Left Field is quite possibly the most boring baseball position, with most of the superstar corner outfielders playing in right field. However, left field is still filled with amazing talent. From best-of-the-best sluggers to rising superstars, here are who we believe will be the top 10 left fielders in 2023. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Andrew Benintendi – Chicago White Sox
Andrew Benintendi is one of those guys that will give a team exactly what they need. During his time with the Royals in 2022, Benintendi posted a .785 OPS (124 OPS+) with 14 doubles in 390 plate appearances, earning him his first career all-star nod. Benintendi took a bit of a step back at the plate after he was traded to New York, posting a .734 OPS (109 OPS+) with nine doubles in 131 plate appearances. Benintendi is joining a White Sox team that looks to bounce back after a disappointing 2022. If Benintendi can produce at a high level, look out for Chicago to sneak into a wild-card spot in 2023.
J.D. Martinez – Los Angeles Dodgers
Considering we won’t have a DH ranking, this is where the newest Dodger, J.D. Martinez, ends up. In 2022, Martinez posted a .790 OPS (117 OPS+) with 16 home runs and 43(!) doubles in 596 plate appearances. Martinez joins a loaded Dodgers lineup consisting of players like former Red Sox teammate Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman as they look to make another big playoff push. If Martinez played in the field, he would be higher on this list, but as of right now, he just misses our top 10.
Kris Bryant – Colorado Rockies
Kris Bryant had a very injury-riddled first year in Colorado in 2022, but when he was healthy, he was quietly playing great, posting an .851 OPS (127 OPS+) with five home runs and 12 doubles in 181 plate appearances. Bryant, 31, is on a Rockies team that doesn’t look to be competing, and with Bryant coming off a foot injury, expect him to miss some games and/or play lots of DH in 2023 and hopefully stay on the field. We do expect more of the same production at the plate from Bryant.
10. Masataka Yoshida – Boston Red Sox
Along with starting pitcher Kodai Senga, Masataka Yoshida was one of the most sought-after players transitioning to the MLB from Japan, and we see why. In his last year in Japan (2022), Yoshida posted a 1.007 OPS, including a whopping .449 OBP, to go along with 21 home runs and 28 doubles in 515 plate appearances. With the departure of Xander Bogaerts, the Red Sox are looking to replace his production with a plethora of players in 2023. Outside of Rafael Devers, Masataka Yoshida might have the best chance at stardom in Boston. If he’s anything like what we’ve seen from him in Japan, he’s going to be a scary sight to opposing pitchers.
9. Michael Brantley – Houston Astros
Michael Brantley has always been one of the most consistent outfielders in baseball. When Brantley was healthy in 2022, he posted a .785 OPS (125 OPS+) with 14 doubles in 277 plate appearances. That was on pace to continue until Brantley injured his shoulder in August of 2022, causing him to miss the remainder of the 2022 season. y is entering his age 36 season, and it’s looking like regression is inevitable for the 5x all-star. However, if Brantley can stay on the field in 2023, he’ll still be a productive hitter for the reigning World Series champion Astros.
8. Ian Happ – Chicago Cubs
Ian Happ had a good year at the plate for the Cubs in 2022, posting a .781 OPS (119 OPS+) with 17 home runs and 42 doubles in 641 plate appearances, but where Happ shined was in the field, playing some of the best defense left field has to offer, earning him a Gold Glove award. Happ was perhaps the Cubs best player in 2022, and that looks to continue in 2023, even with the addition of 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger. The addition of Bellinger, along with Happ and second year player out of Japan, Seiya Suzuki, makes the Cubs outfield one of the most underrated in baseball going into the 2023 season.
7. Christian Yelich – Milwaukee Brewers
The fall of Christian Yelich is something to be in awe of. Yelich went from winning NL MVP in 2018 and nearly going back-to-back in 2019 to not even making another all-star game. In 2022, Yelich posted a .738 OPS (111 OPS+) with 14 home runs and 25 doubles in 671 plate appearances. Yelich did walk 88 times in that span, a walk rate of 13.1%. However, Yelich struck out a career most 162 times in the same span, a strikeout rate of 24.1%. If Yelich can have a 2023 season like his 2018 MVP campaign, the Brewers automatically become contenders, but we don’t think that will happen. Expect more underwhelming production from Yelich in 2023.
