Sep 28, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; A baseball fan catches Baltimore Orioles right fielderRyan Flaherty
(not pictured) three run home run during the second inning as Toronto Blue Jays left fielderBen Revere
(7) leaps for it at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Trying to rank left fielders in the division is rather comical, but here was what I thought before the year. Three of the teams couldn’t decide on a left fielder and employed numerous people at the position. Another was an utter disaster in the field, and another continued to underwhelm, considering his contract.
So, I will try to sort things out, but it isn’t easy.
For the left fielders, rankings will include anyone who started 10 or more games at the position,
- Boston Red Sox – Hanley Ramirez, Allen Craig, Daniel Nava, Bryce Brentz
- New York Yankees – Brett Gardner, Chris Young, Ramon Flores
- Baltimore Orioles – Alejandro De Aza, David Lough Delmon Young, Steve Pearce, Henry Urrutia
- Tampa Bay Rays – David DeJesus, Brandon Guyer, Mikie Mahtook
- Toronto Blue Jays – Michael Saunders, Kevin Pillar, Andy Dirks, Chris Dickerson
End of Season Rankings
The Toronto Blue Jays received a career year from Chris Colabello, and they boosted their left field with the edition of Ben Revere for two minor league pitchers during their shopping spree at the trade deadline.
Revere played in 56 games for the Blue Jays, hitting .319 with 19 RBIs, 35 runs, and 7 stolen bases.
The soon-to-be 32-year-old Colabello was a revelation for the Jays. He hit .321 with a .520 slugging percentage. Colabello increased his career RBIs from 56 to 110, almost doubling his career total. He did double his career totals in both home runs and RBIs. And, if you have seen the playoffs, Colabello has started almost every game for the Jays.
Together, the two started the majority of the games in left. Danny Valencia also had a career year, but most of his success came after being traded to Oakland and being able to play every day. Pillar was a defensive whiz, but saw most of his games in center field.
2. New York Yankees – Brett Gardner, Chris Young
Brett didn’t have a great season, finishing with a .259 batting average, 16 HR, 66 RBIs, 94 runs, and 228 total bases. Gardner stole 20 bases in 151 games.
He also had his worst defensive numbers of his career, with a negative dWAR. There just isn’t much more to say about Gardner. At this point he is a .260 hitter, who will get about 15 HRs and 20 SBs each year. Certainly not exactly what the Yankees expected when they paid him the big bucks, but then the Yankees pay a lot of people big bucks.
Young played in 140 games, but only about 40 of those were at left field. Young did well in his role for the Yankees, hitting for the best average (.252) of his career.
DeJesus played the most games in left for the Rays, but he was traded to the Angels before the trade deadline, as the Angels tried to make a run toward the playoffs. DeJesus played in 82 games for Tampa Bay, hitting .259 with five HRs, 26 RBIs and 24 runs. However, once DeJesus was traded, he was abysmal for the Angels, hitting .125.
At this point, the Rays know what they are getting from Sizemore and Jennings, and the answers are close to not much. Guyer played in 128 games for Tampa Bay, with a .265 average, eight HRs, 28 RBIs, 10 SBs, and a major league leading 24 HBPs.
Butler also showed that he could have a role as a utility player for the Rays moving forward in his opportunities at various positions.
Hanley Ramirez started 92 games in left field for the Red Sox. And if you look at his offensive stats, he probably should be second on this list. That is how atrocious his defense was. He committed four errors in left field, but his range was awful. Ramirez was constantly getting turned around, misplaying balls off the Green Monster, and it didn’t get better as the year went on.
Offensively, Hanley’s first year was decent. He hit .249 with 19 HRs, 53 RBIs, 59 runs, and 100 hits. But the fact that his defense was so bad that he lost his starting job raises questions, especially since he made just shy of $20 MILLION dollars in 2015.
Castillo and Bradley are both expected to be part of the future outfield for the Red Sox, along with Mookie Betts. Both struggled offensively at times but began to show at the end why they might be main pieces for the Boston.
Alejandro De Aza was supposed to be a starting LF for the Baltimore Orioles. Instead, he was traded fairly early in the season for minor league pitcher Joe Gunkel, and he would be traded again by the Red Sox before the end of the year.
To say things didn’t work in left field for the Orioles would be an understatement. De Aza was traded, Snider was released, Lough was released, Pearce likely would have been released if not for an injury, and then there was Reimold.
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Reimold played fairly well when he got consistent at-bats at the end of the year, but by that point it was too late for the Orioles. Pearce struggled to start the year, and so his play in left field was not great either.
The stats are just abysmal, and it is hard to pick out just a few players to list numbers, because all five of these guys saw lots of time in left.
When you have five left fielders, it probably means you have none. That was certainly the case for the Orioles in 2015.
LF is one area where the team needs to upgrade this offseason. This could be re-signing Chris Davis and moving him to left, re-signing Gerardo Parra, bringing back Pearce or Reimold and hoping for more, or going after another player.
I would like to see the Royals’ LF Alex Gordon in black and orange next year personally, as he plays great defense and would bring a patient approach to the team.