Texas Rangers Positional Preview – Right Field
In 2012 right field will once again be manned by Nelson Cruz, or should I say “reigning ALCS MVP” Nelson Cruz. Last year, in the regular season, he hit .263 with a .821 OPS while hitting 29 home runs and driving in 87 RBI. His numbers were down from the 2010 campaign when he hit .318 with an OPS of .950. Most analysts predict him to hit .270 this season with close to 30 HR and that’s what I see as well.
He’s also not the greatest fielder. He only committed five errors last season, but his UZR in right was a -6.5. Then again, he makes up for his defense with his slugging. And fans tend to forgive fielding mistakes when they’re replaced by runs.
The only thing that troubles me are the following numbers: 128, 108, 124. Those are the games played the past three seasons by Cruz. He either has quad problems or hamstring problems and can be counted on to spend two stints on the disabled list each year. Nobody has Cruz pegged to play the entire season. Bill James has the highest number of predicted games played at 136. If we can get him healthy for 140 games then I will consider that a minor miracle.
His health creates an issue within itself. Last season Texas had both Endy Chavez and Craig Gentry step up and perform when needed with both guys filling in for Josh Hamilton and Cruz when they were on the disabled list. While neither one of those guys can replace the power numbers of Hamilton and Cruz, their defense was good enough to keep Texas in games. But now Endy Chavez has gone, leaving for Baltimore via free agency. And, as of this writing, Texas has yet to announce who the bench players will be though my money is on Gentry and Brandon Snyder. [Editor’s note: the author chose the bench players correctly]
Just hope and pray that Cruz and Hamilton don’t go down at the same time.
(2011) AVG HR RBI SLG OPS
CRUZ .263 29 87 .509 .821
GENTRY .271 1 13 .346 .693
Cruz showed up to spring training ten pounds lighter than last season and hopefully the lighter Cruz won’t suffer as many injuries as before. I’m still predicting 140 games which will be great news.
(2012) AVG HR RBI
Cruz .272 33 95
So there’s no question that Nelson Cruz is the right fielder for the Texas Rangers. The question is for how many games?