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2016 Update

2016 Update, Right Field

Seattle Mariners Ichiro Suzuki

As we finish off our outfield update today, I’m reminded of just how much I love the current crop of infielders. More seriously, this is a position that could fill the HoME in the coming years. While there are a few older players who have just barely made our lists, we also have a couple of guys in Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton who are considered by many a pair of the young stars in the game. We also have Jason Heyward who kind of was. Sort of. And there’s the incomparable Ichiro.

On one hand, these guys should be excited since right field is such a deep position in the Hall. On the other, perhaps some of them should be nervous since there are six HoMErs on the outside looking in.

For more on this 2016 update, please see our previous posts on 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, and CF. And stay tuned for upcoming reviews of C, RP, LHP, RHP, and MGR candidates.

Ichiro Suzuki
2016 BBREF WAR:
1.5

Rank at the position after 2015:
Miller: 20
Eric: 17

Rank at the position after 2016:
Miller: 18
Eric: 17

Who’d he pass in 2016?
Miller: He passed both Gary Sheffield and Harry Hooper.
Eric: No one

Who’s next with the same season in 2017?
Miller: Nobody.
Eric: Ditto

Current career trajectory:
He has to be almost done, right? Before the season I said the Marlins only signed him and were only letting him play to sell tickets on the way to 3000 hits. And then he turned out to be not awful. But let’s be honest. This is a guy who’s averaged less than half a win per year over the last four. Let’s not expect much more from him.

HoME Outlook:
He’s in, and he’s in comfortably.

Jose Bautista
2016 BBREF WAR:
1.0

Rank at the position after 2015:
Miller: 38
Eric: 44

Rank at the position after 2016:
Miller: 38
Eric: 44

Who’d he pass in 2016?
Miller: Nobody.
Eric: Nobody

Who’s next with the same season in 2017?
Miller: Tim Salmon, Chuck Klein, Johnny Callison, and Tony Oliva.
Eric: Jose Canseco and Ken Singleton

Current career trajectory:
Was 2016 the cliff? Or was it a stumble? It was certain bad timing for the would-be free agent. Entering his age-36 season, Bautista seeks one last payday, but who’s going to pony up? Well, someone’s going to give him a sweetheart one-year deal, and he might just make good because he’s got old-player skills that should still translate to effective offensive production. Injuries are a constant concern with Bautista, but the bigger issue is that his glove, once an asset has become a big liability. A move to first base or DH is in order and may facilitate a resurgence in his bat and reduce his exposure to injury. Still, if he’s now a 3-win player for a couple years and an average one after that, he’s a good buy for a big-league team but not for a Hall like ours. To get into the HoME he probably has to put together at least three years of All-Star level play.

HoME Outlook:
Bautista needed a big 2016 just to keep his fringy hopes alive. He’s on HoME life support. The good news being his hopes are not dead. The bad news being that, well, you get it.

Shin-Soo Choo
2016 BBREF WAR:
0.3

Rank at the position after 2015:
Miller: 66
Eric: 62

Rank at the position after 2016:
Miller: 66
Eric: 61

Who’d he pass in 2016?
Miller: Nobody.
Eric: Tommy Henrich

Who’s next with the same season in 2017?
Miller: Bob Allison, Harold Baines, and Juan Gonzalez.
Eric: Ross Youngs

Current career trajectory:
His trajectory is that of an injured outfielder. Just five times has he played more than 123 games in a season. That’s not going to get him where he wants to go.

HoME Outlook:
He’ll be 34 next year, and he’s not close. So he’s not going to make it.

Nelson Cruz
2016 BBREF WAR:
4.7

Rank at the position after 2015:
Miller: 73
Eric: 71

Rank at the position after 2016:
Miller: 69
Eric: 65

Who’d he pass in 2016?
Miller: Vic Wertz, Giancarlo Stanton, Jason Heyward, and John Titus.
Eric: John Titus, Hank Bauer, Brian Jordan, Ken Griffey, Sr., Riggs Stephenson, Bobby Murcer

Who’s next with the same season in 2017?
Miller: Ken Griffey, bobby Murcer, Shin-Soo Choo, Bob Allison, Harold Baines, and Juan Gonzalez
Eric: Reggie Sanders, Bobby Allison, Juan Gonzalez, Tommy Henrich

Current career trajectory:
Cruz was a late bloomer, not getting a full season in the bigs until he was 28. Since that time, he’s averaged 29 homers per year. And he’s averaged 42+ the last three. He’s 35 and should be slowing down, but it’s on the back of his last three years of stardom that he even makes our lists.

