The Cubs' Outfield Ranks Very Well Across the Board

Social Navigation

The Cubs’ Outfield Ranks Very Well Across the Board

Chicago Cubs

jason heyward cubs

At CBS Sports, Matt Synder, Dayn Perry and Mike Axisa have been ranking MLB players by position for the 2016 season. Excluding components like age and contract, the trio has identified [what they believe to be] the best 15 players at each position for 2016 alone. The guys you would want at those spots for the upcoming season.

The returns so far, for the Cubs, have been good:

  • Catcher: Miguel Montero, 14
  • First base: Anthony Rizzo, 4
  • Second base: Ben Zobrist, 5
  • Shortstop: Addison Russell, 6
  • Third base: Kris Bryant, 4

Over the last two days, though, they’ve made their way to the outfield, ranking the top left, center and right fielders, respectively. The Cubs may not have the outfield of the Pittsburgh Pirates*, but they’ve done quite well, ranking highly once again.

Jason Heyward comes in as the fifth best center fielder in baseball, behind some extremely impressive company. Consider that he’s never been a regular center fielder, and then consider that the four players ahead of him – Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Lorenzo Cain, A.J. Pollock – were worth a combined 28 fWAR in 2015, and you’ll be more impressed. Axisa believes that Heyward will take to center field well and believes his offense will improve as he continues to grow and moves into Wrigley Field.

Other interesting rankings include Yoenis Cespedes (Mets) at number 7 overall, Dexter Fowler (who’s still a free agent) comes in at 11 overall and defensive wizard Kevin Kiermaier (Rays) comes in at number 12 overall (watch what Statcast sees as he robs home runs here). This is a top-heavy group, and Heyward is part of that.

Kyle Schwarber – you know, the 22-year-old rookie semi-catcher – is ranked as the fifth best starting left fielder for 2016, as well. After acquiring roughly 2.0 WAR in under 300 plate appearances last season, Schwarber is eliciting high praise from the team at CBS sports. Matt Synder thinks he might be the best raw power hitter among the group and looks for another high OBP, solid base-running performance in 2016. While Snyder admits that his defense in left field is suspect, he acknowledges that it wasn’t as poor as the NLCS led many to believe.

Coming in at number 5, Schwarber falls behind Starling Marte (Pirates), Alex Gordon (Royals), Justin Upton (Tigers) and Michael Brantley (Indians). The left field group isn’t quite as distinguished at the top as center field is, but that is still an extremely impressive group. Other notable rankings include Michael Conforto (Mets) and Matt Holliday (Cardinals) at number 6 and 7, respectively. Corey Dickerson, who was just traded in exchange for rumored Cubs target Jake McGhee, finishes at number 12 overall.

Jorge Soler rounds out the the Cubs’ outfield, as well as the top right fielders list, coming in at number 15 overall. Soler didn’t have the season he hoped to in 2015, thanks in large part to injury, but the talent and upside is still very much there. Matt Snyder agrees, citing the huge playoff performance and plants him in the top half of right fielders in the league.

Not unlike center field, the top of the right field list is pretty stacked. Led by Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton (easily two of the best players in the game), coming in at 15 overall is a perfectly lovely achievement. Other notable rankings include Curtis Granderson (Mets, 9th) and Ryan Braun (Brewers, 14th).

I’ll point out that Jorge Soler’s ranking (15th best right fielder) is the lowest ranking the Cubs got at any position so far. Their bullpen and starting rotation notwithstanding (both look good, by the way), the Cubs are above average at every position. For Jorge Soler to *potentially* be the “worst” player in a team’s starting lineup, something must have gone right.

It’s just fascinating the amount of talent the Cubs were able to pull together. Hopefully, everyone stays healthy and it translates onto the field.

*(And how about the Pirates? They figure to have one of the best outfields in recent memory, and it shouldn’t go away any time soon. Their trio of Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco is equal parts young, talented, offensively sound and defensively outstanding. The Cubs outfield, as presently constructed, might not be as well-rounded, overall, but has more offensive upside. If Soler and Schwarber can stay healthy and improve (just slightly) on defense, they will be just as intimidating a force.)

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami