Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Player Analysis: Corner Outfielders

This post will cover the most players in one sitting because the Yankees have three corner outfield player possibilities for two spots. Just for the record, I will be assuming that Ichiro will be on the bench to start the year as his numbers took a turn for the worse last year and because the Yankees have three expensive players they need to play in the corner outfield positions; and even then one of the three players will need to sit or be the designated hitter in some games.
I will start with the Yankees newest corner outfielder, Carlos Beltran. Beltran spent the last two years with the St. Louis Cardinals and put up gaudy numbers with the National League Central contenders in each of the two seasons he spent with them. Beltran was signed to a three year/$45 million contract prior to this season which will be his final contract that will take him up to his age 39 season. Presumably, Carlos Beltran will retire as a Yankee given his advanced age and clear indication that he intends on this being his final deal. Beltran comes to the Yankees with borderline Hall of Fame statistics over the course of his career, with a lifetime .283 average and 358 home runs and his postseason numbers challenge Babe Ruth as the greatest of all time with a .333 batting average in 51 games with 16 home runs and an outstanding .445 OBP. Beltran is a switch-hitter who provides the Yankees with power from both sides of the plate; particularly the right side. The Yankees were in desperate need of a right handed power hitter last year, and Beltran's home run rate per plate appearance from the right side gives the Yankees just what they need with Alex Rodriguez suspended for the year.

Carlos Beltran is also a superior defender in the outfield. He isn't as quick to the ball as he used to be, as proven by his -1.5 defensive WAR for the 2013 season. He used to be a threat to steal on the base paths but given his injuries in recent years, the Yankees are looking for him to be more of a power threat than a speedster on the bases.

In stark contrast to Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner will likely be the Yankees every-day left fielder. Gardner played most of the 2013 season in center field, which is the position that is most natural to him. The 30 year old is one of the fastest players in baseball and he is a superior defender in the outfield, with his ability to make highlight reel catches in left and in center. Gardner's offense has come a long way over the last three seasons. The speedster makes the most of his hits. Out of his 147 hits in 2013, 51 of them were for extra bases with 33 doubles and a league leading 10 triples. Gardner did not steal as many bases in 2013, but if he were less selective he could easily have 50 stolen bases, which he has proven he can do in 2010 and 2011. 2012 was a lost year for Gardner who had a persistent injury all year in his elbow but came back in 2013 and played in 145 games before ending the season on the bench because of an oblique injury. Gardner will be a dynamic player regardless of where he plays this season before entering free agency where he will make bank given all of his offensive skills. The desire other teams have for Gardner can be proven by the Reds willingness to trade Brandon Phillips for Brett Gardner, straight-up earlier in the off season.

Lastly, Alfonso Soriano will see time in left field and will DH a handful of times to allow Beltran to take a tun in the outfield. Soriano came to the Yankees in a trade with the Cubs in July of last year. Soriano almost propelled the Yankees to the playoffs after a monstrous week in August where he batted .484 with five homers, a double and 18 RBI in a single week! Soriano is an offensive force for the Yankees and actually made every single catch he needed to make with a couple of homer saving catches mixed in toward the end of the season. For Soriano, he became more comfortable when the summer was at its hottest in the dog days of August and September. Soriano will likely be the Yankees primary DH when they aren't giving Carlos Beltran or Derek Jeter a half day off in a day game after a night game.
This will be the Yankees most dynamic outfield since the glory days of the 1990's with Jacoby Ellsbury patrolling center field with Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano sharing left field and Carlos Beltran playing right. The Yankees will have no problems keeping their outfield numbers high assuming their players stay healthy, which can be a question mark with Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, who have had their share of injuries that have kept them on the DL for a substantial number of games in the past.

My predictions for Carlos Beltran in 2014: .290 BA, .345 OBP, 26 HR, 97 RBI
My predictions for Brett Gardner in 2014: .288 BA, 375 OBP, 10 HR, 65 RBI, 55 SB
My predictions for Alfonso Soriano in 2014: .250 BA, 31 HR, 93 RBI

No comments:

Post a Comment