Major League Baseball is loaded with talent in 2021, and the outfield is where you'll find some of the game's biggest stars.As a matter of fact, the consensus top two outfielders Mike Trout and Mookie Betts also are considered the two best overall players in MLB. After them, you'll find plenty more perennial All-Star and MVP candidates in our 2021 outfielder rankings. One of them will wear a Red Sox uniform this year.So who cracked the list? Who got snubbed? Here are Justin Leger's top 20 outfielders for the upcoming season.
Laureano is looking to bounce back after a rough 2020 season in which he hit just .213 with a .704 OPS. The year prior, he posted an OPS of .860 in 123 games.
The 26-year-old center field's real strengths are his outstanding glove and cannon arm. Red Sox fans might remember his
ridiculous, game-saving outfield assists from their 2019 series vs. the A's. If he can return to form at the plate, Laureano will quickly climb up these rankings.
Verdugo cracks the top 20 after being one of the very few bright spots of the 2020 Red Sox season. While replacing Mookie Betts is impossible -- and Verdugo
will be the first to tell you that -- he was excellent both at the plate and in the field during his first season in Boston.
In 2021 we're likely to see Verdugo primarily in center field with Jackie Bradley Jr. out of town. Again, not an easy guy to replace, but the 24-year-old showed us last year he can be trusted to step up when called upon. He'll put up some impressive numbers as long as he can stay healthy.
Don't be fooled by Blackmon's 2020 Gold Glove nomination. He has never been, and likely never will be, a great defender. But what he lacks defensively is more than made up for at the plate. The four-time All-Star has posted an OPS above .800 every year since 2016. Could Coors Field have something to do with that? Sure. But the numbers show the 34-year-old still is a top 20 outfielder in baseball.
The grandson of Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski is a late bloomer at 30 years old, but he has emerged as one of MLB's best outfielders over the last two seasons. His 2020 campaign was spectacular as he tallied 10 homers and 35 RBI in 54 games while posting an OPS of .968. Young Yaz's 2.7 WAR ranked eighth in all of baseball. Don't be surprised when he's named a first-time All-Star in 2021.
Marte is one of the more well-rounded outfielders on this list with his hitting, speed, and defensive ability. He's a jack of all trades, master of none. That's meant as a compliment as Marte can be counted on in any aspect of the game.
A nine-year veteran, Marte saw his offensive numbers take a dip after being dealt to Miami last season. We should see thos numbers normalize to around 20 homers, 80 RBI, and an OPS around .800 in 2021. The Marlins will gladly take that as they look to prove their 2020 postseason berth wasn't a fluke.
Conforto is the heart of what will be a potent Mets lineup in 2021. Last season in 54 games, the 28-year-old crushed nine homers and had a .927 OPS. He's a safe bet for 30-plus homers and possibly 100-plus RBI with superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor now hitting in front of him.
You know what you're getting out of Gallo at this point. A boatload of home runs, a ton of strikeouts, solid defense, and opposing defenses implementing crazy shifts to the right side of the diamond. In a full 162-game season, you can safely bet on a 40-homer, 200-strikeout performance out of the 27-year-old slugger.
Merrifield plays both second base and the outfield but we'll likely see more of the latter in 2021 if Nicky Lopez sticks in the lineup. The 32-year-old is a decent defender who is as consistent as can be at the plate and a serious threat on the basepaths. He played in all 60 games last season, slashing .282/.325/.440 with nine homers and 12 stolen bases. He had a whopping 45 steals in 2018.
There's still room for improvement for Jimenez as he enters his age 24 season, particularly when it comes to his defensive prowess. At the plate, he's a stud. He mashed 14 homers in 55 games last year and 31 in 122 games his 2019 rookie campaign. If he stays healthy in 2021, 40 homers should come with ease.
Staying healthy was an issue for Brantley during his later years in Cleveland, but the veteran has proven he's still among the best in the game when he can stay on the field. Since joining Houston in 2019, Brantley has slashed .309/.370/.497 with 27 homers in 194 games. With George Springer departing for Toronto, the Astros made the right move re-signing Brantley to a two-year deal.
The Braves simply couldn't let Ozuna go in free agency after the 30-year-old slugger's sensational 2020 season. "The Big Bear" played in all 60 games, leading the NL in homers (18), RBI (56), and total bases (145).
The best ability is availability, and Judge simply hasn't been able to bring that for the Yankees the last few seasons due to injuries. When healthy, he's one of the most feared sluggers in the league. If Judge can be anything close to the 2017 version of himself that blasted 57 homers, won the AL Rookie of the Year award, and placed second in MVP voting, the Bronx Bombers will be petrifying in 2021.
The addition of Springer to the outfield will give the Blue Jays a major boost in 2021. The three-time All-Star is as consistent as they come at the plate and should put up big numbers in a hitter's ballpark. The Astros unquestionably will miss Springer's presence this season.
Harper has been the player the Phillies hoped he'd be when they signed him to a 13-year, $330 million contract. Through his first two seasons in Philly, Harper has amassed 48 homers and a .903 OPS in 215 games. The nine-year veteran always is a safe bet for 30-plus homers and an OPS north of .850. You can't ask for much more than that.
Yelich struggled mightily for most of the 2020 season after earning the NL MVP award in '18 and being the runner-up in '19. The Brewers star just couldn't get in a groove at the plate as he hit just .205 on the year. Expect Yelich to return to MVP form as he's simply too talented to see those numbers again in 2021.
Bellinger is the heart and soul of an utterly stacked Dodgers roster. Last season actually was a disappointment by his lofty standards as he posted a career-low .789 OPS for the World Series champs. The year prior, Bellinger blasted 47 homers and posted a 1.035 OPS en route to the NL MVP award.
The Braves got an absolute bargain when they signed Acuña to an eight-year, $100 million contract extension in 2019. The 23-year-old hasn't even entered his prime and already is one of the most complete players in the majors. He'll look to produce numbers similar to '19 when he crushed 41 homers, drove in 101 runs, and stole 37 bases.
At only 22 years old, Soto has already become one of the most exciting players in the sport. He's coming off a 2020 season in which he posted some ridiculous offensive numbers, including a .351 average and 1.185 OPS. This kid is going to be an MVP candidate for many years to come.
Sorry to remind you, Red Sox fans, but Mookie Betts is the clear-cut second-best outfielder and probably the second-best player overall in baseball. The two-time World Series champion and 2018 AL MVP is only getting better in all aspects of his game. Expect another big year out of the former face of the Red Sox franchise in 2021.
No surprises here. The GOAT remains the best outfielder and best overall player in the game, and it still isn't all that close. Will this be the year we finally get to witness Trout's greatness in the postseason?