SSG Baseball – Top 30 Outfielders for the 2020 Season – Part One

The outfielders of the SSG OOTP baseball league are the last players left to rank for 2020. We’ve already done the top 10 catchers, first basemen, second basemen, shortstops, third basemen, and relief pitchers, along with the top 20 starting pitchers. For the outfielders, instead of breaking them into each of the three outfield positions, I decided to put them all together for one big list 30 deep. 30) Marcel Ozuna (29), SSG Rockies 2019 (w/ SSG Blue Jays and Rangers) – 141 G, .262/.337/.483 (110 OPS+), 31 HR, 4 SB, -1.3 ZR, 3.1 WAR Ozuna is coming off of his 2 best power-hitting seasons. Between 2018 and 2019 he has talled 68 HR and a .501 SLG. With David Dahl in center, Ozuna will move to right field full time, where he has been much better defensively (Career +7.5 ZR in RF compared to -31.1 ZR in CF).  29) Raimel Tapia (26), SSG Braves 2019 – 145 G, .303/.346/.505 (126 OPS+), 22 HR, 13 SB, -1.7 ZR, 3.2 WAR Raimel finally got a full year of big league action in 2019 and he took advantage. He made the All-star game in a 127 wRC+ and 3.2 WAR season. He was decent but not great on defense, and he certainly still has room for improvement at the plate as well, as his walk rate was only 6.0%. 28) Max Kepler (27), SSG Twins 2019 – 158 G, .277/.346/.429 (99 OPS+), 13 HR, 8 SB, +11.7 ZR, 3.1 WAR Kepler’s chances at a third-straight Gold Glove in right field probably sank due to his extended  time in center after the Byron Buxton injuries last season. He’s one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball and he had only one error in 2019. He holds his own at the plate as well, as he has a career 107 WRC+.  27) Byron Buxton (26), SSG Twins 2019 – 97 G, .281/.339/.436 (99 OPS+), 11 HR, 20 SB, +7.4 ZR, 2.6 WAR Speaking of Buxton, he was indeed bitten badly by the injury bug in 2019. It was also his worst career season at the plate when he did play.. His defense and speed on the basepaths are what make him a standout, as he’s got 98 SB and +47.8 ZR in just over 4 seasons. 26) Mookie Betts (27), SSG Red Sox 2019 – 156 G, .282/.380/.389 (101 OPS+), 13 HR, 12 SB, +2.5 ZR, 3.4 WAR Our run of defensive specialists continues with Betts. What has made him stand above the others, though, is his patience at the plate; he’s finished 10th in the AL in OBP for two seasons in a row, and he’s finished 8th and 5th in walks during that time period as well.  25) Yasiel Puig (29), SSG Mets 2019 – 160 G, .299/.358/.438 (117 OPS+), 18 HR, 11 SB, +1.8 ZR, 3.4 WAR While Puig’s first year in New York didn’t quite wow us like his 6 seasons with the Dodgers did, he was still very good. He set career highs in games played and hits (187). His defense remains above-average as well. His 42 point decrease in slugging (.480 in 2018 and .438 in 2019) and career high in strikeouts (144) makes me concerned, though.  24) Aaron Hicks (30), SSG Reds, 2019 – 130 G, .283/.383/.433 (119 OPS+), 12 HR, 19 SB, -2.9 ZR, 3.8 WAR Hicks showed decent power in 2018 (22 HR and .446 SLG) but regressed in 2019. His defense in CF is subpar and if his home park was bigger it would probably look worse. However his OBP has always been good; last season was a career high and 6th best in the NL. He’s also been a good base stealer (average of 17 SB in the past 4 seasons). 23) Lou Brown (26), SSG Phillies 2019 – 143 G, .263/.335/.517 (127 OPS+), 27 HR, 10 SB, +1.4 ZR, 3.4 WAR Brown has had a wild 2 years; he came from an independent league to the Phillies organization and played just 9 games with AAA Lehigh Valley before getting the call to the show. The team has won two straight World Series, and even though he hasn’t been MVP-caliber like Lindor or Franco, Brown has been a consistently important part of those runs. He was recognized for his efforts with his first All Star selection in 2019 during a season in which he racked up a 127 wRC+ with good speed and good defense. 