Every year MLB Network puts on a series entitled “Top 10 Right Now” at each position in the game of baseball. And over the years I have joined along and made my list. Now before last season, it didn’t mean much beyond being a personal exercise. Last year having had LaracuenteLedger.com, I now have a platform to display my list. And this year I’ll be keeping with the decade-long tradition. I follow along with MLB Network and release my list as they air the corresponding episode of each position. So we begin with the Top 10 Right Fielders Right Now.
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Each time I sit down to make out my list of the Top 10 at each position I look to the graphic above that MLB Network releases. I usually have an idea in mind of my top players at each position, but then I research and try to make my best decision. Now the selection process is somewhat like a fantasy draft of each position as an individual draft. But by the same token one must take into account previous output and estimate what the player can do in the upcoming season at that position. And be sure to listen to tomorrow’s episode of The Laracuente Ledger Podcast for a complete recap of both my Top 10 Right Fielders & Catchers Right Now. So number ten on my Top 10 Right Fielders Right now is…
No. 10: Andrew McCutchen
The elder statesmen of my list, Andrew McCutchen starts out at number ten. And while some may disagree with the addition of Cutch when other guys like Nomar Mazara, Stephen Piscotty, and Hunter Renfroe could surpass him. I added Cutch because of watching him with the Yankees in the second half of the season. And during that time, Andrew would display some of those talents that made him an MVP. McCutchen over the last three seasons has a Base on Balls percentage of 12.9%. Which is fourth among all Right Fielder (min 600 PA).
Andrew is moving from the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium to the equally as hitter-friendly Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia. Making the move to the Phillies home ballpark will benefit Cutch greatly. As the smaller surrounding will give McCutchen the ability to spray the ball and drive homers out to every area of the park. I expect a good year out of the $50 million outfielder.
No. 9: Adam Eaton
The Washington Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton is number nine on my list. Eaton will be the Opening Day Right Fielder for the Washington Nationals (as presently constructed). And Eaton provides the Nats with a grinder at the plate and a hustler in the field. Adam Eaton is a guy that has dealt with some injury issues over the past few years but when healthy, delivers.
Eaton isn’t a guy that is going to have a huge home run total. But Eaton is a guy that at the top of the order will get on base. Over the last three seasons, Eaton has an On Basee Percentage of .384. And that OBP is only topped by Aaron Judge (.394) and Bryce Harper (.388). If the Nationals remain with their current roster, Adam Eaton should have a anchor the top of the Nats order.
No. 8: Yasiel Puig
The enigma wrapped in chaos that is Yasiel Puig is number eight on my Top 10 Right Fielders Right Now. Puig has been traded to the Cincinnati Reds and should make a huge impact right away. The Reds splashy offseason addition of Puig sees a guy with a OPS of .817 (over the last 3 seasons). Puig is a guy that can be a bit controversial. Because you aren’t sure which version of Puig you are getting. But being repaired with hitting coach Turner Ward, should bring Puig back to his peak form.
No. 7: Domingo Santana
Domingo Santana is a guy that broke out in a big way in 2017. But with the acquisitions the Brewers made before the 2018 season did not get a lot of starting time. But following the trade to Seattle, Domingo Santana will get plenty of starts in the Mariners DH and Outfield. Santana has real power and even in the spacious “T-Mobile Park” (fka Safeco Field). It is not out of the realm of possibility to see Domingo have a 30 plus homer season in 2019.
No. 6: Mitch Haniger
Now the guy directly competing with Domingo Santana will be Mitch Haniger. Haniger should command more playing time from Santana as he is the much better defender. And if you saw Mitch play last season, you know the defensive gem of a catch that was a highlight to close out the series against the Yankees. Haniger also has gotten better every year since joining the league. Haniger should take the next step in the his development and break into the upper echelon of the outfield.
No. 5: Nicholas Castellanos
Nicholas Castellanos was not a guy I expected to make it into the top five of my Top 10 Right Fielders Right Now list. But in researching for the list, Castellanos stood out and merited inclusion at this spot. Castellanos is playing on a rebuilding Detroit Tigers team and therefore does not get a lot of national recognition. Over the last two seasons, Castellanos has morphed into a valuable asset and All-Star caliber player. Nicholas has hit 49 homers and driven in 190 RBI’s over the previous two seasons. And looking back over the previous three seasons, Castellanos has been well over the 100 (league average) OPS+ with results in 2016-2018 coming in at 120, 112, 130. In 2019, Nicholas Castellanos should continue to develop as a baseball player. Even in a lackluster AL Central Division and playing on a rebuilding team, Castellanos should take his skill set to another level and break 30 home runs and make an All-Star team.
No. 4: Christian Yelich
The top four guys on this list could be put in any order, and a case can be made. As this is my list, Christian Yelich is placed at number four. Yelich had an outstanding season in 2018, capped off with the NL MVP award. And since his debut, we have seen a well above average player. But in 2018, Yelich took it to another level. Driving in over 100 RBI’s for the first time in his career, Yelich would also add 36 bombs to the resumé. In 2019, Christian will be playing in his age 27 season. And it is at this age that most scouts and analyst believe a player begins entering his prime. So if what we saw in 2018 is any indication 2019 should be a fun season for the Milwaukee Brewers.
No. 3: Bryce Harper
This is the point where I began to struggle with this Right Fielders list. Bryce Harper is one of my favorite players and he has an upside that is a level above everyone else when he’s locked in. But when objectively looking at the numbers and at the play over the last three seasons Harper is third on my Top 10 Right Fielders Right Now. That being said, Bryce Harper has the potential to change the game on both sides of the ball at a moments notice. At the
Bryce Harper doesn’t need to be at a Ted Williams level to be the best. But the struggle has come from his inconsistency at the plate and in the field. If Bryce can get himself to a more consistent All-Star/MVP caliber season year in and year out, Harper will top this list every season.
No. 2: Mookie Betts
I know that it is at this moment that I will be questioned but hear me out. Mookie Betts is one of the top players in all of Major League Baseball, that’s a fact there’s no disputing that. However, when it comes to the 2019 season I think that Mookie won’t be the best Right Fielder in baseball. What Betts has done over the last few seasons is remarkable. And Betts is easily one of the most fun players to watch. Whether he is running down a ball in the outfield or jacking a homer out of Fenway Park.
Over the last three seasons, his wRAA (Weighted Runs Above Average according to FanGraphs) is 109.2. The next closest man is at 82.2 that means a 27 point difference. And when you look at wRC (Weighted Runs Created), Mookie (344) is far and away the number one over the last three seasons next man up is 257. Given the talent level at the top of this list, Mookie Betts being number two takes nothing away from how incredible of a player he is as a Top 10 Right Fielder Right Now.
No. 1: Aaron Judge
Now, this is where Red Sox fans will call me a homer and a “Yankees Boy.” But when you look at Judge’s numbers over the last three seasons you realize something amazing, he continues to get better. Aaron Judge broke out in an enormous way in his Rookie of the Year campaign of 2017. But he struggled for a six week period that ultimately cost him the MVP as well that year. But then in 2018, Judge came back with a vengeance and a desire for consistency. And had Aaron not missed nearly two months with a broken hand from being HBP he very well could have easily won the MVP.
So looking ahead to 2019, and given the trajectory that we have seen from Aaron Judge. It is easy to follow a path that leads Aaron Judge to the AL MVP.