Lost In Right Field

The sun has finally set on the Chiefs horrendous up and down season. The countdown to the Major League Baseball season can finally begin. Well at least for those of us in Kansas City. Now let’s turn our focus to the Royals. This week baseball fans saw reports from Buster Olney ranking the ten best of everything. Our Kansas City Royas came in number 9 in his outfield rankings. This gave me the idea to compare American League Central teams position by position for the next 10 weeks until Spring Training is upon us. Obviously, if something important happens with the Royals organization, I will be sure to address it. This week, I thought I would begin by examining the right fielders. The following statistics will give us a view of each player’s 2011 season.

Team Player Avg. OBP SLG OPS H 2B 3B HR RBI SB
Chi Dayan Viciedo .255 .327 .314 .641 26 3 0 1 6 1
Cle Shin-Soo Choo .259 .344 .390 .733 81 11 3 8 36 12
Det Brennan Boesch .283 .341 .458 .799 121 25 1 16 54 5
KC Jeff Francoeur .285 .329 .476 .805 171 47 4 20 87 22
Min Josh Willingham .246 .332 .477 .810 120 26 0 29 98 4

The Chicago White Sox have been extremely active this week, including trading perennial All Star right fielder Carlos Quentin. This leaves a relative unknown in right field for the White Sox Dayan Viciedo. Throughout the minor leagues Dayan has been a consistent offensive player. In 3 minor league seasons Dayan hit for an average .284 with 52 total Home Runs and 203 RBI’s. With Viciedo, the Tigers can only wait and see what type of player he will be in the major leagues. It was a big gamble to trade Carlos Quentin, but it could be an advantage for the other AL Central teams.

The Cleveland Indians have been relatively quiet all off season. The Indians have arguably the best and most consistent right fielder in the division. Shin-Soo Choo. 2011 was a down season for Choo. He battled injuries the entire season. If Choo can return to form of the previous 3 seasons where he hit over .300 and averaged 18 HR’s and 80 RBI’s he will be a force to reckon with.

The Detroit Tigers currently list Brennan Boesch as their starting right fielder on their official depth chart. Boesch has played consistently over the past two years. Boesch is still a relatively unkown player. He has produced roughly the same power numbers during his two major league seasons. In 2010 he hit 26 doubles and 14 HR’s with 67 RBI’s in 133 games. You can see above his 2011 numbers have shown growth in OBP and Slg. If Boesch continues to grow as a hitter and improve his batting average the Detroit offense will only be that much better than they already are.

The Kansas City Royals will start Jeff Franceour in right field. After signing Jeff to a 2 year extension during last season, Royals fans can only hope Jeff’s production remains close to what he produced last season. Last season’s production was well beyond expectations in my opinion. Jeff is still a free swinger and does not take a walk as you can see from his OBP. This is a stat that really scares me. If Jeff’s BABIP decreases he could experience a significant decrease in average and OBP.

That brings us to the Minnesota Twins. The Twins acquired Josh Willingham this offseason. Josh will provide the Twins with a significant power bat in the middle of the order. Josh has consistently been a 20+ home run hitter. He will provide protection to Mauer and Morneau. As with a lot of power hitters though, Josh has a tendency to strike out. Josh will not hit for a high average, but will provide that worry to opposing pitchers that he could strike with the long ball.

Now that all right fielders have briefly been discussed, I will rank them from 1 to 5 in my point of view as to how their overall production for the 2012 season will stack up.

  1. Shin-Soo Choo
  2. Jeff Franceour
  3. Brennan Boesch
  4. Josh Willingham
  5. Dayan Viciedo

In my opinion, Shin-Soo Choo will regain his form previous seasons and be a big contributor to the Cleveland offense. I believe Jeff Franceour will take a step backwards, but will still provide the Royals a solid bat in the middle of their lineup. Boesch could have a breakout season and prove me wrong for putting him third. Willingham will provide power but will not consistently hit for average so he ranks fourth. Vicideo, really is an unkown and we will have to see what he can do.

For the Royals sake, lets root for Frenchy to continue to produce close to the level he did last season and provide veteran leadership in the middle of a young lineup.

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