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Boston Red Sox's J.D. Martinez watches his two-run home run against the Houston Astros during the sixth inning in Game 3 of baseball's American League Championship Series Monday, Oct. 18, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)


Mike Shara

Rather than just rank outfielders, I thought I’d be a little more specific because some drafts require you to cover all three outfield positions and it can be valuable to know who plays where and which of the outfield spots is deepest and which is kinda thin, so you can strategize appropriately on Draft Day. As you’ll see by the list below, Left Field is pretty deep with roster-able players, but that depth is somewhat deceptive. Almost every outfielder who hits enough to play but isn’t a standout defensive center fielder will play Left enough times during a season to qualify at the position. As you’ll notice, over ⅔ of these names are eligible at other spots, which means this list will thin out quicker than other positions will. So yes, if you don’t get Yordan, you can wait for your Left Fielder in shining armor, but don’t wait too long or you’ll get your heart broken and have to settle for some dude you like, but don’t really love.

An added note: if you don’t get one of the premium few guys who only qualify at LF, discount the others dramatically. I’ve even left a few of them off this list entirely. If a left fielder is only moderately productive and can’t be moved anywhere else, you’re better off drafting someone with a similar skill set who at least can fill more than one spot for you. You can always find a middling, immovable left fielder on the waiver wire once the season starts if you have to. 

1.  YORDAN ALVAREZ | Houston
– yep, he’s that good. Played 41 games here last year, making him #1 and still getting better.

2.  TEOSCAR HERNANDEZ | Toronto | other positions: RF
– has improved his chase rates, contact, steals and K% dramatically – still getting better, too.

3.  J.D. MARTINEZ | Boston
– not quite what he was 3-4 years ago, but a reliable 4 category producer in a good lineup.

4.  RANDY AROZARENA | Tampa Bay | other positions: RF
– underlying stats say he’s probably at his max, but 20/20 guys don’t grow on trees.

5.  ELOY JIMENEZ | Chicago (AL) 
– Spring Training injury ruined 4 months of 2021. Still hasn’t had a huge breakout – yet.

6.  GIANCARLO STANTON | NY Yankees | other positions: RF
– He’s 32 now, but exit velocities were his best in years. Health is the only thing limiting him.

 TYLER O’NEILL | St. Louis
– last year may have been his peak, but 34 HR and 15 SB is a pretty sweet peak. 

– only ranks this high because he was MVP caliber so recently but serious concerns here.

JESSE WINKER | Cincinnati
– a late injury muted his breakout age 27 season – but shows legit power and BA skills.

10 BRANDON LOWE | Tampa Bay | other positions: 2B, RF
– he’s only OF eligible on Yahoo!, but he’s equally valuable at all three spots.

11 BRYAN REYNOLDS  | Pittsburgh | other positions: CF
– was a deserving All-Star in ‘21 and is turning 27 this year. I think there’s more coming.

12 KRIS BRYANT | ??? | other positions: CF, 3B, 1B, RF
– he profiles best here or at CF. His MVP-level seasons seem a thing of the past.

13  KYLE SCHWARBER | ??? | other positions: 1B
– ballpark won’t matter to him- switching to Fenway mid-season didn’t hurt him in ‘21.

14  JOSH BELL | Washington | other positions: 1B
– after a dismal first 6 weeks, he returned to form – not quite 2019, but that’s still possible.

– his BA drop, struggles vs. LHP and SB decline explain why Rays might try to trade him.

16 LOURDES GURRIEL JR | Toronto | other positions: 1B
– recovered from early injuries to have a very good second half. Power, BA seem legit.

17 RYAN MOUNTCASTLE | Baltimore | other positions 1B
– he, too, picked it up in the second half of ‘21. Power is legit – OBP might be a struggle.

18 ALEX VERDUGO | Boston | other positions: RF, CF
– hitting near the top of Boston’s lineup increases his value. Decent late rounder.

19 AKIL BADDOO | Detroit | other positions: CF
– lots to like about a 23 year-old with such a patience, power potential and speed combo.

20 JOEY GALLO | NY Yankees | other positions: RF
– the short porch at Yankee Stadium messed with his approach. If he resets…45/50 HR?

Most guys who play one of the corner outfield spots end up qualifying in the other corner, too. If you’re looking to select players for your bench in the later rounds of your draft, one outfielder who qualifies at all three OF spots is probably more valuable – as long as he’s going to see playing time and be semi-productive. A flexible guy who only gets you 8 at-bats a week on the short side of a platoon isn’t any use, no matter how many spots he can play. FWIW I think Duvall and Happ are your best bets here. You can live with Grossman, Pollock and Canha as your extra OF and I don’t think Kelenic or Vaughn are there yet, but I’m biased against youngsters. They are probably going to get there – I just don’t think it’ll be in 2022.

Dylan Carlson, STL  (CF, RF) Mark Canha, NYM (RF, CF)
Austin Hays, BAL  (RF) Chris Taylor, LAD (RF, CF, SS, 2B, 3B)
Jarred Kelenic, SEA (CF) Adolis Garcia, TEX (RF, CF)
Adam Duvall, ATL  (CF, RF) Ian Happ, CHC (CF, RF)
A.J. Pollock, LAD (CF) Robbie Grossman, DET (RF)
Michael Brantley, HOU (RF) Jo Adell, LAA (RF)
Alex Kiriloff, MIN (1B, RF) Andrew Vaughn, CHW (1B, RF)

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