2022 Positional Power Rankings: Left Field

© Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, we wrapped up our analysis of the league’s infielders with third base and shortstop. Today, we shift our attention to the outfield, starting in left.

This year’s group of left fielders is projected to combine for less WAR (65.7) than any other positional group, although the “Mike Trout to left” move that was discussed this spring but didn’t come to fruition — maybe next year — would have pushed them ahead of the first basemen. This shouldn’t be a shocking revelation. In last year’s write-up, Kevin Goldstein described left field as “something of an island of misfit toys” and “a bit of a dumping ground on big-league rosters.”

There are certainly a lot of accomplished hitters here, including Nick Castellanos, Joey Gallo, and Jorge Soler, who were each part of the right field group last year, and Kris Bryant, who is also now primarily a left fielder. All dudes who can rake! But aside from a handful of exceptions, including former Gold Glove winners Gallo, Tyler O’Neill, and Andrew Benintendi, there are a lot of players in this group who might cause fans to wonder whether the National League really did adopt the designated hitter.

In all seriousness, most of these guys can more than make up for their defensive deficiencies with their bat, and home runs are one of the most enjoyable things to watch at a baseball game.

2022 Positional Power Rankings – LF
1. Yankees
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Joey Gallo 609 .207 .348 .496 .358 21.6 0.8 3.8 4.0
Giancarlo Stanton 49 .261 .345 .517 .364 2.0 -0.1 -0.0 0.3
Tim Locastro 21 .242 .325 .376 .310 -0.1 0.1 -0.1 0.0
Marwin Gonzalez 14 .233 .300 .365 .291 -0.3 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Miguel Andújar 7 .267 .306 .461 .326 0.1 -0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .213 .345 .491 .356 23.3 0.8 3.5 4.4

The Yankees are in good hands with Gallo, as the 2020 and ’21 Gold Glove winner is expected to be their everyday left fielder. What is less certain is whether his offensive production will be closer to what he did before the July 29 trade that sent him to the Bronx (139 wRC+, 25 homers in 388 PA for the Rangers) or what he did after (95 wRC+, 13 homers in 228 PA for the Bombers).

The underlying numbers during his time with the Yankees — a .193 BABIP, as well as barrel and hard-hit percentages that were similar to his pre-trade rates — indicate that Gallo’s struggles had much to do with batted balls that were unable to find holes against the types of extreme defensive alignments deployed against him. But the 28-year-old also had his walk rate dip by 3% and his strikeout rate rise by 6% after the trade.

He did finish strong, however, with a 124 wRC+ and eight homers over his final 90 regular season plate appearances. That’s a middle ground the Yankees would be perfectly happy with in 2022. Gallo’s track record of stellar defense and home-run-hitting prowess suggests he’ll be fine in his first full season in the Bronx, setting him up to be one of the top free agents on the market next offseason.

2. Cardinals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Tyler O’Neill 616 .259 .327 .522 .358 21.8 1.2 1.6 3.8
Corey Dickerson 42 .266 .312 .424 .315 -0.0 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Lars Nootbaar 21 .249 .323 .405 .314 -0.0 -0.0 0.1 0.1
Tommy Edman 14 .271 .321 .408 .315 -0.0 0.1 0.1 0.0
Juan Yepez 7 .246 .318 .460 .332 0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .259 .326 .509 .353 21.8 1.2 1.9 4.1

O’Neill had a terrible season at the plate in 2020, hitting just .173/.261/.360 for a 71 wRC+ and raising questions about his future as a big league regular. Still, he won a Gold Glove in left field and had shown enough in parts of two previous seasons for the Cardinals to stick with him, and it paid off. A year later, O’Neill enters his age-27 season as one of the premier young outfielders in the game.

He posted a .286/.352/.560 line in 2021, good for a 145 wRC+ and 5.4 WAR; during the team’s amazing 21-4 run to end the regular season, O’Neill slashed .319/.363/.734 with 11 homers while hitting in the middle of the Cardinals’ lineup. On Opening Day, he’ll likely be penciled into the No. 3 spot, where he posted a 177 wRC+ in 146 plate appearances last season, hitting between superstars Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.

3. Brewers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Christian Yelich 511 .263 .372 .472 .361 15.8 1.4 -1.3 2.7
Andrew McCutchen 126 .233 .337 .427 .332 0.9 -0.2 -0.6 0.3
Tyrone Taylor 35 .239 .301 .431 .314 -0.3 0.0 0.2 0.1
David Dahl 21 .241 .289 .402 .297 -0.5 -0.0 -0.1 -0.0
Mike Brosseau 7 .231 .304 .401 .305 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .255 .359 .459 .351 15.8 1.2 -1.7 3.1

A disappointing 2021 season saw Yelich slip even further away from his two-year reign as one of the best hitters in baseball in 2018-19. While he was about a league-average hitter once he returned from a second injured list stint in late May, he never showed much power.

Even during his best stretches of the season, when he posted a 132 wRC+ (May 23 through June 26) and a 125 wRC+ (August 11 through September 11), he had only seven homers and 12 doubles in 242 combined plate appearances. And despite hitting 40 singles during those two productive spans, he only stole three bases. It’s quite possible that the back injury that sidelined him early in the season continued to give him issues, making it more difficult to elevate the ball.

The addition of the universal DH should help the 30-year-old, as should having McCutchen and Taylor around to give him an occasional day off against a left-handed starting pitcher. How often those days off come will depend on Yelich’s health, of course, but also on how comfortable he looks at the plate against southpaws, who gave him all kinds of problems in 2021 (67 wRC+ in 126 PAs).

4. Mariners
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jesse Winker 385 .279 .374 .486 .370 19.3 -1.3 -2.7 2.4
Jarred Kelenic 238 .231 .303 .433 .315 1.1 -0.0 -2.1 0.5
Dylan Moore 49 .209 .296 .373 .294 -0.6 0.1 -0.0 0.1
Taylor Trammell 14 .206 .292 .360 .287 -0.3 -0.0 0.1 0.0
Abraham Toro 14 .249 .328 .412 .322 0.1 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .255 .342 .456 .344 19.7 -1.3 -4.7 3.0

The arrival of top prospect Julio Rodríguez and/or the return of Kyle Lewis from a knee injury could shake things up in the Mariners’ outfield at some point. As things stand, however, Jesse Winker is expected to see the most action in left field. He’s considered a below-average defender, but he more than makes up for it with his bat.

