Giants

Yaz alongside great company in MLB Network top RF rankings

Giants

Mike Yastrzemski is just two seasons into his major league career, but he's already finding himself alongside some pretty awe-inspiring company. 

Yastrzemski landed at an impressive No.6 in MLB Network's top 10 right fielder rankings Wednesday, something that nearly no one would have predicted two years ago. 

In 2018, Yastrzemski was a 28-year-old career minor leaguer in the Baltimore Orioles system. Up until then, he had spent the majority of his three previous seasons bouncing between Double-A and Triple-A, never seeing the big leagues. That changed in 2019, when the Orioles dealt the outfielder to the Giants in the middle of spring training for pitching prospect Tyler Herb.

The Orioles' loss quickly turned into the Giants' gain. Yastrzemski made his long-awaited major league debut later that season and has been running with the opportunity since. Consistent (and often times, outstanding) play in 2019 cemented Yastrzemski as an everyday outfielder, and he rapidly became one of the team's best players in the latter half of the year. He finished his first major league season with a .272/.334/.518 line over 104 games while showcasing some standout power with 22 doubles and 21 home runs. 

Although he's the grandson of Baseball Hall of Famer Carl, Yastrzemski's breakout season certainly was unexpected. His 2019 campaign was exciting and full of possibility, but given the circumstances, a little hard to believe. However, in case anyone thought his rookie season (at age 29) was a fluke, he was even better in the truncated 2020 season.

 

Yastrzemski posted a 2.7 WAR in his second season, ripping a .297 average while registering a whopping .400 OBP and .968 OPS to boot. He continued to shine defensively and arguably was San Francisco's best player overall in 2020. His formidable play even garnered eight NL Most Valuable Player votes at the end of the season. 

Yastrzemski played the majority of his 54 games in right field last year, but he's capable of playing all three positions admirably. A combination of his performance, versatility and underdog success story has led to the 30-year-old gaining plenty of notoriety around the sport. 

His poise at the plate and stellar defensive ability over his first two seasons now has launched Yastrzemski into the national spotlight, alongside the names of Bryce Harper (No. 5) and Aaron Judge (No. 4). Yastrzemski, who was not ranked on last year's list, slotted in above Michael Conforto, Joey Gallo, Charlie Blackmon and Jorge Soler. 

MLB Network's top three featured a tremendous trio, headlined by Dodgers superstar Mookie Betts and young phenoms Juan Soto (22 years old) and Ronald Acuña Jr. (23).

Being featured alongside names like that? Not too shabby. 

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As Yastrzemski and the Giants prepare for what is certain to be another unconventional season, they can take solace in knowing what originally was a "no harm, no foul" trade has now turned into one of the team's best moves under the Farhan Zaidi era. 

Yastrzemski already solidified his stature as a dependable, productive player with plenty of talent to unpack during his short tenure in San Francisco. Now, the rest of the sport is beginning to take notice. 

The Giants' secret weapon is not so much of a secret anymore, and that is a very good thing for San Francisco.

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