2022 Positional Power Rankings: Right Field

© Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday Jason Martinez and Jon Tayler previewed left and center field. Now we round out the outfield positions in right.

Last year was a banner one for right fielders. For starters, Bryce Harper and Juan Soto finished first and second in National League MVP voting, that after ranking first and third in the majors in wRC+, and finishing in a virtual tie for third in WAR. Aaron Judge and Kyle Tucker both ranked among the majors’ top seven hitters by wRC+ as well, with the former cracking the top 10 in WAR, too. Seven of the top 30 qualified hitters by wRC+ were right fielders, even with Mookie Betts grinding through a comparatively subpar season where he was beset by a bone spur in his hip and Ronald Acuña Jr. falling short of qualifying due to a torn ACL that ended his season in July, perhaps costing him the NL MVP award. Meanwhile, Nick Castellanos, who ranked 13th in the majors in wRC+, was one of seven position players to net a $100 million free agent contract this winter, though he’s bound for more DH and left field duty with the Phillies.

Aside from first base, right field has been the heaviest-hitting position in recent years, even while withstanding the moves off the position by MVP winners Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich. Last year’s collective 109 wRC+ was second only to the first basemen’s 114, and was the position’s highest mark since 2017, up three points from the pandemic-shortened season and up one point from ’19, the last 162-game season and the only one in the past 20 years in which any position has outhit first basemen.

Right field has its share of young talent, with Tucker heading into his age-25 season, and both Soto and Dylan Carlson their age-23 seasons (Acuña, who’s heading into his age-24 season, won’t be back until late April and will probably play more center field than right if his health permits). Of the top 10 in the rankings below, all but Mitch Haniger and Starling Marte are in their age-30 seasons or younger; that list includes Japanese newcomer Seiya Suzuki, a 27-year-old slugger who signed with the Cubs. The youth movement at the position could include part-time right field work from the Rays’ 27-year-old Randy Arozarena, last year’s AL Rookie of the Year, as well as the Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez and the Tigers’ Riley Greene, the number four and six prospects on our Top 100, and both playing in their age-21 seasons. Further down the list, 2020 number four prospect Jo Adell, who’s still just 23, is trying to build on last year’s gains to secure a full-time job.

It’s worth noting that given the lockout-shortened spring training, a lot of teams’ playing time plans are still in flux at this writing, a situation that’s complicated by the fluidity across the outfield positions. We’ve done our best to identify the principal players, but still expect more clarity in the coming days and weeks.

2022 Positional Power Rankings – RF
1. Nationals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Juan Soto 630 .313 .458 .588 .435 57.7 -0.7 -0.1 7.1
Andrew Stevenson 42 .251 .309 .384 .301 -0.8 -0.0 -0.1 -0.0
Gerardo Parra 21 .232 .296 .353 .284 -0.7 -0.1 0.0 -0.0
Lane Thomas 7 .237 .320 .421 .320 -0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .305 .443 .564 .421 56.2 -0.8 -0.2 7.1

At 23 years old, Soto already looks like an all-time great in the making. After becoming the youngest NL batting champion (and slash-stat triple crown winner) during the pandemic-shortened season, he assembled an MVP-caliber campaign in 2021, hitting .313/.465/.534 with 29 homers and making his first All-Star team. His on-base percentage and jaw-dropping 145 walks led the National League, with the latter the highest total by anyone not named Barry Bonds since 1999. Meanwhile, Soto’s 163 wRC+ and 6.6 WAR both placed second in the NL, and it was no fluke; over the past three seasons, his 159 wRC+ is the majors’ highest mark by 13 points. The scary thing is that the players who hit as well as he has through age 22 have generally improved and the projections suggest he will as well; that’s a forecast for a 172 wRC+ above. Buy popcorn and watch.

As Soto has missed time due to injuries or illness in the past three seasons, the identity of his backup isn’t entirely trivial. Nor are the options inspiring, as Stevenson hit for a 69 wRC+ in 213 PA last year, and Parra a 73 wRC+ in 107 PA. Thomas, who’s slated to be the Natinoals’ starting left fielder, flourished after being acquired from the Cardinals in a deadline deal for Jon Lester, hitting .270/.364/.489 (127 wRC+) post-trade.

2. Yankees
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Aaron Judge 630 .275 .369 .539 .384 35.6 -0.2 7.4 5.8
Tim Locastro 35 .242 .325 .376 .310 -0.1 0.1 -0.1 0.1
Joey Gallo 21 .207 .348 .496 .358 0.7 0.0 0.1 0.1
Estevan Florial 14 .215 .288 .384 .292 -0.3 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .270 .365 .526 .377 35.9 -0.1 7.5 6.0

Judge put together his best and most complete campaign since his 2017 rookie season, launching 39 homers to go with a .287/.373/.544/ line (148 wRC+) and 5.5 WAR. The 6-foot-7 bruiser continued to punish the ball, leading the majors in average exit velo (95.8 mph) and hard-hit rate (58.4%), and placing in the 96th percentile with his 17.6% barrel rate. And again, he played strong defense (11 DRS, 3.4 UZR). His only trip to the injured list was for a COVID-19 infection, which raises an uncomfortable point: he’s deflected all questioning about his vaccination status, raising the possibility that he could miss the Yankees’ nine games in Toronto so long as the Canadian government bars the entry of unvaccinated players. The reckoning on that subject begins with the Yankees’ May 2-4 visit.

Locastro is speedster who set a major league record with 29 straight steals to start his career, though the fact that his streak spanned from 2017-21 hints at his limitations with the bat; he owns just an 82 wRC+ for his career, and didn’t even approach that last year. Adding injuries to insult, he missed time last year first due to a dislocated left pinkie and then a torn right ACL. Gallo, the starting left fielder, has 29 DRS and 11.7 UZR in 161 career games in right; he could switch corners when the Yankees deploy their “Jumbo Package” with Judge in center and Giancarlo Stanton in left. Florial, once a heralded center field prospect, struggled in his first taste of the upper minors but hit .300/.440/.550 in all of 25 major league plate appearances.

3. Dodgers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Mookie Betts 630 .279 .374 .505 .374 29.5 1.8 8.9 5.4
Kevin Pillar 42 .247 .284 .419 .300 -0.6 0.0 -0.0 0.0
Chris Taylor 28 .247 .330 .430 .327 0.2 0.1 -0.2 0.1
Total 700 .276 .366 .497 .368 29.1 1.8 8.7 5.5

After leading the Dodgers to a championship in his first year in blue, Betts battled through a bone spur in his right hip (as well as more minor aches and pains) to hit .264/.367/.487 (131 wRC+) with 23 homers, 10 steals and 3.9 WAR in 122 games. That’s a good season for anyone else, but a down year for the perennial MVP candidate who averaged 7.7 WAR from 2016-19 and was on pace for a similar mark in ’20. Though the Dodgers got the situation under control late in the year, it bears noting that he hit for a season-low 100 wRC+ in 131 PA in September — with worse-than-usual quality of contact numbers — in what was otherwise his healthiest month. He’s been deemed fully healthy but did not undergo surgery to remove the spur. Hmm.

Pillar, a non-roster invitee, hit a hacktastic .231/.277/.415 (90 wRC+) in 347 PA with the Mets last year, even scuffling against lefties (83 wRC+ in 125 PA). As backups go, he’s one of them. Taylor, the Dodgers’ Zobristian superutilityman, was en route to a stellar campaign before falling into a slump, as he hit for just a 41 wRC+ from August 10 onward. It turns out he was playing through a pinched nerve in his neck, and dealing with bone chips in his right elbow as well; he recently revealed that he’d undergone surgery to address the latter matter. He’s got 11 games of experience in right field but could build on that in a lineup chock full of moving parts.

