This is the tenth in a series of posts looking back at the realities of the Indians 2010 season. We’ll look at what was hoped for, what actually happened, and what the expectations are going forward at the position in 2011
The Indians trotted out three main guys as their left fielders in 2010. Trevor Crowe and Michael Brantley weren’t very productive (although Brantley did turn it on once he took over full time in center field) and the one guy who was semi-productive, Austin Kearns, was traded to the Yankees in July.
Yes, left field continues to be a problem area for the Indians, as it has been since Coco Crisp left an Andy Marte-sized hole in the outfield.
The Indians started the season with Brantley in left, and Kearns on the bench. Kearns had a hot April (.429 OBP, 1.056 OPS!) and had played his way into a starting role, coupled with Brantley’s struggles. This was all fine and dandy until July 30, when the Indians flipped Kearns to New York for a player to be named later, who turned out to be Zach McAllister.
And manager Manny Acta was never quite sure what to do after that.
Sure, Shelley Duncan got some face time in left, and actually showed some power, hitting 8 home runs in 125 ABs in left field. Unfortunately he didn’t show much else in terms of production, although he was a good clubhouse leader. Still, that doesn’t win games, so Acta turned to a former first round pick in Trevor Crowe to anchor the left side of the outfield.
Suffice to say, it didn’t work out too well. In 442 ABs, Crowe hit 2 home runs with a .302 OBP (.634 OPS). That’s basically replacement-level player production, which works because Crowe is a replacement-level player. Really, I don’t know why the Indians drafted him, let alone taking him in the first round. He doesn’t hit, his fielding makes for an adventurous evening, and really the only thing endearing about him is is caveman-like hair, which he says he is cutting. The Indians should do everyone a favor and just cut Crowe.
As for long-term options at left, there aren’t too many attractive ones outside the potential of Nick Weglarz, who strangely didn’t get a September call-up even though he’s on the 40-man roster. So Manny Acta will probably again turn in-house, and either stick Brantley back in left or slide Grady Sizemore over there if Acta determines that Sizemore isn’t ready to go in center field.
Whatever Acta decides to do, the Indians need more production from left field if they are going to become contenders again.