MLB Position Power Rankings: B/R's Top 30 Corner Outfielders

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2017

MLB Position Power Rankings: B/R's Top 30 Corner Outfielders

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    For the next installment in our preseason top 30 rankings series, we've decided to lump both corner outfield positions into one list.

    There's a good deal of bouncing around between positions these days, and it's relatively easy to compare left fielders and right fielders from a value standpoint, so why not?

    The corner spots are more offensive-minded than center field, but defensive contributions were still taken into account. Don't expect to see one-dimensional guys like Mark Trumbo and Matt Kemp in the top 10 or someone like Jason Heyward excluded entirely.

    At any rate, our mission was to identify the top 30 corner outfielders in the league heading into the 2017 season.

    Here are a few things to consider before we get started:

    • League averages: For the sake of reference, the league average triple-slash line last season was .254/.322/.416 for a left fielder and .259/.328/.433 for a right fielder.
    • Eligibility: A player must have played at least 300 innings combined at the corner outfield spots last season to be eligible for inclusion on this list. The exceptions to that rule were players set to make a position change this coming season and guys returning from injury. That notably included the addition of Andrew McCutchen and Kyle Schwarber and the exclusion of Starling Marte and Christian Yelich.

    The other important thing to note is that the goal here was to identify the 30 best corner outfielders for the 2017 season—and the 2017 season alone.

    Someone like Nomar Mazara has more upside than Matt Kemp going forward, but is he going to be better this year?

    Think of this as a big board for the position if the entire league was doing a redraft for one all-or-nothing season in 2017.

     

    Previous top 30 series entries: CatchersFirst BasemenSecond BasemenShortstopsThird Basemen, Center Fielders

30. David Peralta, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Age: 29

    2016 Offensive: .251 BA, .728 OPS, 43 H, 18 XBH (4 HR), 15 RBI, 23 R

    2016 Defensive: 3 DRS, 0.4 UZR/150

    WAR: 0.6

     

    Player Outlook

    David Peralta clawed his way up from indy ball to win a spot on the Arizona Diamondbacks roster in 2014, then followed that up with a breakout season the following year.

    He hit .312/.371/.522 with 53 extra-base hits and 78 RBI en route to a 3.7 WAR while tasked with protecting Paul Goldschmidt out of the cleanup spot in the lineup.

    However, he played in just 48 games last season while battling a back sprain and a right wrist injury.

    This could wind up being entirely too low a spot for the 29-year-old in these rankings if he bounces back to his 2015 form, but given his limited track record, it's hard to rank him any higher until he proves he's back.

     

    Honorable Mentions: Jay Bruce (NYM), Shin-Soo Choo (TEX), Michael Conforto (NYM), David Dahl (COL), Randal Grichuk (STL), Matt Holliday (NYY), Aaron Judge (NYY), Max Kepler (MIN), Yasiel Puig (LAD), Colby Rasmus (TB), Hunter Renfroe (SD), Michael Saunders (PHI), Steven Souza (TB), Yasmany Tomas (ARI)

29. Adam Duvall, Cincinnati Reds

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Age: 28

    2016 Offensive: .241 BA, .795 OPS, 133 H, 70 XBH (33 HR), 103 RBI, 85 R

    2016 Defensive: 14 DRS, 9.6 UZR/150

    WAR: 3.2

     

    Player Outlook

    Sometimes all a guy needs is a chance.

    Adam Duvall finally got his when he was shipped to the Cincinnati Reds as part of the deal that sent Mike Leake to the Giants at the 2015 trade deadline.

    Despite posting big numbers at the Triple-A level in 2014 (.959 OPS, 27 HR, 90 RBI) and 2015 (.823 OPS, 30 HR, 87 RBI), he was never really given a fair shake in San Francisco.

    A natural third baseman, Duvall was thrown into the wide-open competition for the vacant left field job last spring and he quickly played his way into an everyday role.

    There are some serious questions about whether he can duplicate his surprise breakout, though.

    After posting an .839 OPS with 23 home runs in the first half to earn a spot on the NL All-Star team, his production dropped off dramatically to a .741 OPS and 10 home runs after the break.

    He did prove to be a stellar defender in left field, which was a pleasant surprise.

