It’s not easy to grade left fielders, or at least compare those at the position to center and right fielders. Still, Major League Baseball boasts a number of highly-touted and talented players at the position. We continue our look at the best players at each position with the left fielders. And, we’ll start with a former All-Star that would most likely want to forget about 2022.
5. Jesse Winker
We start off the list with new Brewers outfielder Jesse Winker. The 29-year-old spent last season with the Mariners, after a strong stint with the Reds. However, things went poorly for Winker in Seattle last season. With the M’s, Winker hit just .219/.344/.344 with 14 home runs and 29 extra base hits in 136 games. Winker’s 2022 campaign marked a sharp departure from his 2021 All-Star season, in which Winker cracked 24 home runs and posted a .949 OPS over 110 games.
Winker’s ranking on this list is rather tenuous, given the New York native’s rough 2022 season. When on his game, not many outfielders can match the tools and plate discipline that Winker boasts. Winker’s .370 OBP from 2020-2022 ranked as the 13th-best among all players (min. 800 PA). Not to mention, the new Brewer does possesses above-average power, something that Milwaukee will want to see plenty of come 2023.
4. Andrew Benintendi
Consistency is key in baseball, and one of the more consistent hitters over the past five seasons is new White Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi. A 2018 World Series champion, Benintendi has hit at least .270 in four of the past six seasons, and his 592 hits since the start of 2018 ranks among the top 40 players in the league. Last season with the Royals and Yankees, the 28-year-old hit .304 and recorded an above-average 120 OPS+.
A smart hitter that possesses strong plate discipline and bat-to-ball skills, the new White Sox outfielder will look to bring stability to an outfield core that didn’t have much of it in 2022.
3. Randy Arozarena
Acquired from the Cardinals via trade in January 2020, Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena has turned into one of the game’s most exciting players to watch. The 2021 AL Rookie of the Year recorded 20 home runs for the second straight season, and drove in 89 runs for the Rays. Arozarena also swiped 32 bags, which made the 27-year-old just one of nine players in MLB last season to record a 20-20 campaign.
Arozarena does have his weaknesses; the Rays outfielder doesn’t possess an elite arm, and expect a lot of strikeouts and chases. His tools — Arozarena’s above-average power and speed — and his ability to square up balls on a consistent basis make up for those deficiencies.
2. Kyle Schwarber
If this was a defensive contest, Phillies outfielder Kyle Schwarber would not be on this list. The former 2016 World Series champion, though, possesses some of the best power found in all of baseball. Schwarber hit 46 home runs last season, the second-most in all of baseball. Only Aaron Judge (62) of the Yankees hit more homers than the 29-year-old Schwarber. From 2020-22, the ex-Cub cracked 92 home runs, a total that stands at the third-most in all of baseball.
Much like with Arozarena, Schwarber’s weaknesses are well-known. In addition to defensive inefficiencies, Schwarber has recorded a well-below career K% rate of 28.3%. However, very few can match Schwarber’s pop and his ability to get on base.
1. Yordan Alvarez
Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez has spent most of his MLB career as a designated hitter. The 25-year-old has started just 104 games in his career in the outfield, but 56 of those did come this past season. The 2022 campaign was a fine one for Alvarez, as he finished third in the AL MVP voting. The Cuban native hit a career-high 37 home runs for the World Series champions, and posted the second-highest OPS (1.019) in MLB last season (min. 400 PA).
Alvarez may be a below-average fielder, but has handled the short left field porch in Minute Maid Park just fine when asked to play the position. No one, though, will state that defense is Alvarez’s calling card. Alvarez is one of the game’s premier hitters, hence his position on that list.