What amazes me the most about the OF this year was the health of the collective group. There were really only four guys all year that actually played with any regularity. With Soriano’s injury history, that surprises me a little.
Alfonso Soriano – Love him or hate him, but the fact remains that he improved his game this year as compared to 2009. That was one of the things we said at the beginning of the season was key. We needed Soriano and Geovany Soto to step up their games. Obviously we’re never going to get the 40 HR and 40 SB guy anymore. It’s important to come to grips with that. We’re also not going to be able to move him before his contract is out. That being said, we need to evaluate him not based on his contract that this point, but rather based on normal expectations for an above average OF.
This year he saw some power return, especially when you factor in the doubles, which were almost two times what they were in 2009. That helped him get that OPS over .800, which is my benchmark for evaluation. In the field, I think he got a lot better once the season went on. Obviously we’re not talking about a gold glove guy out there, but his defense wasn’t atrocious as it has been in the past. Unfortunately he’s in the tail end of his career so we’re probably not going to see much more from him next year. As for this year, I’ll take it. Grade: C+
Marlon Byrd – We’ve seen our share of free agents come to Chicago and vastly under perform. Byrd is not one of them. His defense was spectacular, which surprises me because his body type doesn’t remind me of someone who would have as much range as he does with his short and stocky frame. There were a good amount of writers and commentators that questioned the move. There was a general opinion that 2009 was a fluke year for Byrd and that he’d show his true colors in 2010. Instead we saw a guy that played hard every day, got on base more than he did in 2009, and played the most games in a season in his entire career. I like what I saw from Marlon Byrd and I’m excited that he’s not signed for a terrible albatross of a contract. Grade: A
Kosuke Fukudome – It’s time to wake up and realize exactly what we have with Fukudome. We don’t have a cross between Ichiro and Hideki Matsui as was originally pitched to us in scouting reports. What we do have is a guy that can draw walks. We have a guy that doesn’t strike out near as much as it looks like he would based on how he looks when he does it. We have a guy that can play RF very well, which is tough to do with the sun at Wrigley Field. Lastly, we have a guy that is paid far too much to do all of those things. If Jim Hendry can move him this off-season he needs to try. Random note: Fukudome finished with the highest OPS+ (Adjusted OPS) of all the Cubs outfielders in 2010. – Grade: C+
Tyler Colvin – I’ve been a Colvin guy since the day he was drafted. I’ve praised him and consistently said he wasn’t an overdraft in the first round, but rather a bargain considering what they paid for him in signing bonus. We saw a nice year, for a rookie, from Tyler. In the end, there are some major areas in his game that need to show improvement for him to be a legit player in the league. There are a lot of guys that can hit 20+ homeruns if given the chance, but there aren’t very many that can do it while also hitting for contact and putting the ball where it needs to be when it needs to be there. As nice as it was to see Tyler hit for power, it will be even nicer to watch if we can see him strike out less and get on base a little more and stay out of the way of flying bats. Grade: B-
Final 2010 Cubs Stats