Red Sox

Ranking the top 20 MLB outfielders for 2023

Red Sox

The most talented players in baseball reside in the outfield.

Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout has been considered far and away the best player in the game for the last decade, but several outfielders have closed the gap in recent years. Ex-Boston Red Sox star Mookie Betts continues to tear it up with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Aaron Judge is coming off a historic season with the New York Yankees, and Seattle Mariners youngster Julio Rodriguez appears to be the future face of the sport.

More MLB rankings: C1B | 2BSS | 3B | SP | RP

There are plenty more elite outfielders where that came from. Here are our top 20 OFs in the league ahead of the 2023 MLB season.

20. Teoscar Hernandez, RF, Seattle Mariners

2022 stats: .267/.316/.491, 25 HR, 77 RBI (with Toronto Blue Jays)

Hernandez was traded to the Mariners after five seasons as one of the Toronto Blue Jays' most productive hitters. The two-time Silver Slugger award winner will look to propel Seattle to its second straight playoff berth before he becomes a free agent next winter.

19. Cedric Mullins, CF, Baltimore Orioles

2022 stats: .258/.318/.403, 16 HR, 64 RBI, 34 SB

Mullins regressed at the plate after breaking out with 30 homers and an .878 OPS in 2021. He might not be the elite hitter he appeared to be, but the 28-year-old is still among the better defensive center fielders and is a burner on the basepaths. He'll play a big part in the Orioles building off their surprisingly successful campaign.

18. Steven Kwan, LF, Cleveland Guardians

2022 stats: .298/.373/.400, 6 HR, 52 RBI, 19 SB

Kwan had the misfortune of being in the same rookie class as Julio Rodriguez and Adley Rutschman. He finished third in AL Rookie of the Year voting behind those superstars, but his outstanding debut season shouldn't be overlooked. The 25-year-old earned a Gold Glove with 21 defensive runs saved, which ranked third in MLB. Kwan isn't much of a power threat, but he finds other ways to contribute offensively with his .373 OBP and .772 OPS.

 

17. Starling Marte, RF, New York Mets

2022 stats: .292/.347/.468, 16 HR, 63 RBI, 18 SB

Marte's first season in Queens was a success. The 34-year-old veteran was named an All-Star for the second time in his 11-year career and placed 19th in MVP voting. He brings a little bit of everything to the Mets lineup with his speed and his ability to hit for both power and contact. His $ 78 million contract so far looks like a bargain.

16. Bryan Reynolds, CF, Pittsburgh Pirates

2022 stats: .262/.345/.461, 27 HR, 62 RBI

Reynolds requested a trade early in the offseason and so far, the Pirates have not obliged. The 28-year-old reportedly has received plenty of interest and for good reason. He was an All-Star in 2021 and finished 11th in NL MVP voting. His production dipped in 2022, but his .807 OPS still indicates he's one of the better offensive outfielders in the league. His lackluster defense, however, could move him over to a corner outfield spot sooner rather than later.

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Bryan Reynolds remains one of the biggest names on the trade market.

15. Brandon Nimmo, CF, New York Mets

2022 stats: .274/.367/.433, 16 HR, 64 RBI

Injuries have limited Nimmo to only two seasons with more than 100 games played during his seven-year career. Last season was one of them, and he showed he's among the game's best outfielders when healthy. Nimmo posted an .800 OPS and led the league with seven triples. His 159 hits, 30 doubles, and 64 RBI were career-highs. The Mets rewarded the 30-year-old with an eight-year, $ 162 million deal in free agency.

14. Kyle Schwarber, LF, Philadelphia Phillies

2022 stats: .218/.323/.504, 46 HR, 94 RBI

Schwarber led the National League in homers during his first season in Philadelphia. He added six more homers during the Phillies' World Series run. Even as a defensive liability who struck out 200 times in 2022, the 30-year-old was a steal of an offseason signing for Dave Dombrowski and Co.

13. Michael Harris, CF, Atlanta Braves

2022 stats: .297/.339/.514, 19 HR, 64 RBI, 20 SB

Harris was the 2022 NL Rookie of the Year and was rewarded with an eight-year, $ 72 million extension. That looks like an extremely team-friendly deal for an Atlanta club that has had a knack for signing its young stars to inexpensive contracts. Harris finished 13th in MVP voting last season despite playing only 114 games, so consider him a strong MVP candidate in 2023 and beyond.

12. Byron Buxton, CF, Minnesota Twins

2022 stats: .224/.306/.526, 28 HR, 51 RBI (92 games)

Buxton's otherworldly talent has been overshadowed by a myriad of injuries throughout his career. His only full season came in 2017 when he played in 140 games. That's the only season in his eight-year career in which he has played more than 100 games. When healthy, he's unquestionably one of the best all-around outfielders in baseball. He made that clear last season when he belted 28 homers and posted a .833 OPS in 92 games while earning his first All-Star selection. An MVP season is on the table for Buxton if he can stay on the field, but that's a pretty big "if" at this point.

 
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Byron Buxton is an MVP candidate if he can stay healthy in 2023.

