BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com senior blogger
Some may think of left field as that position where a youth baseball coach would hide his worst player. In Major League Baseball, it’s quite the contrary, In fact, many former center fielders, who had a younger player with a tad more defensive skills bump them out of their former positions, will usually move just one spot left. It also seems like a lot of the games top power hitters call left field their home. We’ll look at both cases in today’s blog of the top 10 left fielders in the game today:
10. Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins (.260 BA, 35 HR, 110 RBI, 2.9 WAR) – One of the most underrated power hitters in baseball.
9. David Murphy, Texas Rangers (.304 BA, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 10 SB, 3.2 WAR) – One of the most underrated players in baseball.
8. Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics (.292 BA, 23 HR, 82 RBI, 16 SB, 3.4 WAR) – Great rookie season from the defected Cuban, expect more in 2013.
7. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies (.303 BA, 22 HR, 85 RBI, 20 SB, 1.3 WAR) – Big platoon split due to Coors Field.
6. Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals (.294 BA, 14 HR, 72 RBI, 10 SB, 6.2 WAR) – Excellent defensive fielder with an improved bat.
5. Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals (.295 BA, 27 HR, 102 RBI, 3.8 WAR)
Holliday is one of the great sure things in baseball. Consistently reliable slugger who drives in runs and generally does things well. One of the things he doesn’t do well is defend, or really have great range, at least not anymore. Regardless, he’ll be a big factor the Cardinals yet again.
BY ROB WHITE, Feedcrossing.com syndication
April is in the books and the Dodgers have led the charge in the NL. The Cardinals have found life without Pujols is not so bad and the Nationals sure can pitch, but can they score some runs?
As is always the case, some players have come from out of nowhere to surprise with their production while others have been flat out terrible. We’re only one month in so much will change, but with a full calendar month now in the books it’s time to nominate April’s National League all-position team.
• Catcher – Buster Posey, Giants – Posey has been nothing short of brilliant in his return from last year’s devastating injury. His .353 batting average was 4th best in the NL during the season’s opening month. He has also swatted 4 homers to go along with 9 RBI. (runner up: Yadier Molina)
• First Base – Freddie Freeman, Braves – Back in March we pegged Freeman as the NL East’s top first baseman. He now exits April as the top first sacker in the league. Freeman is batting .283 with 4 long balls and 18 RBI. (runner up: Adam LaRoche)
• Second Base – Jose Altuve, Astros – Altuve has been scorching the ball to the tune of a .360 batting average. He has also swiped 4 bases, scored 15 runs and driven in 10 for the offensively challenged Astros. He is likely to come back to earth a bit, but there is no denying he was tremendous in April. (runner up: Daniel Murphy)
• Shortstop – Starlin Castro, Cubs – He finished April with a .33 batting average and an MLB best 10 stolen bases. He hasn’t homered yet, but he has 5 doubles, 2 triples and 14 RBI. Castro is also an outstanding defensive player. (runner up: Rafael Furcal)
• Third Base – David Freese, Cardinals – He hasn’t cooled off after his incredible October. Freese ranks 3rd in the NL with 23 RBI. He has also belted 6 home runs and is batting a crisp .333. (runner up: David Wright) (more…)
For part seven of Couch Side’s 12 part series on the best baseball players by position for 2012, I’m going the be showing a lot of love for the National League’s top left fielders. This list was an easy pick before I remembered that Ryan Braun’s suspension had been lifted. So although I don’t agree with his actions, until the man is proven guilty, he’ll lead off Couch Side’s list of the best in L.F.
Like it or not, Ryan Braun was the N.L. MVP last season. And hate it or love it, he will be playing this season despite some faulty handling of his drug test. With that out of the way, let’s focus on how this guy plays. Braun almost won the Triple Crown last season, falling just short in each category by the slimmest of margins. By hitting for power and contact last year, Braun proved that he may just be the best hitter in baseball. And it’s hard not to call a guy who hit 33 bombs, 111 RBIs and carried a .332 batting average just that. You never saw guys like Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire hit for average. That’s why it’s hard for me not to love Ryan Braun just a little. He may have cheated, but at least he didn’t gun for the single season home run record. Instead, he was Mr. Baseball last season. And if he is completely innocent, I feel like he could be one of the best of all time. After all, the guy is an extremely talented outfielder, feared hitter and a threat on the base paths with 33 swipes last season.
If Hamilton can avoid injury and any sort of bad press by “relapsing,” he may just have a breakout season this year. It’s a stretch to say a former MVP is still capable of a breakout season, but Hamilton is due after missing solid stretches of time during the past two summers. We all know he is capable of 30 or even 40 home runs and is a lock to secure 100 RBIs. With a full season, he may just throw his name back into the MVP hat and Hamilton will certainly be looking to improve his numbers, considering this is the final year of his contract.
Three months ago, Ryan Braun tested positive for elevated amounts of testosterone. Two months ago, Ryan Braun was named the NL MVP. Last month, Ryan Braun’s positive test was brought to the attention of the entire nation. And last Saturday, Ryan Braun accepted his Most Valuable Player award in front of hundreds of people amid the scandal.
“The best thing he (Alex Rodriguez) can do is come out, admit to everything and be completely honest. The situation will die a lot faster if he tells the whole truth.” That was Ryan Braun’s response when asked about A-Rod’s link to performance enhancing drugs in 2009.
“Sometimes in life, we all deal with challenges we never expected to endure. We have an opportunity to look at those challenges and view them either as obstacles or opportunities. I’ve chosen to view every challenge I’ve ever faced as an opportunity, and this will be no different.”