[Note by hugo, 03/10/09 8:32 PM EDT ] Moved from Fanposts!
RF in the AL East was a bit easier to rank. At the top we have 2 players still trying to develop themselves into the elite OFs, after that there are injuries, poor performances, blocked players and unproven talent. It will be very interesting to see the developments in 2009 with respect to all of these players.
1. Alex Rios (TOR)
I, along with all Jays fans am hoping that Rios can put together 2 consistent halves to a season for a change and finally reach his 30HR potential. Under Cito in the 2nd half last year he seemed to find his power stroke so combining that with his .290+ average Rios could well become an elite OF with .290/30HR/30SB/100R/100RBI stat line. I think if he’s ever going to do it this will have to be the year, if not he’ll be passed on this list by Markakis next year.
2. Nick Markakis (BAL)
Markakis has continued to make slow progress as a major leaguer but hasn’t really broken out as expected. His HR and RBI both dropped off a bit in 2008 however is average and OBP both increased. He did hit 48 doubles in 2008 and is only 24 years old so the power could well come this season. He’s a lock for 20HR, 10SB and a .300 average but could finally break out and post 30+ HR, either way he’s #2 on this list easily with the potential to be #1 if Rios doesn’t develop as hoped and Nick does.
3. JD Drew (BOS)
Drew constantly seems to get bit by the injury bug. Although when he’s healthy he has always had the ability to produce solid numbers. Last year in 368 ABs he hit 19 HR and drove in 64, so if healthy he could hit 25HR and drive in 90-100 runs but that is a big if. Hitting in Fenway and with all the protection in the lineup though Drew will produce when he’s in the lineup.
4. Xavier Nady/Nick Swisher (NYY)
Either one of these guys given an everyday job could out produce JD Drew. But because there is going to be time split I had to bump the tandem down a notch in the rankings. Nady is coming off a career year where he hit .305/25HR and 97 RBI, being that he is in the prime years of his career he should be able to re-produce those numbers with everyday at bats. Swisher on the other hand is coming off a bad year in Chicago, although he did hit 24HR he only managed a .219 average and 69 RBI. With his ability to take a walk and power potential he possesses Swisher could hit 30HR and drive in 100 again with everyday at bats. It will be interesting to see how the Yankees lineup plays out but as of now it seems that Damon, Nady, Swisher, Gardner and Cabrera will be splitting time in the 3 OF spots and DH which diminshes all of their value.
5. Matt Joyce (TB)
Is the most unknown of the group. He was dealt to TB from Detroit in the off-season for Edwin Jackson which made room in the rotation for stud SP David Price. In Joyce the Rays get a guy who will hit a HR, walk or strikeout. This will likely keep his average in the .250 range but his 20+ HR will be a nice addition to the lineup in TB.
The tally so far:
New York: 27
Tampa Bay: 25