Best MLB Right Fielders Of All Time: Top 5 Players, According To Expert Lists

Right field is a fun position to play in baseball and players can expect to see lots of action in the outfield. Right fielders need to be ready for left-handed power hitters to pull a ball their way but also need to have the arm strength to make critical throws to third base, second base, and home plate. Some of the best defensive highlights in baseball come from a right fielder gunning down runners with a rocket throw from deep in the outfield. But, the best MLB right fielders of all time can do it all – hit, throw, and field. 

The path to becoming one of the best right fielders of all time oftentimes starts with little league. Whether you have kids in little league or you just like reminiscing about your glory days on your local diamond, the benefits of playing on sports teams stretch further than you might think. A recent study finds that kids who play organized sports are less likely to suffer from mental health issues. Researchers from California State University looked at data from over 11,000 kids ages nine to 13 and found that kids who play organized team sports such as baseball, basketball, and football, are less likely to suffer mental health problems. Furthermore, kids who play individual sports such as tennis, golf, and gymnastics, are more likely to suffer mental health problems than their peers who play no sports at all. 

If that’s not convincing you to register your kids for little league this year, then you should know that the benefits of playing sports as a kid stretches into adulthood. Another study from researchers at the Ohio State University found that playing sports as a kid leads to higher levels of ‘grit’ as an adult. The team goes on to define ‘grit’ as a combination of passion and perseverance that helps people achieve their long-term goals. The study revealed that adults who played sports as a kid scored higher on a measurement of ‘grit’ than those who didn’t play sports at all or those who quit playing early on. Definitely goes to show the benefits of sticking with something, even when it’s hard. 

So, who are the greats that have dominated right field? StudyFinds did the research, consulting 10 sports and baseball-oriented websites in an effort to bring you the best MLB right fielders of all time. Our list comprises the five most frequently mentioned right fielders across these sites. As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below! 

A postage stamp printed in the USA showing Babe Ruth, circa 2005
(Photo by Stamptastic on Shutterstock)

The List: Best MLB Right Fielders of All Time, Per Baseball Fans

1. Babe Ruth (Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Boston Braves)

Topping the lists of the best MLB right fielders of all time is none other than ‘The Great Bambino,’ Babe Ruth. Babe Ruth is synonymous with baseball, and he’s also widely regarded as the best MLB player of all time by experts and enthusiasts, alike. Babe Ruth is arguably the greatest Yankees player of all time as well as the best right fielder ever. 

“George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth is probably the least surprising #1 in all of our Top Tens. The Babe has the highest WAR in MLB history and is generally recognized as the GOAT. He changed the game, and his impact on the sport is immeasurable. Ruth’s story is familiar to most baseball fans, but below is a brief synopsis of his accomplishments. Most know that the Babe started his MLB career as a pitcher for the Red Sox in 1914. He was an excellent starter, too, winning an ERA title in 1916. It became apparent quickly that his bat was too valuable not to be in the lineup every day, so he began to transition to the outfield in 1918. Following the 1919 season, in which Ruth led the league in most offensive categories, the Sox sold him to the Yankees for $100,000 – which was a lot of money back then! Even so, this turned out to be a bargain for the Yanks,” writes Pitcher List

The sale of Ruth to the Yankees tarnished the Red Sox franchise for decades to come. It was dubbed ‘the curse of the Bambino’ and it’s a move that haunted the Red Sox franchise until the team’s first World Series victory in nearly a century came back in the 2000s. Regardless, Ruth was a dominant force in the major leagues. 

“Arguably the greatest player of all time, Babe Ruth changed baseball more than any player ever did. Ruth was the home run king for longer than any other player in the history of the MLB and when you see his [numbers] it doesn’t even make sense. Babe Ruth is the MLB’s all time leader in slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+. He led the league in home runs 12 times, slugging percentage 13 times, and walks 11 times,” adds Baseball Spotlight

Babe Ruth was Shohei Otani a century ahead of schedule. For his career, Ruth smacked 714 home runs, hit over 2,200 RBIs, and had a .342 career batting average. Babe Ruth held the single-season home run title with 59 until Roger Maris broke the record in 1961 with 61 homers. The list of Ruth’s accomplishments goes on and on, too. 

“In his 22 year career, he had a .342 average, a .474 on base percentage, a .690 slugging percentage, 714 home runs, 2217 RBI, 2174 runs scored, 2873 base hits, 506 doubles, and 123 stolen bases. He was selected to the All-Star team twice, starting in right field in both of them. He won one batting title, led the league in on base percentage ten times, slugging percentage thirteen times, and OPS thirteen times. He is the all time leader in slugging percentage, is second in on base percentage, first in OPS, third in homers, fourth in runs scored, second in RBI, and third in walks. He won an MVP award in 1923, but his best season was in 1920. In that season, he had a .376 average, 54 home runs, 137 RBI’s, 158 runs scored and 14 stolen bases,” furthers Bleacher Report

2. Hank Aaron (Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers)

The second spot on the list of the best MLB right fielders of all time belongs to none other than Hank Aaron. He was baseball’s undisputed home run king for decades with a mark of 755 home runs for his career. Depending on who you ask, Hank Aaron is undoubtedly one of the top two best MLB right fielders of all time. 