One of the best hitters in the game versus right-handed pitching — his 177 wRC+ versus right-handers ranked third in baseball behind only Bryce Harper and Juan Soto — the 28-year-old Winker could end up being one of the most impactful acquisitions of the offseason. The Mariners won 90 games last season despite a largely subpar offense, relying on timely hitting and an excellent bullpen to rack up the most one-run wins in baseball.

Rodríguez, who is making a strong case for the Opening Day roster, isn’t likely to play left field in the majors, but he could push either Kelenic or Haniger over with Winker getting most of his at-bats as the designated hitter. Lewis, who was the team’s center fielder when he won AL Rookie of the Year in 2020, could also be eased back into the outfield mix at a corner spot.

5. Rays
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Randy Arozarena 406 .256 .339 .450 .339 10.2 -0.2 -1.7 1.8
Austin Meadows 168 .252 .329 .482 .343 4.8 -0.4 0.1 0.9
Manuel Margot 56 .254 .316 .403 .310 0.1 0.0 0.3 0.2
Harold Ramirez 28 .276 .316 .430 .320 0.3 -0.0 -0.2 0.1
Luke Raley 28 .233 .301 .427 .313 0.1 0.0 0.2 0.1
Josh Lowe 14 .238 .314 .414 .315 0.1 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .255 .332 .451 .335 15.5 -0.6 -1.4 3.0

Arozarena and Meadows split left field duties almost evenly in 2021 and that duo should take on the majority of starts there again this season. But with the Rays’ best defensive alignment being Arozarena in left, Kevin Kiermaier in center field, and Margot in right field, Meadows figures to see a lot more at-bats as the designated hitter.

After his postseason heroics as a rookie in 2020, Arozarena settled in as a solid and steady performer, with a 128 wRC+, 20 homers, and 20 stolen bases in his first full big league season. And while the 2021 postseason was a lot shorter for the Rays, Arozarena still showed that he’s at his best in the biggest games, reaching base nine times in 19 plate appearances (5 H, 4 BB, HR, 2B, 2 SB) against the Red Sox in the ALDS.

As always, the Rays have plenty of depth to go around. Ramirez figures to see some action against lefty starting pitchers, while Lowe could force his way into the mix after a terrific performance in Triple-A last season (.291/.381/.535, 22 HR, 28 2B, 26 SB).

6. Phillies
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Nick Castellanos 364 .278 .335 .515 .357 10.1 -0.4 -2.8 1.5
Kyle Schwarber 252 .248 .353 .523 .369 9.6 -0.5 -0.5 1.4
Matt Vierling 42 .247 .306 .397 .304 -0.7 0.0 0.3 0.1
Mickey Moniak 35 .221 .277 .397 .286 -1.1 0.0 -0.1 -0.0
Johan Camargo 7 .256 .320 .438 .325 0.0 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .263 .336 .503 .354 17.9 -0.9 -3.1 3.0

On most days, you’ll find either Castellanos or Schwarber playing left field for the Phillies, and they’ll probably be playing it badly. But there won’t be too much complaining as long as they both continue to mash the baseball like they did in 2021.

Castellanos, 30, is coming off his best season in the majors, slashing .309/.362/.576 (140 wRC+) with 34 homers in 585 plate appearances for the Cincinnati Reds. Schwarber, 29, also had his best big league season, slashing .266/.374/.554 (145 wRC+) with 32 homers in 471 plate appearances between the Washington Nationals and Boston Red Sox. Those two are likely to bat somewhere in the top four spots of the order, along with Bryce Harper and JT Realmuto.

The addition of Castellanos and Schwarber should lead to the Phillies scoring a lot of runs, even though neither player is likely to be in left field for the end of many victories. All of the advanced fielding metrics suggest that the late-inning defensive replacements should get plenty of work.

7. White Sox
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Eloy Jiménez 497 .272 .320 .509 .350 14.5 -0.2 -3.2 2.3
Andrew Vaughn 91 .251 .329 .443 .333 1.3 -0.2 -0.1 0.3
Josh Harrison 49 .259 .317 .377 .304 -0.5 -0.1 -0.1 0.1
Adam Engel 28 .236 .293 .396 .298 -0.4 0.1 0.2 0.0
Micker Adolfo 21 .218 .279 .421 .299 -0.3 -0.0 -0.1 0.0
Adam Haseley 14 .242 .301 .372 .293 -0.3 0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .265 .319 .482 .340 14.4 -0.4 -3.4 2.7

After suffering a potentially season-ending pectoral injury in 2021 spring training, Jiménez returned to action in late July and posted a 127 wRC+ with eight homers over his first 127 plate appearances. He struggled down the stretch, however, managing only a 70 wRC+ and two homers over his final 104 regular season plate appearances. He also had five singles in 17 postseason at-bats.

Despite missing more than half of the season and then scuffling for one of the two months when he was active, Jiménez enters his fourth big league season with lofty expectations. After hitting 40 homers in his first 688 plate appearances in the majors, there’s no doubt that the 25-year-old is capable of competing with the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Shohei Ohtani for the home run title.

Jiménez will likely get some at-bats as the designated hitter, but how many will depend on how he plays out there. Between outfielders Engel, Haseley, and Adolfo, super-utilitymen García and Harrison, and first basemen-turned-outfielders Vaughn and Sheets, there should be plenty of opportunities to occasionally get Jiménez off of his feet.

8. Astros
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Michael Brantley 455 .295 .350 .442 .342 10.9 -0.6 -0.2 2.1
Chas McCormick 161 .236 .312 .393 .307 -0.8 -0.1 1.4 0.4
Jake Meyers 42 .246 .308 .421 .314 0.1 -0.0 0.2 0.1
Lewis Brinson 21 .218 .270 .363 .275 -0.7 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Niko Goodrum 14 .218 .293 .367 .289 -0.3 0.0 -0.0 0.0
Yordan Alvarez 7 .285 .362 .565 .388 0.4 -0.0 -0.0 0.1
Total 700 .275 .335 .427 .329 9.7 -0.6 1.3 2.7

The Astros got 508 plate appearances and 88 outfield starts from Brantley in 2021, and they’d likely be more than happy with that during his upcoming age-35 season. Moving into an at least a semi-regular role as a designated hitter would make sense at this point in his career, but that’s not going to happen with Yordan Alvarez on the roster. The good news is that Brantley is still a solid defensive player and hasn’t missed much time due to injuries over the past few years.

Although his power numbers were down overall, Brantley had his fourth consecutive season with at least a .300 batting average and .362 on-base percentage, and posted a 123 wRC+. Facing off against right-handed pitching, he slashed .363/.418/.507 (158 wRC+) with 29 extra-base hits in 238 plate appearances.

When Brantley sits, it will likely be against left-handed pitching; he posted a 59 wRC+ against southpaws in 2021 and a 75 wRC+ in ’20. Between McCormick, Siri, Meyers — once he returns from shoulder surgery — and Brinson, a non-roster invitee, manager Dusty Baker has plenty of right-handed hitting options to choose from.

9. Mets
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Mark Canha 497 .235 .352 .413 .336 9.9 -0.2 -2.5 1.8
Dominic Smith 98 .254 .315 .422 .317 0.4 -0.2 -0.6 0.2
Jeff McNeil 70 .281 .346 .430 .336 1.4 -0.1 -0.2 0.3
J.D. Davis 28 .254 .339 .429 .332 0.5 -0.0 -0.3 0.1
Khalil Lee 7 .209 .316 .355 .299 -0.1 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .243 .345 .416 .333 12.1 -0.5 -3.6 2.4

Brandon Nimmo and Starling Marte are expected to patrol center and right field, respectively, leaving Canha as the starting left fielder in his debut season with the Mets. That makes him one of three players on this list, joining Joey Gallo and Kris Bryant, who appear to be locked into one position despite having made themselves more valuable in the past because of their defensive versatility. And while Canha doesn’t have the offensive track record of Bryant and Gallo, he’s been an above-average major league hitter for the past four seasons and offers plenty to a team even if he’ll mostly be relegated to the outfield corners.

At age 33 — and two seasons removed from his best performance in the big leagues (146 wRC+, 4.0 WAR in 2019) — expectations shouldn’t be ridiculously high for Canha. He was primarily a leadoff hitter with the A’s in 2021, posting a .364 on-base percentage out of that spot, but the Mets have three or four others who are more likely to hit first. In fact, Canha might not hit higher than sixth or seventh in the stacked Mets’ lineup. He could, however, find himself somewhere near the top of the order against left-handed starting pitching.

Dominic Smith, a lefty batter who is blocked at first base by Pete Alonso and at the designated hitter spot by Robinson Canó, should get a good number of at-bats in left field as the Mets try to figure out if he can return to his 2019-20 form (150 wRC+, 21 HR, 31 2B in 396 PA) after struggling last season.

10. Marlins
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jorge Soler 336 .236 .331 .479 .346 8.5 -0.9 -2.7 1.3
Jesús Sánchez 147 .249 .313 .453 .325 1.1 -0.4 0.5 0.5
Garrett Cooper 98 .262 .344 .436 .338 1.9 -0.3 -0.3 0.3
Brian Anderson 84 .247 .332 .412 .323 0.5 0.0 -0.0 0.2
Bryan De La Cruz 28 .267 .321 .413 .316 0.0 -0.1 -0.1 0.1
Lewin Díaz 7 .240 .289 .452 .313 -0.0 -0.0 0.1 0.0
Total 700 .245 .328 .456 .336 12.1 -1.6 -2.6 2.4

One of the Marlins’ top priorities this offseason was to upgrade in center field, but options were few and far between in free agency, as well as in the trade market. Instead, they added a pair of impact corner outfield bats: García, a right fielder who could end up playing in center field fairly often, and Soler, a bad defensive right fielder who is best-suited for DH duties, but who will likely get most of his at-bats in left.

While the current outfield alignment could be ugly defensively, the Marlins should be able to produce a lot more runs as long as they get the second half (139 wRC+, 20 HR, 18.8% strikeout rate in 288 PA) and postseason versions (8-for-33, 3 HR, 3 2B) of Soler, and not the guy who looked more like a DFA candidate than a trade candidate in the first half (65 wRC+, 7 HR, 28% strikeout rate in 314 PA).

The lone Cuban player on Miami’s 40-man roster, Soler is only three seasons removed from leading the American League with 48 homers. And based on how he responded to a change of scenery in the middle of 2021, the 30-year-old could have another big year ahead of him.

While Jesús Aguilar and Cooper figure to get most of the at-bats at designated hitter, Soler should also get his fair share. When he does, expect Sánchez to play left field on most occasions, while Anderson, a third baseman, could also see time out there in order to get Joey Wendle’s bat in the lineup more often.

11. Dodgers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
AJ Pollock 490 .264 .320 .480 .338 8.4 0.1 -0.8 1.9
Chris Taylor 105 .247 .330 .430 .327 0.9 0.2 -0.8 0.3
Gavin Lux 63 .251 .328 .422 .323 0.3 0.0 -0.1 0.2
Kevin Pillar 21 .247 .284 .419 .300 -0.3 0.0 -0.0 0.0
Edwin Ríos 21 .220 .286 .446 .311 -0.1 -0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .259 .320 .465 .333 9.1 0.4 -1.8 2.3

Getting 422 plate appearances and a career-high 137 wRC+ in 2021 from the injury-plagued AJ Pollock was probably much more than the Dodgers could’ve hoped for, and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down. During his ages 32-33 seasons, Pollock had an .888 OPS with 37 homers and 36 doubles in 632 plate appearances.

Now, at age 34, keeping Pollock on the field could be a challenge for the Dodgers — he spent time on the IL twice in 2021 because of a strained hamstring — although they appear to be in good shape depth-wise with Taylor and non-roster invitee Pillar behind him, and Lux likely more prepared to spend some time in the outfield than he was last season.

12. Royals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Andrew Benintendi 560 .268 .335 .438 .333 6.4 -0.5 1.2 2.0
Hunter Dozier 98 .236 .308 .425 .315 -0.3 -0.2 -0.6 0.1
Edward Olivares 21 .258 .313 .424 .317 -0.0 -0.0 -0.1 0.0
Whit Merrifield 21 .281 .327 .410 .318 -0.0 0.1 0.1 0.1
Total 700 .264 .330 .434 .330 6.0 -0.5 0.6 2.2

Benintendi bounced back from a disappointing 2020, winning his first Gold Glove award while posting a 106 wRC+ with 17 homers and 27 doubles in his debut season with the Royals. That makes four solid seasons under his belt since entering the league as a 22-year-old in 2016.

The big question, however, is whether he is just a slightly above-average regular or is capable of kicking it up another notch or two. Proving the latter in his walk-year would put him near the top of the free agent outfielder list and in line for a potentially huge payday next offseason. It could also help propel an up-and-coming Royals team to their first winning season since they were World Series champs in 2015.