28. Nick Markakis, Atlanta Braves

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    G Fiume/Getty Images

    Age: 33

    2016 Offensive: .269 BA, .744 OPS, 161 H, 51 XBH (13 HR), 89 RBI, 67 R

    2016 Defensive: 10 DRS, 1.4 UZR/150

    WAR: 1.7

     

    Player Outlook

    Nick Markakis just quietly goes about his business.

    The 33-year-old has played at least 150 games in nine of the past 10 seasons, and he brings a rock-solid .289/.358/.426 career line and 29.1 WAR into the upcoming season.

    It was something of a surprise when a rebuilding Atlanta Braves team inked him to a four-year, $44 million deal prior to the 2015 season, but he's been well worth that over his first two seasons with the team as a steady producer and a veteran leader.

    A two-time Gold Glove winner, Markakis also remains a standout defensive right fielder.

    His 102 career outfield assists rank fourth among active players, and his 10 DRS last season were his highest single-season total since 2008.

    He should reach a notable milestone in 2017 as he stands just 111 hits shy of 2,000 for his career.

27. Josh Reddick, Houston Astros

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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    Age: 30

    2016 Offensive: .281 BA, .749 OPS, 112 H, 28 XBH (10 HR), 37 RBI, 53 R

    2016 Defensive: 6 DRS, -2.2 UZR/150

    WAR: 2.6

     

    Player Outlook

    Josh Reddick has been a lot of things over the course of his career.

    He's been a 30-homer slugger.

    He's been a Gold Glove winner.

    As recently as last offseason, he looked like a potential extension candidate for the Oakland Athletics on the heels of a season that included a .781 OPS with 25 doubles, 20 home runs and 77 RBI to go along with more standout defense.

    Instead, he battled through an injury-plagued 2016 season before eventually being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the deadline.

    Now the 30-year-old has joined the Houston Astros on a four-year, $52 million deal.

    A fractured thumb no doubt sapped some of his power last year, and if he's back to 100 percent, he could be a decent bargain at that price.

26. Nomar Mazara, Texas Rangers

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    Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

    Age: 21

    2016 Offensive: .266 BA, .739 OPS, 137 H, 36 XBH (20 HR), 64 RBI, 59 R

    2016 Defensive: -5 DRS, 5.7 UZR/150

    WAR: 0.4

     

    Player Outlook

    Most expected Nomar Mazara to make his MLB debut at some point during the 2016 season.

    Few expected that debut would come as early as April 10.

    Mazara was optioned to the minors to start the year, but an injury to Shin-Soo Choo opened the door and Mazara never looked back.

    He went on to post a .739 OPS and slug 20 home runs to finish fifth in AL Rookie of the Year voting.

    That may just be the tip of the iceberg for a player who ranked as the No. 21 prospect in baseball at the start of last season, per Baseball America.

    Mazara was signed by the Texas Rangers for a then-record $5 million bonus out of the Dominican Republic as part of the 2011 international free-agent class, and he rose the minor league ranks quickly, jumping to Single-A before his 18th birthday and debuting in the majors at 20.

    He's a passable defender in right field and fits the prototypical offensive profile with 30-homer power in his smooth lefty swing.

25. Matt Kemp, Atlanta Braves

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Age: 32

    2016 Offensive: .268 BA, .803 OPS, 167 H, 74 XBH (35 HR), 108 RBI, 89 R

    2016 Defensive: -18 DRS, -13.1 UZR/150

    WAR: 0.0

     

    Player Outlook

    Matt Kemp is no longer the 40/40 threat he was in his prime, and he's nothing short of a liability in the outfield, but he still has value as a proven run producer.

    It's no coincidence that the Atlanta Braves enjoyed a surprising late-season surge shortly after acquiring him from the San Diego Padres last summer.

    Kemp posted an .855 OPS with 15 doubles, 12 home runs and 39 RBI in 56 games with the Braves, and the team went 31-25 with him on the roster over the final two months.

    Now he'll be asked to step into a veteran leadership role on a young team, and it sounds like he's doing a good job of leading by example.

    "He's the first one in the (batting) cage every morning, he's the last one to leave," manager Brian Snitker told David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He's working his tail off. It's been really kind of cool to watch."

24. Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Age: 33

    2016 Offensive: .220 BA, .692 OPS, 98 H, 35 XBH (17 HR), 40 RBI, 62 R

    2016 Defensive: 4 DRS, 8.7 UZR/150

    WAR: 0.8

     

    Player Outlook

    Four years into his MLB career, former No. 2 overall pick Alex Gordon looked like a flop.

