Today, let’s take a look how the Top 20 outfielders looked at the end of the 2008 season. Needless to say, there are some surprising names on the list, as well as some bigger who fell just short of it.
- Manny Ramirez – Los Angeles Dodgers
- Lance Berkman – Houston Astros
- Josh Hamilton – Texas Rangers
- Matt Holliday – Colorado Rockies
- Grady Sizemore – Cleveland Indians
- Carlos Beltran – New York Mets
- Ryan Ludwick – St. Louis Cardinals
- Ryan Braun – Milwaukee Brewers
- Jason Bay – Boston Red Sox
- Carlos Quentin – Chicago White Sox
- Nate McLouth – Pirates Pittsburgh
- Bobby Abreu – New York Yankees
- Jermaine Dye – Chicago White Sox
- Nick Markakis – Baltimore Orioles
- Matt Kemp – Los Angeles Dodgers
- Johnny Damon – New York Yankees
- Ichiro Suzuki – Seattle Mariners
- Alex Rios – Toronto Blue Jays
- Vladimir Guerrero – Los Angeles Angels
- Shane Victorino – Philadelphia Phillies
Is there really much to say about the top names on the list? We all know about the Ramirez’, Berkman’s, Braun’s and Beltran’s. They are some of the best hitters in all of baseball, bar none.
Alex Rios had a disappointing season, no doubt about it. Owners were looking for him to give them a boost in power, but he managed just 15 HR on the season, a year after hitting 24. He was significantly better in the second half, hitting 11, so there certainly is hope that he rediscovers his stroke in ’09. Still, despite the lack of power, he had a solid average, scored 91 R and stole 32 bases. Good enough to be in the Top 20, but there certainly is plenty of room for improvement.
The Dodgers seem to have a plethora of OF’ers, but it was Kemp who emerged as someone who had to be in the line-up on a daily basis. He hit .290 with 18 HR, 76 RBI and 35 SB. Like Rios, owners had hoped for more power, but they got a lot more speed then they anticipated. Kemp’s power was consistent throughout the season, with 9 HR prior to the All-Star Break and another 9 after it. He also batted in every line-up spot except clean up, showing his value to the team. This is likely only the beginning for an outfielder who appears to be on the precipice of greatness.
Prior to the season I predicted a breakout campaign for Nate McLouth and he certainly did deliver, especially in the first half. I know some people are going to point to his 7 HR and 29 RBI in the second half and say that maybe he is a fluke and nothing more. I’d counter that it was just a bad stretch, especially in August, when he had just 5 RBI and hit .226. He rebounded in September, hitting .309 with 3 HR and 17 RBI. It’s possible that he isn’t a Top 20 outfielder in 2009, but he’s certainly going to be someone worth owning. We’ll be taking a closer look at him in the coming weeks.
Ichiro barely cracking the Top 20? That’s what happens when you hit .310 with just 6 HR and 42 RBI. Yes, he provided you with over 40 SB and 100 R, which is why he is still even in the Top 20, but what happened to the .351 average from ’07? That’s the type of performance owners were thirsting for.
Grady Sizemore had a great season, going 30/30 with 90 RBI and 101 R. It really was spectacular, besides the average, which came in at .268. The power fell off greatly in the second half, with just 10 HR, otherwise he really could have put up a huge campaign. He’s certainly going to be a subject for a future article, but needless to say, I don’t see another 30/30 season in his future for 2009.
Shane Victorino just squeaked by guys like Curtis Granderson, Raul Ibanez and Magglio Ordonez to take home spot #20. His strong average, 102 R and 36 SB are the reason why, as well as helping out in the HR and RBI categories. Curtis Granderson is someone we are going to look at closer next week, but he literally fell just short. He’s certainly a player who I believe can be in the Top 20 next season, having scored 112 runs in just 553 AB (only 24 in April).
Carlos Lee and Alfonso Soriano are two of the biggest names who got left off here. Both players were hampered by injuries, which certainly limited their production. Had Lee scored more runs, he probably could have snuck into the Top 20, but with just 61, he couldn’t pass some of the names ahead of him.
All eyes are going to be on Matt Holliday during this off-season. While not posting the type of power numbers we’ve become accustomed to, he showed a lot more speed then anyone could have hoped for. Is this the type of player we should expect if he were to be shipped away from Coors? If it is, he isn’t going to lose much value.
Did anyone see this coming from Ryan Ludwick? Now, the real question is if he can actually repeat it.
How about Carlos Quentin, who finally achieved the success many expected from him. The HR total was the most impressive, obviously, slugging 36 HR in just 480 AB. Had he not missed all but 4 AB in September, could you imagine the numbers he might have posted? It would appear that 40 HR would have been a luck (his lowest total for a month was 5 in June).
Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.