Red Sox Rankings: Top 5 Outfielders in the American League East

Mar 7, 2016; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts (50) hits a home run in the first inning of the spring training game against the Tampa Bay Rays at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 7, 2016; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts (50) hits a home run in the first inning of the spring training game against the Tampa Bay Rays at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports /
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Oct 14, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar catches a fly ball hit by Texas Rangers left fielder Josh Hamilton (not pictured) in the fourth inning in game five of the ALDS at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 14, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar catches a fly ball hit by Texas Rangers left fielder Josh Hamilton (not pictured) in the fourth inning in game five of the ALDS at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

5. Kevin Pillar

This was a hard choice. First of all, because there are no Yankees on this list and second because the Yankees’ Brett Gardner is an All-Star. Though not possessing Gardner’s body of work over his six full years in the majors, today Pillar is a better overall outfielder than Gardner. There are many stats both old and new to support this assertion.

Gardner has the advantage in some of the offensive numbers. Gardner’s .742 OPS and 16 homers exceed Pillar’s .713 and 12 in those categories. The areas that support Pillar over Gardner are on the defensive side. Pillar’s defensive runs saved totaled 19 for the season, while Gardner’s came in at zero. The Blue Jays outfielder recorded 440 putouts which not only led the major leagues but was the most in the majors since 2009 when Franklin Gutierrez recorded 445. The putouts were also the 6th highest in the majors since 1999. Red Sox fans can attest to a number of tremendous catches they saw the Blue Jays centerfielder make last season.

Due to his defensive wizardry, Pillar’s WAR was 5 last season while Gardner’s came in at 3.3. Another candidate for this last spot was former Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who was limited to 111 games last season for the Yankees. He posted just a 1.9 WAR, down from 5.7 in 2013. His .663 OPS falls well below Pillar’s number. Ellsbury had all of 1 defensive run saved last season.

Next: Could the Red Sox look into Justin Morneau?

Like Kiermaier, Pillar came a long way to make it to the majors, drafted in the 32nd round of the 2011 out of Cal State Dominguez Hills. Another alumnus of that university was the beautifully named 14 year major league veteran Eric Plunk (1986-99), who hit 32 batters in his career. You know you were wondering how many he plunked.

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