MLB: The most valuable left fielders of 2019

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 15: Fans and Washington Nationals left fielder Juan Soto (22) await the ball during a MLB game between the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves, on September 15, 2019, at Nationals Park, in Washington, D.C.(Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 15: Fans and Washington Nationals left fielder Juan Soto (22) await the ball during a MLB game between the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves, on September 15, 2019, at Nationals Park, in Washington, D.C.(Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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1. Juan Soto, Washington Nationals, $12.638 million value; $578,000 salary

Soto was decidedly the most valuable MLB left fielder in 2019, and there’s no reason to expect that designation to change in the near future.

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Begin with his 34 home runs, which ranks among the position’s best, and his .949 OPS. That ranked No. 1 among left fielders and among the 10 best in all of baseball. It was good enough to draw Soto some MVP votes.

His 4.7 WAR edged out Brantley as the position’s best, and valued out at $11.445 million. Defensively, he was competent if not great, with a 1.85 range per nine innings that ranked 11th for the position. Add $474,000 in value.

Since Soto’s bat never gave Dave Martinez a reason to remove him from the Nationals lineup, it’s no surprise that he led all MLB left fielders in playing time with 1,327 innings. Score a final $709,000 for Soto.

The loss this winter of Anthony Rendon, especially coming on the heels of the loss of Bryce Harper, makes Soto the offensive face of the Nationals entering 2020. The numbers confirm that he’s up to it. Only four players at any position generated more actual on-field value – based on the demands of their position – that did Soto playing left field for Washington in 2019.

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Consider also that he did that while drawing only a bit more than the MLB minimum. Soto’s pay will certainly go up quickly, and at the rate he’s generating value he’ll deserve it.