Friday, August 20, 2004

Starting Left Fielder

Last night during the rain delay, Fox Sports Net decided to take a few calls from Cardinal fans and allow their in-studio hosts to field some questions. One of them that came in left me scratching my head, and I thought I would serve as a good article for today.

The question asked was basically "who should the Cardinals start in left field in the playoffs - Marlon Anderson or So Taguchi?"

Now, maybe this guy that called in works two jobs, has 6 kids to feed, and a mother-in-law in the hospital, and thus can't commit as much time to the Cardinals as some of the rest of us. With that being said - how in the world did Anderson and Taguchi rise to the top of this guy's depth chart?

Right now, between the major league roster and AAA, the Cardinals have 6 players that qualify for the post-season roster and can play left field. (In Anderson's case, I use the term "play left field" lightly) Ignoring defense and just focusing on the bat, those guys rank as follows when sorted by OPS (On base percentage Plus Slugging percentage.) Statistics shown are AVG/OBP/SLG - OPS.

John Mabry .318/.397/.513 - 910
Reggie Sanders .250/.300/.479 - 779
Ray Lankford .258/.353/.425 - 778
Roger Cedeno .298/.363/.412 - 775
So Taguchi .276/.307/.394 - 700
Marlon Anderson .229/.269/.368 - 638

I just find it interesting that some random fan that manages to get a phone call in to the FSN studio can actually suggest that the worst two options for left field should start in the playoffs. Especially when you consider that So is in Memphis, and Anderson has been horrible after getting off to a hot start. As a matter of fact, if we just focus on the same statistics since the All-Star break:

Mabry .389/.470/.593 - 1062
Taguchi .314/.333/.486 - 819
Cedeno .322/.394/.424 - 818
Sanders .227/.314/.480 - 794
Anderson .137/.151/.216 - 367
Lankford .125/.111/.250 - 361 (8 at-bats)

If Anderson doesn't get things straightened out in the next 6 weeks, not only should he not be starting games for the Cardinals in left field in October, but he should not even be on the playoff roster. And while Taguchi has been solid with the bat in limited duty since the break, it is impossible to ignore the numbers that John Mabry has been putting up. That Post All-Star OPS ranks just behind the amazing trio of Jim Edmonds (1198), Albert Pujols (1170), and Scott Rolen (1074), with Larry Walker right behind (1040). People can rave about So's defense as much as they want, but it is not going to make up for a 137 points of OBP.

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