Where Do Baltimore Orioles Outfield Rank Among Star-Studded AL East?

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 05: Adam Jones /
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Kevin Kiermaier
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3. Tampa Bay Rays

Outfielders: Mallex Smith (LF), Kevin Kiermaier (CF), Carlos Gomez (RF), Denard Span (DH),

Most teams feature some challenges to the outfield positions, but the Rays have very few players in spring training who are in camp as outfielders, other than these four, who will all see a lot of playing time.

The once-top prospect Smith was a robust average hitter in 2017, hitting .270 with 16 home runs. However, he did little else, and while adequate, the defense wasn’t anything to marvel at.

His center field teammate, however, is a different story. Kevin Kiermaier had a WAR of 5.1 last season (above five is considered All-Star) and had had a defensive WAR above 1.5 each of the previous four seasons. Kiermaier has only played 110 games once, so his all-out style can leave him prone to injury.

Last season he hit .276/.338/.450 with 15 home runs, 15 doubles, and 16 stolen bases in 98 games. The Rays need him to stay healthy if they want any chance of keeping up with their division rivals in 2018.

After playing for two teams in both 2015 and 2016, Gomez played for just the Texas Rangers last year, hitting .255/.340/.462 in 105 games with 17 home runs, 23 doubles, 13 stolen bases and 51 of both runs and runs batted in.

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Another high strikeout outfielder in the AL East, Gomez’s on-base percentage and slugging percentage were both well above his career averages in 2017, while his batting average was right at his career average of .256.

His defense has diminished over the past several years, but Gomez remains a useful player, although far from his All-Star days in Milwaukee.

Span at DH isn’t surprising if you take a look at his defensive WAR from 2017, which was an unsightly -2.4. However, he hit .272/.329/.427 with 12 home runs, 31 doubles, 43 runs batted in, and 73 runs scored in 129 games for the San Francisco Giants. Span will also be able to spell the corner outfielders if needed, although clearly defense is not the best part of the veteran’s game at this point.