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.
Just one week after Taylor Cole and Felix Peña tossed a combined no-hitter against Seattle, Mariners right-hander Mike Leake worked on his own perfect game through eight innings against the Angels.
It was an ambitious form of revenge, and one that Leake served up perfectly as he held the Angels scoreless in frame after frame. He sprinkled a handful of strikeouts throughout the first eight innings, catching Matt Thaiss on a called strike three in the third and getting two whiffs — called strikeouts against both Brian Goodwin and Shohei Ohtani — in the fourth.
The Mariners, meanwhile, put up a good fight against the Angels, backing Leake’s attempt with 10 runs — their first double-digit total since a 13-3 rout of the Orioles on June 23. Daniel Vogelbach led things off in the fourth with a three-run homer off of reliever Jaime Barria, then repeated the feat with another three-run shot off Barria in the fifth. Tom Murphy and J.P. Crawford helped pad the lead as well with a two-RBI single and two-RBI double, respectively.
In the ninth, with just three outs remaining, the Angels finally managed to break through. Luis Rengifo worked a 1-1 count against Leake, then returned an 85.3-m.p.h. changeup to right field for a base hit, dismantling the perfecto and the no-hitter in one fell swoop. Leake lost control of the ball following the hit, issuing four straight balls to Kevan Smith in the next at-bat and giving the Angels their first runner in scoring position. Still at a pitch count of just 90, however, he induced the next two outs in quick fashion and polished off the win with a triumphant eight-pitch strikeout against Mike Trout for the first one-hitter (and Maddux) of his career.
Had Leake successfully closed out the perfecto, it would’ve been the first of his decade-long career in the majors and the first the Mariners had seen since Félix Hernández’s perfect game against the Rays in August 2012. For their part, the Angels have yet to be on the losing end of a perfecto. The last time they were shut out in a no-hitter was 1999, at the hands of then-Twins pitcher Eric Milton.