2012 OPS projections: top 10 right fielders

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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.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman not considering demoting struggling Greg Bird

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Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.

GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”

Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.

Chris Archer threw behind Jose Bautista

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
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Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.

Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.

The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.