March 2, 2011

2011 Position Preview: Right Field

Garrett Jones returns this year and with the first base experiment apparently over, should see most of his playing time in right field. He won't technically be an everyday player to start the seaosn, but he'll start against all righthanded pitchers which will give him at least 110 starts if he stays healthy.

Jones was a revelation in 2009, then trailed off after a strong start last year to finish with pretty mediocre numbers. He had some bad luck in 2010 and wasn't really used in the right manner, so his true talent lies somewhere in the middle.

2009: 82 games, .293/.372/.567, 45 Runs, 21 HR, 44 RBI, 10 SB
2010: 158 games, .247/.306/.414, 64 runs, 21 HR, 86 RBI, 7 SB

Garrett's unimpressive numbers last year are a result of 230 plate appearances against lefthanded pitching in which he hit .220/.261/.360. No one has questioned his ability to hit righthanders, so I expect his rate stats to rebound considerably. He also hit much better as a right fielder last year than while he was also struggling to learn first base at the big league level.

2009 unquestionably was a career year, but I'm expecting Jones to rebound somewhat in 2011. In around 400 at bats I expect him to hit .270/.340/.460 with 50 runs, 15 home runs, 65 RBI and nine steals.

Platoon Partner: Matt Diaz
The Pirates brought in Matt Diaz on a two year, $4.25 million deal. He'll start in right field against lefthanders. He'll also be the primary backup to Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen - Diaz won't play center field but Tabata will shift over when McCutchen gets a rare day off. Diaz has been inconsistent in recent years but certainly has the ability to be an effective platoon player.

2008: 43 games, .244/.264/.304, 9 Runs, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 4 SB
2009: 125 games, .313/.390/.488, 56 Runs, 13 HR, 58 RBI, 12 SB
2010: 84 games, .250/.302/.438, 27 Runs, 7 HR, 31 RBI, 3 SB

Diaz lost 2008 to a knee injury, then had problems with his right thumb in 2009 and 2010. He still compiled a career year in '09 and then hit .285/.335/.530 for the rest of the season after returning from the thumb injury in June 2010. If he can stay healthy for the Pirates, he's a great bat to have on the roster. For his career he's hit an unreal .335/.373/.533 against lefthanders.

Diaz will get over 300 at bats if healthy, but I'm going to be more realistic and count on 250. I expect him to hit around .280/.330/.490 with 30 runs, 9 homers, 36 RBI and four steals.

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