The 2022 Substitute-Degree Killers: Left Area & Proper Area


Nick Castellanos
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports activities

Whereas nonetheless focusing upon groups that meet the unfastened definition of contenders (a .500 document or Playoff Odds of not less than 10%), and which have gotten about 0.6 WAR or much less so far — which prorates to 1.0 WAR over a full season — this 12 months I’ve included our Depth Charts’ rest-of-season WAR projections into the equation for an extra perspective. Generally that will counsel that the workforce will clear the bar by a major margin, besides, I’ve included them right here as a result of the workforce’s efficiency at that spot is price a glance.

As famous beforehand, a few of these conditions are extra dire than others, significantly when taken within the context of the remainder of their roster. Curiously sufficient, 4 of the six groups beneath the WAR cutoff for proper discipline additionally make the record for left discipline: two of them as a result of they’re far beneath, and the opposite two as a result of they’re only a hair above, and we would as properly acknowledge these conditions inside this context. As such, I’ve used the rankings of the suitable fielders to find out the order of the capsules; people who additionally cowl left discipline embrace an asterisk. I don’t count on each workforce right here to exit and observe down upgrades earlier than the August 2 deadline.

All statistics on this article are via July 27, although workforce won-loss information and Playoff Odds are via July 28.

2022 Substitute-Degree Killers: Left Area

Braves .219 .264 .428 88 -5.8 0.1 -5.1 -0.2 0.5 0.3
White Sox .247 .291 .387 92 -3.6 0.1 -6.3 -0.2 1.0 0.8
Cardinals .244 .302 .387 97 -1.6 -0.7 -1.5 0.7 1.4 2.1
Pink Sox .266 .310 .386 91 -4.2 -0.4 2.3 0.7 0.7 1.4

Statistics via July 27. ROS = Relaxation-of-season WAR, by way of our Depth Charts.

2022 Substitute-Degree Killers: Proper Area

Phillies .227 .278 .350 75 -12.4 -2.4 -8.8 -1.4 0.6 -0.8
Pink Sox .198 .262 .320 61 -17.5 -0.6 -0.2 -1.1 0.6 -0.5
Braves .217 .295 .374 86 -6.7 2.4 -6.7 -0.1 1.8 1.7
White Sox .260 .323 .381 102 0.8 -0.5 -7.0 0.1 0.7 0.8
Padres .233 .288 .326 76 -10.7 2.1 1.8 0.2 0.6 0.8
Cardinals .229 .313 .351 93 -3.5 2.0 -3.1 0.5 1.1 1.6

Statistics via July 27. ROS = Relaxation-of-season WAR, by way of our Depth Charts.


Bryce Harper was the Nationwide League’s Most Priceless Participant final 12 months, however he’s been restricted to simply 64 video games total and eight in proper discipline because of a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his proper (throwing) arm and a fractured left thumb. The UCL damage limited him to designated hitter duty, however he continued to rake (.318/.385/.599, 167 wRC+ total) till an errant fastball from Blake Snell hit him on June 25. He underwent surgical procedure to implant pins to assist heal the thumb, however as of Monday, medical doctors decided that he hadn’t progressed sufficient to have them eliminated; he’ll be reevaluated subsequent Monday. As soon as Harper is cleared, he’ll possible want not less than a few weeks to ramp up and full a rehab project. If there’s excellent news, it’s that he has additionally been present process therapy on his elbow (he had a platelet-rich plasma injection in Might) and plans to check his capability to throw as soon as the pins are out.

Harper’s transfer to DH meant that Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos, the 2 defensively challenged sluggers whom the Phillies signed to massive free-agent offers, needed to play in the identical outfield on most days; so far, Schwarber has began in left discipline 89 instances and Castellanos in proper 84 instances. The previous has hit for a 119 wRC+ and leads the NL with 31 homers, however the latter has been horrible, batting simply .246/.291/.365 (83 wRC+) with eight homers in addition to [puts on protective goggles] -6.7 UZR, -7 RAA, and -12 DRS in 723.2 innings in proper discipline. His -1.4 WAR is tied with Robinson Canó for final within the majors amongst place gamers. Ouch.

As NBC Sports activities’ Corey Seidman noted, pitchers have attacked Castellanos with low-and-away breaking balls that he has been unable to put off. He owns a career-worst 45% chase fee (7.2 factors above his profession mark) and a corresponding career-high 57.8% swing fee, a mix that matches the sample of a participant urgent. Moreover, he has a career-high 42.7% groundball fee, about six factors above his norm, and his .245 xwOBA on pitches outdoors of the zone is 33 factors beneath his norm; his .103 xwOBA on low-and-away breaking pitches is an 81-point drop from final 12 months and is 36 factors beneath his norm. His total Statcast numbers (87.8 mph common exit velocity, 7.1% barrel fee, 33.8% hard-hit fee, .299 xwOBA) are all profession worsts, as is his 17.5% swinging-strike fee.

