Reds power rankings: Who is the best outfielder heading into the offseason?

The Reds received tremendous contributions from their outfielders in 2023.

Cincinnati Reds outfielders Jake Fraley, TJ Friedl, and Will Benson
Cincinnati Reds outfielders Jake Fraley, TJ Friedl, and Will Benson / Jeff Dean/GettyImages
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I don't know about you, but I was very skeptical about the group of players that Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell was sending out to play the 7-8-9 spots on a regular basis this past season.

But that skepticism soon turned to elation when it became apparent that the Reds had something with their core group of outfielders. It's safe to say that the Reds outfield overachieved in 2023.

For the purpose of this exercise, Spencer Steer and Nick Senzel will not be considered outfielders. Both players drew more starts on the infield dirt than the outfield grass in 2023. Harrison Bader, who is a free agent this winter, will also be omitted from the conversation. Let's see where the outfielders ranks heading into the offseason.

6. TJ Hopkins, Reds outfielder

TJ Hopkins got his feet wet in 2023. After finding success during the early-part of the season at Triple-A, Hopkins made his MLB debut in early-June. Hopkins' first taste of the big leagues saw him gather just four hits through his first 25 plate appearances before being sent back to the minors.

Hopkins was given another shot during the month of August and put up similar numbers. The 26-year-old has some solid all-around skills, but has the look for a fourth outfielder moreso than a starter.

Hopkins put up good numbers in the minors. He slashed .308/.411/.514 with 16 home runs and 55 RBI with a wRC+ of 134 according to FanGraphs. Hopkins can also play all three outfield spots.

There's reason to believe that TJ Hopkins deserves a longer look in 2024, but he could just as easily be a non-tender candidate if the Cincinnati Reds are in need of addition roster spots. Being a right-handed hitting a predominantly left-handed hitting outfield may work in his favor.

5. Stuart Fairchild, Reds outfielder

Stuart Fairchild is an easy guy to root for. Much while he was a former second-round draft pick, Fairchild has had to work very hard to make it to the big leagues. Fairchild is a versatile defender with a lot of speed.

Fairchild is a very good base runner; an underrated aspect of most players in Major League Baseball. However, that and his defense may be the best aspect of Fairchild's game. The outfielder's performance at the dish leaves a lot to be desired.

Fairchild hit just .228/.321/.388 in 219 at-bats in 2023. Stu popped five homers this past season and recorded 10 stolen bases as well. But a .709 OPS isn't really getting the job done, is it? Fairchild's performance last season was basically Joey Votto with speed.

Seeing as how Votto had one of the worst season's of his 17-year career, it's hard to excited about the long-term prospects of Fairchild in a Reds uniform. He is a right-handed hitter with some pop, but Hopkins offers the same profile and hasn't really been given a fair shake in the big leagues.

Stuart Fairchild, just like Hopkins, could be a non-tender candidate this offseason. Fairchild is a nice option as a fouth outfielder, but with the Cincinnati Reds needing some 40-man roster spots this offseason, Fairchild's future with this organization is hanging by a thread.

4. Nick Martini, Reds outfielder

It's doubtful that many Reds fans thought they'd see Nick Martini asa much as they did in 2023. Signed to a minor-league deal earlier in the season, Martini got the call during the latter part of the season once injuries absolutely decimated the Cincinnati roster.

It's not hyperbole to say that Martini had two of the biggest hits of the Cincinnati Reds 2023 campaign. On September 1st, Martini's game-tying homer allowed Noelvi Marte to walk-it-off against the Chicago Cubs in the ninth inning.

Martini's second moment of glory came when he belted a three-run homer on September 5th that tied the game and allowed Christian Encarnacion-Strand to collect the walk-off winner against the Seattle Mariners.

If there was one word to describe Martini's 2023 campaign, it would be clutch. The veteran just seemed to be able to come up key in big moments, and with Joey Votto possibly on the way out, keeping a player like Martini in the clubhouse might not be the worst idea in 2024.

Nick Martini can play the corner outfield and also fill in at first base. Martini slugged .583 last season. that can't be ignored. The left-handed slugger is still pre-arbitration eligible, so it won't cost much for the Reds to at least bring him back to spring camp in Goodyear next year.

3. Jake Fraley, Reds outfielder

It's hard to appropriately slot Jake Fraley when it comes to the other outfielders on the Cincinnati Reds roster because of the injury that limited him over the final month of the season. But Fraley was a solid contributor and leader this past season.

Fraley had a good, but not great season, and there is one stat that really sticks out. For all the homers that Fraley mashed in 2023, the 27-year-old had one of the lowest exit velocities and lowest hard-hit rates in the game according to Baseball Savant.

But Fraley was still able to have success at the plate because of a higher-than-average line drive-rate (25.9-percent) and a very low strikeout-rate (18.7-percent). Fraley's walk-rate dropped a touch in 2023, but at 9.7-percent, it's still better than league average.

Fraley became a victim of the dreaded platoon system that Reds fans hate so much. And while Fraley was limited to facing mostly right-handed pitchers, when he did get the chance against southpaws (.147/.268/.235), it usually didn't end well.

Jake Fraley will be slotted as the team's right fielder against right-handed pitchers heading into the offseason. The Cincinnati Reds would do well to find a right-handed hitting outfielder to pair with Fraley for the 2024 season.

2. Will Benson, Reds outfielder

Will Benson's 2023 campaign could not have started much worse. But Benson showed everyone throughout Reds Country - it's not how you start, it's how you finish. After being sent down to Triple-A Louisville after a horrific start, Benson was one of the best players in the Reds clubhouse down the stretch.

Benson was acquired during the offseason in exchange for minor league outfielder Justin Boyd and right-handed pitching prospect Steve Hajjar. That's a trade that Cincinnati Reds President of Baseball Operations Nick Krall would make again in a heartbeat.

Benson's strikeout-rate (31.3-percent) wasn't great, but his walk-rate (12.2-percent) was very good. Benson's 10.3-percent barrel-rate, according to Baseball Savant, was above the MLB average.

In terms of defense, Benson looked better than his numbers might indicate. With -2 outs above average (OAA) and -3 defensive runs saved (DRS) don't paint the best picture. However, Benson has plenty of speed and arm strength to play above-average defense on the outfield grass.

Many Reds fans were advocating all season for Will Benson to be moved up in David Bell's lineup. While that's somewhat understandable, the 25-year-old added an impact bat to the bottom of the Cincinnati Reds batting order.

1. TJ Friedl, Reds outfielder

This was all but academic, right? Not only was TJ Friedl the best outfielder on the Cincinanti Reds roster last season, you could make the case that the 27-year-old was the team's best overall player.

Friedl was the total package in 2023. The left-handed hitting centerfielder hit for power, hit for average, stole bases, played good defense, was a leader on the field, and flat-out created chaos on a regular basis for the opposition.

There's a lot of uncertainty when it comes to the veteran leadership on the Reds heading into the 2023-24 offseason. Will the Reds re-sign Joey Votto? Is Cincinnati going to shop Jonathan India this winter?

No one really knows, but it's a good thing that the Redlegs will have TJ Friedl coming back in 2024. The talented outfielder just completed his second season in the big leagues and is under team-control through the 2027 season.

Unless the Cincinnati Reds go big during free agency and secure the services of a bat like Cody Bellinger, I think it's safe to say that Friedl will remain No. 1 among all outfielders until we see everyone return to the diamond in Goodyear, Arizona next February.