    He had a .244/.328/.405 career line and 4.6 WAR heading into the 2011 season before a full-time move to left field changed everything.

    The subsequent four years resulted in a .283/.356/.453 line and 24.4 WAR, as his bat finally emerged and he quickly proved to be an elite defender at his new position.

    While a strained groin limited him to 104 games in 2015, that didn't stop the Kansas City Royals from bringing him back on a four-year, $72 million deal when he reached free agency for the first time.

    The injury bug bit again last season, though, as he suffered a fractured wrist in May and was never able to get things going at the plate.

    "It was almost like being left behind a little bit," Gordon told Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star. "I was playing catch-up the whole year, and I never caught up."

    He's been swinging it good this spring and could be in for a nice bounce-back performance.

23. Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Age: 26

    2016 Offensive: .266 BA, .773 OPS, 148 H, 52 XBH (23 HR), 76 RBI, 75 R

    2016 Defensive: -5 DRS, 0.8 UZR/150

    WAR: 2.5

     

    Player Outlook

    Heading into the 2015 season, Marcell Ozuna looked like a star on the rise.

    He had just tallied a .772 OPS with 26 doubles, 23 home runs and 85 RBI and posted 4.5 WAR during his age-23 season.

    Instead, he struggled to hold onto his starting job, posting a .691 OPS and eventually earning a demotion to the minors that he did not appreciate.

    "I was in the jail over there. It's like a jail,” Ozuna told Adam Zuvanich of the Miami Herald of his time in Triple-A.

    That demotion and the comments that followed led to plenty of speculation that Ozuna could be on the move last winter, but the Marlins never pulled the trigger on a deal.

    Now he again looks like a big part of the present and future for the Marlins after posting nearly identical numbers to his 2014 breakout and earning his first All-Star Game nod.

    A move from center field to left field could allow him to focus more on the offensive side of his game.

22. Mark Trumbo, Baltimore Orioles

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    Age: 31

    2016 Offensive: .256 BA, .850 OPS, 157 H, 75 XBH (47 HR), 108 RBI, 94 R

    2016 Defensive: -11 DRS, -12.5 UZR/150

    WAR: 1.6

     

    Player Outlook

    The market for one-dimensional sluggerseven those that lead the league in home runs—is not what it used to be.

    Mark Trumbo found that out the hard way this offseason, as he began the winter with hopes of cashing in on his 47-homer performance with a megadeal and instead wound up returning to the Baltimore Orioles on a modest three-year, $37.5 million contract.

    The 31-year-old is far better suited playing first base or DHing, but he'll once again be tasked with playing right field on a regular basis.

    At the end of the day, a return to hitter-friendly Camden Yards and the free-swinging Orioles lineup may have been the best thing for everyone involved.

    A lack of on-base skills will always keep Trumbo from being an elite offensive force as he had a .316 on-base percentage last season and that actually raised his career mark to .303.

    The power is for real, though, and he'll look to tally the fourth 30-homer season of his career in 2017.

21. Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics

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    Michael Thomas/Associated Press

    Age: 29

    2016 Offensive: .247 BA, .831 OPS, 137 H, 68 XBH (42 HR), 102 RBI, 85 R

    2016 Defensive: -1 DRS, 0.1 UZR/150

    WAR: 2.8

     

    Player Outlook

    It's fair to say that Khris Davis was not intimidated by the spacious Oakland Coliseum.

    In his first season with the team, Davis became the first Oakland Athletics player to post a 40-homer, 100-RBI season since Jason Giambi did it on his way to AL MVP honors in 2000.

    That power came with some troubling peripheral numbers, though.

    His walk rate dipped from 10.0 percent to 6.9 percent as his on-base percentage tumbled to .307, and he continued to whiff at a high rate with 166 strikeouts at a 27.2 percent clip.

    Embracing the free-swinging mentality is fine, especially given his skill set, but it does limit his value.

    The 29-year-old is limited to left field duties, but he's a passable defender.

20. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Age: 36

    2016 Offensive: .234 BA, .817 OPS, 99 H, 47 XBH (22 HR), 69 RBI, 68 R

    2016 Defensive: -8 DRS, -9.3 UZR/150

    WAR: 1.0

     

    Player Outlook

    Does Jose Bautista have one more elite offensive season left in the tank?

