Major League Baseball's 15 Best Outfields

Adam MacDonald@adammacdoAnalyst IIAugust 19, 2012

Major League Baseball's 15 Best Outfields

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    The outfield has possibly been home to more of baseball's greatest-ever players than any other position. Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Rickey Henderson, Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, Roberto Clemente...The list goes on.

    Even today, many of the game's best hitters pass the time between at-bats tracking down flies in the outfield. Here, we look at the 15 teams that can lay claim to having the best outfield in all of baseball.

Atlanta Braves

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    One year after one of the biggest collapses in league history, the Atlanta Braves are doing something remarkable down the stretch in 2012. A 22-5 stretch has catapulted them back into the playoff race, and they now have the fourth-best record in baseball at 70-49.

    Jason Heyward, Martin Prado and Michael Bourn are all having great years with the bat and glove. Their respective averages are .275, .296 and .293, and Heyward compensates for his comparatively low BA with his 20 home runs.

Baltimore Orioles

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    If the season ended today, Baltimore would have had its fourth-best record in the last 30 years. A team that has lost 30-plus games each of the last six years, the Orioles have been a big surprise in 2012.

    The O's have struggled to find someone solid to man left field, but Nick Markakis (.287 BA, 13 HR) has been very good once again in right. Meanwhile, $91-million man Adam Jones has been a sensation in center field.

Boston Red Sox

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    The Boston Red Sox have endured a torrid season, with a 58-62 record, a 6.5-game deficit in the wild-card hunt and a tenuous relationship between manager Bobby Valentine and the players.

    The team hasn't played well all season, but on paper, it is a solid club, especially in the outfield. Left fielder Carl Crawford had a miserable 2011 and missed most of 2012, but he can still contribute a lot. And Jacoby Ellsbury was the runner-up in last year's AL MVP voting.

    Right field has been a bit in flux this year, but Cody Ross has had the lion's share of appearances there. He is on pace for the best season of his career, with a .276 batting average, 18 home runs and 60 RBI.

Chicago White Sox

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    Alex Rios, Alejandro de Aza and Dayan Viciedo have all performed well for the White Sox this season. De Aza and Rios are both batting over .280, while Rios and Viciedo have each hit 19 home runs.

    Even Dewayne Wise, who returned to the team after a poor spell with the New York Yankees, has hit two homers in five games and is batting .333.

Cincinnati Reds

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    The Cincinnati Reds have overcome a slow start to take the lead in the NL Central with baseball's second-best record.

    CF Drew Stubbs has seen his average drop for the fourth straight season, but he has still hit 14 home runs. Jay Bruce, meanwhile, has had a good year and will come close to passing the career-best 32 homers he hit in 2011. And Ryan Ludwick has made the majority of appearances in left field and has performed well, with a .271 average and 23 home runs.

Colorado Rockies

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    The duo of Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler has given the Rockies one of the best outfield pairings in the game. Gonzalez is hitting .320, Fowler .299. Combined, they have 32 home runs, 120 RBI and 26 stolen bases.

Kansas City Royals

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    The Kansas City Royals aren't going anywhere this season, but that's in spite of their strong outfield.

    Left fielder Alex Gordon is hitting almost .300 for the second straight season. Across the field in right, Jeff Francoeur is still solid defensively, with a cannon for an arm. In the middle, they're weaker, but they are strong at the corners.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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    The L.A. Angels were meant to have a spectacular season and finally get back on top of the Texas Rangers in the AL West. That hasn't happened, with the Halos eight out in the division and 3.5 back in the wild card. Their offense hasn't been the problem, though: they are fifth in all of baseball with 565 runs scored.

    Mike Trout will cruise to the Rookie of the Year Award and might well come close in the MVP race. He leads baseball in WAR (7.4), has a .343 average, 23 home runs, 69 RBI and 39 stolen bases. His 1.010 OPS is third in the majors and second in the AL.

    Mark Trumbo similarly has had a great year, with 29 homers and a .287 average. And Torii Hunter is hitting .300.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Matt Kemp has hit .345 with 17 HR and 51 RBI in an injury-limited 69 games. Andre Ethier leads the team in hits, RBI and runs. The newly-acquired Shane Victorino might only be hitting .261 with one home run in his 16 games with L.A., but he's only dipped below .279 once in his career.

    Simply put, the Dodgers have a very enviable outfield trio.

New York Yankees

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    The Yankees are one of the best teams in all of baseball, with the major league's third-best, and AL's best, record (71-48). Much of that comes from their infield, with Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter and Alex Gonzalez owning the four of the team's top five WAR totals.

    Their outfield is outstanding as well, though. Curtis Granderson has reinvigorated his career since joining New York, with 72 total home runs in 2011 and 2012 and 188 runs batted in. Nick Swisher is also having a great season, with 18 long balls and a .266 average—the second-highest mark of his career.

Oakland Athletics

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    The Oakland Athletics have come out of nowhere. On July 1, they were 13 games out in the division and five games below .500 at 37-42. Since then, they have gone 27-13, reduced their divisional deficit to five games (and as few as 3.5 at one point) and are just a half-game out of a wild card spot.

    They've moved their outfield around a lot, with five players each playing at least a quarter of the Athletics' games.

    Josh Reddick has been a revelation in his first season in Oakland, with 25 home runs and 61 RBI. Yoenis Cespedes has also performed well in his first year, hitting .306 with 16 homers. Jonny Gomes, Coco Crisp and Seth Smith aren't going to set the world alight, but each has contributed well for the resurgent A's.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    The Pittsburgh Pirates start and stop with Andrew McCutchen. Their face-of-the-franchise center fielder will receive some votes in NL MVP balloting at the end of the year, and deservedly so. He's hitting .360 with 24 home runs and 72 RBI to pace one of 2012's most surprising teams.

    Left and right have been manned by numerous players throughout the year, but McCutchen alone is enough to get the Bucs on this list. Garret Jones, who has played 46 games in right, is also having a good year, batting .283 with 18 homers.

San Francisco Giants

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    Melky Cabrera was having a great year before he was caught taking PEDs and suspended for the rest of the season. Without him, the Giants' outfield looks substantially weaker, but nonetheless, Gregor Blanco and Angel Pagan have each done a decent job.

St. Louis Cardinals

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    Carlos Beltran has proven to be a great signing for the defending World Series champions. He's hitting .278, but is on pace for his highest home run total in six years. He has 28 already, with 83 RBI.

    In left field, Matt Holliday has continued to perform well since his trade to St Louis in 2009. He's on pace for his best homer total since 2007 and is batting over .300.

Texas Rangers

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    The Texas Rangers and star center fielder Josh Hamilton have both slowed down after fast starts, but both are still in a good position. The defending AL champions have a five-game lead in the AL West. Meanwhile, Hamilton leads the major leagues in home runs (34) and is second in RBI (101. Detroit's Miguel Cabrera has 104).

    On Hamilton's left is Nelson Cruz, whose power numbers are a little down from 2011, but who is still having a decent season. David Murphy has spent more time on Hamilton's right than anyone else and is batting over .300.