Previewing the AL Central Outfielders
White Sox â€“ Average 3.33
Carlos Quentin and Jermaine Dye could be the best 1-2 outfield tandem in terms of offensive production in baseball. Chicago will really be relying on either Anderson, Owens, or Wise to step up this year to fill out that 3rd spot.
Quentin (A) â€“ MVP type season until the injury. Quentin was able to put up 36 dingers in 130 games. Can we expect that again this year? Itâ€™s tough to say â€“ but heâ€™d certainly find himself in the heart of the order in any major league lineup.
Dye (A) â€“ Consistently the toughest out in the lineup, especially against the division rival Minnesota Twins. Heâ€™s put up huge numbers year in and year out and at 35 years of age, thereâ€™s still no reason to expect a decline in average.
B. Anderson (C-) â€“ Unfortunately, rounding out this all star cast with Brian Anderson is kind of a shame. Has a little power to his bat, but a .238 average wonâ€™t last long in the majors. The White Sox may take a look at Owens sooner rather than later.
Bench Bonus .1 (Owens, Wise) â€“ One of Minnesotaâ€™s ‘MVPâ€™s’ last season was certainly Dwayne Wise, I donâ€™t think I ever saw him make solid contact with the ball against the team. Expect Owens to get some looks at the leadoff position. Anythingâ€™s got to be more productive than Wise or Anderson, right?
Tigers â€“ Average 3.13
Granderson is absolutely key to this Detroit Tigers ballclub. Another 2007 from Granderson would be a warm welcome to the city of Detroit, they’re going to need to find every once of production in order to compete with the White Sox, Twins, and Indians this year.
Ordonez (A-) â€“ Refound his form in 2007 and hasnâ€™t slowed down since. His age may start to become a factor, but is still one of the best outfielders in baseball
Granderson (B) â€“ Had an off 2008 year as the bar was set very high for him. No reason he shouldnâ€™t be better this season. Still, he put up 22 HR while batting .280, not too shabby at all.
Guillen (C+) â€“ Production decreased last year after some on and off health problems. Should put up better totals than his .286BA â€“ 10HR mark last season â€“ the Tigers will need it.
Bench Bonus .1 (Thames, Raburn, Clevlen) â€“ Thames is a solid power hitting plug whenever needed, however he just strained a muscle during a game last week. Clevlen and Raburn are some youthful options as well.
Twins â€“ Average 3.10
A very young, talented, and defensively focused outfield. Young, Gomez, and Span have the city excited about the future as they all are in their early 20’s. Still fairly raw and undeveloped, there is still going to be a learning curve ahead, however, the talent is undeniable and I think the team is more than willing to go accept their on and off slumps.
Young (B) â€“ Has just about as much potential as any player out there. The former #1 overall pick plays solid defense and is expected to put up double digit home runs and possibly a .300+ average, if not, he may be wearing another jersey next season. Heâ€™s started off extremely hot in spring training.
Span (B) â€“ Another one of Minnesotaâ€™s prototypical rangy defensive players that will do anything they can to get on base. Span only played 93 games last season, but certainly proved that he has earned his starting spot for the upcoming season. Expect a fairly solid year at the plate for the Twinsâ€™ lead off man.
Cuddyer (B-) â€“ Coming off an injury riddled season where he never really found his form, Cuddyer hopes to show that he still deserves a spot in the Twinsâ€™ outfield. If he stays healthy he should be able to put up some decent numbers surrounded by a better cast. Still, his stats last year are still enough to scare me. Also boasts one of the best arms in baseball.
Bench Bonus .2 (Gomez, Pridie) â€“ Expect the high octane Carlos Gomez to get plenty of playing time this season. The roof is unlimited for him as long as he can figure out where the strike zone is.
Indians â€“ Average 3.00
Baby face Grady Sizemore is still one of the class acts of major league baseball but is going to have to improve his average if the team is going to compete in 2009. Couple Sizemore with Choo (who could have a big year) and this team has some pieces in place to attempt a run at the AL Central.
Sizemore (A) – I’d like to see a higher OBP or BA out of Sizemore if he’s going to continue to lead off – I’d love to see him make the move down the order. Sure he can steal bases, but it doesn’t help if you’re either putting the ball over the fence or popping out (solo home runs don’t win championships). Still, he’s a first tier major league outfielder.
Choo (B) – Put up great numbers for a guy who only played half a season. Still, it would be interesting to see what he could do while playing over 100 games in a season, although, reports indicate that he’s already having some minor health problems playing in the WBC.
Francisco (C-) â€“ Never been able to steal bases like he once did in the minors at the major league level. Has some pop to his bat, but his poor average always hurts. Just an average to below average major league outfielder.
Bench Bonus .1 (Delluci, Barfield) â€“ Delluci brings some experience and pop to the lineup but canâ€™t hit for average at all. The Indians may give Barfield some more looks in â€™09.
Royals â€“ Average 2.9
DeJesus, Guillen, and Crisp provide nothing spectacular, but should put up acceptable major league numbers. These guys will play a key role if Kansas City truly believes it can get out of the cellar.
DeJesus (B) â€“ Puts up decent numbers for a guy who consistenly flies under the radar. A great value player for the Royals.
J. Guillen (B-) â€“ Inconsistent BA and HR totals over his long career (heâ€™s really only 32?). Still has some pop to him and can certainly still play at the big league level.
Crisp (B-) â€“ A rangy outfielder who could hit .300 this year. However, his tendancy to want to hit the long ball for a guy with minimal power will dip his average as his fly ball rate increases. Still, he can steal bases and play defense very well.
Bench Bonus .1 (Teahen, Maier, Gload) â€“ Teahen showed some signs of life last year and can fill in very well whenever needed, beyond that Maier and Gload are fairly unproven.