13. Braves
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Marcell Ozuna 462 .263 .337 .468 .344 7.3 -0.0 0.5 1.8
Eddie Rosario 119 .270 .311 .472 .331 0.6 0.0 -0.3 0.3
Guillermo Heredia 49 .226 .310 .354 .292 -1.3 -0.0 -0.2 -0.0
Alex Dickerson 35 .252 .320 .442 .326 0.0 -0.0 -0.1 0.1
Phil Gosselin 14 .244 .305 .362 .292 -0.4 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Orlando Arcia 14 .252 .309 .407 .308 -0.2 -0.0 0.1 0.0
Brock Holt 7 .242 .315 .340 .291 -0.2 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .261 .329 .455 .335 5.9 -0.1 -0.0 2.1

Ozuna, an MVP candidate during his first season with the Braves in 2020, should help boost a lineup that will likely be without Ronald Acuña Jr. until early May. Once Acuña is healthy enough to return to the outfield, the 31-year-old Ozuna could get a decent share of his at-bats as the designated hitter with Rosario, the MVP of the NLCS, getting starts in left.

While both Ozuna and Rosario have been above-average major league hitters for several years, it’s important to note that Ozuna was off to a terrible start (73 wRC+, 7 HR in 208 PA) before he was injured last season — and subsequently placed on administrative leave as the league investigated domestic violence allegations against him — and Rosario was having his worst season as a big leaguer (86 wRC+, 7 HR in 306 PA) when the Braves acquired him from Cleveland in late July.

14. Red Sox
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Alex Verdugo 336 .289 .351 .445 .341 5.0 0.3 1.1 1.4
Jarren Duran 140 .251 .307 .402 .307 -1.9 0.2 -0.1 0.2
Christian Arroyo 84 .249 .307 .421 .314 -0.6 0.0 0.3 0.2
Bobby Dalbec 63 .232 .306 .476 .331 0.4 -0.1 0.0 0.2
Rob Refsnyder 42 .249 .323 .391 .311 -0.4 -0.1 -0.0 0.0
J.D. Martinez 21 .271 .342 .490 .351 0.5 -0.1 -0.1 0.1
Enrique Hernández 14 .255 .333 .458 .339 0.2 0.0 0.1 0.1
Total 700 .268 .331 .435 .328 3.2 0.4 1.4 2.1

Verdugo will get the bulk of the playing time in left field, although it’s up in the air if he’ll have a platoon partner — he had a 138 wRC+ against right-handed pitchers but just a 48 wRC+ against left-handers in 2021 — at least on occasion.

With Martinez expected to play right field against left-handers, the right-handed hitting options for left field are currently Refsnyder, a non-roster invitee, and Arroyo, an infielder who has been getting in some work at the corner outfield spots since Trevor Story signed to be the Red Sox’s starting second baseman. Another option for later in the season is Dalbec, who could become a super-utilityman if first base prospect Triston Casas forces his way to the majors in 2022.

15. Cubs
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Ian Happ 427 .240 .340 .459 .344 7.4 0.1 -1.2 1.6
Clint Frazier 147 .235 .324 .428 .326 0.3 -0.3 -1.1 0.2
Michael Hermosillo 70 .227 .314 .422 .319 -0.3 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Rafael Ortega 28 .248 .321 .405 .315 -0.2 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Jason Heyward 14 .245 .323 .396 .313 -0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Seiya Suzuki 14 .287 .387 .534 .388 0.7 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .239 .334 .447 .337 7.9 -0.2 -2.2 2.1

Journeymen players picked up off the scrap heap (see Ortega, Rafael; Schwindel, Frank; and Wisdom, Patrick) weren’t the only second half bright spots for a disappointing 2021 Cubs team. Happ rebounded from a brutal first half (67 wRC+, 9 HR in 293 PA thru July 26) to post a .285/.364/.575 slash line with 16 homers, 12 doubles, and eight stolen bases over his final 242 plate appearances.

While Happ can play all over the diamond, it appears that left field is likely to be his most frequent home in 2022. But that’s also the case for Frazier, who has intriguing power potential, and Ortega, who slashed .321/.374/.526 with 11 homers and 14 doubles in 271 plate appearances versus right-handed pitching last season. There could be a lot of moving pieces, but these things usually work themselves out after an injury or two.

16. Tigers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Akil Baddoo 504 .253 .329 .435 .328 4.9 1.6 -1.5 1.7
Robbie Grossman 91 .241 .348 .403 .329 0.9 -0.1 -0.1 0.3
Eric Haase 63 .218 .278 .410 .295 -1.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Victor Reyes 35 .272 .309 .414 .310 -0.2 0.0 0.1 0.1
Willi Castro 7 .252 .301 .400 .302 -0.1 0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .250 .325 .427 .324 4.4 1.5 -1.6 2.1

After making a majority of his starts in center field as a Rule 5 pick in 2021, Baddoo is in line to be the primary left fielder and leadoff batter in his second big league season. As the 23-year-old looks to build on a surprisingly good rookie performance (.273/.346/.495; 13 HR, 19 2B in 353 PA vs RHP), he can quietly go about his business as the spotlight turns to Rookie of the Year candidates Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson.

Baddoo’s platoon partner will likely be Haase, another great story to come out of the 2021 season. Coming into the season with six hits and 20 strikeouts in 49 big league at-bats, Haase finished the year with 22 homers in 381 plate appearances while splitting time between catcher and left field.

17. Guardians
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Steven Kwan 329 .282 .345 .434 .337 5.6 -0.4 -0.6 1.2
Amed Rosario 259 .276 .316 .420 .317 0.0 0.5 -0.8 0.6
Oscar Mercado 84 .242 .310 .391 .305 -0.8 0.2 0.5 0.2
Josh Naylor 21 .266 .326 .448 .331 0.3 -0.0 -0.1 0.1
Owen Miller 7 .245 .297 .375 .293 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .274 .329 .424 .325 4.9 0.4 -1.0 2.1

After a fairly inactive offseason, the Guardians entered camp with a wide-open competition for both corner outfield spots that featured several flawed candidates. The player who had seemingly separated himself from the crowd was Naylor, but his availability for Opening Day is murky after fracturing his leg and ankle last July. Kwan, meanwhile, appears to have an edge on one of the starting spots, partly because he hadn’t had a chance to fail in the majors as the others had, but he’s also quite talented. Ranked as the No. 57 prospect in baseball by FanGraphs, he seems like a pretty safe bet to succeed. He doesn’t have much power, but he makes contact (.398 OBP, 6.7% strikeout rate in 120 Triple-A plate appearances) and is considered a very good defensive outfielder.

