braun tall getty

2012 OPS projections: top 10 left fielders


A couple of names I’m sure no one expected to see make the top 10 for left field:

.957 – Ryan Braun (Brewers) – 419 AB – .994 in 2011
.914 – Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies) – 585 AB – .889 in 2011
.910 – Matt Holliday (Cardinals) – 582 AB – .912 in 2011
.868 – Josh Hamilton (Rangers) – 508 AB – .882 in 2011
.844 – Logan Morrison (Marlins) – 532 AB – .797 in 2011
.834 – Jason Kubel (D-backs) – 472 AB – .766 in 2011
.827 – Michael Morse (Nationals) – 571 AB – .910 in 2011
.812 – Alex Gordon (Royals) – 572 AB – .879 in 2011
.801 – Jason Bay (Mets) – 510 AB – .703 in 2011
.796 – Delmon Young (Tigers) – 573 AB – .695 in 2011
.796 – Carl Crawford (Red Sox) – 548 AB – .694 in 2011

– It’s a shallow list, but that shouldn’t come as any big surprise. Left fielders finished with a .728 OPS on the whole last season, compared to .782 for right fielders. Even center fielders were better, coming in at .735. 12 teams got a sub-.700 OPS from left fielders, with the Twins faring worst at .622. As terrible as Crawford was, the Red Sox still finished 13th in MLB with a .723 OPS from their left fielders.

– Even though it is so shallow, I had to go to 11 to account for the virtual tie. I had Crawford around .810 (and over 600 at-bats) before his wrist surgery last month. His projection could take a larger hit this spring based on how he’s recovering.

– I’m sure many will be skeptical about Bay, but he did rebound to .758 after the All-Star break last year and he should benefit more than anyone on the team from the Mets’ decision to bring in the fences a bit.

– When it comes to the worst, I’m sticking with the Twins: Ben Revere’s .683 is the lowest projected mark among regular left fielders. Rene Tosoni, one of last year’s preferred fallbacks, is worse at .677.

Braves and Jim Johnson reunite on a one-year contract

ATLANTA, GA - JULY 17: Jim Johnson #53 of the Atlanta Braves throws a ninth inning pitch against the Chicago Cubs at Turner Field on July 17, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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Jim Johnson enjoyed some success out of the Braves’ bullpen this season until a midseason trade to the Dodgers and Mark Bowman of reports that he has returned to Atlanta on a one-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved.

After an awful 2014 between the Athletics and Tigers, Johnson signed a one-year deal with the Braves last winter and bounced back to the tune of a 2.25 ERA and 33/14 K/BB ratio over 48 innings. He also saved nine games. However, things went south for him after a trade to the Dodgers in Los Angeles, as he put up an ugly 10.13 ERA in 23 appearances. He was left off the team’s roster for the NLDS against the Mets.

It’s unclear what role the Braves have in mind for Johnson, as Arodys Vizcaino finished the season as the closer, but they have made upgrading their bullpen a priority this winter.

Report: Barry Bonds under consideration to be the Marlins hitting coach

Barry Bonds

This shouldn’t cause any controversy, lead to a lot of people saying dumb things or provide fodder for jokes at all. Nope, none whatsoever:

In what promises to be a bombshell move, if executed, all-time great slugger Barry Bonds is under consideration to become Marlins hitting coach.

Team higherups have quietly been discussing this possibility for weeks.

That’s Jon Heyman, who reminds us that Bonds has worked with the Giants in the spring in recent years. And who, no matter what else you can say about him, was one of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen. Also worth remembering that despite his controversial past, that greatness came not just from physical gifts, naturally or artificially bestowed. It came from his approach, preparation and strategy at the plate. No one can teach a hitter to hit like Barry Bonds, but you’d think that hitters could be taught to try to approach an at bat the way Barry Bonds would. And who better to do it than Barry Bonds?

That is, if Bonds is willing to drop his seemingly ideal retired life in San Francisco, move to Miami and work for Jeff Loria for nine months a year. Which, eh, who knows? But the possibility of it is pretty fascinating to think about.

Yadier Molina’s new backup: Cardinals sign Brayan Pena to two-year deal

Brayan Pena Reds
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Veteran catcher Brayan Pena has agreed to a two-year, $5 million contract with the Cardinals, who’re investing much more than usual in their backup for Yadier Molina.

After bouncing around for a decade without getting even 250 plate appearances in a season Pena signed with the Reds and topped 350 plate appearances in both 2014 and 2015. His production didn’t improve any, as Pena hit .263 with five homers and a .652 OPS in 223 games as a regular.

Pena’s best skill is rarely striking out, which enables him to hit for a decent batting average, but he has very little power and swings at everything. He struggled to control the running game this season at age 33, but has a decent throw-out rate for his career.

Making a multi-year commitment to Pena suggests the Cardinals are no longer counting on Molina being the same type of workhorse behind the plate, which certainly makes sense given his age and injury history. Pena will replace Tony Cruz, who’s been Molina’s understudy since 2011 while hitting just .220 with five homers and a .572 OPS in 259 games.

While we wait for free agent signings: Andrew McCutchen stars in a one-act play

Andrew McCutchen
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It’s a pretty slow offseason so far. We’ve had a couple of minor signings. I guess Jordan Zimmermann is sort of a big deal. But it’s a lot more quiet so far this year than it was this time last year. I suppose there’s no real rhyme nor reason for it. Baseball offseason is long, there is no salary cap and thus there’s no rush to do things too quickly.

So, while we wait, here’s Andrew McCutchen doing his best to kill time until spring training starts: