Next stop on our NL East positional rankings: The Outfield
We are going to group the outfield into one post this week. This weekend we will put all of the rankings together and rank each team’s roster within the division.
- Jayson Werth – Nationals – 2016 WAR: 1.1
After finishing 8th in MVP voting in 2010, the Nationals rewarded Werth with a monster 7 year/$126 Million deal in 2011. This is the final year of that contract and after staying healthy in 2016, Werth proved that he can still be a serviceable every day player, but serviceable is about as good as the 37 year old will be this season.
- Matt Kemp – Braves – 2016 WAR: 0.7
Long gone is that 2011 MVP runner up season that led to the 8 year/$160 Million contract for Kemp. However, many seem to think Matt Kemp has found new life in Atlanta and can begin to look more the Kemp of old. Don’t count on all star production from the 32 year old, but there are worse options out there.
- Howie Kendrick – Phillies – 2016 WAR: 0.9
Are you sensing a trend among NL East Left Fielders? The 33 year old had by far his worst season of his big league career in 2016. Hopefully a change of scenery will help him break out of the season long slump. Outside of 2016, Kendrick has been pretty consistent and the Phillies decided last year was a fluke and gave him a two year deal.
- Marcell Ozuna – Marlins – 2016 WAR: 2.4
The first non 30-something on this list, Ozuna is hit or miss. He had a good rookie season in 2014, a pretty bad season in 2015, then returned to his 2014 form last year. Maybe the demotion in 2015 was a wake up call and we will see Ozuna’s bat stay around league average. He hit 23 HR’s last season, but you know how I feel about home runs in 2016…
- Yoenis Cespedes – Mets – 2016 WAR: 3.2
Clearly the best left fielder in the division, the Mets made a great move by locking up Cespedes for the foreseeable future. He earned his second all star appearance last year and I see no reason why he won’t play at an all star caliber level again in 2017.
- Curtis Granderson – Mets – 2016 WAR: 2.6
Overall a great guy and a role model, but the guy has hit .244 over the last eight years of his career. At this point I see Granderson really as a bench player that may get some pinch hit at bats, but it looks like the Mets are ready to roll with him as the starting center fielder.
Honestly, these next four guys were a tie for first for me. Say what you will, but you could arrange these four players in any order and I wouldn’t argue it. With that being said, I rated them by 2016 WAR just in case you aren’t buying my four way tie for first.
- Ender Inciarte – Braves – 2016 WAR: 3.6
By far the best defensive center fielder in the division, Inciarte’s value goes much deeper than the numbers at the plate. He has the ability to change the momentum of a game with his glove in the way that a lot of guys do with the bat. Oh, and he is a pretty high contact hitter with some dangerous wheels.
- Odubel Herrera – Phillies – 2016 WAR: 3.8
Herrera is a player that is easy to get excited about. A rule 5 pick that puts up back to back highly productive seasons at the plate to start his career will turn some heads. He is the second best player at the position in terms of defense within the division and was rewarded with a nice contract this offseason.
- Christian Yelich – Marlins – 2016 WAR: 4.4
A consistent player through his first three full big league seasons, Yelich has already won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award. The Marlins made an excellent move signing him through 2021, with an option for 2022, at a very team friendly price. Hot off of a memorable appearance for Team USA in the WBC, Yelich will be in contention for his first all star game appearance this season.
- Adam Eaton – Nationals – 2016 WAR: 6.0
The signing of Adam Eaton may have put this Nationals lineup over the top. Trea Turner can now move to short and the Nationals are in business. He is definitely not the best defensive center fielder of the bunch, but he is always guaranteed to put up an aesthetically pleasing slash line.
- Jay Bruce – Mets – 2016 WAR: 0.9
At this point it feels like the Mets are just trying to keep Michael Conforto off of the field… In all seriousness, Bruce can still be a legitimate threat in the lineup. Expect 25-30 homeruns from him, but not much of anything else. His birthday is opening day so I’m calling at least one dinger on the 3rd against Atlanta…
- Nick Markakis – Braves – 2016 WAR: 1.1
Markakis posted his lowest career average last season, which is pretty good considering it was .269, but his highest slugging percentage since 2012. Markakis will still be an effective big leaguer this year, but will continue to fly under the radar. The good news, he is a doubles machine.
- Michael Saunders – Phillies – 2016 WAR: 1.4
The oft-injured Saunders exceeded rookie status in 2010, but has only played in more than 100 games in 3 seasons. After 140 games last year, Saunders proved that he can be a force in the lineup and a decent player defensively when he is able to stay on the field. The Phillies are taking a chance on him with a one year deal, and an option for 2018, that could pay off if he is able to stay healthy.
- Giancarlo Stanton – Marlins – 2016 WAR: 1.7
Giancarlo “Don’t Call Me Mike” Stanton, the $325M man, the “Don’t Give Me a 2016 All Star Selection” Home Run Derby champion, absolutely has to stay healthy if the Marlins hope to finish .500. There is not much that we can say about Stanton that hasn’t been said before. His exit velocity makes him one of the most exciting players in the game and he can change the momentum of a game with one swing of the bat.
- Bryce Harper – Nationals – 2016 WAR: 3.5
The best outfielder in the NL, it is no secret that Harper had a down year in 2016 by his standards. He did post another high walk rate and his lowest career strikeout rate, which leads me to believe his soft% of batted balls, which was at a career high rate, is what led to his low BABIP and ultimately his low average. He had 31 less extra base hits in 2016 versus 2015 and the average dropped by almost 100 points. Regardless, 2017 will be a big year for Harper. Either opposing pitchers have figured him out, or his game has adjusted and he will be even better. Playing on a one year deal, there is a lot riding on this season for Harper.
Featured Image Courtesy of: David Santiago/El Nuevo Herald