    Just two years ago, he posted a .913 OPS with 40 home runs and 114 RBI while playing in at least 150 games for the second year in a row.

    That OPS dropped nearly 100 points last season, though, and he took the field just 116 times while nursing a toe injury and a knee sprain.

    After testing the free-agent waters and finding little in the way of long-term interest, he returned to the Toronto Blue Jays on a one-year, $18.5 million deal that included a $17 million mutual option for 2018 and a $20 million vesting option for 2019.

    As a fan favorite still capable of swinging a big stick, it was a roll of the dice worth taking for the Blue Jays.

    That said, Bautista turned 36 in October and he's had his fair share of health issues already in his career, so nothing is guaranteed.

    Ideally, he'd be DHing full-time at this point, but he'll continue to be an adventure in right field.

19. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Brian Blanco/Getty Images

    Age: 30

    2016 Offensive: .256 BA, .766 OPS, 153 H, 53 XBH (24 HR), 79 RBI, 81 R

    2016 Defensive: -28 DRS, -23.2 UZR/150

    WAR: -0.7

     

    Player Outlook

    It's been a busy offseason for Andrew McCutchen.

    After the Pittsburgh Pirates shopped him aggressively during the winter meetings to no avail, he was shifted from center field to right field after a dreadful defensive season from a metrics standpoint.

    Meanwhile, he was also asked to suit up for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic despite his struggles last season. He came through with a big two-run double in the eighth inning of the team's 6-3 win over the Dominican Republic in the quarterfinals.

    He may no longer be the perennial MVP candidate we saw in his prime, but at 30 years old, there's certainly potential for a bounce-back season.

    Either way, the Pirates will have an interesting decision to make next offseason regarding his $14.75 million option.

18. Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Age: 29

    2016 Offensive: .231 BA, .561 OPS, 9 H, 2 XBH (0 HR), 7 RBI, 5 R

    2016 Defensive: 1 DRS, 25.0 UZR/150

    WAR: -0.1

     

    Player Outlook

    Michael Brantley might be challenging for a top-five spot on this list if not for ongoing questions about the health of his right shoulder.

    The last time he was 100 percent, Brantley hit .327/.385/.506 with 45 doubles, 20 home runs, 97 RBI and 23 stolen bases during the 2014 season to finish third in AL MVP voting.

    He followed that up with an equally impressive .310/.379/.480 line the following season, but issues with the aforementioned shoulder sapped some of his power.

    The 29-year-old underwent surgery that offseason and a series of setbacks led to him playing just 11 games last year as he was essentially a non-factor in the Cleveland Indians' run to the World Series.

    Now he's being brought along slowly this spring, playing in his first spring game this past Monday.

    "This is what you do all the rehab for and why you stick with the process—to be back out there with your teammates,'' Brantley told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. "This is another step in the process, but another good one.''

    A fully healthy Brantley could be just as big an addition to the Indians lineup as Edwin Encarnacion.

17. Jason Heyward, Chicago Cubs

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    Matt Marton/Associated Press

    Age: 27

    2016 Offensive: .230 BA, .631 OPS, 122 H, 35 XBH (7 HR), 49 RBI, 61 R

    2016 Defensive: 18 DRS, 23.2 UZR/150

    WAR: 1.5

     

    Player Outlook

    Jason Heyward was still a 1.5 WAR player in what was unquestionably the worst season of his career.

    The 27-year-old has piled up 120 DRS in the outfield over the course of his seven big league seasons, and he took home his third straight Gold Glove Award and the fourth of his career in his first season with the Chicago Cubs.

    However, he also watched his OPS plummet from .797 to .631 as he failed to reach double-digit home runs for the first time in his career and also stole just 11 bases after reaching the 20-SB mark three times in the previous four years.

    It wasn't just a down season at the plate by his standards; it was a bad season at the plate by any standards.

    So with that, it was back to the drawing board this spring as he set to work rebuilding his swing.

    "It's entirely different," manager Joe Maddon told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. "The setup is different. The way he's getting started is different. I think he's hit the ball pretty good."

    There's nowhere to go but up after last season, and even as a league-average offensive player, he'd be an asset once again.

16. Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Age: 33

    2016 Offensive: .289 BA, .808 OPS, 114 H, 37 XBH (13 HR), 57 RBI, 58 R

    2016 Defensive: -3 DRS, 3.1 UZR/150

    WAR: 1.9

     

    Player Outlook

    There's no denying that Hunter Pence is a catalyst for the San Francisco Giants.

    After playing all 162 games in 2013 and 2014, he's had a tough time staying on the field the past two years, and his absence has been felt.

    During that span, the Giants have gone 90-69 (.566) with Pence in the lineup, compared to 81-86 (.485) without him.

    In a lefty-heavy lineup, Pence is an important run-producer alongside Brandon Belt and Buster Posey in the middle of the lineup, and few players in the league bring his level of energy and enthusiasm to the ballpark.

    Pence strung together seven straight seasons with at least 20 home runs and 70 RBI leading up to the 2015 campaign. As long as he can avoid any considerable stints on the disabled list, that level of production is still well within reach.

15. Brett Gardner, New York Yankees

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    Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press

    Age: 33

    2016 Offensive: .261 BA, .713 OPS, 143 H, 35 XBH (7 HR), 41 RBI, 80 R

    2016 Defensive: 12 DRS, 5.8 UZR/150

    WAR: 3.4

     

    Player Outlook

    The writing is on the wall for Brett Gardner.

    Aaron Judge is set to break camp as the New York Yankees starting right fielder, and fellow corner outfielder Clint Frazier is not far behind after closing out the 2016 season with 30 games at the Triple-A level.

    "It is what it is," Gardner told Randy Miller of NJ.com. "I guess on one hand obviously I don't want to get traded, but on the other hand, the fact that maybe some other teams have interest in me, I see that as a compliment."

    Gardner is signed through the 2018 season with a $12.5 million option for 2019, but there's a good chance he'll be playing elsewhere before that time comes.

    The 33-year-old remains a standout defensive left fielder with an even 100 DRS to his credit, and he was finally recognized with his first Gold Glove Award last season.

    He doesn't offer much in the way of power, but he gets on base at a respectable clip and is still capable of swiping 20 bases.

14. Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Age: 22

    2016 Offensive: .295 BA, .835 OPS, 31 H, 14 XBH (2 HR), 14 RBI, 16 R

    2016 Defensive: -1 DRS, -5.3 UZR/150

    WAR: 0.6

     

    Player Outlook

    It's always good to temper expectations when it comes to a rookie phenom.

    Bleacher Report's Zachary Rymer was clearly doing just that when he predicted that Andrew Benintendi would become the first rookie since Ichiro Suzuki to win a batting title.

    But the thing is—it could happen.

    "With a pretty left-handed swing and astute pitch recognition and strike-zone management, he repeatedly barrels balls and holds his own against southpaws," wrote MLB.com's Prospect Watch, giving him a 65-grade hit tool.

    During his brief time in the minors, Benintendi posted a .312/.392/.540 line with 74 extra-base hits in 657 plate appearances, and he looked right at home in his first big league action.

    He's not the No. 1 prospect in baseball for nothing, folks.

13. Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Age: 24

    2016 Offensive: .000 BA, .200 OPS, 0 H, 0 XBH (0 HR), 0 RBI, 0 R

    2016 Defensive: 0 DRS, 10.2 UZR/150

    WAR: -0.1

     

    Player Outlook

    Kyle Schwarber: leadoff hitter?

    It sounds like that's how Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon will approach replacing the departed Dexter Fowler atop the lineup.

    "If he's hitting fourth or fifth," Maddon told Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago, "I don't believe he gets pitched at the same as he's going to get pitched at in front of [Kris] Bryant and [Anthony] Rizzo. I'm really big on that. You've heard me talk about protection in the past."

    He added: "I don't want him to change anything. His DNA is to see pitches, accept walks, work good at-bats. Please do not change anything. Just go up there and hit."

    What Schwarber did last season—to return from essentially a full season watching from the sidelines to not only play in the World Series, but to make an impact—was nothing short of amazing.

    An .842 OPS with 16 home runs in 273 plate appearances and another five long balls in the postseason put him on the map as a rookie in 2015, and that may just be scratching the surface of his offensive potential.

12. Justin Upton, Detroit Tigers

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Age: 29

    2016 Offensive: .246 BA, .775 OPS, 140 H, 61 XBH (31 HR), 87 RBI, 81 R

    2016 Defensive: 0 DRS, -6.6 UZR/150

    WAR: 2.0

     

    Player Outlook

    On the surface, Justin Upton had a fairly disappointing first season with the Detroit Tigers.