4. Astros
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Kyle Tucker 630 .283 .351 .533 .372 30.6 1.7 3.1 5.0
Jose Siri 28 .229 .279 .399 .291 -0.5 0.1 -0.2 -0.0
Chas McCormick 21 .236 .312 .393 .307 -0.1 -0.0 0.2 0.1
Lewis Brinson 14 .218 .270 .363 .275 -0.4 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Jake Meyers 7 .246 .308 .421 .314 0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .277 .345 .519 .364 29.6 1.7 3.1 5.1

Tucker’s 30-homer 2021 performance is worth calling a breakout if only because his strong showing in the pandemic-shortened season might have slipped below the radar. The 24-year-old thumper slugged .557, third in the American League behind only Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Shoehei Ohtani, while his 147 wRC+ ranked fourth. His exit velo, as well as his barrel and hard-hit rates all ranked in the 78th-85th percentile range, and he combined that with an impressively low 15.9% strikeout rate, putting him in the company of Guerrero, Soto, Freddie Freeman, and José Ramírez as the only players with strikeout rates below 16% and slugging percentages of at least .500. Throw in a 14-for-16 showing in stolen bases and 11 DRS in the field and you’ve got a 25-year-old star in the making who could eventually supplant Judge as the AL’s top right fielder.

Siri hit a sizzling .304/.347/.609 in 49 PA late last season, a stretch far beyond what the projections or scouting reports suggest. The 26-year-old righty is a free swinger who strikes out well over 30% of the time, limiting the impact of his above-average power, though his plus speed and throwing arm give him utility as a bench piece. Despite striking out 32.5% of the time himself, McCormick hit .257/.319/.447 (109 wRC+) as a 26-year-old rookie while playing all three outfield positions, across which he produced an eye-opening 14 DRS in less than 700 innings. He’ll reprise that fourth-outfielder role this year.

5. Phillies
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Bryce Harper 651 .271 .399 .540 .393 37.3 -0.9 -1.8 4.9
Nick Castellanos 35 .278 .335 .515 .357 1.0 -0.0 -0.3 0.1
Mickey Moniak 14 .221 .277 .397 .286 -0.4 0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .270 .394 .535 .389 37.8 -0.9 -2.1 5.1

Harper claimed his second NL MVP award by doing the heavy lifting for a contender. His 170 wRC+ and .615 SLG led the NL, while his .429 OBP, 16.7% walk rate, and 6.6 WAR ranked second (the last tied with Soto), his .309 AVG third, and his 35 homers sixth. He flat-out scalded the ball, placing in the 97th percentile with his 18.1% barrel rate and in the 91st or above in other contact-related stats; his x-stats were dead ringers for his actual ones. His -6 DRS and -6 OAA were both his lowest marks in three years in Philly (his 2.0 UZR was better) but nowhere near some of his dreadful marks in Washington. All told, he’s been worth every penny the Phillies have paid him thus far and then some; it’s not his fault they can’t get over the hump.

Castellanos, the Phillies’ biggest offseason expenditure, is coming off the best year of his career with the bat (.309/.362/.576, 34 HR, 140 wRC+) thanks in part to a career-low 20.7% strikeout rate. Whether he or Kyle Schwarber plays left field while the other DHs, the team’s outfield corner defense should be “adventurous.” Moniak scuffled at Triple-A save for a power boost, and struck out 43.2% in his 37-PA major league trial; he’ll get some playing time as a defensive replacement and pinch-runner, not exactly a great outcome for the 2016 draft’s first pick.

6. Cubs
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Seiya Suzuki 497 .287 .387 .534 .388 26.4 -0.8 0.0 3.7
Jason Heyward 119 .245 .323 .396 .313 -1.0 0.1 0.4 0.2
Clint Frazier 56 .235 .324 .428 .326 0.1 -0.1 -0.4 0.1
Michael Hermosillo 28 .227 .314 .422 .319 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .273 .368 .497 .367 25.4 -0.7 0.0 4.0

Suzuki, the latest high-profile player to sign out of Japan, is a 27-year-old slugger who hit .317/.443/.639 with 38 homers and just a 16.3% strikeout rate for Hiroshima last year. He’s a disciplined hitter with a compact swing, excellent plate coverage, and plus power, though there’s concern about how he’ll fare against the higher velocities presented by MLB fastballs. Defensively, he shows a plus arm as well as good instincts and range. The Steamer-based projection above is more optimistic than his ZiPS projection (.287/.350.484, 119 OPS+, 2.6 WAR), but he should be a productive above-average-to-star-level player.

Suzuki’s arrival bumps Heyward into a role that will include significant time against righties in center field, a position he hasn’t played since 2019, which rates as a concern but not a major one. Of bigger concern is his bat, as last year’s offensive numbers (.214/.280/.347, 68 wRC+) were across-the-board worsts for his time in Chicago, with almost no platoon split, though his three-year splits (106 wRC+ against righties, 53 wRC+ against lefties) are still worth noting. Frazier is trying to resurrect his career after yet another concussion, a late-2020 one that he hid from the Yankees. His 160-PA, .267/.394/.511 performance that year — with defensive metrics that netted him a Gold Glove — illustrates his upside, but at 27 years old, the question is whether he can recapture that promise given his injury history. Hermosillo has struggled mightily in his major league trials but still projects as a useful reserve.

7. Mariners
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Mitch Haniger 385 .247 .320 .466 .335 8.0 -0.5 -0.2 1.6
Julio Rodríguez 280 .277 .341 .463 .345 8.2 0.3 4.0 1.9
Taylor Trammell 14 .206 .292 .360 .287 -0.3 -0.0 0.1 0.0
Dylan Moore 14 .209 .296 .373 .294 -0.2 0.0 -0.0 0.0
Steven Souza Jr. 7 .204 .289 .380 .291 -0.1 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .257 .327 .460 .337 15.6 -0.2 3.8 3.6

After missing most of 2019 and all of ’20 due to a gruesome variety of injuries — a ruptured testicle, back trouble, a sports hernia, and a microdiscectomy — Haniger made a solid return, bashing a career-high 39 homers with a 120 wRC+ in 157 games. He set career bests in both barrel rate (12.6%) and hard-hit rate (44.7%), but did show some rust, chasing too many pitches out of the zone en route to a career-worst 13.1% swinging strike rate and just a 7.8% walk rate. His defense suffered as well (-3 DRS, -1.9 UZR, -7 OAA). With a normal offseason instead of an endless series of rehabs, hopefully the 31-year-old slugger can shore things up and approach his 2018 All-Star form.

The 21-year-old, 6-foot-4 Rodríguez, the number four prospect on our Top 100, offers a tantalizing five-tool package that features the promise of plus-plus power and All-Star to MVP potential. He hit a sizzling .347/.441/.560 in High- and Double-A last year, shoring up his vulnerability to sliders; in 206 PA at Double-A, he walked 14.1% of the time, with just an 18.0% strikeout rate. With Kyle Lewis dealing with yet another knee injury, Rodríguez is getting a long look as a center fielder this spring; the question is whether he’ll make the Opening Day roster or merely come up later in April. When he’s in right, Haniger figures to DH. Trammell was absolutely overwhelmed in his 51-game 2021 trial (42.1% strikeout rate, 73 wRC+); much would have to go wrong for him to get a similarly long look in this organization. Moore, a superutilityman who struggled last year after a strong 2020, could get scraps of playing time here.

