NL West in Review: Left Fielders

Barry Bonds must have set a hex on the NL West.

In 2009, the Dodgers had easily the most talented left fielder in the division.  When Manny received his infamous suspension, Juan Pierre made sure that Los Angeles didn't miss a beat.  

Gerardo Parra appeared on the Rookie of the Year ballot.  

The Rockies saw Seth Smith and Carlos Gonzalez emerge from the bench and minors to become their most dangerous left-handed bats in the lineup.

And yet, the Giants still finish atop the WAR rankings, even though I'm pretty sure every player the Giants played in left field received death threats from MCC.  How did they do it?  UZR, of course.

Teams

Players

Avg

HR

RBI

OBP

SLG

wOBA*

WAR

1. San Francisco

5

.269

11

59

.328

.411

.340

4.66

2. Los Angeles

4

.302

18

86

.407

.469

.377

4.57

3. Colorado

5

.268

20

74

.332

.440

.346

3.94

4. Arizona

6

.265

13

82

.319

.310

.402

2.10

5. San Diego

8

.250

12

76

.325

.371

.320

0.24

With the positional RAR set at -7.5, here is your chart:

Nlwestlf2009_medium 

The actual player rankings hold some certain surprises for you:

This time, I have included the full rankings.  I'm still messing with the format, so let me know if this blinds you:

Nlwestlf2009play_medium

For the raw data and calculations, check this Google Docs link.

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Arizona

2009 in Review

One of the great surprises in the above list is Eric Byrnes' appearance higher on the list than rookie Gerardo Parra.  The crash test dummy did almost all of his offensive damage in 2009 as a left fielder, while his UZR far outpaced any of his brethren.  It turns out somersaults are worth 0.5 UZR each.  Parra, meanwhile, treated D-Backs fans to a rookie season slightly above average with both the bat and glove. 


2010 in Preview

Parra is only 22, so his rookie season was notable.  Arizona should feel confident going forward with Parra as their primary left fielder in 2010, although he doesn't have the ceiling of a Carlos Gonzalez.  Josh Byrnes will likely purge Eric Byrnes and his $11mil salary before the season starts.  

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Colorado

2009 in Review

Even though Seth Smith did his best work from the bench and had only a half season's worth of PA's from LF, the former Rebel was within a stone's throw from the NL West's top spot.  Mr. Late Night hit and scored a run from all nine slots in the batting order and hit lefties at just 25 OPS points lower than vs righties.  Carlos Gonzalez was strong in his 133 PA, while Ryan Spilborghs provided a strong glove and average bat from the right side.


2010 in Preview

If Dan O'Dowd indeed moves Brad Hawpe, the job will belong to Seth Smith.  If not, the Rockies' outfield carousel will continue, forcing Smith to give up ABs to CarGo and Spilly.  The Bill James projection, usually optimistic for batters, projects a 14-point wOBA drop from Smith to .369.

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Los Angeles

2009 in Review

Even after being suspended for 50 games, Manny Ramirez achieved the most PAs among NL West LF's.  He led the divison in every stat except batting average and UZR.   Juan Pierre replaced Ramirez admirably, enough that his contributions in even surpassed Manny.  But even after having the top two LFs in the division in 2009, they were only second to the Giants.

 

2010 in Preview

Ramirez will make $20mil in the second and final year of the contract he signed with Los Angeles on March 4.  He is the clear starter for 2010, even though his bat speed has started to slow.

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San Diego

2009 in Review

The top rated Padre was a rookie first baseman thrown out to left field for 53 PA's, ranked 13th.  That should tell you what you need to know.  Chase Headley was the main starter, but the converted third baseman is still clearly trying to find his way as an outfielder, and he struggled with the bat most of the year, at least until he took over for an injured Kouzmanoff at third.  


2010 in Preview

With Kouzmanoff entrenched still as the third baseman, Chase Headley will be stuck in left field again in 2010.  He is under complete team control financially, so it would be especially nice for San Diego if he lived up to the 31-point wOBA leap Bill James is projecting from him in 2010.

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San Francisco

2009 in Review

The Giants were the surprise winner from the 7-spot.  All five players who played there achieved positive UZRs, including John Bowker, giving the Giants 2.5 WAR just on defense.  Eugenio Velez hit very well in left (yet struggled at second), while Fred Lewis and Randy Winn provided notable value in spite of pedestrian offensive numbers.

 

2010 in Preview

This spot may be the most interesting to follow in the offseason.  Jason Bay and Matt Holliday have been linked to the Giants, but it appears San Francisco will favor multiple smaller fish instead.  The club's 2009 WAR in LF is pretty flukey, as multiple players hit better in LF than at other positions, and I don't quite trust that UZR.  It would be a good place to improve.  If no one is added, that Velez/Lewis/Torres/Schierholtz hodgepodge will continue.

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