Power Rankings: Top 20 Outfielders in ’15

  1. Matt Kemp (San Diego Padres)

Matt Kemp being on the trade block has been a Top-10 story in baseball ever since he first caught the injury bug back in 2012. This offseason the Dodgers finally traded him away (to the San Diego Padres). San Diego will be bringing one of the hottest bats of the 2nd half of the 2014 season into their club house. I fully expect the offense to be on display from Kemp; however, the defense is not what it once was. Kemp had the lowest defensive efficiency of every outfielder this year (min. 500 PA). Kemp may be passed his Gold Glove days, but he will most certainly provide a pop for the Padres.

 

  1. Hanley Ramirez (Boston Red Sox)

Although Ramirez has been injured a few times the last couple years, there are other reasons as to why he did not make the top 10. Ramirez, while being possibly the best offensive shortstop in the MLB over the last two years, is a liability on defense. He had a DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) score of -9 last year. While fielding balls with a 60% to 90% chance of being made, Ramirez only completed the play 56% of the time (per FanGraphs).  For comparison: Ian Desmond, whom I believe to be an average defender, finished 2014 with a DRS of two and fielding percentage of “likely” playable balls (60%-90%) of 64.5%.

Ramirez never really was a great defensive shortstop. Some may say the position change could help him, due to fewer opportunities, but I still believe his glove will not be good enough to put Hanley and his offense in my top 10.

 

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury (New York Yankees)

Jacoby Ellsbury is an anomaly. We know now that what Ellsbury did in 2011 was a one year thing, but that doesn’t mean he’s not still a top outfielder. In his first year with the New York Yankees (2014) we saw Ellsbury’s 2nd highest marks in HR and RBI, and of course a great stolen base record as per usual (39 out of 44). The former Red Sox’s ability to field the tough plays was as good, or better than it’s ever been in 2014, but the metrics still didn’t love his year.

Ellsbury is a baseball player whose talent isn’t going away any time soon. I expect a low RBI number, due to a rough Yankees lineup, but another high SB number and a great defensive year.

 

  1. and 11. Carlos Gonzalez (Colorado Rockies) and Hunter Pence (San Francisco Giants)

I linked these two players together because I expect to see the same thing out of both of them. If they are healthy, they are All-Stars; if they are unhealthy, their teams suffer huge blows. Surprisingly enough, Pence (who has had at least 600 PA in seven of his eight years) is the one coming into the season injured (broke forearm in preseason game, could be back by May). Gonzalez, on the other hand, is healthy coming into the year, but has a history of injury problems (at least 600 PA one of seven years). If these two men are trying to come back from a broken forearm and knee surgery, maybe – just maybe – I can push through the pain of a hand cramp to finish this article.

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