This is the third installment of the 'Who's Left?' series that takes a look at who's left on the free agent market by position and how they project for 2009. You should check out the first post in the series if you missed it. It explains a few things that are important.
So far, we've looked the positions of: C, 1B, 2B, and 3B. Today we'll be shifting gears a little and moving into the outfield to see who's on the free agent market at LF and RF.
Isolated Power vs. On-base Percentage: 2009 Free Agent Left Fielders
|Ken Griffey Jr.||0.346||0.205|
- I really like the way this plot turned out. I think it's a pretty good representation of the left field market. I'll note here that Pat Burrell is on the plot despite just signing a 2-year, $16M deal with the Tampa Bay Rays. The same goes for Milton Bradley who just inked a 3-year, $30M deal with the Chicago Cubs. I decided to leave them on the plot because it should give you an idea of what other comparable outfielders (ie: players in the upper-right quadrant) should sign for.
- As we stated above, now that Pat Burrell and Milton Bradley have signed, the left field market has thinned out a little but it does have some players left who should attract attention from numerous teams. Adam Dunn and Manny Ramirez are both defensively challenged left fielders that can hit quite well. Dunn has the best projected isolated power of our hitters -- just barely edging out Manny -- and Ramirez has the best projected OBP. Let's check them out in greater detail.
- Adam Dunn has a projected ISO of .248 that places him as our best power hitter. His projected OBP is .365 which is both above average for league and his position. Because we're just plotting offensive measures -- ISO and OBP -- it might mask some of the negatives associated with a player like Adam Dunn. He'll give back some of the value he creates with his bat by playing a poor LF, but he should still interest teams that are lacking ISO and OBP. In fact, the market for a Dunn-like player -- mashers that struggle defensively -- might be lower than some expected. The Burrell signing reflects that.
- Like Adam Dunn, Manny Ramirez is a terrific hitter but a bad defender. His projected OBP of .390 is the best among our left fielders. He's no slouch in the power department, either. His ISO of .246 is far above both average for both league and position. While Adam Dunn might have to take a paycut in this market, Manny should be handsomely rewarded for his fantastic 2008 season. Because left field tends to be the place where teams stick masher-type hitters, the fact that Dunn and Manny blow away the positional league averages for OBP and ISO is a testament to how well they can hit a baseball.
- Once you move past the Adam Dunn and Manny Ramirez, you'll run into hitters like: Ken Griffey Jr., Cliff Floyd, and Bobby Abreu. These would be our 2nd tiered left fielders. Griffey's projected ISO of .205 surprised me a little. His power was down in 2008 and his ISO of .176 was his lowest score -- in a season in which he had at least 500 PA's -- since his 1989 rookie season. A team that's interested in Griffey should either leave him in LF or DH him because at this point in his career he's unable to play RF any more.
- Cliff Floyd will be 36-years-old next season and he was primarily a DH in 2008. So, I'm not sure how many teams will think of him as a left fielder but I put him in the group anyways. He was a very nice pickup for the Rays but his injury problems and inability to play the field might, with good reason, scare some suitors away. The Oliver projections still think he can add something with the bat, though. He's projecting to be slightly above average for a left fielder and above average for league.
- Bobby Abreu fits nicely into the 2nd tier of LF's. He's in our group despite only playing 135 career innings at the position. Why should Abreu move out of right field and try to market himself as a left fielder? His defense in right field has steadily declined over the past 4-5 years and he's at the point where he should either DH or play LF. Abreu is projecting for a very nice OBP of .376 with about average power for the LF position. If he wants to sign with a team for 2009, he'll have to lower his laughable asking price of 3-years, $48M. Much like Griffey and Floyd, he might want to give DH'ing a try.
- The third tier of LF's contain players like: Luis Gonzalez, Jay Payton, Garret Anderson, and Gabe Kapler. Luis Gonzalez is projected as a slightly below league average LF in 2009. He really shouldn't be playing defense anymore. Anderson has been steadily average over the past 3-4 years and he's going to have to take a huge pay cut from his 2008 salary of $12.6M if he wants to play baseball next season.
- Gabe Kapler has had an interesting career path. After winning a ring with the Red Sox in 2004, he signed with the Yomiuri Giants for the 2005 season. He struggled in Japan and was eventually released and resigned by the Red Sox. He played sparsely between 2005-2006 for the Red Sox and in 2007, he switched roles between player and manager. He ended up managing the Red Sox's Single-A affiliate to a 7th place finish in their division. After the 2007 season he re-announced his intent to play major league baseball again and signed with the Brewers. In 2008, with the Milwaukee Brewers, he had a fantastic season hitting: .301/.340/.498 with 8 HR's in 229 AB's. Kapler isn't starting material, but he should find a job as a 4th OF who can play multiple positions.
- The left field market is full of players who can hit -- for the most part -- but come with fielding issues. Dunn, Ramirez, Griffey Jr., Abreu, and Floyd are all defensive concerns at their position and I wouldn't be surprised to see a large portion of that group end up as DH's next season. I think now that the market has started to shape up with the Burrell signing, Adam Dunn might be an interesting buy for a team that needs power and on-base skills. He's got a lot of problems, mostly defense related, but he's yet to reach the age of 30-years-old. If he can sign for a short deal like Burrell did, you might avoid the onset of the dreaded old-player skill-set decline. I think his next deal could be one of the most interesting deals left on the market.
Isolated Power vs. On-base Percentage: 2009 Free Agent Right Fielders
|Ken Griffey Jr.||0.346||0.205|
- You'll notice right away that there is some cross-over in the left and right field markets. I tried to keep guys in the defensive position that they would be most likely to play next season, but I had to bring in a few players to fill out right field. Players like Bobby Abreu, Ken Griffey Jr., and Cliff Floyd made the list but in reality, they probably won't be RF's in 2009.
- The baselines for league averages between LF and RF are basically the same, so if you've got a league average hitter by position in RF, he'll be a league average hitter by position in LF.
- I really like the Milton Bradley deal that the Cubs got. There is some risk involved with the deal -- Milton hasn't been a specimen of health in his career -- but he's a legitimate hitter and what really separates him from players like Adam Dunn or Ken Griffey Jr. is that he can field. Now, how much his injuries have affected his fielding ability could be up for debate, but he could theoretically play any of the outfield positions well. By bUZR, he's been above average defender in center field -- a position with some of the best defenders in the game -- over his career.
- Once you get past Bobby Abreu or Ken Griffey Jr., there's not much in the RF market. Jonny Gomes is semi-interesting because of his power, but his lack of OBP and defensive problems should keep him out of the starting lineup. He's raked LHP over his career and might find a platoon job somewhere or maybe even a bench bat.
In the next update we'll be looking at the positions of shortstop and center field.