Ranking the Top 25 Outfielders of the 2022 MLB Season

Joel ReuterNovember 26, 2022

Ranking the Top 25 Outfielders of the 2022 MLB Season

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    Aaron Judge
    Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

    It's time to put a bow on the 2022 MLB season with Bleacher Report's final positional rankings.

    Throughout the year, we released monthly updates to our position-by-position power rankings, selecting the top 10 players at each spot. Now it's time to finalize those rankings while expanding the list to the 25 best at each position.

    Just like the regular-season rankings, past production and future expectations played no part in deciding the order—this is simply a rundown of the best and brightest of 2022.

    To qualify for inclusion, a player simply had to have at least 200 plate appearances. Each player was only included at the position where he played the most innings.

    Let's dive into the top 25 outfielders of the 2022 season.

    Catch up on the Top 25 in 2022 series: Catchers, First Basemen, Second Basemen, Shortstops, Third Basemen

Honorable Mentions: Next 25

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    Oscar González
    Set Number: X164207 TK1

    Since there are three times as many outfielders as there are other positions on the diamond, it made sense to add an honorable mention list of 25 guys onto our top 25 list. Here are the players who just missed the cut, listed alphabetically:

    Ronald Acuña Jr., ATL
    Mark Canha, NYM
    Dylan Carlson, STL
    Oscar Gonzalez, CLE
    Nick Gordon, MIN
    Trent Grisham, SD
    Lourdes Gurriel Jr., TOR
    Austin Hays, BAL
    Teoscar Hernández, TOR
    Jake McCarthy, ARI
    Chas McCormick, HOU
    Christopher Morel, CHC
    Lars Nootbaar, STL
    Jurickson Profar, SD
    Luis Robert, CWS
    Anthony Santander, BAL
    Myles Straw, CLE
    Seiya Suzuki, CHC
    Michael A. Taylor, KC
    Tyrone Taylor, MIL
    Lane Thomas, WAS
    Trayce Thompson, SD/LAD
    Alex Verdugo, BOS
    Mike Yastrzemski, SF
    Christian Yelich, MIL

Nos. 25-21

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    Cedric Mullins
    G Fiume/Getty Images

    25. Joc Pederson, San Francisco Giants

    Ugly defensive metrics (-15 DRS, -17.7 UZR/150) and the fact that he was essentially a platoon player (57 PA vs. LHP) kept Pederson from ranking any higher, but he was a terrific bargain on a one-year, $6 million deal. An All-Star for the second time, he posted a 144 OPS+ and led the Giants with 23 home runs, and that earned him a qualifying offer which he accepted.

    24. Hunter Renfroe, Milwaukee Brewers

    A prototypical right fielder with plus power and a strong throwing arm, Renfroe was productive once again playing for his fourth team in as many years. The 30-year-old posted a 126 OPS+ with 29 home runs and 72 RBI, and he had 11 outfield assists in a career-high 2.7-WAR season.

    23. Andrew Benintendi, Kansas City Royals/New York Yankees

    Once the No. 1 prospect in baseball with the Red Sox in 2017, Benintendi never quite lived up to expectations in Boston, but he has set himself up for a nice free agency payday after a strong 2022 season. He hit .320 with a .387 on-base percentage in 93 games with the Royals before he was traded to the Yankees at the deadline, and while he battled injury down the stretch, his combination of contact ability and defense still made him a 3.2-WAR player in 2022.

    22. Brendan Donovan, St. Louis Cardinals

    The Cardinals seem to regularly find an unheralded rookie who emerges as a key contributor, and in 2022 it was Donovan who started the year as the team's No. 13-ranked prospect. He played at least 50 innings at six different positions and hit .281/.394/.379 with 27 extra-base hits and a 12.8 percent walk rate in 126 games, posting a 4.1-WAR season that earned him a third-place finish in NL Rookie of the Year voting.

    21. Cedric Mullins, Baltimore Orioles

    Mullins didn't quite match the out-of-nowhere 30/30 season he put together in 2021, but he was still one of the game's better everyday center fielders. He logged a 104 OPS+ with 52 extra-base hits, 34 steals and 3.8 WAR in 156 games, and he still has three seasons of club control remaining for an Orioles team on the rise.

