Another cog in the wheel known as the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy to combat the Extreme Left-Wing Media.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

AL CENTRAL OUTFIELDERS

I probably could have broke this down by RF, CF or LF, but I decided to group them together. Defensively, considering range of a centerfielder becomes more or less important depending on the corner outfielders. Ideally, you will have decent power from your corner outfielders, speed and good range from your CF and a strong throwing arm in right field. Obviously, very few teams are ideally constructed. Minnesota is an easy choice for first and KC has a lock on last. Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit are very closely bunched talent wise.

1. Minnesota - LF Shannon Stewart, CF Torii Hunter, RF Jacque Jones. The Twins have possibly the strongest outfield in baseball defensively and that doesn't change when Lew Ford is in the field instead of DH'ing. None of the group will challenge for the home run championship. However, they are a very balanced group as all four will rack up double digits in homers and stolen bases. Jason Kubel's knee injury does reduce their depth.

2. Chicago - LF Aaron Rowand, CF Scott Podsednik, RF Jermaine Dye. The White Sox traded Carlos Lee for Podsednik with the belief that Podsednik's style of play would be more in line with manager Ozzie Guillen's desire for aggressive base running. Unfortunately, no matter how fast he is, Podsednik can not steal first and his On-Base Percentage last year was .313 and you want your leadoff hitter getting on base at least 40% of the time. Rowand quietly had a very good season in his first opportunity as a regular. He was so far under the radar that The Sporting News hasn't even bothered to learn how to spell his name (Roward twice on page 87 of TSN's 2005 Scouting Notebook).

3. Cleveland - LF Casey Blake, CF Coco Crisp, RF Juan Gonzalez. This arrangement assumes Gonzalez has enough left to make the team out of spring training. Otherwise Blake will play RF, Crisp will shift to left and Grady Sizemore will take over in center. Ryan Ludwick is out of options and will probably start the season as the fourth outfielder. Gonzalez is now four years removed from his last strong season but reports are he is healthy and anxious to play. Odd coincidence, according to Similarity Scores from Baseball Reference, the three players most similar to Gonzalez are former Indians Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome.

4. Detroit - LF Rondell White, CF Alex Sanchez , RF Magglio Ordonez. Lot of uncertainty in the outfield for the Tigers. Ordonez was signed to a hefty contract with hopes that he can provide some serious pop in the lineup and protection for Pudge. Sanchez hit .322 last year and stole 19 bases. However, Sanchez' batting average is somewhat deceiving as he only drew 7 walks which resulted in an anemic OBP of .335. If he is going to leadoff he needs to be more selective at the plate. White who has been unable to play in 140 games in a season since 1997 followed form with a hip injury in August. Additionally, White played much better on the road than in spacious Comerica Park. Bobby Higginson is still on the roster but rumors are floating that he may be released if a trade can't be worked out.

5. Kansas City - LF Aaron Guiel, CF David Dejesus, RF Abraham Nunez. Recently the Royals signed Matt Diaz for added depth. None of this group have ever played a full season in the major leagues. Dejesus was a part of the Beltran deal last summer and has potential to be a very good center fielder. Easily the worst outfield in the major leagues.

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