    However, he ended the 2016 season as arguably the hottest hitter in baseball.

    The 29-year-old posted a 1.132 OPS with 13 home runs and 28 RBI in 110 plate appearances over the final month of the season, salvaging what would have otherwise been a dreadful debut in Motor City.

    Upton has put together a nice career to this point, but he's never quite taken that next step to emerge as a bonafide superstar.

    The former No. 1 overall pick posted an .899 OPS with 30 doubles, 26 home runs, 86 RBI and 20 stolen bases in his age-21 season back in 2009.

    He finished fourth in NL MVP voting two years later with an .898 OPS and 31 home runs, but that still stands as his peak.

    Few hitters are capable of stringing together a more impressive hot streak than Upton when he's swinging it well, but he'll need to get hot a bit more often in 2017 to climb higher on this list.

11. Kole Calhoun, Los Angeles Angels

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Age: 29

    2016 Offensive: .271 BA, .786 OPS, 161 H, 58 XBH (18 HR), 75 RBI, 91 R

    2016 Defensive: 2 DRS, 6.9 UZR/150

    WAR: 3.4

     

    Player Outlook

    It's easy to go somewhat overlooked when you're sharing the outfield with Mike Trout.

    But make no mistake, Kole Calhoun has emerged as the second-best player on the Los Angeles Angels.

    The 29-year-old posted a .731 OPS with 26 home runs and 83 RBI during the 2015 season, and while his counting numbers fell off a bit this past season, he raised his OPS 55 points thanks to a more selective approach.

    His walk rate jumped from 6.6 to 10.0 percent, and he also cut his strikeout rate down considerably from 23.9 to 17.6 percent.

    That increased his on-base percentage from .308 to .348, and that jump carries some added significance when you're hitting in front of the aforementioned Trout.

    His defense didn't grade out quite as well as it did when he won Gold Glove honors in 2015 (6 DRS, 12.1 UZR/150), but he remains one of the better defensive right fielders around.

10. J.D. Martinez, Detroit Tigers

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Age: 29

    2016 Offensive: .307 BA, .908 OPS, 141 H, 59 XBH (22 HR), 68 RBI, 69 R

    2016 Defensive: -22 DRS, -21.5 UZR/150

    WAR: 1.8

     

    Player Outlook

    Few players have reinvented themselves following a change of scenery the way J.D. Martinez did upon joining the Detroit Tigers.

    A .251/.300/.387 hitter who had shown some intriguing pop but little else over his first three seasons, Martinez was released by the Houston Astros just before the start of the 2014 season.

    The Tigers scooped him up a few days later and he set to work completely rebuilding his swing, an adjustment that resulted in a .315/.358/.553 line with 30 doubles and 23 home runs in 480 plate appearances in his first season with the team.

    After crushing 38 home runs in 2015, Martinez was once again a dangerous slugger when on the field this past season, but he managed just 120 games as a fractured right elbow cost him nearly two months.

    His defense also took a troubling downturn, as he went from being a plus in right field in 2015 (4 DRS, 8.0 UZR/150) to nothing short of a liability (-22 DRS, -21.5 UZR/150).

    As he gets set to enter a contract year, Martinez will need to prove he's back to 100 percent and capable of being at least a passable defender if he hopes to cash in.

9. Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Age: 25

    2016 Offensive: .258 BA, .786 OPS, 136 H, 60 XBH (22 HR), 86 RBI, 79 R

    2016 Defensive: 2 DRS, 7.0 UZR/150

    WAR: 1.6

     

    Player Outlook

    Gregory Polanco was asked to move from the leadoff spot in the batting order into more of a run-production role last season, and he was more than up to the task.

    The 25-year-old posted nearly identical batting average and on-base percentage marks, but his slugging percentage skyrocketed from .381 to .463.

    Along with increasing his home run total from nine to 22, he also paced the Pittsburgh Pirates with 86 RBI and added 17 stolen bases for good measure.

    He'll shift this season from right field to left field, where his plus arm and good range could make him a legitimate Gold Glove contender.

    Polanco is still figuring things out, but he certainly looks like a perennial 20/20 threat who is capable of adding further value in the field.

