As we enter the final stretch of the 2023 series, Pitcher List is ranking the Top 10 at every position in baseball.
The right field position is home to two of the top three players in baseball this season. Ronald Acuña Jr. and Mookie Betts have both been fantastic. I don’t envy voters who have to choose between the two of them for NL MVP. I went back and forth trying to decide who would get the No. 1 spot on this list. Acuña and Betts overshadow the rest of the players on this list, but there’s still a ton of depth here. I also want to highlight the incredible job Fernando Tatis Jr. has done transitioning to a new position and playing Gold Glove calibre defense from the start.
10. Seiya Suzuki, CHC
.279/.351/.481, 123 wRC+
19 HR/66 RBI/6 SB
It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster sophomore season for Seiya Suzuki. He began the season on the injured list with a left oblique strain. He returned in mid-April and from then until the end of May, he was playing well: .293/.385/.487 with nine doubles and six home runs. When the calendar turned to June, he went ice cold. The struggles — .211/.282/.294 — continued until the All-Star break.
Suzuki had a few good games on the other side of the break, including a four-hit day, but he still couldn’t put it all together. He was given a few days off to figure things out, and since then he’s looked like the hitter everyone expected him to be. Since August 9th, he’s slashing .355/.409/.710 with 13 doubles, 3 triples, and 10 home runs.
Have a night, Seiya! pic.twitter.com/DH407HRaFG
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 10, 2023
9. Anthony Santander, BAL
.253/.324/.474, 118 wRC+
27 HR/84 RBI/4 SB
On a Baltimore Orioles squad with a ton of young, talented players, Anthony Santander might be getting overlooked. He leads the team with 84 RBI and he and Gunnar Henderson are tied for the most home runs with 27.
It isn’t all boom or bust for Santander, though. His 38 doubles in 2023 is a new career high, as is his career-high 8.8% walk rate. If 2022 was his coming out party, 2023 has reinforced that the right fielder is a key part of the Orioles’ lineup.
The Fresh Prince of Santander pic.twitter.com/Ap5qApBT3w
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) September 7, 2023
8. Lane Thomas, WAS
.271/.317/.467, 109 wRC+
25 HR/80 RBI/19 SB
He was fantastic in the first half of the season, slashing .302/.347/.497 with 23 doubles and 14 home runs in 88 games worthy of an All-Star nod. Thomas’ name was floated in trade talks around the deadline, but he ultimately remained in Washington D.C. Despite cooling off in the second half, he’s nearing a 20+ HR/20+ SB season and his 94 runs scored is 16th best in baseball.
?️4 ?️STRAIGHT ?️GAMES
Lane Thomas ties a Nationals record pic.twitter.com/HGToGugSgd
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 10, 2023
7. Josh Lowe, TBR
.281/.323/.482, 122 wRC+
18 HR/75 RBI/30 SB
In the 25-year-old’s first full season at the big league level, Josh Lowe has given the Rays another power/speed threat to pencil in the lineup. After hitting just .221 with minimal power and only three stolen bases in 52 games last season, 2023 has been a huge step forward for Lowe.
Along with his production at the plate, Lowe has also been one of the Rays’ best baserunners this year (6.2 BsR). There’s still room for improvement, though. The right fielder’s tendency to chase pitches out of the zone and swing and miss has contributed to a 5.8% walk rate. If he can tighten up the plate discipline, he’s a candidate to climb up this list next season.
— MLB (@MLB) August 24, 2023
6. Adolis García, TEX
.243/.323/.496, 120 wRC+
35 HR/101 RBI/8 SB
Adolis García started for the American League in the 2023 All-Star Game, his first career start and second time playing in the Midsummer Classic. His 23 first-half home runs also earned him the No. 4 spot in the 2023 Home Run Derby where he faced off against his good friend Randy Arozarena.
García was one of the Rangers’ most consistent and productive hitters in the first half — .262/.331/.517 — carrying much of the offense while Corey Seager was injured. The right fielder has been a league-average hitter in the second half, but he still ranks among the best hitters in multiple categories. He’s also quietly having a really great defensive season, putting up 7 DRS (third-best) with an average throw of 93.1 mph (95th percentile).
