Saturday, February 2, 2013

Ranking the top 10 right fielders in baseball

by: Chase Fitzgerald
Staff Writer

1. Giancarlo Stanton

Last season’s stats: HR: 37 RBI: 86 AVG: .290 OPS: .969 OBP: .361 SLG: .608

Since bursting onto the scene in 2010, the 23 year old right fielder has emerged as one of baseball’s most exciting players to watch and he continues to progress every season. He has seen his OPS increase every year (.833 to .893 to .969) and he has become baseball’s best right fielder. He hit 37 homeruns last year despite only playing in 123 games and getting 449 at bats which is just insane. If he stays healthy, Stanton should be able to easily lead the league in homers next year and possible get that OPS over 1. The Marlins pretty much emptied their entire roster besides Stanton so he most likely won’t be seeing the playoffs any time soon but that doesn’t take away the fact at how good Stanton has been and is quickly becoming one of my favorite players in the game.

2. Jose Bautista

Last season’s stats: HR: 27 RBI: 65 AVG: .241 OPS: .886 OBP: .358 SLG: .527

Jose Bautista is baseball’s secret superstar as many people only see him as a homerun hitter but he is much more than that. His last season was derailed by injury but even with him hitting .241, his OPS would have led all right fielders if he had enough at bats to qualify. He still clubbed 27 homers in 332 at bats and was still one of the best in the game. The season before Bautista was an absolute monster and probably would have won the MVP if not of the Blue Jays being at the bottom of the division. He had an OPS of over 1 and his WAR was 7.7. Also, if you still just want to label him as a plain old power hitter, he did hit .300 that season with a .447 OBP. Bautista received many first place votes but he has to show that he can recover from his injury and return to his old self before he can return to the top spot.

3. Jay Bruce

Last season’s stats: HR: 34 RBI: 99 AVG: .252 OPS: .841 OBP: .327 SLG: .514

Jay Bruce had a typical Jay Bruce season having a low average but hitting a lot of homeruns and tallying close to 100 RBIs. Bruce hasn’t been the player everyone expected him to be but, his play still earned him a silver slugger last season and back to back all star appearances. Jay Bruce was second among right fielders in home runs only behind Stanton and was second in RBIs as well. Even with Bruce’s low average, he still manages to have a high OPS with his being 4th amongst right fielders. Bruce is also no slouch defensively, he has yet to win a Gold Glove but he has been nominated for one the past two seasons and he should win one very soon. He has a cannon for an arm and is one of the best defensively in the league. Bruce might have more potential than anyone on this list and is capable of becoming a MVP type player. He believes that he isn’t a .260 hitter and I completely agree with him. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him put it all together this season.

4. Jason Heyward

Last season’s stats: HR: 27 RBI: 82 AVG: .269 OPS: .814 OBP: .335 SLG: .479

Heyward is another player with a whole lot of potential but has yet to even come close to his. After having a very successful rookie campaign, Heyward experienced a rough 2011 but had a nice bounce back year getting his OPS back over .800. Heyward was second to Zobrist in WAR among right fielders with 5.5 while being top ten in pretty much every stat for a right fielder while earning his first Gold Glove last season. The reason Heyward isn’t higher is because he basically hasn’t proven himself yet. Heyward is only 23 and can only get better but until he does, he’s stuck a number 4.

5. Alex Rios

Last season’s stats: HR: 25 RBI: 91 AVG: .304 OPS: .850 OBP: .334 SLG: .516

Alex Rios is mostly unknown to people outside of Chicago but he burst onto the scene this year as he had the highest OPS out of all qualified right fielders including the highest slugging and most hits. The 31 year old finally had his break out year where he emerged as arguably the best right fielder in the league last year being one of only 2 to hit over .300 and almost leading the White Sox to a division championship while saving my fantasy team’s season. The reason he isn’t higher is because this was just one year compared to his last 5 seasons which ranged from awful to slightly above average. He’s going to have to repeat these numbers to move up but I wouldn’t count on that but then again I’ve been wrong before.

6. Ben Zobrist

Last season’s stats: HR: 20 RBI: 74 AVG: .270 OPS: .848 OBP: .377 SLG: .471

Even though Zobrist plays pretty much every position, he is considered a right fielder because that is where he started most of his games. After having a monstrous 2011 which included posting an 8.5 WAR and 91 RBIs, he had a solid 2012 raising his OPS and getting on base more. He led all right fielders in WAR which is expected for a hitter of Zobrist’s caliber that can play any position. Since he plays every position, it is extremely hard for him to get his great fielding rewarded because that makes it almost impossible to get Gold Glove consideration. Even without an award, Zobrist is one of the most valuable players in the league being one of the rare few to be able to hit anywhere in the lineup with success.

7. Carlos Beltran

Last season’s stats: HR: 32 RBI: 97 AVG: .269 OPS: .842 OBP: .346 SLG: .495

Carlos Beltran started off the season as hot as anyone having his OPS close to 1 for almost the entire first half but cooled way down as the season went on. Beltran was third among all right fielders in RBI, HR, and was 4th in SLG. Beltran really did his part in trying to fill the void Pujols left and almost had the Cardinals in the World Series once again. His play earned him his second consecutive all star appearance which is very impressive considering that he is 35 years old. Beltran continues to show that he is one of the best power threats in the league and will continue to be for a while.

8. Nick Swisher

Last season’s stats: HR: 24 RBI: 93 AVG: .272 OPS: .837 OBP: .364 SLG: .473

Swisher had a very good 2012 tallying 93 RBIs and a 3.5 WAR. The new Cleveland Indian had the 5th highest OPS out of all right fielders and 4th highest OBP. Swisher is one of the most stable players in the league never really having a bad year but also never having the super star type season which is the reason for not receiving a Gold Glove or Silver Slugger award. He is a great complimentary player, but he isn’t going to be the super star a team needs. He has the capability to hit 30 homers but with his age his power numbers have gone down. Swisher is a very good player and a great pick up for the Indians.

9. Torii Hunter

Last season’s stats: HR: 16 RBI: 92 AVG: .313 OPS: .817 OBP: .365 SLG: .451

Hunter, even though 37, is still putting up some great numbers and being one of the best defensive outfielders in the league. The 9-time Gold Glove winner had career high 5 double plays this season and had a defensive WAR of 1.0 which was good enough for third among right fielders. He had the 6th highest OPS, third highest on base percentage, 5th most RBIs, and had the second highest WAR among right fielders. Hunter isn’t the player he used to be but I really believe he could surprise a lot of people next season.

10. Josh Reddick

Last season’s stats: HR: 32 RBI: 85 AVG: .242 OPS: .768 OBP: .305 SLG: .463

Josh Reddick finally got his chance at being a full time starter and he made sure to make the most of it. His OPS and average weren’t too high but he made up for that by hitting 32 homeruns which was 3rd among right fielders and collecting 85 RBIs. He was the heart and soul of this A’s team and his value to the team can be shown with his WAR of 4.5 which was fifth among right fielders. The difference between Reddick and most power hitters is he is no slouch on defense. His phenomenal play in the field earned him his first Gold Glove and I guarantee you that won’t be his last. With the 25 year old Reddick leading the A’s youth movement, they are in very good shape for next year and beyond.

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