2018’s Top Defensive Outfielders in MLB

Some of the best defenders in the game today are centerfielders. They cover a ton of ground with their speed, and aren’t afraid to sacrifice their body. Late in games, managers always need their best defensive outfielders on the field. Here are those go to top defensive outfielders in baseball today.

10 Manuel Margot

Margot is only in his second year, and his tremendous defensive skills are already being noticed and appreciated. Margot is built to play in the large Petco Park, as he has tremendous speed – see here he is one of the fastest in the game. His speed enables him to cover gap-to-gap, and chase down any fly ball. Margot is only 24 and has loads of upside and potential.

9 Jason Heyward

The only reason the Heyward deal with the Cubs hasn’t been a bust is because of his tremendous defense. He has a career UZR of 6.2, and averages 15 defensive runs saved per season. Jason Heyward continues to earn his keep with his tremendous defense.

8 Juan Lagares

Lagares is most known for his Gold Glove defense. He covers a tremendous amount of ground and makes the difficult plays look routine. He also has a rocket of an arm, though his only problem is he can’t seem to stay on the field. Lagares had 15 defensive runs saved and a 10.4 UZR in 2017. Juan Lagares is one of the top defenders in the game today.

7 Jackie Bradley Jr

JBJ’s outfield defense goes very under appreciated. He averages about 10-12 defensive runs saved per year. The trio of Betts, JBJ, and Andrew Benintendi is one of the best defensive outfields in the game.

6 Kevin Pillar

Pillar is most known for his defense, and for sacrificing his body. He has made a ton of highlight diving and home runs robbing catches. Pillar averages 15 defensive runs saved, and a UZR around 10. Pillar has a tremendous first step, and covers a ton of ground.

5 Kevin Kiermaier

Kiermaier is more known for his stellar defensive play. He led the league in dWAR in both 2015 and 2016. He also has had a stellar 42, 25, and 22 defensive runs saved the past three years. Lastly, Kiermaier had a unreal UZR of 46.9 in 2017 though he only played in 98 games.

4 Lorenzo Cain

Cain has been one of the best defensive outfielders in the league since the beginning of his career. He has made some truly tremendous plays in his career. Cain had a total of 15 outs above average in 2017, fourth best amongst outfielders.

3 Mookie Betts

Betts is another defender who is helped out by his tremendous speed in the outfield. Though his arm isn’t the strongest, he makes up for it with the highlight reel plays. He led all outfielders with a 13.3 dWAR, a 20.5 UZR, and 31 defensive runs saved in 2017.

2 Byron Buxton

Buxton’s speed is his main asset, and helps make him the tremendous defender he is. He has a great first step, and isn’t afraid to sacrifice his body. In 2017, he had the second best dWAR amongst outfielders with an 11.8 mark and had a 9.9 UZR. Most impressively, his defensive runs saved rose from three in 2016 to 24 in 2017.

1 Ender Inciarte

Although last year he hit a bit of a rough patch, Inciarte is a magician with the glove. He covers a tremendous amount of ground, and makes some tremendous Top 10 esque plays. In 2017, he had a total of 19 outs above average, second in the league. Of course, his expertise is robbing my New York Mets. Inciarte is going to be a pain in the Braves outfield for a long time.

**All stats via Statcast and Fangraphs.

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