1st Quarter Grades – Outfielders

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We’re a little bit past the quarter pole in the season and it’s a good time to look at how guys are measuring up to the pre-season expectations.  Let’s start with the outfielders:

  1. Brett Gardner:  Going into the season, we pretty much agreed that BG needed a .330ish OBP in order to be effective.   He’s outperforming that goal with a .339 OBP, a .416 slugging and 9 steals.  He’s been pretty much what we expected and seems to be improving.  Add better than expected range (sick +20.9 UZR/150) and much better arm to that and you get a B+.
  2. Melky: Leading the team in batting average (.323), getting clutch hits like crazy, showing greatly improved range (+19.2 UZR/150), and generally outperforming all projections (ZiPS projected a .725 OPS and he’s currently OPSing a tidy .849.  Most impressive has been his consistency, which earns him a clear A+.
  3. Johnny Damon: OPS+ of 139 (his highest mark ever for a full season is 118).  At age 35, he’s clearly outperforming the standard projections which have him beginning to decline.  Normally, a player who uses his legs as much as he does will exhibit a sharp decline right about now, but he’s raised his power to compensate for the dropoff in speed (only 5 steals so far).  His range, however, continues to deteriorate it left (-9.5 UZR/150) dropping him to an A from a possible A+.
  4. Nick Swisher: Can you say streaky?  He went from putting up MVP type numbers to a .223 average in seemingly no-time.  His OPS+ of 119 is still very nice (and in-line with career averages before last year) but that average is scary-bad and it dropped so quickly!  His defense is pretty average in Right where he’s spent most of his time.  He gets bumped to a B/B+ because he really carried the Yanks in the early-going when no one else was contributing.
  5. Hideki Matsui: ZiPS had Godzilla at an .844 OPS clip and he comes close to this, with an .829.  A 114 OPS+ is not too shabby.  It seems as if injuries have wreaked havoc with the 35-year-old as he alternates between looking like the old Matsui and looking like Kaz Matsui, so I have to give him a C- for not consistently giving the team what they need.

What do you guys think of the grades?  Are they fair, too positive, too negative?  What would you give them?  Infielders are next tomorrow.

10 thoughts on “1st Quarter Grades – Outfielders

  1. Moshe Mandel

    I would go higher on Matsui (c+). He has been a bit inconsistent, but no more than most players. Lower on Gardner (c+) and Swish (b-), because their seasons have been more night and day. Swidh would be lower, but he really carried the for three weeks.

    • Tom Gaffney

      I’m actually grading based on expectation, hence the higher grade for Gardner, b/c he’s exceeded expectations, though maybe B+ is still too high even with those criteria

      • Melky is on fire, good grade. Brett is ok also because, he is following his history, (start slow and build from there) B- in my book but…improving.
        Johnny is showing his age a bit but, for this year I go with a B+. Swisher/Matsui get a B- because of their streaky play so far this year.

  2. scott l

    You are way to over the top on Melky. In his last 100 or so pa he has 4 bb and 1 home run. His OPS is below .800 and to be honest this is nothing more then a typical Melky hot streak or tease. His defense is not that good as 2 of his recent throws to home were way up the line. Melky needs to be traded asap!

    • Moshe Mandel

      Seriously? Melky’s line is .323/.368/.481. That is excellent for a CF. His defense has also been good- two bad throws does not cancel that out. He also has multiple game winning hits, and looking at his game log, has been remarkably consistent. His OPS from the “bad stretch” you refer to alone would put him in the upper half of CF’ers in OPS. I can’t see anyone justifying a lower grade.

      • scott l

        Melky is just on his typical hot streak an implosion is coming. He is just not that good and should be traded ASAP imo. There is no way in hell he makes next years team so get rid of him while his value is high.

        • Tom Gaffney

          We can only grade him on his performance so far this year, not on what you think will happen later.

  3. Agree about Melky deserving a high grade-he’s been an important part of the Yankees managing to climb into a first place tie. He’s still young enough for this to be a break-out season beginning the peak part of a good MLB career. Heck, Yaz was 27 before he had his break-out year. (And no, I’m not comparing the two.)

    I think Matsui’s lack of contribution beyond what he does at the plate reduces the value of it. He can’t run the bases very well at all, and can’t play defense at all.
    With Posada’s return, the DH spot is needed to keep him in the line-up when he’s not catching, which reduces Matsui’s value even more.

  4. Everyone knows that I favor Brett over Melky but, the way Melky was playing (before his injury)…Melky is doing better and should be playing.
    Why would one keep harping on yesterday (2008), when today is what counts? I would take a playing line of .323/.368/.481 over Bretts line anytime, with one big caveat…Brett has so many more tools to use. I would like to see them both do good because we may need them next year after Johnny, Nady and Matsui are gone…OF of A-Jax, Melky, Brett with Swisher sounds good to me. By the way, get use to it…Johnny, Nady and Matsui are gone after this year…no matter how they play this year.
    Great Defence, helps offset the avg.(+) hitting.

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