Hank Aaron
Hank Aaron in New York City 2013 (Photo by Debby Wong on Shutterstock)

“Aaron is the greatest right fielder of all time as he was dominant offensively and solid defensively. In his 23 year career, he had a .305 average, 755 home runs, 2297 RBI, 2174 runs scored, 3771 base hits, 624 doubles, and 240 stolen bases. He was selected to the All-Star team an amazing 25 times, starting in right field in fourteen of them. He won two batting titles, led the league in slugging percentage four times, and in home runs four times. He was also a good defensive outfielder as he won three consecutive Gold Glove awards from 1958 until 1960. He ranks fourth all time in runs scored, third in base hits, second in homers, first in RBI, and first in total bases,” explains Bleacher Report

For some, Hank Aaron’s defensive prowess catapults him ahead of Babe Ruth. That’s a debate for another time. However, Hank Aaron’s consistent play across his career makes him one of the best to ever play

“A high level of consistency highlighted Aaron’s remarkable career. ‘Hammerin’ Hank’ led the league in doubles, RBI, SLG, and HRs four times, runs and OPS three times, and hits and batting average twice. Everyone knows about Aaron’s 755 HRs, which he held as the record until Barry Bonds controversially broke it in 2007, but how he got there speaks to his consistency. Henry never hit more than 47 HRs in a season, but he slugged over 30 fifteen times and over 20 for 20 consecutive years. Aaron ranks first on the all-time right fielder’s list in games, plate appearances, hits, HRs, RBI, and runs,” writes Pitcher List.  

“The original home run king, and to some, he still is, Hank Aaron was the absolute model of consistency for power hitters. Aaron hit 755 career home runs and led the league in homers four times, doubles four times, and RBIs four times as well. Hank Aaron has 2,297 career RBIs which is the most ever in the history of the MLB. Aaron also led the league in hits twice, batting average twice, and slugging four times. Aaron will always be remembered for his most iconic moment in which he broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record when he hit his 715 career home run,” writes Baseball Spotlight

3. Roberto Clemente (Pittsburgh Pirates)

The third spot on the list of the best MLB right fielders of all time goes to none other than the legendary Roberto Clemente. Perhaps best known for his tragic and untimely death in a plane crash, Clemente is still one of the most beloved sports figures in Pittsburgh Pirates’ history. Clemente played right field with passion, excitement, and a defensive mindset. 

Roberto Clemente statue in Pittsburgh PNC Park
Roberto Clemente statue in Pittsburgh PNC Park (“Pittsburgh – PNC Park: Roberto Clemente statue” by wallyg is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.)

“Roberto’s all-around skills began to blossom. In 1961 his exceptional defense was recognized when he won his first Gold Glove. He won the award every season after that, amassing 12 trophies in total. ‘Arriba’ also developed into one of the premier hitters in MLB, winning four batting titles between 1961 and 1967. Clemente only hit under .300 once after 1960 and led the NL in hits twice. In 1966, Roberto was the league MVP after hitting .317 with 29 HRs, 105 runs, and 119 RBI. Clemente played in two World Series, and the Pirates won both. The first championship came in 1960, and the second in 1971. Arriba was the MVP of the ’71 series after hitting .414 with two HRs and four RBI in the seven games. Clemente got his 3,000th hit in his final regular season at-bat on September 30, 1972. The Pirates were headed back to the playoffs that year but lost in the NLCS to the Reds,” writes Pitcher List

Two World Series victories, an MVP, 15 All-Star Game appearances, and a staggering 12 Gold Gloves all help make the case for Roberto Clemente as one of the greatest to ever play right field. Clemente was also the first Latin superstar to play in MLB and it’s not a stretch to say that Clemente is to Latin American baseball players what Babe Ruth is to American baseball players. 

“Regarded as the one of the best defensive right fielders of all time thanks to a legendary arm that helped him win 12 Gold Gloves, Clemente was a notorious bad-ball hitter who hit .312 lifetime and won four batting titles, although he didn’t have the power of contemporaries Hank Aaron or Frank Robinson. His legacy, of course, remains incomparable, the first dark-skinned Latin superstar in MLB, revered as a role model in Puerto Rico and throughout Latin America,” writes ESPN

Every year, MLB celebrates Roberto Clemente Day on September 15th to honor the late all-time great right fielder and as a way to kick off Hispanic heritage month across the nation. Clemente’s legacy continues to live on as his life and career are celebrated. 

“Roberto Clemente is one of the greatest and most tragic stories in the history of the MLB. Ending his career with 3,000 career hits exactly after he tragically died in a plane crash. Clemente was arguably the greatest defensive right fielder of all time winning 12 gold gloves. He also had the strongest arm, maybe ever, in the history of the MLB. Clemente could also hit, leading the league in hits twice, and winning four batting titles during his 18 year career. The legend will never be forgotten and ranks four on this list,” adds Baseball Spotlight

4. Frank Robinson (Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles, LA Dodgers, California Angels, Cleveland Indians)

Next up on the list of the best MLB right fielders of all time is the legendary player and manager, Frank Robinson. As the experts explain, Frank Robinson’s list of accomplishments is absolutely absurd. Over the course of his career, Frank Robinson has one nearly every major award that MLB has to offer. 

