .292 .461 .313 -0.3 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Tyler Naquin 7 .255 .296 .430 .304 -0.2 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .261 .323 .481 .335 2.6 -1.0 -8.4 0.8

The first year of Castellanos’ four-year, $64 million deal was something of a dud, mainly because of a career-worst 28.5% strikeout rate, about seven points higher than his 2017-19 rate. He particularly struggled with fastballs and offspeed pitches on the outer third of the plate; his .249 xwOBA against them was 120 to 150 points below his numbers from the previous three seasons. When he did connect, he actually produced career bests in average exit velocity (91.0), barrel rate (16.1%) and hard-hit rate (46.0%), but he still fell about 50 points short of his expected batting average and slugging percentage. And yes, he was typically brutal in right field (-3.0 UZR, -4 DRS).

Akiyama’s inaugural season with the Reds was no smash, either, as he hit just .245/.357/.297 and barreled exactly one of the 122 balls he connected with. He did walk at a 13.7% clip and played good defense (0.9 UZR, 6 DRS) in limited duty. The silver lining was a .317/.456/.365 showing in his 79 PA in September, which will buy him playing time in a fourth outfielder role. Aquino is still trying to reassert himself after cooling off from homering 14 times in his first 28 major league games in 2018-19; sporadic playing time amid the Reds’ outfield crowd hasn’t helped.

25. Brewers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jackie Bradley Jr. 378 .229 .315 .407 .308 -6.4 0.4 2.1 0.4
Avisaíl García 259 .262 .322 .424 .315 -2.7 -0.3 0.1 0.3
Lorenzo Cain 28 .270 .343 .385 .315 -0.3 0.1 0.2 0.1
Billy McKinney 21 .234 .303 .434 .310 -0.3 -0.0 0.1 0.0
Derek Fisher 14 .224 .317 .428 .316 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .243 .319 .414 .311 -9.9 0.1 2.5 0.8

Bradley hit .283/.364/.450 (120 wRC+) in the pandemic-shortened season, setting career highs in AVG, OBP, and walk rate (10.6%) as well as a career low in strikeout rate (22.2%). Nonetheless, he found rough sledding in free agency, and didn’t land a deal until March 4. His Statcast numbers (including a .230 xBA and .376 xSLG) and his track record — with 2016 his only full season providing above-average offense — both suggest that his 2020 offensive output isn’t sustainable. While his defensive metrics in center field were on the wane relative to his previous prowess, he should be above-average in right, though that advantage is offset by the position’s higher offensive expectations. It’s conceivable he could prove more adept than Cain in center; the incumbent, who opted out last season and is now 34 years old, spent a fair bit of time in right field during his Kansas City days.

Whether he plays right field or center, Bradley needs a platoon partner given his 75 wRC+ against lefties over the last three seasons, and García is ideally situated, as he’s hit for a 116 wRC+ versus southpaws in that span. That’s some consolation for the fact that his first year of a two years-plus-option, $20 million deal did not go so well, as he sank from a 112 wRC+ with the Rays to an 82 mark (.238/.333/.326) with the Brewers. His penchant for chasing pitches outside the zone and for hitting the ball on the ground too often limits the damage he does. After struggling early in his career, he has improved enough defensively to be average or better in right field, at least.

26. Rockies
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Charlie Blackmon 588 .288 .350 .489 .350 1.2 -0.9 -4.3 0.9
Raimel Tapia 49 .285 .330 .423 .320 -1.2 0.1 -0.0 -0.0
Sam Hilliard 35 .234 .296 .426 .304 -1.3 0.0 -0.1 -0.1
Yonathan Daza 21 .292 .329 .413 .316 -0.6 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Josh Fuentes 7 .260 .293 .413 .297 -0.3 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .285 .345 .478 .344 -2.2 -0.8 -4.4 0.7

Blackmon rebounded from becoming the first major leaguer known to test positive for COVID-19 to play 59 games for the Rockies. He hit a superficially respectable .303/.356/.448, but of course that barely plays in Colorado; it was good for just a 97 wRC+, Blackmon’s lowest mark since his partial 2012 campaign. Posting his lowest average exit velocity, barrel, and hard-hit rates since 2015 (86.9 mph, 4.9% and 29.7%, respectively), he homered just six times. The good news is that he was average or better in right field after a dreadful 2019, with a 13-run swing in UZR (-10.6 to 3.6).

Tapia’s .321/.369/.402 (96 wRC+) performance represented a welcome improvement from his 2019 numbers, which included a 73 wRC+. Notably, he cut his O-Swing rate by more than 10 points to 32.3%, which helped increase his walk rate to a still-low 6.8%. Slated to be the team’s regular left fielder, he has big time speed that can help him outdo his meager batted ball stats (his 70-point gap between his average and BA tied for the major-league lead), but a lot will have to go right for him to maintain even his 2020 level of production. Daza, a 27-year-old righty, is likely to make the roster as he’s out of options. He’s got speed, a plus arm, the ability to play center, and a contact-centric profile, but the combo didn’t play last year, as he hit .206/.257/.237 in 105 PA.

27. Marlins
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Adam Duvall 532 .226 .291 .448 .308 -5.1 -0.3 2.4 0.8
Lewis Brinson 112 .213 .274 .361 .270 -4.7 0.1 -0.0 -0.2
JJ Bleday 35 .209 .259 .327 .253 -2.0 -0.0 0.0 -0.1
Garrett Cooper 14 .261 .330 .426 .323 0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Jesús Sánchez 7 .232 .291 .372 .283 -0.2 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .223 .288 .426 .299 -12.0 -0.3 2.5 0.5

Duvall tied with five other players — namely Betts, Calhoun, Machado, Pete Alonso, and AJ Pollock — for third in the NL with 16 homers, but he hit a lopsided .237/.301/.532, so he wasn’t anywhere close to as valuable as the best of that group (he did outdo Alonso’s 0.4 WAR by a single run). He doesn’t lack for ability to put it over the wall, but he strikes out a lot and doesn’t walk much, doesn’t hit for average, and his outfield defense, which was stellar during the 2016-18 period in left field (19.7 UZR, 44 DRS), is now subpar, so he’s rather one-dimensional.

Brinson, a former first-round pick and perennial top-20 prospect, set across-the-board career bests in 2020, albeit with a .226/.268/.368 line and a 74 wRC+, which won’t cut it. He’s got speed, a strong arm, and impressive raw power, but putting it together for any length of time continues to elude him. Of the rest, Bleday was the number four pick of the 2019 draft, a 55 FV prospect who has yet to play above High-A. Cooper needs to scare up some playing time in the outfield corners if he can’t beat out Jesús Aguilar at first base, and Sánchez is a 23-year-old prospect of note who was overwhelmed (1-for-25, 11 strikeouts) in a brief taste of major league action last year, and needs to shore up his game at Triple-A.

28. Tigers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Nomar Mazara 350 .255 .314 .435 .316 -2.8 -0.5 -0.6 0.5
Victor Reyes 154 .274 .308 .402 .301 -3.2 0.1 0.9 0.2
Robbie Grossman 91 .252 .349 .409 .326 0.1 -0.1 -0.4 0.2
Daz Cameron 56 .220 .290 .357 .280 -2.2 -0.0 -0.2 -0.1
Akil Baddoo 35 .199 .265 .321 .255 -2.1 -0.0 -0.4 -0.2
Niko Goodrum 14 .227 .296 .387 .292 -0.4 0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .253 .313 .411 .307 -10.6 -0.5 -0.7 0.5

The White Sox gave up on Mazara more quickly than the Rangers did, non-tendering him after one lousy season. Where he was generally good for 20 homers and a slugging percentage in the mid-.400s in Texas, he couldn’t even manage that in Chicago; he launched just one home run in 149 PA. As ever, the tools failed to match up with the production, and his main problem was hitting twice as many grounders as fly balls, but this time, he produced a new wrinkle by struggling to make contact at all; his 29.5% strikeout rate was 6.5 points higher than his previous career high, and he finished at .228/.295/.294. He’s still only heading into his age-26 season, and while the Tigers probably can’t fix him, there’s little harm in trying.

The swift, switch-hitting Reyes managed a 100 wRC+ in 292 PA in 2019, but even while hitting the ball harder, couldn’t produce at that level in ’20, and his 4.2% walk rate and minimal power did nothing to cover it up. Speed and defense — particularly his ability to play center field — will keep him around. Grossman, who signed a two-year deal to be the Tigers’ regular left fielder, does have some experience in right as well. Cameron, a center field prospect, spent all of his brief time in the majors in 2020 in right field, but didn’t hit, and clearly needs more time at Triple-A to get it together.