HoME Outlook:
Well, there’s no shot. As I stated, he’s an older guy. And he’s only had one season of 5+ WAR. Still, it’s been a nice run for a guy the Mets, A’s, and Brewers shuffled along before he really got to the majors.

Jason Heyward
2016 BBREF WAR:
1.5

Rank at the position after 2015:
Miller: 70
Eric: 71

Rank at the position after 2016:
Miller: 71
Eric: 69

Who’d he pass in 2016?
Miller: Nelson Cruz passed him.
Eric: Hank Bauer and Brian Jordan

Who’s next with the same season in 2017?
Miller: John Titus. That’s it.
Eric: Ken Griffey, Sr., and maybe Riggs Stephenson and Bobby Murcer

Current career trajectory:
A year ago we had an elite defender who was also a plus hitter. It was a small plus only, which is why a lot of people freaked out at the contract the Cubs gave him. Winning as they did, I guess it didn’t cost them this year, but Cubs fans can’t be excited about what might be ahead. Nothing at all went well this year. Let’s see if he can turn things around in a season he begins at age 27.

HoME Outlook:
A year ago, I’d have said Heyward was HoME-bound. Now I’m not so sure. On his side are the four seasons in six where he’s performed like an All Star. Let’s write off 2016 as a lost year and check back in 52 weeks to see if he’s back on track.

Giancarlo Stanton
2016 BBREF WAR:
2.5

Rank at the position after 2015:
Miller: 71
Eric: 73

Rank at the position after 2016:
Miller: 72
Eric: 72

Who’d he pass in 2016?
Miller: He was also passed by Nelson Cruz
Eric: John Titus

Who’s next with the same season in 2017?
Miller: He might get by Heyward and would squeak past John Titus.
Eric: Hank Bauer and Brian Jordan

Current career trajectory:
Stanton probably has the most maddening career of all the young greats in the game. So many injuries. Such a yucky team. Yet he’ll be entering his age-27 season in April. It’s uncertain whether the various injuries will affect his bat, but in 2016 he posted his worst OPS+ since his rookie season as a 20-year-old. Maybe he turns into Iron Man for the rest of his career, or maybe he’s Larry Walker II. There’s no telling yet.

HoME Outlook:
Answer hazy, try again in 365 days.

Bryce Harper
2016 BBREF WAR:
1.6

Rank at the position after 2015:
Miller: 78
Eric: Might as well not have been ranked

Rank at the position after 2016:
Miller: 76
Eric: 80-odd

Who’d he pass in 2016?
Miller: Justin Upton and Tommy McCarthy.
Eric: Someone better than Wildfire Schulte who I haven’t ranked

Who’s next with the same season in 2017?
Miller: Jackie Jensen.
Eric: Tommy McCarthy

Current career trajectory:
Harper was excellent as a rookie and awesome last year. However, he’s averaged only 2.1 WAR in his other three years. There’s a lot about him that screams superstar. Still, he’s not yet a fully formed player. I really don’t know what’s going to become of him. But if the baseball community had a line, I’d take the under.

HoME Outlook:
Check back in a few years.

Justin Upton
2016 BBREF WAR:
2.0

Rank at the position after 2015:
Miller: 75
Eric: 80

Rank at the position after 2016:
Miller: 75
Eric: 79

Who’d he pass in 2016?
Miller: Not even Tommy McCarthy, though I did have to go to four decimal places to break the tie.
Eric: Tommy McCarthy

Who’s next with the same season in 2017?
Miller: Well, he’d make it past McCarthy.
Eric: No one.

Current career trajectory:
While 2016 would seem like a step in the wrong direction, I don’t know that we can be totally surprised. His 108 OPS+ isn’t so different from the 110 he posted in 2010 and 2012. Upton is a nice player. He really is. And Detroit fans will enjoy him to the tune of $100 million over the next five years. He needs to give them about 14 WAR to earn that contract, I think. My call is that he doesn’t get there.

HoME Outlook:
He’s a nice player. So were Ken Griffey, Harold Baines, and Reggie Sanders. And hey, Baines is on this year’s Hall ballot. Not all hope is lost. Still, don’t expect him to make a run at the HoME.

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