Nos. 20-16

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    Bryan Reynolds
    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    20. Randy Arozarena, Tampa Bay Rays

    The reigning AL Rookie of the Year heading into the 2022 season, Arozarena enjoyed his second straight 20/20 season, hitting .263/.327/.445 for a 124 OPS+ with 41 doubles, 20 home runs, 89 RBI and 32 steals. The deal to acquire him from the St. Louis Cardinals prior to the 2020 season in exchange for prospect Matthew Liberatore looks like a major win.

    19. Adolis García, Texas Rangers

    Another outfield prospect the Cardinals traded away before he broke out, García had a 31-homer rookie season in 2021, but he was a more well-rounded offensive player this season. The 29-year-old posted a 113 OPS+ with 66 extra-base hits, 101 RBI and 25 steals, while making modest improvements to his walk rate (5.1 to 6.1 percent) and strikeout rate (31.2 to 27.9 percent) in a 3.5-WAR campaign.

    18. Bryan Reynolds, Pittsburgh Pirates

    The best hitter on the Pittsburgh roster by a landslide in 2022, Reynolds led the team in OPS+ (126), hits (142), extra-base hits (50), home runs (27), RBI (62), runs scored (74) and total bases (250). The 27-year-old is miscast as a center fielder (-14 DRS, -3.2 UZR/150) and that undercut his overall value a bit.

    17. Taylor Ward, Los Angeles Angels

    A .230/.305/.388 career hitter in 534 plate appearances entering the 2022 season, Ward was one of the year's biggest surprises. The 2015 first-round pick hit .281/.360/.473 for a 135 OPS+ with 22 doubles, 23 home runs, 65 RBI and 3.7 WAR in 135 games, and he now looks like a core piece of the lineup alongside Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani.

    16. Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins

    Buxton has essentially played one full season's worth of games over the past two years, posting a 150 OPS+ with 47 home runs and 8.5 WAR in 153 games since the start of 2021. The 28-year-old is capable of making a greater impact in half a season than most players can in a full 162 games, and he racked up 4.0 WAR and 44 extra-base hits in 92 games this year while earning his first All-Star selection.

Nos. 15-11

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    Ian Happ
    Matt Dirksen/Getty Images

    15. Kyle Schwarber, Philadelphia Phillies

    Signed to a four-year, $79 million deal during the offseason, Schwarber slugged an NL-leading 46 home runs in his first season with the Phillies. He also led the majors with 200 strikeouts and was a below average defender (-14 DRS, -13.7 UZR/150), but he still finished with a 130 OPS+ and 2.2 WAR in 155 games as an impact bat atop the Philadelphia lineup.

    14. Starling Marte, New York Mets

    Signed to a four-year, $78 million deal as part of the Mets' spending spree last offseason, Marte hit .292/.347/.468 with 45 extra-base hits, 18 steals and 3.8 WAR in 118 games. An All-Star for just the second time in his career, he slotted perfectly in the No. 2 spot in the lineup between NL batting title winner Jeff McNeil and the one-two punch of Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso.

    13. George Springer, Toronto Blue Jays

    After injuries limited him to just 78 games in his first season with the Blue Jays, Springer bounced back with a 131 OPS+ in 133 games while earning his fourth career All-Star selection. He filled up the stat sheet with 22 doubles, 25 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored and 14 steals while playing his usual solid defender in center field in a 4.0-WAR campaign.

    12. Daulton Varsho, Arizona Diamondbacks

    Varsho split his time between right field (541.2 innings), center field (378.2 innings) and catcher (175.0 innings) as one of the more unique utility players in the sport. The former top prospect posted a 109 OPS+ with 23 doubles, 27 home runs, 74 RBI, 79 runs scored and 16 steals, and he was a Gold Glove finalist in right field in a 4.9-WAR season.

    11. Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs

    An All-Star and Gold Glove winner for the first time, Happ hit .271/.342/.440 for a 119 OPS+ with 42 doubles, 17 home runs, 72 RBI, 72 runs scored and 4.4 WAR in 158 games. The Cubs surprisingly held onto him at the trade deadline despite significant interest, and he now enters a contract year looking to build off his breakout performance.

10. Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 5:  Brandon Nimmo #9 of the New York Mets bats during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on June 5, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. The Mets defeated the Dodgers 5-4. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
    Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images

    Brandon Nimmo was a 5-WAR player for the first time in his career in 2022, just in time to test the free agency waters.

    The 29-year-old hit .274/.367/.433 with 30 doubles, seven triples, 16 home runs, 64 RBI and 102 runs scored as the table-setter atop the Mets' lineup, and he once again played a roughly league-average center field.

    Perhaps most important of all, he played in a career-high 151 games, proving he can stay healthy for a full season after injuries had significantly limited him in 2019 (69 games) and 2021 (92 games).

9. Juan Soto, Washington Nationals/San Diego Padres

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 29: Juan Soto #22 of the San Diego Padres gets ready to bat in the second inning against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park on August 29, 2022 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    In a down season by his own lofty standards, Juan Soto was still one of the most productive offensive players in the game.

    His 149 OPS+ ranked eighth among all qualified hitters and trailed only Aaron Judge (211) and Yordan Álvarez (187) among outfielders. He once again tallied more walks (135) than strikeouts (96) while hitting .242/.401/.452 with 25 doubles, 27 home runs, 62 RBI and 93 runs scored.

    A full season alongside Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. in the San Diego Padres lineup would provide him with the best protection he's had at any point in his career, and with free agency fast approaching after the 2024 season he's playing for a huge payday.

8. Steven Kwan, Cleveland Guardians

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    CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 30: Steven Kwan #38 of the Cleveland Guardians hits a two-run double during the fifth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Progressive Field on August 30, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)
    Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

    Who would have guessed an under-the-radar rookie who didn't crack Baseball America's Top 100 prospect list and ranked as the No. 27 prospect in the Cleveland organization would finish as one of the 10 best outfielders in baseball?

    Steven Kwan put together a 5.5-WAR debut season with an old school game built on contact ability, speed and defense.

    The 25-year-old hit .298/.373/.400 with more walks (62) than strikeouts (60) while adding 89 runs scored and 19 steals. He was one of only two qualified hitters with a strikeout rate below 10 percent, and he also won Gold Glove honors thanks to his brilliant defensive metrics (21 DRS, 8.4 UZR/150) in left field.

7. Michael Harris II, Atlanta Braves

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    ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 26: Michael Harris II #23 of the Atlanta Braves catches a fly ball against the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh inning at Busch Stadium on August 26, 2022 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    When Michael Harris II made his MLB debut on May 28, 2022, he was just a few months past his 21st birthday and had played just 43 games at the Double-A level, jumping over Triple-A entirely.

    Despite his age and limited upper-minors experience, he didn't miss a beat in the majors, hitting .297/.339/.514 with 27 doubles, 19 home runs, 64 RBI, 75 runs scored and 20 steals in 22 attempts over 114 games.

    With 5.3 WAR, he joined Jason Heyward (6.4, 2010) and Dusty Baker (5.1, 1972) as the only rookie outfielders in Atlanta Braves history with a 5-WAR season, and he edged out teammate Spencer Strider for NL Rookie of the Year honors.

6. Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros

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    HOUSTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 13: Kyle Tucker #30 of the Houston Astros bats against the Oakland Athletics at Minute Maid Park on August 13, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)
    Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images

    One of the most well-rounded players in the sport, Kyle Tucker continued his rise as a bona fide superstar for the Houston Astros in 2022.

    The 25-year-old posted a 128 OPS+ with 28 doubles, 30 home runs, 107 RBI and 25 steals in 29 attempts. With that, he became just the second player in Astros history with a 30-homer, 25-steal season, joining Hall of Famer first baseman Jeff Bagwell who did it twice.

    Along with his stellar offensive numbers, Tucker also won his first career Gold Glove while posting stellar defensive metrics (13 DRS, 4.6 UZR/150) in right field.

5. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

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    OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 04: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels looks on before the game against the Oakland Athletics at RingCentral Coliseum on October 04, 2022 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
    Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

    Mike Trout missed 30 games at midseason with a back issue and still finished eighth in AL MVP voting while taking home his eighth Silver Slugger Award.

    The 31-year-old hit .283/.369/.630 for a 178 OPS+ while slugging 40 home runs in just 499 plate appearances, and his 6.3 WAR still ranked sixth among all American League players.

    It was not his best all-around season by any stretch of the imagination, due in large part to the significant time he spent watching from the sidelines, but it was still good enough for a top-five ranking on this list. Would anyone be surprised to see him reclaim the No. 1 spot in 2023?

4. Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 05: Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts (50) gets set for the pitch during a regular season game between the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers on June 5, 2022, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Another year, another pile of accolades for Mookie Betts who won his fifth Silver Slugger, sixth Gold Glove and made his sixth trip to the All-Star Game in the third season of a 12-year, $365 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    The 30-year-old posted a 136 OPS+ with 40 doubles, 35 home runs, 82 RBI and an NL-leading 117 runs scored in 142 games. With 305 total bases he was one of just 12 players to break the 300 mark during the 2022 season, joining Aaron Judge (391) as the only outfielders on that exclusive list.

    His 6.4 WAR marked the sixth time in nine MLB seasons that he's been a 6-WAR player, and he finished fifth in NL MVP voting, one spot behind teammate Freddie Freeman.

3. Julio Rodríguez, Seattle Mariners

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    SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - MAY 25: Julio Rodriguez #44 of the Seattle Mariners at bat during the fourth inning at T-Mobile Park on May 25, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
    Steph Chambers/Getty Images

    Few rookies in recent memory have had a greater impact on the culture of their team than Julio Rodríguez, who played a pivotal role in helping the Seattle Mariners reach the postseason for the first time since Ichiro Suzuki's rookie season in 2001.

    The No. 2 prospect in baseball when the season began, he lived up to the hype and then some by hitting .284/.345/.509 with 25 doubles, 28 home runs, 75 RBI, 84 runs scored and 25 steals in 132 games.

    The 21-year-old earned an All-Star selection, won Silver Slugger honors, finished seventh in AL MVP voting, and easily took home the AL Rookie of the Year Award. Expect him to be one of the faces of baseball for the next decade-plus and a strong contender for the No. 1 spot on this list for years to come.

2. Yordan Álvarez, Houston Astros

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    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 25: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT)  Yordan Alvarez #44 of the Houston Astros in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on June 25, 2022 in New York City. The Astros defeated the Yankees 3-0. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Yordan Álvarez actually played more games at designated hitter (77) than he did in the outfield (56), but since there are not enough everyday DHs for us to do a top 25 list for that position, he's being included here alongside the rest of the league's best outfielders.

    The 25-year-old hit .306/.406/.613 for a gaudy 187 OPS+ that trailed only Aaron Judge among all players, tallying 29 doubles, 37 home runs, 97 RBI and 95 runs scored in 135 games for a 6.8-WAR season.

    He also posted well-above-average defensive metrics (5 DRS, 19.7 UZR/150) in left field, which makes it much easier to justify including him in these rankings. He is one of the best pure hitters in the game today, and the six-year, $115 million extension he signed in June already looks like an absolute steal for the Astros.

1. Aaron Judge, New York Yankees

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    HOUSTON, TEXAS - JUNE 30: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees at bat against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on June 30, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Who else?

    Aaron Judge put together one of the greatest offensive seasons in MLB history in 2022, setting the AL record with 62 home runs while making a legitimate run at the Triple Crown by hitting .311/.425/.686 with 131 RBI and 133 runs scored.

    His 10.6 WAR led all of baseball, as did his ridiculous 211 OPS+ meaning he was more than twice as productive as the average hitter. Beyond the gaudy numbers, he was the one consistent in a Yankees lineup that dealt with injuries and under performance, and he did it all while also playing a career-high 632.2 innings in center field.

    With the injury-prone label fading after back-to-back healthy seasons, teams can feel a bit more comfortable signing him to a long-term deal this winter, and he hits the open market for the first time as one of the highest profile players in the history of MLB free agency.

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.