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.
The Marlins and Giants have some bad blood with each other. On Monday, closer Hunter Strickland had a meltdown, blowing a save after allowing three runs to the Marlins in the top of the ninth. Lewis Brinson drove in the tying run with a single. He could be seen flipping his bat and yelling something in excitement on his way to first base. Brinson ended up advancing to third before Strickland was pulled from the game. On his way out, Strickland started yapping at Brinson. In the clubhouse, Strickland punched a door in anger and broke his hand. The next day, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez hit Brinson with a first-pitch fastball, which led to Dan Straily hitting Buster Posey.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, Giants reliever Mark Melancon went on KNBR’s Tolbert and Lund to talk about Brinson’s behavior. Here’s what he said:
My perspective was that he was disrespecting the game. I’m all for being excited and being happy you got a base hit there. There’s nothing wrong with that. But holding the bat out too long and flipping the bat, then rounding first and continuing to jaw. To me, it looked like he was looking right at Strickland. That’s just showing a guy up and it’s not needed. You know? Be happy, celebrate with the team. Do it right. But don’t rub it anybody’s face. That’s not the right way to go about it.
For what it’s worth, Strickland didn’t say much about the incident after Monday’s game. Via KNBR:
If players celebrating upsets the Giants so much that one of their players gets angry, punches a door, and breaks his hand, perhaps it’s unhealthy for them to focus on such behavior. Take a new philosophical approach so that your players don’t unnecessarily wind up on the disabled list for long chunks of time.
Brinson is 24 years old and hitting .180 in his first full major league season. Of course he’s going to be pumped up when he gets a big hit. Let the players have fun rather than policing their behavior. Maybe it’ll help bring fans back to the ballpark.