They still haven't learned.
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) June 3, 2023
5. Fernando Tatis Jr., SDP
.262/.327/.465, 118 wRC+
25 HR/77 RBI/28 SB
Fernando Tatis Jr.’s season didn’t begin until April 20th because he finished serving his 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. He trotted out to a new position in right field once he returned and he’s looked like a natural out there.
Tatis’ 26 DRS lead all position players and is nine more than the next closest outfielder (Kevin Kiermaier, 17 DRS). He’s also doing well at the plate, making a ton of hard contact that’s in the air. Tatis’ 34.5% hard contact rate is 13th-best in baseball, and his 31.1% ideal plate appearance rate is 22nd-best. With a full season in 2024, I expect Tatis to be higher on this list next season.
— MLB (@MLB) May 17, 2023
4. Aaron Judge, NYY
.257/.394/.577, 163 wRC+
32 HR/63 RBI/3 SB
Aaron Judge has also missed significant time this season. A hip strain kept him out for 10 games at the end of April/beginning of May but that didn’t disrupt his performance at the plate. Through June 3rd, Judge was slashing .291/.404/.674 with an AL-leading 19 home runs. It was in that game, however, that Judge ran through the wall at Dodger Stadium.
The Yankees’ captain wound up missing 42 games with a sprain to his big toe. The power was slow to return when Judge came off the injured list, but he’s still been a productive hitter down the stretch. His career-best 18.8% walk rate leads baseball, and he remains atop the exit velocity and barrel rate leaderboards.
For the first time in his career, Aaron Judge homers 3 times in one game. ? pic.twitter.com/fXiJAh233j
— MLB (@MLB) August 24, 2023
3. Kyle Tucker, HOU
.284/.368/.512, 139 wRC+
28 HR/108 RBI/28 SB
Kyle Tucker doesn’t get enough credit. We all know he’s really good, but he’s really, really good. He’s as well-rounded of an offensive player as you dream up. Tucker makes frequent hard contact and drives the ball in the air. He rarely chases, whiffs, or strikes out, an anomaly for a power hitter in today’s game.
The 26-year-old has also taken advantage of the bigger bases and new pickoff rules. He’s stolen a career-high 28 bases, 16th most in baseball, despite having below-average sprint speed. Tucker has become the best version of himself in 2023. What’s in store for 2024?
2. Mookie Betts, LAD
.311/.410/.596, 171 wRC+
39 HR/103 RBI/13 SB
I spent a lot of time thinking about the placement of these top two right fielders. I flip-flopped the two potential NL MVPs a few times, but decided to slot Mookie Betts in at No. 2. (Side note: Betts has split time between right field and second base, so he hasn’t been a full-time right fielder this season. His impressive defense at second also helps boost his WAR, but that doesn’t boost his stock on the “Top RF” list).
Betts is having his best season since the 2018 season that won him the AL MVP, and his 2023 season might even be outdoing that 2018 one in some ways. His 39 home runs in a career-high, and he’s one pace to match or exceed career-highs in runs and RBI. That 2018 season, however, is still one of the best non-Shohei Ohtani seasons in recent memory. As good as he’s played this season, there’s still a gap between Betts in 2018 and Betts in 2023. And if you assess Ronald Acuña Jr.’s 2023, I think it’s somewhere in between.
1. Ronald Acuña Jr., ATL
.338/.418/.596, 171 wRC+
39 HR/100 RBI/67 SB
Ronald Acuña Jr. is achieving things no one in the history of baseball ever has. On August 31st, Acuña created the 30+ HR/60+ SB club. By the end of the season, he could become just the fifth player to achieve a 40/40 season.
He leads the league with 138 runs scored, 205 hits, 67 stolen bases, 361 total bases, and a .418 OBP. Acuña cut his strikeout rate in half and is still drawing walks at an elite rate. Add the improved plate discipline to his already stellar quality of contact numbers, and you have one of the best (if not the best) hitters in the game.
The 25-year-old also has a cannon for an arm, and somehow baserunners still try to test him. This all kind of sounds too good to be true, but he’s really just the best right fielder in baseball.