Today we will look at left field for the Miami Marlins. Left field was interesting due to the massive dichotomy between the two players that we are going to give grades to. One was a veteran who has had a solid career that is winding down. The other a rookie who has a promising career in front of him. Of course I am talking about Juan Pierre and Christian Yelich. If you are interested in how I have achieved my grades, click here for an explanation.
Pierre was brought onto this team for his leadership qualities as much, if not more, than his current baseball ability. The 35-year-old has had a solidly unspectacular career and passed both Willie McCovey and Joe DiMaggio on the all-time hit list. He currently resides at 175th all-time. He has never been an all-star but due to his speed and work ethic, he has stuck around the majors for a 14 year career.
This season we have started to see some regression from Pierre that wasn’t all that surprising. Spending most of the season as a pinch hitter he logged the fewest plate appearances since his rookie season in 2000 with 330. His stat line was .247/.284/.305. Pierre is at his strongest when he is finding ways to get on base and then wrecking havoc while there. Unfortunately for Pierre he couldn’t get on base all that much.
His glove and speed are an asset in left field, but his throwing arm is well documented as one of the worst in any outfield. That prohibits him from being a regular out there. I do give him some positives based on his leadership. I didn’t anticipate Pierre to be a big contributor offensively so that won’t count too much against him.
While it was certainly a disappointing season for the Marlins, they did have a few bright spots. One of those would certainly be the rookie Christian Yelich. He had an incredible spring and was extremely close to making the big league club out of spring training. The 21 year-old came up half way through the season and he certainly made a positive impact in his short season. He posted a slash line of .288/.370/.396. As the rookie matures a bit you can expect his modest power numbers to improve some. He showed an advanced approach at the plate, making adjustments after pitchers began to attack his weaknesses after his first month.
He was average defensively and certainly adequate in left field. He has plenty of speed for the size of Marlins Park and no questions about his arm. I anticipate that he will make the big league club from the beginning next year and be the starting left fielder for the Marlins. A gap to gap hitter he also stole 10 bases in only 62 games. He could one day be a legitimate 20/20 candidate.
As a Marlin fan I am very excited about Yelich’s potential. As he gets more comfortable with big league pitching he will certainly get better. He finished the season with a WAR of 1.4 that I expect to improve into the 3.5-4 range next year.
Left field was one of the more promising positions once Yelich came up. Due to his run at the end and ability to really grab a hold of the position and leave no question about whether or not he is ready, I am basing this grade mostly on Yelich.
What do you think? Leave your grades below and let us know what you feel Yelich is capable of in the years to come.