Top Five Best MLB Utility Players for the 2024 Season

Defensive versatility and offensive reliability define MLB's best Swiss Army Knives. Here are the top five heading into the 2024 season.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 04: Jeff McNeil #1 of the New York Mets reacts after he hit a solo home run in the first inning against the Washington Nationals during game two of a double header at Citi Field on October 04, 2022 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

With spring training upon us in a matter of weeks, it is officially ranking season here at Just Baseball!

Over the coming weeks, we will be releasing our top players ranked at each position heading into the 2024 season. We begin the rankings with the players who don’t just have a single position, but rather provide value to their team with their ability to play multiple positions.

In today’s game, having a really good super utility player, who can be an above-average regular at multiple spots, is invaluable for a manager throughout a 162-game season.

Injuries are always sure to pop up, and a good utility player allows teams the flexibility to absorb those losses, or simply give players a blow now and then to keep everyone fresh.

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Here is our ranking of the top five utility players in baseball heading into the 2024 season, starting with a few honorable mentions who just missed the cut.

The following rankings were made by our senior staff members at Just Baseball. Jack McMullen, Peter Appel, Aram Leighton, Ryan Finkelstein, Leo Morgenstern and Colby Olson, each created their top player lists at each position and we took the composite average score to set our 2024 rankings.

Honorable Mentions: Jake Cronenworth (SD), Brandon Drury (LAA)

While Jake Cronenworth had his worst career season both at the plate and in the field, he still managed to provide some value to the Padres this past season, especially when factoring in his ability to limit strikeouts and prevent swing and miss (18.6% K%).

Cronenworth was not the four-win player that he had been the previous two seasons, but he still produced one fWAR while possessing the versatility to play multiple spots across the infield. Although in 2023 he solely stuck at first and second base.

Brandon Drury turned in a stellar season in his first season in Anaheim. He blasted 26 long balls with a 114 WRC+, which ranked third on the Halos behind two guys named Ohtani and Trout. While Drury doesn’t walk, he slugged nearly .500 and posted 2.5 wins. While DRS does not favor Drury, he put up 5 OAA for the year, ranking in the 89th percentile.

5. Tommy Edman (St. Louis Cardinals)

Age in 2024: 28

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2023 Stats: 528 PA, .248/.307/.399, 13 HR, 47 RBI, 27 SB, 92 wRC+, 2.3 fWAR
2023 Defensive Metrics (By Position): -1 DRS, -2 OAA (2B), 1 DRS, 4 OAA (SS), 2 DRS, 6 OAA (CF), 1 DRS, 1 OAA (RF)


Tommy Edman has made a career off of speed and elite defense. Ranking in the top 25 of the league in both OAA and stolen bases, Edman continued that trend once again in 2023.

While his speed has ticked down each year, it is only marginal, as he still sits in the 88th percentile in Sprint Speed (per Baseball Savant). And his fantastic defensive year consisted of timeshares at center field, right field, shortstop and second base.

At the plate, Edman won’t wow you, but he does make some impact through a low strikeout rate (15.9%) and his bat-to-ball skills (93rd percentile in Whiff%). While his .307 on-base percentage wasn’t desirable this past year, he constantly gives himself a chance to get on base by putting the ball in play, and when he does he is always a threat to steal.

4. Wilmer Flores (San Francisco Giants)

Age in 2024: 32

2023 Stats: 454 PA, .284/.355/.509, 23 HR, 60 RBI, 136 wRC+, 2.5 fWAR
2023 Defensive Metrics (By Position): 6 DRS, 1 OAA (1B), 0 DRS, 0 OAA (2B), -3 DRS, -3 OAA (3B)

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Wilmer Flores has always been an underrated bat. Since 2019 he has strung together a WRC+ above 110 in all but one season (104 in 2022). He has swatted 60 bombs over the last three seasons, all while walking above 9% of the time each year and punching out below a 20% clip as well.

One couldn’t look past Flores in 2023, however, as he was the Giants best bat. He led the club in nearly every offensive category, including batting average, home runs, OPS, WRC+ and ISO.

Flores has always defied batted ball data. He has never fared well when it comes to HardHit% or Barrel% but it has not stopped him from being a constant threat at the plate. 2023 was no exception, producing a career best year (by WRC+).

