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

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.



  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    March 27, 2018 at 10:06 am

    Sorry, but I’ll take the elder statesmen as my centerfielder.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 27, 2018 at 10:24 am

      Center field is stacked. So many ways you could rank that one.

  2. Orial

    March 27, 2018 at 11:17 am

    This is the category where the O’s drop off. Still that massive hole in RF(come on Hays we need ya).

    • Dan Connolly

      March 27, 2018 at 11:42 am

      Yeah. It’s there for the taking. Don’t sleep on Santander tho. I really like what I saw this spring. He’s got a chance.

  3. Stacey

    March 27, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Good story, Paul. But you forgot to mention Kevin Kiermaier’s additional talent of being crazy handsome.

    • Paul Folkemer

      March 27, 2018 at 1:43 pm

      I gave him bonus points for that.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 27, 2018 at 2:51 pm

      When you are as crazy handsome as Paul, you aren’t easily impressed. Bar. Set. High.

  4. Booged and Powelled

    March 27, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    It doesnt take a lot to understand the Orioles will rank low in individual OF positions vs the AL East.

    5 might be a bit high for C Rasmus 🙂

    • Dan Connolly

      March 27, 2018 at 3:23 pm

      Partially that’s because there are some really good outfielders in the East. And more are coming.

  5. TxBirdFan

    March 27, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    Thanks Paul! The infielder compares were a bit more fun since the O’s fared better. The outfielders, DH and bench compares helped bring me back to earth. Listing salaries next to names might make this even more jocular! Thanks for providing some enjoyment as the season kicks off.

    • Paul Folkemer

      March 27, 2018 at 5:07 pm

      Thanks, Tx. Although if you think the Orioles ranking low isn’t much fun, you might want to cover your eyes for the starting rotation rankings, coming tomorrow.

  6. Strovel

    March 27, 2018 at 10:05 pm

    O’s have three Rule 5 players; Pedro Alvarez, who can’t play the field; and Craig Gentry, who would be fine to carry if this were 1978 and we carried 16/17 position players. That’s 25 percent of the roster.

  7. Dblack2508

    March 28, 2018 at 8:21 am

    Dan, I have liked what I have seen of Santander, I agree with you mostly on your assessments.

  8. Orioles54

    March 28, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    Probably nailed this category Paul. Although rhetorical answer to your question, I’d put Betts ahead of Judge. Still not a believer, O’s bias I guess, but pitching and defense win championships, not a zillion HR’s , the O’ have proved that. Can Stanton adapt to DH? Seems like a waste, and ridiculous amount of money, but we’ll see.

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