A Preliminary Look at the 2010 AL East Offenses - Part 3

The final look at Bill James' projections will focus on the Orioles young outfield. In Part 1 I drooled over Matt Wieters, in Part 2 I went into fantasyland, and here in Part 3 I will bask in the talent of the Orioles outfield.

It's hardly news to anyone here that the Orioles outfield is one of the most promising in baseball. All four outfielders will be 26 or younger on Opening Day 2010, all have shown a lot of promise, and one has already established himself as one of the most solid outfielders in the MLB. There will surely be discussions here about what exactly to do with the outfielders given that over the course of 2009 four of them showed they are capable of being starters. Should Nolan DH with Pie in LF? Would the outfield be better with Pie in CF and Jones in LF? Is Pie too good to be a 4th OF? Should he be traded for something the Orioles need more? These are the best kinds of questions to have because they all revolve around the actual talent of the players. It's a far cry from the O's outfields of recent past (Players to man the outfield for the Orioles from 2005-2008: Jeff Fiorentino, Eli Marrero, Eric Byrnes, 40 year old B.J. Surhoff, Jay Payton, Corey Patterson, Jay Gibbons, Tike Redman, 40 year old Jeff Conine, Luis Matos, David Newhan, Sammy Sosa, Larry Bigbie, Brandon Fahey, Luis Terrero, Freddie Bynum, Lou Montanez, Luke Scott, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis).

I'm going to operate under the assumption that the Orioles outfield will be, from left to right: Nolan Reimold, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis, with Felix Pie being the 4th outfielder who hopefully gets a good chunk of playing time. It's also safe to assume that at least one of the starters will have some injury problems (*cough* Adam Jones) and it would be nice to have someone competent to fill in.

Right Field

Nick Markakis' 2009 was something of a disappointment. After watching his batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage increase each of his first three years in the majors, they all took a step back in 2009. His walks were nearly cut in half from 2008 to 2009 which resulted in about a 50 point drop in OBP. It was disheartening to watch, but I'm not worried about Nick. I'm sure he'll be just fine. Of course, if it happens again in 2010 I will probably have a melt down.
Nick Markakis
G
AB
H
2B
HR
R
RBI
BB
K
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
James '09 projections
159
598
185
46
22
104
99
83
99
.309
.396
.503
.899
Markakis '09 stats
161
642
188
45
18
94
101
56
98
.293
.347
.453
.801
James '10 projections
161 630
189
47
21
101
103
72
103
.300
.374
.481
.855


Really, if you think about it, Nick's plate discipline was the only real thing that took a hit in 2009. Will that stick in the future? I don't think so. Whatever was happening with him I have the confidence that he'll be able to get it together. zknower hypothesized that the trade of Aubrey Huff took a toll on Nick, and FanGraphs pointed out that he started swinging more at pitches outside the strike zone and less at pitches inside the strike zone. FanGraphs also talks about his defensive dip, but I won't bother with that as one year of defensive data is hardly incriminating. I think in 2010 those numbers will go back up, he'll hit 40-45 doubles and 20ish home runs, and he'll take a few more walks. James has his OBP projected to .374, obviously affected by his 2009 season. That's not the .400 I hope to see from Nick, but it would have been tops on the team this year.

James '10 Projections
G
AB
H
2B
HR
R
RBI
BB
K
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
Nick Swisher
150
507
125
32
26
85
80
90
131
.247
.365
.467
.833
J.D. Drew
142
498
134
30
22
90
76
91
119
.269
.385
.474
.859
Matt Joyce
120
375
97
27
17
59
60
49
92
.259
.346
.483
.829
Jose Bautista 121
369
89
21
13
51
48
48
90
.241
.335
.409
.744


Man. Look, I know the Orioles suck. They lost 98 games, they have a bunch of question marks, they're not in any place to point fingers. But wow, do the Blue Jays have a lousy lineup. It wasn't that long ago that the Blue Jays outfield looked pretty sweet with Alex Rios manning right and Vernon Wells in center. They signed them both to extensions (Wells' was ridiculous from the get-go, but Rios' didn't seem too bad) and then they both started to stink. They're stuck with Wells; no one is going to take him when he makes $20M a year. They gave Rios to the White Sox for nothing but payroll relief and he played even worse there. So now it looks like their option in RF is Jose Bautista. He played LF for most of the year but after Rios left he moved to RF to make room for prospect Travis Snider. I took a glance at John Sickels' Pre-2009 prospect list and there doesn't appear to be anyone waiting in the wings, so barring a FA signing or trade, it's Jose Bautista.

