Josh Fields is a player with plenty of power, though he was lacking a true position in 2008 as well as a promising batting average. A 3B by trade, the team had shifted him to the outfield during his rookie campaign of 2007. With a glut of veteran options, Fields began ’08 in the minor leagues. When Joe Crede’s injuries presented an opportunity, he responded by posting this line:
32 At Bats
.156 Batting Average (5 Hits)
0 Home Runs
0 Stolen Bases
.229 On Base Percentage
.188 Slugging Percentage
.333 Batting Average on Balls in Play
Maybe these aren’t the statistics we should be studying, though they are extremely telling. His 2007 season are a much better sampling, though we can shoot holes through those very easily as well.
His 23 HR in just 373 AB is very impressive, but it came with a HR/FB rate of 22.3%. That would have ranked him among the elite in the league in 2008, just outside the Top 5 and ahead of vaunted power hitters like Manny Ramirez (22.2%), Alex Rodriguez (22.0%) and Albert Pujols (20.7%). Is that really something that we should expect him to be able to duplicate?
What do I need to say about the .244 average he posted? It came with a realistic BABIP of .302. He struck out a ridiculous 33.5% of the time, and while I would expect that number to come down a bit, I’m not really sure that it will. During his minor league career, his K% was at 30.39% over 1,685 AB. That’s an awful long track record of striking out to simply ignore and is going to make it difficult for him to hit for a decent average.
Playing time does not appear to be an issue as we head into 2009, with Joe Crede remaining unsigned as a free agent. Of course, the team had the opportunity to use him for an extended period last season but opted to use other options after Fields struggled so mightily. What’s to say that a slow start won’t prompt the team to utilize a different player there? Wilson Betemit perhaps? The White Sox are looking to not only compete, but to win the AL Central, making it doubtful that they give him a very long leash.
With all that said, let’s take a look at what I’d expect from Fields in ’09:
.249 (92-370), 13 HR, 41 RBI, 37 R, 3 SB, .324 BABIP, .319 OBP, .403 SLG
Obviously, he’s not a player I’m high on him heading into 2009. He strikes out way too much and I don’t believe the power he showed back in 2007. Without the long ball, the White Sox are likely to grow tired of his poor plate discipline and low average, limiting his plate appearances and therefore his value.
What do you think? Do you believe his power? Is he a player you want for ’09?