If you happen to’ve been studying this sequence, you realize that the Phillies have already made the record at shortstop, third base, and middle discipline. Greater than possible they’re simply going to intestine it out right here, hoping that both Harper can return to the sphere or Castellanos can get again on observe.

Pink Sox*

Keep in mind when the Pink Sox had the sport’s greatest proper fielder in Mookie Betts and determined they didn’t wish to pay him? They traded him for a package deal headlined by Alex Verdugo, who hit for a 126 wRC+ with 1.8 WAR within the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, however tailed off to a 107 wRC+ with 2.0 WAR over final 12 months’s full season, and is now all the way down to an 85 wRC+ (.265/.306/.370) with 0.4 WAR this 12 months. He’s collected that whole whereas beginning 91 of the workforce’s 99 video games in left discipline; Franchy Cordero has matched his WAR by slugging .593 in simply 31 PA on the place.

Verdugo’s Statcast numbers are down relative to final 12 months however proper within the neighborhood of his profession norms. What seems to be off is that he’s hitting much more harmeless fly balls. From 2017 to ’21, he had a 27.7% fly ball fee, a 1.83 groundball-to-fly ball ratio, and a 38.1% pull fee, however this 12 months, he’s as much as a 32% fly ball fee, together with his GB/FB dropping to 1.52 and his pull fee to 33.8%. In his first two years with the Pink Sox, his fly balls traveled a mean of 320 ft and produced an .818 xSLG, which he surpassed by 82 factors, however this 12 months, his fly balls are all the way down to 313 ft, his xSLG has dropped to .741, and he’s fallen a whopping 198 factors wanting that. A few of which could be the new, deader ball and a few of it dangerous luck, however it may additionally be his method.

With a 7–17 July, the Pink Sox have sunk to 50–50, although they nonetheless have Playoff Odds of 26%, therefore their inclusion right here. They’ve larger issues within the different nook of the outfield. Jackie Bradley Jr. was a worthwhile participant when he may present distinctive protection in middle discipline and a fairly strong bat. However even at his greatest, he not often produced sufficient offense to play in proper discipline, and now that he’s not hitting a lot (.211/.259/.318, 58 wRC+ total) in making 67 begins in proper discipline and one other 27 in middle, the mixture doesn’t work in any respect; he’s 0.4 wins beneath substitute stage. The Sox have used Christian Arroyo (16 begins), Rob Refsnyder (12 begins), Cordero (10 begins) and Jarren Duran (4 begins) on the place as properly. Refsnyder has performed acceptably there and hit .312/.389/.505 (149 wRC+) in 108 PA total, his most sustained manufacturing in a significant league profession that has included components of seven seasons with six groups. Arroyo, an out-of-place infielder, has not solely hit .133/.200/.244 in 50 PA for granted fielder, but additionally produced a defensive gaffe so outstanding…

… that it moved this scribe’s 5 1/2-year-old daughter to artistic expression.

If the Pink Sox have been to make a transfer towards contending, the record of stopgap nook outfielders who’re pending free brokers and have a wRC+ of 100 or higher isn’t a deep one, consisting of the Diamondbacks’ David Peralta and the Pirates’ Ben Gamel, each of whom have performed extra left discipline than proper. Broaden the definition to “extra productive than what’s available” and the record of such gamers would come with the Reds’ Tommy Pham (and Tyler Naquin, who was traded to the Mets on Thursday night time), the Athletics’ Chad Pinder, and the Rangers’ Kole Calhoun. Including a participant with some membership management remaining could make extra sense; the Cubs’ Ian Happ heads the record, with Oakland’s Ramón Laureano, San Francisco’s Mike Yastrzemski (in Fenway!), and the Mariners’ Mitch Haniger (if wholesome) additionally coming to thoughts. For what it’s price, the Pink Sox aren’t seen as possible suitors for Juan Soto, whose acquisition would not less than fill the star-shaped void left by the commerce of Betts.


Basic supervisor Alex Anthopoulos’ on-the-fly remake of the Braves’ outfield final July resulted within the acquisitions of October heroes Joc Pederson, Eddie Rosario, and Jorge Soler in addition to a championship. Now, if he may simply get lightning to strike twice. Thus far, the workforce has gotten lower than nothing from left discipline, the place Marcell Ozuna (42 begins), Adam Duvall (26 begins) and Rosario (13 begins) have completed a lot of the injury. Ozuna, who has moreover made 52 begins at DH, is third on the workforce with 18 homers however has hit simply .223/.277/.405 (87 wRC+) total with -0.5 WAR. If there’s excellent news, it’s that his 13.8% barrel fee and 45.3% hard-hit fee counsel that his outcomes have been out of alignment together with his high quality of contact, as does his .257 xBA and .492 xSLG. Possibly he’ll come round.

