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Ranking the Top 10 Outfielders Before the 2024 MLB Season

MLB Outfielders - Yankees' Juan Soto, Aaron Judge
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This represents the continuation of a series ranking the top players at each position for the 2024 season. Next up, we take a look at MLB outfielders.

Given that this is a forward-thinking projection, please remember: if a younger player is on the rise, I will project them to be better. If an older player is on the decline, I will project them to be worse. If a player had a freak awful 2023 season after being on the rise, I will project them to be better as long as there are no off-the-field issues.

Let’s dive in and explore Chris’ top 10 outfielders for the 2024 MLB season. Click here for an archive of other positions, including the No. 30-11 outfielders in MLB.

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10. Luis Robert Jr.

The White Sox center fielder sneaks into the top 10. Robert had an awesome season last year as he hit 38 home runs, slashed .264/.315/.542, and had a 128 WRC+. He also had a great season in the field with 6 DRS and 13 OAA. Altogether, he ranked sixth in fWAR amongst outfielders. Similar to a couple of the guys just behind him, Robert fell a few spots because I expect the players ahead of him to have breakout years.

9. Kyle Tucker

The former World Series champion comes in at No. 9. Tucker has been underrated for a couple of years now. Last season, he hit 29 home runs, slashed .284/.369/.517, and had a 140 wRC+. Tucker was well below average in the field with 1 DRS and -5 OAA. Even though he lacks defensive flair, his bat and impressive baserunning skills place him among the top 10 MLB outfielders. There are very few players I would prefer in a big spot over Tucker.

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8. Corbin Carroll

The 2023 National League Rookie of the Year slips in at No. 8. Carroll was phenomenal last year as he hit 25 home runs, slashed .285/.362/.506, and had a 133 wRC+. In the field, he registered -3 DRS and 4 OAA. So why is the 23-year-old only ranked eighth? The players ahead of him are either proven to be extremely consistent or on the verge of breakout seasons. However, do not be surprised if Carroll ranks in the top five by the end of the season.

7. Yordan Alvarez

Alvarez is primarily a designated hitter, but he does play some left field. Plus, it felt weird to make all of these lists without even mentioning someone who might be the league’s best hitter. And, boy, he can rake. Last year, he hit 31 home runs, slashed .293/.407/.583, and had a 170 wRC+. Alvarez was even better in 2022 when he contributed a 187 wRC+. During his limited time in the field, he had -1 DRS and -3 OAA. I understand why some people would omit Alvarez from this list, but he deserves the recognition and respect.

6. Mike Trout

Yes, this seems low, but hear me out. Trout has been the best or second-best player in the league for over a decade now. However, in his past three seasons, he played 36, 119, and 82 games, respectively. In his limited time last year, he had a 134 wRC+. This number is great, but it’s not at the top of the league. To be the best of the best, you need to play a lot of games. Trout has not been reliable the last three seasons. Maybe he goes back to being the Mike Trout this season, but until then, he falls outside the top five.

5. Julio Rodriguez

Rodriguez is one of the league’s flashiest players, making him easy to support. The American League Rookie of the Year in 2022, Rodriguez played even better in 2023. Even though he was not quite as good at the plate, he was better in the field and on the basepaths. He hit 32 home runs, slashed .275/.333/.485, and had a 126 wRC+. He’s also just 23 years old. There’s no doubt that the sky is the limit for Rodriguez.

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4. Fernando Tatis Jr.

Despite receiving a suspension for performance-enhancing substances in 2022, he picked up where he left off relatively quickly in 2023. All in all, he hit 23 home runs, slashed .257/.322/.449, and had a 119 wRC+. Even though these are not MVP-caliber numbers, he appeared much more comfortable throughout the second half of the season. Additionally, he turned in a .364 xwOBA, which takes into account strikeouts, walks, and quality of contact (rather than the actual result). The fact that Tatis’ 2023 campaign started a little slow and still ended on a very high note suggests that he will be even better if he is more consistent. Finally, Tatis was terrific in the field with 27 DRS and 9 OAA. If he shakes off the last bit of rust from his suspension, Tatis will be better both at the plate and in the field.

3. Juan Soto

Soto will play in a new environment after the Padres traded him to the Yankees. He had plenty of protection around him with Tatis and Manny Machado last year and will benefit from a similar group of talented teammates in 2024 (headlined, of course, by one of MLB’s best sluggers, Aaron Judge). Last year, he hit 35 home runs, slashed .275/.410/.519, and had a 155 wRC+. For someone who gets on base often, produces solid contact, and hits for power at an elite level, you may wonder why he’s not No. 1 or 2. The answer? He is pretty brutal in the field, especially compared to the players who occupy the top two spots. For context, the 2023 version of Soto finished with -6 DRS and -9 OAA. Of course, all 30 teams would put up with bad fielding to deploy one of the league’s best offensive players.

2. Ronald Acuna Jr.

The 2023 National League Most Valuable Player occupies the No. 2 spot. He was 100 percent deserving of that award after hitting 41 homer runs, slashing .337/.416/.596, and producing a 170 wRC+. He was not quite as great in the field with his -2 DRS and -9 OAA. However, he made up for the below-average fielding with elite baserunning. He stole 73 bases and finished third in BsR. When you factor in his elite batting and baserunning skills, it’s easier to ignore some of Acuna’s defensive deficiencies.

1. Aaron Judge

Is anyone surprised? Even with only 106 games played last year, Judge still finished sixth in WAR among MLB outfielders. In those 106 games, he hit 37 home runs, slashed .267/.406/.613, and had a 174 wRC+. Although he played below-average defense, he has proven to be an invaluable asset when fully healthy. Many called it a huge step back from his 2022 season, but every general manager in the league would take this type of season over the overwhelming majority of players in MLB.


Main Image Credit:

Embed from Getty Images

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