8. Stephen Piscotty, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Billy Hurst/Associated Press

    Age: 26

    2016 Offensive: .273 BA, .800 OPS, 159 H, 60 XBH (22 HR), 85 RBI, 86 R

    2016 Defensive: 3 DRS, 5.0 UZR/150

    WAR: 2.9

     

    Player Outlook

    It's hard to quantify what it means to be "clutch," but some consider batting average with runners in scoring position to be the best gauge.

    If that's the case, Stephen Piscotty is about as clutch as they come.

    The 26-year-old hit .363 with runners in scoring position as a rookie in 2015, then somehow found a way to improve on that with a ridiculous .393 mark this past season that ranked first among players with at least 50 such at-bats.

    The .800 OPS he posted last season with 35 doubles and 22 home runs might wind up being more or less his peak offensively, but he should post those numbers on a yearly basis for the foreseeable future.

    Essentially, he's Matt Holliday with a little less batting average.

    His defensive work also graded out well in right field, and he'll have a chance to settle in there this season after also spending time in left field and at first base last season.

7. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Age: 31

    2016 Offensive: .298 BA, .855 OPS, 174 H, 69 XBH (25 HR), 100 RBI, 87 R

    2016 Defensive: 4 DRS, -0.7 UZR/150

    WAR: 2.2

     

    Player Outlook

    Carlos Gonzalez topped 150 games played for the first time in his career in 2015 and he doubled down with another 150 games played this past season.

    Health has always been the biggest question mark for the Colorado Rockies slugger, and another injury-free season will set him up for a nice payday in free agency next winter.

    For now, he's back to anchor a high-powered Rockies offense alongside MVP candidate Nolan Arenado.

    CarGo slugged a career-high 40 home runs with a monster second half in 2015, but he sacrificed some batting average in the process as the former batting champ hit .271.

    His home run total fell to 25 last season, but he put together a more complete offensive season with a .298/.350/.505 line to earn his third trip to the All-Star Game.

    While the 31-year-old probably won't be adding a fourth Gold Glove to his trophy case anytime soon, he's still a solid defender.

6. Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Age: 36

    2016 Offensive: .287 BA, .915 OPS, 169 H, 71 XBH (43 HR), 105 RBI, 96 R

    2016 Defensive: -3 DRS, -7.4 UZR/150

    WAR: 4.7

     

    Player Outlook

    Since we're not doing a list of the top 30 designated hitters, Nelson Cruz gets lumped in with the corner outfielders.

    The 36-year-old played the requisite 300 innings to qualify for inclusion, manning right field for 400.2 innings and putting together as good of defensive metrics as one can ask for from an aging slugger.

    It's obviously his bat that earns him a spot in these rankings, though.

    The home runs steal the headlines and rightfully so, considering no one has hit more than the 127 launched by Cruz over the past three seasons.

    However, he's also turned himself into a more complete hitter since joining the Mariners.

    He was a career .268/.328/.501 hitter over his first 10 seasons, but he's upped that to a .294/.365/.561 line in his two first seasons in Seattle.

    Most notably, his walk rate has improved each of the past six seasons to a career-high 9.3 percent in 2016, and that patient approach has only made him a tougher draw for opposing pitchers.

5. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Age: 27

    2016 Offensive: .240 BA, .815 OPS, 99 H, 48 XBH (27 HR), 74 RBI, 56 R

    2016 Defensive: 4 DRS, -1.9 UZR/150

    WAR: 2.5

     

    Player Outlook

    Please stay healthy for a full season, Giancarlo Stanton.

    Pretty please.

    No one can destroy a baseball quite like the 27-year-old Miami Marlins slugger, and the last time he managed to make 500 plate appearances, he paced the NL with 37 home runs and nearly walked away with NL MVP honors.

    Despite averaging just 118 games per season over the course of his seven-year career, Stanton has still managed to launch 208 home runs before his 27th birthday.

    The towering 6'6", 245-pound slugger is truly as intimidating as they come when he digs into the batter's box, and he could absolutely challenge for the top spot on this list if he finds a way to avoid the disabled list.

4. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    Age: 33

    2016 Offensive: .305 BA, .903 OPS, 156 H, 56 XBH (30 HR), 91 RBI, 80 R

    2016 Defensive: 6 DRS, -3.3 UZR/150

    WAR: 4.4

     

    Player Outlook

    Ryan Braun may never repair his tarnished image after serving a 65-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs during the 2013 season.

