As baseball fans, we love our diving catches and home run robberies as much as we love the home runs that outfielders like Mike Trout and Aaron Judge knock out of the park.
It seems as if we’re talking about Trout, Judge, Bryce Harper and Boston’s duo of JD Martinez and Mookie Betts constantly this season. Honestly, at this point, we can build an entire All-Star team with just outfielders, making narrowing down this list an incredibly tough task. But someone has to do it, right?
So in order to narrow it down, we had to set some guidelines. For instance, all (aside for one big exception we made) outfielders on this list had to bat above the league average so far in 2018. According to FanGraphs, the league average slash for outfielders so far this season is .250/.324/.414. You’d be surprised how many outfielders are batting above .250 in mid-June. We won’t leave you guessing, there are 42.
Some of these guys have had fantastic starts to their 2018 season, earning them a spot on this list. Others – we’re looking at you Bryce Harper – may be having a down year, but that doesn’t mean their spot on this list should be taken away from them because they’re having a bad month, or in Harper’s case, several months (let’s just hope for his sake that it doesn’t hurt his $400 million man chances).
So without further ado, here are the top active outfielders in the MLB.
Honorable mention: Juan Soto, RF, Washington Nationals
It’s still too soon to crown Soto a top outfielder in the MLB, seeing as he’s only recently made his debut in the majors. But Soto is giving us flashbacks to 2012, when two guys on this list took the league by storm, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, each winning the Rookie of the Year award in their respective league. By mid-June, Soto had played in 25 games and had a slash line of .325/.411/.602 with six home runs and 14 RBI.
Jon Jay, LF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Jon Jay proved to be a great addition to the Arizona Diamondbacks right off the bat. He recorded six multi-hit games in his first 12 games with the DBacks, after being traded from Kansas City. He’s already improved his average since heading to Arizona. As of mid-June, he’s batting .310/.375/.387 with 88 hits and 24 RBI. He’s been incredibly consistent over his career, the only outlier being his 2015, when he only played in 79 games.
Albert Almora Jr., CF, Chicago Cubs
Albert Almora Jr. has been a consistently good player since he entered the league in 2016, already winning a World Series with the Cubs that season. In mid-June, he’s batting .325/.371/.442 with 67 hits, 20 RBI and 38 runs scored in 206 at bats. He plays in nearly every game, but that’s not good enough for Cubs fans, who have noticed how well he’s playing this 2018 season have made it a point to request that he play in EVERY game. We’re not against it.
JD Martinez, LF, Boston Red Sox
Boston’s outfield is having itself quite the season, with two of the three ranking among the top ten outfielders in the league in batting average in mid-June. Martinez, who is batting .317/.388/.630 has already recorded 22 home runs and 55 RBI in 265 at bats. He’s on pace for 43 home runs this season and a .302 batting average. When talking about consistency, he’s right up there. He’s averaged above .300 for the past four seasons, not including 2018, always hovering just above .300 for the season.
Matt Kemp, LF, LA Dodgers
Matt Kept is back in 2018. Maybe he just missed Dodgers Stadium? In mid-June, the left fielder is batting .327, the third best among outfielders in the league. Kemp has graced the majors for more than a decade, but is on pace to have his best season since 2012, when he batted .303 with 122 hits and 69 RBI. According to MLB’s projections, he will finish the 2018 season with 81 RBI and 136 hits.
Lorenzo Cain, CF, Milwaukee Brewers
Lorenzo Cain is 32 years old and still getting better. The center fielder, who in 2018 returned to his first team in the majors, the Brewers, is improving from month to month this season. Cain, a career .290 hitter, is averaging .286 this season, and is hitting .300 for June, slowing improving his stats. In mid-June, he’s ranked ninth in WAR.
Michael Brantley, LF, Cleveland Indians
Michael Brantley is one of the more improved hitters in the MLB in 2018, hitting .320/.362/.520 by mid-June while striking out only 23 times and walking 32 and leading the Cleveland Indians in batting average. According to MLB’s predictor, he could finish the season with 168 hits, second best of his career behind the 2014 season. The Indians opted to pick up his $11 million option for this season. At this point, it seems like their decision was right on point.
Eddie Rosario, LF, Minnesota Twins
Minnesota’s left fielder is batting .316/.354/.571 with 16 home runs in 69 games played by mid-June. His 3.1 total WAR so far this season is good for 13th place overall and fourth among outfielders. His averages in 2018 have surpassed his career best numbers, he’s a career .283 batter, and his highest full season average, last year, was .290. He’s still young, just 26 years old, and with his numbers improving every season so far he’s likely to rank near the top of these lists for several years to come.
Adam Jones, CF, Baltimore Orioles
Adam Jones is a bright spot on an awful Baltimore Orioles team. While the O’s can’t seem to pull themselves together and win, Jones has been as consistently good as ever, staying true to his career averages and even a bit better. Jones, who’s batted a career .278/.318/.460, is averaging .293/.318/.456. Can it get much more consistent than that? The only guy with better averages on the Orioles is Manny Machado. Just too bad these two can’t find a way to help the O’s win more.
Nicholas Castellanos, RF, Detroit Tigers
While he’s spent all of his major league career with the Detroit Tigers, he’s always been in the background. 2018 has arguably been his breakout year. As a career .272 hitter, Nick Castellanos is having himself quite the season, averaging .307 a month before the All-Star break. He’s on pace for 21 home runs, 86 RBI and 176 hits, which would surpass his career bests (aside from his RBI in 2017, which topped 100). It’s about time he’s recognized as one of the better outfielders in the MLB.
Nick Markakis, RF, Atlanta Braves
Nick Markakis is having the best season of his career so far. The Braves right fielder is averaging .324/.389/.482 with 8 home runs, 21 doubles, 44 RBI and 92 hits, the last the most in the majors by an outfielder in mid-June. If he continues at this pace, MLB.com predicts he will finish the season batting .298/..368/.440 with 176 hits, 39 doubles and 82 RBI. The 34-year-old two-time Gold Glove winner may make the All-Star team for the first time in his career in 2018, and he sure deserves it.
Bryce Harper isn’t having his greatest season, but his slipping numbers still aren’t enough to keep him off of this list. He’s still Bryce Harper and he still has time to improve his numbers during his contract year. Harper has a career .279 batting average with 169 home runs. He’s still at the top of free agency conversation as the possible first $400 million man, a contract that could shatter Giancarlo Stanton’s and change baseball. Hopefully the right-fielder will give us more to talk about at the end of this season than the day he shaved his iconic beard.
Aaron Judge, RF, New York Yankees
The reigning AL Rookie of the Year may not have the best averages among outfielders, but when you hit 52 home runs in your rookie season and break Mark McGwire’s record, you deserve a spot on this list. Judge has so far hit only 18 home runs this year (this only should be taken with a grain of salt), and is batting .275/.394/.553 in mid-June with 47 RBI, 17 doubles (he had 24 doubles all of last season), and 50 walks. Only problem with Judge is his strikeouts, and according to MLB’s predictor, he’s on track to strike out one more time than he did last year – 208 on the season. Hopefully for the Yankees he doesn’t.
Mookie Betts, RF, Boston Red Sox
Boston’s Mookie Betts is leading all outfielders in BA in mid-June, with a slash line of .340/.419/1.118. He’s already hit 18 home runs, with 71 hits and 38 RBI. The 25-year-old, who is in the midst of his fifth year in the league (all with the Red Sox), is batting nearly 0.50 above his career average of .296. Just a third of the way into the 2018 season, he’s already recorded 38 extra-base hits, nearly half of what he recorded in 2016, his best full season to date. According to MLB.com, he’s on pace to record 168 hits and 35 home runs, and to finish the season with a .316 average.
Mike Trout, CF, LA Angels
Mike Trout isn’t just the best outfielder in the league, he’s arguably the greatest and most valuable player in the majors at the moment. Some may even say the best all time. Trout, who is turning just 27 this season, is a career .308 hitter and is averaging .332/.414/.574 so far in 2018. He’s even improved his defense. Yes, Trout, who has provided us with hours worth of highlights, has improved his defense. It was may be the only stat he had left to improve after already improving hitting fastballs and increasing his number of stolen bases from 11 in 2015 to 30 in 2016. Not everyone is perfect, so it makes sense he had to improve something, right? Well, he did. His Outs Above Average so far in 2018 is +4, not the best in the league, but the best in his illustrious career. We haven’t even mentioned his 6.4 WAR, the best in the league by nearly 2.00 points. GOAT? Yeah, we’ll crown him the outfield GOAT.