11. George Springer, RF, Toronto Blue Jays

2022 stats: .267/.342/.472, 25 HR, 76 RBI

Springer will move over to right field following the Blue Jays' trade of Teoscar Hernandez and the acquisitions of Kevin Kiermaier and Daulton Varsho. The 33-year-old is one of the game's best all-around players when healthy, but that hasn't been often over the last couple of seasons. Nonetheless, he'll be a major factor in any success Toronto has in 2023.

10. Kyle Tucker, RF, Houston Astros

2022 stats: .257/.330/.478, 30 HR, 107 RBI, 25 SB

Tucker being 10th on this list shows just how stacked the league is with outfield talent. The 26-year-old is an elite hitter and a rock-solid defender who earned his first All-Star nod and Gold Glove award in 2022. His presence was a big reason the Astros cruised to a World Series title.

9. Fernando Tatis Jr., RF, San Diego Padres

2022 stats: N/A

Tatis would have been a few spots higher on this list had it not been for a wrist injury and PED suspension that kept him out for the entire 2022 season. The Padres superstar will now move from shortstop to the outfield permanently with Xander Bogaerts in the mix. Tatis should pick up where he left off as one of the best hitters in baseball, but the outfield defense needs improvement.

8. Ronald Acuña Jr., RF, Atlanta Braves

2022 stats: .266/.351/.413, 15 HR, 50 RBI, 29 SB

Acuña returned last season from a torn ACL and while he earned his third All-Star nod, it was clear he still wasn't 100 percent. A full season of a healthy Acuña should remind the baseball world just how dominant he can be. The Braves outfield is in great hands with Acuña in right field and 2022 NL Rookie of the Year Michael Harris II in center.

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Ronald Acuña will have a clean slate in 2023 after returning from a torn ACL last season.

7. Julio Rodriguez, CF, Seattle Mariners

2022 stats: .284/.345/.509, 28 HR, 75 RBI, 25 SB

The J-Rod Show premiered in 2022 and it did not disappoint. Rodriguez burst onto the scene as a bonafide superstar with an All-Star nod, the AL Rookie of the Year award, and a Silver Slugger award. The 22-year-old finished seventh in MVP voting and is a strong candidate to win the award in 2023. More importantly, he's the centerpiece of a Mariners club that snapped its 20-year postseason drought and will look to make a deeper run this year.

6. Bryce Harper, RF, Philadelphia Phillies

2022 stats: .286/.364/.514, 18 HR, 65 RBI (99 games)

Only injuries can stop Harper from adding another MVP award to his collection. After winning his second award in 2021, Harper played in only 99 games last year due to a thumb injury. He also underwent Tommy John surgery in November and will miss a significant chunk of 2023. It's been a tough stretch but when healthy, there's no doubt he's still one of the best players in the game.

5. Juan Soto, LF, San Diego Padres

2022 stats: .242/.401/.452, 27 HR, 62 RBI (with Washington Nationals and Padres)

You know a player is special when an .853 OPS is considered a down season. Soto hit a career-low .242 but remained an on-base machine with a league-leading 135 walks and a .401 OBP. The two-time All-Star will look to regain elite form as he starts fresh with a full season in San Diego.

 

4. Yordan Alvarez, LF, Houston Astros

2022 stats: .306/.406/.613, 37 HR, 97 RBI

The Yordan Alvarez-David Ortiz comparisons don't look so crazy anymore. The Astros left fielder/DH is arguably the best left-handed hitter in the sport and is as clutch as it gets in the postseason. He could earn his first MVP award with another season like his elite 2022.

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Yordan Alvarez has established himself as one of the best left-handed hitters in baseball.

3. Mookie Betts, RF, Los Angeles Dodgers

2022 stats: .269/.340/.533, 35 HR, 82 RBI

The Red Sox' Mookie Betts trade looks even worse now than it did in 2020. Since joining the Dodgers, Betts has added another World Series trophy and two top-five MVP finishes to his résumé. The six-time All-Star slugged a career-high 35 homers in 2022 and led the NL with 117 runs scored. He could join the great Frank Robinson as the only other player ever to win MVP in both leagues.

2. Aaron Judge, RF, New York Yankees

2022 stats: .311/.425/.686, 62 HR, 131 RBI

Judge's 2022 season was something out of a video game. In addition to breaking the AL home run record, he led the league in RBI, on-base percentage, walks (111), runs scored (133), OPS (1.111), OPS+ (211), total bases (391), and WAR (11.4). He'll look to earn his second straight MVP award after signing a nine-year, $ 360 million contract during the offseason.

1. Mike Trout, CF, Los Angeles Angels

2022 stats: .283/.369/.630, 40 HR, 80 RBI

The gap between Trout and the rest of the field has narrowed, but it still wouldn't feel right to have the three-time MVP anywhere but No. 1. While injuries have been an issue over the last couple of seasons, Trout still hit 40 homers in 119 games last year. He'll be in the conversation for his fourth MVP award if he can stay healthy in 2023.

USA TODAY Sports
Mike Trout is still the best outfielder in MLB when healthy.