While he was once a shortstop, he now primarily serves as a corner infielder with an occasional cup of coffee at second base. He played above average defense at first base this past season, though he had his share of struggles defensively at the hot corner.

3. Brendan Donovan (St. Louis Cardinals)

Age in 2024: 26

2023 Stats: 371 PA, .284/.365/.422, 11 HR, 34 RBI, 5 SB, 118 wRC+, 2.1 fWAR
2023 Defensive Metrics (By Position): 0 DRS, -4 OAA (1B), -4 DRS, -1 OAA (2B), -1 DRS, 0 OAA (3B), 0 DRS, 0 OAA (SS), 1 DRS, 0 OAA (LF), 2 DRS, 0 OAA (RF)

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Through just two seasons, Brendan Donovan has proven to be a force to be reckoned with when he is in the lineup. While he doesn’t deposit a ton of baseballs over the fence, he is another player that thrives off striking out very little. He ranks in the top-10 percentiles of K% and Whiff% while corralling a Zone-Contact% of 94.1%. 

2023 was a slight step back for him overall, but he outslugged himself from his rookie year by a wide margin, jumping from .379 to .422. He just didn’t reach base at a near .400 mark like he did in 2022. 

Donovan is a true swiss army knife in the field, having played six different positions over the course of 2023. And he is not unfamiliar with taking on a flurry of responsibilities with the glove, as he has done so ever since his college days at South Alabama. While he found his most success in the corner outfield, he can always step in on the dirt when needed.

2. Spencer Steer (Cincinnati Reds)

Age in 2024: 26

2023 Stats: 665 PA, .271/.356/.464, 23 HR, 86 RBI, 15 SB, 118 wRC+, 2.1 fWAR
2023 Defensive Metrics (By Position): -1 DRS, -5 OAA (1B), -1 DRS, -1 OAA (2B), -2 DRS, -7 OAA (3B), 0 DRS, -4 OAA (LF), -1 DRS, 0 OAA (RF)


Spencer Steer has turned into a utility player almost solely due to how loaded the Reds are on the infield. With the signing of Jeimer Candelario, Steer will now see most of his time playing the corner outfield, but can still step in on the infield when needed, as he played five positions in 2023. 

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Steer flat out hits. He finished sixth in NL Rookie of the Year voting, led the Reds in home runs, ranked second on the team in WRC+ behind Matt McClain, while posting an .820 OPS. And similar to most of the players on this list, Steer works his walks.

He has walked exactly 10.2% of the time in each of his first two stints in the majors (though he played just 28 games in 2022). Additionally, he punches out at a below league average rate (20.9%). A 20-21% clip is more than manageable, especially when factoring in the free passes and the damage that Steer does at the plate.

His one downside is he ranks as one of the worst defenders in the league. He ranked third to last in all of baseball in OAA (-17) which put him in the first percentile. His biggest struggles defensively stemmed from first base and third base, so perhaps spending more time in the outfield moving forward will help him. He will also have less positions to devote his time to in 2024.

1. Jeff McNeil (New York Mets)

Age in 2024: 31

2023 Stats: 648 PA, .270/.333/.378, 10 HR, 55 RBI, 10 SB, 100 wRC+, 2.6 fWAR
2023 Defensive Metrics (By Position): -3 DRS, 1 OAA (2B), 0 DRS, 1 OAA (LF), 0 DRS, 0 OAA (CF), 3 DRS, 1 OAA (RF)


Jeff McNeil has been baseball’s prototype for perfect utility players for a while now. High on-base guy, doesn’t strike out, can play a multitude of positions, and has some pop. 

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2023 was not his best season as he posted the second-lowest WRC+ of his career. He has never crushed baseballs on the hard-hit profile, but he ranked even lower than usual in his most recent campaign (2nd percentile in Barrel%, 5th percentile in HardHit%).

In spite of that, he still put up over 2.5 wins and played quality defense, especially in right field. He played six positions this past year while seeing action both at shortstop and center field for the first time in his career.

Ultimately, this was likely just a down season for McNeil. He is a two-time All-Star, finished in the top 15 of NL MVP voting in 2022, and has been a 130-140 WRC+ player most of his career. He also is the only guy on this list with a batting title on his resume.

If one were starting a baseball team with one utility player, the pick is still McNeil. His track record is far too impressive to put in the backseat.