Matt Joyce played just a handful of games at the big league level in 2009 but he seems to be the heir apparent to RF in Tampa Bay. Joyce, you might remember, was traded to the Rays by the Tigers in exchange for Edwin Jackson. Joyce has had two successful seasons in AAA so it seems there's nowhere left to go for him but up. The Rays re-signed Gabe Kapler to a 1 year deal so I'd imagine he'll get a chunk of time in RF as well.

J.D. Drew played 137 games in 2009. I predict he will play anywhere from 75-150 games next year. Dude tends to get hurt, but he's a great player. I would be very happy if Nick Markakis grew up to be a J.D. Drew clone who plays at least 155 games every year. A lot of people think Nick Swisher is a tool, but he can play. He makes up for his low-ish batting average with a ton of walks. I would be very happy if Nick Markakis grew up to be Nick Swisher plus 50 points on BA.

Verdict: I'll take Nicky every time. He's the youngest of any of them besides Joyce, he's always healthy, and he'll throw your ass out at second if you try to run.

Center Field

Oh Adam Jones. You're the center fielder of my dreams. You've made me forget all about the center fielders I adored as a young girl. Brady who? Devo what? You hit home runs, you leap over walls, you blow bubbles. You're just plain cool. And you're only 24! Thanks for coming into my life.

Adam Jones
G
AB
H
2B
HR
R
RBI
BB
K
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
James '09 projections
150
480
134
24
15
71
65
30
108
.279
.326
.444
.770
Jones '09 stats
119
473
131
22
19
83
70
36
93
.277
.335
.457
.792
James '10 projections
154
571
162
29
22
95
83
40
115
.284
.336
.468
.804


Adam Jones is the yin to Nick Markakis' yang. In the perfect scenario, Nick is the well rounded hitter who gets on base a lot and has some pop but isn't going to mash. Adam Jones is always going to strike out some, probably won't take that many walks (although I would like to see him improve), but he'll hit you some home runs. I think 22 is a conservative estimate for Adam. He came out of the gate in 2009 absolutely crushing the ball. Then he had a few injuries and started to slump a little and couldn't quite get HR #20. He hit #19 on August 5th but then only played 20 more slumpy games before being shut down with an ankle sprain. I don't know that he'll do it in 2010, but if Adam can even himself out some and stay healthy, he'll hit 30 home runs.

James '10 predictions
G
AB
H
2B
HR
R
RBI
BB
K
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
Brett Gardner
104
325
90
11
3
63
28
45
58
.277
.368
.368
.744
Jacoby Ellsbury
157
635
192
32
9
106
62
52
73
.302
.360
.420
.780
B.J. Upton
142
507
135
30
13
59
75
67
136
.266
.354
.414
.768
Vernon Wells
144
549
149
33
19
77
77
43
75
.271
.327
.443
.769


Life is good in center field. Well, unless you're Vernon Wells. Not only is Vernon Wells 5 years older than the next oldest CF (Ellsbury), he's not all that good defensively, he can't hit, and he plays in Canada.

B.J. Upton is a mystery. While his defense is top notch, his hitting in 2009 was just atrocious. After putting up monster stats in 2007, his numbers dropped in 2008 and were anemic in 2009 as he hit .241/.313/.373. He's been touted as one of the best young talents in baseball for a number of years, but the future is cloudy for him. I honestly have no idea what to expect. Bill James projects him to be better than in '09 but worse than he was in 2008. He'll be just 25 years old on Opening Day with 513 big league games under his belt so he's already ahead of the curve. I think he has plenty of time to get it together.

Jacoby Ellsbury just finished his second full big league season and is a good guy to have on your team. In 331 career games he's stolen 129 bases with a nearly 85% success rate. He doesn't have power but he gets on base a lot and steals pretty much all the time. He hasn't posted an OPS+ over 100 in either of his two full seasons, but if he can learn to take a few more walks he could be a force at the top of their lineup. His BB% in 2009 was just 7.3%, easily worst among AL East leadoff batters. Roberts, Jeter, and Scutaro all had BB% over 10% and B.J. Upton was at 9.2%.

It might be Brett Gardner for the Yankees next year, it might be Melky Cabrera. Gardner looked like he'd get a lot of playing time in 2009 but kept getting injured. Neither of them can really hit, but Gardner runs circles around Cabrera defensively.

Verdict: Dr. Jones is the best CF in the AL East.

