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NL Central Positional Throwdown: Rightfield Edition

Wow. This was probably the toughest group to give an order to. A lot of quality players playing right field made it a fun contest to break down.

Chicago Cubs Right Fielder: Milton Bradley

I'll say this first- I could have gone with Hunter Pence, Jay Bruce, Ryan Ludwick or Corey Hart here, and had good arguments for each. I decided to go with Bradley based on his potential to flourish playing for the Cubs. After signing Kosuke Fukudome to a free agent contract before the 2008, Chicago hopes that Bradley will become the offensive threat that Fukudome never really became. After a video game type season last year with Texas, Bradley signed the aforementioned deal with the Cubs. A good athlete, Bradley should be able to play a good right field as well. He is an injury concern, however, but if healthy he has the potential to be a moster. Points Awarded: 6


Milton Bradley [pictured on the right] is all smiles in Chicago

Houston Astros Right Fielder: Hunter Pence

After coming in like a lion in 2007, Pence was much more lamb-like in 2008. He struggled to adjust to an increased percentage of breaking balls. His BABIP dropped precipitously, and as a result, his batting average tanked. On the plus side, while his strikeout percentage stayed the same, his walk rate rose in 2008. That should help the ol' OBP rise, which makes him even more vulable. The next three guys on this list, Jay Bruce, Corey Hart, and Ryan Ludwick are all projected to have lower OBPs than Pence. Another reason to be high on Pence: an extremely low LD% in 2008 should increase this season, while his uptick in FB% should continue as well, probably meaning more HRs this season. Points Awarded: 5

Cincinnati Reds Right Fielder: Jay Bruce

Jay Bruce's 2008 rookie campaign was a sandwich. The pieces of bread were tasty- Bruce was hot coming in, and finished strong as well.  They were two slices of jalapeno cheese bread. What went in between the bread wasn't so tasty-his OPSs in June, July and August never rose above .730. These middle three months were like three sardines in the sandwich. Basically, I had to ask myself: do the ends make up for unpleasant middle? To an extent, yes, but not enough to place him above Pence or Bradley. He struck out a lot in those months, a trend that should continue into this season. Be that as it may, Bruce has a strong history mashing in the minor leagues, so a rebound year should occur. The difference between Pence and Bruce truly was negligible. In terms of WARP Bruce actually wins, 3.7 to 3.5, and  in VORP Bruce squeaks by with a 29.4 to 29.3 win. Still, I like Pence based on his ability to steal a few more bags and his stronger arm in right. Points Awarded: 4


Jay Bruce hopes to have more jalapeno cheese bread type months

Milwaukee Brewers Rightfielder: Corey Hart

Corey Hart is the lone 20/20 guy on this list. There is a great deal of value in that, obviously. Where Hart hurts himself and his team is his total inability to take a walk. Not that anyone on this list outside of Milton Bradley is an extremely patient hitter, but Hart swings, and swings, and swings. Through the month of May, Hart had an extremely respectable OBP. After June, his numbers in that category were Bourn-like. His decline culminated in a ridiculously poor September, toting a line of .173/.192/.437 into the finish line. This season Hart looks to rebound, but unless he changes his approach, I don't really see him coming around. His defense and baserunning are above average, and he is a base stealing threat. Hart is valuable, no doubt, but his free swinging ways hamper him a great deal. Points Awarded: 3

St. Louis Cardinals Rightfielder: Ryan Ludwick

Wait a second! How is an All Star this low??? Ryan Ludwick had an OPS+ of 150 last season! He was equally good against both left handed and right handed pitching last season, to boot. What gives? What gives is that Ludwick  made this leap when he was 29 going on 30 years old. That means his peak seasons are gone. He's a bit like an Astro minor leaguer- old. He stuck around in the minors until he was 28. Not to take anything away from Ludwick. His power numbers should stick around for a few more seaons, though that .299 BA in 2008 was a little BABIP induced. A nice story, nonethless, and a solid player. Points Awarded: 2

Pittsburgh Pirates Rightfielder: Brandon Moss

A former prospect in the Red Sox system, Moss came over in the Jason Bay trade. He hasn't had a full season under his belt so far in his major league career, but he has put up respectable minor league numbers. Everything about Moss tells me that he is going to be an ok right fielder- his contact rate, his walk rate, defense, and base running. He lacks a great power bat, but again he's more than ok. His competition looks to be the likes of Craig Monroe and Eric Hinske. Points Awarded: 1

Total Points through 9 Comparisons:

Chicago Cubs-43

Milwaukee Brewers-40

Houston Astros-32

St. Louis Cardinals-30

Cincinnati Reds-27

Pittsburgh Pirates-19