8. Twins
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Max Kepler 532 .237 .328 .455 .335 8.2 0.5 5.7 2.7
Alex Kirilloff 91 .269 .320 .455 .330 1.0 -0.2 0.1 0.3
Jake Cave 42 .237 .300 .395 .301 -0.5 -0.0 -0.2 0.0
Brent Rooker 28 .219 .307 .439 .320 0.1 -0.0 -0.2 0.0
Gilberto Celestino 7 .238 .302 .373 .295 -0.1 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .240 .324 .450 .331 8.6 0.2 5.3 3.1

Kepler continued to backslide from his 2019 breakout, at least in terms of results, as he hit just .211/.306/.413 for a 95 wRC+, the last his lowest mark since 2017. However, a closer look shows that he was hitting the ball harder than ever, with career bests in barrel rate (10.8%), hard-hit rate (42.5%) and exit velo (89.8 mph). His .255 xAVG and .452 xSLG both exactly matched his 2019 numbers, but that year he exceeded the latter by 67 points whereas this time around he fell 39 shy. His big problem was a .221 BABIP against infield shifts, 24 points lower than in 2019, and the third-lowest mark of the 67 lefties with at least 200 PA against such shifts. Strong defense (5.4 UZR, 8 OAA, 9 DRS) did bolster his value.

Falling far short of Statcast x-stats was a problem that befell Kirilloff, Cave, and Rooker as well. Kirilloff, a top-20 prospect entering last season, had his rookie year wrecked by a torn ligament in his right wrist, though his .291 xBA and .541 xSLG indicate that he too hit the ball much harder than his final numbers would suggest. He’ll split time between first base, DH, and the outfield corners. Rooker hit the ball hard as well, as his 91.0 mph exit velo and 12.6% barrel rate attest, but a 32.9% strikeout rate undercut that. Cave struck out even more often (34.8%) and didn’t even make good contact, sinking to a 49 wRC+.

9. Mets
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Starling Marte 434 .271 .333 .425 .327 5.5 2.3 -0.1 1.7
Jeff McNeil 98 .281 .346 .430 .336 2.0 -0.1 -0.2 0.4
Brandon Nimmo 70 .258 .379 .430 .355 2.5 -0.1 -0.4 0.4
Mark Canha 56 .235 .352 .413 .336 1.1 -0.0 -0.3 0.2
Dominic Smith 35 .254 .315 .422 .317 0.1 -0.1 -0.2 0.1
Khalil Lee 7 .209 .316 .355 .299 -0.1 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .267 .340 .425 .331 11.2 2.0 -1.3 2.8

At 32 years old, Marte had a career year, hitting .310/.383/.458 (134 wRC+) with 5.5 WAR; all of those numbers were personal bests save for his AVG and SLG, which missed only by a couple points. Improved selectivity led to a career-best 8.2% walk rate, and countering the prevailing trend, he hit the ball on the ground more often than ever. His 33-point gap between his average and .277 xAVG was the majors’ sixth-largest among players with at least 400 PA; he finished with the majors’ sixth-highest batting average, as well as a big league-leading 47 steals in jut 52 attempts. His performance leaves plenty of room for regression over the life of his four-year, $78 million deal, but moving out of center field, where his numbers have been subpar for years, should help.

After so many years of exceeding expectations, McNeil fell far short of them in 2021. His wOBA against fastballs dropped from .399 to .295, and he fell off even further (from .453 to .286) against offspeed stuff; he set a career high with a 46.6% groundball rate and slugged just .360. He hasn’t played right field since 2020, and is slated mainly to play second base. Nimmo, the starting center fielder, had another frustratingly incomplete campaign, as a bone bruise in his left hand and a right hamstring strain limited him to just 92 games. Despite modest contact numbers, his 14% walk rate boosted him to a .401 OBP and a 137 wRC+. Canha, the regular left fielder, saw his power and batting average fall off relative to 2020, but his disciplined approach and 12% walk rate still helped him to a 115 wRC+. Smith’s performance fell off from 2020 to an even greater extreme — his .253-point drop in SLG (from .616 to .363) was the major’s second-largest — while playing through a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder; he has just four innings of experience in right field.

10. Cardinals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Dylan Carlson 539 .259 .336 .443 .335 8.7 -0.6 1.7 2.2
Lars Nootbaar 63 .249 .323 .405 .314 -0.1 -0.1 0.4 0.2
Tommy Edman 56 .271 .321 .408 .315 -0.0 0.3 0.3 0.2
Corey Dickerson 42 .266 .312 .424 .315 -0.0 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .259 .333 .436 .330 8.6 -0.5 2.4 2.6

Carlson, who entered last season as our number 16 prospect overall, turned in a very solid rookie campaign at age 22 despite meager Statcast numbers, including a 7% barrel rate (35th percentile) and a 31.1% hard-hit rate (9th percentile). He punished fastballs, slugging .498 against them while collecting 15 of his 18 homers via four- and two-seamers, and his disciplined approach helped him to a 9.2% walk rate. He was playable in center field while filling in for the injured Harrison Bader, and above-average in right.

Nootbaar — that name is just designed to put a smile on one’s face — had a decent (if abbreviated) rookie season himself, recovering from a slow start and a demotion to Triple-A to hit .239/.317/.422 (101 wRC+). He’ll be in the mix for playing time at all three outfield spots as well as DH; either he or Dickerson, who’s onto his fifth team in four seasons, can serve as the left-handed complement to the recently returned Albert Pujols at DH. Edman won a Gold Glove at second base while also spotting in right field; with Matt Carpenter now gone but Nolan Gorman on the way, he’ll probably do more of the same.

11. Athletics
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Ramón Laureano 434 .253 .326 .462 .337 9.5 0.7 2.0 2.2
Stephen Piscotty 161 .237 .296 .399 .301 -1.3 -0.0 -0.6 0.2
Seth Brown 49 .229 .286 .443 .308 -0.1 -0.0 0.1 0.1
Chad Pinder 35 .246 .306 .424 .314 0.1 -0.1 -0.0 0.1
Luis Barrera 14 .232 .289 .339 .275 -0.4 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Cody Thomas 7 .207 .272 .395 .287 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .246 .314 .441 .324 7.6 0.6 1.5 2.6

Laureano will miss the first 27 games of the season due to an 80-game PED suspension that carried over from last August. Before being sidelined, he was chasing more pitches out of the zone than ever, but also barreling the ball with greater consistency (10.7%), though his overall contact stats were unremarkable. He’s only played 21 career games in right field, but could find regular duty there if Cristian Pache — an elite flychaser acquired from Atlanta in the Matt Olson trade — shows enough on the offensive side to secure center field in Laureano’s absence.

If Laureano does wind up in center, the lefty-swinging Brown and righties Piscotty and Pinder figure to mix and match in the outfield corners. Piscotty has been beset by injuries in recent years, with a left wrist sprain costing him over two months last season. He hit just .220/.282/.353 (78 wRC+), his third year in a row with a wRC+ below 100; platoon-wise, he owns a 115 wRC+ in 243 PA against lefties over the past three seasons, but just a 70 mark in 509 PA against righties. Pinder, who plays all over the diamond, owns a 112 wRC+ in 319 PA against lefties over the past three seasons but just a 72 mark in 345 PA against righties. Brown homered 20 times in 307 PA as a 28-year-old rookie; he’s got a 112 wRC+ against righties in 355 PA but a 31 mark in 40 PA against lefties.

12. Rays
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Manuel Margot 308 .254 .316 .403 .310 0.4 0.0 1.8 0.9
Randy Arozarena 168 .256 .339 .450 .339 4.2 -0.1 -0.7 0.7
Brett Phillips 147 .191 .290 .364 .287 -2.6 0.7 2.0 0.4
Harold Ramirez 35 .276 .316 .430 .320 0.3 -0.0 -0.3 0.1
Austin Meadows 21 .252 .329 .482 .343 0.6 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Brandon Lowe 14 .246 .333 .500 .353 0.5 0.0 -0.0 0.1
Josh Lowe 7 .238 .314 .414 .315 0.0 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .243 .317 .412 .315 3.5 0.6 2.8 2.3

Margot more or less repeated his modest performance from 2020 last season, hitting for a 95 wRC+ with 10 homers, 13 steals and 1.4 WAR, though those numbers paper over a 36-point year-to-year drop in BABIP and a 45-point gain in ISO. He increased his average launch angle from 7.5 degrees to 10.7, and set a personal best with a 5.1% barrel rate, though the latter still placed in just the 20th percentile. He led all right fielders with 9 OAA, and had a respectable 6 DRS as well.

Arozarena split his official rookie season between the two outfield corners, with 69 starts in left and 48 in right. Shockingly, he could not sustain his breakneck home run pace from late 2020, merely going yard 20 times while hitting .274/.356/.459 (128 wRC+), a respectable season that helped him garner AL Rookie of the Year honors. Underneath the hood are causes for concern, from his 28.9% strikeout rate to his 67% stolen base success rate (20 steals in 30 attempts) to his modest 8.2% barrel rate; he outdid his .220 xBA and .366 xSLG by hefty margins that won’t necessarily be repeated.

Phillips, despite just a .206 AVG, outproduced Margot in about 170 fewer PA, hitting for a 103 wRC+ with 1.8 WAR. He homered 13 times, stole 14 bases (in 17 attempts), played strong defense (11 DRS, 11 OAA, and 5.0 UZR) but also struck out 38.7% of the time. He’ll reprise the fourth outfielder role, while Ramirez has been cast as a DH/outfield option against lefties despite three-year platoon splits that are just about level, with a 92 wRC+ against lefties and 90 against righties.

13. Giants
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Mike Yastrzemski 315 .241 .322 .453 .331 3.6 -0.1 -0.1 1.1
Joc Pederson 189 .238 .317 .453 .329 2.0 -0.3 0.1 0.6
LaMonte Wade Jr. 126 .240 .331 .426 .327 1.1 -0.1 -0.7 0.3
Steven Duggar 35 .239 .309 .383 .299 -0.5 0.0 0.1 0.0
Austin Slater 28 .247 .335 .412 .325 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.1
Heliot Ramos 7 .235 .292 .380 .292 -0.1 -0.0 -0.1 -0.0
Total 700 .240 .322 .442 .327 6.2 -0.3 -0.6 2.1

After a 2020 season that put him in MVP discussions, Yastrzemski came back to earth last year, with a 116-point BABIP drop (from .370 to .254) and a substantial dip in walk rate (from 13.3% to 9.6%). Pulling the ball more than ever, he managed just a .248 BABIP in 286 PA against the shift, dragging down his whole slash line (.224/.311/.457). It didn’t help that after punishing lefties for a 154 wRC+ in 2019-20, he sank to 46 last year. He did play exceptional defense, which at least bolstered his value.

Pederson, in his first season outside the Dodgers fold, did not wield his typically potent bat until the first two rounds of the Braves’ Joctober run, hitting for just a 94 wRC+ during the regular season, his second straight season below 100. His production has eroded as he’s gotten more willing to chase pitches outside the zone; his .184 ISO was a career low. Wade had a storybook season full of clutch hits that went far beyond what his .253/.326/.482 (117 wRC+) line suggested; not only is he unlikely to repeat splits like his .364/.400/.669 with men on base, he’ll be sidelined by inflammation and a bone bruise in his left knee to start the season.

14. Marlins
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Avisaíl García 392 .260 .322 .440 .325 3.2 -0.5 0.5 1.2
Jesús Sánchez 126 .249 .313 .453 .325 1.0 -0.3 0.4 0.4
Bryan De La Cruz 105 .267 .321 .413 .316 0.1 -0.2 -0.3 0.2
Garrett Cooper 42 .262 .344 .436 .338 0.8 -0.1 -0.1 0.1
Jorge Soler 35 .236 .331 .479 .346 0.9 -0.1 -0.3 0.1
Total 700 .258 .322 .440 .325 6.0 -1.3 0.2 2.1

García earned a four-year, $53 million deal on the heels of his best year since 2017, as he hit .262/.330/.490 (115 wRC+) with 29 homers and 2.9 WAR. He did a better job of converting his elite raw power into game power, with career bests in average exit velo (90.4 mph), barrel rate (12.2%) and hard-hit rate (46.1%); his .228 ISO was his career best by 26 points. He played very good defense according to both DRS and UZR (8 and 8.2, respectively), and might wind up seeing significant time in center field.

Sánchez graduated from prospect-dom with a .251/.319/.489 (116 wRC+), 14 homer showing in 251 PA. If he can trim his 31.1% strikeout rate, there’s a lot to be excited about as he enters his age-24 season. He’s slated to be the regular center fielder, and while he hasn’t played the position since 2018, his 97th-percentile outfield jump and 71st-percentile sprint speed offer hope that he can handle it.

De La Cruz made a good showing (.296/.356/.427, 115 wRC+) in 219 PA, mostly over the final two months, but the now-25-year-old righty was well ahead of his contact stats, including his 5.4% barrel rate. He’ll start the year at Triple-A. Cooper has been beset by injuries lately, including a UCL tear that required surgery in his left (non-throwing) elbow, but he’s hit .284/.371/.478 (133 wRC+) in 383 PA over the past two seasons, with a 10.7% walk rate. He’s been particularly potent against lefties (181 wRC+ in 114 PA) and still solid against righties (113 wRC+ in 269 PA). Soler, who’s likely to split his time between left field and DH, could see a bit of time here as well.

15. Tigers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Robbie Grossman 448 .241 .348 .403 .329 4.4 -0.3 -0.4 1.4
Daz Cameron 91 .229 .302 .390 .301 -1.2 0.1 -0.4 0.1
Victor Reyes 70 .272 .309 .414 .310 -0.4 0.1 0.2 0.2
Akil Baddoo 56 .253 .329 .435 .328 0.5 0.2 -0.2 0.2
Riley Greene 35 .262 .331 .454 .336 0.6 0.0 -0.2 0.1
Total 700 .245 .336 .408 .324 4.0 0.1 -1.0 1.9

In his first year as a Tiger, Grossman played more than ever, and finished with 23 homers, 20 steals, and 2.7 WAR, all career highs. He showed exceptional plate discipline, with a 19.2% chase rate that was surpassed only by Soto and Max Muncy; meanwhile his 14.6% walk rate ranked fifth in the majors. After splitting his time between left field and right last year, he’ll likely spend more time in right this year, with Badoo in left and Greene in center.

Cameron, a 2015 first-round pick who has yet to pan out, hit just .194/.278/.359 with a 33% strikeout rate in 115 PA, and is now slated to start the season at Triple-A. Reyes is a switch-hitter who has hit significantly better against lefties (98 wRC+) than righties (76 wRC+), though that’s not saying much given his allergy to taking walks and his limited power. Badoo, a Rule 5 pick from the Twins, stuck around and hit .259/.330/.436 (108 wRC+) with 13 homers and 18 steals. He struggled against lefties (.214/.278/.245, 47 wRC+) and could wind up with a platoon partner. Greene, number six on our Top 100 prospect list, looks like a future All-Star in the making after hitting .301/.387/.534 in an age-20 season split between Double- and Triple-A. His future is in an outfield corner, but he’s making a run at the center field job and could begin the season in the majors.

