The Texas Rangers used 8 different left fielders this season, mainly because of the amount of injuries the team suffered this season. Several of them did well, while some looked just outright uncomfortable and painful.
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The Rangers used Jim Adduci, Mike Carp, Michael Choice, Shin-Soo Choo, Mitch Moreland, Daniel Robertson, Ryan Rua and Jake Smolinski. Before the season started it seemed like their main plan was to use Shin-Shoo Choo, Michael Choice and Mitch Moreland as their left fielders, but injuries brought in the plethora of players. Michael Choice, Ryan Rua and Daniel Robertson won’t be covered here, they’ll be included in another article.
Mike Carp: It’s fair to say that the Rangers only brought in Mike Carp to see if they can get a bit more out of him. He only played in 17 games, and only once in left field while with the Rangers. And it’s hard to imagine it, but he did have a worse batting average than J.P. Arencibia at .125/.217/.125/.342. He missed a lot of the season due to injury while with the Red Sox and was also injured when he was with the Rangers.
It’s hard to grade him on left field alone since he was just here for one game, but his overall performance was basically non-existent. The Rangers hoped to find a cheap solution who’s done well in the past. But they were unable to find anything left in the tank with Carp.
Grading Carp: Un-gradable Jim Adduci: It seems like Adduci is one of the Rangers favorite bench guys to plug in during injuries and to give players rest. This season he appeared in 44 games, 18 in left field. Overall did do well playing in left-field. He has several amazing catches and possibly saved a few runs.
Video: 08/16/14 Jim Adduci’s running grab
Jim Adduci gets on his horse and sprints to make a great grab to rob Brennan Boesch of a potential extra-base hit
Although Adduci did do well defensively, his batting average of .168/.239/.228/.467 was pretty horrible. As comparison he had a -0.6 offensive WAR and a 0.7 defensive WAR. Adduci did suffer several injuries and setbacks throughout the season, which was mainly the reason his batting average was so low.
Grading Adduci: C- If it was on defense alone it would be easier to grade him a bit higher, but his offense was almost non-existent. He’s still just basically a bench player who the Rangers can use from time to time.
Mitch Moreland: The biggest question for Mitch Moreland coming into the 2014 season was where he was going to play at since they Rangers acquired Prince Fielder to play first base during the offseason. Moreland worked hard during the offseason and spring training to prepare himself to play where ever he was needed. But despite all of his efforts to play in the outfield he looked very uncomfortable and awkward.
Overall Moreland wasn’t a liabliity playing in the outfield, but with the rise of players like Ryan Rua, Jake Smolinski and Michael Choice it makes you wonder if they even need Moreland on the team. Moreland is an at best an average hitter and a below on defense. It wouldn’t be a loss if the Rangers decided to part ways. He’s a good guy and a good player and if the Rangers had a spot for him to play ever day they should keep him. But, right now there is plenty of young and better talent to take over for Moreland
Grading Moreland: D – He under performed even by his standards this season and right now it doesn’t appear there is a place for him on the roster.
Jake Smolinski: Just after a few days with the club the Jake with State Farm jokes starting happening. Mainly because he was a very good player, had a hot bat and he was always all smiles. He only played 12 games in left field, but had several amazing plays such as this one robbing Josh Hamilton of a hit.
To go along with some of his amazing catches in left field he had an even better bat. For the season he had a batting average of .349/.391/.512/.903 with 3 home runs and 12 doubles. He’s easily one of the best left fielders and bats the Rangers had during the 2014 season.
Grading Smolinski: A – He only played in left for 12 games, but his bat was a huge presence in a line up that was full of 9 hole hitters.
Shin-Soo Choo: Choo was supposed to be one of the big signing last season, but instead was another player that the Texas Rangers acquired that didn’t appear to workout. It doesn’t seem like it was because the lack of talent, but because Choo, like the other 20+ Rangers were injured during the season. Choo, unlike most of the others who were injured decided to play though the pain he had in his ankle.
At first it didn’t appear to be much of an issue, but daily grind of the season continued the true impact slowly surfaced. It was very noticeable watching him play in left field. He didn’t seem to get a very good jump on a lot of fly balls and his on-base percentage took a dive this season. Granted he was never the best defensive player, but like most Rangers in the 2014 season, his number took a hit.
Choo only had a 1.4 offensive WAR compared to his 6.3 in 2013 and 4.7 in 2012. His defensive WAR dropped to -2.1 in 2014, but it wasn’t too far off his -1.8 in 2013 and -1.9 in 2012.
He should be able to bounce back in 2015, but at age 33 it’s hard to tell how much that will be. The Rangers need him to repeat what he did in 2013 to see some value from him after signing him to a 7 year deal worth $130 MM. Right now that seems like a bad deal, but players have bounced back and right now the Rangers are hoping the whole team will be able to bounce back.
Grading Choo: C+ He started off the season very well and was starting to look like an on-base machine. But, it seems like after his injured his ankle while running to first doomed his season. He should have been placed on the 15-day disabled list to allow him to fully recover, but he knew that at the time the team was short handed and tried to play though it.
Overall it seems like Jake from State Farm was the Rangers best left fielder. It was only small sample set and those numbers are a bit skewed. If the Rangers have other options in left next season it might be best to put Choo at DH or right field. Mainly to save Choo for the later part of his contract and to use him mainly for his ability to get on base.