In the third of the four part “Baseball’s Best: Midseason” series, I am going to take a look at which team has baseball’s best outfield.
In order to figure out which team has had baseball’s best outfield in the first half, I used four categories – OPS, Runs Created, UZR, and Fielding Percentage. It’s just not all about offense. In order to be tops on this list, you also need to be a quality defender.
The stats were calculated for all three individual outfielders, then added together, and then I divided the stats by three to figure out the team’s total in that particular category.
Each category was worth 10 points. If a team didn’t finish in the top 10, that team received zero points.
For teams that use a platoon in an outfield position, such as the New York Yankees with Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera in centerfield, I used the stats for the player who has played the most games at that position. In the Yankees case – Brett Gardner.
In the preseason edition of this, the Milwaukee Brewers had the best outfield in baseball. Let’s see who is No. 1 at the midway point in the season…
10 – 6. Minnesota Twins, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros
5. Los Angeles Dodgers – 23 points
Outfield – Juan Pierre, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier
OPS – Six
RC – Four
UZR – Seven
FP – Six
Analysis – Of course the Dodgers were hurt in this by the 50-game suspension of Manny Ramirez. I am guessing if Manny had played in 47 of those games, the Dodgers would be a little higher on the list.
However, Juan Pierre stepped in nicely in left. Pierre’s OPS is very similar to Ethier’s (.805 to .807) and has played a tremendous leftfield as his 1.000 fielding percentage and 6.2 UZR suggests.
Matt Kemp has been solid, both offensively and defensively. Kemp has created 52.7 runs and has a very impressive 10.1 UZR playing centerfield for the Dodgers.
I still think Kemp should have been an All-Star this year.
4. Milwaukee Brewers – 27 points
Outfield – Ryan Braun, Mike Cameron, Corey Hart
OPS – Eight
RC – Seven
UZR – Eight
FP – Four
Analysis – The Brewers’ outfield can hit with anyone. They finished third in OPS (.844) and fourth in Runs Created (52.3). When you have a player like Ryan Braun (.954 OPS) in your outfield, you will usually finish towards the top in most offensive categories.
The outfield is rounded out by one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game, Mike Cameron and one of the top up-and-coming players in the game, Corey Hart.
This is one of my favorite outfields in baseball. They have the offense in Braun, the defense in Cameron, and a guy who can do a little of both in Corey Hart.
3. Boston Red Sox – 30 points
Outfield – Jason Bay, Jacoby Ellsbury, JD Drew
OPS – Seven
RC – Eight
UZR – Five
FP – Ten
Analysis – While the Milwaukee Brewers have an outfield that offers a little bit of everything, so do the Boston Red Sox. Bay, Ellsbury and Drew each bring something different to the table.
Bay is the bopper (63.2 Runs Created), Ellsbury is the speed and defense guy (.994 Fielding Percentage), and Drew is the steady rightfielder who seems to do everything well (.858 OPS, 5.0 UZR, .993 Fielding Percentage.)
While the Red Sox’s UZR is in the middle of the pack, when they have the opportunity to catch the ball, they do. Their Fielding Percentage of .996 was tops on this list.
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – 31 points
Outfield – Juan Rivera, Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu
OPS – Nine
RC – Nine
UZR – Nine
FP – Four
Analysis – The Angels’ outfield has really carried the team throughout the first half of the season. Not only have they gotten great a contribution from the newly acquired Bobby Abreu, but they are getting a career year from Juan Rivera, and an MVP type season from Torii Hunter.
The Angels ranked second in OPS (.888), Runs Created (54.6), and UZR (6.0).
How smart do the Angels look for signing Bobby Abreu to that discounted contract in the offseason? Almost as dumb as they look for giving Gary Matthews Jr. that ridiculous contract a couple of years ago.
1. Philadelphia Phillies – 33 points
Outfield – Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth
OPS – Ten
RC – Ten
UZR – Four
FP – Nine
Analysis – I guess when you send three outfielders to the All-Star game you have to be No. 1 on this list. Ibanez, Victorino, and Werth will all be participating in the mid-summer’s classic in St. Louis.
The star of this group have been Ibanez. Ibanez’s 1.027 OPS ranks fourth in baseball and is higher than anyone mentioned in this post. If he hadn’t gotten hurt, his stats might be even better.
Victorino and Werth are gritty, gamers, who oh by the way can really hit. Werth has been responsible for creating 60. 5 runs, which ranks him fourth (Braun, Bay, Crawford) out of any of the players on the teams in this post.
Like Werth, Victorino has gone from solid contributor to All-Star this year. With Jimmy Rollins struggling, Victorino has been the spark plug for the Phillies this year. Victorino has put up a very solid .858 OPS so far this year.
So that’s it for baseball’s best outfield. The next and final installment of this series will cover baseball’s best infield.
*All stats were calculated prior to Saturday’s action.
Tags: Andre Ethier, Bobby Abreu, Boston Red Sox, Corey Hart, Houston Astros, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jason Bay, Jayson Werth, JD Drew, Juan Pierre, Juan Rivera, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers, Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, Mike Cameron, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Raul Ibanez, Ryan Braun, Shane Victorino, Tampa Bay Rays, Torii Hunter, Toronto Blue Jays