6. Tyler O’Neill – St. Louis Cardinals
After having a stellar 2021 season, Tyler O’Neill was underwhelming, to say the least, in 2022. Although O’Neill missed over 60 games due to injury in 2022, his numbers, while healthy, were nothing to marvel over. In 2022, O’Neill posted a .700 OPS (101 OPS+) with 14 home runs and 11 doubles in 383 plate appearances, to go along with 14 stolen bases. Much like the previously mentioned Christian Yelich (see above), O’Neill had a huge strikeout rate in 2022, striking out 102 times in 96 games for a strikeout rate of 26.6%, but much unlike Yelich, O’Neill is a premier defender at left field. The Cardinals hope that in 2023, O’Neill can produce how he did in 2021, and so are we here at ITD.
5. Taylor Ward – Los Angeles Angels
In his first full year in the majors, Taylor Ward had a great yet under-the-radar season at the plate for the Angels in 2022, posting an .833 OPS (135 OPS+) with 23 home runs and 20 doubles in 564 plate appearances. With the acquisition of RF Hunter Renfroe from the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2022 off-season, Ward slides over to left field for the Angels, where he only played two games in 2022. Ward, 29, is in a prime position to take another huge leap for the Angels in 2023, who are looking to make the postseason for the first time since 2015, tied for the longest active drought in MLB (Detroit Tigers). Expect even better production from Ward in 2023.
4. Randy Arozarena – Tampa Bay Rays
After receiving AL Rookie of the Year honors in 2021, Randy Arozarena followed up with another great season at the plate in 2022, posting a .773 OPS (124 OPS+) with 20 home runs and 41 doubles in 645 plate appearances, to go along with 32 stolen bases. Arozarena, entering his age 28 season, is entering the prime of his career, and a leap from Randy, along with young superstar Wander Franco, is precisely what the Rays need in 2023. We do expect a leap from Arozarena in 2023.
3. Kyle Schwarber – Philadelphia Phillies
Kyle Schwarber. Schwarbomb. The Schwarbmeister. Regardless of what you call him, Kyle Schwarber is an absolute unit at the plate. In 2022, Schwarber posted an .827 OPS (130 OPS+) with an NL leading 46 home runs and 21 doubles in 669 plate appearances. Although Schwarber led all of MLB in strikeouts (200), he also walked 86 times, which is a career-best. Schwarber’s power makes him stand out, especially leading off for the Phillies. The 2x all-star helped propel Philly to a World Series berth and is looking to do so again. The addition of superstar SS Trea Turner means that Philadelphia is coming into 2023 looking for revenge. Although Schwarber might not hit 46 homers again, it’s looking like he won’t lose any production for the “Fightins” in 2023.
2. Steven Kwan – Cleveland Guardians
Steven Kwan had a stellar and, frankly, out-of-nowhere rookie season in 2022. In his first season, Kwan posted a .772 OPS (124 OPS+) with 25 doubles in 638 plate appearances, to go along with 19 stolen bases. Kwan also walked (62) more times than he struck out (60) in 2022, which is rarely seen from a rookie. Let’s talk about why Steven Kwan is really this good, his fielding. Kwan is quite possibly the best defensive outfielder in baseball after his rookie season, posting an absurd 21(!) DRS in 2022, earning him a Gold Glove award. Alongside his elite defense in left field, Kwan is expected to take a huge leap at the plate in 2023. Don’t be surprised when you see Steven Kwan in the all-star game this year.
1. Yordan Alvarez – Houston Astros
As previously mentioned, there will not be a DH ranking, leaving Yordan Alvarez to top off our LF rankings. At only 25 years old, Alvarez is already one of the best players in all of baseball. In 2022, Alvarez had the best season of his young career, posting a 1.019(!) OPS (187 OPS+) with 37 home runs and 29 doubles in 561 plate appearances, finishing 3rd in AL MVP voting, behind only eventual winner Aaron Judge and Shohei Ohtani. Alvarez helped lead the Astros to a World Series win in 2022, including a huge home run in a clinching Game 6, off of Phillies flamethrower Jose Alvarado, to take the lead. Yordan Alvarez is in the prime of his career and doesn’t look to slow down anytime soon. Expect Alvarez to stay in the MVP conversation in 2023, with real potential to win it.