Over the offseason, the team of contributors at Baseball Essential voted upon every position on the diamond, compiling our comprehensive Top 15 countdowns for the 2019 season.
Major League Baseball is overflowing with youth and skill, but don’t forget about the rugged veterans we all know and love. These Top 15 rundowns will feature a splendid mix of young, exuberant athletes, and the aged, mature individuals who mentor them.
As for the positions, we will unveil the top 15 starting pitchers, relievers, catchers, first basemen, second basemen, third basemen, shortstops, left fielders, center fielders, and right fielders, as well as the foremost designated hitters, utilitymen, and managers over the next few weeks.
Our voting format is simple. The team of writers and analysts at BBE were given ballots a few weeks back for their top 10 individuals at each spot. A first-place vote is worth 10 points, second-place is good for nine, and so on.
As the spring training season comes to a close and the 2019 MLB season begins, you will see these countdowns published in conjunction with the beginning of another exciting MLB season. To keep track of the Top 15 lists you might have missed, stay posted to the Top 15 tag on the site.
In the rundown, we list the player, their position among the list, and how many points they have received in the voting. Now, you’re ready. Here are MLB’s Top 15 right fielders for the 2019 season.
15. Max Kepler, Minnesota Twins (Last year: not ranked)
Kepler has never been, and will never be a premier offensive outfielder, but his value on a young and playoff-aspiring Twins club is still apparent through his work on the right field grass. Since jumping into the major leagues, the left-hander has been a plus defensive player, posting a 1.2 Baseball-Reference defensive WAR and 15 FanGraphs defensive runs saved for his career, including seven DRS in right field last season.
The German slashed .224/.319/.408 with 20 home runs, 58 RBIs, 71 walks, and 30 doubles last season. At just 26 years old, he is a clear source of moderate offensive value and defensive reliability.
14. Jason Heyward, Chicago Cubs (Last year: 11th)
It is obvious that Heyward’s best seasons are behind him, but he isn’t even that old (29), and he is still an above-average right fielder in many regards. The five-time Gold Glove Award winner possesses one of the most feared throwing arms in the sport and still has the foot quickness to be a positive defender (three DRS in right field last year, 134 for his career).
The left-hander slashed .270/.335/.395 with eight home runs, 57 RBIs, 42 walks, and 35 extra-base hits in 2018. Heyward’s tenure with the Cubs has been insanely shaky, but with the team being as stacked as it is with young talent — hello, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Albert Almora, etc. — Heyward only has to be a role player to be successful.
13. Josh Reddick, Houston Astros (Last year: 7th)
Much like many Astros position players, Reddick had a career-year in 2017, then fell off some in 2018. In Houston’s World Series-winning 2017 campaign, Reddick hit a career-best .314 and added in 13 home runs and a 130 OPS+, but followed it up poorly, slashing .242/.318/.400 with 17 bombs and 13 doubles in 2018.
Reddick’s value in 2019 is as a left-handed bat in an Astros lineup without many, and the 32-year-old is still a valuable defender, with six DRS and positive defensive WAR ratings (0.1).
12. Adam Eaton, Washington Nationals (Last year: not ranked)
In Eaton’s first two years with the Nationals, he has been healthy enough to play just 118 total games. An ACL tear decimated his 2017 season, and an early-2018 ankle injury shortened his season as well. Considering the price the Nats paid for his services (Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito, and Dane Dunning), Washington was expecting so much more from the left-hander and will hopefully get a full season from him in 2019.
Because when he is healthy, he’s a borderline star. In his last full season, 2016 with the Chicago White Sox, Eaton slashed .284/.362/.428 with 14 home runs, 59 RBIs, 14 stolen bases, an American League-best nine triples, and even compiled votes for the AL Most Valuable Player Award.
11. Nomar Mazara, Texas Rangers (Last year: not ranked)
With how he is entering his fourth full season in the big leagues, it’s easy to forget that Nomar Mazara is only 23 years old and at an age where most top players are just now getting to the majors. Before turning 24 the big-swinging left-hander has compiled 62 home runs, 249 runs batted in, and 138 extra-base knocks.
In 2018 he slashed .258/.317/.436 with 20 homers, 77 RBIs, 40 walks, and 25 doubles. However, he has displayed some struggles in right field and will have to clean up his first-step quickness and defensive instincts to be a true multi-faceted star.
10. Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets (Last year: not ranked)
In 2018 Nimmo became an intriguing story for a Mets team without many happy ones to tell. His development into a potential star has been a talking point in the New York media for a while, and last season the left-handed hitter showed what he could be. In 140 games, Nimmo hit .263/.404/.483 with 17 home runs, 47 RBIs, nine steals, and 80 walks. That .404 on-base percentage was good for second in the National League among qualified hitters, behind only Joey Votto.
Nimmo has played mostly left field in the early parts of 2019, which is a good change of pace from his right field-heavy 2018 season, where he posted a -5 DRS. With a reloaded team full of various star acquisitions, the Mets might not need Nimmo to be a superstar, but he still has potential that mirrors that.
9. Andrew McCutchen, Philadelphia Phillies (Last year: not ranked)
It’s hard to believe that McCutchen was not even a top-three offseason acquisition by the Phillies, but he still has quite a bit of gas left in his tank to contribute to one of the most entertaining teams in MLB. The five-time NL All-Star spent the 2018 season with the San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees, slashing .255/.368/.424 with 20 home runs, 65 RBIs, 14 stolen bases, 95 walks, and a 118 OPS+.
After years of minus value as a defensive center fielder, the right-hander rebounded in his change to right field, posting a 2 DRS in over 1,200 innings in right with the Giants and Yankees. The 2013 NL MVP is an insanely mature and disciplined hitter, is still a capable baserunner, and has shown the ability to stay productive despite an aging curve of sorts (now 32).
