As part of the lead-up to the season, I am ranking every team in the NL East by position and then establish a clarion dominance from one squad. Today: Outfielders.
1. Pat Burrell (PHI) (.281/.389/.504/32 HR/117 RBI/0 SB in 154 G with PHI)
2. Cliff Floyd (NYM) (.273/.358/.505/34 HR/98 RBI/12 SB in 150 G with NYM)
3. Alfonso Soriano (WAS) (.268/.309/.512/36 HR/104 RBI/30 SB in 156 G with TEX)
4. Ryan Langerhans (ATL) (.267/.348/.426/8 HR/42 RBI/0 SB in 128 G with ATL)
5. Chris Aguila (FLA) (.244/.272/.282/0 HR/4 RBI/0 SB in in 65 G with FLA)
A very talented group that now includes Alfonso Soriano, but Burrell's stats are clearly superior to those of the others. He's younger than Soriano and Floyd and he's a better hitter than Langerhans and the sorry excuse for a starting outfielder Aguila. Floyd had a season on the rebound and he became one of the first sluggers to conquer Shea, where he put up an OPS more than 120 points higher than on the road (.927 at home versus .805 on the road). Burrell's stats, despite playing in a much smaller park than Floyd, Langerhans, and Aguila, represented a comeback from his disappointing 2003 and 2004 seasons. Those seasons he put up OPS+ numbers of 89 and 110, while this year he put together a season with a 125 OPS+, although still far from his career high of 149 OPS+ in 2002. Pat the Bat is also a Metslayer, having smacked 14 homers against the Metropolitans in 193 AB over the last three years. Aguila, although a disappointing fifth outfielder in his major league career, put up strong stats last year in 35 games at AAA Albuquerque (.355/.412/.630/7 HR/25 RBI/8 SB). Langerhans is an interesting character as he put together a strong season in terms of getting on base, but a weak season as far as power was concerned, as he hit 20 homers at AAA the year before. The case for ranking Soriano third is argued similarly to the case against acquiring him, except RFK is an even tougher park to hit in than Shea.
1. Andruw Jones (ATL) (.263/.347/.575/51 HR/128 RBI/5 SB in 160 G with ATL)
2. Carlos Beltran (NYM) (.266/.330/.414/16 HR/78 RBI/17 SB in 151 G with NYM)
3. Aaron Rowand (PHI) (.270/.329/.407/13 HR/69 RBI/16 SB in 157 G with CHW)
4. Ryan Church (WAS) (.287/.353/.466/9 HR/42 RBI/3 SB in 102 G with WSH)
5. Reggie Abercrombie (FLA) (.274/.317/.485/15 HR/45 RBI/19 SB in 76 G with High-A Jupiter)
Here exists two wealthy All-Stars, one with eight straight gold gloves and 300 HR and one who's a back-to-back all star with a near 40-40 season under his belt and five 100-RBI seasons during his time. One was born on April 23, 1977 and the other on April 24, 1977. Although the slightly older one put up gaudy statistics, the 119 million dollar man put up stats comparable to those of #3, Aaron Rowand, who was acquired for Jim Thome. Andruw Jones had arguably his greatest year ever, as he put up phenomenal power numbers and his VORP went from 28.6 to 52.8. His average and OBP rose narrowly, but everything else went through the roof. Beltran was a disappointment. Although one can argue his speed (42 SB/3 CS to 17 SB/6 CS) was affected by nagging injuries all year, his power failed to translate to the Mets and he became mostly a singles hitter, as his VORP dropped from 65.5 last year in between Kansas City and Houston to a disgusting 17.6 in Flushing this year. Mike Cameron had an equal VORP. Despite all of his struggles last year, Baseball Prospectus gives him a 48% chance to improve and predicts a season of 23 HR, 81 RBI and a .283 batting average. The Phillies made a move by snagging the former World Champion centerfielder. Rowand is arguably an upgrade over the Jason Michaels/Kenny Lofton platoon in centerfield, despite the fact that Lofton hit .335 and Michaels hit .304, while Rowand hit .270. Lofton also stole 22 bases, more than Rowand. Yet Rowand has more power and is a player in his prime, while Lofton is obviously over the hill. Church is a promising prospect, after he put together a strong half-season in the District of Columbia last year. Abercrombie is an utter joke, as he was a 25 year-old in the Florida State League last year. He's the proverbial five-tool prospect who has never been able to put it all together, similar to an Alex Escobar, Jason Tyner or Alex Ochoa, guys who dominated the Mets' minor league system during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
1. Bobby Abreu (PHI) (.286/.405/.474/24 HR/102 RBI/31 SB in 162 G with PHI)
2. Jose Guillen (WSH) (.283/.338/.479/24 HR/76 RBI/1 SB in 148 G with WSH)
3. Jeff Francoeur (ATL) (.300/.336/.549/14 HR/45 RBI/3 SB in 70 G with ATL)
4. Jeremy Hermida (FLA) (.293/.457/.518/18 HR/63 RBI/23 SB in 118 G with AA Carolina)
5. Xavier Nady (NYM) (.261/.321/.439/13 HR/43 RBI/2 SB in 124 G with SDP)
A down year from Abreu where he was nearly surpassed in NL East right field supremacy by the newcomer National Guillen and the hot prospect Francoeur. He still put together his seventh consecutive 100-walk, 20 SB, 20 HR season, something utterly phenomenal. Most of his homers were hit during the Home Run Derby, as he jacked a tournament record 41 dingers, while his post-All Star numbers were disappointing: .260/.376 /.411/6 HR/44 RBI. He is also clearly on the downside of his career, something that does not bode well for future Abreu seasons. Guillen, deposed hothead from LAA of A, came over to the Nationals for Juan Rivera after irreconcilable differences with manager Mike Scoscia. At 29, he still has some good years left in him, and, after a very strong first half last year (.310 BA, 18 HR), Guillen needs to fight the demon of trailing off during the latter half of the season. Francoeur put together a nice rookie season with the Braves, as he hit a solid .300 after a midseason call-up. Francoeur also tied for the league lead in outfield assists. However, he started to flame out at the end of the season (.235 BA in September/October). Braves fans must hope that it was fatigue from a long season, not that pitchers were finally learning how to get him out. The battle between Xavier Nady and Jeremy Hermida for the bottom of this list wasn't even close. Hermida, while young and inexperienced, put up great numbers at AA last year. He demonstrated power, speed and an even more remarkable statistic: 111 BB, 89 SO. He demonstrated excellent patience at the age of 21, something boding well for his future prospects. Another thing to note is that he smacked 4 homers in 41 AB as a September call-up for the Marlins. He had a memorable first career at-bat, which was a grand slam. He also hit .293, which was his average for the whole season. Nady is a platoon player at best: a prospect who has failed to harness his power. He's versatile and certainly has potential, but he probably won't do much for the Mets.
That was fun. Rotations later?