I started with a simple question: What team has had the best right fielders (or catchers, or shortstops) in its history? The following is my best answer to the question. See the first post in the series for a full explanation.
The best right fielders by team:
10. Seattle Mariners
Al Cowens, Jay Buhner, Ichiro Suzuki
Buhner and Ichiro save what would have been an otherwise dull group.
9. San Francisco Giants
Mike Tiernan, Red Murray, Ross Youngs, Mel Ott, Don Mueller, Felipe Alou, Bobby Bonds, Bobby Murcer, Jack Clark, Chili Davis, Randy Winn
A fair collection of talent gets boosted onto the top ten list thanks to Ott, one of the all-time greats.
8. Los Angeles Angels
Leroy Stanton, Bobby Bonds, Tim Salmon, Vladimir Guerrero, Bobby Abreu
The Angels haven’t gotten poor production from right field since the late 80’s, and even then, they were getting some help from regular DH Reggie Jackson.
7. Toronto Blue Jays
Jesse Barfield, Joe Carter, Shawn Green, Raul Mondesi, Alexis Rios
This is great consistency, but nobody here is an all-time great.
6. Houston Astros
Rusty Staub, Jimmy Wynn, Jose Cruz, Terry Puhl, Derek Bell, Moises Alou, Richard Hidalgo, Hunter Pence
Like the Blue Jays, the Jays have great consistency but little excellence. Houston gets the edge because of the underrated work of Wynn and Cruz.
5. Philadelphia Phillies
Sam Thompson, Elmer Flick, John Titus, Gavy Cravath, Chuck Klein, Johnny Callison, Bake McBride, Jim Eisenreich, Bobby Abreu, Jayson Werth
It’s a tough call here between the Phillies and Astros. I give the Phillies the edge since they’ve fielded a fine group of right fielders for more than a century, against just 50 years for Houston.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates
Patsy Donovan, Chief Wilson, Paul Waner, Bob Elliott, Gus Bell, Roberto Clemente, Richie Zisk, Dave Parker, Bobby Bonilla, Orlando Merced
Waner and Clemente are inner-circle Hall-of-Famers, which puts the Buccos in my top five. Plus, guys like Parker, Elliott and Bonilla would make the Hall of Very Good.
3. Cincinnati Reds
Sam Crawford, Mike Mitchell, Curt Walker, Ival Goodman, Wally Post, Frank Robinson, Pete Rose, Ken Griffey, Dave Parker, Paul O’Neill, Reggie Sanders, Austin Kearns, Ken Griffey, Jr., Jay Bruce
This is an overwhelming collection of talent, yet almost none of these guys spent their whole career with the Reds. Crawford went to Detroit as a young man, Frank Robinson was traded away at age 30, and Junior didn’t move to right field until he was nearly done.
2. New York Yankees
Willie Keeler, Babe Ruth, Tommy Henrich, Hank Bauer, Roger Maris, Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, Jesse Barfield, Paul O’Neill, Gary Sheffield, Bobby Abreu
We’ve got four Hall-of-Famers here (Keeler, Ruth, Reggie and Winfield), one more that should go in (Sheffield), five members of the Hall of Very Good and Roger Maris. Not bad.
The Yankees would probably be number two without the Babe. With them, they’re just a hair away from number one.
1. Detroit Tigers
Sam Crawford, Ty Cobb, Harry Heilmann, Pete Fox, Vic Wertz, Al Kaline, Jim Northrup, Kirk Gibson, Chet Lemon, Rob Deer, Bobby Higginson, Magglio Ordonez
The Tigers don’t have as many big names as the Yankees, but getting Crawford, Heilmann and Kaline for almost their entire career is amazing; those are three of the eight or ten best ever at their position. Plus, you’ve got a couple years of Cobb, great years from Gibson and Lemon as well as strong complimentary players such as Vic Wertz. Yankee fans will likely disagree, but I think this is the best collection of right fielders in history.
Bottom 3 Teams
28. Chicago White Sox
Shano Collins, Harry Hooper, Wally Moses, Jim Rivera, Floyd Robinson, Harold Baines, Magglio Ordonez, Jermaine Dye
No offense to Shano Collins, but Sox right fielders were a sorry bunch before Harold Baines came along. Hooper was a great player, and Moses was good, but neither one spent their prime years with the team. Ordonez and Dye came along to bump the team up a few spots.
29. Milwaukee Brewers
Sixto Lezcano, Rob Deer, Jeromy Burnitz, Corey Hart
Lezcano actually had one or two impressive seasons. Deer was the patron saint of Three True Outcomes, and Burnitz and Hart were good if never great. Hart, the incumbent, could change things and push them up past the Sox. As it is, he’s the only thing keeping them out of last place.
30. Tampa Bay Rays
Dave Martinez, Ben Grieve, Gabe Gross
I know, I know – they’ve only been around for 12 years. But seriously? Maybe Desmond Jennings will end up in right field and turn things around, but until then – Yecch!
Up Next: The Catchers