In all likelihood, Naylor will be the primary right fielder once he’s deemed ready — he made his spring debut in right field on Tuesday — leaving Kwan and possibly Mercado to get the majority of the at-bats in left.

A potential in-season scenario to keep an eye on, mostly due to the team’s bevy of close-to-the-majors middle infield talent, is a permanent move to the outfield for Rosario. Manager Terry Francona has said that Rosario will bounce between shortstop and left field, but a lot more outfield and a lot less infield seems probable by the second half of the season.

18. Pirates
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Ben Gamel 301 .245 .339 .384 .317 -0.8 -0.6 -0.9 0.4
Bryan Reynolds 182 .279 .363 .480 .359 5.8 -0.1 -1.2 0.9
Oneil Cruz 119 .274 .328 .506 .353 3.2 0.3 -0.1 0.6
Greg Allen 49 .249 .324 .366 .304 -0.7 0.1 0.2 0.1
Anthony Alford 35 .225 .304 .381 .298 -0.6 -0.0 -0.1 0.0
Michael Chavis 14 .242 .295 .437 .313 -0.1 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .258 .340 .430 .332 6.9 -0.4 -2.0 2.0

One of spring training’s more interesting developments was the announcement by Pirates’ manager Derek Shelton that Cruz will play some left field in 2022 in addition to shortstop; a few days later, he was starting in left in a spring game. This could delay his return to the big leagues (he had a two-game cup of coffee in 2021), especially if he’s going to be working on his outfield defense in Triple-A — he was officially optioned to the minors on Tuesday. Though his defense at short was deemed passable by our prospects team when they ranked as the No. 8 prospect in baseball, the Pirates could be accelerating a position change for the 6-foot-7 Cruz. In any case, they should have a better idea of how the 23-year-old will be utilized by the time he returns to the majors. Hopefully, that’s much sooner than later, because he’s fun to watch.

In the meantime, the Pirates have a perfectly reliable left fielder in Gamel, who posted a 113 wRC+ with seven homers and 13 doubles in 292 plate appearances against right-handers in 2021. He’ll sit versus lefties, likely in favor of Alford, Allen, or Chavis.

Along with Cruz, several Pirates’ outfield prospects have a chance to reach the majors in 2022, including Matt Fraizer, Canaan Smith-Njigbah, and Jack Suwinski. The best of the group could be center fielder Travis Swaggerty, a former first round pick who missed most of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery. If he can make his way to the big leagues, Reynolds would shift over to one of the corners.

19. Giants
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
LaMonte Wade Jr. 301 .240 .331 .426 .327 2.6 -0.3 -1.8 0.7
Austin Slater 175 .247 .335 .412 .325 1.2 0.6 0.5 0.6
Joc Pederson 147 .238 .317 .453 .329 1.5 -0.2 0.1 0.5
Thairo Estrada 28 .261 .314 .420 .316 -0.0 -0.0 -0.2 0.0
Darin Ruf 21 .245 .332 .438 .331 0.3 -0.0 -0.0 0.1
Heliot Ramos 14 .235 .292 .380 .292 -0.3 -0.0 -0.1 -0.0
Jaylin Davis 14 .225 .296 .409 .304 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .242 .327 .427 .326 5.2 0.1 -1.5 1.9

Most days when the Giants face off against a right-handed starting pitcher, the left fielder will be Wade, one of the Giants’ breakout stars from 2021 who was good for a 130 wRC+, 18 homers and 15 doubles in 339 plate appearances versus right-handers. He was terrible against left-handed starters (5-for-37, 2 BB, 14 K), but they don’t really have much reason to play him against southpaws, as Ruf (166 wRC+, 9 HR in 140 PA) and Slater (147 wRC+, 10 HR in 193 PA) are lefty destroyers. One of them will play left field when Wade sits.

Should Wade miss time due to injury — he is expected to begin the season on the IL due to knee inflammation and a bone bruise — or scuffle at the plate, Duggar would move into the lineup and Pederson would likely shift over from right field to left.

20. Orioles
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Austin Hays 427 .257 .306 .462 .327 2.9 -0.5 2.1 1.4
DJ Stewart 119 .223 .326 .421 .324 0.5 -0.1 -0.8 0.2
Yusniel Diaz 42 .205 .273 .350 .273 -1.6 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1
Ryan McKenna 28 .220 .305 .375 .298 -0.5 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Ryan Mountcastle 28 .263 .313 .478 .335 0.4 -0.0 -0.0 0.1
Tyler Nevin 28 .236 .304 .402 .306 -0.3 -0.0 -0.1 0.0
Kyle Stowers 14 .234 .308 .431 .317 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Trey Mancini 14 .265 .334 .461 .339 0.2 -0.0 -0.0 0.1
Total 700 .246 .308 .443 .322 1.6 -0.8 1.0 1.8

Overshadowed by an MVP candidate (Cedric Mullins), a Rookie of the Year candidate (Mountcastle), and the Comeback Player of the Year (Mancini), Hays quietly put together a pretty good season of his own in 2021.

After a pair of IL stints earlier in the season, Hays was finally able to stay on the field long enough to prove himself as an important part of the Orioles’ future. He slashed .314/.373/.606 with nine homers and nine doubles over his final 150 plate appearances despite requiring core repair surgery following the season.

While Hays has separated himself from any contenders at this point, Stewart could push him for playing time early, while prospects Diaz and Stowers could get a look later in the season.

21. Blue Jays
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. 539 .271 .315 .477 .336 6.2 -1.3 -0.6 1.7
Raimel Tapia 112 .270 .321 .392 .309 -1.2 0.3 -0.2 0.2
Dexter Fowler 35 .217 .311 .362 .297 -0.7 -0.0 -0.3 -0.0
Josh Palacios 14 .224 .298 .343 .283 -0.5 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .268 .315 .455 .328 3.8 -1.1 -1.1 1.8

A converted shortstop, Gurriel showed much improvement in left field last season — he was six runs above average by DRS, and had 12 outfield assists — while putting together an outstanding stretch at the plate that was sandwiched between a slow start and a poor finish.

After posting a 134 wRC+ in the shortened 2020 season, Gurriel regressed some with a 107 wRC+, 21 homers, and 28 doubles in 541 plate appearances. But throw out his first 125 plate appearances (27 wRC+) and an 0-for-16 to end the season, and Gurriel had a .315/.363/.538 slash line with 19 homers in 400 plate appearances.

Tapia, who is expected to spend time at all three outfield spots, could end up taking the most at-bats away from Gurriel, though he wasn’t acquired to compete with Gurriel for the left field job. A left-handed batter, he’s a perfect complement to their trio of right-handed hitting outfielders — Gurriel, George Springer, and Teoscar Hernandez — and should allow the Jays to rotate them in and out of the designated hitter spot in order to get them proper rest throughout the season.

22. Twins
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Alex Kirilloff 252 .269 .320 .455 .330 2.8 -0.4 0.2 0.8
Luis Arraez 154 .301 .364 .399 .333 2.2 -0.1 -0.0 0.6
Brent Rooker 140 .219 .307 .439 .320 0.4 -0.1 -1.1 0.2
Trevor Larnach 133 .227 .309 .386 .303 -1.4 -0.2 -0.5 0.1
Kyle Garlick 21 .231 .282 .450 .310 -0.1 -0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .257 .324 .427 .323 3.8 -0.8 -1.4 1.8

With only one spot up for grabs in the Twins’ lineup, Kirilloff appears to be the leading candidate for at-bats in left field, ahead of Larnach and Rooker. A scenario also exists where Jose Miranda, the team’s Minor League Player of the Year in 2021, forces his way into the lineup as the designated hitter and pushes the versatile Arraez to the outfield on a more regular basis.

After an 0-for-14 start to his big league career, Kirilloff slashed .269/.318/.483 with eight homers in 217 plate appearances while playing through a wrist injury that would eventually require season-ending surgery in July. While Larnach struggled to take advantage with Kirilloff out, Rooker had a strong finish to the season (a 110 wRC+ and eight homers in his final 179 PA), which should at least put him in position to play regularly versus left-handed starting pitchers in 2022.

23. Diamondbacks
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
David Peralta 518 .270 .331 .426 .325 0.3 -0.3 1.4 1.3
Cooper Hummel 84 .240 .349 .414 .334 0.7 -0.1 0.1 0.3
Jordan Luplow 42 .234 .335 .441 .336 0.4 -0.1 0.1 0.1
Jake McCarthy 35 .224 .293 .379 .292 -0.9 0.1 -0.1 -0.0
Daulton Varsho 21 .252 .323 .450 .330 0.1 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 700 .262 .331 .424 .326 0.6 -0.3 1.4 1.7

Peralta has made 577 starts in left field since breaking into the majors with the Diamondbacks in 2014. He won a Silver Slugger award in 2018 (130 wRC+, 30 HR) and a Gold Glove in ’19, but his numbers at the plate have declined in three consecutive seasons, making it unclear how much longer he can hold on to his starting job.

Regardless of his role, the 34-year-old Peralta figures to serve as a mentor to several young outfielders who are trying to take his job. Hummel, acquired in last year’s trade that sent Eduardo Escobar to the Milwaukee Brewers, and McCarthy are probably next in line after each put up huge numbers in Triple-A last season. The Diamondbacks’ top two prospects, Corbin Carroll and Alek Thomas, are also moving quickly, with both capable of making a push for the majors in 2022.

24. Angels
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Justin Upton 308 .222 .307 .421 .315 -0.6 -0.1 -3.2 0.3
Brandon Marsh 168 .245 .317 .375 .303 -1.9 0.2 1.1 0.3
Taylor Ward 98 .247 .335 .433 .332 1.2 -0.0 -0.6 0.3
Jo Adell 63 .240 .292 .445 .314 -0.2 -0.0 -0.3 0.1
Mike Trout 56 .273 .412 .566 .407 4.2 0.1 -0.2 0.5
Tyler Wade 7 .227 .302 .334 .281 -0.2 0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .237 .320 .423 .321 2.5 0.3 -3.2 1.6

Trout will be a corner outfielder at some point in his career, and while there was a decent chance that it could’ve happened as soon as Opening Day 2022, it sounds like the 30-year-old will remain in center field for the time being. That leaves Upton, a four-time All-Star, in a heated competition with Adell, Marsh, and Ward for at-bats.

Upton, who has struggled over the past three seasons, could be relegated to a platoon role. Despite some success versus lefties in 2020 and ’21, he has a 91 wRC+ over his last 784 plate appearances. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the 34-year-old begins the season as the starting left fielder, giving him one last chance to prove that he is still a capable slugger. But it also wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s not on the roster by mid-season if he doesn’t bounce back.

While it’s not clear who the Angels would prefer amongst the other left field candidates, all three have started at least one game at both corner spots this spring. Marsh, a plus defender who is expected to be the guy who eventually pushes Trout out of center, would give the Angels another lefty bat in the order to go with Shohei Ohtani and Jared Walsh. Adell, who has the highest offensive ceiling of the trio, was starting to look very comfortable at the plate at the end of last season (136 wRC+ in 65 PA). Ward, meanwhile, is a sneaky, under-the-radar candidate. A former first round draft pick, he began his pro career as a catcher before converting to third base and then the outfield. If he’s going to be more than a versatile bench player who mostly plays versus left-handed pitchers, this could be his best and final chance with the Angels.

25. Reds
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Tommy Pham 469 .252 .351 .421 .336 2.5 0.6 -0.9 1.3
Jake Fraley 126 .232 .329 .422 .325 -0.5 0.0 -0.6 0.2
Shogo Akiyama 56 .255 .325 .378 .308 -1.0 -0.2 -0.1 -0.0
Aristides Aquino 28 .224 .305 .464 .326 -0.1 -0.0 -0.0 0.1
Max Schrock 14 .252 .307 .395 .303 -0.3 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Brandon Drury 7 .234 .288 .396 .295 -0.2 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .247 .341 .418 .330 0.5 0.5 -1.6 1.5

The Reds are going from Jesse Winker, one of the most productive left fielders in baseball for the past few years, to Pham, who battled injuries and struggled at the plate in his two seasons with the Padres. He was, however, one of the better hitters in baseball for a two-month stretch in 2021 when he slashed .324/.425/.557 with nine homers and 10 stolen bases in 219 plate appearances. That wasn’t totally out of character for Pham, who posted similar numbers during his breakout season with the Cardinals in 2017 (.306/.411/.520 in 530 PA).

Even at age 34, Pham is likely capable of a third 20-20 season if he can stay healthy — he had 18 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 686 plate appearances between 2020-21. But with the Reds’ other outfield options, Pham will need to get off to a much better start than he did with the Padres (13-for-59 in 2020; 7-for-52 in ’21) or Jake Fraley and Aristides Aquino could begin to cut into his playing time.

