AL East Positional Rankings: Outfield, DH, bench - Page 2 of 6 - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Paul Folkemer

AL East Positional Rankings: Outfield, DH, bench

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Left Field

  1. Brett Gardner, Yankees
  2. Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox
  3. Trey Mancini, Orioles
  4. Curtis Granderson/Steve Pearce, Blue Jays
  5. Mallex Smith/Denard Span, Rays

When you think of power bats in the Yankees’ lineup, Gardner probably isn’t the guy who immediately jumps to mind. But he bashed a career-high 21 homers and had a career-best .428 slugging percentage in 2017 at age 33. More than that, though, Gardner has been a mainstay atop the Yankees’ lineup for a decade thanks to his speed and defense. He might sit against southpaw pitchers this year, but there’s some guy named Giancarlo who can spot start in left.

Benintendi, the runner-up for 2017 AL Rookie of the Year, collected 20 homers and 90 RBIs and added 20 steals to go with it. Not bad for a 22-year-old. He could be the gold standard of AL East left fielders for the next decade — and he’s good enough defensively that he could play center field if needed. His one weakness is his vulnerability to lefty pitchers, and, unlike Gardner, he doesn’t have a right-handed caddy as menacing as Stanton.

Mancini placed one spot behind Benintendi in the Rookie of the Year vote, so it’s fitting that he’s one spot behind him in the left field rankings, too. Mancini, who had never played the outfield in his professional career before last season, held his own defensively after learning the position in spring training. What really did the talking was his bat: a .293 average, .826 OPS, 24 homers and 78 RBIs.

The Blue Jays will platoon ex-Oriole Pearce with newly signed Granderson, who has popped 319 home runs in his distinguished major league career. But at age 37, how much does Granderson have left? As for the Rays, they took on the 34-year-old Span’s contract to make the financials work in the Evan Longoria trade with San Francisco, but now they’re planning to give him regular at-bats despite his recent decline. The speedy Smith should take over the left field job if he recovers from the hamstring injury that has plagued him this spring.

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