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Top 10 MLB Players: Right Field

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Last year, right field was the best position in baseball. Even with Ronald Acuna Jr. moving back to center, this corner outfield position should be once again dominate in 2022. There are at least five players who are legitimate Most Valuable Player candidates, and a couple more who could sneak in with a great season. It is not the deepest position, but the top tier of talent is unmatched.

10. Mitch Haniger, SEA

Mitch Haniger simply hits. Since being traded to Seattle in 2017, Haniger has slashed .263/.338/.486 with a 125 wRC+ and 10.9 fWAR in 481 games. He had huge years in 2018 and 2021 but missed much of 2019 and 2020 due to injuries. He is not the best defender, but he might be due for a move to a part-time designated hitter role with the depth that the Mariners now have in the outfield.

9. AJ Pollock, CWS

The White Sox dealt closer Craig Kimbrel for AJ Pollock in the last few days of spring training to fill a hole in the outfield. He dropped a fly ball leading to a walk-off loss on opening day, then got placed on the 10-day injured list. It is safe to say Pollock’s start in Chicago has been underwhelming, but he is still among the best right fielders in baseball. In his prime, Pollock may have been top three on this list, but he has fallen off quite a bit defensively. Still, he set a career-high with a 137 wRC+ in his age-33 season in 2021. With Pollock, the White Sox added another great bat to their already stacked lineup for the 2022 season.

8. Teoscar Hernandez, TOR

The Toronto Blue Jays have quite possibly the most electric roster in baseball entering the 2022 season. They’re young, they’re fun, and they mash. Right in the thick of that lineup is Teoscar Hernandez, who had another great year in 2021. Hernandez, who debuted as an Astro in 2016, has a 136 wRC+ and 5.7 fWAR since the start of the 2020 season. Entering his age-29 season, Hernandez still has some great years ahead of him, though projection models are a little low on him.

7. Starling Marte, NYM

It feels like a crime to put Starling Marte all the way down at seventh on this list. He is moving from center field to right field with the Mets but remains an elite baserunner with a great bat. In 2021, he led the entire league in FanGraphs’ all-encompassing baserunning stat, BsR, with 12.3 runs above average on the bases. In his 1,143 career games, Marte has amassed 128 home runs, 298 stolen bases, and 31.0 fWAR. Now, he will look to add consistency to a lineup notorious for its volatility in New York.

6. Seiya Suzuki, CHC

Is it a little early to rank Seiya Suzuki this high on the top ten at such a loaded position? Maybe. But at the same time, Suzuki has a real chance to place himself within the top five, or even the top three, by the end of the season. Through his first ten MLB games, Suzuki has slashed .429/.564/.929 with a 284 wRC+ with 1.0 fWAR in just 39 PAs. He obviously won’t keep that up for a full season, but he’s clearly avoided the adjustment period that many rookies have after coming from overseas.

In Suzuki’s nine NPB seasons, he slashed .315/.414/.570 with a .985 OPS and 182 home runs. Just for comparison, Ichiro Suzuki had a .943 OPS through his own age-26 season in Japan. Obviously, those are huge shoes to fill, but Suzuki’s shown that he can compete for MVP awards in the second-best baseball league in the world. He is by far the favorite for NL Rookie of the Year thus far.

5. Kyle Tucker, HOU

Kyle Tucker got off to a slow start but had an incredible finish to the 2021 season, finishing his first full MLB season with a .359 OBP, .557 SLG, .399 wxOBA, and 147 wRC+. From May 2nd onwards, he had a .390 OBP, .605 SLG, 169 wRC+, and 5.1 fWAR in 113 games. Tucker not only has an elite bat, but his glove is above average at his position as well. He has 10 career OAA in 1892.0 innings at the corner outfield positions. Tucker is just one piece of a stacked Astros lineup once again in 2022, which may be part of the reason he does not get as much attention as he deserves for his elite play.

4. Bryce Harper, PHI

The 2021 National League MVP checks in at the number four spot entering the 2022 season. Bryce Harper drowned out the noise and won his 2nd MVP trophy with a 170 wRC+, 6.6 fWAR season in 2021. Harper is undoubtedly one of the best hitters in the league and his 164 wRC+ since the start of the 2020 season ranks 2nd in the league. Harper has re-established himself as an MVP candidate and at just 29 years old, he still has half of a Hall of Fame career ahead of him.

3. Aaron Judge, NYY

Despite the criticism, Aaron Judge has been one of the most consistent players in baseball since his rookie year in 2017. While he hasn’t quite lived up to that standard, Judge has already put up 24.6 fWAR in just 582 games. A lot has been said about Judge’s injury issues, but he’s played at least 100 games in each of his four full seasons. In 2021, Judge had a 148 wRC+, .544 SLG, and 5.5 fWAR. He and the Yankees couldn’t come to an agreement on a long-term extension, turning this 2022 season into a huge contract year for the superstar outfielder.

2. Mookie Betts, LAD

I’m admittedly high on Mookie Betts, but it’s hard to argue with a guy who has averaged 7.2 fWAR per 150 games since 2016. Betts battled a hip injury en route to a down year in 2021, putting up just a 131 wRC+ and a 3.9 fWAR in 122 games. While 3.9 fWAR would be a career year for the vast majority of the league, it was the worst mark (in a full season) of Betts’ career. Betts is just 29 years old, and he’d arguably already be a Hall of Famer if he retired today. In 2022, he’ll look to add to a long list of accolades that already includes an MVP award, two World Series rings, five Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers, and five All-Star appearances.

1. Juan Soto, WSH

Even at the best position in the sport, Juan Soto has separated himself from the pack. He’s just 23 years old, but he’s already arguably the best position player in the league. Since debuting at just 19 years old, Soto has put up a ridiculous .301/.432/.550 slash line with a 156 wRC+ and 18.3 fWAR in only 475 games. He already has two Silver Sluggers, a batting title, an All-Star appearance, and a 2019 World Series ring. He’s the favorite to win his first National League MVP Award in 2022, despite playing for a Nationals team that’s projected just 71 wins by FanGraphs’ Depth Charts.

(Since Michael Conforto is still a free agent, he did not make the list. But note that once he signs, he will probably slot back into the top ten.)

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