Saving the best for last, here are the top 10 right fielders:
1.008 – Jose Bautista (Blue Jays) – 547 AB – 1.056 in 2011
.958 – Justin Upton (D-backs) – 574 AB – .898 in 2011
.911 – Mike Stanton (Marlins) – 560 AB – .893 in 2011
.868 – Jason Heyward (Braves) – 513 AB – .708 in 2011
.866 – Shin-Soo Choo (Indians) – 548 AB – .733 in 2011
.861 – Jay Bruce (Reds) – 570 AB – .814 in 2011
.856 – Hunter Pence (Phillies) – 597 AB – .871 in 2011
.853 – Nelson Cruz (Rangers) – 493 AB – .821 in 2011
.839 – Andre Ethier (Dodgers) – 563 AB – .789 in 2011
.833 – Nick Markakis (Orioles) – 612 AB – .756 in 2011
– Technically, the first base list was a little stronger, but that’s because I included Miguel Cabrera there. Put him at third base instead and right field would take the cake. Right field also has plenty of depth, with Nick Swisher, Corey Hart, Michael Cuddyer and Carlos Beltran all projected for OPSs over .820. In all, I have 18 right fielders projected higher than the No. 9 left fielder.
– Of course, this top 10 list is assuming that there will be some bounce-back seasons, most notably from Heyward, who had an .849 OPS as a rookie in 2010, and Choo, who came in at .883 in 2009 and .885 in 2010. Choo is the safer bet there. Heyward’s talent is undeniable, but he could go in a lot of directions this year, and I may adjust his projection based on how his reworked swing performs this spring.
– As for the bottom of the list, well, it’s another Astro, of course. Brian Bogusevic places last among semi-regular right fielders with a .690 OPS projections. I don’t see anyone else who projects as truly abysmal. Josh Reddick is next on the list with a .712 OPS. Ichiro comes in at .721.
Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?
Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.
Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.
Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.
Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.
Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.