Home Featured Best MLB Players of the 2010s: Right Field

Best MLB Players of the 2010s: Right Field

by Chris Brown

With the 2010s in the rearview mirror, 110 Sports is taking a look back at the best players of the last decade at each position. There’s no one perfect way to evaluate baseball players. For these rankings, we weigh statistics such as OPS (on-base + slugging percentage) and WAR (wins above replacement), which, while imperfect, are good at assessing hitting contributions and overall value, along with various other factors like the player’s best years in the decade, length of high-level production, speed, defense, reputation, playoff experience and awards. 

A general note about eligibility for this exercise: Players are being considered for the top 10 only at the position they played most in the decade. If a player made a significant contribution at another position in the 2010s, they may receive an honorable mention there as well. Let’s get to it.

From Bautista to Harper, Stanton to Martinez, several of the biggest power bats of the last 10 years have spent most of their time in right field. And while that power often brings with it the most attention, there were also several non-thunderous bats at the position who combined on-base skills, defense, and durability to put together an impressive decade. So how does it all fit together amongst the top 10? There’s only one way to find out.

Honorable Mentions

Josh Reddick | BOS 2010-11, OAK 2012-16, LAD 2016, HOU 2017-19

Reddick has rarely put up star numbers in his career, but he’s been at least a solid contributor ever since his first full season in 2012. That year was undoubtedly his best, as Reddick hit 32 home runs with 85 runs scored and 85 RBI with 11 steals and a .242/.305/.463 batting line, finishing 16th in MVP voting and winning a Gold Glove. Reddick only reached 20 homers one other time in the decade, averaging 14 long balls and seven steals per year with a .270 average the rest of the decade. Thanks in large part to strong defense, Reddick ranks 10th among players with at least 400 games in right field in the 2010s.

Hunter Pence | HOU 2010-11, PHI 2011-12, SF 2012-18, TEX 2019

Pence had an unexpected resurgence with the Rangers last season, hitting .297/.358/.552 with 18 homers before his season was cut short due to injury. The longtime Giant’s production had dropped off significantly in the four years prior, but he was one of the best-hitting right fielders in baseball the first half of the decade. From 2010-14, Pence hit .281 with a .800 OPS while averaging 159 games played, 24 homers, 92 runs, 93 RBI, and 13 stolen bases per season. Pence was also a two-time All-Star in that stretch and won two World Series titles with the Giants. He ranks fifth in hits and seventh in RBI among players with at least 400 games at the position in the decade.

Yasiel Puig | LAD 2013-18, CIN 2019, CLE 2019

The longtime Dodgers outfielder burst onto the major league season after his defection from Cuba, hitting 19 home runs and stealing 11 bases with a .319/.391/.534 batting line in 104 games to finish second in Rookie of the Year balloting in 2013. Puig was named an All-Star for the first and only time in the decade the next season, and after two seasons hampered by injury, Puig hit a career-high 28 homers in 2017 and surpassed 20 homers each of the next two seasons as well. Consistency and health were common questions with Puig in the decade, but his abilities were rarely in doubt.

Shin-Soo Choo | CLE 2010-12, CIN 2013, TEX 2014-19

Choo has only briefly approached true stardom in his career, but the veteran of four major league teams was one of the most consistent, solid contributors in the outfield over the last 10 years. One of his best seasons came in 2013, when the then-30-year-old hit .285/.423/.462 with 107 runs scored, 21 home runs, and 11 stolen bases, finishing 12th in MVP voting. Aside from a few injury-shortened seasons, Choo was typically a lock for around 20 home runs, 80+ runs scored, and an on-base percentage north of .350. Choo ranks second among players with at least 400 games in right field last decade in on-base percentage (.376). 

Carlos Beltrán | NYM 2010-11, SF 2011, STL 2012-13, NYY 2014-16, TEX 2016, HOU 2017

At age 33 when the 2010s began, Beltran’s best performance (along with most of his time in center field) was behind him, but the then-five-time All-Star clearly had something left in the tank. For a six-year stretch from 2011-16, Beltran stayed largely healthy, averaging 139 games played per season along with roughly 25 homers, 80 RBI, and a .280/.343/.487 batting line. Beltran was selected as an All-Star four more times in that stretch, with one of his best seasons coming when he tallied 32 homers, 83 runs, 97 RBI, and 13 steals with the Cardinals in 2012. 

Top 10

10. Jay Bruce | CIN 2010-16, NYM 2016-17, CLE 2017, NYM 2018, SEA 2019, PHI 2019

There were few more consistent sources of power in baseball in the 2010s than Bruce. In an eight-year stretch to begin the 2010s, Bruce averaged 29 home runs per season, with his career high of 36 coming in 2017. The longtime Red was named an All-Star three times and won a Silver Slugger while finishing 10th in NL MVP voting in back-to-back years, tallying 34 and 30 home runs in 2012 and 2013, respectively, with around 100 RBI and a .250-.260 average. While his .246 batting average and .316 on-base percentage for the decade left plenty to be desired, Bruce does rank fourth in home runs and second in RBI among players with at least 400 games in right last decade.

9. Nick Markakis | BAL 2010-14, ATL 2015-19

Markakis and Bruce are similar in that they both were very consistent in offensive production in a key area or two in the decade. But that’s where the similarities stop. While Bruce was always a high power, low average and OBP bat, Markakis was just the opposite. Markakis played in 155 games or more eight times in the decade, and never in fewer than 100. He was second in baseball in hits in the 2010s (behind only Robinson Cano) and posted a batting average of .270 or better nine times with a strong .354 OBP for the decade. 

A skilled defender, Markakis also won three Gold Gloves in the 2010s. He typically hit around 10 homers per season, never topping 15 in the decade, and was never an offensive star. But year after year, the guy just showed up and kept on hitting.

8. Jason Heyward | ATL 2010-14, STL 2015, CHC 2016-19

Heyward never turned out to be the star everyone thought he would be following his 2010 rookie season in which he posted an .849 OPS and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting, but his elite glove and strong offense in enough years helped him land a spot in the top 10. After a rough sophomore season, the former No. 1 overall prospect posted his only 20-20 season in 2012, hitting .269/.335/.479 with 27 home runs, 21 steals, 93 runs, and 82 RBI. 

While he had two more 20+ steal seasons, Heyward trailed off offensively after that, averaging 12 homers and 10 stolen bags per season with a .262/.339/.397 batting line over the last seven years of the 2010s. Defensively, though, there were few outfielders better in the decade. Heyward racked up five Gold Gloves, including four in a row from 2014-17, and led all right fielders in defensive WAR in the 2010s.

7. Carlos González | COL 2010-18, CLE 2019, CHC 2019

At other positions we generally had to reach the top five or top three before we encountered the true “best of the best”, but there’s really seven players that fit into that category in right field, starting with Gonzalez. It’s been four years since CarGo last put up great numbers, but there’s no disputing he was one of the top hitters in baseball in the first half of the decade when healthy. His best season was the first of the decade, when CarGo led the NL in hits (197), batting average (.336) and total bases (351) with 34 doubles, 34 homers, 111 runs, 117 RBI, 26 steals, a .974 OPS, and Gold Glove-winning defense. He finished third in MVP balloting in 2010 and also won a Silver Slugger.

Excluding an injury-shortened 2014, Gonzalez averaged 136 games played, 29 home runs, 15 steals and 94 RBI per season from 2010-16, making three All-Star teams and winning three Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers. His underwhelming .260/.328/.423 batting line over the past three seasons with just 33 total home runs pulls down his rate stats and limits his cumulative stats relative to others ahead on this list, but there’s no doubting Gonzalez’s high ceiling in his prime years.

6. George Springer | HOU 2014-19

Springer’s 2014 major league debut means he’s played near the fewest seasons of any player in the top 10, so his sixth place ranking goes to show just how productive he’s been since. The Astros outfielder hit 20 home runs in just 78 games in his first big league season and after a decent sophomore campaign, Springer emerged as one of the best players in baseball over the last four years. 

From 2016-19, Springer averaged 31 home runs, 107 runs, 84 RBI and seven stolen bases per season with a strong .274/.363/.496 batting line. Springer won two Silver Sluggers in that stretch and was named an All-Star three times, including in 2019 when he tallied a career-high 39 home runs and 96 RBI with an incredible .974 OPS in 122 games. He also has World Series MVP on his resume as well.

5. J.D. Martinez | HOU 2011-13, DET 2014-17, ARI 2017, BOS 2018-19

You’ve probably heard about Martinez’s story before, and it’s an incredible one. After his production declined each of his first three years in the majors, the Astros released the 26-year-old in March 2014. Martinez then latched on with the Tigers on a minor league deal, and after making changes to his swing, he quickly transformed all the way into one of the best hitters in baseball, posting an OPS of .875 or better every year since.

In 2015, Martinez played in 158 games, hitting 38 home runs with 102 RBI and a .282 average. In 2017, it was 45 homers, 104 RBI and a .303/.376/.690 triple slash. In 2018, Martinez finished fourth in MVP voting and won a Silver Slugger after hitting .330 with 43 long balls and an MLB-leading 130 RBI. In all, Martinez has hit .307 and averaged 35 homers, 86 runs, and 98 RBI per season since 2014, being named an All-Star three times. Martinez has been a below average defensive outfielder in his career and has played more at DH in recent years, but no one doubts his hitting ability now. Among players with at least 400 games in right field in the 2010s, Martinez ranks fifth in slugging percentage and OPS.

4. José Bautista | TOR 2010-17, ATL 2018, NYM 2018, PHI 2018

Bautista was a late bloomer in the big leagues like Martinez, but on a whole different level. He bounced around to a variety of defensive positions — and teams — in his early years after debuting in 2004, and was a mediocre hitter at best all the way through 2009. Then something changed. Big time. In 2010, Bautista, in his second full season with the Blue Jays, smashed an MLB-leading 54 home runs while tallying 109 runs and 124 RBI and batting .260/.378/.617. The next season, Baustista led the majors in homers again, this time with 43, and posted a sensational, league-leading 1.056 OPS. 

While he never matched that production again, Bautista, who missed some time due to injury, averaged roughly 35 homers and 100 RBI per 162 games played across the next six seasons. From 2010-15, he was named an All-Star every single year, finished top 10 in MVP balloting four times and won three Silver Sluggers. Bautista’s offensive abilities continued to decline in 2018 and he didn’t play in a major league game in 2019. 

His .251 batting average for the decade also left plenty to be desired, but he did so much in other areas to make up in large part for that. Among players with at least 400 games in right in the 2010s, Bautista ranks sixth in WAR and fourth in home runs. With three 40+ homer seasons, Baustista’s best years were certainly something to behold.

3. Bryce Harper | WSH 2012-18, PHI 2019

Unlike Martinez and Bautista, Harper showed star abilities from the moment he first played in the majors. In 2012, Harper was named an All-Star and NL Rookie of the Year in his age 19 season after hitting 22 home runs with 98 runs scored, 59 RBI, 18 steals and a .270 batting average in 139 contests. 

After strong but injury-shortened seasons in 2013 (when he was again named an All-Star) and 2014, Harper’s best season came in 2015. That year, the then-22-year old hit .330, leading baseball in OBP (.460!), slugging (.649), and OPS (1.109!) and tallying an NL-leading 118 runs and 42 RBI with 38 doubles and 99 RBI. With those kinds of numbers, Harper was the clear choice for NL MVP, which he won.

Though he was named an All-Star again in the three years to follow, Harper has never quite matched that production since. He’s hit between 29 and 35 homers in each of the last three seasons, though, and always been one of the best players in baseball at getting on base. Injuries have slowed him at times, and steals have ranged from two to 21, but there’s no doubting Harper’s abilities. Still just 27, Harper, who ranks second in OBP and fourth in OPS among right fielders in the 2010s, seems likely to be on this type of list again in 10 years.

2. Mookie Betts | BOS 2014-19

Betts, like Springer, did most all of his damage in the second half of the decade and has consistently been one of the best players not just in right field, but in baseball over the past five seasons. In 2018, the Red Sox right fielder became the first player in MLB history to win the MVP award, Silver Slugger, a Gold Glove, batting title and a World Series in the same season. That’s right. Betts even went 30-30, hitting .346/.438/.640 in 136 games with 47 doubles, 32 home runs, 30 stolen bases, 129 runs and 80 RBI. 

In a four-season stretch from 2016-19, Betts was named an All-Star four times, won four Gold Gloves and captured three Silver Sluggers. He also finished top 10 in AL MVP balloting each season. His average campaign over the last four years is an incredible .305/.382/.535 with 44 doubles, 29 homers, 25 steals, 122 runs and 94 RBI in 149 contests. Further proof of how incredible Betts has been since his debut: Despite a 19th rank in hits and 16th rank in homers among those with at least 400 games in right last decade, Betts leads all players in WAR. There’s been no player as consistently elite in right fielder over the latter half of the decade than Betts.

1. Giancarlo Stanton | FLA/MIA 2010-17, NYY 2018-19

The game’s premier power source of the last decade, Stanton’s elite production combined with his longevity as one of the most feared bats in baseball earns him the top spot in right field. The then-Marlin’s 2017 season was one for the ages. In 159 games, the NL MVP hit .281 with a league-leading .631 slugging percentage and MLB-leading 59 home runs and 132 RBI. Stanton also scored 123 runs, was named an All-Star for the fourth time in his career and won his second Silver Slugger. 

Stanton also led the NL in slugging two other times, including in 2014 when he smashed an NL-leading 37 homers with 105 RBI and 13 steals in 145 games, finishing second in MVP balloting. In all, Stanton, generally a plus defender in right with a strong arm, was selected for four All-Star games and won two Silver Sluggers in the decade. 

One would be remiss to not mention the various injuries which have limited Stanton to fewer than 125 games in five of his 10 big league seasons. Though he surpassed 40 homers only once in his career to date, Stanton’s 162-game pace for his career is 43 long balls (along with 96 runs and 109 RBI). And despite the missed time, Stanton leads all right fielders in the 2010s in home runs, is fourth in RBI, and first in slugging. The injuries are a knock against him, but few players in baseball were as threatening at the plate in the 2010s as a healthy Stanton.

Catch up on 110 Sports’ entire series looking back at the best MLB players at each position of the last decade here.

Photos by Ian D’Andrea / Flickr (Stanton), Arturo Pardavila II / Flickr (Betts), Ian D’Andrea / Flickr (Harper).

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