16. Brewers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Hunter Renfroe 574 .234 .301 .482 .331 3.4 -1.0 1.3 1.7
Tyrone Taylor 91 .239 .301 .431 .314 -0.7 0.0 0.5 0.2
Andrew McCutchen 28 .233 .337 .427 .332 0.2 -0.1 -0.1 0.1
Jace Peterson 7 .237 .330 .378 .312 -0.1 0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .235 .303 .472 .328 2.8 -1.0 1.7 1.9

Renfroe, now with his fourth team in four seasons, put together a pretty solid year in Boston, hitting the ball harder than ever (90.1 mph average exit velo, 14.4% barrel rate) en route to career bests in BABIP (.284), batting average (.259), on-base percentage (.315) and wRC+ (114, matching his 2018 mark); neither his 31 homers nor his .501 slugging percentage were far off his previous highs, either. He had a comparatively strong year against righties (.250/.288.491 in 365 PA); his 102 wRC+ in that context was 15 points higher than his previous mark. We’ll see if he can maintain that.

Taylor, a 27-year-old rookie last year, hit .247/.321/.457 with 12 homers in 271 PA while spending time at all three outfield spots; he added exceptional defense (7 DRS, 4.9 UZR, 3 OAA in just 526 innings) to his solid offensive performance. McCutchen, who’s coming off his highest home run total (27) since 2017 but a more modest 107 wRC+, figures mainly to DH. He hasn’t played right field since 2018 but in theory could sneak into the lineup there while Christian Yelich mans left.

17. Blue Jays
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Teoscar Hernández 406 .262 .320 .496 .346 8.1 0.0 -3.1 1.5
Raimel Tapia 210 .270 .321 .392 .309 -2.2 0.5 -0.3 0.3
Cavan Biggio 63 .226 .338 .401 .323 0.1 -0.0 -0.1 0.1
Josh Palacios 14 .223 .297 .343 .282 -0.5 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Dexter Fowler 7 .215 .309 .359 .295 -0.2 -0.0 -0.1 -0.0
Total 700 .260 .322 .452 .331 5.4 0.5 -3.5 1.9

Hernández showed that his 2020 breakout was no fluke, hitting .296/.346/.524 (132 wRC+) while setting career bests with 32 homers, 12 steals, and 3.9 WAR. He didn’t hit the ball quite as hard as he did during the pandemic-shortened season, but his exit velo, barrel and hard-hit rates, and x-stats all placed right in the 87th to 91st percentile. He also cut his strikeout rate from 30.4% to 24.9% even while maintaining his very, um, expansive notion of the strike zone. He’s down here in the rankings thanks to his 6.1% walk rate and the fact that he’s nothing special as a fielder, but he’s not a bad bet to beat that projection and maintain his place as one of the game’s top 10 right fielders.

Tapia, acquired from the Rockies last week in exchange for Randal Grichuk, is a contact-oriented speedster without much power; last year’s .273/.327/.372 (76 wRC+) was all too representative of his time in Colorado. With a single-digit walk rate, he lives and dies by his BABIP; even his .392 mark from 2020 only led to a 97 wRC+, his career high. Still, he has uses off the bench. Biggio is coming off an injury-marred year during which he hit for just an 84 wRC+ with -0.1 WAR, down from the 117 wRC+ and 3.8 WAR he produced in 159 games in 2019-20. He’ll likely get most of his playing time at second base, but has played 29 games in right over the past two seasons.

18. Guardians
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Josh Naylor 343 .266 .326 .448 .331 4.2 -0.3 -2.2 1.0
Oscar Mercado 112 .242 .310 .391 .305 -1.1 0.3 0.7 0.3
Bradley Zimmer 98 .220 .313 .349 .295 -1.7 0.2 0.6 0.1
Nolan Jones 84 .231 .328 .400 .318 0.1 0.0 0.2 0.2
Steven Kwan 56 .282 .345 .434 .337 1.0 -0.1 -0.1 0.2
Franmil Reyes 7 .257 .327 .519 .356 0.2 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .253 .324 .419 .321 2.6 0.2 -0.8 1.8

Naylor has yet to pan out in parts of three major league seasons, flashing glimpses of the power and contact skills that made him a 2015 first-round pick by the Marlins, but never sustaining productivity for long. Last year, he hit .253/.301/.399 with seven homers in 250 PA before requiring season-ending surgery for a fractured and dislocated right ankle following a June 28 collision; he saw his first spring training action this week. The stocky lefty makes a lot of contact, but chases too many pitches outside the zone to no great effect, and he’s no threat to win a Gold Glove.

Mercado, a former second-round pick himself, showed promise as a rookie in 2019 but hasn’t come close to that performance. He’s a contact-oriented speedster (92nd percentile sprint speed) who doesn’t make good contact (4% barrel rate, 27.7% hard-hit rate), hitting the ball in the air far too often for things to go his way. He’s a good defender who can play center field and hit lefties (98 wRC+ career), which gives him some utility on the bench. Zimmer, another former first-rounder, lost a lot of developmental time to injuries, but didn’t fare well in 348 PA last year, hitting just .227/.325/.344 with a 35.1% strikeout rate and a 48% groundball rate; while he’s a capable center fielder, he’s now behind Miles Straw on the depth chart. Jones is a 24-year-old three true outcomes lefty-swinger who cracked the Top 100 Prospects list but has yet to fully tap into his 70-grade raw power. Kwan, also a 24-year-old lefty, placed 58th on that same list thanks to elite contact skills. Last year, he hit a combined .328/.407/.527 with a 9.1% strikeout rate at Double-A and Triple-A. He’ll likely to start the year in the minors but should hit his way into the lineup, more likely in left.

19. Braves
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Adam Duvall 294 .227 .289 .475 .322 -0.7 -0.3 2.1 0.8
Eddie Rosario 287 .270 .311 .472 .331 1.5 0.1 -0.7 0.7
Guillermo Heredia 56 .226 .310 .354 .292 -1.5 -0.0 -0.2 -0.1
Ronald Acuña Jr. 28 .281 .388 .571 .402 1.8 0.1 0.1 0.3
Marcell Ozuna 21 .263 .337 .468 .344 0.3 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Travis Demeritte 14 .228 .306 .440 .320 -0.1 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .248 .305 .467 .327 1.3 -0.2 1.3 1.8

Duvall’s a player of great strengths and glaring weaknesses. Last year’s career-high 38 homers attest to his power, he barrels the ball frequently (16.1%), and he is an exceptional defender; his 19 DRS split between the three outfield spots tied for the major league lead, while his 9.9 UZR ranked fourth. He also strikes out a ton (31.4%) while rarely walking (6.3%), leading to sub-.300 on-base percentages (.291 career). Last year, it came together well enough for him to match his career high with 2.4 WAR while batting a lopsided .228/.281/.491, but that hasn’t always been the case.

If you prefer your .300ish OBPs to come from the left side with a dash of speed, there’s Rosario, the NLCS MVP. He offers a contact-oriented alternative to Duvall, and he has some power — he did homer 45 times in 2019-20, but was nonetheless non-tendered by the Twins — despite infrequently barreling the ball. Heredia is a very good defender but a replacement-level concern thanks to his career 83 wRC+ in 1,484 PA. Acuña is an MVP candidate when healthy, but he’s recovering from a right ACL torn just before the All-Star break. He’ll likely debut in late April as a DH, then begin playing the outfield in early May. Ideally that will be in center field, a position he hasn’t played regularly in the majors except in 2019, but an alignment with Duvall in center and Acuña in right is a fallback option.

20. Orioles
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Anthony Santander 504 .255 .300 .462 .323 1.6 -0.6 0.8 1.3
Austin Hays 133 .257 .306 .462 .327 0.9 -0.1 0.7 0.5
Yusniel Diaz 42 .205 .273 .350 .273 -1.6 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1
Ryan McKenna 14 .220 .305 .375 .298 -0.2 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
DJ Stewart 7 .223 .326 .421 .324 0.0 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .252 .300 .454 .320 0.7 -0.9 1.3 1.7

After slugging .575 with a 130 wRC+ in all of 165 PA in 2020, Santander regressed last year, slipping to a .241/.286/.433 (92 wRC+) line. His strikeout and walk rates moved in the wrong directions, as did his barrel rate, though he did set career bests with a 90.7 mph average exit velocity and a 43.2% hard-hit rate. He was particularly volatile from month to month, with a wRC+ of 148 or better in May and August, and 68 or worse in the other four months. If there’s good news, it’s that he projects to regain some of the power he showed in 2019-20.

Hays, the likely starting left fielder, split his time between the two corners last year with a sprinkle of center field as well. He hit a respectable .256/.308/.461 with 22 homers while playing outstanding defense (14 DRS, 6.9 UZR) en route to 2.4 WAR, marking him as one of Baltimore’s few above-average players, that despite his meager 5.3% walk rate and subpar Statcast numbers. Diaz is an oft-injured 25-year-old Cuban prospect who was the centerpiece of the return from the Dodgers in the Manny Machado trade. He absolutely cratered in the high minors last year (.161/.233/.265 with a 32.4% strikeout rate in 253 PA), but his collection of tools — which netted him a $15.5 million bonus circa 2015 — and the fact that he’s played just 188 games over the past four seasons mean he’ll keep getting looks.

21. Royals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Whit Merrifield 364 .281 .327 .410 .318 -0.4 1.5 1.4 1.1
Kyle Isbel 133 .250 .313 .406 .310 -1.0 0.2 0.1 0.2
Hunter Dozier 126 .236 .308 .425 .315 -0.4 -0.2 -0.8 0.2
Edward Olivares 42 .258 .313 .424 .317 -0.1 -0.0 -0.1 0.1
Ryan O’Hearn 35 .230 .302 .424 .311 -0.2 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .263 .319 .414 .316 -2.1 1.5 0.6 1.6

Merrifield played in every game for the third straight season, but slumped to a 76 wRC+ from July 1 onward, and finished at just 91 (.277/.317/.395), matching his career worst. His contact numbers (3.5% barrel rate, 28.5% hard-hit rate, and 86.9 average exit velo) were measly, but he did steal an AL-high 40 bases (in 44 attempts), led the league with 42 doubles, and finished with 3.2 WAR. A good chunk of his value came from excellent defense at second base (6.2 UZR, 14 DRS), but he’s slated to be the regular in right field, where his defensive numbers (-6.0 UZR and -7 DRS in 135 career games) suggest he’s miscast.

Isbel is a 25-year-old 45 FV prospect who made the Royals’ Opening Day lineup last year but was soon optioned to Triple-A, where he struggled; he salvaged his season with some changes to his mechanics and approach, and hit .276/.337/.434 in 83 major league PA. His ability to play center could help him win a reserve role. Dozier has been backsliding since his big 2019 breakout, hitting just .216/.285/.394 (82 wRC+) last year; his .240 BABIP against infield shifts placed him in the 12th percentile among righties with at least 100 PA in that context, while his strikeout-to-walk ratio doubled relative to 2020. Olivares, a 40 FV prospect entering last year, tore up Triple-A (.313/.397/.559) but hit just .238/.291/.406 (88 wRC+) in 111 major league PA with modest Statcast numbers. He’s toolsy enough to play center and is still just 26, so he figures to have a shot at playing time. O’Hearn has plus raw power, but the fact that last year’s .225/.268/.369 (70 wRC+) showing was his best in the majors since 2018 casts him as one of the Royals’ less appealing options.

22. Rangers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Kole Calhoun 476 .229 .311 .424 .316 0.6 -0.6 1.1 1.2
Adolis García 203 .231 .275 .435 .302 -2.2 -0.2 1.5 0.4
Jake Marisnick 14 .221 .281 .383 .287 -0.3 0.0 -0.0 0.0
Zach Reks 7 .230 .310 .398 .308 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .229 .300 .426 .312 -2.0 -0.9 2.5 1.6

A medial meniscus tear in his right knee and a recurrent hamstring strain in his left leg limited Calhoun to just 51 games last year. He may not have ever been fully healthy, particularly given his 65 wRC+ after the surgery and 79 (.235/.297/.373) mark overall. He chased more pitches outside the zone, and his barrel rate was nearly cut in half relative to 2020, from 11.8% to 6.3%; his xSLG dropped from .509 to .384. Meanwhile, his walk rate plunged to 8.2%, his lowest mark since 2015. He’s a player whose year-to-year performances have varied widely; at 34, on a team that’s trying to turn the corner towards contending, it’s fair to wonder how long a leash he’ll get.

García, who made more starts in center field last year (76) than right (50), figures to do the same this year. Though he hit 31 homers, made the All-Star team, and placed fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting, he managed just a 100 wRC+ via a lopsided .243/.286/.454 line featuring a 5.1% walk rate and 31.2% strikeout rate; only Javier Báez and Salvador Perez had lower ratios. His late-season struggles — which included a 69 WRC+ after the All-Star break — suggest he’ll have to shore up his approach.

23. White Sox
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Adam Engel 217 .236 .293 .396 .298 -3.0 0.4 1.3 0.4
Gavin Sheets 182 .255 .316 .459 .331 2.4 -0.3 -0.0 0.6
Andrew Vaughn 140 .251 .329 .443 .333 2.1 -0.3 -0.1 0.5
Leury García 98 .259 .311 .371 .298 -1.4 0.1 -0.3 0.1
Micker Adolfo 35 .218 .279 .421 .299 -0.5 -0.0 -0.2 0.0
Adam Haseley 28 .242 .301 .372 .293 -0.5 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .246 .308 .418 .314 -0.9 -0.2 0.6 1.6

By the look of it, the White Sox haven’t figured out what they’re doing with right field, though Vaughn was said to have a clear edge before suffering a right hip pointer earlier this week, which will sideline him for at least a couple of weeks. As a rookie, he made the jump from High-A and hit the ball harder than his stat line suggests (.235/.309/.396, 94 wRC+), with a 10.9% barrel rate and 46.4% hard-hit rate; he fell 36 points shy of his .432 xSLG. At 24 years old, he projects for significant growth on the offensive side, though his defense figures to be rough wherever the White Sox put him.

Engel has hit for a 124 wRC+ (.270/.335/.488) in 233 PA over the past two seasons, but his slash stats have been well ahead of his Statcast numbers, most notably a .409 xSLG; he’s averaged just an 87.0 mph exit velocity with a 7.4% barrel rate in that span. Good defense will help keep him in the mix. Sheets, a 6-foot-5 lefty slugger, hit .250/.324/.506 (125 wC+) with 11 homers in 179 PA and figures to be the primary DH while also dabbling in the field. Garcia, a switch-hitting superutilityman, was near the upper end of his range via his .267/.335/.376 (98 wRC+) line; he hit grounders on 55.8% of all batted balls, with just a 3.3% barrel rate and .335 xSLG. Adolfo is a 25-year-old righty prospect with 70-grade raw power. After hitting .245/.311/.520 with a 34% strikeout rate split between Double-A and Triple-A last year, he’s out of options, so it could be make-or-break time for him in this organization.

