Ranking the best right fielders for the 2021 season
As the baseball season is upon us, with Spring Training underway, the superstars of the MLB are returning and preparing for a full campaign after the 2020 abbreviated season. As everybody gets back into the baseball mood, let’s take a look at the 10 best right fielders in the MLB as 2021’s regular season approaches and consider who has a shot at being the best RF in 2021.
Just a note, as with all three outfielder positions you can argue who plays where. I am going to operate based on what I think their primary position will be in 2021 and I will not duplicate any players between the three outfield positions. Let’s get into the list.
10. Charlie Blackmon, Rockies
This list is one which may feature some of the same names for years and years to come, however, it’s not just the young guys. A veteran who has been a staple of the position for years, Charlie Blackmon remains to be one of the best right fielders in baseball.
Blackmon has hit over .300 in four of the last five seasons and – Coors Field, I know – is one of the most consistent contributors of reliable home run hitting in the league. He is solid in the field, phenomenal at the plate, and decent on the bases, too.
9. Teoscar Hernandez, Blue Jays
One of the teams who are currently doing the exact opposite of the Rockies, the Toronto Blue Jays are looking to win it all.
The boys from north of the border have a great team that’s getting better, especially after adding superstar free agent George Springer in CF.
To Springer’s left, he will have one of the best right fielders in the league from 2020 in Teoscar Hernandez. The Dominican outfielder had a fantastic abbreviated season and will be looking to build on it. He hit .289 with a .340 OBP, both career highs, also adding a fantastic 16 homers and 6 stolen bases.
His 16 deep balls were just one shy of Mike Trout as the most for an outfielder and just 6 behind the league leader, Luke Voit. If Hernandez maintains last year’s form, he will be one of the best right fielders out there.
8. Wil Myers, Padres
He is one of the less-known names on this list but they might not be the case for long.
The Padres are, possibly even more than Toronto, trying to win it all and soon. They have some stars on their roster, and Myers needs to be considered one of them. He hit 18 home runs in 2019 in 155 games, but then in just 55 last year he raked in another 15. He had an OBP of .353 and an incredibly impressive .959 OPS (on-base plus slugging). Myers’ breakout year has come at the right time and the Padres are looking to capitalise on players stepping up as they push for a World Series.
7. Michael Conforto, Mets
Continuing the trend of great 2020’s informing our list, Michael Conforto was another hot bat through the 60-game season.
The Mets RF hit an impressive .322 – good for seventh in the majors – and had an OBP of .412 – 8th in the majors.
He hit 9 homers and stole 3 bases. His combination of solid power and great contact made him a key contributor in New York. He drove in 31 runs, third-most on the team and has established himself as one of the main sources of production in the side. Even if Conforto’s batting average resets a little bit more to a more realistic number, his production should continue and he will continue to produce at a very high level.
6. Mike Yastrzemski, Giants
The top half of this list – as you’d expect – is absolutely stacked with superstars, but before we get to the huge names, Mike Yastrzemski of the San Francisco Giants deserves credit as one of the best players at the position.
Yaz had an absolutely incredible year in 2020 – just his second in the majors, despite being 30-years-old. He had a slash line of .297/.400/.568 and hit 10 homers. He drove in 35 runs and was one of the most pleasant surprises of the shortened season.
It’s a shame it took so long for Yastrzemski to make it to the show, but now that he’s here, he is going to make the most of it. That is for sure. He enters his third season as one of the best right fielders in baseball, behind just the truly elite guys.
5. Bryce Harper, Phillies
The first of said truly elite right field superstars, Bryce Harper is one of the most feared bats in baseball. He led the league in walks, with 49 in 244 plate appearances, which means he walked 20% of the time.
People don’t like pitching baseballs to Bryce Harper. Why would you?
When you do throw at the zone, he has one of the biggest bats in the game. Harper averaged 33 home runs a season in a dominant five-year window before last season and was able to hit 13 in the abbreviated campaign. He strikes fear into pitchers and still puts up big hitting numbers anyway. He is one of the most dangerous players in the league and the beginning of the truly unreal talent as we count down to the best RF in 2021.
4. Aaron Judge, Yankees
Another terrifying power bat, Aaron Judge hits the ball with bad intentions. The Yankees star made it to the majors in 2016 and then in his first full season, he absolutely exploded onto the scene in 2017.
He won the rookie of the year after hitting an absolutely astronomical 52 home runs. In that season he led the league in runs, too, with 128.
He didn’t just win ROTY, he even came second in MVP voting. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to stay healthy enough to play in as many games since that godly year. If you pace him out to a 162-game average, he’s still at 45 homers, he just has to stay healthy. The reason I rate Judge above Harper is because he is phenomenal in the field, too. He has one of the best arms – arguably the best – of all RF to pair with his power.
3. Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves
One of the faces of the MLB for years to come, Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves is without a doubt one of the hottest commodities in baseball. He is one of the best outfielders in baseball and he’s only 23. Since he leapt into the spotlight in his rookie season in 2018, where he won the rookie of the year, he has been incredible. 2019 was his best season so far – finishing 5th in MVP voting, and deservedly so.
He led the league in stolen bases and runs, obviously dominating on the bases, but also hit incredibly. His stats are ridiculous. 37 stolen bases and 41 home runs – at age 21. He had a slash line of .280/.365/.518. In the abbreviated campaign, he had another fantastic year, with 14 homers and 8 steals in just 46 games.
Acuna has played centre fielder for the last two years, but young CF Christian Pache has serious range and will very likely be playing out there. They also resigned Marcell Ozuna who plays LF when he isn’t a DH and so I think Acuna will be playing out in right. He goes from being the second or third best CF to now being – I believe – the third best right fielder in baseball in 2021.
2. Mookie Betts, Dodgers
That player was Mookie Betts.
The Red Sox star came to Los Angeles and had a fantastic year, coming second in MVP voting after demonstrating he has all the tools you can ask for. He is a great fielder, with athleticism and a great feel for where he is – even in a new stadium. Betts makes plays running at the diamond, he makes plays at the wall, he just makes plays. He’s a legitimate five-tool player. And don’t think that means that his hitting isn’t elite on its own. He batted .292 with an OBP of .366 and went deep 16 times. Betts was one of just four players who had 15+ HR’s, 10+ SB and a .900+ OPS.
1. Juan Soto, Nationals
I spent a long time looking at which way to put #1 and #2 on this list. I ended up going with a young superstar that could be atop this list for a very long time. Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals is just 22 years old and, just like Acuna, he wasted absolutely no time upon arrival in the majors.
In his rookie season – also 2018 – he stepped up and announced himself with a bang. He came second in rookie of the year voting, but his production was unbelievable. He hit 22 home runs and drove in 70 RBI’s in 116 games, all at just 19-years-old. In his age-20 season, he continued his upward trajectory, hitting 34 homers and driving in 110 runs. He had already proven he had athleticism and power. Then 2020 happened.
In the abbreviated 2020 campaign, Soto proved he wasn’t just a young hot bat. Through 47 games, he produced the most ridiculous slash line I think I’ve ever seen. At 21-years old, he hit .351/.490/.695 and had an OPS of 1.185 – leading all of MLB in every single one of those categories.
He literally got walked more often than Bryce Harper and had 13 home runs, 37 RBI’s and 6 stolen bases. The batting title is impressive, but to lead in all four primary batting averages while also being solid in the field and good on the bases is unreal. 21-year-old or not – looking to the future or just assessing the present – Juan Soto is the best of the best right fielders in baseball. Get used to it.