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NL West Outlook: Outfielders

We've done outlooks on the catchers, first baseman, second basemanthird baseman, and shortstops, now its time to review the outfielders. This is the Dodgers' biggest strength heading into the '09 season. Our outfield might be the best in the entire league.

I'll be ranking the teams based on their total projected 2009 WAR (wins above replacement) for each position. I'll be using the spreadsheet provided here by Beyond the Box Score. Marcels projections will be used to project playing time. If correct playing time is not being accounted for in the projections, I will adjust the plate appearances to equal projected playing time . I will calculate wOBA by averaging the wOBAs projected by Marcels, CHONE and ZiPS.  For fielding I will use the projections provided here.

5. San Francisco Giants


Hitter PA OBP SLG wOBA Hit BR Pos Fld WAR FA $ WAR
Lewis 478 0.346 0.415 0.338 0.18 0 -0.75 0.1 2.03 $5.10 1
Velez 347 0.314 0.395 0.313 -1.34 0 -0.75 0.1 0.51 $0.40 0
Rowand 574 0.341 0.426 0.338 0.18 0 0.25 0 2.93 $9.40 2
Winn 599 0.344 0.412 0.335 0 0 -0.75 0.7 2.45 $7.90 1.7
Schierholtz 252 0.336 0.461 0.346 0.67 0 -0.75 0.4 2.82 $4.20 0.8


Fred Lewis is the Giants' starting left fielder for '09. He's a decent hitter and also pretty athletic, but that doesn't translate over to his defense. Aaron Rowand was signed to a 5 year, $60 million contract before last year. His defense is overrated and he's starting to decline as a hitter because of injuries and age. His contract would be pretty tough to move right now. Randy Winn is a decent player who plays the weird right field at AT&T Park very well. His defense is good enough that he could play center if the need arose. Nate Schierholtz should be the right fielder once Winn leaves, he's got the best power on the team right now, which isn't saying much. Eugenio Velez is a speedy utility player, although he's a putrid infielder.

4. San Diego Padres


Hitter PA OBP SLG wOBA Hit BR Pos Fld WAR FA $ WAR
Headley 536 0.339 0.426 0.338 0.18 0 -0.75 0 1.93 $7.10 1.1
Floyd 274 0.337 0.409 0.331 -0.24 -0.1 -0.75 -0.2 1.21 $2.50 0.3
Gerut 498 0.345 0.458 0.351 0.97 0 0.25 0 3.72 $12.30 1.7
B. Giles 582 0.372 0.413 0.35 0.91 0 -0.75 0.8 3.46 $13.40 2.5
S. Hairston 410 0.314 0.456 0.334 -0.06 0 -0.75 0.5 2.19 $6.20 0.9


Chase Headley was brought up as a third baseman but was moved to left field because of the presence of Kevin Kouzmanoff. He should be fine there for the time being. Jody Gerut had an impressive year (.296/.351/.494) with San Diego last year after bouncing around with Cleveland, Chicago, and Pittsburgh in the last few years. We'll see how much of that line he can maintain. Brian Giles is still plugging away with high OBP's, although he's lost much of his power. One underappreciated aspect of his game is hisgreat defense. Scott Hairston has very good pop for a 4th outfielder, while Cliff Floyd will be used mostly as a pinch hitter.

3. Colorado Rockies


Hitter PA OBP SLG wOBA Hit BR Pos Fld WAR FA $ WAR
S. Smith 582 0.357 0.455 0.358 1.4 0 -0.75 0.2 3.35 $11.10 2.4
Spilborghs 575 0.37 0.451 0.362 1.64 0 0.25 -0.9 3.49 $11.50 2.5
Fowler 386 0.344 0.396 0.329 -0.37 0.1 0.25 -1.1 1.38 $2.60 0.5
Hawpe 583 0.376 0.493 0.377 2.56 -0.1 -0.75 -1.5 2.71 $8.70 1.8


