We often talk about innings eaters when it comes to a pitching staff. What about the innings eaters among position players? Specifically pertinent to today, let’s talk about innings-eating outfielders.
These are the players who have logged the most innings in the outfield over the last 4 seasons.
Most Innings Played In Outfield – Last 4 Seasons
What’s interesting here is that the Yankees just traded for 3 of the players on this list: Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo, and Trent Grisham.
Soto’s performance speaks for itself. He’s an elite offensive player with 35-homer power and one of the best batting eyes in the sport. What’s scary is that he’s only 25 years old, is entering his walk season, and may not have peaked yet. As good as he was in 2023, he was only a 5.5 bWAR player. He has room to be better as a baserunner and fielder, two areas in which he ranked below average in 2023.
Verdugo may have gotten benched by the Red Sox last year for lack of hustle but he still found his way onto the field for 142 games. He’s basically been an average hitter by OPS+ standards and an average player by bWAR standards the last 3 seasons. But being consistently average has value because it usually means that below-average options were kept off the field.
Grisham is an interesting one. The last 2 seasons he’s hit .184 with a .626 OPS and .198 with a .666 OPS, respectively. But he also played 148 and 153 games in the field in those two seasons. He’s clearly valued for his defense and his baserunning. He ranks 5th in Defensive Runs Saved among center fielders over the last 4 seasons and ranks 4th in our Baserunning Gain stat over the last 2 seasons, which measures how often a runner takes an extra base, how often he makes outs on the bases, and how he fares at avoiding double plays.
Verdugo and Grisham won’t have to be everyday players in the Yankees lineup so long as both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are healthy. But one of the key reasons Grisham is a desirable option is how often Judge and Stanton have missed time. Judge played only 106 games last season (and DH’d in 38 of them). Stanton rarely plays the outfield anymore, only 71 games the last 2 seasons.
The Yankees essentially took care of two needs with this combination of deals. One is that they needed better players than they had last season, when their outfield ranked last in Wins Above Average. They got that, with Soto being the marquee addition. But they also needed players with a track record of simply playing, and though past performance doesn’t guarantee future results, they did well in acquiring that as well.