In case you’ve missed the first part of this series, here are some links for you to read through.
Also, just in case you missed in, be sure to download the interview we did with Len Kasper last week that previews the Cubs 2007 season. You can find it at The Big League Baseball Report. Remember to sign up via iTunes, E-mail, or RSS when you’re there so you can always be updated when the new podcast hits the airways. Alright, let’s VORP the LF position for us.
1. Manny Ramirez – 66.1
Simply put, Ramirez arguably is the best all-around righthanded hitter in the league. He hits lefties and righties equally well, has tremendous power, even to the opposite field, and is not afraid to take the occasional free pass. His quick hands and good bat speed mean he is able to turn on most any pitch. Opposing pitchers will nibble around the corners against him with sliders and curves, not because Ramirez can’t hit them, but because anything over the middle to him is asking for trouble. ~ STATS Inc.
2. Matt Holliday – 56.8
Ask most common baseball fans outside of Colorado who this guy is and most will have no clue. However, in only his second full year in the majors, Holliday is quickly becoming one of the best LF in the game. With Manny another year older and the rest of this top five less than dominant, there is no question in my mind that Matt Holliday could be considered the best LF in the game next season. Mark it down in your books. He will lead this category next season.
3. Jason Bay – 49.7
Bay showed somewhat surprising power in his rookie season, pulling balls to left field with good loft in his swing. He also used the gaps well, especially the spacious left-center one at PNC Park. Bay can handle the best fastballs and sliders, though he can be made to chase slow stuff out of the strike zone. He showed good plate discipline in the minor leagues but has not displayed that skill so far in the majors. ~ STATS Inc.
4. Alfonso Soriano – 48.2
Well, we upgrade our LF with the number four guy in the majors. I’ll take that any day of the week.
For the fourth straight season, Soriano struck out at least 120 times and failed to draw 40 walks. He will swing at anything. When he’s in a groove, he can hit almost anything, but he is prone to long slumps. He will start to lunge at pitches and gets off balance. Then the strikeouts come in bunches.
Baserunning & Defense
When Soriano arrived in Texas, he made it clear he intended to stay at second base, because, he said, he was a two-time All-Star at the position. It certainly wasn’t based on defense. For the fourth consecutive year, he led all second basemen in errors. Most of those errors are “lazy” errors that seem to come when Soriano gets tired. As he wore down, the errors started piling up. Soriano’s stolen-base total dropped off in 2004, but that was more because he spent most of 2004 in the No. 3 hole. In the three previous seasons, he averaged 40 steals a year. ~ STATS Inc.
5. Carl Crawford – 41.1
A serious case could be made that this guy is one of the most electric players in the game today. He hits for average, can field his position very well, has average power and, oh yeah, can steal bases like the great Lou Brock. Want some proof? Here’s a clip of the game last year when CC swept for the cycle. It doesn’t get much better than that.
14. Matt Murton – 16.2
For as much junk as Murton took last year, he really had a decent rookie campaign. Here is a graph that shows Murton’s OBP compared to the league average for the first two years of his career.