The outfield is the land of multi-category producing titans. The 2009 season was no different, though some of the men that were expected to provide those efforts failed to do so. In what follows I will discuss my top-10 list from the 2009 Fanball Annual Guide that was on newsstands prior to the start of the 2009 season, and briefly hit on how each players season turned out.
To read previous positional reviews click on the following link:
1. Grady Sizemore
2. Carlos Beltran
3. Josh Hamilton
4. Ryan Braun
5. Ichiro Suzuki
6. Carl Crawford
7. Manny Ramirez
8. Matt Holliday
9. Alex Rios
10. B.J. Upton
Sizemore was derailed by injury, chiefly a strained elbow that required surgery (he also had hernia surgery). His performance simply killed teams that drafted him in the first round (.248-18-64-73-13) with all his 5×5 numbers being five year lows as he appeared in a mere 106 games.
Beltran has a lost season like so many other Mets. The chief injury was a bone bruise in his leg, more specifically his knee. As a result he appeared in just 81 games though he was exceedingly effective in his half season of work hitting a robust .325 with 10 homers, 48 RBI, 50 runs and 11 steals. Clearly he was on pace for a special season, but alas, injuries ruined his effort.
Hamilton had a bummer of a season that he kicked off with a wild bender during spring training that was kept under wraps (as a recovering addict, this was especially damaging news). I never thought he would repeat the 130 RBI, but I thought the 30-HR pop was certainly legit. Injuries limited him to just 89 games as he hit 10 homers with 54 RBI and a .741 OPS, only .160 points below his 2008 mark. Has a ton to prove in ’10.
Braun was a flat out stud and seems certain to be a top-5 selection in 2010 in almost every draft. Not only did he lead the NL with 203 hits, Braun also socked 32 long balls, drove in 114 runs, hit .320 and stole 20 bases. Not many have a legit shot at hitting .333 while going 20/20.
Suzuki started slowly due to injury, but you would never have known it if you looked at his final numbers that included 225 hits and a .352 average. Amazingly, the sorry Mariners only knocked him in 88 times on the year, and his steal total of 26 was actually a career worst, though no one should complain when you hit .352.
Crawford was an outright beast hitting .305 with 15 homers, 68 RBI, 96 runs and a career best 60-steals. Only one AL player bettered that steals total – Jacoby Ellsbury with 70, and he scored two less runs, hit only eight homers, and batted four points lower at .301.
Ramirez was suspended for 50 games for performance enhancing drugs, and with that his season was a bust. At the time of his suspension he was doing his best Albert Pujols impersonation hitting .355 with a 1.156 OPS through 36 games, but he returned to his a mere .255 with only 10 homers and 34 RBI in 68 games.
Holliday was, as I wrote prior to the start of last season in the aforementioned magazine, terrific. “He won’t be the Coors version of Holliday, but he should still be near the elite.” Compare his 2008 performance in Coors (.321-25-88-107-28) to his 2009 work in Oakland and St. Louis (.313-24-109-94-14). Seems like I hit this one out of the park.
Rios was an unmitigated disaster. Simply atrocious. Though he nearly went 20/20 (17 homers, 24 steals), he hit a paltry .247 with only 17 homers and 71 RBI. After his trade to the White Sox he apparently forgot how to play baseball as 41 games in Chicago netted a .199 average, nine RBI and 11 runs scored. Pathetic.
B.J. was the wrong Upton to place on the list. B.J. floundered to a .241 average with 11 homers, 55 RBI, 79 runs and 42 steals, while younger brother Justin simply tore it up in the desert on his way to hitting .300 with 26 homers, 86 RBI, 84 runs and 20 steals.
By Ray Flowers