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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(Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
(Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images) /

5. Mike Tauchman, New York Yankees, $9.583 million value; $557,000 salary

Like Gio Urshela, it took a series of injuries to open up playing time for Tauchman, but when that playing window did open he leaped through it.

The major beneficiary of the injury that sidelined Giancarlo Stanton for much of 2019, Tauchman batted .277 before himself succumbing to a leg injury in September. Due to platooning or in-game shifts, his 694 innings of outfield work   — two-thirds of it in left – only translated to 296 MLB at bats, making his 3.6 WAR stand out that much more.

It equated to $8.774 million in on-field value, the fourth best performance at the position.

Tauchman ranked only 22nd in range at 1.71 chances per nine innings. That was good for an additional $438,000 in earned value. His limited playing time, just 25th best at the position,  accorded Tauchman a final $371,000 in value.

Tauchman’s problem is what happens in 2020. Stanton is back, and understandably the Yankees have his $26 million salary penned in ahead of Tauchman’s projected $600,000 or so in left. With Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge designated for center and right, the best Tauchman can probably hope for is whatever time accrues to a fourth outfielder, and that assumes he’s ahead of veteran Brett Gardner.

Tauchman’s two other options are a trade – unlikely assuming the Yankees recognize what they have in him – or another injury.