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Best & Worst of the Past 10 Years: Outfielders

ICYMI, pitchers and catchers can be found here - infielders here.

Left Field

WAR: 26.1 – Rank: 16 – Leader: Giants

Top 3:

  • Martín Prado: 14.4
  • Matt Diaz: 5.4
  • Justin Upton: 3.2

Bottom 3:

  • Melky Cabrera: -1.4
  • Garrett Anderson: -1.0
  • Brandon Jones: -0.7

Finally get to include Prado on the list. It may be hard to believe, but he did actually play his most defensive innings as a Brave in LF. He made the transition almost flawlessly from position to position including his final season in Atlanta where he nearly put up 6 wins in value. Matt Diaz hit quite well with the Braves, finishing with a .299/.347/.449 triple-slash, which were actually a tick better than Prado pre-park adjustments. Diaz will be remembered as a lefty killer (I specifically remember v. Johan Santana). In his one season as a Brave, Justin is already one of the most valuable players the team has seen at the position. Upton did pretty well offensively but was atrocious in the field, partially due to making the transition from RF to LF. He is sure to jump Diaz in 2014.

Who could forget the worst player in the list, Melky Cabrera. In the fans' public opinion, he is probably the favorite for worst player in the past decade. Cabrera put up a 77 wRC+ and was unbelievably bad in the field. It was a good thing for all that experiment only lasted one season. Speaking of another one year experiment: Garrett Anderson, folks. After 15 seasons with the Angels, Anderson signed a one year deal with the Braves in 2009. Anderson posted a 82 wRC+ and was even worse in the field than Cabrera. Very very poor two year period in LF for the Braves. Brandon Jones saw time here and there from 2007-2009 in the outfield, but he never panned out.

Center FIeld

WAR: 32.6 – Rank: 15 – Leader: Rangers

Top 3:

  • Andruw Jones: 23.0
  • Michael Bourn: 7.2
  • Gergor Blanco: 1.6

Bottom 3:

  • Melky Cabrera: -1.4
  • BJ Upton: -0.6
  • Nate McLouth: 0.3
It is hard to imagine that Andruw has been that valuable to the team in the past 10 years, but four full seasons worth of an All-Star caliber player will do that. His best season during that span was his epic 2005 season where he hit 51 dingers and produced about equal amount of value in the field, worth a total of 8 wins. The following season, he struggled offensively and was eventually signed by the Dodgers. If you miss watching the defensive greatness of Andruw in the field, you are seeing something equally impressive with Andrelton Simmons. Michael Bourn was only here for a season and a half, but damn was it great. The Braves couldn't have asked for much more in the trade, an absolute heist on their end. Bourn was league average on offense and exceptional in the field. Blanco accumulated about a season's worth of plate appearances over three seasons. While he provided little to no pop, he featured a great eye at the plate, posting a .361 OBP.

Yep, Melky Cabrera was so bad I made an executive decision to include him here too. He actually started more games in CF than LF (although more defensive innings in LF), so it's fair considering how bad he was. Moving on, BJ Upton. Yeah, it was a terrible season for Upton whichever way you slice it. However, if he bounced back to his Ray's days, where is consistently put up 3+ win seasons, he will immediately fault himself to the "best" list. So there is hope if you want to look at the glass half full. McClouth actually returned slight positive value, but was still bad enough to make the list. McClouth started out hot after coming to the Braves mid-seaon in 2009. His average fell off, even though he maintained some value in his ability to get on-base via walk. I think McClouth gets a bit of a bad rap because of the reported eye issues he was dealing with at the time. Anyway, it's been a bit of a revolving door here, but there is hope that BJ can get back on track in 2014.

Right Field

WAR: 42.1 – Rank: 3 – Leader: Blue Jays

Top 3:

  • Jason Heyward: 16.5
  • J.D. Drew: 8.6
  • Jeff Francoeur: 5.5

Bottom 3:

  • Joe Mather: -0.5
  • Raul Mondesi: -0.3
  • Reed Johnson: -0.2
Despite dealing with numerous injuries over his first four seasons, Heyward has shown his potential given the ability to stay healthy. The separation is also quite clear between him and the number three on the list, despite the effort to value them as equal talents. The argument can be made that Heyward is the best defensive RF in the game right now, tacked on to his ability to well-above-average offensively with a 119 wRC+. Moving on, I still can't believe the season J.D. Drew put up in 2004. It just made the cut, and does feel like forever ago, but you could make the argument it was his best season ever and it wasn't even really that close. Drew did the two things that make be giddy as an observer: he walked more that he struck out, and he posted a .300/.400/.500 triple-slash. Ohh, and he also hit 31 bombs and played great defense in the field, all together worth over 8 wins. Writing about this now is making me a little dizzy. Francoeur played four and a half seasons with the team, posting 5.5 wins. His inability to recognize poor pitches and thus the ability take a walk resulted in his eventual departure from Atlanta. "The Natural" did sport an absolute cannon arm which helped result in a +46 DRS during his time in Atlanta.

On the down side, the Joe Mather experiment lasted all of 38 games. Mather, originally signed as depth, was forced into action after Heyward and McClouth went down in 2011 due to injury. Not much else to really say about him. The Mondesi days seemed a lot earlier than 2005, but the internet is telling me otherwise. The Braves uniform wound up being the last uniform he wore after putting up a .211/.271/.359 triple-slash in 155 PA. The seemingly perennial 20-20 guy just had nothing left in the tank by the time he got to Atlanta at the age of 34. Reed Johnson, who came over with Paul Maholm, didn't exactly pan out as hoped. Used as an extra outfielder and right handed bench bat, he never produced as hoped in his 1.5 seasons. This past off-season the Braves declined his 1.6MM option, ending his time with the club.


Well, that's a wrap. I hope you all enjoyed this mini-series. Like I mentioned in the beginning, It was really cool looking over some of the old names from the past 10 years and putting their contributions into perspective. The organization as a whole posted a .541 winning percentage, good for 6th best during that span. Obviously during the past couple years, winning has been a more frequent occurrence (sans playoffs), but overall, the Braves continue to be one of the best teams in baseball year in and year out.

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