Hello friends. We move into week, oh, who is counting, of not having Major League Baseball in the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In place of my usual weekly power rankings -- where I only have to rank the MLB teams as a whole -- we're going with ranking, well, anything in their absence. I've already hit onand . Now we'll isolate the outfields.
As with aces in the rotations -- take Jacob deGrom holding the Mets up in a big way last week -- MVP-caliber players in the outfield go a long way in holding them up. Would I rather have Mike Trout with nothing or two good outfielders with a poor third? I'll go Trout. I often argue that one guy can only do so much, since this is baseball, not basketball, and that's 100 percent true. Trout alone can't make the Angels win, since he bats one time every nine spots and can only field what is hit to him. This is also ranking outfields. There are only three spots and one superstar of three makes a huge difference.
Of course, there's one team with two MVPs that finds the top spot rather easily.
One more thing to point out: These aren't fantasy rankings. Defense matters, too.
Here we go. The definitive power rankings on the strength of the outfield, where we (no, I don't play anymore but old habits die hard) talk to ourselves and it's totally accepted as the norm.
|Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger out there? Easy number one before we even get to an A.J. Pollock/Joc Pederson platoon in left. Joc hit 36 homers in 401 at-bats against righties last year.|
|Juan Soto does some heavy lifting and he's likely to only get better. He's 21 years old! There's also plenty of room for growth in the offensive game of Victor Robles . He's only 22 and never got much seasoning at upper levels of the minors. He played in just 37 games at Double-A and 40 at Triple-A. And then there's the wily veteran Adam Eaton. This is a great group.|
|Both Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario hit more than 30 homers last season. Rosario actually has one of the weirdest lines you'll see, due to low walks and heavy power, in .276/.300/.500. And I still won't give up dreaming on the all-around upside of Byron Buxton . He heads to his age-26 season as one of the most toolsy players in the majors. He had 5.0 WAR in 2017, but that's the only season he's played more than 92 games. He's coming off shoulder surgery but has had plenty of time to get right if and when we actually get to play this year.|
|George Springer is still going to be one of the best outfielders in baseball, though I wonder what we'll get from 33 year olds Michael Brantley and Josh Reddick under intense scrutiny now? I still trust Brantley, actually, and Reddick doesn't hit much anymore, but he's a good glove. Is Kyle Tucker ready to shine?|
|This one is tricky because I'm not sure I can count Giancarlo Stanton. Not only do I lack trust in him being around a full season, but he's probably parked at DH. Still, Aaron Judge , Brett Gardner and a good offense platoon in left field is nothing to sneeze at. And if Stanton is involved here, that's big upside.|
|Ronald Acuna is only 22 and there's still more coming. They brought in Marcell Ozuna on a one-year deal and he's not going to have long to prove he deserved more on the open market. He'll be ready to mash. Ender Inciarte was hampered by injuries last season, but he's great in center when he's right.|
|As noted, an MVP like Yelich really holds up the group higher than the sum of its parts might otherwise look. I worry that this last season we saw the beginning of Lorenzo Cain's decline and that saddens me, but it's probably reality. What to expect from Avisail Garcia? It's tough. He was pretty good last year and pretty great with the bat in 2017. Otherwise ... eh?|
|Trout himself does a lot of heavy lifting here. A Justin Upton return to 2018 form isn't off the table, either.|
|Bryce Harper's become so maligned that he's probably underrated at this point by the masses (no, that doesn't mean underpaid). He's very good! A full season of Andrew McCutchen will help, too, but what's going on in center? Can young Adam Haseley make the leap and take the job?|
|This is an interesting case of adding a stud player and having it hurt them here in the rankings. How is that even possible, you might ask? The Diamondbacks traded for Starling Marte and that makes their team better, no doubt. It's just that it moves Ketel Marte from center field back to the infield and he's currently the better Marte. David Peralta and Kole Calhoun will hit, too.|
|Michael Conforto is a proven stud we can trust. Brandon Nimmo is excellent at getting on base and he was battling a neck injury all last season. Was that the real J.D. Davis last year? Wild card: Yoenis Cespedes. There's variance here. Big upside with the possibility only Conforto is good.|
|Did something knock loose in Kyle Schwarber or was it just an extended hot streak? In his age-26 season, he hit .304/.395/.663 with 16 homers and 45 RBI in his last 56 games (210 plate appearances). Ian Happ was good overall after being brought back up from the minors and I expect him in center while Jason Heyward will be much better offensively (and a late-inning defensive replacement) with Steven Souza as his platoon mate. Don't forget Kris Bryant moonlights out here at times, bringing up the value.|
