American League Left Fielders Can't Hit at All This Year

A blog about politics, sports, media, stuff
May 26 2011 4:15 PM

American League Left Fielders Can't Hit at All This Year

Carl Crawford, the left fielder who signed a $142 million contract with the Boston Red Sox in December, went 4 for 4 with a home run and a double last night. That raised his batting average to .229 and his on-base plus slugging percentage— OPS , the simplest all-purpose measure of a hitter's production—to .599.

For comparison, fading 39-year-old Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, who got into a public dispute with team management over the prospect of being dropped to the bottom of the batting order, has an OPS of .664. Rickey Henderson, ending his major-league career in a short stint with the Dodgers at the age of 44, had an OPS of .627 .


But if Henderson could put up those numbers today, he might be able to hold down a job. (Note to general managers: he's only 52, and he's almost certainly willing .) Crawford is only the most expensive and visible example of the fact that American League left fielders have been incomprehensibly bad this year.

Left field is supposed to be a hitters' position. On Bill James' defensive spectrum , which ranks the positions by the relative importance of bat work to glove work for each, left fielders come just after first basemen and designated hitters.

Yet in the 2011 batting tables, AL left fielders are below even catchers and second basemen. Far below them. The average AL left fielder is batting .227 with no patience and no power, on pace for about 13 home runs and 65 RBI, with 52 walks and 138 strikeouts. In 2,615 at-bats, left fielders have a collective .637 OPS. That puts them more or less in a tie with third basemen—that is, third basemen in 1968 , the notorious Year of the Pitcher .

Tom Scocca is the managing editor of Deadspin and the author of Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future.



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 1:52 PM Julian Casablancas’ New Album Sounds Like the Furthest Thing From the Strokes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.