Seth Smith was a 25 year-old rookie last year. He's got good plate discipline and should be the regular left fielder this year, but he's got some stiff competition. Ryan Spilborghs was stuck in a 4th outfielder role the last few years but he's got the talent to be a starter. He's turning 30 this season so don't expect much improvement out of him. Brad Hawpe is the biggest name, but he's actually the worst of the regulars because of his awful defense. Dexter Fowler is the big X-factor. Fowler is the Rockies' top prospect and made the team as a fourth outfielder out of spring training. He's a 23 year old switch hitterwho's oozing with tools. If he can step up and play in the majors then Spilborghs could shift over to left and Smith would be the fourth outfielder. The Rockies also have the extremely talented Carlos Gonzalez (acquired in the Matt Holliday trade) who should be up at some point in '09. They are set in the outfield for years to come.

2. Arizona Diamondbacks


Hitter PA OBP SLG wOBA Hit BR Pos Fld WAR FA $ WAR
C. Jackson 554 0.377 0.456 0.367 1.95 0 -0.75 -0.1 3.6 $11.40 2.5
Byrnes 382 0.323 0.433 0.333 -0.12 0.2 -0.75 0.9 2.73 $5.90 1.2
C. Young 612 0.324 0.473 0.346 0.67 0.1 0.25 -0.1 3.42 $11.90 2.6
Justin Upton














Conor Jackson switched over from first base in the middle of last season to allow Chad Tracy to get into the lineup, since they have no better alternatives. The D-Backs were so starved for outfielders that they traded away Micah Owings and others for Adam Dunn in their failed push for the playoffs. They probably wish they hadn't traded Carlos Quentin a year ago. Chris Young is a nice player in center but needs to improve his OBP to take the next step. This year both Eric Byrnes and Justin Upton hope to stay healthy and improve upon their '08 seasons. Byrnes battled injury problems all year so will now be forced to come off the bench in spite of his contract (2 years, $20 million remaining). Justin Upton was the youngest position player in the major leagues last year and is universally regarded as a future superstar. Hopefully that won't be for awhile yet.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers


Hitter Pos PA OBP SLG wOBA Hit BR Pos Fld Rep WAR FA $ WAR
M. Ramirez LF 584 0.396 0.53 0.399 3.9 0 -0.75 -0.75 2 4.4 $16.90 3.7
Pierre LF 378 0.326 0.355 0.31 -1.52 0.25 -0.75 0.9 2 0.88 $2.50 0.5
Kemp CF 560 0.348 0.476 0.36 1.52 0.2 0.25 -1 2 2.97 $11.10 2.4
Ethier RF 548 0.364 0.53 0.364 1.77 0 -0.75 0 2 3.02 $11.00 2.4


There will be at least one more year of Manny being Manny with the Dodgers after he signed a 2 year, $45 million 1 year, $25 million deal last month. Manny is the best outfielder in the best outfield in the division. With 9 WAR, the Dodger outfield can compete with any other outfield in the major leagues. One key for the outfield is for Manny to stay healthy. Although he was healthy for most of '08 he missed at least 29 games in each of the two years before that. If Manny's defensive projection looks wrong it's because I changed it from -15 to -7.5 runs. I read an article somewhere abot how Fenway artificially deflates left fielder's defensive numbers because of the Green Monster but I can't find it. Evidence of this is that Jason Bay was 7.5 runs worse in the field than he had ever been before last year and Manny was around average defensively once he got traded to the Dodgers. That and his extra motivation (he can be a free agent next year) made me comfortable with cutting his defensive projection in half. Xeifrank of Dodger Sims seems to agree with me. He only projected Manny for -5 runs defensively.
Matt Kemp has all of the talent in the world and is hoping that his new contact lenses  can help him be more disciplined at the plate. I think his defensive projection is very pessimistic, if you think he'll be around average in the field you can bump him up to 3.2 WAR, furthering the Dodgers lead. Andre Ethier is expected to regress but should still be pretty good. Also, the projections can't account for the effect Manny's presence in the lineup will have on the rest of the hitters. Juan Pierre is a great fit as a fourth outfielder but trading away his contract would be a huge help. Andrew Lambo is about the only guy in the farm system expected to help in the outfield the next couple of years, but the outfield is good enough that they won't need anyone else.