The last of the outfield positions to be ranked, manned in Baltimore by one of the key pieces to the future. Is it weird to anyone else that Nick Markakis is going into his fifth season? And that he's considered a team veteran? Didn't he just get here?
1. Nick Markakis (Orioles) - Yeah, Nick Markakis had a down year in 2009, but I don't think that will affect him long term. Markakis went through a lot of personal changes just prior to the 2009 season. He got married, had a baby, and signed a long term contract. Who knows if and how much any of those things affected him, but I thought I'd throw them out there. Nick's biggest issue in 2009 was a lack of walks (something that Camden Crazies has been examining in detail the past couple days). If Nick's 2010 looks less like his 2008 and more than his 2009 then we might have reason to worry. Until then I think we can rest easy knowing that Nick, who is going into his fifth full season at the age of 26, is tops in RF in the AL East both offensively and defensively (not to mention he's reliable as hell, never playing less than 157 games in a season in the last three years). I personally look for Nick to have a monster year in 2010.
2. J.D. Drew (Red Sox) - J.D. Drew is a very good baseball player. Very good. Unfortunately for J.D. Drew, he just can't stay in the field for an entire season. This will be his fourth year in Boston and in his first three he averaged 128 games played per season. Over his 11 year career he's averaged 121 games per season (this doesn't include his first year when he played in just 14 games). Drew will play 2010 at 34 years of age, the oldest on this list, and who knows what injuries will keep him out of the lineup for 30 or so games this year.
3. Nick Swisher (Yankees) - Nick Swisher is the kind of guy that you either think is a hoot or a douche. I lean towards the former myself although I don't find him so amusing now that he's a Yankee. Swisher doesn't put up the numbers that J.D. Drew does but he is reliable, playing in at least 150 games each of the last four years. Swisher is good for 25ish home runs a year and gets on base a ton with almost 100 walks per year. It's good he can take a walk because his batting average isn't impressive (.245 lifetime).
4. Matt Joyce (Rays) - After spending 2009 with the Gabe of the Day platoon, it seems that right field in 2010 will belong to young Matt Joyce. Joyce isn't a rookie but doesn't have much playing time under his belt. He appeared in 92 games with the Detroit Tigers in 2008 with success, hitting .252/.339/.492 with 12 home runs. The Tigers rewarded his progress with a trade to the Rays for Edwin Jackson. Joyce played in just 11 games for the Rays in 2009, spending most of the year at AAA Durham where he hit .273/.373/.482 with 16 HR and 35 2B in 111 games.
5. Jose Bautista (Blue Jays) - Do you guys remember when Jose Bautista played for the Orioles? You don't? Well then let me educate you. Bautista spent about a month with the Orioles in 2004, the very beginning of his career. He racked up a grand total of 12 plate appearances with 3 singles and 1 walk. He was then claimed off of waivers by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. They kept him around for 25 whole days before selling him to the Kansas City Royals for some chump change. He lasted with the Royals for one month until they traded him to the New York Mets for Justin Huber and on the same day flipped to the Pirates along with current Oriole Ty Wigginton for former Oriole Kris Benson. And that was all in 2004, and it's really the most interesting thing about him. He's spent the rest of his career since 2004 being a below average hitter and a decent glove. I don't know, man, the Blue Jays.