26. Athletics
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Seth Brown 259 .229 .286 .443 .308 -0.5 -0.2 0.8 0.6
Stephen Piscotty 161 .237 .296 .399 .301 -1.3 -0.0 -0.6 0.2
Chad Pinder 147 .246 .306 .424 .314 0.4 -0.3 -0.2 0.3
Tony Kemp 70 .259 .354 .389 .328 1.0 -0.0 -0.3 0.2
Skye Bolt 21 .216 .288 .364 .284 -0.5 -0.0 0.2 0.0
Billy McKinney 14 .222 .304 .413 .309 -0.0 -0.0 0.1 0.0
Eric Thames 14 .217 .304 .406 .307 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Dalton Kelly 14 .217 .305 .374 .297 -0.2 0.0 0.1 0.0
Total 700 .236 .301 .419 .309 -1.2 -0.5 0.0 1.5

Pinder figures to get some of his super-utilityman at-bats in left field, while left-handed hitters Brown, McKinney, and Thames are all in the mix for playing time between the outfield, first base, and designated hitter. Brown, 29, had a 103 wRC+ and 20 homers in 307 plate appearances as a rookie in 2021. He’s also a capable defender, as is McKinney, who had some big moments during a wild season in which he played for the Brewers, Mets, and Dodgers. The 35-year-old Thames, who hit 72 homers for the Brewers from 2017-19, is probably better-suited to being a designated hitter at this point in his career.

Set to face off against the White Sox on Opening Day, the A’s are likely to pencil Brown in as the left fielder against either Lucas Giolito or Lance Lynn. Things will change in early May, however, when Ramón Laureano returns from serving an 80-game suspension that began last August.

Assuming that Cristian Pache holds down the center field job, pushing Laureano to right field, Piscotty would join the competition for at-bats in left field. But given his injury history and current health status — he underwent wrist surgery last August and is questionable for Opening Day due to shoulder discomfort — he’s a major question mark for 2022. He also hasn’t played left field since 2015 when he was still with the St. Louis Cardinals, and hasn’t really done much at the plate since his first year in Oakland back in 2018. Thus, his April performance could determine whether he has a role in what will likely be his final season with the A’s.

27. Rangers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Nick Solak 203 .258 .326 .402 .317 0.4 -0.0 -1.3 0.4
Willie Calhoun 189 .261 .323 .450 .331 2.6 -0.5 -1.7 0.5
Brad Miller 175 .233 .323 .444 .329 2.0 -0.3 -0.6 0.5
Eli White 63 .215 .290 .350 .282 -1.7 -0.1 0.1 -0.0
Charlie Culberson 49 .242 .292 .385 .292 -0.9 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Zach Reks 21 .230 .310 .398 .308 -0.1 -0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .247 .318 .419 .319 2.1 -0.9 -3.6 1.4

Miller (123 wRC+, 16 HR in 297 PA vs RHP in 2021) is expected to get a majority of his starts in left field, although that might change if Solak can show that he’s much closer to what he was during his impressive debut in 2019 (126 wRC+, 5 HR, 6 2B in 135 PAs) than what he has been over the past two seasons (89 wRC+ in 744 PAs). Miller could also be needed more at third base if Andy Ibañez struggles to hold down the job, which could open the door for White or Reks to get an extended look in the outfield. How often Calhoun starts in left will depend on how often Miller plays a different position and how often the Rangers utilize the designated hitter spot to rest the lineup regulars.

If 23-year-old center fielder Leody Taveras, who will begin the season in Triple-A after a dismal performance in 2021 (.161/.207/.270 in 185 PA), can somehow make his way back to the big leagues, Adolis García would likely shift over to left field. Of course, at this moment, there is still an opportunity to add another big bat to the revamped Rangers’ lineup. Michael Conforto remains the lone free agent who could be a difference-maker. The Rangers are one of a few teams who appear to be a fit, although the signing of seven free agents this offseason has already added nearly $100 million to this year’s payroll.

28. Rockies
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Kris Bryant 448 .266 .355 .474 .355 5.0 0.8 -3.9 1.2
Connor Joe 98 .259 .354 .444 .346 0.4 -0.1 0.3 0.3
Yonathan Daza 70 .276 .320 .385 .307 -2.0 -0.1 0.4 -0.0
Ryan Vilade 42 .258 .309 .381 .299 -1.5 -0.0 0.1 -0.0
Randal Grichuk 21 .256 .301 .475 .329 -0.2 -0.0 -0.2 0.0
Garrett Hampson 21 .247 .304 .395 .302 -0.7 0.1 -0.1 -0.0
Total 700 .264 .346 .452 .343 1.0 0.6 -3.4 1.4

Even before the Rockies signed third baseman Ryan McMahon to a contract extension, they made it clear that Bryant was going to be their left fielder. Similar to Gallo with the Yankees, Bryant’s defensive versatility – he can play both infield and outfield corners – is more of a luxury than a necessity with his new team. Thus, the 30-year-old can focus most of his energy on hitting. And hitting in Colorado seems like a whole lot of fun.

Aside from one bad injury-marred season in 2020 (75 wRC+, 4 HR in 147 PA), Bryant’s been one of the most productive hitters in baseball since entering the league in 2015. Interestingly, his career numbers at Coors Field aren’t all that great (.263/.354/.404; 2 HR in 65 PA), but given the limited sample, he’ll probably be just fine.

It remains to be seen if Bryant will play third base on days when McMahon (68 wRC+ vs LHP in 2021) sits. When Bryant does move to the infield, takes a day off, or is penciled in as the designated hitter, Joe is the leading candidate to take his spot in the outfield. The 29-year-old had a 116 wRC+ and eight homers in 211 plate appearances for the Rockies in 2021, playing left field and leading off for a long stretch before suffering a season-ending hamstring injury.

29. Padres
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jurickson Profar 364 .241 .328 .386 .313 -0.8 0.3 -1.9 0.6
Matt Beaty 147 .256 .328 .407 .320 0.5 -0.1 -0.9 0.3
Jorge Alfaro 70 .242 .290 .381 .291 -1.4 -0.1 -0.5 -0.0
Nomar Mazara 56 .243 .303 .407 .306 -0.5 -0.1 -0.2 0.1
Wil Myers 35 .240 .318 .424 .320 0.1 -0.0 -0.2 0.1
Trayce Thompson 28 .197 .274 .382 .285 -0.7 -0.0 -0.2 -0.0
Total 700 .243 .320 .393 .311 -2.8 0.1 -3.8 0.9

After a 4-for-41 start to his Padres’ career in 2020, Profar became an integral part of an exciting and talented San Diego offense. He slashed .331/.375/.504 over his final 153 plate appearances and was rewarded with a three-year contract extension after the season. But he was never able to regain that form in 2021, and without the universal DH, he wasn’t able to play often enough to get into a groove. While the expectation throughout the offseason had been that Profar would continue in a part-time super-utility role as the Padres looked to upgrade in left field, those upgrades didn’t come.