Duvall scuffled for a lot of the first half whereas spending extra time in middle discipline than left, hitting .213/.276/.401 (86 wRC+). On Saturday, he jammed his left wrist towards the outfield wall whereas in pursuit of a foul ball; identified with a torn tendon sheath, he’ll endure season-ending surgical procedure. Rosario, in the meantime, returned in early July after lacking two and a half months following laser eye surgical procedure to appropriate blurred imaginative and prescient. General, he’s hit simply .160/.196/.240 whereas enjoying each outfield corners (together with 12 begins in proper discipline), and since returning, he’s managed only a 52 wRC+ in 58 PA.

In proper discipline, the Braves’ manufacturing has lagged as a result of early-season absence of Ronald Acuña Jr. in addition to his subsequent underperformance. After tearing his proper ACL final July, Acuña didn’t make his 2022 debut till April 28, and he spent his first month again splitting time between DH and proper discipline earlier than enjoying the sphere extra frequently. He hit .281/.372/.455 (131 wRC+) from the purpose of his return via June 25, when he fouled a ball off his left foot. After lacking the subsequent 4 video games, he’s slumped to .214/.327/.286 (80 wRC+) with one homer in 98 PA. His total 113 wRC+ (.259/.357/.398) remains to be the very best of any Braves outfielder moreover Michael Harris II, and his rest-of-season projection for 1.8 WAR trails solely Aaron Judge, Soto, Betts, and Kyle Tucker amongst proper fielders, however his well being is a wild card.

With spare components Guillermo Heredia, Travis Demeritte, and Orlando Arcia unlikely to offer the extent of manufacturing the Braves want (besides maybe because the quick half of a platoon), Atlanta figures to be available in the market for not less than one nook outfielder and perhaps two. Happ may be one of the best of the non-Soto choices, and the lefty-swinging Peralta could possibly be a part of a platoon.

White Sox*

Final 12 months the White Sox have been capable of overcome the ruptured pectoral that restricted Eloy Jiménez to 55 video games, successful the AL Central by 13 video games. This 12 months has been one other story. Jiménez has performed simply 24 video games because of a proper hamstring pressure and hasn’t been capable of get going since returning three weeks in the past, hitting simply .222/.264/.383 (82 wRC+), because the Sox — who’ve handled numerous other injuries as properly — meander round .500 (they’re 49–49 at this writing).

In Jiménez’s absence, AJ Pollock, who after being acquired from the Dodgers in trade for Craig Kimbrel was initially slated to play proper discipline, has completed the majority of the work in left discipline. Sadly, he’s hit simply .237/.280/.354 with career-worst marks in wRC+ (80) and WAR (-0.2) — that after final 12 months’s career-best 137 wRC+ with Los Angeles. Proper discipline has been a patchwork involving Gavin Sheets (37 begins, plus 15 at DH, eight at first, and two in left), Adam Engel (27 begins, plus 19 in middle), and Andrew Vaughn (21 begins, plus 26 at DH, 17 in left, and 10 at first). Vaughn has hit properly (.291/.339/.452, 125 wRC+) however has netted simply 0.6 WAR because of dreadful protection (-9 DRS, -7 RAA and -5.7 UZR within the outfield corners). Neither Sheets (.225/.290/.367, 89 wRC+) nor Engel (.247/.297/.357, 86 wrC+) have been productive, and the previous has been dreadful afield, too (-6 DRS, -5.7 UZR, -3 RAA). To make issues worse, middle fielder Luis Robert has been out since July 15 after experiencing light-headedness and blurred imaginative and prescient, although he simply started a rehab project on Thursday.

The White Sox skimped at second base this previous offseason and made the Killers record there. They’re stated to be targeted on buying beginning pitching on the deadline, but when they’re to get again into the playoff hunt, they’ll want a considerable addition to their outfield as properly. Right here’s one other spot the place Happ could be an amazing match, and whereas trades between the Cubs and White Sox have been as soon as thought of anathema, the 2 groups have connected 3 times prior to now 5 years, together with offers for Jiménez in 2018 and for Kimbrel final July 30, after doing so simply twice within the earlier 25. There’s just one Happ, nevertheless, and I’ve hypothesized his vacation spot too many instances to rely on this sequence, so odds are that the Sox go the rental route as an alternative.


