2012 OPS projections: top 10 left fielders

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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.

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.