Right Field… When we are little, right field is the place coaches try to hide the ‘not so talented’ players. When you go to little league games, the right fielder is the one picking dandelions or staring up at the sky. But as we well know, that’s not the way it works once you hit the pros.
Let’s take a look at the AL West…We’ve got Nelson Cruz (Rangers), Torii Hunter (Angels), Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners) and well, we don’t really know who’s going to be there for the A’s (Athletics) just yet.
Nelson Cruz has been a regular fixture in right field for the Rangers for the past 3 years. He’s had some injury issues that have kept him from playing in any more than 128 games, but Nelly – the ‘Boomstick ‘ – is still one of the primo right fielders in the league.
Cruz has stayed steady during the season with a .267 batting average, but he really got things going during the playoffs, coming through with several key hits (bombs!). For a bigger guy, he’s pretty quick on his feet and has a great glove (not counting Game 6 of last year’s World Series…we’ll forgive you with time, Nelly).
With the arrival of the lightning quick Peter Bourjous to the Angels, veteran Torii Hunter was moved to right in the 2011 season. Hunter registered 156 games with a batting average of .262 (the first time since 2005 it has fallen under .270).
Hunter had a tendency to come up with some clutch hits, but also struck out in some key situations. His OBP was way below where it’s been in the past couple of seasons. Since the Angels’ brought up the rookie Trout last season and with Hunter’s age is starting to pose some questions about his worth in the outfield, it’ll be interesting to see what happens to Mr. Hunter this season.
Onto the Mariners- what happened to the days of Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey? Seriously, Mariners what happened? Luckily for the Mariners, they’ve had one ray of sunshine, in the form of Ichiro Suzuki. For the past 10 years, Ichiro has been consistent in games played, on base percentage and average (2011 was the first season he hit under .300). He’s a whiz on the bases and can cover a ton of ground in a heartbeat. Say thank you Seattle, this guy has kept butts in your seats for years.
The A’s seem to be having some trouble hanging onto their outfielders as of late. They lost Josh Willingham and David DeJesus to free agency and Ryan Sweeney and Jai Miller in the past couple of weeks. They were able to sign Coco Crisp (best…name…ever…), and I know that guy is fast, but seriously?!?! Is he going to cover the whole outfield by himself? There’s plenty of time before Spring Training, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
As far as right fielders in the AL West go, we’ve got small guys, we’ve got big guys with bats, we have it all. Just keep an eye on these guys this summer….they’re fun to watch.