COMMENTARY: After looking at the starting catchers of the National League last time, today we move onto the left fielders. While most of the formula in this selection process is based on numbers from 2013, a few may remain slightly higher if there is reasonable expectation for them to return to form in 2014.
15. Junior Lake/Chicago Cubs- Lake broke on the scene in the middle of summer and finished with six homers, but only 16 RBI in 64 games. He hit .284, but a lot of his sizzle went with the heat of summer. He also struck out more than once a game, 68 times overall.
14. Christian Yelich/Miami Marlins- Yelich is the other flank to Giancarlo Stanton, but also had a successful summer in the heat of Miami. He hit four homers, but also stole ten bases as he hit .288. He had no errors in 62 games, which means the Marlin defense only gets better with Yelich around.
13. Michael Morse/San Francisco Giants- Hate seeing Morse this low, but after hitting only .215 between Seattle and Baltimore, he doesn’t look like the 30+ homer guy he was in Washington two seasons ago. He hit 13 homers in 88 games and only one of his four errors came in the outfield in 2013.
12. Ryan Ludwick/Cincinnati Reds- The Reds definitely need more than 38 games out of Ludwick now that Choo has left for Texas. There is hope that he can get back to his stellar 2012 that he produced 26 homers and 80 RBI while hitting .275 in 126 games.
11. Khris Davis/Milwaukee Brewers- Another youngster on the edge of the horizon. In 56 games, he hit 11 homers and ten doubles while driving in 27 runs and batting .279. He makes the left flank of a pretty formidable outfield with Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun.
10. Carl Crawford/Los Angeles Dodgers- The Dodgers will be dealing with four OF for three positions. Crawford will draw left field as he began to look like he was rebounding to the form he was in Tampa Bay. In 116 games, Crawford hit 30 doubles and stole 15 bases while hitting .283. He may not be the homer threat of old, but he has found his legs again and may move up the chart if he steals more.
9. Drew Stubbs/Colorado Rockies- Stubbs will be moving from right field to left after leaving Cleveland for Colorado. Last season as a member of the Tribe, he committed six errors in right. Only two other players committed more than five in our left field list, that being Dominic Brown with nine and Bryce Harper with 11. Stubbs hit 10 homers and stole 17 bases, but needs to get on more than his .233 average would seem to do.
8. Domonic Brown/Philadelphia Phillies- Brown gave the Phillies reason for hope in the future as he bashed 27 homers and drove in 83 runs while hitting .272. He also added 21 doubles and eight stolen bases. His nine errors are a reason for concern as most of the Phillies are an older core, but his numbers should continue to improve in 2014.
7. Carlos Quentin/San Diego Padres- Quentin’s injuries held him to 82 games, the lowest total since his second season in Arizona in 2007. He did hit 13 homers, 21 doubles and drive in 44 runs while hitting .275 and only committed one error defensively. The Padres are hoping for a return of health that earned him two All Star appearances while a member of the Chicago White Sox.
6. Starling Marte/Pittsburgh Pirates- In his first full season in the ‘Burgh, Marte produced 26 doubles, ten triples, 12 homers and 41 stolen bases, the most as a Pirate since Tony Womack won the steals title back in 1998. He hit .280, but committed five errors in left in 135 games.
5. Curtis Granderson/New York Mets- Granderson comes to the other side of New York City hoping to bounce back from an injury filled 2013. He was limited to 61 games and hammered out only seven homers and 13 doubles while hitting .229. The Mets are hoping for similar success to his run at AL MVP in 2011 when he hit 41 homers, ten triples, stole 25 bases and led the American League in runs scored (136) and runs batted in (119).
4. Mark Trumbo/Arizona Diamondbacks- Trumbo comes to the desert fresh off a 34 homer season as an Angel. He drove in 100 runs, hit 30 doubles, but hit only .234. He also moves from first base, where he committed eight errors to left field, where he committed only one error in 2013.
3. Justin Upton/Atlanta Braves- Upton left the desert for Atlanta and became a world beater over the first two months of 2013. He ended with 27 homers, 27 doubles, 70 RBI and eight steals, while hitting .263. He committed only four errors in left for the Braves and will be in season two of sharing the outfield with his brother and Jason Heyward in Atlanta.
2. Bryce Harper/Washington Nationals- Harper continued to grow off his 2012 National League Rookie of the Year award. His offensive numbers were pretty similar to that first season, as he hit 20 homers, drove in 58 runs, hit 24 doubles and reached double-digit steals with 11. Unfortunately, he also committed 11 errors in left, which was up from eight total errors in 2012.
1. Matt Holliday/St. Louis Cardinals- While Harper is the future great left fielder, Matt Holliday is the present. Originally brought to the Cardinals to play second fiddle to Albert Pujols, Holliday’s stay has lasted beyond Albert’s time in the Gateway to the West’s city. Last season, Holliday hit 22 homers, 31 doubles drove in 94 runs and hit .300 for the eighth time in his ten year career. He committed only one error in 141 games in left for the Redbirds.
That is the look at the National League left fielders. Next time, we look at center field, home of the reigning National League MVP, Andrew McCutchen.
Statistics gathered at Baseball Reference.com