8. Nick Markakis, Atlanta Braves (Last year: not ranked)
At 34 years old, Markakis had a career year in 2018, appearing in his first All-Star game, winning the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger for right fielders in the NL, and accruing MVP votes for the first time in his career. He slashed .297/.366/.440 with 14 home runs, 93 RBIs, 72 walks, 185 hits, and 43 doubles. The left-hander jumped his career hits total to a remarkable 2,237, which is fourth among active MLB players.
His is reliable at the plate and on the outfield grass, a fan favorite in the Atlanta area as someone who went to high school 20 miles from SunTrust Park, is as durable as any player in the sport (he has never missed more than 15 games in a single season since first appearing in the majors), and is a valuable veteran presence on a Braves team with a lot of youth and pressure to succeed.
7. Yasiel Puig, Cincinnati Reds (Last year: 8th)
Puig’s career, to this point, has been a rollercoaster ride. Through drama with the Los Angeles Dodgers, multiple benchings and minor-league assignments, and an offseason trade to the Reds, the right-handed outfielder has, however, remained one of the game’s most entertaining and exhilarating presences. The former Rookie of the Year finalist hit .267/.327/.494 with 23 home runs, 63 RBIs, 15 stolen bases, 55 extra-base hits, and a 120 OPS+ last season.
The 28-year-old is a guy with a lot of swagger and self-confidence, and that could rub off on the rest of the Reds young and evolving roster in 2019.
6. Nicholas Castellanos, Detroit Tigers (Last year: not ranked)
With his defensive struggles, Castellanos might be better suited to play in the designated hitter role going forward. His -14 DRS at third base in 2017 looked bad until he shifted to right field last year and posted a -19 DRS in 1,234.1 innings. Clearly written, he won’t win a Gold Glove any time soon. So why is he so high on this list? Well, he is one of the best pure sluggers at the right field position in the sport.
The big right-hander slashed .298/.354/.500 with 23 home runs, 89 RBIs, 46 doubles, and a career-best 130 OPS+ last season. The 27-year-old led the Detroit Tigers in all three slash line stat counts, as well as home runs, RBIs, hits (185), extra-base hits (74), and bWAR (2.9). Despite awful defense all year long, he was and will continue to be a valuable presence in the Tigers’ dugout.
5. Stephen Piscotty, Oakland Athletics (Last year: not ranked)
Piscotty had an off year as a Cardinal, and with that and a trade that sent him to Oakland, it seemed like people had forgotten just how talented he was. 2018 was a solid reminder, as the right-hander played an irreplaceable role on a surprising A’s club that won 97 contests, slashing .267/.331/.491 with a career-high in home runs (27), RBIs (88), and doubles (27).
He is steady in right field, with good foot quickness and a decent throwing arm, as well. Signed through 2022 (with a 2023 team option), Oakland has one of the best right fielders in baseball locked up for the immediate future.
4. Mitch Haniger, Seattle Mariners (Last year: not ranked)
An All-Star for the first time in 2018, last season was a breakout campaign for Haniger, who spearheaded the Mariners’ offense for much of the year. The righty slashed .285/.366/.493 with 26 home runs, 93 RBIs, 70 walks, and 38 doubles, leading the 89-win club with a 6.1 bWAR, a career-best by a mile.
He is quietly a complete and elite outfielder at a position chock-full of stars. He has good speed, displays discipline and power at the plate, and is a talented defender (nine DRS in right field in 2018). On a Seattle club that was forced to shed salary and skill over the offseason, the 28-year-old is the team’s best player.
3. Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies (Last year: 2nd)
A free agency that extended into spring training ended with Harper signing with the Philadelphia Phillies, where he has been an instant success in terms of on-field and off-field performance. One of the most popular and recognizable players of this era, the left-hander slashed .249/.393/.496 with 34 home runs, 100 RBIs, 13 stolen bases, 34 doubles, a 133 OPS+, and an MLB-high 130 walks with the Nationals in 2018.
He signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies, despite defensive blunders (-16 DRS) and inconsistencies at the plate last season, because the 26-year-old is a captivating figure, whether he’s 2018 Harper or 2015 Harper (42 home runs and 1.109 OPS at 22 years old).
2. Aaron Judge, New York Yankees (Last year: 3rd)
Judge took the baseball world by storm in 2017, hitting 52 home runs for the Yankees and leading the club to the AL Championship Series as the AL Rookie of the Year Award winner and MVP runner-up. His 2018 season was hampered by injuries, but was still a superb follow-up on a historic rookie campaign, as he hit .278/.381/.528 with 27 home runs, 67 RBIs, 76 walks, six stolen bases, and a 146 OPS+.
His reputation is as a heavy-hitting, strikeout-prone home run specialist, but the righty is much more, including one of the best defensive players at the position. The 26-year-old posted a 14 DRS in 789.2 innings of work in right field, which ranked second among all players at the right field spot. He is a complete player and a superstar at that.
1. Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox (Last year: 4th)
Betts had a dream 2018 season, and while he had been an established star for years, last year allowed the 26-year-old to take his rightful place atop the positional power rankings and near the summit of all MLB players. He slashed .346/.438/.640 with 32 home runs, 80 RBIs, 47 doubles, 30 stolen bases, and 81 walks in 136 games, winning his first AL MVP, his second Silver Slugger, and his third Gold Glove.
He is an insane offensive player who hits for average and power, steals bases with ease, and works the count well. The righty is also a sensational defensive player, posting a 20 DRS in 2018. At 26, he has already accumulated a 35.2 bWAR and is only getting better. Right now, Betts has the best argument as the game’s second-best player, behind only Mike Trout. In 10 years we might be talking about Betts as a future Hall of Famer.