It’s possible the Padres believe that if he’s given consistent at-bats, Profar can become the catalyst he was during the 2020 season. But just in case, on Monday they acquired one more option from the division-rival Los Angeles Dodgers. Beaty, who had a .114 wRC+ in 234 plate appearances, gives the team another left-handed hitting option at first base and both corner outfield spots. While he’s likely to come off the bench most of the time, he could be the next man up in left field if Profar starts slowly.

30. Nationals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Lane Thomas 280 .237 .320 .420 .320 -1.0 -0.3 0.5 0.5
Yadiel Hernandez 196 .262 .323 .435 .325 0.2 -0.4 -1.2 0.3
Andrew Stevenson 140 .251 .309 .384 .301 -2.7 -0.1 -0.5 -0.0
Donovan Casey 56 .221 .271 .367 .276 -2.2 0.0 -0.2 -0.1
Dee Strange-Gordon 14 .257 .287 .347 .276 -0.6 0.0 -0.1 -0.0
Ehire Adrianza 14 .245 .317 .381 .304 -0.2 -0.0 -0.1 -0.0
Total 700 .246 .314 .410 .313 -6.6 -0.7 -1.6 0.7

Buried on the outfield depth chart in St. Louis, Thomas was traded to the Nationals for Jon Lester in late July of 2021 and was promptly sent to Triple-A. But he got an opportunity a couple of weeks later and took full advantage, with multiple hits in his first four starts. He finished with a 127 wRC+, seven homers, 14 doubles, and four stolen bases in 206 plate appearances and would end the season as the Nationals’ starting center fielder, taking over for the struggling Victor Robles. It was a small sample, but he’s put himself in a strong position to claim one of the starting outfield spots to begin the 2022 season.

Robles remains a question mark, so the late-season emergence of Thomas gives them some insurance in center field. And since the 24-year-old Robles, who was an important part of the World Series champion squad as a rookie in 2019, will probably get a chance to prove himself early in the season, Thomas could spend that time competing for playing time in left field against lefty batters Hernandez and Stevenson.

As a 34-year-old rookie in 2021, Hernandez slashed .282/.337/.452 with seven homers in 193 plate appearances once he was given a chance to play regularly in late July. Stevenson, a former second round draft pick, has spent time in the majors in each of the past five seasons. While he’s shown flashes of hitting ability at times, his numbers were disappointing (69 wRC+, 13 BB, 61 K) when given a career-high 213 plate appearances in 2021. At age 27 and with limited opportunities thus far, his window to become a big league regular is still open.





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mariodegenzgz
7 months ago

Gallo’s approach went from patient to dangerously passive with the Yankees, and since he’s always right on the line where his strikeouts make it difficult to be productive, any slight slump there makes him a negative at the plate. He needs to take a page out of Max Muncy’s book and be a bit more aggressive with good strikes, especially against good pitchers, or they’ll eat him for breakfast when the big games in September and October roll around.

steveo
7 months ago
Reply to  mariodegenzgz

Totally agree. As someone who watched every Gallo plate appearance I was shocked to see him not only watch a bunch of hittable pitches go by, but also swing and miss at good pitches to hit in the zone. I also think he was pressing a bit with him being the major acquisition for a team in a pennant race. With his strength, he could hit 50 HR in Yankee Stadium. The short porch feels 100 feet away when Gallo is at the plate. The issue is he doesn’t make contact.

CC AFCmember
7 months ago
Reply to  steveo

How is that shocking, though? Taking a lot of pitches and swinging and missing have always been Gallo’s MO. All of it was in line with his career norms. It all just looks like a typical Gallo slump that got blown out of proportion because it was his only sample as a Yankee.

steveo
7 months ago
Reply to  CC AFC

I knew he had swing and miss but I didn’t think he’d miss so many cookies down the middle of the plate. Not even great velocity either, but like a 93 mph fastball down the middle. You don’t expect a 40 HR hitter to have such a big hole in his swing. He’s still a good hitter for sure, but I expected him to do more damage in the zone.

I do agree about the slump being blown out of proportion. He hit .160 and he’s a .200 hitter. That’s a difference of two hits a week. He also had a good september.

Last edited 7 months ago by steveo
mariodegenzgz
7 months ago
Reply to  CC AFC

His swing rate dropped as a Yankee overall. His first pitch swing rate went from 30% to 24%, he looked at more called strikes and overall looked passive at the plate. Gallo has always taken lots of pitches, but he looked more like a Daniel Vogelbach than a Max Muncy as a Yankee, someone who almost auto-takes on pitches that aren’t middle-middle at times, and even some of those as well.

Gallo will always be a vulnerable hitter in small samples because he simply does not do any of the small things that help a team score runs (scoring runners from third, advancing them, etc) aside from seeing lots of pitches. He’s the quintessential large sample size hitter: over 162, the walks and the homers pile up and make him productive. But if he K’s 35% of the time against regular season competition, how do you think he’s gonna do in October when he’s facing superior pitchers on average? If you want my guess, not very well.

steveo
7 months ago
Reply to  mariodegenzgz

I think it’s unfair to say he won’t do very well in the playoffs. In fact, he might fare better in the playoffs since MORE runs are scored by the HR in the playoffs than in the regular season since it’s harder to string 3-4 hits together against playoff caliber pitching. A ton of runs in the playoffs are scored off of mistake pitches. It’s much easier for Gallo to hit a mistake pitch out than your average hitter. But really, his playoff career is basically nonexistent and when it does get going it’s still going to be too small of a sample to make any sweeping generalizations.

sbf21member
7 months ago
Reply to  mariodegenzgz

Gallo whiffed 88 times in 188 AB and 228 PA with the Yankees. That’s 47% and 39%. Simply unacceptable by a large margin. And Stanton played and hit much better when he was in the field. I’d rather see him take most of the playing time in left.

CC AFCmember
7 months ago
Reply to  sbf21

That’s 2% off his career rate (37%). Take away 4 and he would have been below his career rate. It’s nothing. At all. Well within the normal variance you would expect to see in that sample size. Good gravy. I feel like this is the WFAN call in line.

Last edited 7 months ago by CC AFC
Dmjn53
7 months ago
Reply to  sbf21

Well the 47% is just a fake number, because you would never divide at-bats by Ks