Power Ranking the Top 10 Outfielders with the Best Throwing Arms
There may not be a more exciting play in baseball than a play at the plate. The only way these plays can happen is if the outfielder catching the ball has the arm strength to get it home.
When team's are able to employ outfielders with these kind of skills it has a wide range of benefits. Those benefits begin with stealing outs from overzealous base runners, and extend to eventually holding runners just because of the outfielder's reputation.
It is hard to rank outfielders' throwing arms based purely on statistics.
Assists are generally the stat used, however, if a player has built a reputation for having a deadly arm, like Ichiro Suzuki has, baserunners will be more hesitant to try and extend hits.
For these power rankings, I ranked players based on a combination of a poll of 305 MLB players by Sports Illustrated as well as highlight clips. I put together the top 10 outfielders with the best arm at this point in the year.
10. Yoenis Cespedes
Like a number of other players on this list, it didn't take long for Yoenis Cespedes to show off the arm. This perfect throw was made at the end of April last season, and Cespedes got the ball to third in time even after dropping the ball once.
In part due to his play in the field, Cespedes and the Oakland A's were able to clinch the AL West crown last year.
Cespedes has fallen into a sophomore slump at the plate this year but still has one of the stronger arms in the game today.
9. Alex Gordon
The Kansas City Royals thought they had their third baseman of the future when Alex Gordon was called up back in 2007.
Over time, though, the Royals decided to shift him to left field and he has become a quality corner left-fielder.
This season he already has seven assists to to add to his 37 over the prior two seasons.
The reason for such a high number is probably the baserunners who wanted to test him as he transitioned to a new position.
That number should drop as Gordon continues to make runners pay.
8. Nelson Cruz
The impressive part of this throw was Cruz reaching home plate in the air from right field.
This throw was made last year, but not much has changed in 2013. Nelson Cruz still has one of the better arms in the game today.
Nelson Cruz may not be known as a consistent defender, but he makes highlight reel plays that keep fans optimistic that maybe one day he will be. One thing is for sure, the arm strength is always there.
If he gets a ball hit his way, runners will think twice.
7. Ichiro Suzuki
If these power rankings were done a few years earlier, Ichiro would be much higher on this list. However, as Ichiro heads towards the end of his career, his arm strength is not near the level it was in the video on this slide.
This throw was made only eight games into his Major League career and put base-runners on notice, in a fashion very similar to Yasiel Puig's first couple of games.
Even with time starting to catch up to Ichiro, he still has one of the better arms in the game and can gun down baserunners.
6. Gerardo Parra
Gerardo Parra is probably a surprise to some fans as one of the top outfield arms.
He already has eight assists this year but if he continues to make throws like this, those opportunities may start to diminish.
This is nothing new to Parra, though. He has 20 assists over the previous two seasons.
He has become a pretty good defensive player for the Diamondbacks and even won a Gold Glove in 2011. There is no reason to think he couldn't stay in the Top 10 for the next few years, barring any injuries.
5. Jose Bautista
Jose Bautista may be known for the long ball, but he has earned that reputation with one of the stronger arms in the outfield today.
This throw was made a little over a month ago when Evan Longoria tried to score from second on a Luke Scott hit.
Bautista has had double digit outfield assists each of the past three seasons, and is on his way to extending that streak with five assists this year.
It will only be a matter of time before baserunners start second guessing running on Bautista.
4. Carlos Gonzalez
Pablo Sandoval is not the fastest player in the game today, but this throw is still pretty impressive. Gonzalez reaches second base from deep left center on two hops.
After this throw, Troy Renck of the Denver Post wrote this article about Gonzalez's arm and his early season success.
In the article, Renck notes that during spring training, six of his teammates named him the best outfield arm in the game today.
Teammates can be a little biased when asked those questions, but CarGo is definitely in the Top 5.
3. Yasiel Puig
Yasiel Puig has taken Major League Baseball by storm in a very short amount of time.
He has had such a strong start that some believe he should be a part of the All-Star game this year after only 13 games.
One of the reasons he has had such a huge impact is that he has made plays at the plate as well as on the field. The video here was actually his first game and the throw was a double play ending throw.
Five days later he followed that throw with this gem, throwing out Andrelton Simmons as he went from first to third.
Many can question if Puig can continue to hit at the pace he is, but there isn't any question that his arm is one of the strongest in the game.
2. Jeff Francoeur
Jeff Francoeur has seen his stats decline at the plate during his time with the Kansas City Royals, but his arm has stayed one of the best in the game.
Earlier this year, he was voted by a poll of MLB players in Sports Illustrated to be the most dangerous arm in the MLB.
It is hard to argue with a poll of his peers, however he has had trouble staying on the field because of his struggles at the plate.
Looking at the clip, Francoeur clearly has an excellent arm and can still make great throws, but he dropped a spot to this next guy due to lack of playing time.
1. Shin-Soo Choo
Shin-Soo Choo is one of the better all-around players in the game due to his play at the plate and his exceptional arm.
He didn't waste any time making an impact on the Reds with this throw at the beginning of the season.
Unlike Puig, Choo has been doing this for years and it is surprising that players still think they can run on him. Over his final three seasons with Cleveland he had 30 assists and has added three more this year.
I think Choo and Francoeur have arms that are on the same level, but Choo earned the top spot due to being a better all-around player.
He has already played 15 more games than Francoeur at this point in the season. Since he is on the field more, he has to get the number one spot in these power rankings as the outfielder with the best arm in the game today.