After producing 4.0 WAR for the Padres in 2020–21 — his greatest stretch for the Padres since ’16 — Wil Myers has been restricted to 32 video games this season by a proper thumb contusion and proper knee irritation, the latter of which has sidelined him since early June. When obtainable, he’s hit simply .234/.276/.306 (65 wRC+) in 134 PA for the Padres, producing all of 0.1 WAR. In his absence, the Padres have tried quite a lot of choices, by far one of the best of which has been Nomar Mazara. As soon as seen as a star within the marking, the now 27-year-old was launched by the Tigers after simply 50 video games final 12 months. After signing a minor league deal in March, he spent all of April and Might with El Paso. Since becoming a member of the Padres when Myers went down in early June, he’s hit .288/.343/.386 (112 wRC+) in 143 PA, although after a scorching begin, that wRC+ has dropped 27 factors over the course of his final 33 PA, a span throughout which he’s additionally plunged from 0.8 WAR to 0.5.

Myers is at the moment on a rehab project at Triple-A El Paso and will be part of the Padres this week. A platoon with the lefty-swinging Mazara may stabilize the place, however larger issues — a lot larger issues — may be potential right here. Per a number of reviews, the Padres are widely viewed as the highest suitor for Soto, maybe “as possible as the opposite 28 groups mixed,” as one government just lately told The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

In the event that they don’t land Soto, the Padres may revisit final 12 months’s experiment with Fernando Tatis Jr. within the outfield; after getting back from a bout of left shoulder irritation final August, he performed seven video games in middle discipline and 20 in proper discipline earlier than reverting to shortstop. Tatis has yet to play this 12 months after present process surgical procedure to restore his scaphoid bone of his left wrist, and Ha-Seong Kim has completed a adequate job at shortstop that there’s considered quickly shifting Tatis once more. Tatis may head out on a rehab project with Double-A San Antonio later this week, and not less than within the quick time period, his place could also be decided by what occurs on the deadline. Happ is one other participant in whom San Diego has expressed curiosity, presumably with a blockbuster that may additionally contain Willson Contreras.


After three seasons of ups, downs, accidents, and diminishing returns, Tyler O’Neill broke out with a 34-homer, 5.7-WAR season in 2021, however that participant has not often been sighted in 2022. The 27-year-old has hit simply .228/.293/.345 (83 wRC+) with 5 homers and 0.2 WAR, and he’s been even worse than that in three of the 4 months; his wRC+ development from April to July has gone 55, 64, 156, 72, with that June breakout bookended by journeys to the IL for a proper shoulder impingement (19 video games missed) and a left hamstring pressure (23 video games missed). Whereas on a rehab project for the latter damage, he was hit by a pitch on the suitable wrist, inflicting a contusion and an entire lot of irritation. Oy.

Although O’Neill said a pair weeks in the past that he was “knocking on the door” of being totally wholesome, it’s honest to marvel if that also applies. Solely in that center stretch of 52 PA between accidents did he maintain a lot productiveness, and neither his Statcast numbers earlier than or after supply an entire lot of optimism. Whereas his rest-of-season projection for 1.3 WAR is the majors’ highest amongst left fielders, he is probably not wholesome sufficient to handle that.

Elsewhere within the outfield, Dylan Carlson has been strong however unspectacular, hitting .259/.329/.422 (115 wRC+) with six homers and making 44 begins in proper discipline and 29 in middle. Common middle fielder Harrison Bader, although, has been out since late June because of plantar fasciitis in his proper foot, and he performed only one sport on a rehab project final week earlier than being shut down once more. Carlson can deal with the center pasture, however the Cardinals want assist in the corners. Rookies Juan Yepez and Brendan Donovan and sophomore Lars Nootbaar have all began not less than 26 video games within the outfield and helped hold the workforce afloat, however they’re not sufficient. The 24-year-old Yepez, who has hit .254/.298/.459 (113 wRC+), is a 30-grade fielder to start with, and he’s at the moment on the IL because of a Grade 2 pressure in his proper forearm, suffered whereas throwing house. Donovan, a 25-year-old utilityman, has made not less than half a dozen begins at six completely different positions (all 4 infield spots and the outfield corners), plugging leaks in every single place whereas hitting .281/.396/.377 (129 wRC+). The 24-year-old Nootbaar has made 19 begins in proper discipline, 5 in middle, and two in left, hitting .208/.296/.376 (94 wRC+).

Whereas beginning pitching has been seen as a much bigger want for the Cardinals on the deadline, there’s clearly sufficient uncertainty that they might use not less than one important addition within the outfield. What’s extra, they’re now viewed because the almost definitely workforce moreover the Padres to land Soto due to the success of their current drafts and proliferation of low-level prospects. Rookie third baseman-turned-second baseman Nolan Gorman could possibly be a centerpiece of the deal, with Héctor Gómez reporting that Carlson could possibly be among the many gamers concerned as properly, and ESPN’s Jeff Passan mentioning lefty Matthew Liberatore.

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