Left Field

While there was no doubt who would play right field and center field in 2009, left field wasn't as settled. Luke Scott wanted to play there but got sent to DH, Felix Pie was supposed to get a shot but got pulled after a few weeks, and Lou Montanez somehow got in there a bit as well. All the while Nolan Reimold just chilled at AAA Norfolk, hitting .394/.485/.743 with 18 BB, 9 HR and 11 2B in 31 games before injuries to Adam Jones, Luke Scott, and Lou Montanez forced the Orioles to call him up. Once they did Nolan didn't give them a chance to even act like they would send him back down and left field was his for the rest of the year. He was truly one of the brightest spots of 2009. Nolan hadn't spent any time above AA before 2009 so Bill James didn't do any projections for him.

Nolan Reimold
G
AB
H
2B
HR
R
RBI
BB
K
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
Reimold '09 stats
104
358
100
18
15
49
45
47
77
.279
.365
.466
.831
James '10 projection
152
538
157
34
29
84
105
68
102
.292
.373
.524
.898


Remember I said before that Bill James tends to be pretty optimistic about young guys without much historic data? I'll try to keep that in mind, but when I first read those numbers I may have clapped my hands like I was Felix Pie beating out a throw to third. I mean, if Nolan Reimold can hit like that? If he can hit 29 HR in his second big league season? I won't even know what to do with myself.

James '10 Projections
G
AB
H
2B
HR
R
RBI
BB
K
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
Matt Holliday
155
605
191
43
27
105
109
66
112
.316
.391
.531
.922
Jason Bay
153
560
150
32
32
99
103
88
159
.268
.374
.504
.878
Carl Crawford
140
528
156
24
12
82
62
36
84
.295
.346
.439
.786
Travis Snider
141
527
145
35
26
82
90
65
159
.275
.357
.493
.850


Yes, I made Matt Holliday a Yankee. I mean, it's inevitable, isn't it? Or maybe the Red Sox will sign him and the Yankees will settle for Jason Bay. Either way, the chart works. And can I say, left field is stacked. No offense to Adam Jones or Felix Pie, but this right here is why you don't move Reimold to DH and put one of them at LF. If Reimold can possibly put up numbers like the ones Bill James projects, that means he can play with the big boys. Yes, his defense is sometimes questioned, but it's left field. He'll be ok.

Verdict: Try not to get your hopes up too much, try not to get your hopes up too much, try not to get your hopes up too much.

And Felix

I can't leave him out, can I? Felix went from curiosity to object of disdain to most likable Oriole over the course of the season. This kid is awesome.

Felix Pie
G
AB
H
2B
HR
R
RBI
BB
K
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
James '09 projections
143
498
138
26
12
70
59
33
94
.277
.320
.407
.727
Pie '09 stats
101
252
67
10
9
38
29
24
58
.266
.326
.437
.763
James '10 projections
143
345
94
18
11
53
42
27
71
.272
.325
.443
.769


James predicts that Felix will be a little better than he was in 2009. I don't know if that's true. I don't know what to believe. I know I like this kid way more than I probably should, and once I get an emotional attachment it's hard for me to be rational (see Scott, Luke). But those of us who watched Felix Pie in 2009 know that he's was like two different baseball players. If you divide his games right down the middle (so it doesn't look like I'm cherry picking), here is what you get:

First Half: 50 G, 114 PA, 3 2B, 2 HR, 10 BB, 25 K, .235/.304/.363
Second Half: 51 G, 167 PA, 7 2B, 7 HR, 14 BB, 33 K, .287/.341/.487

I know, I know. That's not enough to tell what he'll be in 2010. I agree. But his improvement was so remarkable. We saw it with our own eyes . Who knows what will happen to him, but if he can hit like that over a whole season then he can't sit on the bench. He can't. If he can hit like that over a whole season, you have to find a place he can play every day, even if it's (sniff) on another team.

I love our outfield. Here's a quick side-by-side of the OFs in the O's Division.

Orioles
Blue Jays
Rays
Red Sox
Yankees
Nick Markakis
Jose Bautista
Matt Joyce
J.D. Drew
Nick Swisher
Adam Jones
Vernon Wells
B.J. Upton
Jacoby Ellsbury
Brett Gardner
Nolan Reimold
Travis Snider
Carl Crawford
Jason Bay
Matt Holliday

Obviously Holliday is the best player on the board, but taking the outfields as a group? It's close, but I'll take the O's.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Camden Chat

You must be a member of Camden Chat to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Camden Chat. You should read them.

Join Camden Chat

You must be a member of Camden Chat to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Camden Chat. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker