Hamilton hopes to give Angels boost in right
The Los Angeles Angels got plenty of production in right field last year from Torii Hunter.
They didn't get Josh Hamilton-like production though. They're hoping that's the case this year as they are putting the big free agent signing in right field in what on paper could be the best outfield in baseball.
Hamilton isn't the only solid outfielder in right though. Nelson Cruz has been to an All-Star Game and Josh Reddick won a Gold Glove in his first year in right.
Here's a look at the rankings in right in the American League West.
1. Los Angeles – The Angels have the best right field in the West despite its everyday right fielder having made a total of 60 starts in right. But that's what happens when your right fielder is a most valuable player candidate like Josh Hamilton. Hamilton would be more suited for center or right but the Angels have another MVP candidate in left (Mike Trout) and the speedy Peter Bourjos in center. The Angels are hoping Hamilton's season mirrors his April and May from last year in Texas when he was the best player in baseball. If that's the case, the five year-deal they gave him looks good for now. If Hamilton is same player who hit less than .200 combined over June and July of last year, the deal doesn't look so good. Another key will be keeping Hamilton in the lineup every day and right field should be easier on his body. Hamilton will also have plenty of protection in the potent L.A. lineup.
Team production in 2012: .311 average, 21 home runs, 107 RBI, .826 OPS
Expected production in 2013: .290 average, 35 home runs, 120 RBI, .900 OPS
2. Texas – Most everything is lining up for Nelson Cruz to have a big season for the Rangers. Cruz is in his final year before becoming a free agent and a big season should mean a big contract for him somewhere. Cruz was also healthy all offseason, which wasn't the case last year. He also had a nice showing for the Dominican Republic, earning all World Baseball Classic honors. Of course all that momentum could come to a screeching halt if Cruz loses any playing time after having his name linked to a PED investigation in Miami. If Cruz can avoid a suspension, the sky is the limit this year. He set a career high with 90 RBI last season and also played in a career high 159 games. What Cruz didn't do was put together the kind of hot streak Texas fans have grown accustomed to seeing from him. The Rangers will need that this year in their revamped lineup.
Team production in 2012: .266 average, 23 home runs, 87 RBI, .786 OPS
Expected production in 2013: .275 average, 30 home runs, 100 RBI, .850 OPS
3. Oakland – Josh Reddick was the perfect fit for the Athletics during their run to the West crown in 2012. He was the kind of gritty player Oakland rallied around and was reminiscent of the free-swinging A's of the 1990s. Given an opportunity to play every day after being acquired in a trade from Boston, Reddick smacked 32 home runs and had 85 RBI, both of which were team highs. He hit just .242 and struck out 151 times but he was a spark for an Oakland lineup that desperately needed a boost going into 2012. He also proved to be a plus defender, winning the Gold Glove in right. Reddick must now adjust this year as he's not an unknown commodity and the Athletics won't be able to sneak up on anyone.
Team production in 2012: .234 average, 31 home runs, 85 RBI, .735 OPS
Expected production in 2013: .250 average, 30 home runs, 95 RBI, .750 OPS
4. Seattle – The Mariners may have one of the best kept secret in right field in baseball. Of course, the key for the Mariners will be trying to keep Michael Saunders in right this season. To do that, they'll need Franklin Gutierrez to be productive in center field while Saunders adjusts to right, where he has started just four times. Saunders had to play center last season and played well, hitting 19 homers with 57 RBI in his first full season in the majors. The Mariners need Saunders to continue to improve at the plate, as he hit just .247 and struck out 132 times. But Saunders, who is still just 26, is one of the players the Mariners hope to be able to build their offense around. As long as he continues to progress, that shouldn't be a problem.
Team production in 2012: .245 average, 12 homers 53 RBI, .659 OPS
Expected production in 2013: .260 average, 25 home runs, 75 RBI, .750 OPS
5. Houston – The Astros were bad offensively last year and they got less production out of right field than they did any of the three outfield spots. Houston used 111 players in right last season with Brian Bogusevic getting the bulk of the work. The Astros are hoping for more this year from veteran Rick Ankiel, who has hit over .400 this spring. The good news for Ankiel is that the bar in right has been set very low. That may be a good thing because Ankiel hit just .228 in limited action with Washington last year. Ankiel doesn't have the job sewn up either as Houston could use J.D. Martinez or Fernando Martinez in right too. Whoever plays in right, it's got to be better than 2012, right?
Team production in 2012: .223 average, 13 home runs, 51 RBI, .650 OPS
Expected production in 2013: .240 average, 15 home runs, 60 RBI, .675 OPS