On Saturday, my dad, my uncle, and I drove down to College Station to see Texas A&M play Texas in basketball. A&M won 74-58, and I have to say…GIG’ EM! The game was awesome, and I had a blast. After watching A&M dominate, we went and ate at DoubleDave’s Pizza, which is very good and used to be here in Dallas but shut down.
If you haven’t been reading it lately, you should check out Eleanor Czajka’s blog (http://emcmlb.blogspot.com/). It’s very good.
The Rangers have 10 outfielders in major league camp. I did an analysis of all the outfielders in big league camp, gave their chances of making the team at the end of Spring Training, and predicted the outfield roster.
Brandon Boggs – Brandon will be fighting for the 5th outfielder spot along with Endy Chavez and Craig Gentry. Brandon had just 17 major league at-bats last year, and had just one hit, but struck out eight times (striking out in 47% of his at-bats). In 2008 though, he looked good, even though he hit just .226, with 8 home runs and 41 RBI’s. His defense was strong, picking up 7 assists. With Triple-A Oklahoma last year, Brandon hit .268 with 8 home runs and 47 RBI’s. He has a good shot to make the team out of Spring Training.
Percentage chance of making the team out of Spring Training: 33.9%
Julio Borbon – Julio will be the starting center fielder this year. Last year with the Rangers, he went .312 with 4 home runs and 20 RBI’s. He also had 19 stolen bases and looked really impressive on the bases. He also played well with Oklahoma City last year, as he hit .307 and had 25 stolen bases. There is no chance of him not making the team.
Endy Chavez – Last year, Chavez spent his season with the Mariners, and hit .273 in 161 at-bats, and had 9 stolen bases, before needing surgery to repair a torn ACL after getting injured in a collision with Yunieski Betancourt while going after a fly ball. His best year was in 2006 with the Mets, where he hit .306, his only year in which he hit above .300. He doesn’t draw many walks, though, as his career high is 31. The fact that he is not on the 40-man roster will make it harder for him to make the Opening Day roster. He’s likely to start the season in the minors so that the Rangers can fully test his recovery.
Nelson Cruz – Nelson had a break-through year last year, as he hit 33 home runs and had 76 RBI’s in just 462 at-bats. He also was a threat on the bases, as Nelson stole 20 bases for the Rangers last year, while being caught stealing just four times. I don’t think that there is any question that he will be the starting right fielder for the Rangers to start out the year.
Craig Gentry – Gentry had just 17 major league at-bats, and went just 2-for-17 in them, but he is very speedy, and a great defensive player, getting named the Rangers 2009 Minor League Defensive Player of the Year. He had a great year with Double-A Frisco, hitting .303 with 8 home runs and 53 RBI’s, and made the Texas League All-Star Game. He had 49 stolen bases with Frisco, and his speed threat and defensive ability are the two reasons why I think he’ll be the team’s fifth outfielder out of Spring Training.
Vladimir Guerrero – Last year Vlad had a down year, despite hitting .295. His power numbers dipped from 27 HR’s and 91 RBI’s in ’08 to 15 HR’s and 50 RBI’s in ’09, the second lowest in both categories in seasons where he spent significant time in the big leagues. His only worse season in terms of power numbers was his rookie season, and the .295 average, although it is solid, is the worst in his major league career. Vlad will be the DH for the Rangers, and really doesn’t have any competition for it in Spring Training.
Josh Hamilton – Josh will be on the team to start the year (unless he gets injured) for sure. But the Rangers are moving him to left field, as the injury risk isn’t quite as high as in center. Josh struggled last year, hitting just .268 with 10 home runs and 54 RBI’s, and got injured multiple times, limiting him to just 89 games. That was following a monster year in ’08 in which he hit .304 with 32 home runs and 130 RBI’s. There’s no question whether he’ll be on the team this year, it’s just whether he’ll perform like he did in ’08 or like he did in ’09.
Mitch Moreland – Last year Mitch split time between High-A and Double-A Frisco, and was great at both levels. In Bakersfield he hit .341, and in Frisco he hit .326. He had a combined 16 homers and 85 RBI’s between the two levels. He really does not have much of a chance to make the team, especially since he’s a non-roster invitee.
David Murphy – David has played well ever since coming to the Rangers in 2007. Last year he hit .269 with 17 home runs and 57 RBI’s, following a year in ’08 in which he hit .275 with 15 home runs and 74 RBI’s. He will be the fourth outfielder going into Spring Training, and I would be shocked if he wasn’t the fourth outfielder coming out of Spring Training.
Chad Tracy – Like Mitch Moreland, Chad doesn’t really have much of a shot at the Opening Day roster, and is a non-roster invitee. Last year with Frisco, Chad hit .279 with 26 home runs and an incredible 107 RBI’s. That number is amazing because the minor league season is one month shorter than the major league season is. He might not have a shot to make the team, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at those numbers.
Predicted Outfield Roster:
Center Field: Julio Borbon
Right Field: Nelson Cruz
Left Field: Josh Hamilton
4th Outfielder: David Murphy
5th Outfielder: Craig Gentry
Next in Line:
Come back next week for an analysis of Rangers Spring Training Infielders and Catchers.