“Robinson was an amazing offensive player. In his 21 year career, he had a .294 average, a .389 on base percentage, 586 home runs, 1812 RBI, 1829 runs scored, 2943 base hits, 528 doubles and 204 stolen bases. He won the 1956 Rookie of the Year Award and was selected to the All-Star team 14 times, starting in right field in three of them. He won one batting title, led the league in on base percentage twice, slugging percentage four times, and in OPS four times. He ranks seventh all time in total homers, 14th in runs scored, and 17th in RBI. He won two MVP awards and his best season came in 1966 when he won the Triple Crown Award,” writes Bleacher Report

Robinson won two MVPs, one in the American League and one in the National League, and he’s the only player to achieve this feat. Frank Robinson won his first MVP award while he was with the Reds franchise and his second MVP came after he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles. 

“Robinson, and Reds fans, were shocked when the team traded him to Baltimore in 1965. The club viewed him as a player on the decline, but they were wrong as he played at an extremely high level for several more seasons. Robinson was in Baltimore for six seasons, and they were sensational. All he did in his first season with the Orioles was win the 1966 Triple Crown. His 49 HRs, 122 RBI, and .316 BA paced the AL and earned him his second MVP. The team also won the World Series that season and Robinson was the series MVP… Robinson played in two more World Series for the Orioles and made the All-Star team during five of his six seasons in Baltimore,” explains Pitcher List

As we mentioned earlier, Frank Robinson was also one of the best MLB managers of his time. After his playing career, Robinson went on to manage the Baltimore Orioles, winning another prestigious MLB award in the process. 

“Perhaps Mookie Betts will someday change this, but to this point, Robinson is the only player in MLB history to win the MVP Award in both the American and National League. There’s really nothing that Robinson didn’t do in his MLB career. In addition to winning two MVP awards, Robinson was the 1956 National League Rookie of the Year, won a batting title, a triple crown, a Gold Glove Award and two World Series titles. All he did after one of the most decorated playing careers of all time was become the first Black manager in MLB history, even winning the 1989 American League Manager of the Year Award while presiding over the Baltimore Orioles, one of the two teams that he won an MVP Award with during his time as a player,” adds Audacy

5. Tony Gwynn (San Diego Padres)

Rounding out the list of the best MLB right fielders of all time is San Diego Padres legend, Tony Gwynn. Gwynn was a demon at the plate, hitting a staggering .338 for his career with over 3,000 hits. Although Gwynn wasn’t much of a power-hitter, he could spread the ball all over the ballpark. 

“He owns eight batting titles and hit .338 for his career, but the really exceptional thing about Gwynn was that he was perhaps the friendliest and most engaging player you could ever meet. It is a shame he is no longer with us…. Like a figure out of the game’s earliest history, Gwynn was a hitting machine sent from the past to prove the possibilities of the present. His career BABIP of .341 is a reminder that BABIP is not a constant everybody regresses to. Greatness sets its own standard,” writes ESPN

Tony Gwynn’s baseball style paid homage to some of the great players of the game’s past. Gwynn could hit, run, and field his position like some of the all-time greats. Still, professional baseball wasn’t Gwynn’s only option. Tony Gwynn was drafted out of San Diego State University by the San Diego Clippers of the NBA and the San Diego Padres of MLB. Obviously, Gwynn chose the Padres and the rest is history. 

Tony Gwynn statue in San Diego
The Tony Gwynn statue in San Diego by Bisayan lady is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

“Tony Gwynn might have been one of the best pure hitters to ever play the game. Gwynn was the closest person to hit .400 in a season since Ted Williams when he hit .394 in 1994. Gwynn led the league in hits five times during his career. Gwynn was also very fast during the beginning of his career stealing over 30 bases four times during his career. Gwynn also led the league in batting average eight times during his career. Gwynn was also a tremendous defensive player who won a gold glove five times during his career. Gwynn would hit .415 against Greg Maddux during his career, which is saying something, when Maddux might be the greatest pitcher of all time,” adds Baseball Spotlight

Greg Maddux is widely considered one of the best pitchers, and for Gwynn to hit a staggering .415 off of him is another testament to Gwynn’s overall greatness. However, it’s well documented that Gwynn had to work on his defense when he first entered the league. He did just that, eventually becoming one of the best defensive right fielders during his time. Gwynn accrued five Gold Gloves as a result of his hard work.  

“One of the best pure hitters in MLB history, Gwynn won eight batting titles in a career spent exclusively with the Padres. Gwynn was a 15-time All-Star, who won seven Silver Slugger Awards and five Gold Glove Awards. Gwynn — who edged out the likes of Larry Walker, Harry Heilmann and Ichiro Suzuki for this spot — was elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 2007,” adds Audacy

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