29. Angels
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Dexter Fowler 385 .223 .317 .380 .302 -6.6 -0.1 -3.5 -0.1
Jo Adell 217 .242 .297 .399 .296 -4.8 -0.1 1.2 0.2
Juan Lagares 63 .234 .290 .337 .269 -2.9 0.0 0.4 -0.1
Taylor Ward 21 .237 .322 .398 .309 -0.2 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Jon Jay 14 .248 .304 .328 .277 -0.5 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .231 .308 .381 .297 -15.0 -0.2 -2.0 0.0

Fowler was merely replacement level in part-time duty for the Cardinals last year. He set new Statcast-era lows in exit velocity (84.5 mph) and hard-hit rate (27.6%) in addition to setting career worsts in strikeout and walk rates (27.7% and 9.9%). Additionally, his right field defense was in the red for the third year in a row. The 35-year-old switch-hitter has become virtually unplayable against lefties, with a 68 wRC+ over the past three seasons, compared to a 94 against righties.

It’s understood that Fowler is merely a placeholder for Adell, who entered last year ranked as the number four prospect on our Top 100, albeit with just 27 games of Triple-A and 60 games of Double-A under his belt. It wasn’t enough experience for the then-21-year-old (he turns 22 on April 8), as major league pitchers took advantage of his overly aggressive approach; he hit just .161/.212/.266 with a 5.3% walk rate and 41.7% strikeout rate. His average exit velo on making contact was no shame (90.9 mph) but too much of it was on the ground. But while the showing only amplified concerns about Adell’s bat-to-ball skills, it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to deduce that he simply wasn’t ready for the majors; he’ll benefit from time at the alternate site and Triple-A to help shore up his game. Whether it’s Fowler or Lagares or Ward who fills in until he’s ready, the Angels stand to gain in the long run.

30. Pirates
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Gregory Polanco 490 .222 .296 .417 .300 -10.6 0.2 -1.6 -0.1
Brian Goodwin 77 .231 .305 .409 .302 -1.5 0.0 -0.4 -0.0
Dustin Fowler 56 .253 .295 .419 .300 -1.2 -0.0 -0.2 -0.0
Anthony Alford 49 .221 .288 .357 .278 -2.0 0.1 -0.2 -0.1
Jared Oliva 21 .233 .295 .346 .277 -0.9 0.0 0.0 -0.0
Erik González 7 .242 .279 .365 .272 -0.3 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .226 .296 .409 .298 -16.5 0.3 -2.4 -0.3

A former top-20 prospect, Polanco has largely failed to deliver on his promise at the major league level, with injuries a major culprit. He dislocated his left (throwing) shoulder and tore his labrum via an awkward slide in September 2018, leading not only to season-ending surgery but continued difficulties that limited him to 42 games in 2019. Though healthy enough to play 50 games last year, he hit a miserable .153/.214/.325 and struck out in 37.4% of plate appearances; his contact stats were actually quite encouraging (12.5% barrel rate, 51.0% hard-hit rage, 92.9 mph average exit velo, .452 xwOBAcon), but the swing-and-miss, yikes. He had a 20% swinging strike rate against four seamers… and even higher rates against curves, sliders, and changeups; hell, he had a 14.4% swinging strike rate against sinkers, and who does that? Needless to say, he’s got work to do.

Goodwin is a 30-year-old lefty-swinging reserve who’s playing for his fifth team in the past four seasons; he hit for a 109 wRC+ in 2019 and the first half of ’20 with the Angels but flopped upon being traded to the Reds. Fowler you may recall as the prospect who tore up his right knee colliding with an electrical box in his 2017 major league debut as a Yankee. He hit just .224/.256/.354 in 2018 with the A’s, then spent a year in Triple-A and another at Oakland’s alternate site before being traded to the Pirates earlier this month. He’s still just 26, and it would be nice to see him catch a break even if he doesn’t win the center field job over Alford, an elite athlete who’s been even less effective in scraps of four major league seasons totaling 88 PA.





Brooklyn-based Jay Jaffe is a senior writer for FanGraphs, the author of The Cooperstown Casebook (Thomas Dunne Books, 2017) and the creator of the JAWS (Jaffe WAR Score) metric for Hall of Fame analysis. He founded the Futility Infielder website (2001), was a columnist for Baseball Prospectus (2005-2012) and a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated (2012-2018). He has been a recurring guest on MLB Network and a member of the BBWAA since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @jay_jaffe.

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Radhames Liz
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Radhames Liz

“Mancini…is anticipated to get most of his bats at designated hitter”

I have no idea where you’re getting this information.