Friday, April 2, 2010

NL East Right Fielders

Rounding out the everyday positions, we move finally to right field...

Atlanta Braves- Jason Heyward

If not for Stephen Strasburg, Jason Heyward would be the most talked about rookie heading into 2010. The 20-year old rightfielder is thought to be the classic five-tool prospect, with the ability to hit for average, hit for power, run, field and throw above the major league norm. 2010 is only the fourth season of professional baseball for Heyward after being selected in the first round by the Braves out of high school in Georgia in June of 2007. Hayward hit .323 with 17 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 99 games at three different minor league levels in '09, and he looks to continue his progression playing full-time for the Braves in '10. As good as he may be today, and might be tomorrow, he will still hit several bumps in the road, particularly as more teams see film on him and see him for a second or third time. That being said, Heyward is expected to be the next great outfielder in the National League, and 2010 could well prove to be his coming out party.

Offense- 3... got to show me something against Roy Halladay and Johan Santana, not just spring training fodder who will be in high A in less than a month
Defense- 4... arm strength and speed don't slump

Florida Marlins- Cody Ross

Like members even of his own team, Ross has found a home with the Marlins after spending the early part of his career as a bit of a baseball vagabond. Ross, the ever so rare right handed hitting left handed thrower, hit .270 with 24 home runs in 2009, his second playing almost every day. He fits in nicely with the scrappy young Marlins, but is a bit too much like other members of the team (Dan Uggla in particular) in his propensity to swing early, swing often, strike out, and not display much speed. Ross is probably better suited to play left field than right, and as such is a below average right fielder.

Offense- 3.5... good average and power numbers, but has no speed and strikes out way too much
Defense- 2... below average

New York Mets- Jeff Francoeur

Perhaps no one in baseball needed a change of scenery more than Jeff Francoeur by the time the 2009 season rolled around. Growing up in Georgia, gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated under a title of "The Natural", followed by serious struggles that led him to a .239 hitting 2008 and a trip back to AA. Francoeur responded by hitting 61 points higher with the Mets than he did with the Braves. Whether or not he can sustain the momentum gained playing a full-year in an often anemic Met offense in a large ballpark remains to be seen. Francoeur has always been a very good outfielder, with good range and one of the best outfield throwing arms in the majors.

Offense- 2.5... not convinced he's over his struggles just year... I'd say trending upward though
Defense- 4.5... the only thing that would keep him from leading the league in outfield assists is runners and coaches wary of testing him

Philadelphia Phillies- Jayson Werth

Werth enters 2010 off of a career-year in which he hit .268 with 36 home runs, 99 RBI and stole 20 bases while making his first All-Star game. Werth will be counted upon again to put up numbers like this as the sold right handed power threat in the Phillies' lineup. Werth can drive the ball to all fields, and runs effortlessly with his abnormally long strides. A free agent to be, Werth figures to be motivated throughout the year to put up big numbers and cash in from the Yankees or Red Sox, particularly with the Phillies having to worry about extensions for Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels and Jimmy Rollins within the next few years, and phenom Dominic Brown waiting in the wings.

Offense- 4... average is a little low, but worst OBP with Philadelphia was .363 in 08... gets on base, scores runs, drives runs in, and that's the point of the game
Defense- 4... gets to a lot of balls others don't because of his stride, good arm

Washington Nationals- Willie Harris

While the Nats have done a good job of building an everyday roster of very good offensive players, the weakest known quantity lives in right field in the person of Willie Harris (and potentially Wily Taveras). Harris is a journeyman, with his fifth team since 2001 while posting a .246 career average. He walks a good bit, which mitigates his low average, particularly given his speed. A little guy, his versatility has probably kept him in the majors this long and probably will keep him around another few years. However, don't be surprised if Harris is replaced in right field sooner than later.

Offense- 2... gets on base, should try to slap the ball, not hit home runs
Defense- 3... for versatility, as he's appeared at every defensive position except for 1B and catcher

Right Field Round Up

Best Right fielder- Jayson Werth
Best Offensively- Werth
Best Defensively- Jeff Francoeur
Worst Offensively- Willie Harris
Worst Defensively- Cody Ross
Best in Five Years- Jason Heyward

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