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.



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

The Ludicrous Claims Women Are Pitched at “Egg Freezing Parties”

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM Syria’s “Moderate” Rebels Are Realizing That U.S. Airstrikes Help Bashar al-Assad, Not Them
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:43 AM “I Didn’t Want to Build the Next Twitter for Cats” Search funds are the quiet, dependable, risk-averse sibling to the startup. 
Oct. 1 2014 11:59 AM Ask a Homo: A Lesbian PDA FAQ
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 10:44 AM Everyone’s Favorite Bob’s Burgers Character Gets a Remix You Can Dance to
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM Watch a Crowd Go Wild When Steve Jobs Moves a Laptop in This 1999 Demonstration of WiFi
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 12:01 PM Rocky Snow
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.