|Joey Gallo was blossoming into an all-around superstar before injury cost him more than half of 2019. Willie Calhoun showed flashes of what made him a top-40 prospect heading into last season and he's only going to be 25 years old. How about the year Danny Santana put together? This could fall apart, admittedly, but there's a lot to like as well.|
|Hunter Renfroe in for Tommy Pham is a net-negative to me, but there's a lot to love in Austin Meadows and Kevin Kiermaier's still great in center.|
|There are few things in the game as fun to watch as Ramon Laureano launching a throw -- and he's much more than just his arm. He was a very good power-speed combo on the offensive end last year, too. How many people outside the Bay Area noticed Mark Canha hitting 26 homers in 410 at-bats with a .517 slugging last year (excluding fantasy baseball owners)? There's little doubt the A's find a way to have a solid outfield. That's just what they do.|
|Mookie Betts is gone. Jackie Bradley hasn't been an above-average hitter -- though a very good glove -- since 2016. Andrew Benintendi took a huge step back last season to being just a league-average hitter. Alex Verdugo looked good last season, but hasn't played a full year yet. There's talent, but will it shine through?|
|Two good hitters out here in David Dahl and Charlie Blackmon, but the defense rates out as awful. Some of that is due to Coors Field's spaciousness. It's not like the thin air makes the outfielders faster, so they have to deal with more ground to cover and can't get to as many balls. Not that Dahl and Blackmon are good defenders, but it's probably a bit overblown. For whatever it's worth, the Rockies ranked 26th in the majors in outfielder WAR last season. A lot of it was the defense and that's why the adjustment has been made.|
|Eloy Jimenez had an uneven rookie year, but closed on a very high note. In his last 27 games, he hit .363/.400/.690 with nine homers and 27 RBI. Perhaps that carries over and he's a force all year? He's only 23, after all. Luis Robert is one of the best prospects in baseball and he's set to take over in center. He hit .328/.376/.624 with 31 doubles, 11 triples, 32 homers, 92 RBI, 108 runs and 36 steals across three levels last year. Can he adapt immediately at age 22? He only played 56 games in Double-A and 47 in Triple-A. It'll be tough, but it's possible. Nomar Mazara has huge power, but still hasn't had an above-average offensive season or hit more than 20 homers in a season. The upside with this group is off the charts, but Mazara is a question mark and the other two could end up being "not just yet" guys. Tough to rank.|
|I feel like new addition Nick Castellanos is set to go nuts in Great American Ball Park. Can Nick Senzel take a big step forward in year two? It'll also be interesting to see how Shogo Akiyama fares. He looks like an interesting table-setter.|
|It's hard to figure out, especially with spring training cut short, how the Cardinals are going to work this thing. Harrison Bader might have center field to himself, but he had an awful season on offense last year. Do youngsters Tyler O'Neill and/or Lane Thomas deserve extended looks? Then there are the aging veterans with high salaries. If Matt Carpenter plays at third base, coming off a bad offensive year, it kicks Tommy Edman out to the outfield. They also have to figure out how much they want to use Dexter Fowler in the outfield. What about top prospect Dylan Carlson, who was killing the ball in the spring but has only logged 18 games in Triple-A? It's kind of a mess, but it's possible the result is very good. It's just difficult to sort out how it's going to go.|
|Jorge Soler finally stayed healthy and put it all together and the result was glorious ... but, he was used at DH almost twice as much as he played the outfield. A Hunter Dozier move to right with whatever Alex Gordon has left in the tank and some Whit Merrifield -- he played outfield almost as much as second -- means this isn't a bad group at all. It's also possible Merrifield and Dozier get pulled back to the infield while Soler goes to full-time DH.|
|There's certainly plenty of power out here. Loudes Gurriel, Teoscar Hernandez and Randal Grichuk combined for 77 homers last season while Gurriel only appeared in 84 games and Hernandez in 125. Those two are interesting offensive cases, too, moving forward.|
|One of the worst things the Indians did the last few years was neglect to shore up the outfield during a nice run of contention. They are now set with the underwhelming group of Oscar Mercado , Jordan Luplow , Domingo Santana , Greg Allen and Delino DeShields .|
|A late 2018 shoulder injury kind of ruined Gregory Polanco's 2019 season. Maybe he's ready to take the mantle now with Marte gone. Bryan Reynolds had a nice rookie year, too, but there isn't a whole lot of upside here as a group.|
|I loved what I saw from Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson in their time last year and it's possible Hunter Pence can bring his offensive renaissance back with him. It's just a transition period. So it goes.|
|I love the Pham addition, but there's an awful lot of unknown out there after that.|
|They'll go with Jonathan Villar in center and that helps. So does Corey Dickerson in left.|
|Hey, Mallex Smith stole 46 bases last year and Kyle Lewis slugged well in his cup of coffee (though the 29 strikeouts and just three walks in 75 plate appearances wasn't encouraging).|
|Get well soon, Trey Mancini . Maybe Austin Hays and Anthony Santander can flash some hope for downtrodden Orioles fans this year.|
|I don't really have much to say. Cameron Maybin returns!|