24. Red Sox
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jackie Bradley Jr. 364 .218 .293 .365 .288 -10.6 0.4 3.0 0.1
Alex Verdugo 231 .289 .351 .445 .341 3.4 0.2 0.7 1.0
J.D. Martinez 56 .271 .342 .490 .351 1.3 -0.2 -0.1 0.2
Christian Arroyo 35 .249 .307 .421 .314 -0.3 0.0 0.1 0.1
Franchy Cordero 14 .241 .311 .416 .313 -0.1 0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .247 .317 .405 .312 -6.3 0.5 3.7 1.4

Bradley didn’t sign with the Brewers until early March of last year, and never really made up for lost time, hitting an abysmal .163/.236/.261 (35 wRC+) with career worsts in both walk and strikeout rates (6.5% and 30.8%, respectively); nobody with at least 200 PA had a lower wRC+. He chased more pitches than ever, his swinging strike rate spiked to 15.5%, and when he connected, he set a career low with a 5% barrel rate, though his other contact stats weren’t quite so bad. In fact, he was actually unlucky relative to his .198 xBA and .294 xSLG, though if he’d reached those numbers we’d still be talking a season so terrible it took exceptional defense (10.7 UZR, 12 DRS, 4 OAA) to get him to -0.8 WAR. The Brewers traded him back to the Red Sox, who obviously believe last year was an aberration, and plan to play him regularly in right field.

Verdugo, the regular left fielder, will also see time in right. Though he hit the ball considerably harder in 2021 than ’20, his 107 wRC+ (.289/.351/.426) represented a 19-point fall-off; on the other hand, his .285 xBA was actually a 47-point gain from the year before, and his .446 xSLG a 77-point gain, suggesting this is closer to his true level. With Bradley around, he likely won’t see much time in center field, where he was lousy in a 337-inning sample (-7 DRS, -2.8 UZR).

Martinez is no longer an elite slugger, just a pretty good one who’s likely to DH most of the time, with a sprinkling of innings in the outfield corners. Arroyo, displaced from second base by the Trevor Story signing, is trying to learn the outfield, which in Fenway Park’s corners could make for some adventures.

25. Diamondbacks
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Pavin Smith 385 .264 .329 .418 .323 -0.5 -0.7 -0.2 0.7
Jordan Luplow 161 .234 .335 .441 .336 1.5 -0.3 0.4 0.5
Cooper Hummel 70 .240 .349 .414 .334 0.6 -0.1 0.1 0.2
Jake McCarthy 63 .224 .293 .379 .292 -1.7 0.2 -0.2 -0.0
Wilmer Difo 21 .241 .305 .341 .285 -0.7 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .251 .329 .417 .323 -0.8 -0.8 0.0 1.4

Smith, the seventh pick of the 2017 draft, never rated as a particularly compelling prospect due to his lack of raw power and the infrequency with which he elevated the ball, and his rookie season only reinforced those concerns. He hit .267/.328/.404 (96 wRC+), walked just 7.7% of the time, barreled the ball only 5.1% of the time when he connected, and produced too many grounders. He had little business playing against lefties, and scuffled (.239/.309/.299, 67 wRC+ in 149 PA) when he did. While his agility and ability to play the outfield has lightened the load on his bat somewhat, he had no business in center field, where his metrics were gruesome (-10 DRS and -4.5 UZR in just 252 innings); he was closer to average in the outfield corners and at first base.

He’ll likely form the long half of a platoon with Luplow, a skilled lefty-masher (139 wRC+ in 378 career PA) who has struggled against righties (78 wRC+ in 358 PA). During his time with Cleveland and Tampa Bay last year, Luplow got some experience in both center field and at first base and didn’t burn down the ballpark, which could help him pick up more playing time. Hummel, a switch-hitter who can catch (sort of) as well as play the corner positions, was acquired from the Brewers in the Eduardo Escobar trade. After hitting .311/.432/.546 at two Triple-A stops, he could find his way onto the big league roster. McCarthy, who hit .220/.333/.373 in a 70-PA trial with Arizona last year, is a lefty-swinger with above-average defense in center field.

26. Angels
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jo Adell 455 .240 .292 .445 .314 -1.2 -0.2 -2.4 0.7
Brandon Marsh 126 .245 .317 .375 .303 -1.4 0.2 0.8 0.3
Taylor Ward 84 .247 .335 .433 .332 1.0 -0.0 -0.5 0.3
Luis Rengifo 14 .244 .310 .390 .304 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Shohei Ohtani 14 .259 .363 .550 .378 0.7 0.0 -0.0 0.1
Jose Rojas 7 .231 .292 .409 .301 -0.1 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .242 .303 .431 .315 -1.1 -0.0 -2.1 1.3

The 10th pick of the 2017 draft and a top-10 prospect three years later, Adell has yet to put it together at the major league level, but at least he wasn’t utterly overmatched last year the way he was in 2020, when he hit for just a 27 wRC+ and was 1.4 wins below replacement. After a reassuringly strong showing at Triple-A, he joined the Angels in early August and hit .246/.295/.408 (90 wRC+) in 140 PA before an abdominal strain ended his season in mid-September. Though his chase rate was a gaudy 40% and his swinging strike 14.9%, he improved his two-strike approach and cut his strikeout rate to 22.9% (down from 41.7%). He also improved his barrel rate to 9.1% (from 4.3%), though his exit velo and hard-hit rates were both meager. He’s about to turn 23, and the tools are still intact, so it’s too soon to give up on him.

Speaking of prospects, Marsh entered last year at number 15 on our Top 100, but elbow and labrum injuries limited him to just 16 minor league games before July. Called up shortly after the All-Star break, he had the tall task of filling in for the injured Mike Trout in center, and hit a modest .254/.317/.356 (86 wRC+) with a 35% strikeout rate. He did hit the ball quite hard (91 mph average exit velo, 10.9% barrel rate, 51.7% hard-hit rate). With Trout back, Walsh is trying to win at least a share of the left field job, but he could spend time in right as well. Ward hit for a 111 wRC+ in 237 PA, his most extensive exposure in parts of four major league seasons. He’s versatile and good against lefties.

27. Padres
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Wil Myers 546 .240 .318 .424 .320 1.7 -0.1 -2.7 1.1
Nomar Mazara 84 .243 .303 .407 .306 -0.7 -0.1 -0.2 0.1
Jurickson Profar 42 .241 .328 .386 .313 -0.1 0.0 -0.2 0.1
Matt Beaty 28 .256 .328 .407 .320 0.1 -0.0 -0.2 0.1
Total 700 .241 .317 .419 .318 1.0 -0.2 -3.4 1.3

After hitting for a 155 wRC+ in the shortened 2020 season, Myers returned to the level of his previous output in San Diego, which was much less remarkable (.256/.334/.434, 109 wRC+). In fact, his .218 BA and .370 xSGL suggest he shouldn’t have even done that well; his 88.0 mph average exit velo and 37.7% hard-hit rate were both career lows, and his 44.8% groundball rate was his highest mark since 2015. His defense was pretty bad as well (-8 DRS, -3.8 UZR). At this point, he looks more like an impediment to the Padres’ improvement, but inertia seems to keep him in place even as his remaining contractual commitment (now $21 million) dwindles.

Profar has at times flashed the abilities that once made him the game’s best prospect, but last year, woof. He hit just .227/.329/.320 (8 wRC+) with a career-worst -0.7 WAR. While his strikeout and walk rates were good, he rarely hit the ball hard; his 85.3 mph average exit velocity was the majors’ fourth-lowest among players with at least 400 PA, and his 2.7% barrel rate and 29.5% hard-hit rate both placed him near the bottom as well. While he was nearly average against righties (98 wRC+ in 322 PA), he was dreadful against lefties (38 wRC+), well out of step with his previous performance.

Speaking of players for whom the industry is still waiting to put it together, Mazara is now onto his fourth team in four years. His next season with a 100 wRC+ will be his first. Beatty, on the other hand, is a solid hitter (104 wRC+) who probably shouldn’t be playing the outfield.

