2017 AL East Positional Rankings: Outfielders, designated hitters and benches - Page 2 of 6 - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Paul Folkemer

2017 AL East Positional Rankings: Outfielders, designated hitters and benches

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Ranking the AL East outfielders:

Left Field

1. Brett Gardner, Yankees
2. Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox
3. Hyun Soo Kim, Orioles
4. Colby Rasmus (injured)/Mallex Smith, Rays
5. Ezequiel Carrera, Blue Jays

For years, Gardner has quietly been the straw that stirs  the drink for the Yankees, setting the table atop the order for the bigger names in the lineup. At age 33, he’s no longer the burner he once was — his 16 steals last year were the fewest he’s ever had in a full season — but he still provides quality defense and on-base skills. By the end of this season, he could be passed atop the rankings by Boston’s 22-year-old Benintendi, who is widely regarded as the No. 1 prospect in baseball.

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Kim, after a shaky beginning with the Orioles in 2016, emerged from exile to hit .302 with a team-leading .382 OBP in 95 games. He’ll need to continue being an on-base machine to atone for his lack of defensive range. He’ll likely have Joey Rickard and/or Craig Gentry as a platoon partner and defensive replacement.

The Rays may divvy left field starts between newcomers Rasmus (slowly recovering from October hip surgery) and Smith, which sounds like an Odd Couple promo. “One is a power-hitting veteran. The other is a fresh-faced speedster. Can they share playing time without driving each other crazy? Mondays on CBS!” Meanwhile, the Blue Jays will give the journeyman Carrera a shot at starting duty, but he might not have the bat for it. Melvin Upton Jr. could get some starts as well, which doesn’t make things any better.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Bancells Moustache

    April 1, 2017 at 9:44 am

    I don’t know Paul, while I can agree the O’s bench isn’t top notch, calling it completely worthless is a bit over the top. Mancini is a wild card, and any team that had to stick a former All-Star down on the farm just to give him a paycheck can’t be that desperate.

    • Paul Folkemer

      April 1, 2017 at 10:52 am

      It’s not completely worthless, and in fact the bench could play a much more important role this year with platoons in both LF and RF. But in recent years it’s seemed as if the Orioles’ regulars get very few days off because Buck isn’t comfortable with his backup options, particularly in the infield.

      It’s true that the addition of Mancini gives the Orioles a pinch-hitting option — he hadn’t been announced to the roster when I wrote that, so that changes things a bit. But even still, I’m not sure how long he’ll be around. He could be squeezed off the roster once the team needs a fifth starter on April 15.

  2. Stacey

    April 1, 2017 at 10:23 am

    I wish Kevin Kiermaier was an Oriole. That would be swell.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 2, 2017 at 11:20 am

      Well, the Rays just locked him up for a while. So that will have to wait.

  3. Eldersburg Enigma

    April 2, 2017 at 10:10 am

    Didn’t realize just how poor overall the corner outfield spots are in this division (outside of Beantown). Yikes!

    • Dan Connolly

      April 2, 2017 at 11:21 am

      Yeah. And Boston might have the best overall outfield in baseball cuz those guys are all young.

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