Welcome to Part III of ranking Top 30 Outfielders of 2023. This will be numbered 10-1.
This list is strictly predicting how these players will perform in 2023. Does that mean last year doesn’t matter? Absolutely not. Last season matters the most. However, this list also factors in how the players have performed since 2020, how much they progressed or regressed, and if 2022 was just an outlier. Rather than ranking each outfield position, I decided to mix them all in one list.
Without further ado, here are the Top 10 Outfielders of 2023.
10. George Springer
Springer is one of the most underrated players in the league. Despite having a “down” year last year, it was still elite. He hit 25 Home Runs, batted .267, and had a .342 OBP, .814 OPS, and 132 WRC+. He also took a step back defensively, where he had -4 (Defensive Runs Saved) DRS and 1 Out Above Average) OAA. Despite all this, he is someone that you can trust as much as anyone in the league in a big spot. He will be 34 by the end of the season, so although last season COULD be a sign of regression, he has earned the benefit of the doubt.
9. Bryce Harper
Harper will miss half of the season, but he is still on this list because I expect him to make a full recovery and the Phillies to make the playoffs. Like Springer, though Harper had a down year last year, he was still great. He batted .286, had a .364 OBP, .878 OPS, and 138 WRC+. This was down from his 170 WRC+ in 2022, but a large reason for this was his injuries. With his “down” in 2022, he 100% made up for it in the playoffs, where he had a 217 WRC+. Deciding where to rank Harper is harder this year because we do not know how he will be when he comes back, but if he’s healthy, there is no debate if he will be in the top 10 or not.
8. Fernando Tatis Jr.
Tatis is another player that is tough to rank. Not only is he missing part of the season due to suspension, but he is also coming off a significant wrist injury. Lucky for him, his team did well enough in the playoffs so that he does not have to miss too many games to begin the year. However, if he returns anything like he was in 2021, the league better watch out. He hit 42 Home Runs, batted .282, had a .364 OBP, .975 OPS, and 157 WRC+.
Part of what also keeps him lower is not knowing how he will adjust to changing positions, from shortstop to outfield. In his very limited time in the outfield, he had 0 DRS and -2 OAA. Even if he is a negative in the outfield, if he hits close to what he did in 2021, he is in the Top 10.
7. Julio Rodriguez
J Rod had an extremely impressive rookie season. He hit 28 Home Runs, batted .284, had a .345 OBP, .854 OPS, and 146 WRC+. Though not as dominant, he was still very solid at the plate in the playoffs, where he had a 125 WRC+. J Rod was also very good in the field, with 3 DRS and 6 OAA. The Mariners should be excited not only because they have a guy this talented but also because he will be turning 22 next month. The sky’s the limit with J Rod, and the only reason he is not higher is because of how stacked the outfield positions are.
6. Yordan Alvarez
Alvarez had a great start to his career from 2019 to 2021, but he exploded in 2022. He hit 37 Home Runs, batted .306, and had a .406 OBP, 1.019 OPS, and 185 WRC+, which was second in all of baseball. He spent most of his time playing DH last year, but Fangraphs is projecting him to play a lot of left field this year. His defensive stats are split in which he has 5 DRS and -5 OAA. There is a very high chance he repeats what he did last year offensively and improves on defense. If this is the case, he will be higher on this list, but I am anticipating big seasons from the guys in my Top 5 as well.
5. Ronald Acuna Jr.
Acuna, at his best, is one of the best players in the league. From 2020-2021 (where he played 128 games), he hit 38 Home Runs, drove in 118 runs, batted .271, had a .399 OBP, .990 OPS, and 157 WRC+. Acuna also had 6 DRS and 2 OAA. He was the NL MVP frontrunner in 2021 before he tore his ACL in July. This injury and many others caused him to take a massive step back in 2022.
In 119 games played, Acuna hit 15 Home Runs, batted .266, had a .351 OBP, 764 OPS, and 114 WRC+. Unfortunately, after returning from his ACL injury at the end of April, he still missed a good amount of games afterward. In addition, he missed some time injuring his groin, quad, knee, foot, and back in just four months. Although there is no guarantee that he will return to who he was in 2020-2021, he has Top 3 potential if he stays healthy.
4. Juan Soto
Soto had a “down year” in 2022. But a down year for Soto is something literally all 30 Front Offices would take. He hit 27 Home Runs, batted .242, had a .401 OBP, .853 OPS, and 145 WRC+. This was down from his 202 and 163 WRC+ seasons in 2020 and 2021. Soto was also abysmal in the field, with -2 DRS and -12 OAA. His numbers dropped after he got traded to San Diego at the trade deadline. As mentioned with multiple players in this series, many players need time to adjust to a newer environment, especially younger guys like Soto. I would expect a massive recovery (even though he was still elite in his slump year) from Soto in 2023.
3. Mookie Betts
Betts is debatably the best 5-tool player in the game. He took a slight step back in 2021 (just like Soto’s 2022, it was still elite) but got right back to being Mookie Betts in 2022. He hit 35 Home Runs, batted .269, and had a .340 OBP, .873 OPS, and 144 WRC+. He is also an elite fielder who had 15 DRS and 4 OAA. He has won a gold glove six out of the last seven years. If you factor in a player’s track record, availability, versatility, and intangibles, Betts is debatably the best player in the league.
2. Aaron Judge
Last year’s AL MVP comes in at number 2. He had one historic 2022 season. Not only did he break the AL single-season home run record at 62, but he also drove in 131 runs, batted .325, had a .425 OBP, 1.111 OPS, and 207 WRC+, which was the highest since 2004 (Barry Bonds.) He was also pretty solid in the field, with 3 DRS and 2 OAA. Judge had one of the most historic seasons in 2022, so in my opinion, it is not a matter of if he will regress but how much. If he drops his WRC+ by 20 points, it will still be one of, if not the best, in the league. So even if we see big regression from Judge, I still think he will be a top-two outfielder in the league
1. Mike Trout
Who else? Trout has been the best-position player in the league for a decade now. Last year, in 119 games, he hit 40 Home Runs, batted .283, had a .369 OBP, .999 OPS, and 189 WRC+. He did, however, not have a good year in the field. Trout had 0 DRS and 3 OAA. His main concern over the past two years has been his availability. In 2021 Trout only played 36 games, and 119 in 2022. With this all being said, when he is on the field, there simply is no player you would take over him.
Well, there you have it. The Top 30 Outfielders series is done. This year will be the year of redemption for a lot of these guys, and it will be a beautiful thing to see.
Next: Top 10 Relievers
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