22) Matt Kemp (35), SSG White Sox 2019 (w/ SSG Phillies) – 155 G, .264/.343/.509 (127 OPS+), 40 HR, 6 SB, -5.7 ZR, 3.6 WAR Kemp continues to show he’s got some good swings left in his bat. He played in 155 games in 2019, set a career high in home runs and tied his career-high in walks (74) at 34 years old. The White Sox were able to get him to sign a very appealing one-year contract, which includes a team option for 2021 if he continues to succeed in 2020.  21) Christian Yelich (28), SSG Mariners 2019 – 143 G, .318/.389/.484 (130 OPS+), 16 HR, 25 SB, -13.8 ZR, 3.9 WAR If Yelich was still a full-time left fielder as opposed to a center fielder, he would probably be ranked much higher. His defense in left was good (career +21.1 ZR) but his defense in center was abysmal (-16.0 ZR) in 2019. Unfortunately he’s really the Mariners’ only option to play there. So take this ranking with a grain of salt as his bat is still great (130 wRC+). 20) Kyle Waldrop (28), SSG Reds 2019 – 134 G, .304/.359/.604 (152 OPS+), 34 HR, 10 SB, -6.7 ZR, 3.4 WAR Poor defense in one of baseball’s smallest left fields hurts Waldrop’s ranking like it did Hicks’s. His bat is no joke, though. Even when taking the hitter-friendly home field into account, his numbers over the past two seasons hold up (146 OPS+ in 2018 and 152 OPS+ in 2019).  19) Bradley Zimmer (27), SSG Tigers, 2019 – 145 G, .279/.351/.500 (119 OPS+), 27 HR, 21 SB, +7.2 ZR, 4.1 WAR Zimmer is a true 5-tool center fielder and he was very good at using all of them in 2019. Defensively, he had just 1 error compared to 4 outfield assists. Offensively, he racked up a nice 119 wRC+. On the basepaths, he stole 21 bases. It was just his first full season, though, so expectations are tempered. 18) Alex Jackson (24), SSG Mariners, 2019 – 159 G, .283/.330/.548 (128 OPS+), 43 HR, 1 SB, -2.9 ZR, 3.6 WAR For Jackson, the following numbers increased successively in each of his first 3 big league seasons: AVG, OBP, SLG, 2B, HR, EBH, H, R, and wRC+. He is also very durable and has averaged 157 games played during that span. His patience needs improvement though; his 2019 BB rate was 5.7%, his SO rate was 25.0%, and he has seen only 3.56 pitches per plate appearance in his career.  17) Tito Polo (25), SSG Pirates, 2019 – 161 G, .292/.357/.509 (130 OPS+), 35 HR, 25 SB, -9.7 ZR, 4.3 WAR Polo has the ideal combination of power and speed that you want in a center fielder. He has 59 HR and 56 SB over the past two seasons, just falling short of 30-30 in each of them. He’s missed just two games during that time as well. However, like Yelich, his defense in center is terrible, and if he played either corner outfield spot he’d probably look much better and rank higher.  16) Dalton Pompey (27), SSG Blue Jays, 2019 – 147 G, .288/.339/.558 (127 OPS+), 39 HR, 23 SB, +3.1 ZR, 5.2 WAR Pompey set career highs in almost every offensive category in 2019, and his home run total was more than double his previous best (17 in 2018). He still strikes out too much (22.1% in 2019) and doesn’t walk a whole lot (7.2% in 2019). His excellent defense (just 1 error at CF compared to 18 outfield assists over the past two seasons) boosts his value a lot, though. We have just one week to go for our rankings, as we’ll finish off the outfielders next week. And by that time, there will be less than a month until opening day! The long off season is almost done. As always, thanks for reading!