Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Olney: Reds boast sixth-best outfield unit in baseball

Jay Bruce Jay Bruce #32 of the Cincinnati Reds jogs home after hitting a home run during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 22, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Reds won 3-2.

Jay Bruce in right, Shin-Soo Choo in center, and Ryan Ludwick in left -- this appears to be the outfield trio manager Dusty Baker will be penciling in on a regular basis in 2013. Chris Heisey, Xavier Paul, and perhaps Billy Hamilton will be called upon to patrol the GABP grasses at times next season, as well. So, how does Cincinnati's outfielding unit compare to those of other teams around the league? I'm glad you asked.

ESPN's Buster Olney recently ranked who he felt to be the top 10 outfields in Major League Baseball. The Reds landed in between two other NL Central foes at No. 6. For the record, St. Louis took the fifth slot while the Brew Crews nestled in at No. 7.

Here's what Olney wrote about the Redlegs...

Jay Bruce is one of the best overall outfielders in the majors, Shin-Soo Choo can get on base, steal bases and throw, and Ryan Ludwick is coming off a season in which he clubbed 26 homers in 125 games. The only question about the Reds' outfield is how they will be aligned. Their plan going into spring training is for Choo to play center field, but rival evaluators believe that eventually, Bruce will be shifted to center and Choo will move to right.

Something to remember: Bruce is 25 and still developing as a hitter, and there may not be a hitter who has been more defined by what happens early in the count. In those plate appearances in which he moved ahead in the count by taking the first pitch out of the zone, he posted a .929 OPS. When he fell behind 0-1, however, he had a .608 OPS. The difference in his results, depending on the count, was much more acute than that for a lot of hitters -- he had a .421 OPS in at-bats that ended when he was behind in the count, 1.009 when the count was even, 1.032 when he was ahead.

In a prior post on Monday, Olney ranked his "Top 10 rotations in MLB". He tabbed the Reds as the fifth-best.

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