28. Reds
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Tyler Naquin 336 .259 .312 .442 .322 -1.9 -0.4 -0.2 0.5
Aristides Aquino 259 .224 .305 .464 .326 -0.7 -0.0 -0.2 0.5
Jake Fraley 70 .232 .329 .422 .325 -0.3 0.0 -0.3 0.1
Max Schrock 21 .252 .307 .395 .303 -0.5 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0
TJ Friedl 14 .250 .329 .401 .318 -0.1 -0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .243 .311 .446 .323 -3.5 -0.4 -0.8 1.1

Before his season ended due to a September 11 collision that bruised his ribs, Naquin had quietly put together his best offensive campaign since 2016, when he was a rookie. His .270/.333/.477 (110 wRC+) with 19 homers in 454 PA wasn’t too shabby given that he entered the season on a minor league contract after being non-tendered by Cleveland. As per usual, he flailed against lefties (56 wRC+ in 70 PA) but raked against righties (.283/.339/.514, 120 wRC+).

As a platoon-mate, there’s the righty-swinging Aquino, whose 92 wRC+ against lefties in 123 PA over the past two seasons would be a massive upgrade. But the 27-year-old slugger really hasn’t done much since an opening burst during which he homered 14 times in his first 27 games in 2019. Since then, he’s hit a combined .188/.283/383 (70 wRC+) with 17 homers and not much else in 378 PA. He was only slightly better last year, managing an 83 wRC+ but striking out 36.8% of the time. Extremely pull-happy, he’s been losing hits to infield shifts; last year, he produced a .143 BABIP in 49 AB in that context.

Fraley, a 26-year-old lefty swinger, hit .210/.352/.369 (109 wRC+) with nine homers and 10 steals in 265 PA for Seattle last year. A very disciplined hitter, he walked 17.4% of the time and showed surprising power, though his 85.3 mph average exit velo and 6.2% barrel rate illustrate that he doesn’t consistently hit the ball hard. His primary role will be as a platoon-mate for left fielder Tommy Pham.

29. Rockies
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Charlie Blackmon 287 .278 .345 .451 .342 0.1 -0.4 -1.3 0.5
Randal Grichuk 210 .256 .301 .475 .329 -2.2 -0.3 -1.8 0.0
Sam Hilliard 140 .227 .296 .442 .313 -3.3 0.2 0.4 0.0
Yonathan Daza 35 .276 .320 .385 .307 -1.0 -0.0 0.2 -0.0
Ryan Vilade 21 .258 .309 .381 .299 -0.7 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Kris Bryant 7 .266 .355 .474 .355 0.1 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .260 .320 .451 .329 -7.1 -0.5 -2.6 0.5

Blackmon is a four-time All-Star, but at 35 years old, he ain’t what he used to be. Last year’s 47.2% groundball rate, his highest since 2012, led to his second straight season with a wRC+ below 100 (94, via a .270/.351/.411 line). While he fell 22 points short of his xBA and 46 short of his xSLG, his barrel rate, hard-hit rate, and average exit velo were all in the 35th percentile or lower. He did offset that with a career-high 9.3% walk rate, and he’s actually fared better against lefties than righties in his past two seasons (114 wRC+ versus 87), but well, you see the ranking here. His Statcast defensive numbers — an 8th-percentile outfield jump and -9 OAA — suggest he should be DHing, and apparently he’ll do that at least part of the time.

Grichuk, acquired in the Tapia trade, is coming off a career-worst 85 wRC+ himself (.241/.281/.423). He was far too exposed against righties, whom he’s hit at just an 84 wRC+ clip over the past three seasons, compared to 107 against lefties. His defensive metrics rebounded after two down years, and he’s still a better defender than Blackmon. Hilliard, a 27-year-old lefty swinger, barreled the ball 15% of the time when he made contact, which, with a 36.6% strikeout rate, wasn’t often enough. Vexed by just about anything that wasn’t a fastball, he hit .215/.294/.463 in 238 PA. Daza is a contact-oriented speedster with a 2% barrel rate who hit a very thin 282/.332/.355 in 331 PA, which casts him as a righty version of Tapia.

30. Pirates
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Anthony Alford 266 .225 .304 .381 .298 -4.8 -0.2 -0.6 0.0
Ben Gamel 252 .245 .339 .384 .317 -0.7 -0.5 -0.8 0.4
Cole Tucker 91 .228 .307 .361 .293 -2.0 0.0 0.2 0.0
Jared Oliva 56 .224 .290 .339 .276 -2.1 0.1 0.1 -0.1
Greg Allen 21 .249 .324 .367 .304 -0.3 0.1 0.1 0.0
Yoshi Tsutsugo 14 .229 .323 .411 .318 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .233 .317 .376 .303 -9.9 -0.6 -0.9 0.4

Talent evaluators have been dreaming on Alford since the Blue Jays took him in the third round in 2012, but last year was his first with at least 100 PA in the majors and while it wasn’t a total loss, he struck out 39.2% of the time. When he made contact, his barrel and hard-hit rates were respectable, but he hit the ball in the air too often for a guy with 70-grade speed. He did manage a 93 wRC+ in 148 PA, including a 114 mark in 119 PA from August 7 onward following a lengthy demotion to Triple-A. The Pirates have nothing better to do than figure out if he can play.

Gamel, on the other hand, is pretty predictable as a league-average-ish fourth outfielder with good on-base skills from the left side, but not enough pop to pay regularly. He’s actually hit lefties a bit better than righties over the past three seasons (98 wRC+ versus 93), though last year’s numbers weren’t so sunny. Oliva is a 40-FV prospect with plus speed and above-average raw power, but he hit just .249/.321/.364 in his 64-game debut at Triple-A and has yet to barrel a ball in 56 major league PA. Allen had a very brief run with the Yankees that ran counter to his struggles over the previous four seasons, during which he managed just a 71 wRC+. The projections suggest better days ahead, if not exactly good ones.





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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CC AFCmember
3 months ago

Screw this, give me the Smith-Njigba era now. 2022: Smith-Njigbas make MLB debut and win Biletnikoff award. 2023: Smith-Njigbas hit 20 home runs and score 20 touchdowns. 2024: world peace achieved. I see no flaws in this plan.

sadtrombonemember
3 months ago
Reply to  CC AFC

The Pirates have to be hoping that Swaggerty and Smith-Njigba hit their way to the major leagues this year because the alternatives include Anthony Alford, Greg Allen, and Ben Gamel. Yikes.

gettwobrute79member
3 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

That’s a tall ask for Swag considering he’s basically missed two full years. I think he may never develop much as a hitter because of that, but considering his defense is stellar, I wouldn’t worry too much about that if I’m them. See how he does for a few months in Indy and if he’s doing well, call him up.

Left of Centerfield
3 months ago
Reply to  CC AFC

As an Ohio State fan, I’m 1000% onboard with the Smith-Njigba plan!

gettwobrute79member
3 months ago
Reply to  CC AFC

“The Canaan in Right Field.” Sounds good to me! It’s dismaying that this organization is taking another look at Alford. What is it with Huntington and now Cherington’s fascination with other teams busted prospects?

PC1970
3 months ago
Reply to  gettwobrute79

They’re cheap!

gettwobrute79member
3 months ago
Reply to  PC1970

And also terrible!

sadtrombonemember
3 months ago
Reply to  gettwobrute79

I do think there is a place for taking on other teams’ failed prospects and acquiring Quad-A guys for cash. But Alford is so far beyond just a failed prospect at this point. Picking up Josh VanMeter in a DFA deal is reasonable. Greg Allen, after years of being terrible, was surprisingly not terrible and hit well in his AAA stint (he is probably not anything real either, but he’s stepping over a very low bar). But Anthony Alford’s “breakout” involved him striking out 37% of the time. There’s just no point.