There’s a litany of reasons why the band that brought you “Win, Dance, Repeat” can be considered the best outfield in baseball.
Mookie Betts finished second in the 2016 A.L. MVP race (and should have finished first). Jackie Bradley, Jr. is arguably the best defensive center fielder in the game and finally provided some offense last year, launching 26 home runs. Then there’s the 2017 top-ranked MLB positional prospect Andrew Benintendi, who burst on the scene by batting .295 (31-for-105) through 34 games.
The Red Sox have had their share of stellar outfielders over the years, but this could be the best group the franchise has seen. And yes, that includes the beloved Jim Rice-Fred Lynn-Dwight Evans combo.
How about today's game? Well, after reviewing the other 29 outfields, there’s no question the current Red Sox stack up with any of them.
Not convinced? Take a look at the best three outfields other than Boston's.
COLORADO ROCKIES: Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl
Gonzalez is an established MLB talent. Since he became an everyday outfielder in 2010, he’s hit .296 and is averaging 26 home runs. The long-ball total could be even higher if he could get stay on the field; however, Car-Go’s only played in as many as 130 games four times since 2010. In addition, he’s a three-time Gold Glove winner, and was in consideration again last season.
Blackmon’s continued to turn heads since his 2014 All-Star campaign. The 2016 Silver Slugger winner finished with 29 homers last year and a .324 average.
The third spot is up for grabs, but it's because there's actual competition for the job and not a lack of talent. Dahl, the Rockies' first-round draft choice in 2012, looks to be the best candidate after hitting .315 with 23 extra-base hits in his first 63 games with Colorado.
Still, Boston has to be considered better. Betts is an MVP candidate and hasn’t had health issues like Gonzalez (knock on wood). Blackmon may be a better hitter than Bradley, but Bradley’s defense is far superior. In comparing the two young talents, Benintendi has faced more adversity -- between his injury and the postseason -- than Dahl, and he’s risen to the occasion. Plus, most general managers around the league seem to think he’s the best young offensive talent in the game.
MIAMI MARLINS: Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich
Stanton is one of the most physically gifted players in baseball, without question. But injuries have plagued him, especially the last two years. And while he can hit the ball a country mile -- averaging 41 home runs for every 162 games played -- his career average (.266) has taken a hit in the past few seasons.
Ozuna earned his first All-Star nod in 2016, finishing with 23 home runs. The 26-year-old has now hit 23 home runs twice in his career.
Yelich could become the best of Miami’s trio, after maintaining a high average (.298) in 2016 and tripling his 2015 home-run total by hitting 21 last year.
The Marlins have youth with Stanton (27) being the oldest, but their youngest is older than both Betts and Benintendi. The Red Sox’ bunch is better on defense, top to bottom. And other than Stanton’s raw power, they are offensively superior, too.
PITTSBURGH PIRATES: Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, Andrew McCutchen
McCutchen had a rough 2016, but was an MVP candidate and Silver Slugger winner from 2012-2015. Had last season gone differently for him, the Pirates might’ve been higher on the list.
Marte earned his first All-Star nod and took home his second Gold Glove in as many seasons. In his fifth MLB season, he hit over .300 for the first time and swiped 47 bases, a career high.
Polanco is the youngest of the three (25) and still has to mature at the plate, hitting .253 through three seasons. However, he showed off some power in 2016 by launching 22 long balls in 144 games.
The Pirares are solid all-around defensively, maybe the best in that category of these contenders. But offensively they don’t hold a candle to Boston’s Killer B’s.
While there are other teams worth looking at -- the Nationals, Royals, Mets, Tigers, and Angels to name a few -- some were missing that solid third piece (Los Angeles), others are aging (New York) and some are just a clear tier below the rest (Detroit).
Which makes it hard to escape the conclusion that no matter how you slice it -- tools, statistics, age -- the Red Sox have baseball’s best all-around outfield.