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 Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers


Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.


The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
Dear Prudence
Oct. 23 2014 6:00 AM Monster Kids from poorer neighborhoods keep coming to trick-or-treat in mine. Do I have to give them candy?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 8:51 AM The Male-Dominated Culture of Business in Tech Is Not Great for Women
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 9:00 AM Exclusive Premiere: Key & Peele Imagines the Dark Side of the Make-A-Wish Program
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.