    He's back to producing at an elite level, though.

    His OPS has climbed from .777 to .854 to .903 in the three years since he was forced to the sidelines, and in the process, he's gone from a clear trade chip to a potential building block for the Milwaukee Brewers.

    The 33-year-old is still owed $76 million over the next four years, but at this point, it's hard to say he's not worth that and the Brewers won't simply be looking to unload him in a salary dump.

    Trading Khris Davis last offseason proved to be a mistake, but it did allow Braun to shift from right field back to left field, where he's a better fit defensively.

    There might not be another 30/30 season in the tank, but he's still capable of 20 steals to go along with his plus batting average, 30-homer power and terrific contract rate.

3. Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    Age: 31

    2016 Offensive: .280 BA, .884 OPS, 134 H, 57 XBH (31 HR), 86 RBI, 72 R

    2016 Defensive: -3 DRS, -4.3 UZR/150

    WAR: 2.9

     

    Player Outlook

    The New York Mets really had no choice but to pony up and re-sign Yoenis Cespedes this winter.

    They're simply a different team with him anchoring the lineup.

    After completely transforming the Mets' offensive attack down the stretch in 2015, Cespedes continued to be the team's most important player as they were 74-58 (.561) with him in the lineup, compared to 13-17 (.433) without him last year.

    Cespedes is as safe a bet as anyone for another 30-homer season thanks to his light-tower power, and he also showed a newfound willingness to work a bases on balls last year as his walk rate climbed from 4.9 to 9.4 percent.

    Meanwhile, the above defensive metrics are a bit deceiving since we're looking at how a player graded out across all three outfield spots this time around.

    Cespedes was miscast as a center fielder (-7 DRS, -20.6 UZR/150), but he remained a standout in left field (4 DRS, 9.0 UZR/150) and he'll be back there on a full-time basis in 2017.

2. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    Age: 24

    2016 Offensive: .243 BA, .814 OPS, 123 H, 50 XBH (24 HR), 86 RBI, 84 R

    2016 Defensive: -3 DRS, 10.4 UZR/150

    WAR: 1.6

     

    Player Outlook

    "Bryce Harper is the most overrated player in baseball."

    Save that saying.

    Do you know how many players have tallied at least 120 home runs and a WAR north of 20 prior to their 24th birthday?

    Nine.

    It's a list that consists of six Hall of Famers (Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson, Ted Williams, Eddie Mathews, Mel Ott and Ken Griffey Jr.), another would-be Hall of Famer (Alex Rodriguez) and a fellow phenom (Mike Trout).

    Obviously, Harper failed to live up to the high bar he set with his 2015 MVP performance.

    That wasn't entirely his fault, though, as his .264 BABIP represented a 105-point decline over the previous season. Some of that is hitting into shifts and pitchers being more careful, but a lot of that is bad luck.

    Harper is also a terrific defensive right fielder, and he added another wrinkle to his game last year with a career-high 21 stolen bases.

    If his huge spring numbers (1.186 OPS, 6 HR) are any indication, Harper is poised to return to elite status in 2017.

1. Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    Age: 24

    2016 Offensive: .318 BA, .897 OPS, 214 H, 78 XBH (31 HR), 113 RBI, 122 R

    2016 Defensive: 32 DRS, 17.2 UZR/150

    WAR: 9.6

     

    Player Outlook

    There were some difficult decisions to make with the corner outfielder rankings, probably more so than any other position we've done so far.

    Mookie Betts in the No. 1 spot was not one of them.

    If anyone is capable of unseating Mike Trout as the best all-around player in the game, it's the Boston Red Sox right fielder.

    After two stellar seasons to begin his MLB career, Betts took his game to another level last season thanks to the emergence of his power stroke.

    He's now a 30/30 season waiting to happen, and the fact that he's also capable of contending for a batting title and figures to be a perennial Gold Glove winner after tallying a ridiculous 32 DRS last season is just further proof that he's a lot closer to Trout than some people think.

    It's hard to see how he improves at this point, but he's still only 24 years old, so it's not out of the question to think we haven't seen the best of Mookie Betts just yet.

     

    Standard stats and WAR totals courtesy of Baseball Reference. Other advanced stats (DRS, UZR/150, BABIP, etc.) courtesy of FanGraphs. Contract information via Spotrac.